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STAGE WATCH

What's Next for L.A. Theatre Center, Episode 243

June 14, 1992|DON SHIRLEY

On Monday, the city's Cultural Affairs Department is expected to announce a recommendation, or at least an option, for the future use of the downtown municipal theater complex that formerly housed Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Four theater companies submitted proposals for using the building. But none of the proposals tackled the basic question of how to pay the bills.

Now, according to the rumor mill, the Cultural Affairs-appointed committee that studied the proposals is voting for none of the above. Or perhaps a little of all of the above.

Rather than endorsing any of the individual proposals, the committee is apparently leaning toward the idea of setting up a city-owned, nonprofit corporation to operate the building. Unlike Cultural Affairs itself, the corporation would be relatively independent of the city bureaucracy, and it would be free to raise money from private sources. But it would get some sort of city financing.

Where would this financing come from? Possible sources could include the Community Redevelopment Agency--which historically provided most of the funds for the building--or the 1% arts tax on new building developments. But some members of the City Council are sure to oppose any such plans.

It's unlikely that the committee's recommendation can pass through the Council in time to resume active programming next fall. But perhaps the proposal submitted by the Mark Taper Forum--to use two of the building's four theaters for 14 weeks next spring--could come to fruition, if enough money is raised. Elements of the other proposals--from the Nederlander Organization, Shakespeare Festival/LA and Theatrelife--might also be incorporated.

The building would make an obvious venue for the L.A. Festival in the fall of 1993. And if the neighborhood is spruced up and the programs dynamic enough, a subscription audience might eventually return, according to the most hopeful scenario.

SPLITTING OF THE PIE: The California Arts Council has finally figured out what to do with the 1991-92 grant that had been earmarked for the late LATC company.

The $47,025 will be distributed to the former company's remnants as follows: $20,000 for Latino Theatre Lab, $8,000 for Theatre as a Learning Tool, $7,000 for the Black Theatre Artists Workshop, $4,500 for the Young Conservatory, $4,025 for the Artists' Collective (a consortium of smaller LATC labs), and $3,500 for the Classical Theatre Lab. These groups have all found fiscal receivers to act as their new nonprofit parents--a requirement for obtaining the grants.

The Young Conservatory has also found a new home for its summer session, June 29-Aug. 1. The Mark Taper Forum will host the training program, designed for a class of 40 people between ages 14 and 19, in rehearsal rooms at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

JELLY'S NEXT JAM?: What are the prospects for the return of "Jelly's Last Jam" to Los Angeles, this time with Tony-winning Gregory Hines, who didn't appear in the world premiere at the Taper? Very good, said producer Margo Lion, though nothing has been set. "It had a great audience in Los Angeles, and we'd love to bring it back. God willing, Gregory will do the major cities."

The Taper's Gordon Davidson said he would be want to be "involved" with the return of "Jelly's," but the Taper and Doolittle are too small for the revamped show. Lion agreed with that assessment. But she added that the Ahmanson, the Taper's Music Center mate, might be a possibility. After "Phantom of the Opera" closes, the Ahmanson is expected to undergo some revamping of its own. This may or may not be completed before "Jelly's" goes on tour, probably in 1993-94.

ANOTHER "PHANTOM": The Arthur Kopit/Maury Yeston "Phantom of the Opera" (not to be confused with Andrew Lloyd Webber's) has been slated to kick off the 10th season of San Gabriel Valley Civic Light Opera in October, 1993. Unless some other group beats them to the punch, it will be the organization's first Los Angeles County premiere. The show's only previous Southland appearance was in San Bernardino.

FREE TAPER READINGS: The Taper's Mentor Playwrights Project will present free readings of new works by 17 writers at Taper, Too, beginning Thursday, ending June 28. Reservations are required; call (213) 972-8038.

The writers include Han Ong, Luis Alfaro, Atar Hadari, Ruth Franklin, David Lee Lindsey, Chungmi Kim, Mark Kemble, Ric Krause, Alice Tuan, Steven J. Wolfson, Milcha Sanchez-Scott, Lynn Manning, James Bronson, Rosanna Staffa, Kelly Stuart, Oliver Mayer and Leon Martell.

THE PLAYER PLAYS: Not many artistic directors can offer to personally match any contributions to their companies. But that's what Tim Robbins did, in a recent fund-raising appeal on behalf of the Actors' Gang, now in residency at Second Stage in Hollywood. Of course it helps that Robbins is currently one of Hollywood's hottest actors ("The Player")--and that the Gang is still in the 99-seat arena, not the big leagues.

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