A Tale of Two Productions

Anna won the Pulitzer, H plays to crickets

Closer to home, you can't help but wonder if John Beane, the big cheese at Insurgo Theater Movement, is contemplating hari kari. Beane is producing and starring in H, a one-man show entirely from Hamlet's perspective. Beane worked with director Tadao Ogihara on the concept.

The idea sounds interesting, but it has been a difficult business move. The play was a last-minute replacement for an adaptation of Robin Hood that Beane, the adaptor, didn't feel was ready for theatrical prime-time.

Through the first three weekends, four of the nine scheduled performances of Hwere canceled due to low, or no, audience. So far, less than 50 people have seen the show.

"It's below expectations," Beane said of the low turnout. "We knew going in that it wouldn't be a big hit and wouldn't garner a whole lot of attention. It was experimental for this company, which was the main draw for us. Personally, it's been a satisfying experiment."

But what about the business side of things? "Let's just say a lot of friends have seen it. The fortunate thing is it didn't cost much to produce."

Beane has learned a couple of valuable lessons. "It reminded me of how fricking hard acting is, especially when you're up there by yourself," he said.

He has also learned that you may start a theater company because you love to act, but that acting may get in the way of business. "I'm definitely pulling back my role in the performance of things this season," says Beane. "We're moving toward getting ourselves ready to being a long-term theater, getting the books straight and stuff like that. And I need to focus on running the theater."

H, which lasts a mere 70 minutes, does run three more nights. Hopefully. Anna In the Tropics at South Coast Repertory's Argyros Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555. Previews begin Sun. Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m. $19-$38. Regular run begins Oct. 3; H at Insurgo Theater Movement, 4883 E. La Palma, Anaheim Hills, (714) 517-7798. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. $12-$15.
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