2015’s signature Los Angeles drama took place offstage, in the struggle between Actors' Equity Association and its members over the future of the venerable 99-seat theater plan. For almost 30 years this scheme has, depending on your point of view, either rudely exploited actors and stage managers, or allowed producers to keep costs down so as to deliver large-scale quality productions. In this battle, the populist desire for fair compensation clashes with the populist desire to volunteer one’s time freely, leading to a controversial referendum, a threatened lawsuit and full-throated arguments about the very nature and purpose of arts unionism.
Whatever distraction this megillah posed, a lot of first-class work managed to find its way to LA’s stages. Omitted are the Broadway tours that keep the doors open and the overseas imports that tone things up, to highlight the kind of ambitious, sometimes funky, risk-taking entertainment that regularly graces our vibrant, yet perennially underappreciated, theater scene.