Lone Star Ensemble
The Lone Star Ensemble (founded by, from left, James Kerwin, Brian Stanton, Corey Hayes and Travis Schuldt) isn't afraid to be hokey in playing up its Texas connection: Three of these four met at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Donors are "ranch hands," "cowpokes," "wranglers" and such. But there's no aw-shucks in the work, which has been eliciting critical yee-haws.
The 3-year-old company mounts just two plays a year on rented stages around L.A. It made its mark staging lesser-known works by famous playwrights, including Sam Shepard ("Icarus's Mother"), Tony Kushner ("The Illusion," adapted from Corneille) and Shakespeare ("Venus and Adonis"). Three shows reviewed by The Times since 2001 all earned plaudits: "wildly imaginative," "crackling entertainment."
Schuldt, Lone Star's president, says the challenge for 2004 will be to live up to those notices and continue to "make audiences question and think and have a theatrical experience unlike any other." Next up: a 10-minute-play festival in late April.
-- Mike Boehm
Veteran director and critic Robert Brustein picked Kate Whoriskey to direct "The Master Builder" with him in 1999, when she was his graduate student. "She has a very special visionary and symbolic imagination that isn't rooted in any mundane reality," Brustein said.
Whoriskey has since become one of the most talked-about directors in resident theater, including a brief stint as associate director and then artistic associate of La Jolla Playhouse.
Last year she staged Lynn Nottage's "Intimate Apparel" in its premiere at Baltimore's Center Stage and then at Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory. She'll direct another Nottage premiere, "Fabulation," in 2004 at New York's Playwrights Horizons. She does old plays too: On Jan. 30, her "Antigone" opens at South Coast. It raises a very familiar question after Sept. 11, 2001: How do you protect a society?
Her production, she said, "probably will feel like America in a contemporary time, in which a pristine space gets attacked."
-- Don Shirley
Real estate developer
Tom Gilmore is no theater aficionado. He sees plays only occasionally. Still, the developer has been picked by L.A.'s Cultural Affairs Department to operate the city-owned, four-stage Los Angeles Theatre Center.
As a developer of other nearby projects, such as the Old Bank District apartments and the performing arts center that will go in St. Vibiana's Cathedral, Gilmore sees LATC as one more component of the neighborhood he is trying to forge.
"I believe in the power of that space," he says, "but the theater must grow into the neighborhood, not the other way around."