Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THEATER | Theater Notes

SCR to Be One Big Classroom for Intern Exec

April 11, 1999|DON SHIRLEY | Don Shirley is The Times' theater writer

The founding fathers of South Coast Repertory, Martin Benson and David Emmes, have entered their 60s--Benson is 62, Emmes 60. The company is in its 35th season. No one is suggesting that Benson and Emmes are about to retire, but certainly some theatergoers have begun to wonder who might take over Orange County's most prominent theatrical institution when the occasion arises.

Last week, a possibility for the succession came into sharper view. Using a $100,000 grant from the National Theatre Artist Residency Program, South Coast will give director Mark Rucker, in the words of the grant announcement, "an extended, in-depth opportunity to observe and participate in the artistic and management duties of resident theater leadership."

Rucker will lead South Coast's annual Pacific Playwrights Festival "and participate in other season and long-range artistic planning." He will direct two productions in each of the next two seasons, just as he's doing in the current season and did in the last season. He'll also "collaboratively create a new theater piece using an extensive workshop process."

Asked if Rucker, 39, is being groomed to take over, producing artistic director Emmes replied, through a spokesman: "While there is no heir apparent, certainly Mark is a person whom we feel has leadership ability. And for him to have this kind of experience would be helpful should he wish to take an active role in running a theater in the future."

Of course, the South Coast board will have the final word on who will be the next leader or leaders of the theater--and board members should be acquainted with Rucker by now. He has staged 10 productions at South Coast since 1993's "Intimate Exchanges," ranging from an acclaimed new play, "So Many Words," to a brilliantly re-conceived "The Taming of the Shrew," to a lively performance piece adapted from a classic, "The Birds," featuring the rowdy Culture Clash satirists.

That Rucker grew up in Newport Beach and worked at South Coast as a teenage usher shouldn't hurt, either. In between those years and now, he received a master's degree from Yale School of Drama and directed at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, La Jolla Playhouse and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., among other venues. A resident of Los Angeles, he's currently preparing to direct "On the Jump," a new play by South Coast literary manager John Glore that will conclude the current season.

The grant program that will pay for Rucker's residency is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and jointly administered by the Theatre Communications Group. The Odyssey Theatre in West L.A. will also benefit from $50,000 from the same program, bringing in set designer Lawrence Miller to design five productions, oversee four others, direct a musical and mentor a younger designer.

*

PACIFIC PLAYWRIGHTS: South Coast has announced the plays for its second annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, June 11-20. Receiving workshop productions, with five performances each, will be Rogelio Martinez's "Illuminating Veronica" and Jose Rivera's "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot." Receiving readings: Eduardo Andino's "Cuchifrito," Jonathan Ceniceroz's "Lupe, Now!," Richard Greenberg's "Everett Beekin," Donald Margulies' "God of Vengeance," Marlane Meyer's "The Mystery of Attraction" and Tom Donaghy's "The Beginning of August."

*

ROUND AND ROUND: Don't look for Alan Ayckbourn's entire "The Norman Conquests" trilogy at South Coast, as previously announced. It has been scaled back to just one play, "Round and Round the Garden," opening Friday.

The first plan was to extend the season a few extra weeks into the summer to accommodate all three comedies on South Coast's main stage, Emmes said. But when the second annual Pacific Playwrights Festival was slated for the end of the season, primarily on the Second Stage, the main-stage schedule changed so the new "On the Jump" could appear as part of the festival. "The Norman Conquests" moved into the slot previously reserved for "On the Jump," but that April 16-May 16 run was too short to do all three of the "Conquests."

Of the three plays, "Round and Round" got the nod from director Martin Benson because, he said, "it tells the story more completely than the others, and I was beguiled by its outdoor setting."

South Coast is sponsoring a wacky promotional offer in recognition of this one-third of "The Norman Conquests": Anyone whose first, last or middle name is Norman can get a free ticket for the evening performance next Sunday, subject to availability. A statement from the theater even encourages callers to "make a case for 'Norma' or other variations." Information: (714) 708-5555.

*

GOIN' TO THE CHAPPELL: Kandis Chappell will re-create her award-winning turn in Donald Margulies' "Collected Stories" at the Old Globe Theatre's Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Sept. 18-Oct. 23. She first did the role in the play's premiere at South Coast in 1996.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|