THE HOUR'S UP: Next month brings the opening of Tucson's theatre season, but some of the city's longtime theatrical types won't be a part of it. Having strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage--or behind it--they will be heard no more.
The Arizona Children's Theatre Company, which for eight years staged plays on weekends for kids, has closed its doors in El Con permanently.
a.k.a. Theatre has given the boot to Meg Nolan, co-founder and artistic director of the alternative theatre on Congress Street. The directors of a.k.a. intend to keep the feisty theatre going in the downtown space, but plan to alter its mission by inviting outside troupes to stage the majority of its plays.
Arizona Theatre Company has lost its most gifted director, Matthew Wiener, to the Actors Theatre of Phoenix. Wiener joined ATC as associate artistic director in 1991 and since then has directed some of the company's best productions, including last March's Dancing at Lughnasa, and Nora and Sea Marks in seasons past. In January, though, he'll take a break from his new job as producing artistic director of Actors Theatre. He'll be back at ATC to guest-direct Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities.
If all this news is disconcerting to followers of Tucson's always-struggling theatre scene, at least the founders of the children's theatre don't blame its demise on the usual culprits of shaky finances, poor audience and media indifference. No, says Donald Malmgren, he and his wife René shut the nonprofit theatre down for personal reasons.
"We've been tied up every weekend for the last eight years," Malmgren explains. "We've had a wonderful time. We enjoyed the people who came and the press has been kind. It's been fun but it's been demanding. We're ready to do something else."
Over at a.k.a. Theatre, Meg Nolan, artistic director, director, actor and co-founder of the 9-year-old company, was put on administrative leave by the board in the spring because of what was said to be serious burnout.
"We have not heard from Meg since May," says board President Neal Eckel. In July, the board eliminated her position, and also let go Noel Chester, a friend of Nolan's who for a brief period was managing director. At some point, the board expects to create a single position of general manager.
The first show of the season at a.k.a. will be Victor Lodato's House of Tricks, running from September 20 to October 7. John McNamara is scheduled to stage an original dance work from October 19 to November 5.
Arizona Theatre Company begins previews September 30 of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by company artistic director David Ira Goldstein. It runs through October 21. --Margaret Regan
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