How the Institutional Racism of Yesterday Still Reverberates Today
I'm not hugely enthusiastic about Susannah Mars' annual holiday show Mars on Life—at least I wasn't in 2006, and I haven't seen it again since—but it's a popular show, and it's bad news that CoHo Productions had to cancel their run because, as they bluntly explained in a press release, they can't afford to fund it. The release cites "current economic instabilities" and "ongoing company reorganization," including a return to an exclusively volunteer-run model; the theater will sit dark until January.
Hopefully the "reorganization" pays off, because Portland's theater scene would be markedly worse off without the CoHo. CoHo Productions is unique among local theater organizations in that all of their shows are co-productions: Companies or individuals bring their projects to the CoHo's board and artistic council, which curates a season, provides a space, and helps produce and promote each show. It's a cool model that typical results in a great variety of shows during the course of a season, and frequently attracts high-level talent looking to do work they're genuinely passionate about. (Examples abound, but off the top of my head: Husband and wife actors Chris Harder and Val Landrum starred together in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love a few years ago; PCS' associate artistic director Rose Riordan opened The Receptionist at the Coho before bringing it to Center Stage; and in 2008, Shelly Lipkin directed a production of The Uneasy Chair that remains one of my favorite Portland shows.)
Back to Mars on Life: Seems like a gracious parting of ways on both sides, at least publicly, with Mars writing on her website:
In late October, Coho Productions notified me that the formerly agreed upon Mars On Life; Holiday Survival Guide was no longer viable due to the company's financial constraints. We will miss the show dearly, and appreciate, so, you wonderful supporters who have attempted to purchase tickets and have contacted me about the difficulty in doing so. Wonderful holidays to all, and we hope to see you next year!
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