The Playgoer: It's Rabbit Hole

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Monday, April 16, 2007

It's Rabbit Hole

The Pulitzer is now official. No surprise, I guess.

But the runners up are quite unpredictable:

"Orpheus X" by Rinde Eckert
"Bulrusher" by Eisa Davis
"Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue" by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

The judges?

Ben Brantley, chief drama critic, The New York Times (Chair)
Kimberly W. Benston, Francis B. Gummere Professor of English, Haverford College
Karen D'Souza, drama critic, San Jose Mercury News
Rohan Preston, theater critic, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul
Paula Vogel, playwright and professor of English, Brown University
That must have been some odd debate going on between traditional and alternative, eh? Not to mention who to exclude...

Have at it!

UPDATE: Pardon my hastiness-- Playbill has the full story:
The Pulitzer jury had nominated three plays — Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — however, the board decided to bypass the nominations and chose a play that hadn't been nominated by the jury.
Funny, that wasn't mentioned on the Pulitzer site.


Anonymous said...

Well, since the governing board rejected all three nominees and chose their own winner, the operating principle seems to have been very much what last year's (which led to no winner) was: If we didn't see it in midtown, we ain't voting for it.

Playgoer said...

Well that's very interesting, Anon. Hadn't thought of that scenario, but utterly plausible. (Do you have it on good authority?)

The Pulitzer "jurors" are only charged with recommending a winner, which can be overruled by the big Board. I've certainly heard of other times the Drama jury has been overruled. (Odets's "Flowering Peach" for instance in 1954 was shoved aside for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"--no one really mourns that one, though.)

Playgoer said...

Oops, I see the Playbill story now, and have emended above...

Anonymous said...

Given that only one judge is tethered to midtown -- Brantley -- and the others live in very different places (and no doubt come ot mecca now and then to see some shows), I think it's implausible that midtown snootery explains the choice. Folks in San Jose and Minneapolis are not as parochial as New Yorkers.

Anonymous said...

But the judges didn't choose the winner, Anon #2--the governing panel did.

Alison Croggon said...

Given David Cote's scathing review of it, I'd be interested to know what he thinks. The upshot sounds a little depressing to me.

Thomas Garvey said...

It's rare that I applaud that kind of maneuver, but this time, the Board may have been right - if the other nominees were as dull as Orpheus X, that is.

Anonymous said...

Bulrusher was quite dull.

Shawn Kittelsen said...

Applaud nothing, Mr. Garvey. Abaire is an annual visitor to my classes at NYU Dramatic Writing, where he is much loved for "Fuddy Meers" and "Kimberly Akimbo," and he is as warm, open and charming a writer as you will ever meet.

That saud, I paid full price for a ticket to "Rabbit Hole," knowing that it would be different from his previous plays, but expecting an entertaining and well-written night of drama.

With the exception of a conversation piece about the Kennedy family, I was dead wrong. I walked out of the play furious that I had wasted my money, I paid my friend for her ticket so as not to have wasted hers, and ever since then I have used "Rabbit Hole" as an example of what is wrong in American theatre today -- which is, aside from crappy film remakes (see DLA's book for "High Fidelity"), a commitment to mind-numbingly boring wealth porn for the dusty subscribers who fund MTC and their kin.

A play should explore an idea and play with it, we should learn something about it and ourselves when the curtains close. "Rabbit Hole" starts out telling us something we already know -- that the death of a child is sad -- and then repeats itself until I walk out cursing myself for being so loyal to a playwright whose best intentions aside has forgotten what a good play is.

Clearly, so has the Pulitzer panel.

In the film "Superman Returns" this summer, Lois Lane wins a Pulitzer for her editorial entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Some people have expressed to me that Lois Lane could never win a Pulitzer for an article like that. Now I can say, "Rabbit Hole." Rabbit Hole. Rabbit Hole. Rabbit Holy $#!% what a bad play.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Given Ben Brantley's gushing review from February of last year, I guess we could have (should have?) seen this coming.

Malachy Walsh said...

Shawn, you're a little over the top on this. Plus, the post is really about the nomination process and who works it.

The Rabbit Hole is a simple and direct and ACCESSIBLE narrative to be sure. And it's an exploration of the emotional side of grief.

Is it MUD? No. BURIED CHILD? No. Is it about a hot topic? No. Is it polemic? No (unless you think the Kennedy scene is making larger implications... which would be a stretch.) Does it push the boundries of technique and style? No. Were there moments when I was moved by the play? Yes.