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What is most interesting to me, (I'm one of the blogs you link to above,) is how quickly I have been labeled as a defender of Teachout'd article, or even somebody who wants to stifle new voices, (very strange since I'm a playwright myself.) I found Terry's article interesting in light of some discussions and arguments that went around the Boston theatre scene a few years ago. Like everybody else in the blogosphere, I saw quickly that there were obvious gaps in the TCG data. So, I have been slowly putting together my own spreadsheet of productions in the Boston area from the 1999-2000 season to the 2009-2010 season. I excepted Shakespeare. Two things emerged very quickly. #1 Some of the playwrights Terry was saying were neglected have actually received a high rate of production here in Boston. (Chekhov leads productions.) #2 New Plays outnumbered classics. Those trends have continued as my list has grown. I have the latest stats here
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2010 on What Was That All About? at New Play Blog
1 reply
Just to be clear... Merrimack's explicit mission is NOT "to produce new work" nor is the Huntington's. In other words, they are not exclusive to that, like, say, Playwright's Horizons would be. We do have an entity like that in Boston - Boston Playwrights Theatre only does new plays. I can tell you, after now labeling Scott's categories on around 400 entries in my spreadsheet - here is what I am getting: 32 Classic Canon 107 20th Century 281 Contemporary It isn't even close. Just to be clear: I am trying to be real distinct about contemporary. In other words, if it was produced in 2000 but its first premiere was in 1982 it falls under 20th Century not contemporary. If it was produced in 2008, but its premiere production was in 2000 then I am calling that contemporary.
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2010 on A Clearer Picture 2 at Parabasis
Scott, Following up on your suggested categories, I went into my spreadsheet and labeled the first 160 or so entries. I'll continue to do so. I did except Shakespeare. Already, here is what I have: 12 Classic Canon 39 20th Century Classics 116 Contemporary Plays
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2010 on A Clearer Picture 2 at Parabasis
Incidentally, I, too, have noticed exactly the same effect with respect to Odets: suddenly "Awake and Sing!" is hot after having been done on Broadway a couple of seasons... I think over the next two years we will see a similar thing with All My Sons.
Toggle Commented Jan 13, 2010 on A Clearer Picture 2 at Parabasis
Not that anybody cares, but to clear up my earlier comment... In going back and forth with people I see that my choice of words with "Careerist" was very bad. All I meant was that she is a practicing professional, functioning at a high level in her field, with all of the politics, publicity and problems that comes with that. In other words, she in the system and of the system. To be VERY clear, I would say the same of Adam Rapp, Edward Albee, David Mamet, Theresa Rebeck, and on and on and on. As I pointed out to 99 in his comments section: I have criticized, as well as supported at times, things all of these people have said in interviews or on panel discussions. That was the whole point of my comment. I can only assure people I did not mean the standard definition of careerist which, I have found out, is all negative. I honestly didn't mean that, and in my defense, I kept saying, over and over that I didn't mean it in a negative way. I wish I could correct my comment and substitute Professional with Careerist, but it doesn't seem to make that much difference anyway. After all, 99 indicates that he still thinks I'm a misogynist.
Toggle Commented Dec 23, 2009 on Just a Quick Reminder at Parabasis
Hey JMdirexordus, Maybe you'll read carefully next time. Like you, I wasn't using "Careerist" as a negative. Jeesh. Remember, fools rush in. Your comment shows an extraordinary willingness to say something, anything and make it sound like you're making a point. I see, however, that you have no problem labeling the uber-successful Rebeck, the award-ladened Marguiles and the critically proclaimed Greenberg as sappy and crappy. I won't blame you though. After reading this comment thread I guess the stylish thing to do would be to dismiss your ravings as the delusions of a mind made mad by jealousy of their careers.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2009 on Just a Quick Reminder at Parabasis
By the way, let's also remember that Sarah Ruhl is not exactly a conscientious objector in the aesthetic battlefield. Really, Isaac, Adam and others, with all due respect, I think that you have a fundamental disconnect on this. She takes many opportunities to describe how the audience is complacent and needs to be shaken up. She also takes the opportunity, as we all do, (only we do it from smaller platforms,) to tell everybody what is wrong with the state of theater today. Of course, she positions her own work as the solution to the problem - many others do this as well. The highlight of this behavioral pattern was probably her interview with Kris Vire in Time Out Chicago, in which she said the problem with theatre is that it is too much like television. When Vire pointed out that much new playwriting, including her own, seems to actually borrow from the most cutting edge television, Ruhl backpedaled and said that she doesn't watch television so she wouldn't know. So, Isaac, let's first dispense with the idea that Ruhl is some type of Margaret Edson. I really believe you are smarter than that. "All she's done is write some plays and have some babies." (Oh, please!) She is a CAREERIST and a aesthetically political one at that. That doesn't make her a bad person, or untalented, (and I don't begrudge anybody a living in the theatre,) but it certainly opens her comments and her work up for discussion, debate and, yes, disagreement.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2009 on Just a Quick Reminder at Parabasis
