Monday, November 10, 2008

Other people’s words

I’m always kinda on the lookout for new places to look for news and commentary about theater. I recently happened upon The Stranger, an alt publication out of Seattle, and found a few somewhat audacious pieces on theater. First, there’s this overview of recent openings in the area that starts out with the assertion that 2006 was the year the American musical cracked open. Hmmm.

More eyebrow-raising is this “10 things theaters needs to do right now” piece that starts out with “Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already.” My!

On the other side of the journalistic world, I picked up a Wall Street Journal last week (I hear there’s some financial turmoil or something going on) and found this interesting perspective on why there aren’t any conservative plays.

For an art form people seem to keep wanting to declare dead, theater still gets a fair amount of press.


Andrew Hamm said...

Wow. That article is half irredeemably pompous, half undeniably true. But as long as Shakespeare is the most popular box office draw in the world, as he has been for centuries, we're going to do his work.

Shooting for snarky, but barely making smarmy. I want to simultaneously shake his hand and kick him in the junk.

Anonymous said...

More amazing than the article are the comments on it--117 as of today. And the recap of the forum the writer held for people to come and vent. Lots of passion up there in Seattle.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

The accompanying cartoon on the same page as the article makes me chuckle, as that actually happened at a couple of our performances of Streetcar, though we certainly didn't solicit it.

I actually agree with most of this article. I think the tone was just a literary device to show his frustration and not intended to be smarmy, but if it sounds condescending, maybe it's because these are all things that need to be said loudly to the people who don't want to hear them.

I love the Bard, and I don't think he's discounting him...I get what he's saying. Theatres who aren't in the business of producing Shakespeare regularly will toss a work by ol' Billy Shakes into the mix because, to most people, Shakespeare = high art, and I feel a lot of companies use his name to improve their street cred.

I love classical pieces...hell, I could spend my whole life just doing Chekhov, but it wouldn't really pay the bills...but I deeply and profoundly agree that more new and exciting works need to be produced to rejuvenate the flagging interest in theatre in the under 60 crowd.

I'm sure I've said this before on this very blog, but audiences respond when they can see something of themselves on the stage. If you want young people in your audience, do shows by, for and about young people.

I'm not crazing about Tick Tick Boom as a show, but I was tickled pink to see a show by and about and featuring people in their late 20s. Do you know how many of us there are out there? Like, a LOT.

It's this dearth of age-appropriate work in the area that is one of the reasons actors like myself tend to migrate elsewhere...not because great art isn't being produced here...quite the contrary. There are tons of amazing shows being done, but a huge lack of opportunity to be in good roles in good shows about people in their 20s and 30s. And those shows are out there, they exist, but there just aren't enough of them being produced in Richmond.

Overall, I feel that many regional theatres -- and I'm not just talking about Richmond -- need to stop pandering to the audience they have and start appealing to the audience they want.