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 Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)

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ragman5
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PostSubject: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:26 pm

A week ago, I posted some comments under the former title. I don't think very many people read it, because I deleted it a couple of hours after I posted it. I was quite angry when I wrote it because to me, it felt like my whole family was under attack because we've all been involved with the Palmdale Playhouse in some aspect for years. When I had a chance to cool down a bit, I realized it may have been a little harsh and not a good idea, which is why I deleted it. But here it is, a week later, and I'm still upset about this, so I'm re-posting it, or at least something similar to it.

I like to watch channel 27, the Palmdale channel when they broadcast the local city council meetings. Generally, I'll watch for a little while, then change the channel. Sometimes it can be sorta like watching The Weather Channel, it's fine for a few minutes, but then you just gotta move on. However, on some recent broadcasts, there have been representatives from a couple of other 3 letter theatre groups, voicing their displeasure about the playhouse, and actually criticizing the current staff and how things are run. It was suggested that the current staff doesn't know what they're doing, and don't care about the playhouse, or about the art of theater in general. It was also suggested that the entire staff be let go, and replaced with a staff comprised of people from one or both of the other groups, that they could do a better job of running the playhouse. Well, as I stated in last weeks posting, no matter who is running the show, there will always be someone else, some other group who feel they can do a better job. That's just human nature, you're not going to please all of the people all of the time. If, by some chance, this other group should gain control, there will eventually be a third group who will feel they could do better, and so forth. It is my opinion, quite frankly, that the current staff have always done and continue to do a marvelous, professional job especially now more than ever, with an ever shrinking budget as well as diminishing personnel. Oh I know that no one is perfect, and some mistakes can happen, that's all part of being human. Let the one who has never made a mistake cast the first stone, to paraphrase. Folks at the playhouse have years of experience in everything from commercials, TV, movies as well as theater, some of them with degrees and who love the theater, not to mention that they've run the playhouse successfully for years. I can personally attest to one individual, who just recently graduated from a local JC with an AA degree. This person loves the theater and wants to make a career of it, if possible.

Another suggestion was made that some or all of the other programs be discontinued, such as the orchestra, choir and dance programs, having been stated that these are unnecessary. My youngest son has been a member of the youth and community orchestra's for years. Every time they perform, it's always to a sold out or near sold out audience. The stage is busting at the seams with children and adults alike who love what they're doing. My wife and I have both have been members of the choir, and I seen some of the dance programs and they are phenomenal. To scrap these programs would be extremely short-sighted, and not very community minded. I certainly hope the city council is not even considering this.

My wife and I, as well as our older son are members of the Palmdale City Players, which I understand has also received its share of criticism. It has also been said by these groups that production programs like the Family Theatre Series and the Cultural Historical & Educational Drama be discontinued as well, also being cited as unnecessary. Last season, that would have been "Cheaper By The Dozen", and "The Exonerated". I was in both of them. My wife was in one and was the assistant stage manager of the other. I understand these other groups put on wonderful shows. In fact my wife and I were in one last year. It opened last season as the first production. We had a great time. It was a lot of fun and we met some very nice, very talented people. I've been to and paid money to see other productions that both groups have put on, and they were really good shows. Most of them were musicals. Musicals are fine, but man does not live by musicals alone. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. The season of the Palmdale Playhouse consists of diversity. A wide range of programs that can appeal to so many people. To lose even one of them would be a crime and a sin.

It was also suggested, if you can believe it, that the playhouse actually be closed. I don't want to go there because I might start getting angry again.

As I stated before, no one is perfect. The Palmdale Playhouse needs to stay the way it is. It is, as it has been said by one famous female celebrity, "An oasis in the desert". It has been working successfully for years, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Some may not agree with that statement, but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion. Also, as I said before, the name of the game at the playhouse is diversity. These other 2 groups are part of that diversity. It really bothers me to hear some of the things that have been said at those council meetings.

To cite another statement in this cliche-ridden novel, "can't we all just get along?"
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:18 pm

I'm with you ragman, the playhouse is a great place. I have many feelings on this issue, and I'm writing them up now... but after a few diplomatic snafoos earlier, I want to be sure I take the time to phrase it correctly. I'll be posting soon.

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:26 pm

My feelings about the playhouse were at one point quite heated, but I think with the nice summer break and putting my life back together after a breakneck-paced year of theater last season, I've lapsed into a more thoughtful mode. So, I've decided to be quite frank here, and if I burn a few bridges at PPH or with the rest of the theater community here, well... whatever. I'm not an actor; I'm an engineer who likes to act and watch acting. I have no need or desire to "make it" or be star, and what are they going to do, fire me? I pay them to be involved!

Firstly, I didn't see the interview in question, nor did I hear what they said, but my first reaction is to say that they are being a bit snobbish. To be fair, I don't think members of the other groups would have seen some of the growth PCP showed last season; and I'll be frank, ragman, the only shows I actually enjoyed at the playhouse last season were Exonerated, Tuna, and *mostly* Yes Virginia and a couple of the Spotlight shows. Scaryoke was mostly fun, but hardly good theater, and I say that as one of the leads. I abstain on Cheaper By the Dozen, as I participated neither as an actor nor as an audience member. So... in my humble opinion, PCP scored a two and three-halves out of what, ten shows? A 35% "acceptable or better" rating is hardly what I would call a quality theater establishment, and I (mostly) stand by an earlier comment I made that irked the PPH management that PCP doesn't do (or at least has not done to my knowledge) much of interest, from the standpoint of what in my humble opinion is "quality theater."

HOWEVER, in the defense of the PPH, I would pose the question to the other groups, why does that matter? Dea (the manager) has always said that the PPH has been first and foremost a place of learning. And I see plenty of learning going on there, in all of the arts programs, which raise children to be thoughtful, well-rounded, talented, and confident citizens who appreciate the arts; and such people, who may or may not become more "professional" later on, are the type who will at least be more inclined to attend performances of those more professionally inclined, so indeed, why are the latter group complaining? Those children who attend the Playhouse's arts programs enjoy themselves, and surely there are worse things they could be doing with their spare time in our crime-ridden Antelope Valley? Those adults who participate there are also enjoying themselves, giving something to their community and exploring the arts in a supportive, low-pressure environment (at least with fellow actors, and at least most of the time with the staff).

And speaking of low-pressure, let me tell you prima donnas something... I love theater. I have over eleven years of experience as an actor; I have written screenplays, short scenes, and (most of) a full-length play; I directed my own small theater company for three years, touring libraries and encouraging youth literacy; in short scene competitions when I was growing up, I medaled three times for acting, at the state level!; and I will debate Shakespeare with you down to the fine points until the wee hours. But I am also a research engineer who works a lot of overtime, the chairman of the local chapter of my professional society, working on my masters in aerospace engineering with a concentration in computational fluids and thermophysics, and an amateur photographer. SO, while I thoroughly enjoy more "professional" (and I use quotes because I believe the term applies loosely even with the other groups in the AV) productions, I do not have the time or inclination to participate in them. I simply have better things to do.

I am rather close with keltron, and I know fairly directly how much time and effort she is putting into Ragtime with DOT. I have even attended part of one of the rehearsals. And as a purely objective assessment, I didn't see anything special in the way of talent there, at least not that I couldn't find with the current PCP crop. I'm sorry, but I am quite convinced I could do better than most of those people (keltron excepted of course Wink ) . But would I audition for that show? Absolutely not. Nor would I for any musical (with extremely few exceptions). I'm not too good for it at all (hardly), I just do not have the time for 3-4 rehearsals per week, show runs more than a few days, or touring anywhere (even if the "tour" is one other location). Where else in this valley but the PPH could I even hope to participate in a pursuit that I love? Let me act where I want to, and yes, I will still come and watch your show and probably enjoy watching the fruits of your much harder labor.

A fellow PCP actor put it quite well... "I don't care if there is one person in the audience or a packed house, when I get up there, I'm having fun." If you aspire to more than that, go somewhere else... we certainly don't need you to have fun ourselves, and we really don't want you either if you're going to cause trouble.

That said, while I do sometimes question what I see as irrational micromanagement at the upper echelons of the PPH, it is profoundly unfair to say that all of what PCP does is worthless and should be abandoned, even ignoring the side issues I have brought up above. Even on the question of theatrical merit, PCP has done some incredible stuff. "A Tuna Christmas" had me in stitches, I could not breathe I was laughing so hard... and "The Exonerated" was a deeply moving, socially relevant piece that saw sold-out crowds and tearful audiences every single night. And much better in my opinion than the same darn musicals everyone has seen all the time, thank you very much. Did any of these other theater "aficiandos" bother to stop by and see what fine things PCP can put together when the right elements combine? I very much doubt they would think us worth the thought... and they wonder why we think of them as arrogant a-holes?

