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Expanding on the Sketch : Director broadens meaning of comedy about late-night TV.

May 01, 1997|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"I'm personally not a fan of sketch comedy," said Anneliza Scott. She's talking about a show she is directing called "Late," opening Friday night at Third Stage in Burbank.

Scott, who started her career with Chicago's Wisdom Bridge and Body Politic theaters, explains that sketch comedy serves its purpose, but it's not what she wanted to be involved with. So why is she?

"The challenge for me," she said, "was to take the material and give it some continuity, and to give it fuller life."

The original script, by playwright-actor John Stuart Wildman, was born out of his obsession: the magnetic draw of television's nether world--between midnight and dawn.

"It's a series of scenes from the shows you're watching, but you're also in various viewers' living rooms seeing why they're watching, whether they're insomniacs or they work odd hours," said Wildman. "That's one of the things Anneliza has helped with--making it more than just a sketch show."

Both Wildman and Scott saw the opportunity to use the piece to make a statement, rather than just to amuse. The question Wildman asked himself when this idea first struck him was, "What was so fascinating that he just couldn't go to sleep?"

"Why was I staying up watching this stupid bikini movie?" he asked. "Why did I get wrapped up watching an infomercial? I just had to keep watching."

Scott has never been trapped in this particular obsession. "I hardly ever watch television anymore," she said. "It just seems so much nothing. This was a little bit of a chance for me to make my own statement along those lines. I wanted to say, 'People, wake up. This is absurd. There are better things to be doing out there with your time.' "

Scott also feels that people don't know how to talk to each other anymore. "Rather than work on relationships," she said, "we would just rather sit in front of the television and sort of veg out. It takes away the stress of using your brain."

* "Late," Third Stage, 2811 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. Ends June 7. $8. (818) 559-1222.

*

Out of the Frying Pan: Interact Theatre Company, which has been fund-raising with the aim of purchasing its present home on Hart Street in North Hollywood, says it looks as though the funds raised will have to be used to purchase another location.

The problem is the neighborhood zoning law. Interact was able to establish that the building was a theater before a 1971 residential zoning designation, but they have found out that the residential status actually goes back a decade before that.

Interact board president Leon Russom says the Community Redevelopment Agency has helped steer them toward several locations, including an appealing one within the NoHo Arts District that even has a marquee out front.

If Interact makes an offer on the new space, Russom says, the fund-raising will continue. Aid in that effort has come from members of the Shubert Theatre organization who were in the audience at Interact's recent production of "Into the Woods." Aware of the group's quandary, representatives of the Shubert offered Interact a block of seats at a performance of the upcoming musical "Ragtime," as a benefit. Interact member Annie Abbott says they are thrilled that 100 of their 200 prime orchestra seats have been sold for the "Ragtime" performance July 1. There are still 100 seats available at $100 per seat.

* To purchase benefit tickets for "Ragtime" on July 1 at the Shubert Theater, call (818) 773-7862.

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