Letters to the Editor

| August 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

Bravo to Chronicle
My August ’23 issue of the Larchmont Chronicle just arrived. I’m so impressed you’re continuing a heritage — that is, print journalism — that seems ever on the wane. I’ve read daily newspapers for decades and note, with dismay, their shift in editorial policy (those that remain) and their ever-accelerating demise.

So, the Chronicle is really admirable in its support of such a vital community component. It is informative, contemporary, explores issues in depth, and appears as current as a monthly journal can be. And is vibrant. Bravo.

Fritz Kasten
Woodside, Calif.

In-home assault and robbery
On the afternoon of Aug. 10, my next-door neighbor answered his door, and three thugs burst in and sprayed him in the face with extremely toxic chemicals, beat him up, breaking multiple ribs, etc., bound and gagged him, and threw him down the basement stairs after having cut all the security and power lines. He somehow managed to crawl head-first out of a narrow basement window and come broken and bloody to my house for help. I had to call 911 twice, and even then, the police response time was ridiculously slow.

Neighbors on either side of us have had their homes broken into multiple times, but this latest is altogether something else and very frightening. There seem to be no consequences for assault and robbery, and if perpetrators are apprehended, they are released in short order. It appears we must all live in fear or decide to leave town (as many have).

I know you care deeply about Hancock Park, as do we. Perhaps you may have ideas (through the Chronicle or otherwise) on how to exert pressure on city officials to make our neighborhood safe again.

Rossmore Ave. Resident
Hancock Park
[The editors have forwarded this letter to staff in the offices of Mayor Karen Bass, Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez and LAPD Chief Michel Moore. – Ed.]

Getting recognition
Thank you for giving Christine [“Christine Meyer: An under-the-radar leader in our community,” Aug. 2023] the recognition she so richly deserves. I have been involved with her in Le Salon Français de Los Angeles and am so grateful for all the time and energy she gives to Le Salon.

Jan Gabrielson
Cheviot Hills

‘The Ants’ is a hit
Regarding your recent review [“An inconvenient truth at the on-pause Mark Taper Forum,” Aug. 2023], please note that “The Ants” played to sold-out houses [at the Geffen Playhouse, June 20 to July 30]. Maybe your columnist didn’t like it, which is fine, but to call it “unsuccessful” is flat out wrong. It’s a hit. Most people have loved it. You’re actually in the minority.

Ramiz Monsef
Playwright of “The Ants”

CTG responds to
theater columnist
Louis Fantasia is entitled to his theatrical likes and dislikes, but as board members at the Center Theatre Group (CTG) we would like to correct errors and misunderstandings that underlay his mean-spirited August Larchmont Chronicle column “An inconvenient truth at the on-pause Mark Taper Forum.” We are disappointed that rather that join together with theater lovers around Los Angeles to uplift and support the Taper, as it faces an existential crisis, Mr. Fantasia seems more interested in airing a personal gripe about our former artistic director, who retired two years ago.

In June, CTG announced a pause in programming at the Taper in response to financial problems stemming from audience decline post-COVID-19, lapsed subscriptions and the competition of the stay-at-home entertainment alternatives, all of which hit as production costs spiraled with inflation. Mr. Fantasia, though, attributes the declining attendance to recent plays from “the last three years” when the Taper offered plays that were “more politically correct than dramatically compelling.”

First, COVID-19 physically closed the Taper for almost two years, from March of 2020 until February of 2022 (so it has only been reopened for 18 months, not three years). Second, the post-COVID-19 economic crisis at regional theaters is real at CTG and happening nationwide. Regional American theaters have cut productions, laid off staff and, in some very unhappy cases, closed their doors completely. The Theatre Communications Group recently estimated that regional theaters mounted 40 percent fewer productions in 2022-23 than in 2019-20. Forty percent! The Public Theater in New York City (home of Free Shakespeare in the Park) recently laid off 19 percent of its staff. The cause nationwide can’t just be Mr. Fantasia’s derided political correctness.

Indeed, the Taper’s recent plays included “Clyde’s” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and “King James” by Rajiv Joseph, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, as well as a 30th anniversary production of “Twilight, Los Angeles 1992,” originally nominated for a Tony Award. These were highly respected and lauded shows. They just sold fewer tickets than they would have in 2019.

Mr. Fantasia also does not seem to understand that the same company programming the Taper also operates the Ahmanson Theatre, which he commends for bringing “significant Broadway plays” to Los Angeles. But despite our best efforts, ticket sales at the Ahmanson are also significantly below comparative 2019 levels, even for a recent show (“Into the Woods”) that, as Mr. Fantasia confirms, “featured perhaps the best cast in a musical I have seen in Los Angeles.”

Ironically, Mr. Fantasia views today’s Taper unfavorably compared to the Taper of founding director Gordon Davidson, who is deservedly honored for fostering outstanding productions like “Angels in America” and “Zoot Suit.” But those shows were controversial and politically daring in their time. In Davidson’s first production, John Whiting’s “The Devils,” about a renegade priest and Catholic repression, half the audience walked out on opening night, offended by what Mr. Fantasia might see as that era’s woke times. The Taper has always taken risks … now those risks are just far more expensive, and fewer folks are willing to leave their homes to come experience the show.

Finally, though he did not mention him, we hope Mr. Fantasia welcomes our new artistic director, Snehal Desai, who began work this summer and is now busily planning new programming at our two operating venues, the Ahmanson Theatre downtown and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, as well as a slate of non-traditional offerings in the Taper such as cabaret nights and readings of new plays. We invite all of Los Angeles, including Mr. Fantasia, to watch out for our exciting new season. If you want to save live theater, buy a ticket and go see a show. Let’s look forward, not back.

Diana Buckhantz
Sarah Clossey
Amy Forbes
Jamie Patricof
Board Members, CTG

Write us at letters@larchmontchronicle.com. Include your name, contact information and where you live. We reserve the right to edit for space and grammar.

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