At the beginning of the summer, I was quite committed to the unification of the theater groups in the AV, at least on a social level... if what you say here is true ragman, I wonder now if they possess the same good faith?

The PPH is a great place for learning and exploring the arts, and it needs to stay. I have huge issues with the way things are run sometimes, but as Dea herself says, "let's not make Rwanda out of this." I would assume this is obvious, but just in case:

This is COMMUNITY THEATER people, you and I are ALL, in the truest sense, AMATUERS.

Do the best you personally can with what you have when you have it, and focus on having fun. If you need for everything to be perfect to have fun, stop whining and go audition down in LA. If your *enjoyment* (separate from your drive) is predicated on others' development and performance, stop whining and go audition down in LA. If having to move one (free rent!) show from the PPH to somewhere else makes you want to take down the system, stop whining and get a sense of perspective (probably not to be found in LA).

Seesh, am I the only theater junkie with a contempt for drama queens?...

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:37 pm

Wonderfully put, QC.

At this exact and particular time in my life, I'm making every effort to avoid stress--particularly that which comes with a firestorm like this. So my only input on this subject is to add that although I've had some issues with the PPH (indeed, large enough issues to result in my de-involvement with the PPH at this time), I think the suggestion of dissolving the PPH and the efforts of the fine PCPs (and orchestra, choir, etc.) is absolutely ridiculous. And while I believe in the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", I do believe that there is some fixing to be done with PPH. However, I think that fixing needs to be done internally and by people (PCPs in particular) who love and care about The Playhouse, not by other groups with ulterior motives. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. As much as anyone, I'd like to see the PPH succeed (mostly because I miss you guys like crazy and want to come back when it's more fun than stress for me!).

These other groups have got it all wrong. Keep the Playhouse, make it better, stay true to the tradition of educational theatre, and show the AV that there's room for all the groups here.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:02 pm

I was holding off on posting a reply to the ragmans comments until I was sure of what I wanted to say. Before I launch into them, let me clarify that I probably have the least amount of theater experience of anyone. This past year was my first in a very long time of doing anything of the sort. I enjoyed being in four productions. The Playhouse staff helped make a dream of mine that I've had for 25 years come true. I was bitten by the acting bug in the 6th grade, but circumstances prevented me from returning to the stage in a play. For that, I owe the Palmdale Playhouse, the PCP, and all the friends I made this past year a debt of gratitiude, you have no idea.

Now, as to the comments made at city council meetings by other theater groups; I have no idea what was said, except by what ragman has stated. I know him personally, and count him among my friends. I know of no reason whatsoever for him to bring this to the table unless those statements were made, and he was really mad about it. Knowing ragman as one of the calmest individuals I've ever met, I have no doubt that not only are his hackles up and claws out, but I'd venture a guess that he's ready to fight someone about this. I read his comment before he deleted it, and thought, whoa, dude's MAD!

So how does that make me feel? Closing the playhouse and starting over? That's the best solution that's been offered? Wow. No one has a hidden agenda, huh? Come on! The only way this is going to get better is if everyone learns to get along and WORK TOGETHER! I know there are people in all the groups who have been doing this a long time, and feel that that qualifies them as experts in this, that, and the other thing, but the bottom line, as QC said, this is COMMUNITY THEATER people! None of us are on Broadway, at the Pantages or anywhere else for that matter. I don't know if anyone has won a Tony, Oscar, Emmy, or a Razzie, and quite frankly, I don't care. IT'S COMMUNITY THEATER! No one is knocking us over for autographs, photos, etc, and if people are, I'm certainly not hearing about it. The most recognition I've ever gotten was along the lines of "Hey, I saw you in _______" or "Hey, you did magic at _______" and that's cool and all, but not why I do it. I do it cause it's FUN!

If there has to be competition, and someone has to win, okay, you win. Here's your prize. Now, can I do COMMUNITY THEATER with you? But please. Don't pretend that one group is any better or worse than any other. Talk to me when your group commands ticket prices of $95 or better.

