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Defending Improvisation

August 31, 1996

I read with great interest Laurie Winer's recent commentary, which pointed out the improvisational roots of commedia dell'arte, as seen in plays at the Mark Taper Forum and La Jolla Playhouse ("Funny Thing . . .," Aug. 15).

I detected, however, a marked anti-improvisation bias, perhaps emanating not from Winer herself, but certainly reflecting a prevalent stance in the theatrical community. The writer is apparently not informed of the fact that, since the '50s and recently with renewed fervor, I have been creating improvisational theater in this city.

We are devoted to establishing ourselves as unique in this genre. As far as I can tell, there are no groups who perform this risky, dangerous, but exhilarating form, anywhere that we are aware of. It is immensely difficult as art and personal skill, demanding years of constant training, but it also flies in the face of long-standing prejudice and the more recent obstacles that the political and economic climate has placed in our path. It is therefore important for the viability of this unique art form that it be acknowledged and supported by the art press and the writers who disseminate this information.

RACHEL ROSENTHAL

Director,

The Rachel Rosenthal Company

Los Angeles

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