The Playgoer: Photo of the Day

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Photo of the Day

Robert Brustein--playwright, director, critic, and founder of both Yale Rep and American Repertory Theatre--receives the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama yesterday in a White House Ceremony.

Nice to see someone from the nonprofit American theatre who's not a movie star, and not a huge Broadway producer, receive such a recognition.

Also awarded in the Arts and Humanities categories: Van Cliburn, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, James Taylor, Joan Didion, Harper Lee, Philip Roth--and one Meryl Streep who somehow couldn't show!

Full photo gallery here.

Odd moment in the Roth citation:
When he described the impact of literature, and mentioned Philip Roth's seminal "Portnoy's Complaint," Obama said, "How many young people have learned to think by reading the exploits of Portnoy and his complaints?" While the room rocked with laughter, Obama smiled and stared at his notes with an expression that read "did I just say that."


Sabina E. said...

that's so badass!

Anonymous said...

Meryl Streep couldn't attend because she is filming in the UK. She is a fantastic actress and artist and well deserving of the medal and to be lauded for honouring her commitments even if it means missing out on the medal ceremony.

Scott Walters said...

She was also a student of Brustein's!

I wrote my dissertation on Brustein, who is a fascinating critic and educator. I had two lengthy interviews with him, and found him open, intelligent, and generous.

While I don't agree with all of his opinions on plays, and certainly not his opinions on arts funding (he is decidedly in the camp that is all about high art and money flowing to a small number of prominent organizations), I do believe he is one of the most important critics of the second half of the 20th century.

The medal is well-deserved.