Unless it raises $500,000, the Shakespeare Society of America won't produce Shakespeare again at the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood.
For years, the society has been Los Angeles'--perhaps even the world's--steadiest source of Shakespeare stagings. The productions were never lavish. But the group staged all 37 plays in the standard Shakespeare canon, plus "The Two Noble Kinsmen," between 1975 and 1979--and then staged the 37 again between 1979 and 1985. Since 1985, the group has expanded its programming to include 12 of the "apocryphal" Shakespeare plays, ending with "The Merry Devil of Edmonton" last fall.
Since "Edmonton" closed, however, the 99-seat Globe has been occupied solely by rental productions. What's happening?
"We're on a hiatus while we're raising money," said Thad Taylor, the president and founder of the society and builder of the Globe. He expects to have a grant application package ready by the end of the month for perusal by corporations, foundations and government endowments. And he won't re-open until he has $500,000 "in the bank"--enough, he said, to pay for a season of 6 to 8 plays that would run for 6 to 8 weeks each.
It's a story of diminishing income and rising costs. Taylor, 65, personally financed nearly all of the society's previous work, he said. But he retired from an electrical engineering career in 1972 in order to produce Shakespeare full-time, and he said he hasn't had any substantial new income since an inheritance in 1975.
Meanwhile, the cost of a single production has risen from $12,000-$15,000 in the last years of Equity Waiver (which ended in Oct. 1988) to $20,000-$25,000 under Equity's 99-Seat Theater Plan, which requires the society to pay each actor minimal amounts per performance. And Taylor wants to go far beyond the union requirements; he wants to pay at least $125 a week to each actor.
"I've been doing this for 25 years," he said. "It's time to step up the ladder. I want to pay everyone for their professionalism." That includes $10,000 to promote and advertise each production--something he always managed without, in the past. Under his new policy, the cost of a single production would be $45,000-$55,000.
Taylor especially hopes "the (entertainment) industry people in town who have cast their shows out of here" will remember his efforts and respond to his fund-raising campaign. His target for a re-opening is within the next year.
NAACP NOMINEES: Three notable shows were absent from the list of nominees, announced Wednesday, for the theater awards of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.
The awards cover shows that opened in the Los Angeles area between Aug. 1, 1988 and Dec. 30, 1989. Garnering the most nominations were Long Beach Civic Light Opera's "Sophisticated Ladies" (13) on the Equity level, and Inner City Cultural Center's "Shadow Box" (9) in the category of "99 Seat Theater Plan and Special Shows."
"Fences," "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" and "Eden"--probably the most prominent plays on African-American themes presented during that period--received no nominations.
The 12 members of the NAACP panel of judges were not given tickets to those productions, explained committee chairperson Patricia Bell.
Both "Joe" and "Eden" were Los Angeles Theatre Center productions--yet another LATC show, "Three Ways Home," netted four nominations. "A budget crunch" in between the opening of "Three Ways" in February and the opening of "Joe" and "Eden" in April and May was the reason LATC cited for changing its policy, said Bell. But an LATC spokeswoman said "it was a matter of availability of house seats instead of budget cutbacks. We didn't have as many house seats as they needed."
The awards will be presented June 25 at the Los Angeles Hilton Hotel, including special awards to Ted Lange, Helen Martin, Esther Rolle and Robert Guillaume.
SUCH A DEAL: All tickets to Los Angeles Theatre Center productions will cost $10 during the holiday weekend, beginning tonight. That includes six regular performances of "The Illusion" and six of "Strong-Man's Weak Child," as well as three previews of Derek Walcott's "Viva Detroit." Normal ticket prices are $17 for previews and $22-$26 for regular performances.
VIVA THE NEW CAST: Speaking of "Detroit," the entire cast has changed from the originally announced Danny Glover, Carl Lumbly and Deirdre O'Connell. Replacing them are Robert Gossett, Moses Gunn and Gates McFadden.
Glover bowed out because of conflicts with the filming of "Predator 2" and "Rage in Harlem." As for Lumbly, "Carl and Danny are old friends, and Carl was doing (the play) in order to do it with Danny," said Lumbly's agent Susan Schwarz. And O'Connell got a job in a feature film, "Souvenirs," with John Cougar Mellencamp.
While Glover and Lumbly were planning on alternating roles, Gossett and Gunn will not.
Lumbly won't be off local stages for long. He'll appear as one of "Miss Evers' Boys" in David Feldshuh's play of that name, July 19-Sept. 2, at the Mark Taper Forum.
BUS STOPPERS: It'll be Lea Thompson in "the Marilyn Monroe role" in William Inge's "Bus Stop" at Pasadena Playhouse, opening July 6. Daniel Reichert, currently in "Burn This" in San Francisco, will play Bo.
PADUA HILLS SEASON: The application deadline for the writers' workshop half of the Padua Hills Playwrights' Workshop/Festival, which returns to Cal State Northridge June 25, has been extended until June 8. Information: (213) 913-2636.
The festival of plays, July 19-Aug. 12, will include a Thursday-Friday series with Kelly Stuart's "Ball and Chain," Martin Epstein's "Our Witness," John Steppling's "Storyland" and Susan Champagne's "Bondage," plus a Saturday-Sunday series with Roxanne Rogers' "Book of Dreams," Murray Mednick's "Shatter 'n Wade," Alan Bolt's "Salsa Opera" and Leon Martell's "Bricktime Stories."
A Padua Hills benefit will be held June 30 at the Northridge campus.