There was a guy I served with in the military who made a comment about the quality of military doctors. I asked him why doctors would give up private practice and take the pay cuts to serve in the miltary. His response was interesting. He said, "Either they love their country or they're no good as a professional. You better hope they love their country." I think that the vast majority of the actors and techs involved in all of this really love the theater, and are good at what they do. The world has enough divas and prima donnas. Can we get past all this and bring great theater to a valley STARVING for it?

Just my five and a half cents. (Inflation you know. Wink )

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:41 pm

There will be a city council meeting on Wednesday July 2 @7:00 p.m. It is my feelings that we need to also voice our feelings and thoughts about the GOOD things at the playhouse. The programs have been more than just programs they have been a step up for those who wished they could dance, sing, write, act, paint, or play an instrument. The playhouse has provided that for anyone who had a dream or wish. In a perfect world everything would be perfect and boring. I personaly feel attacked by the comments made by people who deem themselves professional and "christian" minded. Who are they to to condem that which they know nothing about? They have not been to a single show we have done or seen the hard work we have put in to making a show. Musicals are fun and I like them alot , theatre is a variety of shows and venues and not just musicals. How dare they attack my "family' by saying they do not know what they are doing!!!! I beg to differ with anyone who says we are unlearned and have no heart for theatre.My fellow PCP members do work hard Do love the theatre or we would not be doing it at all. Fun you bet we have fun! I also am angry that my own son has been attacked and the friends I have at the PPHPhave been attacked by people who have no clue how hard they work and where their heart is. I plan on being at that meeting and voicing my HEART for PCP and the PPH. This "Theatre Mom" is angry and I will NOT be silent anymore! My "family" needs to be defended this MOM will be there.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:28 pm

A firestorm indeed, but not one started by Dea, or anyone at the playhouse. Which is why I hesitated to say anything, and why I deleted my first posting. I just felt like I was adding to it.
But it got to a point I felt I had to.

We all indeed have our share of stress. My day starts at 4:00 am with the alarm clock, out the door by 5:45 and don't walk in the front door until around 7:15 - 7:30 pm - ish. I do have a stressful job with long hours, not to mention a 110 mile round trip daily commute. This is not to say that I corner the market on stress, heavens no. I'm quite sure others have to deal with more stress and longer hours than I. For instance, I know I could never be a teacher, hats off to Jay. So why join the playhouse? Or PCP? Certainly there is stress involved there. From learning lines to remembering blocking, not wanting to screw up on stage. But there is a difference. This is wanted stress, if there is such a thing. This is being able to be involved with a wonderful project, meet some nice people, and be taken to a place that you don't normally go. And, if only for a short time forget the day-to-day stuff that bombards us all. It doesn't matter if you're involved with PCP or any of the many other programs that the playhouse has to offer. Which is why I joined. No it's not perfect. There is always room for improvement, and mistakes will be made. As for me? I can only speak of my own experiences. With all the shows I've been involved with, "Scrooge", "Cheaper", "Scaryoke", "Exonerated", The Sonnets, as well as 2 seasons of Will & Company's Shakespeare festival and of course Spotlight. Not to mention the year I sang with the choir. I have never had a bad experience. Each time, I came away having learned more, being a little more confident.

I agree with you QC. I don't intend to go pro with this, I do it for fun. Some may consider it a stepping stone, and that's fine for them. My wife and I were in a DOT show, "The Wizard of Oz". And as I stated before, we had a great time. It was a fun show. We did meet some nice people. And although it is true that, to the best of my knowledge, DOT and PRT people never come to our shows, there were a few folks from "Wiizard" who came to see "Cheaper". I really appreciated that. There were, however, a few people we met during that show that were nice to begin with, but when they found out we were PCP members, started to avoid us and gave us the cold shoulder. We thought, how sad and petty. But we were like, what the heck, that's their problem, and continued to have a good time.

I guess, to some extent I can understand what DOT is saying. They feel they are being slighted the use of a theater they feel they helped create. And to some extent, they did. They did made a contributation at the beginning, but again to my knowlwdge, haven't paid anything since. That's 2 groups, taking up six weekends each, with no money going to the playhouse to cover anything. If that is indeed the case, it's no wonder the playhouse may be losing money. I do understand contracts. However, things change, times change. Sometimes contracts need to be revisited. What was true 20 years ago is no longer true. 20 years ago, gas prices were under a buck a gallon. Obviously, DOT is unhappy with the way things are going. But I don't appreciate the way they are voicing their displeasure, with finger pointing, accusation throwing, name dropping and arrogantly suggesting that their shows are the meat of the playhouse season, and everything else is the fat, which needs to be trimmed away. That's a slap in the face to everything the playhouse has ever done. Dea is not the reason the city is having budget issues. She was not there when the contracts were signed yet I feel she is being used as a scapegoat, along with the rest of the playhouse staff. DOT says 'train us to use the equipment to city specifications and requirements". If that were to happen, what would then happen if something were to get broken? Who'll pay for it? Or if someone falls off a ladder hanging a light, what happens then, a lawsuit?

