Theatrical education is incredibly important. Not merely for those who want to become performers, directors, or any other part of the industry–no, it’s been found that learning about the theatre is beneficial in everyday life (Studies) (Studies). After researching the county, I was able to find three different programs facilitated by South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa and The Chance Theatre in Anaheim that are working to get kids into theatre–and what’s even more impressive, the programs offered are free to students. Continue Reading
The theater critic has existed as long as theater itself. Ask Plato. It’s a co-dependent relationship where both thrive on each other’s existence. For the ever-sensitive actor the critic carries a double-edged sword: if they get a good review they love the critic like family; if they get a bad review (or no review at all) the critic is a complete moron who should be tarred and feathered. However, the theater depends on the critic’s review to bring in the crowds, they have access to the media and some people even read reviews. So there is the delicate balance of the relationship, based on an ever-tentative tolerance.
This relationship gets trickier when the critic is a member of the local theater scene, as both a participant, colleague and friend. For myself, I’ve been acting and writing in local theater in the Fullerton area since 2005. Several years ago I was invited to start writing critiques on Facebook for a local theater, a theater where I had acted in shows and had many friends. Knowing how touchy theater folks can be – they don’t call it drama for nothing – I was a little hesitant, and I warned them that I was going to be honest. But they liked my writing and were okay with that. So far I’ve had no complaints, at least not to my face. I’ve also started writing reviews for this website over the past year. Although I’ve been writing reviews on and off for forty years, I’m a relative newby to the OC theater world.
Joel Beers has been writing theater criticism in Orange County for twenty years, in the OC Weekly. Joel is easily the funniest and best writer of all local theater critics (of which there are few), and for my money, the most versed in the subject matter. Like me, Joel is a member of the theater world, as a playwright. He’s had a number of plays produced at Stages Theater over the years, and writes reviews for every theater in town, although the Weekly has seriously cut back on space for Arts the past few years. Joel gets criticized a lot by people in the theater world for being too hard on local theaters. He speaks his mind and is always honest. If he’s critical it’s because he holds the world of theater to a high standard. Nobody expects Broadway standard production values on a community theater level, but one does expect good quality theater: writing, acting, directing, design, imagination. That doesn’t require money. Joel will always research shows he’s reviewing, looking for interviews or background on the writer and the play. He does this because he takes it seriously.
Like many of us in the OC, local theaters are often forced to seek out new nests for any number of reasons. Sometimes they sadly become homeless and fall away into the abyss, and sometimes they move on to bigger and brighter homes. Continue Reading
What does it take to put on a successful theater show? This simple question is posed to OC theater producers and attendees every weekend, with varying results. And, as it turns out, it has little to do with money. There are a lot of choices for community and professional theater, everywhere from Fullerton to Laguna and spots in between. You can see Broadway touring companies at Segerstrom for big bucks in a not-so-friendly space with weak sound and bad sight lines, or you can see some what recent Broadway shows at local theaters as soon as they become available, produced at drastically smaller budgets, usually at more than one theater per season (Les Miserables is playing at no less than two spaces next year). Still, what it comes down to is not the size of the check behind the show. It’s the limits of the imagination, within those who produced it.Continue Reading