The Playgoer: Are We Stuck in "19th Century Television Theatre"?

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Are We Stuck in "19th Century Television Theatre"?

"I always find the American theater is slightly locked in the nineteenth century. Everything is psychologically based. And I've seen some really good stuff recently, but I've seen some plays that in England would have been called television drama....I saw a play at the Atlantic [Scarcity, by Lucy Thurber], and I saw a play, 100 Saints You Should Know [by Kate Fodor, at Playwrights Horizons], which were really good pieces but I thought they were like great television drama. What was interesting to me was that there is no outlet for writers like that, so naturally they're going to be done in small theater. TV and cinema don't allow that, there's nowhere you can do those debates. I'm not saying it doesn't work as theater. It's just not the best use of theater."

-Brian Cox (of course, the original Hannibal Lecter, among other great stage & screen performances) keeping it real with New York Magazine.

They only printed this part in the online outtakes. The tamer part of the interview is here.

3 comments:

dramaturg-off-your-TV said...

Says the star of the epitome of television theatre, "Dublin Carol" (in London, not here).

What would a non "psychologically based" theatre be? Written by computers (that had programmed themselves)? Every human has a psychology.

Is Ibsen "television theatre"? Chekhov? Etc.

jeffisawesome said...

A play can and often is psychologically based, but it can also be politically based, or historically based, or aesthetically based. Often each of these will contain psychology as part of its formula, but there's a strain of narrative that considers individual psychology as the sine qua non of the artistic experience, rather than including it an element in a larger construction - charting a person's (or small group's) emotional growth and redemption (or conversely, rise and fall) as its primary subject. Both Ibsen and Chekhov, while employing psychology, took a wide view that embraced large swaths of the world in which they lived. It's easy to agree with Cox when you look at how few risks are taken on our stages, both in terms of form and content. Don't have the means to argue that anywhere else is any better, but still.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Did he really mean 19th Century?