I'm starting to get angry again, so I better wrap this up. DOT and PRT can put on good shows, as I said before, I've seen some of them. They are PART of what I believe the Antelope Valley needs culturally. The valley needs more than just musicals, and I do know PRT does do more than musicals. However, what the playhouse has done through the years is GOOD THEATER! Productions like "Big River", "Piece of my Heart", and "Lilies of the Field", not to mention "The Exonerated" which, as QC said, played to sold-out teary-eyed audiences. To suggest anything else is ludicrous, and I just thought it was time someone said so.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:38 pm

PCP needs to stay, but I have a couple of big beefs... if they are so concerned about revenue then we need to put on better quality stuff on a regular basis. PCP has done some great things, ragman, but it's not on anything like a consistent basis.

I don't know exactly how to fix it , but as a first cut, I would think the following changes would be good for PCP:


1. Separate the theater program into a repertory type company and a learning company. Don't attempt to combine two things that have fundamentally different goals.

2. In the repertory company, COMPETE:
a) have open auditions for every show. What is the point of restricting auditions to PCP only? That just limits our talent pool.
b) cast actors purely on merit, not on time with the company or any other factor
c) same as b, but for the tech crew as well... if experienced people want to help, find a way to let them replace less experienced people for a show. if that means liability waivers to exempt the city, fine.
d) get rid of the fee to join, and focus on getting the best people to put on quality productions that you can charge more for and fill more seats for. The only way you can justify charging people to act for you when other companies in the valley don't is to say that there is a class or learning program you get in return. The only two shows I learned anything new from are Exonerated, which was more than half non-PCP (see item 2 a and b), and the Shakespeare shows, which are not PCP productions. The learning can happen separately in items 3.
e) allow youth to audition, but dont cast them unless they actually are the best fit for the role. See item 2b
f) the members of the repertory company select all plays and directors.

3. In the completely separately run learning company, MENTOR:
a) youth and adults in a combined program for learning theater arts
b) experience doesn't matter, just a desire to have fun and learn
c) casting and tech assignments are done mainly for experiential learning, not by merit necessarily
d) impose a fee for instruction and participation in the arts program, and participants are program members only.
f) the program selects the plays and directors best suited to a learning experience for the members.

PCP currently operates by that 3rd major bullet, and is now attempting to achieve the goals of bullet 2 by operating like bullet 3... and I think that is the root of a lot of the friction. They need to be separate in my opinion.

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:45 pm

Some good ideas. Obviously you've given this some thought. I personally thought that all the shows had pretty good casts, from "Cheaper", to "Yes Virginia", The One Acts, Sonnets, "Exonerated", and even "Scaryoke", which was primarily a just for fun show. Everyone did a fine job. What I think I'm hearing is that you're suggesting that some of those shows were not quality productions? I'm not a theater critic but I thought they were all good shows. Everyone worked hard on them and gave their best effort and put in a lot of time for them to be good, quality shows. They may not have been perfect, but as someone else said before, this is community theater. That's not to say we don't give our best. Everyone takes pride in their effort to give a good performance.

One thing about the playhouse that has always been true is that anyone can participate. No matter of a persons skill level, experience or physical characteristics. They welcome everyone with open arms and don't pre-judge anyone based on anything. My concern about your ideas is that some may never be cast for a role in the COMPETE section because they may never be right physically for a role, or may get typecast only for a certain type of role or character. Some may never get out of the MENTOR program. And is the playhouse going to have 2 sets of productions, one set for each group? Or maybe 1 or 2 productions each season just for the MENTOR group? Some people may want to do both. They may be a decent actor but want to learn the sound board.

I know it's just a first draft. I don't know if it'll ever happen, but good thoughts, and maybe something to build on.

My total concern with DOT's comments don't just apply to PCP, but to EVERY aspect, EVERY program the playhouse sponsors, which include orchestra, choir, dance, writers round table, chalk-on-the walk, The Travelogue's, plus all the outside shows like The Osmonds, Beatlemania, and all the workshops they do. All of these are juggled by the staff quite capably and all of them are under the eyes of those who feel that some, or all should be dropped.

PCP is important to me as I know it is to you. Every show I'm in I want to give my best so as not to let anyone down, and I know other PCP'rs feel and do the same. I know you do too. I'm concerned about the playhouse as a whole and really want to see it remain the way it is, a community based theater that services the Antelope Valley and continues to offer the wide range of entertainment and activities for all to enjoy.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:21 pm

ragman5 wrote:
I personally thought that all the shows had pretty good casts, from "Cheaper", to "Yes Virginia", The One Acts, Sonnets, "Exonerated", and even "Scaryoke", which was primarily a just for fun show. Everyone did a fine job. What I think I'm hearing is that you're suggesting that some of those shows were not quality productions?

I'll be frank, I thought quite a few of them fell short. And let me be clear up front that I don't think what is bad about PCP is the people, its the process... a lot of good people are locked in by bad processes to producing work that is subpar with respect to our potential.

The poster child is of course Sonnets, where not only was it painful to be in rehearsal and performance with Joyce, but was a scholarly script which was in many ways was factually incorrect. I'll be honest, I didn't feel right letting friends know about that production at all, for fear they would waste their money. Why do we need these 'experts' to come in and tell us how to do Shakespeare? We can learn from others' productions of course, but why can't we do our own?

And I'm sorry, I didn't enjoy the One Acts much. That's no slight on the people in it, again, the talent and heart is there, but that means little for the show if the material is really bad... I, nor most of the 12 friends I brought, could really understand what was going on most of the time. Who picked those scripts, at least not without alotting enough time for the poor actors to properly research the obscure dialog?

"Yes Virginia" was great in that it gave most of us a new experience working with radio as a medium, and the final product was enjoyed by every single person I invited. But that was barely pulled off, thanks only to the skills of the cast and crew... remember how over half the foley equipment wasn't delivered until tech rehearsal? Or how the music that was in the script from the very start never got put in, only to be replaced last minute by workarounds that the author was clearly not pleased with? I remember saying to Fenady after the show, 'well I guess it finally came together eh?". I distinctly remember that he refused to answer my question, and talked around it for several minutes.


ragman5 wrote:
One thing about the playhouse that has always been true is that anyone can participate. No matter of a persons skill level, experience or physical characteristics. They welcome everyone with open arms and don't pre-judge anyone based on anything. My concern about your ideas is that some may never be cast for a role in the COMPETE section because they may never be right physically for a role, or may get typecast only for a certain type of role or character. Some may never get out of the MENTOR program. And is the playhouse going to have 2 sets of productions, one set for each group? Or maybe 1 or 2 productions each season just for the MENTOR group? Some people may want to do both. They may be a decent actor but want to learn the sound board.

These are all true points ragman, and for everything you've listed here is exactly why I want two separate programs. Anyone should be able to participate in theater, but not all theater is worthy of charging the public for. In the 'compete' mode, you're right, some may never get cast or never make it into the program... that's the point. (Moderated) competition breeds a meritocracy, which encourages performance. And some, like me for example, would not even want to venture out of the 'mentor' mode more than every now and then. And well, some shouldn't, that's what striving for (and more importantly, delivering on) excellence is reserved for.

As for typecasting, well, it's our responsibility as actors to audition for a variety of roles and to portray those roles better than anyone else auditioning. Again, competition... if you aren't the best for the role, you shouldn't be cast, simply put. If the directors are biased, that's a different problem.

Everyone should be given a chance to participate and enjoy working with theater, and it is a study which I wish more people, regardless of skill level or background, would pursue. Competition has a dark side, unfairness, which should be kept at bay in a mentoring program; this is the other side of why I don't think the two should mix. PCP should either have two separate programs, or just one of the two; if it's going to be just a learning theater, that's fine, but it should not be a learning theater that pretends to be a production theater.

I do think there at least should be two different classes of productions, plays by the learning theater that are free to the public and are billed as learning program productions, that charge members for the learning experience. If the PPH wants a "repertory type company" as they say they do, then separately there should be shows with long runs, cast and crewed totally on theatrical merit, open to the whole theater community to audition for shows (or at least competetive audition for the group, and internal auditions for shows) and with ticket prices appropriate to the level of production and free of member fees. Ok, so we had ten shows last year, or something close... what about 6 learning productions, and 4 competitive ones? I've always said I would like to see less shows of more quality.

