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excerpt from
Publisher's/Critics' Awards to Susan Dietz and Joseph Stern

(Originally printed in Drama-Logue, January 5-11, 1984)

by Polly Warfield

Traditionally, for the past five years, with the announcement of the annual Drama-Logue Critics' Awards for outstanding achievement in theatre, founder/publisher Bill Bordy has given Publisher's Awards to people and/or organizations which make exceptional contributions consistently to the local theatre scene over a period of years.

Previous recipients of the Publisher's Award include Los Angeles Theatre Alliance, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, Company of Angels, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles Actors' Theatre, Shakespeare Society of America/Globe Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, CTG/ Ahmanson Theatre, Santa Monica Playhouse, The Nederlander Organization, East West Players, PCPA/ Theaterfest, Bilingual Foundation of the Arts and the Cast Theatres. Interestingly, all of those groups are still in operation, most continuing to maintain a high level of achievement.

For 1983, this award has been changed to the Drama-Logue Publisher's/Critics' Award, which allows each theatre critic of the publication an opportunity to nominate other persons/organizations also considered to have a significant theatrical record of achievement. Those under consideration are then voted on by the critics and publisher (it is the only Drama-Logue Award where voting is part of the procedure); those receiving the most votes are named awardees. The 1983 recipients for the Drama-Logue Publisher's/Critics' Award, both receiving an equal number of votes, are Joseph Stern, producer of Actors For Themselves/Matrix Theatre, and Susan Dietz, artistic director of the L.A. Stage Company's two theatres.

It takes special qualities to be an entrepreneur which, according to the dictionary, is "a person who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for business ventures, especially an impresario." Above all else, an entrepreneur is a risk-taker. Both Publisher's/Critics' Award recipients this year are risk-takers —happily, successful ones.

JOSEPH STERN received the Margaret Harford Award last year from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for "the boldness and variety of his productions and for exemplifying ! the courage, single-mindedness and occasional pugnacity implied in the ; name Actors For Themselves."

He continues to fulfill tnat promise and doesn't at all mind being tagged with the description of "occasional pugnacity." Any entrepreneur knows it takes occasional pugnacity to overcome obstacles and get the job done.

Joe Stem continues to offer a succession of illustrious productions at his handsome Matrix Theatre. Eminent Domain, Skirmishes and Orphans, his three 1983 offerings, each received a Drama-Logue Production Award as well as being honored in other categories. Within the three years previous to 1983, Stem's AFT ensemble at the Matrix garnered 26 Drama-Logue Awards, 14 L.A. Weekly Awards and, for his memorable production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal alone, seven LADCC Awards.

Let's hear it for Joe Stem's "occasional pugnacity" which now brings him this special 1983 Drama-Logue Publisher's/Critics' Award.

...As an example of the cooperative camaraderie and helpfulness that often exists in the theatre community, Susan Dietz donated her L.A. Stage Company West for Julie Harris' luminous one-woman show Currer Bell, Esq. as the initial benefit fundraiser for Joseph Stern's Actors For Themselves/Matrix Theatre. New challenges await these two entrepreneurs in the new year —the first subscription season for the L.A. Stage Company while Actors For Themselves is one of nine local theatre groups commissioned for a special presentation for the 1984 Olympics.

Joe Stern and Susan Dietz seek additional revenue through fundraising now but their original dreams and convictions were so strong, they financed their theatre operations privately. Something else they share in common is bringing new works to Los Angeles, whether local or world premieres. Yes, L.A. theatre will continue to thrive as long as there are entrepreneurs around like Joseph Stern and Susan Dietz.

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