Quick thoughts on the dance of profit, non-profit
After reading Laura Collins-Hughes' article, listed below, about the implications of non-profit theaters' commercial ties, I was reminded of the self-correcting forces at work at Stratford's Shakespeare Festival, which brought in Des McAnuff as artistic director partly because of his talent for turning La Jolla Playhouse ventures into solid Broadway successes "Big River," "The Who's Tommy," "Jersey Boys, etc.).
Even as the cash-strapped Stratford seemed to get what it bargained for -- basking in 2012 exposure on Broadway for its "Jesus Christ Superstar" production, which was directed by McAnuff -- anxiety over the festival's mission creep became apparent. Audiences and actors openly questioned what works like "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" were doing at a Shakespeare festival and whether the shows relied too much on blockbuster effects at the expense of classical values. In July, McAnuff's successor Antoni Cimolino announced a retrenchment:"I will put the actor and the text firmly at the center of what we do."
Meanwhile, the synergy among non-profit theatrical entities in New York City and the regions brings exposure if not bucks: Worth your attention is Ayad Akhtar's new play "Disgraced," which was nurtured at Chicago's tiny American Theater Company in special arrangement with the Araca Group. It's about to open at LCT3 with its Chicago director, Kimberly Senior, at the helm. The show is up for four 2012 Equity Jeff Awards tonight in Chicago.