We are a learning company, and despite recent verbal-only indications of change, that is how we are perceived. DOT, PRT, and the rest (besides Laity maybe) are not learning companies. People may learn from them, but an arts program type environment is not their goal. How do you think they feel when they are asked to lay aside their group identities and come join the learning theater down the street, running on a system designed for youth camps because we haven't had enough adults until recently?

PPH has good reasons for proposing a combining of the troupes, most of them make good business sense... less overhead, combined market, combined resources, combined talent; but I really don't see that offer as having any real credibility to groups that want to perform, not learn (at least in a formal way). Learning is great, but it shouldn't be a forced package deal. PCP will never have the credibility its actors and crew deserve, nor will the other groups cease to be snobs towards us, unless we no longer operate as a learning theater pretending to be a production theater. If the status quo is fine, then whatever, I'm still going to try and enjoy myself in PCP... but, as unjustified as some comments against PCP are, I really don't think the way it's run is fine at all.

I hope my attempt at honest self-criticism does not offend my fellow PCP-ers, but I think avoiding tackling the problems we have at this critical juncture, where PCP is just passing through some growing pains it has not experienced ever to my knowledge, would be shortchanging it's future. Business as usual, as it has been done in the past, will not be sufficient for future, or even present, challenges.

Either way, I can promise you I'll be at the auditions in the fall... I love my friends (nay, family!) at the theater, and will keep trying to do my part to make productions as good as I can.

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:47 pm

QC, my hat (or wig) is off to you for an extremely well devised theatre plan. If you really think that PCP/PPH would actually be open to something like this I'd love to know, because this kind of change (or the ability to MEANINGFULLY work towards it) would certainly compel me to re-join. Is this an actual proposal you plan on presenting to PPH? Do you believe that PPH would be willing to institute something like this? It sounds like a dream come true. I'd definitely be on board.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:36 am

Definitely a well thought out plan. And I have to admit, although I thought The Sonnets turned out ok, there were definitely a few, hmm, long rehearsals. I really can't speak about "Yes Virginia", as I wasn't involved with it. I wanted to be and was supposed to be, but a nasty little hand injury kept me out.

I too will be at auditions next season, so long as the fun is still there. That's one of the reasons why I want to do it. If it stops being fun, well...

Yes, I want PCP to be given the respect it deserves through out the local theatre community. It has done some great things and has a bright future.

But if I might digress here for a moment, if I may, back to the main reason that I posted here to begin with, it's that future I wish to speak about again. Not only the future of PCP, but other programs as well. To once again state that the playhouse as a whole is under attack by these other 2 groups. And not just the playhouse or the programs, but the personnel as well are being targeted with criticism, suggesting that they, basically are inept and don't know what their doing. Included in that group is someone I've known quite well for the past 23 years. I guess this is why it really 'hits home', and why I'm so upset about it. If these other groups have their way, all of these discussions about the future of PCP may be irrelevant, as it may not exist, along with other programs.

I want to say again that I support Dea and the whole staff and any suggestions that she or anyone be let go should just be dismissed. Let's get through this external issue and come out on the other side unscathed, with all currect personnel still in-tack. Then we will be able to focus inward and deal with the internal issues at hand, which I'm confident, if we all work together, can be worked out.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:01 pm

I know I stated earlier that I planned to keep my distance from this and other potentially "hazardous" topics on the Forum; however, I've been so moved by the amount of emotion paired with fantastic and workable ideas that I can't seem to keep away.

Ragman, it's so clear how much this topic means to you. I admire your fortitude and willingness to speak up because someone was threatening something you care so deeply about. It speaks to your character and your commitment to doing what is right, and I deeply appreciate that quality in you. It's very admirable.

Perhaps this is exactly the catalyst needed to create the right kind of change. I agree completely that Dea is not the issue, nor is most of the staff at PPH. QC is right when he contends that procedure, not personnel, is the problem. Theatre requires a deep sense of commitment, time, and sacrifice. Nobody I have ever met is in it for money, personal gain, or popularity--that's what film is for! The most hard working and committed people I've met in my life have been theatre technicians. They are a special, amazing, and talented group of people as a whole who work toward a common, and sadly too-often thankless job. The suggestion that personnel and technical crew at PPH are inept is imbecilic at best and a flat-out cruel lie at worst. The individuals I met in my few months there were more than able to perform their jobs accurately and admirably; however, bureaucratic red tape and the adherence to outdated procedure was the problem.

