Monday, January 19, 2009

Stranger's "Ten Things Theaters Need To Do"

I'm rather late to the punch, I know, but I rather liked Brendan Kiley's article, "Ten Things Theaters Need To Do Right Now To Save Themselves," especially after all this hoopla about Magic Theater and all the other companies going bankrupt. The thing I'm really behind is the same thing I'm hoping to do this year with my criticism, what I'll call the Ratatouille method: support what is new. I don't really want to support a theater company--with my money, time, or writing--that is doing another gimmicky modernization of a classic (there are exceptions; I love Red Bull and I'm seeing Hedda Gabbler). At the end of the day, much as I like the revivals done by The Mint, Gallery Players, and T. Schrieber Studios (to name a few), I would rather see new work at HERE and PS122, even if it happens to fail spectacularly.

I've got nothing against Chekhov and Ibsen (BAM and Classic Stage Company), and if it's a quality revival of a show that I've never actually seen on stage (like Blasted, which I think was technically a NY Premiere), I'd still go (and so I understand why theaters do revivals). But it's unfortunate that new writers have to compete against a deck stacked so heavily against them--even more so considering that the critics, who don't have to compete against their predecessors, often devote more space to the "new" old than what's actually new. So here's my vow to you struggling writers (and you prolific ones): if you write it, I will do my best to come. (I stipulate that you must, at least until someone underwrites me, have it produced in NYC.) I may not be able to save you by myself, but I'll damn well do my best to at least look your way and call out while you're drowning.

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