Apr 4, 2011

Is L.A. the Place?

Steven Leigh Morris' latest survey of the state of Los Angeles theater is a compelling, panoramic sprawl of decades and districts; he does one of these pieces every year in the run-up to the LA Weekly awards, but this time out his piece is both more personal and more upbeat (and more timely: This June marks a huge convergence of theater festivals and convenings in L.A., not least one staged by my employer).

There really is no one else still writing regularly who knows and understands L.A.'s weird, wonderful, underrated theater beat as well as Morris does, but here he wears that knowledge lightly and bequeathes it as a gift, a trove, a prism, rather than as a scourge or a scold (not that he hasn't occasionally struck that tone in the past). Indeed, I was concerned after I spoke to him for his story that I would come off sounding a bit scourge-like myself, but I'm very happy with the resulting piece--and even hopeful about L.A.'s oft-benighted culture.

I relished in particular one dead-on observation, not intrinsically theater-related but with a huge impact on how theater fares in Lotusland (and how good or bad an impression TCG conference attendees will be able to get in June):
Nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live here? No, it's more like a horrible place to visit, but you need to live here to appreciate its many virtues.
A bittersweet truth I've never seen put better, which also happens to put a finger on why, when I occasionally miss the place, it is from a safe enough distance of years and miles that I don't feel torn about it anymore.

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