After less than seven months in the job, Olney Theatre Center’s artistic director Martin Platt is leaving. Alan Wade, a member of the theater’s board of directors, is serving as interim artistic director while Olney undergoes a search for a permanent replacement.
According to board president Jennifer Kneeland, Platt “wished to pursue his work with Perry Street Theatricals in New York.” She described the decision for Platt to leave as “mutual.”
Kneeland said there are no plans to amend the 2013 season, although“anything is possible.” She said, “We think Martin did an excellent job selecting titles for Olney, so we’re going to do all that we can in order to maintain the season.”
Platt began his role as artistic director in late May. His predecessor, Jim Petosa, had led Olney since 1994 and left citing his desire for Olney to “return to a more aggressive artistic presence in its seasons,” as he told The Post in January 2012.
At the beginning of his tenure, Platt echoed those sentiments, telling The Post that “I think [Olney’s] slipped a bit. Programming has gotten very conservative. I think part of my initiative is to really return Olney to being a real player in that area . . . both with the kinds of plays we like to do [and] the artists we bring down there.”
Kneeland said Olney hopes to find a permanent artistic director within the first quarter of the year. “We did an extensive search last year to find Martin,” she said. “So through that, we were able to see what’s out there as far as talent in the area.”
Though that search didn’t yield a perfect match, Kneeland said she “can’t say we would have done it differently. . . . We’re sorry that it didn’t work out. We’re looking forward to the future.”
SCENA celebrates a silver anniversary
The SCENA 25th Anniversary Gala is a one-two punch of a celebration. Not only is it recognizing a quarter-century’s worth of international-themed work by the Washington-based company, but it will be also doing so with great specificity: The event will be held 25 years to the day after SCENA’s first performance, which was the Washington premiere of “Help Wanted,” by Franz Xaver Kroetz.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for SCENA, as the site of the Gala, the Warehouse Theatre, was SCENA’s home from 1997 to 2008.
Artistic director Robert McNamara wants to pay tribute to SCENA’s past, though with a bit more brevity than at the 20th anniversary. “In 2008 we did 20 plays in 20 minutes covering 20 years of the theater — which was a lie,” he said. “It took two and a half hours.”
This year, he promised, “We’re only going to do lines from three plays: the first, ‘Help Wanted;’ a play from the middle; . . . and the very last line of the very last play, from ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ which we just closed in November.”
Another highlight: “We may read some of the worst reviews we’ve ever gotten for our productions,” said McNamara. A complimentary champagne toast should help those slings and arrows go down smoothly. (There’s a cash bar, too, in case the reviews are especially brutal.)
When SCENA was founded “in 1987, there weren’t too many theaters in Washington,” said McNamara, pointing out how dangerous and drug-infested the 14th Street NW neighborhood was at the time. “It was a different ballgame.”
Fans of the theater can attend for $50 ($75 for couples) and SCENA actors get in for free. McNamara also plans to reveal what’s coming up next for the theater. “I think we’re going in the right direction,” he said.
7 p.m. Dec. 16, Warehouse Theatre, 645 New York Ave., www.scenatheatre.org, 703-684-7990
A very Sedaris Christmas at Rep Stage
Say you’re over the more classic Christmas experience. Maybe you’re thinking, “I wish instead of Santa sliding down my chimney, a hooker would show up, uninvited, on my doorstep.”
If so, you’re in luck: Rep Stage is presenting “Holidays on Ice,” readings from David Sedaris’s essay collection of the same name. And that is exactly the sort of dark holiday humor you can expect.
“Those who are familiar with Sedaris may certainly see this coming,” said producing artistic director Michael Stebbins, who is performing the reading. “There are those people who, their mouths hang open. ‘Did he just say . . . ?’ ”
In 2006 and 2007, Rep Stage produced “The Santaland Diaries,” a play based on Sedaris’s essay about his stint as an elf at Macy’s during the Christmas season. When Bruce Nelson, the actor who played David, was ready to hang up his Santa hat, the Rep Stage team decided to fill the holiday time slot with a more low-key Sedaris project.
Given that “Holidays on Ice” doesn’t require full costumes, lighting, sets or casting, Stebbins estimates that the reading saves Rep Stage at least $50,000 in production costs. And since the space is small — maximum capacity is 125 — and the presentation simple, “There is a real intimacy to the hour and a half that we spend together,” said Stebbins.
Stebbins cited one of his favorite essays as “Seasons Greetings to our Friends and Family.” “I think anyone can relate to the subject. It’s one of those holiday letters that you’re bound to get from somebody.”
Then, perhaps assuming that his family does not read this newspaper, he added, “My sister still sends one each year, and I have to thank her as if I really appreciate it. ‘In April, I bought a boat. In May, I got my hair done. The girls went to a parade.’ ”
According to Stebbins, the Sedaris material appeals to both college-age and senior audience members “because they’ve heard him on NPR [and] they know what they’re getting themselves into.”
As for those who don’t know Sedaris’s work? “Parental discretion is advised.”
8 p.m. Dec. 20-22 and 2 p.m. Dec. 23, Monteabaro Recital Hall at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md., www.repstage.org, 443-518-1500