After his recent and controversial announcement that Center Theatre Group's programs designed to develop new plays and playwrights would be axed as of July 1, CTG's new artistic director, Michael Ritchie, sought to calm the waters by saying he hoped collaborations with other small theaters would fill some of the resulting gaps in new play development and ethnic-specific programming.
As an example, Ritchie said that "Permanent Collection," a recent hit at a small L.A. theater, would be restaged next season at Culver City's Kirk Douglas Theatre, the newest venue in CTG's circle, which also includes downtown's Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre. "Permanent Collection" was co-produced by the black Robey Theatre Company, but some have argued that it does not jibe with CTG's longtime commitment to developing minority playwrights because it was written by a white writer, Thomas Gibbons.
CTG will not announce its 2005-06 season until mid-June -- but one possible offering at the Kirk Douglas Theatre does not appear to be either a new play, a collaboration with a small theater or an ethnic-specific program: Managing director Charles Dillingham confirms that CTG is negotiating an engagement by quirky but well-established Caucasian magician-author Ricky Jay.
With his long list of film and TV credits -- as well as the award-winning off-Broadway show "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants," directed by David Mamet and presented as an HBO special in the mid-'90s -- this sleight-of-hand artist hardly qualifies as slight of opportunity. Ritchie could not be reached for comment on how a possible Jay engagement would fit into CTG's long-term programming goals.