Actors Guild postpones 'Chad Deity' in wake of delayed grant

rcopley@herald-leader.comMay 7, 2014 

Eric Seale, the artistic director of Actors Guild of Lexington, said the company has no financial cushion, so a delayed grant forced the postponement of its next play.

RICH COPLEY — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

Actors Guild of Lexington was scheduled to open Kristoffer Diaz's wrestling play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity on Thursday. But the production has been postponed until August in the wake of a delayed grant from the Kentucky Arts Council.

Actors Guild's artistic director, Eric Seale, said the budget for the production factored in a $2,900 operating grant that the theater had expected to receive earlier this spring from the Arts Council.

But due to what was described as a clerical problem, the theater did not receive the money and was not able to begin production of the play, which necessitates, among other requirements, building a wrestling ring in the middle of the theater.

"In theater, we plan our lives out to the margins, and when something like this happens, it can really disrupt everything," Seale said.

Of the play, a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist that focuses on a charismatic professional wrestler, Seale said, "Deity should be done a certain way, and I don't want to do it any other way."

Seale said the production has been rescheduled for August.

Kentucky Arts Council spokesman Gil Lawson confirmed that the theater will receive its grant from the state this summer.

Seale said the problem with the grant was a misunderstanding with paperwork. He said Actors Guild has no problems with the arts council.

"The Kentucky Arts Council is the lifeblood of the arts in Kentucky, and we have always enjoyed working with them," Seale said.

Had Chad Deity been a less expensive work to produce, he said, the company might have been able to move forward. Deity and last fall's production of William Shakespeare's King Lear were the most expensive shows on the Actors Guild season, Seale said.

Despite the setback, Seale said, Actors Guild is on stable footing and will announce a 2014-15 season soon.

The theater, once a resident company at the Downtown Arts Center, teetered on the brink of closing in 2009 and 2010 in the midst of money troubles and management changes. It reopened in a former retail space off Harrodsburg Road and has presented shows there since January 2011.

Since Seale became artistic director in 2010, Actors Guild has maintained an open slot at the end of its season to bring in a play that is particularly relevant or timely. The theater will produce David Mamet's 1977 play A Life in the Theatre June 19 to 28.

The play centers on two actors, one a veteran of the stage and the other a promising newcomer, as they are involved in a series of shows together. A 2010 production on Broadway starred Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight. Actors Guild's show will star Paul Thomas and Cody Taylor.

"Usually I don't like plays about theater, but this feels very timely," Seale said.

The delay of Chad Deity was the only substantial setback stemming from the delayed Arts Council grant, Seale said, but it will affect how the theater budgets in the future.

"Something like this, as temporary as it is, can kill you," Seale said. "Everything has to be balanced."

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Twitter: @copiousnotes. Blog: Copiousnotes.bloginky.com.

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