From the Boston Globe review of Speed-the-Plow today: i>Though “Speed-the-Plow’’ sags a bit in the middle, Mamet was mostly in top form with this tale of two blockbuster-obsessed movie producers and the idealistic temp who upends their moral universe. Emph mine. ;)
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2009 on Some Thoughts On Critics (2) at Parabasis
Malachy, I don't seem to remember the New York Times Book Review not containing reviews, even under Anatole Broyard. ;) But don't the best think pieces apply critical faculties? Don't they render at least some type of judgement of success or misplaced importance? I was wasn't trying to set up a straw man, I was kind of, tongue in cheek, suggesting that if you want to avoid criticism of something altogether then your best bet is to go straight to the artist who created the work, no? But, then again, the artist, in defense of his or her own work, will usually have no problem criticizing the work of other artists. (See: Sarah Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Adam Rapp, Pinter, Brecht, Albee, Miller etc.) As Eric Bentley pointed out: If you want to understand Brecht's drama, avoid, at all costs, his theory.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Some Thoughts On Critics (2) at Parabasis
To play Devil's advocate Malachy: Why even bother sending somebody to the show at all? Just get the theater company's P.R./Marketing/Dramaturgy Department to write up that article for you. I'm sure they'd be happy to. They already do this in the form of press releases. And these pieces you are referring to are pretty much already in existence, (most of them derive from the pre-show press anyway.) As you point out about the "age or Yelp," The criticism will take care of itself. In the comments section of these pieces the readers will sound off about their experience at the play. But, mark my words, their, ummm, opinions, will make artists start begging for the return of that professional reviewer. Most theater companies announce that "Word of Mouth is our best form of advertising." Some of them don't understand that it is also the most accurate.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2009 on Some Thoughts On Critics (2) at Parabasis
Josh, you're a Yale man, too! I just added it myself. See you at the reunion!
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2009 on MFA Like Me at Parabasis
Forget it, Isaac. It's Chinatown. ;)
Toggle Commented Oct 1, 2009 on More on the Polanski Debate at Parabasis
Just stepping back in here to say that I do think Isaac is right on my little "thought experiment." I was engaging in some hyperbole there. Sorry.
On Point A) We agree: I said it wasn't a big deal. On Point B) Even A.L. agrees that the Commmunications director should not have been on the call. On the last point you make. Well, I don't believe you wouldn't be upset. ;) Not to mention 24 doesn't get NEA money.
I'll also add that while you may be sick of reiterating it, unfortunately you may have to keep doing it. I don't think this is over, yet. As much as we'd like it to be.
Actually, Isaac, (and I am no friend to the forces that are perpetuating the meme,) Anon Liberal's "lowering of the temperature" is hardly comforting after clicking through to read the transcript of the conference call. (I know you don't like linking to Breitbart on principle.) While the conclusion of his analysis appears sound - "jaywalking" - A.L. really glosses over the actual language used on the call, not to mention that it is pretty apparent that the language was being structured so as to not go over the line,(again, not a huge deal.) I am not, to be clear, saying that this deserves the attention it is getting, but if you want to understand why the zombie brain is so tenacious, you may want to see exactly what the other side is talking about here. Maybe a thought experiment is in order. Let's close our eyes and pretend it is January 2005, and we are reading about a similar conference call where the Bush administration through the NEA is simply cheerleading and suggesting how arts organizations can help out public policies such as... "privatizing Social Security." Is your temperature rising? No? Mine is.
I shouldn't be too surprised, but your outline pretty well mirrors our scene here in Boston. The space managers are a little better it seems, but the overall lack of space is a problem. Small companies work with each other more and more. Now, more than ever, you will have the following: A theatre company producing a play Wed-Sun will allow another company to stage a reading or put up a one-night festival of shorts on the Monday and Tuesday they are dark. A new organization, The Small Theatre Alliance of Boston has formed to help better coordinate marketing and logistical efforts. The visibility has improved greatly since say 10-15 years ago. Many small shows get covered by both the major papers and the local alt-weekly.
