I’ve been asking myself. Do I blog about the general perception of community theatre or do I go right to shameless promotion? What the heck? Why not do both?

Lately, I’ve heard people disparage non equity theater, saying that the work is not on a par with equity shows. Having worked in both professional and amateur theater for many years, I think that’s a misperception, and that good and bad work is done by both. I’ve seen exciting shows at the Taper and the Odyssey, at the Elephant and the Blank, the Pacific Resident Theatre, etc. and some that were rotten.

I’ve seen exciting work at community theaters as well. I’ve been knocked out by some of Theatre Palisades’s shows. Lieber and Stoller’s Smokey Joe’s Café to name one, was superb, as was DiPietro and Robert’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and Alan Ayckbourn’s Things We Do For Love. The sets are often gorgeous and some of the talent that I’ve seen on that stage rivals that in shows I’ve seen in New York and Toronto. Amy Adams did a terrific job in Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart, for example.

There are differences. Generally speaking, the community theaters rarely take chances and believe that new work will not draw. I wish they’d produce more shows by women. (Was Agatha Christie a woman or was she born an icon?)

That brings me to the shameless self-promotion. Theatre Palisades is giving my comedy, Has Anybody Here Seen Roy? a good run in 2013. It goes up on January the 18th and runs through February the 17th, playing on Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2.

Rehearsals are fun and exciting. I know many of you, like me, have been shut out of the creative process – I know some playwrights who have been not allowed into the rehearsal room – and I’m very grateful to both this director and the company who want me there.

The director, Susan Stangl, and an excellent cast are taking the time to establish the tone, go deep into the characters, explore the subtext and find the theme. The cast is delighted to be putting its stamp on new characters. The talk is lively, improvisations bring new discoveries, and the play grows as they work.

I’m not only allowed at rehearsals but am asked to clarify, contribute, and to rewrite when doing so improves the play. It’s just a joy to be part of the team and to hear my words coming to life.

If this play draws, maybe more community theatres will do more new plays by women. Or I’ll go back to my original plan and change my name to Agatha Simon.

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