The Playgoer: that National Theatre debate...

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

that National Theatre debate...

Playgoer is delighted with the wide response to a recent post on Time Out New York's proposal for a US "National Theatre". Some great responses so far. Please join the fray!

In short, my position is that I do believe in the ideal of a national theatre, but only as a non-profit commercial-free zone. Any proposal for such an institution strikes me as senseless, unrealistic, and even undesirable. Let Broadway be Broadway, I say, and let the rest of "us" focus on the art in a supported environment. This is, in fact, the model of most national theatres in world--i.e. outside of the commercial zone. (Again, Britain's RNT is on the other side of the Thames!)

And I completely agree with a recent reader-comment that in this country we really need "National" to truly mean national. First, it's a big country, this is. Second, New York already has behemoth, healthy non-profit companies. (I believe any newcomer national theatre would lose any bidding wars with them for stars, directors, etc anyway.) So why not build a National in the actual capital, DC--or in Boston, Chicago, LA. Or in that new capital of live entertainment, Vegas, even! OR--more daringly--lay down a foundation in a smaller city, conveniently located for tourism, that could really use the business.

So please continue to post your thoughts on this. This issue really seems to spark automatic debate among theatre folk, so let's hear some!


Anonymous said...

See this blog entry over at The Third Wheel, from almost two years ago re the late Tony Randall's ideas. Some pullquotes from Scott's blog entry, which disagreed pointedly with Mr Randall's article:

Randall doesn't explain why American dance is doing fine without its own version of the Royal Danish Ballet.

We do have a national theater, made up of regional giants such as ACT in San Francisco, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, the Alley in Houston, and so on.

Playgoer said...

Thank you for this, Kevin. You and your compadre Scott beat me to this, I see! I couldn't agree more with what Scott says about the Guthrie, etc. being a good "first step." Exactly. Over the last 50 years the American Theatre has made a significant first step. Now let's build on it--instead of re-inventing the wheel in a doomed Broadway enterprise.