The Playgoer: Quote of the Day

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I think the theatrical machinery works today more slowly than it did in the 1930s, when the theater was a more bustling and robust industry. By the time a “topical” play has been developed and workshopped and tried out in a regional theater, say, the point it addresses may have gone stale."

-Charles Isherwood, New York Times.

Ish is right!


Jeffrey Eric Jenkins said...

Tell that to the critics in the 1930s who bemoaned the death of theater, which was in seemingly inexorable decline after 1928-29 (and don't blame it ALL on Wall Street). And to playwrights such as Kaufman and Hart--especially Hart--who were moved to write paeans to the theater of yesteryear in the form of THE FABULOUS INVALID. Even Laurence Hutton wrote of the "'palmy days' of the drama" in his 1875 book PLAYS AND PLAYERS. Theater is a memory machine--see Kantor for one perspective, or Eric Bentley on the greatest Hamlet he ever saw (hint: Gielgud)--but topicality is relative to society's ability to learn from history. The way the wheel continues to turn, and the lessons go unlearned, I'd say topicality is the least of our problems--but I no longer have the pressure of filling space in a daily newspaper.

Ken said...

Good for Isherwood! I've often said the same thing, on comment board across this wide internet of ours: U.S. Playwrights don't write topical plays because the trap of new play development hides their work from paying-public sight for sometimes years at a time. How can anyone expect their piece to have that "ripped-from-the-headlines" feel if it languishes in readings and workshops far beyond public interest in the issue they're writing about in the first place?