Re: Bob Thomas’ Letter to the Editor |

Re: Bob Thomas’ Letter to the Editor

Bob Thomas, formerly of The Center For the Arts, replied to an editorial by Herb Robins with a personal attack veiled in derogatory language to discredit Mr. Robin’s credentials. How clever of Mr. Thomas to so demeaningly mock Mr. Robins credibility based on scant IMDB ( information, and inadequate arm chair reseach. Anytime someone holds another up for ridicule it speaks more of their ill own manners than anything else. How easy it was to derogate an elderly man’s career credits with saccharin words dripping insinuation without further investigation into Mr. Robin’s extensive credentials? And to what purpose? Do Mr. Thomas’ comments make Foothill look better, or bring them one step closer to solvency?

Everyone has a right to an opinion, but we need not be so cynical as to stoop to this type of disparaging behavior. The fact that Mr. Robins suggests Foothill can and “should improve” says volumes about Mr. Robin’s “understanding of quality,” regardless of whether someone can appreciate his credentials.

As to that, Herb Robins has far more credits like being an acting coach for major motion picture companies like Disney. Would a company like Disney hire him if he could not do the job? Would he have an acting role in a major motion picture of the 60’s “How The West Was Won,” if he couldn’t act? Would the County of Los Angeles have made him a consultant on urban theater projects if he was not respected in Hollywood as a teacher? Would the prestigious Samuel French have his adaptaptation of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” in their catalogue of plays if he had no merit as a writer ? Mr. Robins, a “working performer in the industry,” has a history and followed his dreams.

Mr. Thomas, as an actor, should appreciate dreams and understand what aspiring directors and actors have to do to find work in “the industry.” It is not always pretty, but at least the “work” pays the bills. As for “The Worm Eaters”, a classic Cult film with a huge following, it is an intentional tongue in cheek “takeoff” on the “gross out” genre of the 60’s and 70’s,” and it hits it’s mark. It doesn’t need to be Shakespeare. It is good to remember there is room for all kinds of entertainment, and all kinds of tastes to enjoy it. Mr. Robins continues to reach for dreams, and prove his abilities even in his 70’s with his wonderful adaptation of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”.

My own take on Foothill’s troubles is that they have been hugely unrealistic, I see lots of theater companies that put on quality shows for well under $15,000. Cats, Community Players, LeGacy, all struggling financially to mount shows that have a far better chance of pulling audiences and getting money back in ticket sales. Anyone recently see “On The Waterfront” by LeGacy? Quality, and less than $15,000. Why is no one supporting them? What about Community Players the oldest theater company in Nevada County and the generative seed for all other theater companies in this county, including Foothill? They are struggling to survive. Who will be their Angel to maintain that radition of Nevada County? The same $90,000 given to the ailing Foothill could be split amongst all the other groups. This is how many shows could be produced: 6 at $15,000 each, 9 at $10,000, and 18 at $5,000. What a difference.

I am sure everybody wants Foothill to survive as a major influence on theater in this county, but it is only prolonging the inevitable to keep bailing them out when their expectations are this far out of line with the realities of theater in this county. At $90,000, even at $25.00 a ticket Foothill would have to sell 3600 tickets. That’s more than a “sold out” house per night for a four week run with three performances per week. Thats unrealistic! Thinking you are going to be able to do the same thing with $40 per ticket is even more unrealistic, especially in these economic times when audiences are down 60% from last year, and every company is just trying to break even much less make money on their productions.

Why not create a theatrical fund that will support all the theater companies in this country. $90,000 as a salt to this fund would have gone much farther and would be a dollar far better spent. In fact, why not have a county wide “Show Off.” Give each theater company $10,000 in a “competition.” Now that would be a unique endeavor and fun for the companies and for the community. It could be a yearly event in the County.

Margot Malone is a former senior staff secretary, film critic, and Saturn awards staff for The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films in Los Angeles, and Former President of Community Players of Nevada County.

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