In an art form powered by illusion, dreaming turns out to be the easy part.
Marvelous designs are laid out; visionary projects are greenlighted; exciting partnerships announced, to fanfare and applause.
And then reality sets in. Yes, even in the theater.
Some unsettling signs of an unfortunate truism — that the big plans of theater-makers sometimes exceed their ability to implement them — have come to light in recent weeks, for two theater companies with deep roots in the region. The disappointing results, one hopes, will not be an impediment to further dreaming. But they should be viewed as cautionary moments in increasingly stressful times for the performing arts.
At Arena Stage, comes the dispiriting news that at the end of a two-year paid residency, the up-and-coming playwright Katori Hall has left the New Play Institute program, according to Arena officials. Her departure comes short of one of the project’s stated goals: having one of her new plays — or an older play, reworked — staged during her time here. Instead, Arena is simply presenting Hall’s “The Mountaintop” — a play that has already been done on Broadway and in London — in a co-production with Houston’s Alley Theatre. And at one of the region’s resilient smaller mainstay companies now known as WSC Avant Bard, there’s a more dire turn of events. Two years into WSC’s own residency, in Arlington’s Artisphere, the county has informed the troupe that because it wants to make more money with shorter-run rentals, WSC has to go.