Michael T Folie's An Unhappy Woman and Lee Wochner's Happy Fun Family have been extended to late September at Moving Arts theatre in Los Angeles. And both playwrights seem to be in a New York "state of mind," with Folie's The Adjustment opening at Jewish Repertory in November and Wochner's latest play slated for the Samuel Beckett Theatre.
How has Moving Arts theatre maintained its artistic integrity in L.A., a theatre town populated with Equity showcases and big-name stars? Wochner, who is also the theatre's artistic director, put it best: "We have an undying love for doing new plays."
Moving Arts, founded in 1992, was created out of necessity, "As a playwright," Wochner said, "I needed a place to work out of, my co-founder Julie Briggs and I had been treated poorly elsewhere. We wanted a place where we weren't treated that way."
Five years ago they created that place -- out of an old police substation -- and called it "Moving Arts". Since that time they have presented more than 30 plays, most of them world premieres, including the critically acclaimed Beguiled by Choice (which ran for nine months in 1994), the Drama-Logue Award-winning Fast Friends, and two one-act festivals.
"When I was 15," Wochner said, "Rolling Stone did an article about Lanford Wilson. I read it and thought 'This is dumb, why would anyone want to write plays?'. Then, in college...I took a Theatre of the Absurd class and it changed my life." The teacher took an instant liking to Wochner and allowed him to write a play, in lieu of doing another report. The teacher was so impressed with the play, she had Wochner write another -- this time with a school grant for $500.
Wochner's plays now number 18 and include the plays Happy Fun Family, Uncle Hem, Anapest, The Size of Pike and Remember Frank Zappa.
Happy Fun Family by Wochner will be playing at Moving Arts through Sept. 30, with Folie's Unhappy Woman ending its run Sept. 28.
For more information about Moving Arts visit its Regional Listing on Playbill On-Line.
-- By Sean McGrath