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Bit of Matchmaking May Give Theater Some Space

Patricia Elmore, the managing producer of the San Diego Actors Theatre, delivered a baby boy Oct. 29. Now, if all goes well, Elmore, the one-person force behind the floating theater troupe, may soon deliver a theater space for her 4-year-old creation.

The plan is for a deal in which the Actors Theatre will have 12 weeks a year to produce at the Bowery Theatre’s new space at the Onyx Building at 852-860 5th Ave. in the Gaslamp Quarter.

The first production by the Actors Theatre will be a staged reading of A. R. Gurney Jr.'s “The Perfect Party” for the last two weekends in February. Since the designated basement space is not expected to be ready until the spring, Elmore plans to hold the reading in a temporary gallery on the first floor of the building.

The matchmaker between the theaters is Linville Martin, a co-owner of M&M; Development, which owns the Onyx Building.

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Martin, who first offered the space to the Bowery when that theater was looking for its new home, is on the board of directors at the Actors Theatre. This will mark Martin’s second foray as a theater landlord. The last time, he rented the old Candy Factory at 8th Avenue and K Street to the now-defunct San Diego Public Theatre headed by Steve Pearson and Robyn Hunt.

“I got burned on that one,” Martin said. “Deal with the theater and you always get burned.”

But, like a moth, he is nevertheless drawn to the flames.

“Doing the things I do on a day-to-day basis is not always fun, and doing things with the theater is,” Martin said. “It’s fun, it satisfies some kind of creative need I have, and it’s a chance to do something for the community as well.”

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One parent who took her 5-year-old daughter to the San Diego Junior Theatre production of “Rumpelstiltskin,” which closed Sunday, saw a division between black and white that made her see red.

At issue was a 40-person cast in which the one bad character, Rumpelstiltskin, was played by the single black actor in the show.

“Unfortunately, we live in a community infamous for its white supremacists, be they Nazis or Skinheads,” Olivia Flores Jourdane wrote in a letter to The Times. “I will not charge the Junior Theatre with intentional racism. But the apparent lack of sensitivity in performing a good/evil fable with a white ‘good’ cast and the sole black playing the ‘evil’ Rumpelstiltskin was too offensive to remain silent.

“This was particularly true when I looked around the theater and saw it filled with children. The message was clear: ‘Watch out, white America, for the evil black man’s attempt to steal your baby.’ ”

Were there shades of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the rock musical that juxtaposed a white Christ and disciples with the black actor playing Judas?

Not according to Lizbeth Persons, marketing and public relations director for the theater, who expressed surprise when told of Jourdane’s reaction.

“It was completely unintentional,” Persons said. “Many children of all races auditioned for the role. The boy who played Rumpelstiltskin was simply the best in the role. None of us had considered that this would be noticed by anyone. It’s a fairy tale, and fairy tales have no racial boundaries.”

As to why there were no blacks playing any other parts, Persons said: “Unfortunately, we don’t have a high number of black students in junior theater. We don’t understand why. We would like to have more. We unfortunately have a white majority here.”

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BITS AND PIECES: The Carlsbad Theatre Company had to vacate the Carlsbad Theatre while it is raising the $15,000 needed for the electrical improvements and sprinkler system that will bring it up to code. In the meantime, it is running its second production, Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue,” at the Harding Center, 3096 Harding St., through Dec. 11 on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons . . . On Monday, a dark night at United States International University’s “You Can’t Take It With You” at the Theatre in Old Town, actor Navarre Perry took a break from playing the comedic Mr. Kirby to provide a chilling portrayal of Adolph Eichmann in Donald Freed’s “The White Crow,” the latest offering of the Los Angeles-based Streisand Festival of New Jewish Plays at the Hahn Cosmopolitan Theatre. Kit Goldman, managing producer of the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre, who co-starred with Perry, said that while the series ends this morning, she is arranging for the Gaslamp to present the results of next year’s as well . . . The Marquis Theatre is extending its run of “Rashomon” through Jan. 14 . . . Tony-award winning playwright David Henry Hwang will follow up his text for Philip Glass’ “1,000 Airplanes on the Roof” with a libretto for a new Glass opera, “The Voyage,” which will be staged in October, 1992, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America.


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