Friday, December 16, 2011

The Play's the Thing

Lillian Hellman
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True confessions time: I’m a slacker. Although I’ve been on the board and the play reading committee at the West End Players Guild for years, I haven’t really been reading my fair share of scripts.

Of course, the combination of a full-time career at AT&T and a part-time (albeit unpaid) career at 88.1 KDHX tended to diminish my enthusiasm for other pursuits, but that’s about to change. Because effective December 31st, I will have retired from that first career and as I’m on vacation until then, today is basically the first day of this new phase of my life.

I started it by reading a number of the plays we’re considering for the next season. It’s amazing the number of new plays and playwrights there are out there. Some of their work is really quite fine (Michael Hollinger’s “Opus”, for example), some very disturbing (David Harrower’s “Blackbird”), and some just deranged (Mark Schultz’s ”The Gingerbread House”. Oy.) but nearly all of it shows real creativity.

And then there are the older plays that haven’t been seen in many years and which may be due for resurrection. When was the last time you saw Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic” or “The Little Foxes” (as scathing an indictment of empty materialism as you will find anywhere)? And isn’t Arthur Miller’s portrayal of the personal cost of war profiteering in “All My Sons” as relevant now as it was when the piece was written? I think it is.

I don’t know what the 2012 – 2013 season will look like, but based on what I’ve been reading, it’s going to be a strong one. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Mark S. said...

Hi, Friend!

Sounds like you have a number of lovely plays to choose from! The Harrower is particularly good, I think. I LOVE "Toys in the Attic"--any theater that revives that play is clearly doing God's work. And "All My Sons" is, to me, Miller's best (though it's so well-made-play in parts that I think the dramaturgy can sometimes get a little creaky, particularly towards the end--but it's a fierce, uncompromising play that needs to be seen). Whatever you choose in the new season, it sounds like it'll be a lot of fun.

I don't know that I'd call "The Gingerbread House" deranged, though I can see why somebody might think that. The characters do some rather horrible things, and it certainly does get a bit grim in that House, but one could argue that it's significantly less grim than the every day reality of what passes for the pursuit of an ever-elusive American Dream--selling out the future for immediate gratification. I'd say the play can be read as a very dark vision of what "truth, justice, and the American way" mean these days: spin, power, and capital. But I'm probably biased. Anyway, I'm a generally curious guy (curious in more ways than one, probably), and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Hoping you're well and enjoying the season!