No nose for news

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Your front-page story on the small claims lawsuit against the Malibu Stage Co. was infuriating and misleading. Not only was it incorrect to say that the theatre was sued by Charles Marowitz -he threatened to file suit, but never went further with it-you also insinuate that the theatre has been a failure in the past 15 years because it has not mounted a full season or attracted large audiences.

It is obvious the reporter of this article knows nothing of our theatre or the nature of 99 seat houses. It is a hard undertaking that takes time and money to build. The fact that the MSC continues to exist is a valiant achievement. But it has done better than that. Numerous productions have been selected as Critic’s Choice by the Los Angeles Times, and a recent production moved off-Broadway last year and will open in London’s West End next year. The theatre is steadily gaining a national reputation. The board members who volunteer their time are working hard to put a cohesive full season together. A full season requires donations from the community.

Inflammatory articles such as yours discourage support for our theatre. In a week when a major actor such as Ed Asner is coming to Malibu to donate his time for free in a reading of a new play, your paper chose to run a story (complete with pictures) about an obscure small claims court suit. Your zeal in pouncing on any adversity the MSC experiences is one of the reasons the theatre has a hard time raising money in the community.

Is this the role of a responsible community newspaper?

Incidentally, when we contacted your competitor, the Surfside News, about the story, they had also received an e-mail alerting their attention to the suit by the claimants. Their staff was surprised that there should be an issue. “We do not cover small claims suits,” they sniffed dismissively. An apt response!

Oren Safdie

Malibu Stage Co. Board Member