Alleged lack of promotion for "A Soldier's Pla a predominantly black production currently at Source Theatre's Main Stage -- has led some cast members to charge theater personnel with discrimination.
"All four of Source's white productions are getting the proper PR and their only black production is playing at the Main Stage and they are not giving it the same treatment," said Clayton Lebouef, a black actor who plays the lead. "What do you think?"
Source management, however, denies that "A Soldier's Play" has gotten less attention.
"It's been our normal publicity," Patricia Sheehy, Source managing director, said of the promotion for "A Soldier's Play." "I really think these complaints are coming out of frustration," she added. "When actors are not performing to full audiences, they get nervous and they start looking around."
Robert McDowell, a white actor in the cast, said Mike Johnson, the director, told him he had "never heard of any show getting less publicity than this one."
"I may have said something like that. However, I was angry because I didn't understand what was going on with the other shows and what the PR department was up against," Johnson, who is also Source's house manager, said.
"I don't think that's true at all," he said. "I wouldn't have spent six weeks in rehearsal if I didn't think it would get promoted."
Attendance at the play, now in its third week, has been low. Last Wednesday's performance was canceled when at curtain time only four people were in the audience.
Theater officials say the reason for poor attendance is the lack of reviews, specifically blaming The Washington Post, which does not review all area productions. The play has had one television review and had not been reviewed by the press as of yesterday.
The disgruntled actors also criticized Source for not doing more to promote black theater. "You have to wonder why Source in general puts on very few black productions in a predominantly black town," said McDowell.
According to Sheehy, Source, which produces more plays than any other Washington theater, has presented "only one completely black production" in its nine-year existence, "but 75 percent of our productions have black actors."
"It starts looking like they Source got to do one black show every four years to qualify for some city aid," said Billy Williams, another black in "A Soldier's Play." "It doesn't matter how the show does; it just has to be up on the boards."
"That's not true," answered Bart Whiteman, founder and artistic director of Source Theatre. "We did it because we thought it was a good play." According to Whiteman, 60 to 70 percent of the theater's income is derived from box office receipts, with only 15 to 20 percent coming from grants. "To bolster the 15-to-20-percent side, we're going to undercut the 60-to-70-percent side? Does that make any sense?
"I think it would be totally resolved if they had a couple of full houses to play to," said Whiteman.
Round House Choices
David Mamet's "The Water Engine," a melodrama set in the studio of a radio station in 1934, and William Gibson's "A Cry of Dreamers," which is about the early years of William Shakespeare, are among the plays selected for the Round House Theatre's 1986-87 season. The other three productions, all area premieres, are George Walker's private-eye spoof "Filthy Rich"; "The Nest," a parable by the controversial West German playwright Franz Xavier Kroetz; and Lavonne Mueller's "Little Victories," a play that explores the parallels between Joan of Arc and Susan B. Anthony.
Seats for the City, the nonprofit organization that provides tickets for performing arts and sporting events to the poor, will hold a benefit fashion show at 4 p.m. July 13 in the Old Vat Room at Arena Stage. During the last year Seats for the City distributed more than 2,000 tickets donated by area theaters and arenas. For further information on the program or the fashion show call 387-3559.
Odds and Ends
The Maryland Renaissance Festival is seeking musicians, mimes, dancers and jugglers for its 10th annual season. Auditions will be held at the festival site at 1 p.m. Saturday; for details call 301-266-7304 . . . Adventure Theatre, now in its 35th year of performing plays for children, will present "The Purple Fan," the story of the lost son of the emperor of China, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. through July 27 at Glen Echo Park . . . Source Theatre will host a carnival to benefit its resident acting company Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Warehouse Rep; free entertainment will include scenes from "A Soldier's Play," "Skyfall" and "Beyond Therapy" . . . So Far Theatre Company's production of "Gunplay" opens Thursday at Dumbarton Methodist Church.