The Taper, Too will open an unusual season in February: three plays by European writers. Not one of the productions will be a bona fide Los Angeles premiere, and no local directors will be involved.
On tap are Moliere's "Don Juan," directed by Travis Preston, Feb. 5-March 3; Bertolt Brecht's "The Wedding," directed by Vladimir Strnisko, March 19-April 14, and Heiner Muller's "The Task," directed by L. Kenneth Richardson, May 7-June 2.
All of the plays examine various forms of "accepted morality," according to a Taper press release.
The 99-seat Taper, Too often is considered the Taper's arena for grass roots experimentation. The Taper Lab presents new-play workshops there, using many local playwrights, each fall.
Last year, Los Angeles writer John Steppling's "The Thrill" graduated from the Lab to a full production at the Taper, Too, and in the past such new plays as "In the Belly of the Beast" and "Stand-Up Tragedy" moved up from Taper, Too to mainstage productions.
But next year's productions date from 1665 ("Don Juan"), 1926 ("The Wedding") and 1980 ("The Task"). All three plays have been previously produced in Los Angeles, though "The Task" was seen here under a different title, "The Mission" (1988, in a production by KitchenCollective at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wallenboyd Theatre).
Next year's playwrights are French and German. And the directors live in New York, New Jersey and Czechoslovakia.
Preston, the New Yorker, has directed in the East and in Europe, where his feature film "Astonished" has won attention at film festivals. Richardson has worked at the Taper ("The Colored Museum," 1988) and the Taper Lab, but he lives in New Jersey, where he formerly directed Crossroads Theatre Company.
Strnisko runs an avant-garde theater in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, that was closed due to government pressure under the former regime; this will be his U.S. debut. The Taper discovered him when a Taper troupe appeared in Bratislava in 1988.
"We like to use the Taper, Too in different ways," said Taper artistic director Gordon Davidson. "There was great interest in these three directors right now, and there were no plays (from this year's Taper Lab) we wanted to develop to the next stage at this moment, though there are longer-range plans for some of them. Also, the planning of Taper, Too has to go on before the (Lab) festival is over."
Davidson pointed to his use of local directors in the "50/60" series on the mainstage last spring, and said that more such opportunities will arise should the Taper ever be able to expand into the 250-350-seat second space that he has long coveted.
Salonga in 'Saigon'?: Is Lea Salonga a "star" or "an actor providing unique services"?
She must fit at least one of those descriptions for Actors' Equity to allow her--or any foreigner--to star on Broadway. There are indications that Equity is questioning Salonga's credentials.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh had asked Equity for permission for 19-year-old Salonga, a Filipina, to re-create her title role in London's "Miss Saigon" on Broadway, claiming he couldn't find an Asian-American actress for the role. According to the New York Times, an Equity council meeting deliberated four hours Tuesday before deciding to pass the decision to a panel consisting of an arbitrator, two Mackintosh representatives and two Equity representatives.
Equity officials and Mackintosh declined comment Wednesday.
According to her biography in the program for "Miss Saigon," Salonga had appeared in 11 plays and six movies, sung on five albums, and received six awards--all in the Philippines--before "Miss Saigon." Her ultimate goal is to be a doctor, according to the bio.
The Salonga dispute occurs in the same week as hearings before the New York City Commission on Human Rights about discrimination on the New York stage. The hearings were inspired by the controversy over the hiring of Salonga's Welsh co-star, Jonathan Pryce, to re-create his London role in New York. He plays a Eurasian character, and Asian-American activists within Equity said that an Asian actor should play the role.
Redgrave in 'Lettice'?: Vanessa Redgrave is likely to take over Maggie Smith's starring role in "Lettice and Lovage" when the comedy goes on tour, say Shubert Organization officials, who co-produce the play and whose Shubert Theatre in Century City is one of the theaters under consideration for the tour. There have been reports that Smith was concerned about the size of the theaters on the tour, including the Century City Shubert; Shubert officials declined to comment.