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Directors and the 99-seat theater

September 02, 2007

Rarely , if ever, does anyone in the critical fraternity take on the task of explaining the possible contributions of directors in the theater ["A Lack of Direction," Aug. 19].

It's a difficult task, and I believe the public mostly believes we are an unnecessary appendage comprised entirely of egomaniacs who don't really do very much.

It's really the writer who faces the blank page and the actor who stands before us who do all the heavy lifting, isn't it?

Something The Times' Charles McNulty didn't mention that is one of the factors why I direct so little theater in L.A. is that the 99-seat "unpaid actor" theater has given rise to "double casting."

I'm not sure which I like least, the fact that actors have acquiesced to no salary in exchange for the ability to leave a play at any time to pursue more lucrative TV and film work out here, or having to direct two actors in the same role and never knowing who will be at rehearsal.

I much prefer a professional theater world where people sign contracts, are paid a "decent" wage and actually commit to the rehearsal/performance schedule.

In truth, I think the 99-seat theater system hurts the quality of the work more than a lack of directing talent in this town.

Paul Lazarus

Los Angeles

Lazarus was artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse in the early '90s and currently is on the executive board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

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