The Playgoer: Strike Denoument?

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Strike Denoument?

Disney to the rescue?

The word is that hopes are high for this weekend's resumed negotiations, because Disney (not a party to the strike) has allowed its chief labor negotiator to work with the League. Yes that's right, Disney has been more successful--and is surprisingly more respected by the Local One union--than the rest of the established (and presumably more Broadway-savvy) producers.

Naturally pressure's on to try to salvage something out of what's left of the holiday season. (You didn't know it started already? Look at your snowflaked Starbucks cup!) If this has to wait until, say, Tuesday, or even Monday to be resolved, then most shows can kiss Thanksgiving goodbye. For it's going to take more than a few hours notice, let's just say, to get productions back on their feet after over a week of inactivity. (Campbell Robertson gives some idea of the obstacles here today.)

Meanwhile, I just want to pause and reflect on a missed opportunity in the press. I was glad to see some added attention to Off Broadway, usually under the heading of "Look at this! There's some other theatre going on!" But did you notice that it was usually Altar Boyz and the "other" Frankenstein that topped the list? In other words, not so much Off Broadway was "Mini-Broadway"--utterly commercial product just in smaller venues at (slightly) lower prices.

Wasn't this a golden opportunity for major outlets like NYT to shine a brand new light on the theatre in this town that gets no press and no attention? Yes, Times did print perhaps more Off and Off-Off reviews than usual. (One of them, though, was "High School Musical on Ice.") But why not take your top 2 critics, get the word on the street on who's the new writers/performers/companies to watch (preferably folks who can't even afford press reps), and just buy their own ticket so they can show up and check it out. Send Brantley to the Brick! Isherwood to Inwood! Maybe they don't review every show, but give them a big column at the end of the week to muse on what they saw. Wouldn't that be kinda cool?

Oh yeah, that would entail actually seeing your mission as an Arts section as enlightening readers on the true state of the artform. As opposed to Celbrity Tabloid: Highbrow Edition.

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