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The captain steering Mutineer Theatre

February 14, 2010

Mutineer Theatre is in its second production, Ditch, after starting off last year with Lie With Me, which moved on to Washington DC.

You should know that I first came to know of Mutineer through my day job at KPCC. Its artistic director, Jon Cohn, is a colleague. So is Ditch’s author, Taylor Coffman. I recently asked Jon how Mutineer came to be.

“Frustration,” he told me. “I couldn’t find the right project so I decided to stop looking for it and start creating it. I had always had an interest in developing original work so I reached out to a few playwright friends of mine. One of them (Keith Bridges) offered to do a commission for me and so I assembled a group of friends and colleagues to discuss some ideas with him. I ended up inviting them all to be members of Mutineer Theatre Company (which at that point was nothing more than a name on a web site) and one of the ideas discussed that day became our inaugural production (Lie With Me) that opened last spring.”

There’s nothing simplistic about starting a theatre company. What’s brought a smile to your face? “To me,” Cohn said, “the coolest part of Mutineer has been that we aren’t all ‘theatre people’. We are comprised of artists of exceptional and varying talent that bring a deeper and well-rounded perspective to the work. After too many people telling me how theatre is ‘supposed to be done’, it’s refreshing to incorporate new ideas to the play development process and let the work grow out of the company’s collective voice.”

Los Angeles have a thousand small theatres, but it’s not considered a ‘theatre town’. “In a city where film is king and live theatre events are often used to further the careers of the individual,” Cohn said, “it is vastly rewarding to work with a group so passionate about the material and the process of creating it. Ha, insert mission statement here.”

How will you choose which plays to produce? “We create them and/or develop them,” Cohn said. “Then, as a company, we decide which one to produce next.”

And what challenges are you facing as a new company? “We are probably facing the same challenges that most small non-profit arts groups are facing. Fundraising is especially challenging due to both the economy and the fact that we don’t yet have a proven track record or established history. But with next to no organizational overhead or recurring institutional costs, we are freer to take greater creative risks that ultimately yield greater creative successes. We must also devise unique ways to entice people to attend our productions—not only because we are new but because all of our plays are world premieres and unfamiliar to potential audiences. The other challenge is building a solid organizational infrastructure for all of the needs of the non-profit. Without the resources to compensate a full-time staff, we must be creative to not only sustain but to continue to grow.”

Ditch continues its run at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sherry Honeycutt permalink
    February 14, 2010 6:47 pm

    Keep up the great work Jon!
    Sherry Honeycutt

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