Okay, just my 2 cents on a theatre-related story this week.
The Broadway revival of Oleanna is closing Jan. 3. According to Michael Riedel's column in The New York Post, there was a bit of a dustup between playwright David Mamet and the producers about the post-performance talkbacks. Mamet did not like them but they were popular with audiences.
I don't agree with Mamet's point of view but I understand it. Apparently he believes that the play should stand on its own and not be picked apart by experts. I know some film directors feel the same way. As much as I would enjoy them, Woody Allen doesn't do dvd commentaries on his movies.
Personally, I like talkbacks. If I'd seen Oleanna, I would have stayed for it. (And I like dvd commentaries, too.) I almost always go to the theatre alone, so it's an opportunity to discuss the play with other people who've just seen it that I wouldn't have otherwise.
They can be a great opportunity to spur discussion, help you think about what you saw on stage in a way that maybe you hadn't considered, or raise issues you hadn't thought about. I think playwrights should view them as a way to keep the conversation going. And isn't that the point?
I know Trinity Repertory Company in Providence offers them after every performance of every show. I don't always have time to attend but on the occasions I have, like for the staged reading of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, I've definitely gotten something out of the experience.
I realize talkbacks probably work better with shorter shows or maybe after matinees, when people have more time to stay. The 39 Steps has a talkback series on Tuesdays with, among others, comedians, Hitchcock scholars and mystery writers.
It's all about choice. If you don't want to stay, don't. I haven't had a chance to attend a Broadway talkback yet but if the opportunity arises, you know I'll take it. Of course when I go to New York, I'm on vacation so I could sit there all night!