Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Theater: Calling all patrons

A good article from the LA Times about the drama Pulitzer going to Rabbit Hole instead of to one of the three other plays nominated.
Our playwrights get lonely on the cutting edge: "Rabbit Hole" is a fine Pulitzer choice, but up-and-coming, daring writers need support.
"THAT'S where you come in. Every society gets the theater it deserves. We don't need a lecture about the extent of our consumerist depravity. But even the most unrepentant shoppers among us (no peeking at my credit card bills, please) have to grapple with the reality that art isn't something we greedily purchase, like a pair of Prada shoes. Rather it's an experience we collectively enter to learn more about those parts of ourselves and each other that aren't receiving sufficient contemplation elsewhere.
As a professional theatergoer who was once an avid amateur theatergoer, I don't typically have a cranky reaction to plays that stumble if there's a sense that the writer is honestly grappling with something. I must have seen scads of mediocre plays at Circle Repertory Company in New York in the 1980s, but my memory of that Greenwich Village theater group has a golden glow. New plays mattered there — to the playwrights, directors, actors and most especially the audience. What the culturally hungry are after isn't perfection but truth. Few novelists can match Proust, but that doesn't stop me from reading Mary Gaitskill. Nor do I skip Richard Greenberg or Craig Lucas because they're several notches below Chekhov.
What does, however, make me slightly — OK, acutely — dyspeptic is when I feel as though I'm being sold a bill of goods that the producer knows is shoddy but thinks won't cause waves or will please because of the TV personality in the cast or no one cares much one way or the other. Nothing is more enraging than a time waster — especially at big theater prices."