Sunday, November 18, 2007
Adding a little drama to my life
Normally bookstores are part of my visit to a city. There are some great ones in New York City, like the 80-year-old Strand Bookstore, located at 12th and Broadway, with its 18 miles of books.
But on my trips to New York in April and July I avoided visiting the Strand and other literary landmarks. Part of it was, there's just so much to see in the city. But I also knew that once I ventured inside, I'd come out with an armload.
In November, though, I decided a trip to the Drama Book Shop at 250 W. 4oth St., in the heart of the theater district, was in order. I wanted a copy of Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n' Roll,'' which I was going to see, and Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon," which I'd seen in April. I figure, I buy the Broadway cast CDs of musicals I see, so why not copies of the plays? Granted, I'll probably only read them once, whereas I'll listen to the CD over and over. Still, they make a nice souvenir of the experience, and I like having them.
The Drama Book Shop is the perfect niche bookstore. It truly lives up to its name. I found the two plays I was looking for, and more. While it's not a large store, there's every kind of theater book, play and magazine imaginable, a helpful, knowledgeable staff and plenty of places to sit down and look over your prospective purchases. (I asked when I'd be able to get a copy of Tracy Letts' "August: Osage County," and was told probably not until after its Broadway run.)
In addition to dozens and dozens of plays, there are are books on acting, on costume design, on set design, on the history of Broadway and on other performing arts. I could have stayed a lot longer, just browsing, if I didn't have to get to the theater to see a play.
While there's no substitute for actually seeing a play performed on stage, sometimes that's not possible. If the subject interests me, I still like reading it as literature, just as I would a novel or anything else.
I couldn't resist picking up a couple of titles that I'll probably never have a chance to see performed. "A Small Tragedy" by Craig Lucas is one of those plays my friend Steve says I have to see if it ever comes to a theater near me. Since that might be a long wait, at least I can read it and get a small sense of what it's all about.
Then, William Gibson's play "Golda's Balcony" caught my eye. I'd heard a 2004 Downstage Center interview with Tovah Feldshuh, who portrayed the Israeli prime minister in the one-woman show on Broadway. I wish I'd been able to see it. Luckily, "Golda's Balcony" is now a movie starring Valerie Harper. Hopefully, I'll catch up with it on DVD if it doesn't play at a multiplex near me.
Somehow, I think this is going to be a regular stop for me on all future trips to Broadway.