Friday, December 12, 2008

come on, ben

I know I shouldn't care.

Reading a Brantley or Isherwood essay in the Times is like putting on Fox News, you know you're going to get a warped, freeze-dried, corporation-centric view that's just going to make you angry if you've got the energy or drive you to despair if you're already down.

Brantley offers some holiday gift suggestions today, something to get the dear reader's "sensitive young cousin" who wishes to be "Theater-fluent".

I'll politely decline to address the fey theater-fag slur, nasty as that is, and point to the central problem with the article:

The people who run the theater in this country believe it stopped in 1970.

Brantley recommends Moss Hart's autobiography, William Goldman's account of the 1969 Broadway season, Peter Hall's diaries from the 70s and a collection of Tynan's reviews orginally published in 1961. And a boxed set of Sondheim CDs.

I own all of the above and am glad I do.

But come on, Ben.

How about recommending Mamet's essays, David Savran's Breaking the Rules, any of the ten Plays and Playwright's collection put out by The New York Theatre Experience?

How about Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theatre?

How about something from the 21st century?

It shouldn't piss me off, I know, this is the cultural equivalent of Bush-bashing, I'm just winding myself up, I know.

But, goddamn.

We're not going to find the future of this artform in Peter Hall's diaries. We're not even going to find it in Judith Malina's diaries.

It's this condescending, closed-casket cant that reinforces the idea that our role is to be cultural custodians, dusting off the old masterpieces and keeping the public at a respectful distance, rather than reckless creative agents, grabbing the public any way we can and dragging them in.

Come on.

All right, I'm done.

Enjoy the weekend. And take your sensitive young cousin to a storefront theater and see a new American play.

They still make those, you know.

1 comment: