The Bitter Lemons' Top Stories in Los Angeles Theater 2015

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The Pro99 Rally in front of the Actors Equity Office in North Hollywood back in March, 2015.

Now the great thing about this list is that these aren’t necessarily the stories that YOU might have thought were the Top Los Angeles Theater Stories of 2015 – I’m sure there will be SOME overlap of course with all the other top of the tops that will be springing up any day now – no these are the stories that buzzed and burned here exclusively at the Lemon. These were the stories, found or forged by us, that were either read most, shared most, created the most engagement, elicited the most comments, inspired the most ire and venom, praise and panic, whatever, basically, these were the most provocative stories in Los Angeles Theater 2015.

So sit back now as we lead you back down the bumpy memory lane that was Los Angeles Theater 2015, brought to you as ever by your friendly neighborhood rabble-rouser, Bitter Lemons.

The Bitter Lemons’ Top Stories in Los Angeles Theater 2015

1) Actors Equity Association vs. Los Angeles Theater: This was of course THE story, the continuing story, par excellence of 2015. And we were there right in the middle of it. It’s now simmered to a lull, of course. But oh, the passion, the deception, the duplicity, the bile, the pettiness, and now of course the lawsuit that has brought the mighty denizens of Equity back to the table. To what end? We wait and see.

2) The Bitter Lemons Imperative: I knew it was going to be controversial, but honestly, I did not think it would be THAT controversial. The BLI: pay $150 and you can get a review from one of the top critics in town and it will be published here at Bitter Lemons. Guaranteed. Seemed like a simple idea, audacious, yes, but an attempt at something new, something self-sustaining, while maintaining and raising the level of the work, creating a market, something, anything. Some weren’t too happy about it, some were. Whichever side you fell, fall or remain on, the BLI remains open for business and the experiment continues.

4) Stage Raw vs. Bitter Lemons: This was a weird aftereffect of the BLI launch. Basically, Steven Leigh Morris disparaged the BLI model, poorly I might add, Jason Rohrer and bewildered passer-by Susan Tankersley challenged his poorly expressed sentiments and ripped him to shreds with facts and reason and the inadequacies of his own argument. Steven got butt hurt and then went all ex-girlfriend on us and basically told his Stage Raw family and friends team to try and dismiss us from the conversation. Clearly, it’s not working. Though, to be fair, there was the farcical first Staged Raw Supposed Symposium where you could actually see the panelists having to stop themselves mid-sentence from blurting out the banned and dreaded words: “Bitter is the Lemon”. Whatever it may be, we’ve moved on. We are as always happy to be the blazers of the trails that others will turn into finely paved roads. A little stoking of the furnace never hurt anybody except of course the most frigid of scorned lovers.

3) Steven Leigh Morris Named Executive Director at LA Stage Alliance: And speaking of scorned lovers! Seriously though, a worthy choice and a well-deserved promotion for Uncle Steven. I mean, how long was he gonna be able to sustain that Stage Raw thing? I mean, look at me for Christ sake, I’m like a warning label on the side of a pack of cigarettes! One thing we know for sure, he won’t be any worse than their previous leader.  We’ll be watching.

5) The Jubilee: Ezra “Godfather of the Fringe” Buzzington went full frontal on the architects of this ridiculously wrong headed pledge for diversity called ironically The Jubilee. They’ve had no answer to his barrage of common sense against what is obviously a mistake and now it seems like they just don’t know how to walk it back. A brave and relentless foray from one of our newest contributors Mr. Johnny 1Take taking on good intentions gone wild.

6) Dedication of Hollywood Theatre Row: This was a very surreal story to be sure. A long awaited official dedication down on the corner of Wilcox and Santa Monica, Hollywood Theatre Row, but at the most bizarre of times, when scores of companies and venues are closing up shop in the area. Seemed more like the Daniel Henning show than anything else. Matt Chait a longtime mainstay and supporter of the area got no love at all. Though I am looking forward to seeing Daniel take his next step in the city’s newly created Director of Performing Arts position. Oh, wait. Have they not announced that yet?

7) Deaf West Awakens Broadway: Just bright shiny good news all around. An almost perfect show gets even better at The Wallis and now on Broadway. And soon to be back on the road and maybe coming back here. Wouldn’t that be one hell of a homecoming? They ought to perform it in Grand Park or somewhere. So good. So right. Bang.

8) LA Weekly Ends Theater Awards and Long Form Theater Criticism: We told ya so. Been coming on for a while. Let’s hope more worthy and new online outlets open up and not leave it to just the few of us who are carrying the load right now. The more voices the better. And the Lemon always remains open to the brave and opinionated. You think you got it, bring it and we’ll let you shine. But as far as I’m concerned, the future is now. We’re living it. Kinda fitting though that Zombie Joe’s Underground were the hosts for the finale. Heh.

9) Hollywood Fringe Blows Up: In their sixth year the whole thing seemed to churn like a well-oiled combine, the houses seemed fuller, the shows seemed better, $400,000 pumped back into the coffers of the artists that brought the art. Numerous shows finding more life after the one month fest and prospering. This is the new model and you will definitely see more and more festivals popping up around the nation. They will become incubators and launchpads for new material and talent, a place to hone both the art and the marketing of the show. Independent producers and companies best be paying attention. I know some are. Michael Shaw Fisher’s next musical Skulduggery is already a part of Sacred Fools’ schedule next year and I’m sure there are other interesting projects in the works. The big boys should be paying attention. What a thing it is and we are happy as always here at the Lemon at having been one of their earliest and remaining one of their most loyal supporters. Symbiosis. Mitosis. Hermosas.

10) The Mikado Gets Pulled from the Skirball Center: They were here, there was some noise, then they were gone. One of the weirdest little sparring matches I’ve ever seen. Frankly, they should have said fuck you to the critics and done the show. Then face the music. I mean isn’t theater supposed to stir shit up? But no, the power of public shaming has never been greater than it is today. But believe it or not, folks, there’s actually a very simple cure that I’ve discovered to this Twenty First Century malady. Stop reading Facebook and Twitter. I know, right? Stop living your life online. Because it’s not real. Stop now. No I’m actually writing this directly to you. Stop. Turn off this computer, put on your tennis shoes, and go for a walk. It’s beautiful out. Goodbye.

And goodbye to you, dear LemonHeaded Ones, until next year, when all points delivered today shall be rendered rootless and moot, until then, these are those that I chose for my prose. Adios.

Comments (2)

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What a strange year 2015 was. Looking forward to change and hopefully some resolution in 2016. Thanks for playing your part, as always, BL staff + readers!

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Word up.


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