Mark your calendar now for what’s going to be one of Los Angeles theatre’s most exciting celebrations of 2017: April 14 – May 22 is Center Theatre Group’s very first Block Party at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. By presenting three productions from local theatre companies, we are highlighting some of the best work our region has to offer our audiences, sharing our resources and reach with other companies, and encouraging collaboration among the over 250 theatres that call Los Angeles home.
Over the past few years, Center Theatre Group has partnered with local companies on a number of productions at our theatres (such as Walking the Tightrope with 24th STreet Theatre at the Douglas) and around the city (such as The Behavior of Broadus with Burglars of Hamm and Sacred Fools Theater Company). “These productions were really successful and valuable for the companies we worked with and for us,” said Center Theatre Group Associate Producer Lindsay Allbaugh. Allbaugh, who spent over a decade working at the 99-seat Elephant Theatre Company in Hollywood, hopes that Block Party “will create a bridge between Center Theatre Group and smaller theatres. More collaboration can only strengthen our community as a whole, and our national reputation.”
Center Theatre Group Board of Directors member Aliza Karney Guren, one of the lead donors supporting Block Party along with Joni and Miles Benickes, agrees. “Supporting local theatre is essential to the future and health of the art in our city,” said Guren. “Great new plays are treasures. They’re hard to come by, and they’re hard to grow. I’m excited to be investing in the future of Center Theatre Group and theatre in Los Angeles.”
Block Party is casting as wide a net as possible with an open application process: companies across the greater Los Angeles area are invited to submit recently produced shows for consideration. Each Block Party production will appear at the Douglas for a two-week engagement. In the three months leading up to Block Party, participating companies will work alongside different departments across Center Theatre Group. “I’m excited to get artists and arts administrators into our building whom we haven’t worked with before,” said Allbaugh, from designers, directors, and actors to producers, managers, and development officers. Block Party will immerse them in the process of re-mounting their shows on a different scale—at the Douglas to start, and then perhaps even on tour.
“We’re looking forward to exchanging information in both directions,” said Allbaugh. “I know we have a lot to learn from the way these theatres are innovating, too.”
We’re also looking forward to introducing Center Theatre Group audiences to shows they either didn’t hear about or didn’t get to attend in their first run. “Los Angeles has a really vibrant and complex theatre scene that we want to introduce to our audiences,” said Allbaugh. “This is a way to encourage them to go out and visit a theatre they’ve never set foot in while enriching our offerings, too. We want to hear from an eclectic array of local voices that are different from Center Theatre Group’s voice.”
Guren is particularly looking forward to this aspect of Block Party. “Because Los Angeles theatre has more seats than anywhere, including New York, and because they’re spread out all over a huge metropolis, it can be difficult to find out where to see great new theatre,” she said. “A program like this provides a unique opportunity to discover and support new work and new artists at the grassroots level.”
Join the Block Party
Eligible theatre companies are invited to submit applications to participate in Block Party until August 12, 2016. The three selected productions will be fully supported by Center Theatre Group, and all three companies will be part of a three month collaboration from January – March 2017 with one another and Center Theatre Group staff, including our artistic/literary, development, marketing/communications, and production staff. We will interview finalists in November 2016 and notify selected participants in December 2016.