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Standing for Ovations

November 28, 1998

I was surprised and disappointed by Don Shirley's coverage of the Ovation Awards ceremony ("Ovations Spread Applause Thin," Nov. 18). Shirley's general characterization of the evening as lacking focus represents a serious misunderstanding of the Los Angeles theater community and the membership of Theatre LA.

Furthermore, he misrepresents the spirit of the entire evening, which I felt was inspired, mutually supportive and proud. The fact that no single production swept the awards ceremony is a tribute to the strength of the community as a whole--a sentiment that was echoed again and again in the speeches given by recipients, in the taped statements of the recipients not in attendance, in the conversations during the reception that followed and, I am confident, in subsequent company meetings all over the city.

MATTHEW ALLEN BRETZ, Artistic Director, Circle X Theatre Company, Los Angeles

*

It truly is amazing the way in which the single most energizing theatrical event of the year, the 1998 Theatre LA Ovation Awards, has been mischaracterized by Don Shirley. Whereas most of us in our field were witness to the greatest outpouring of community and recognition of achievement seen locally in at least the 10 years I've been here, Shirley tells us it was something quite different.

I remain puzzled by Shirley's constant focus on the smallest procedural goings-on at Theatre LA, as though he were investigating the Watergate break-in. In his Nov. 15 interview with Theatre LA President Lawrence O'Connor and Executive Director Alisa Fishbach, he seemed determined to convict them of wrongdoing when all they're trying to do is give away a few awards to some overworked, under-recognized, underpaid, passionate theater people struggling to further the art form in the face of large-scale indifference.

LEE WOCHNER, Secretary, Board of Governors, Theatre LA

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