Ovation Fellows are current students or recent alumni from Los Angeles area universities. Fellows are paired with a Mentor, currently serving as an Ovation Award voter, and see productions and meet artists around Greater Los Angeles throughout the year. Their articles, posted on LAStageBlog, are intended to be their personal responses to their experiences, and not as critical reviews or representing the views of LA Stage Alliance.
There are moments – rare, admittedly – when I consider what it must’ve been like to attend the opening of Chekhov’s The Seagull. And subsequently Uncle Vanya. And then Three Sisters. You get the gist. I wonder what it was like to see greatness at its start, to unwittingly participate in a huge moment in drama’s history. But all of this is getting a little bit ahead of myself.
What got me thinking was Michael Vukadinovich’s Trog and Clay at Santa Monica’s Powerhouse Theater, which I attended last week with Mentor Dennis. Mike is a graduate of UCLA’s playwriting MFA program and a young guy with a number of shows being staged these days. Trog was the second I had seen of his and I really enjoyed the show. It’s a sort-of revisionist history of the electric chair complete with an appearance by Thomas Edison and an on-stage electrocution. And it’s funny?
Mike is a sweet, unassuming guy with obvious talent. He’s the sort of guy you think could really make a great name for himself. Mike most certainly isn’t the only one of this sort. There are definitely other new playwrights out there with talent, willing and waiting to show you their personality through their work, especially in LA.
What I’m saying is, young playwrights with talent abound, despite being a bit hidden away. It’s hard to prophesy which of these burgeoning talents are going to be around for the rhetorical long but that sort of defeats the point. As I discussed in my last post, timelessness isn’t for us to consider.
That’s why I encourage you to find playwrights you’ve never heard of, with shows playing in tiny shoebox theaters you’d never thought to step foot in and check out their work. Now’s our chance to patronize young playwrights, to see Chekhovs and Ibsens and Lonergans and Lettses as they begin to rev their engines.
So as much value as there is in seeing the classics at our old favorite theaters, let’s take a few more risks. Let’s go see some plays that might surprise us, or disappoint us, or elate us.