River City Anthology

River City Anthology, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$17. Actor's Workshop of Sacramento at the Wilkerson Theatre, 1723 25th Street; (916) 583-4880; www.actinsac.com. Through October 20.
Rated 2.0

Sigh. Sometimes it seriously sucks to have to rate a theater production. Especially if it’s a well-intentioned partnership that matches local acting students with local poets, as is the case with River City Anthology, an inspired collaboration between Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento and the Sacramento Poetry Center.

Over five weekends, a rotating cast of 42 acting students from Ed Claudio’s Actor’s Workshop presents more than 30 poems from the Poetry Center’s poets. Each show has a different lineup of actors and poems, averaging 25 actors per performance.

The idea is a worthy one, allowing both developing actors and poets a chance to display their talents and get a response from an audience. However, there is such a wide range of acting skills—from emerging talents to those still learning the art of memorization and eye contact—that this should be presented as a free workshop rather than a $17-a-ticket production.

Perhaps the Actor’s Workshop and the Poetry Center could collaborate to offer free performances, thus allowing both actors and poets to hone their skills, practice their craft and gain valuable experience in front of a supportive audience. A request for donations at the door would help cover costs and greatly increase the number of audience members (the second weekend’s audience was little more than a half-dozen people). It would be a win-win way to nurture enthusiastic artists and the arts—both written and performed.