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Inside [Inside] the Ford

January 24, 2010 | 11:20 am

Ford The essence of theater, director Peter Brook tells us, is an empty space, an actor and an audience. For L.A.’s many itinerant ensembles, actors may be plentiful but finding–and paying for–a space can be a challenge and stage-hopping often isn’t conducive to developing a steady audience.

To help address such problems, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission has started the [Inside] the Ford New Play Series, a 2-year-old program that offers groups without permanent homes a venue and resources to mount productions they otherwise couldn’t afford.

Laura Zucker, the commission’s executive director, used to run a 93-seat house in the Valley, so she knows what it takes to put on a show. “The high cost of rent is the biggest chunk of the production budget, which prevents people from focusing on the artistic product,” she says.

The commission holds an open competition to pick three projects for each winter season at the county’s [Inside] the Ford theater in Hollywood. Companies are charged a highly subsidized weekly rate of $1,000 in exchange for use of an 87-seat space that includes lighting and sound systems, free parking and plenty of restrooms.

The approach seems to be paying off, especially when it comes to creating a rare (for L.A.) showcase for new work by interesting–and sometimes hard-to-find–small companies. The inaugural season featured three premieres of different sorts: Moving Arts’ production of EM Lewis’ “Song of Extinction,” which won the 2009 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Assn. New Play Award; Circle X Theatre Company’s production of Jim Leonard’s “Battle Hymn”; and “Home Siege Home,” the first complete presentation of Ghost Road Company’s years-in-the-making version of Aeschylus’ “Oresteia.” 

The L.A. premiere of Charles L. Mee’s crazy-quilt of a play, “bobrauschenbergamerica,” opened this weekend, a production in which TheSpyAnts Theatre Company is teaming with artists such as director Bart DeLorenzo and choreographer Ken Roht.

To find out more about [Inside] the Ford please see my story in Arts and Books.

-- Karen Wada

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