Sunday, March 19, 2006

City Council Moves Toward Entertainment Based Government

Pittsburgh, March 17th. Pittsburgh City Council today moved another step closer to its long-term strategic goal of becoming the region’s finest municipal variety revue.

The announcement of the newly revamped semi-governing body, The City of Pittsburgh City Council and Municipal Repertory Theatre, came following recent changes in Council’s personnel lineup.

The election of Public Works employee Jeffrey Koch brings the dream closer to reality, according to Council President and Artistic Director Luke Ravenstahl, “We’ve got an asphalt plant worker, a sewer guy…. We get a cop, a fireman and a sanitation worker and we’ll have the Village People!”

Asked if the recent departure of the long time Councilman Sala Udin was a setback Ravenstahl offered, “Well of course, no one could dance around and issue like Sala, so his loss was a huge blow. His record of abstention was second to none, but we think the new guy offers enormous dramatic potential.”

One issue of concern is the concentration of so-called ‘Hard Hat’ performers. Tonya Payne, the Councilwoman representing Pittsburgh’s Hill District, described the problem this way, “The Village people worked because of their diversity. There was a construction worker of course, a cop, an Indian, a leather-boy and a sailor. We need to ensure that all stereotypes are being recognized and not just hard-hat workers.”

Tawanda Carlisle, also raised diversity issues, particularly around the group’s repertoire. Known for her love of books, Ms. Carlisle added, “All of the arts are so important. We want to ensure that literature is not overlooked in favor of purely musical theatre.”

City Council has other problems to resolve before they can begin their first season. Like many regional performance groups, finances are often a significant barrier to reaching an audience. Council’s Minister of Finance Doug shields worries that until the show reaches its audience and starts generating revenues they will have to rely on their wits. “As performers we might have to tap into CDBG dollars to get this thing funded.” There is a silver lining though. According to Shields, “Well, Peduto wearing the black leather chaps is always a big crowd pleaser. We’ll have people lining up around the block for a chance to see that.”

The City of Pittsburgh City Council and Municipal Repertory Theatre (or in keeping with the City’s reputation for making things simple, TCOPCCMRT for short) will begin its opening season with stirring rendition of “Send in the Clowns”. Say’s Ravenstahl, “We want to be sure that we are capturing all of the drama and especially the PATHOS, of Pittsburgh City Council.”


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