- Regional theatre in the United States
Regional theaters (also called "resident theaters") in the
United Statesare professional theatercompanies that produce their own seasons. The term "regional theatre" is most often used to refer to members of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). LORT theaters are non-profit organizations that agree to adhere to a collective bargaining agreement with Actors' Equity Association, the professional organization and labor unionfor actors and stage managers working in the United States. LORT Theatres also collectively bargain with the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers(the union representing directors and choreographers) and United Scenic Artists(the union representing designers). Many of these theatres hold auditions in New York City and Los Angeles, in order to tap into the vast number of AEA members living there. Theaters will offer housing and travel expenses for displaced actors.
There are 76 LORT theatres [List of LORT Theatres from LORT's website [http://www.lort.org/members.htm] ,
March 28, 2008] located in cities throughout the United States. Regional theaters often produce new plays and recent revivals from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London's West End. Seasons are often rounded out with selections from classic dramas, popular comedies, and musicals. While most LORT theaters focus on producing "straight plays", it is not uncommon for a regional theatre's season to include one or two musicals, and some LORT theatres, such as Goodspeed Musicalsand Prince Music Theater, focus exclusively on musicals.
Many resident theatres operate at least two stages: a main stage for shows requiring larger sets or cast, and one or more second stages (often a studio theater or
black box theater) for smaller or more experimental or avante-garde productions. Regional theatres rely on donations from patrons and businesses, season ticket subscriptions, and grants from organizations, in addition to ticket sales. Some have criticized regional theatres for being conservative in their selection of shows as theater staff must consider the demographics of their subscribers and donors [Whitehead, Jaan. "Art Will Out" [http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/2002/art.cfm] , "American Theatre", October 2002.] . However, it should be noted that LORT theatres represent some of the only not-for-profit theatres in the country paying living wages to artists ["For Institutions: Is Art the Bottom Line?" [http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/2003/bottom.cfm] , "American Theatre", May/June 2003.] . Due to audience feedback, artistic staff, and a theater's history, each theater may develop its own reputation both in its city and nationally.
Some regional theatres make a commitment to developing new works and premiering new plays. Theatres that develop new work, like
La Jolla Playhouseand Manhattan Theatre Club, often work to move their productions to Broadway venues in New York. Educational outreach programs and cooperative programs with nearby university theatre programs are also common programs found at regional theatres.
In recognition of the importance of regional theatres in America, the
American Theatre Winggives a Regional Theatre Tony Award to one regional theatre each year during the Tony Awards.
Quotations About Regional Theatre
Andre Gregory, as quoted in "Tulane Drama Review", 1965
Andre Gregory, as quoted in "American Theatre Magazine", March 2005
–Ben Cameron, as quoted in "American Theatre Magazine", March 2006
August Wilson, "The Ground on Which I Stand"
Lort is also the Danish word for "shit".
List of LORT Member Theatres
[http://www.tcg.org Theatre Communications Group]
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