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Local Wonder

November 03, 1990

Those of us fortunate enough to have experienced the world-famous, 60-year-old Ashland Shakespeare Festival know that the decade-old Grove Shakespeare Festival compares most favorably and is a home-grown wonder.

Once again, however, I am saddened by the city of Garden Grove's lack of confidence in its own citizens. The City Council seems to regard the people of Garden Grove as folks who are just too simple and lacking in culture to appreciate Shakespeare, Moliere and other great playwrights.

(One councilman further criticized the Festival for offering work by) playwrights who are not American. If we can't enjoy the artistic efforts of authors of all nationalities, we will be severely limited in our cultural pursuits, and the worse off for it.

Contrary to the city's current posture, the Grove Shakespeare Festival is not a band of ragtag artists looking for a handout. In the early '80s, the city of Garden Grove built the two theaters on Main Street with federal funds in order to change the city's image, ostensibly from the derogatory "Garbage Grove" to that of a sophisticated and forward-thinking city interested in the growth of its citizens, including their cultural growth. They then sought a theater company, selected the Grove Shakespeare Festival and entered into a contract with the Festival to run the two theaters and produce plays. Since its inception, the Festival has done an admirable job of increasing subscriptions and contributions in the face of the city's declining support. The city's withdrawal of support can only be likened to a parent who has created and nurtured a child, suddenly withholding that child's sustenance.

While other cities and states are dealing with such difficult problems as perceived pornography in artistic works, the city of Garden Grove should thank its lucky stars that the heaviest problem on its artistic agenda is the likes of the Bard himself. Garden Grove, give your citizens and your selected theater company more credit!

JAMES CARROLL PARKER, San Clemente

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