Australian and German theatres are not having the best of luck with American playwrights this week — a theme that takes up the first two items of this week’s theatre news roundup. You may have heard about and commented on all these stories on Twitter and Facebook, but in the Dark Ages before social media, it was the Blog that got the word out, and made this news semi-archival besides.
The stories this week:
- Poor Simon Stone. He allowed Death of a Salesman‘s Willy Loman to gas himself on stage, then cut the Requiem, for his production of the play at Sydney, Australia’s Belvoir St Theatre company, thereby incurring the wrath of the Arthur Miller estate. He has apparently reinstated the Requiem, but explains his decisions to “revise” the play in this 18 October essay in the Sydney Morning Herald.
- Poor Deutsches Theatre. Bruce Norris recently retracted the theatre’s production rights to his play Clybourne Park when he discovered that one of the black characters in the play was being played by a white German woman in blackface. Admittedly, the idea of race and culture may be different from one country to another, but Norris explains in an open letter published on the Dramatists Guild Web site that this isn’t enough to justify such a directorial incursion into the text: “Now, normally I don’t meddle in the cultural politics of other countries, but when my work and the work of my colleagues — other playwrights — is misrepresented, I do. When we write plays, among other things, we are creating employment for working actors, and often we intend to employ a specific diverse body. Whatever rationale the German theatre establishment might offer for their brazenly discriminatory practice is of no interest to me. For, as little power as we playwrights have, we always retain one small power and that is the power to say no. To say, no thank you, I’d rather not have my work performed in Germany, today, under those conditions.” Norris’s full letter is here.
- As I mentioned in an earlier post, In the Intersection: Partnerships in the New Play Sector, Diane Ragsdale’s report on the November 2011 gathering in Washington, DC to discuss the collaboration of commercial and non-profit theatres in the production of new plays, was just released this week. Ms. Ragsdale writes about the report at Howlround here, and provides links to the full report. Between this and the Theatre Development Fund’s book-length overview of the new play sector, Outrageous Fortune, there’s plenty to chew on.
- Finally, there’s “Bros on Broadway,” a new series being published at the Theatermania Web site. It’s an attempt to have non-theatregoers entertainingly review Broadway offerings; the first two “reviews” highlight Cyrano de Bergerac and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I’m told that Theatermania readers and even theater insiders, actors and actresses, enjoy these things and find them funny. My feeling? Meh; Robert Benchley and Mel Brooks did this sort of thing better long, long ago, and it gets old fast.
That’s all for this week. As the Onion‘s Jackie Harvey is fond of saying, “Until next week, I’ll see you … on the outside!”