LOS ANGELES -- "The theatre has always been stocked with whores, but there is a profound difference between courtesans, paramours, hetaerae and two-dollar hookers. And if all the johns got together and pooled a small portion of their resources, all the whores would begin to flourish."
This provocative remark is from a Charles Marowitz broadside published recently in the Los Angeles Weekly under the heading An Immodest Proposal.
Marowitz, a writer/director who formerly ran the Open Space Theatre in London, called on the movie and television industry to support the legit stage by donating half a percent of its profits to a fund that would be used to subsidize local theatre companies.
The fund would be administered by "a panel made up of discriminating theatregoers, arts-inclined professionals and selected members of related disciplines. To avoid nepotism or corruption, this panel would rotate biannually and anyone whose organization was a candidate for subsidy would not be represented," Marowitz wrote.
Pointing to the model established by the Arts Council of Great Britain, Marowitz insisted its success could be duplicated here if the industry provided the financing. Presently the electronic media is nourished by the theatre, he said. The industry mines it for actors, writers and ideas, but gives very little back to it outside of "a few paltry handouts."
Instead of piecemeal charity, such as David Geffen's gift to the Westwood theatre that now bears his name, Hollywood "should be encouraged to band together to create a properly coordinated treasure chest which, by my untabulated calculations, would contain several million dollars," Marowitz continued.
The well-heeled, larger theatre companies would not be eligible to draw from this fund, which would be "exclusively dedicated to the burgeoning new talents in the small-scale venues: the adventuresome, the risk-taking, the innovative and the needy."
Admitting that all this is "tantalizing pie-in-the-sky so long as the film companies recognize no debt to the talent cultivated in the theatres and so long as everyone in the city clings to the tired myth that L.A. is a studio town, with theatre a pathetic poor relation," Marowitz went on to point out that "it is a curious poor relation which operates more than 100 small venues and regularly furnishes first-class writers, actors, designers and directors to the electronic media that persist in believing it doesn't exist." -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent