PHILADELPHIA AND COSTA MESA, CALIF.: One of the country's foremost black theatres on the East Coast has scaled back its operations this season, while a major regional theatre in California has shut down a festival exclusively devoted to Latino playwrights.
Philadelphia's New Freedom Theatre has canceled three productions of its 2004-05 season, aiming to concentrate instead on its performing-arts training program and fundraising for its capacity-building efforts. The decision to refocus New Freedom's operations, according producing artistic director Walter Dallas, is temporary. The production cutbacks will result in a $700,000 savings, while the theatre gears up for a national search for a new managing director. The troupe hopes to deal effectively with a long-term $4-million debt, including unexpected expenses associated with the decade-long renovation of its North Philadelphia headquarters that was completed in 1999. New Freedom has given the green light to a new show in April 2005--Kofifi, a play with music created by Dallas himself, whose cast is expected to feature youth from the training program. Donations may be made at www.freedomtheatre.org.
California's South Coast Repertory has disbanded its 19-year-old Hispanic Playwrights Project in favor of "merging it" (according to the press release) with a new, broader-based "emerging artists initiative." The new program, financed by a $750,000 combined matching grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. …