Sunday, February 21, 2010

Revivals and revivals and revivals

The New York Times has a great spring/summer theatre preview today. What caught my attention was an article examining why familiar plays and musicals are being revived more frequently on Broadway.

Two of this season's revivals mentioned in the story are the musical La Cage aux Folles, which begins previews April 6 and the play A View from the Bridge, which runs through April 4.

I thought these comments were very sobering:

“One reason the wait time is getting shorter is that there are fewer and fewer great plays,” said Sonia Friedman, the London-based producer of La Cage aux Folles. "Many plays written in the last 10 to 15 years are on a smaller scale or too tied in to the zeitgeist.''

"Anthony LaPaglia, who won a Tony Award in the last View From the Bridge and stars this spring in Lend Me a Tenor (previously on Broadway 20 years ago), concurred: 'The talent pool is very thin, the generations of writers who stayed with theater has passed. Now they get the call for Hollywood and are gone.' "

Okay, maybe there's a kernel of truth. I don't doubt that the lure of Hollywood is a strong one. It always has been. Both William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote for the movies. Shakespeare would have, too, if he'd had the chance.

Certainly, writers who concentrate on movies today would have been writing for the stage a couple generations ago. But I think Friedman's and LaPaglia's comments seem awfully dismissive of the current crop of playwrights.

What we ought to do is encourage writers to move among genres, like Martin McDonagh, who started in theatre, won an Oscar and is back on Broadway this spring with A Behanding Spokane.

No comments: