Malibu Seen: When Will the Curtain Rise?

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall.

Once a thriving theater community, Los Angeles has become a wasteland—the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Disney Hall, The Ahmanson, The Mark Taper Forum, The Geffen Playhouse and so many others all remain dark. Just think of all the out-of-work musicians, dancers, actors, crewmembers, support staff and more. Just think of an electric conductor like Gustavo Dudamel playing to a silent orchestra or actors from the Ahmanson playing without their mouths moving.

No one could imagine what 2020 would bring but there we were streaming shows that should be enjoyed on the big screen or in person watching in our dirty sweat suits and slippies.

There was a time when one dressed for the theater—it was an occasion. Now old theater habits will take a year or more to restart and, even when they do, we will probably be masked up and keeping our social distance. Hopefully, the safety of social gatherings will slowly return.

Even before the pandemic changed our lives, many of Los Angeles’ cultural institutions were not in the greatest financial shape. The city’s resident theaters, the nonprofit entities that make up the nation’s national art form have been struggling for years as the structure and economic outlook of the arts have shifted. As with movies, streaming and various other forms of art and entertainment have grown by leaps and bounds and smaller venues have found themselves shrinking. For some time, it has been the mega worldwide entertainment complex versus an increasingly diminishing of seats filled at the auditorium. 

Theatergoing may seem like another luxury to enjoy, but when you get right down to it, it is a commitment to community values.

So, even though it’s nice to don those smudgy sweats and well-worn slippies, you’ve got to admit that it is a treat to slip out of home and slip into the theater. Here’s to attending again in 2021.