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Siegel-Tabori Named to Development Post; Freshened-Up Ivar Still Seeking Big Donor

Stage Watch

December 07, 1989|SYLVIE DRAKE | TIMES THEATER WRITER

Kristoffer Siegel-Tabori has been named artistic director of the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theatre.

In case that sounds grand, it is. This theater is an upscale developmental process that operates out of UCLA's Ralph Freud Theatre. It spends money provided by a $1-million Skirball Foundation endowment (over the next five years) to develop plays that culminate in staged readings. A fundamentally philanthropic exercise, the theater does not request financial participation in a play as it moves on, which should prove a boon to playwrights.

"The goal is defining itself," said Siegel-Tabori, who was named to his new post by Skirball-Kenis Theatre producer Paul Heller (who also produced the current film "My Left Foot"). He has been given an office, an annual retainer and lots of artistic freedom to run the program.

Siegel-Tabori said he hopes to achieve a quasi-production with considerably more "finesse" than a reading. What, sets too?

"Only to the extent that we'll create an environment that allows us to see the play in some sort of production context."

Siegel-Tabori concedes that there is a danger of emphasizing context rather than content, but adds, "My influence will be to make it \o7 less\f7 of a gala. If I had my druthers, I would want it to be an event for which we (in the artistic community) all gather. We can only take these plays so far, but perhaps we can put six or seven together and create something not unlike the sort of thing you see at Actors' Theatre of Louisville.

"I'm hoping by the end of January to assemble a forum of eight or 10 local theater people to find out what \o7 they\f7 would like to see happen and then create a program.

"We have the money and the enthusiasm," he said. "The important thing to \o7 not\f7 do is go for the results--develop an agenda quickly just to state what you are."

The next staged reading will be Margaret Beddow Hatch's "Stem of a Briar," Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Lee Shallat directs.

Admission is free but reservations are needed: (213) 284-8965.

INNER IVAR: Monday, the Inner City Cultural Center flung wide the doors of its recently acquired Ivar Theatre in Hollywood and invited press and public to celebrate the 1951 landmark's return to life as a legitimate theater.

The theater had fallen on tawdry times over the last 10 years, when it was used exclusively for girlie shows and porno movies.

Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo was on hand to offer his endorsement. So were members of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and Stan Seiden, a vice president of the Nederlander Organization. Seiden had owned the Ivar prior to Argus Properties of Las Vegas and negotiated its sale to Inner City for Argus (for a sum, Seiden said, under $1 million).

A coat of fresh paint didn't conceal the need for major renovations or lack of theater seats. Inner City executive director C. Bernard Jackson said 499 new ones will be installed. But while the protocol's in place, the money to restore and run the theater is not.

"We've raised $500,000 so far," Jackson said. "We're hoping that we can raise another $500,000 before the end of the year."

Jackson, who had told The Times in May that he needed $2 million ("A million to fix it up and a million for an endowment"), has upped the ante to $3 million, but the hoped-for Big Donor ($1 million-plus) hasn't yet come.

"We've been putting out feelers," said Jackson. He would like to open the Ivar's doors by mid-1990 but conceded, "That may be optimistic. We want to use the theater as an outlet for shows that can sustain longer runs, such as 'Checkmates' (which began at Inner City's other plant on New Hampshire Avenue and moved to Broadway). Or as a presenting house. People forget that we brought El Teatro Campesino, Twyla Tharp, the Dance Theater of Harlem, Paul Taylor, Pilobolus and the Nego Ensemble Company to Los Angeles. . . ."

So there will be more fund-raisers at the Ivar:

* Dec. 16: The Elaine Kashiki Awards, hosted by Milton Berle, will include the staging of the four finalists of Inner City's 1989 Act II short-play competition (winner to be declared that evening).

* Dec. 18-22: A daily open house, noon to 9 p.m. Gift items will be on sale for late holiday shoppers.

* Jan. 6: The performance of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" at the Doolittle Theatre, a short block away, will be a benefit for Inner City, preceded and followed by partying at the Ivan.

* February: a series of Monday-night fund-raising salons called "From My Point of View." Actress Nancy Kwan and director Peter Sellars are committed so far.

"TIME'S" A-FLYIN': Paul Linke's life-affirming account of his wife's death from cancer, "Time Flies When You're Alive," is having a final performance Friday, 8 p.m., at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.

The show, heaped with critical praise and a favorite with audiences, is moving on--to Seattle (Feb. 18 to March 11), Minneapolis (in the spring) and, "for better or worse," says Linke, New York.

"There are people who are interested in backing it," he said, but warns nothing has been firmed up for a fall date in the Big Apple.

Linke's new piece (working title: "Au Pair Despair," about widowed life with three kids) is being developed with the Mark Taper Forum and its next step may be a few nights of "open rehearsal" (read further development) at the Santa Monica Playhouse. A limited production (either at Taper, Too or some other small venue) could follow, "some time between the 'Time Flies' engagements in Seattle and Minneapolis."

Linke, who is turning into a skillful monologuist in the Spalding Gray tradition, has a third show up his windpipe, "Me My Father, My Father Me," which he describes as having "breathed but is now back in the incubator." It was originally a part of "Au Pair Despair" but broke away, Linke said, in search of its own evening.

For information about Friday's "Time Flies": (213) 825-9261.

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