Friday, February 1, 2008

Palo Alto Theater Gets a Little Drama

The set: Palo Alto. The scene: Children's Theater. Picture this: some cash goes missing. Then a video camera. Next to go is some "hard to find" equipment. Who is behind it? No one can say.

What happens? An anonymous person calls the police, who storm in, evacuate the building, place the four employees on paid leave, and promise to investigate while providing insubstantial "reports" on their actions to the public. Subplot: three of these four employees are union workers. What do the police do? They forbid the union members to talk to the union president. Subsubplot: one of these union workers is currently in the hospital dying of stomach cancer.

With Hollywood writers on strike, I think we might just have a blockbuster here.

This drama, of course, revolves around the shutdown of the Palo Alto Children's Theater.

Who called the police? Unknown to public. Why did the person call the police if they suspected inside theft instead of disciplining the suspects (as would any company with suspicions of employee misbehavior)? Unknown to anyone. What are the police really doing? Unknown to public. And what would theater staff be doing with a bunch of video and audio equipment?

Planning their comeback by making a music video, probably.

The two main directors, both long LONG time employees of the Children's Theater, are city employees. This means the city finances the Children's Theater even though it only makes a fraction of what it spends. However, when it comes to accountability, who is the boss of these two veteran directors? This is the question.

The Friends of the Children's Theater provides additional financial support to buy "extras" that are out of the $1 million annual budget. They are not financially responsible for the theater nor do they have any control over the theater management. They don't even see spending records.

If you understand all this, explain it to me.

As will happen with a scandal, there are those who accuse the police and the city of destroying the reputations of four honorable citizens. To a certain degree, it's a valid point. If there is no definitive evidence, what are the police hoping to find? A document saying, "I took the video camera?" And if there is definitive evidence, why are the police keeping so quiet about it?

Of course, there are also those who believe it's about time for some new blood; directors who don't insist upon a Jordan outreach show being performed to a CD instead of live music. (i.e. younger people who aren't quite so controlling and resistant to change.)

All you need now to nicely round out the plot is the sister of the box office worker secretly being in love with the former husband of the theater director, who coincidentally overheard some illegal dealings between the costume designer and her fiance, who is actually planning to escape to Swaziland by the next boat to cover up his 14 jail terms before the day of the wedding is set.

But hey! That's drama.

Update: Well-known long-time director Michael Litfin died of cancer on Friday, February 1. A celebration of his life will be held at the Childrens' Theatre on February 17.