I hope very much that procedural changes (like those outlined by QC) can be made and embraced by PPH. These changes, combined with their existing, able personnel, could make that facility the incredible Community theatre it deserves to be.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Wed Jul 02, 2008 2:28 pm

ragman5 wrote:

But if I might digress here for a moment, if I may, back to the main reason that I posted here to begin with, it's that future I wish to speak about again. Not only the future of PCP, but other programs as well. To once again state that the playhouse as a whole is under attack by these other 2 groups. And not just the playhouse or the programs, but the personnel as well are being targeted with criticism, suggesting that they, basically are inept and don't know what their doing. Included in that group is someone I've known quite well for the past 23 years. I guess this is why it really 'hits home', and why I'm so upset about it. If these other groups have their way, all of these discussions about the future of PCP may be irrelevant, as it may not exist, along with other programs.

You're right ragman, but its tied together. In fact, I think PCP issues are right at the core of why the PPH as a whole is getting attacked. Those attacking the PPH are theater groups, what they are trying to do is attack the theater program here by getting at the other programs too. If PCP (which is becoming the PPH's flagship program and always has been the only program of relevance to the other groups) had more credibility right now, I think they would be less inclined to push for the who program as useless. They think they can run the programs at PPH better than PPH... what they are referring to is theater only, they don't do the other stuff nor do I think they see its relevance.

All I'm saying is, if PCP stopped having dysfunctional processes and let its people do what they do best, the other groups wouldn't have a leg to stand on in attacking the theater as a whole... because right now, I think they do run things better, quite frankly. That isn't to say they *are* better necessarily, but they do operate like production companies, and we should too. AND combine that with the fact that the PPH/PCP does learning programs on top of being a great production company, and they sort of start to pale in comparison, don't you think? But that only works if we have a strong front program.

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:06 pm

What happened at the council meeting last night?

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:27 pm

Lots of playhouse people were there. Tony, Steve & Cathy Felty, DAS & Tara, just to name of few of the employees that were there. As far as PCP, there was, of course, Karen & I, Susan & Rick, and Dean. There was someone there from the writers round table, and a few of the girls from dance. As far as I could tell, no one was there from either DOT or PRT. I'd say about 10 - 12 people got up to say a few words in support of the playhouse. You can go online to www.cityofpalmdale.org, click on city council, watch meetings, to watch them. I did, and one thing I noticed, boy did I get fat. Time for weight watchers, or something. There was lots of support for the playhouse, it's staff and various programs. It was nice to see.
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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:56 pm

ragman5 wrote:
Lots of playhouse people were there. Tony, Steve & Cathy Felty, DAS & Tara, just to name of few of the employees that were there. As far as PCP, there was, of course, Karen & I, Susan & Rick, and Dean. There was someone there from the writers round table, and a few of the girls from dance. As far as I could tell, no one was there from either DOT or PRT. I'd say about 10 - 12 people got up to say a few words in support of the playhouse. You can go online to www.cityofpalmdale.org, click on city council, watch meetings, to watch them. I did, and one thing I noticed, boy did I get fat. Time for weight watchers, or something. There was lots of support for the playhouse, it's staff and various programs. It was nice to see.

Fantastic! I'm glad that the other side got to say our perspective. Way to rally the troops!

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:19 pm

I would've been there last night with you guys, but we had already planned for a day at the beach. I will be there with you on the 16th. Looking forward to seeing all of ya again!

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:52 pm

Just watched last nights meeting. WOW! You guys were to the point, all business, and, in my opinion, very effective. I loved the mayor's comment about "We get it" and "We're going to get this settled." Love it. But let's not let it stop. I'll be there next meeting with my two cents worth as well.

And ragman, you didn't look fat. Any more than I look fat on camera................. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Playhouse Criticism (Formerly Bashing)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:08 pm

As you all may know the city council meeting went really well last night. Funny how no one from DOT showed up. WE MUST NOT QUIT GOING to the meetings !!!!!!!! Our support is needed!!!!!!!!! I plan on going to as many as I can.
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