Toggle Commented Aug 28, 2009 on Indie Theatre: Strenghts/Weaknesses at Parabasis
Oops, sorry, I see that has already been pointed out.
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2009 on The Greeks at Parabasis
Don't forget also, that these plays were created and presented in the context and, well, part of a communal religious celebration.
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2009 on The Greeks at Parabasis
Actually, The paragraph that keeps being referenced here reads just like a miniature of George Hunka's incendiary review. I would classify this Zinoman blurb as a review, however short. I'm sure the creators of the show would as well, for better or worse. However, I remember most of the discussion/argument at the time was result of the timing of Hunka's review. The walking- out part seemed to be brought up more as a way to hammer home the "inappropriateness" of George's actions. George reviewed the play during a designated preview period and well before the official press night. This was the focus of, (I would guess,) 90% of the discussion. RLewis, without trying to release the worms from a forgotten can, I'll say that I don't think this is really the same situation.
Toggle Commented Aug 21, 2009 on Today at Parabasis
Sorry Malachy, All I was saying is that Rebeck is the one who wrote the column. Other people were just trying to decipher what she means. And, I did say that in this thread. Of course, I knew you were joking (somewhat) about the "boards", as I hope you knew I was (somewhat.) We were both joking along, and then you turned and said I am tragically narrow. And then, in the same comment, praised Rebeck. Sorry if I got defensive. But my point from my first comment here is that Rebeck is the one that seems to have a problem. I don't doubt anything you are saying about Rebeck. I know people who know her very well and they have told me the same thing. But the last few columns she has written, along with her pile on to Jon Robin Baitz's slam of Will Eno on the Huffington Post last year, (Yes, I know Baitz apologized,) indicates that, well...she is having some serious problems with what she is seeing on the playwriting landscape. Now, this doesn't mean I agree with her, because, well, I'm not sure what she is talking about. All I am saying is that it is Rebeck who put this out there. What do you think she means? You haven't really said. You only read as if you are protecting Theresa Rebeck from... Theresa Rebeck.
Toggle Commented Aug 12, 2009 on I Don't Mean To Punt But... at Parabasis
I think the narrowness of the POV Sara and Mirror expresses is tragically wrong-headed. Hey, at least I'm a tragedy and not one of the plays Sara mentions, whew! The real tragedy is that Malachy wants to fault Sara and me for what Rebeck has done. On my blog, I said this would happen on the very first day Rebeck posted. I said right off here, too, that the maddening part of Rebeck's columns are that she seems to be slagging off on something pretty hard, but she won't name it. Then, we all chase our tails until we agree that Shakespeare was the greatest artist in the history of drama and therefore there are no such things as sloppy, bad plays. But, in the meantime, those who are trying to decipher what Rebeck means, end up being labeled narrow-minded, while, SURPRISE, Rebeck turns out just A.O.K. A real friend to all playwrights. I've seen this happen several times before, and I predicted it would happen again. As I said, I think Sara is describing the kind of self indulgent, sloppy work that Rebeck is taking aim at. Why? Because I agree with you Malachy that Rebeck doesn't seem to be opposed experimental playwriting. But I can't know for sure. As I have said before, it is up the authors of these incendiary posts to define their terms. As I titled my post, "How Uninteresting!"
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2009 on I Don't Mean To Punt But... at Parabasis
BBS sits under a flag that reads "Nobody Ever Gets Fired for Saying No."
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2009 on I Don't Mean To Punt But... at Parabasis
Malachy, You forgot #4 #4 The Mollycoddling Board. This panel will make sure to protect all playwriting from criticism of peers, mentors, reviewers and audience. The Mollycoddling Board sits under a banner that reads "Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder." And they open every meeting with a recitation of Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Behind the MB is a gigantic refrigerator door, onto which are placed ALL applicants. Subjects who come before the MB get extra points for every element that traces to an All Things Considered segment or a New Yorker article. (Note: This is not a suggestion that ALL playwriting is of equal quality, just a way of assuring we don't discourage genuius.)
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2009 on I Don't Mean To Punt But... at Parabasis
Sarah, I am speechless. I cannot imagine a more dead-on, perfectly encapsulated description of the types of plays I believe Rebeck is referring to in her column. Of course, the problem is that Rebeck leaves it so vague that she sends everybody chasing their tails around the comments sections of the blogosphere. I hope your suggestion, along with that of Mr. 99 Seats over on his blog, helps to bring the discussion back to focus and to take the heat off writers who truly are experimenting.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2009 on I Don't Mean To Punt But... at Parabasis