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THEATER | THEATER NOTES

Seeking Room to Celebrate

June 29, 1997|Don Shirley | Don Shirley is a Times staff writer

Add the Celebration Theatre in Hollywood to the list of sub-100-seat companies that want to move up to the mid-sized level.

"We've wanted to move out of where we are for some time," said artistic director Robert Schrock. "We'd love to have a space without a pole down the middle of the playing area."

The current site also lacks its own parking, since a nearby lot was rented to a neighbor last fall. Whenever that next move is made, Schrock wants the venue to be larger: "I want to see L.A. theater grow up. Mid-sized venues are taken more seriously."

Schrock has his eye on a couple of warehouse-style spaces in West Hollywood. He declined to identify them for competitive reasons. He wants to turn the new space into a 100- to 250-seat theater and hopes to have additional room to maintain a sub-100-seat space.

Schrock said the company is probably about a year away from beginning an official fund-raising campaign for the move.

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OF THE MOMENT: As Hong Kong becomes part of China on Tuesday, the Mark Taper Forum's Asian Theatre Workshop will host "The Courage to Stand Alone," a performance of work from the writings of political prisoner and human rights advocate (and former Red Guard) Wei Jingsheng, at the Taper. Sab Shimono and Sandra Oh will read the selections, which were adapted by the workshop's director, Chay Yew, and Clarence Coo.

A panel will follow--with Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Larry Siems of PEN Center USA West and Alan Gleitsman of the Gleitsman Foundation--moderated by Alvin Shuster, senior consulting editor and former foreign editor of The Times. Admission is free, but $20 donations will benefit the organization Human Rights in China. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling (213) 972-7389.

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RAWLINS AT CORONET: Ted Rawlins has been named executive director of the Coronet Theatre by its owner, Dee Gee Entertainment, effective July 14. Kehaunani Maile will serve as general manager. They'll handle the business affairs of the theater and its resident company, Playwrights Kitchen Ensemble.

Rawlins, 42, was most recently executive director of the John Harms Center for the Arts in New Jersey and previously co-founded--with actor Paul Sorvino--the American Stage Company, also in New Jersey.

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WHATCHAMACALLIT: First it was the Pacific Theatre Ensemble. Then the Venice-based stage company became Pacific Resident Theatre Ensemble, after the Pacific Theatres movie theater chain complained that their names were too similar.

Then, in the latest name change, the company dropped "Ensemble." Pacific Resident Theatre, if you please.

"This was a board decision that I voted against," said artistic director Marilyn Fox. "It was from the business side. People were complaining that four words in the name were hard to remember, that it was hard to answer the phone, that there wasn't enough room on the marquee."

The group is no less of an ensemble, she said. "There has been no change in the concept of the theater."

The board also considered dropping "Resident" and reversing the last two words: Pacific Ensemble Theatre. But "it seemed like too much of a change," Fox said. And maybe the group didn't want to be known as PET.

Now, if they could only spell their name right on their marquee. It says "Pacific Resident Theater," spelling theater with an er instead of the re that's on the group's official documents and stationery. "There was a mistake in the way we ordered the marquee," Fox said. "We couldn't have them do it again. It would have cost too much."

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