The Playgoer: NYTW rewarded?

Custom Search

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NYTW rewarded?

New York Theatre Workshop has just been awarded a $100,00 "Tony Randall Grant", bequeathed by the estate of the late actor. The money is to support one particular production, Martha Clarke's "Pirandello Project," premiering there in the fall. Clarke is surely an important and visionary dance-theatre pioneer, but I hope NYTW does not use this to further boast of its preeminence in presenting "challenging theatre." It certainly is expensive theatre, though:

Grant will go toward the show's budget, which, coming in at more than $750,000, is one of the costliest in the org's history.
Don't worry, I'm not calling for funding organizations to boycott NYTW for its shameful backing out on its commitment to "My Name is Rachel Corrie." But I wonder if some funders who strongly believe in free speech may wish to make a statement about the company's actions. What's interesting about the Randall grant is that it's brand new and--as Variety reports--was chosen this year solely by Randall's widow. In the future it will be administered by committee. So all it took was cozying up to one person.

Randall, of course, idealistically (if naively) sought to bring the nonprofit rep model to Broadway in the 1990s with his "National Actors Theatre." (I won't say it failed since it produced more than a few notable productions and survived for over 10 years. But let's just say his dream couldn't be realized for all the economic and cultural reasons that have been rehearsed on this blog often.) I can't comment on Randall's personal politics, but I did admire his betting-it-all in his last season on what I thought was an astounding and ballsy production of Brecht's Arturo Ui. I'd like to think he wouldn't approve of what happened at NYTW and--as a proud Oklahoman Jew, nee Leonard Rosenberg--might have staged "Corrie" in protest. But that's just my speculation.

In the meantime, if you want to go see what 3/4 of a million dollars on stage looks like at an edgy Off-Broadway downtown theatre, buy your subscriptions now to New York Theatre Workshop.

No comments: