There is a disturbance in the 'sphere, Luke! A wonderful mini-discussion about the staging of classics and the staging of new plays. It began with playwright Joshua James' October 5th posts "No More Covers." The next day, I chimed in (see below) with an post un-originally entitled "No More Covers." Playwright George Hunka also joined the fray on his Superfluities blog, with a post called "Mad as Hell." This caused Isaac to post "What the Hell Are We Going to Do About It?" on his Parabasis blog, with a request for comments -- several followed. On October 7th, Joshua spoke again with "No More Covers, Part Deux." Which led Rob Grace on October 10th to contribute "Tales from the Other Coast -- Response to Whining" on the Parabasis blog. (If I am missing any other contributions, please let me know and I'll add them.)
I love the blogging world!
In the interest of keeping things going, I would like to contribute the following thought: I teach theatre history. (No, that isn't the thought.) Looking back through the 2500+ years of Western theatre, I have a hard time finding another society where the restaging of old plays took precedence over the staging of new plays. In fact, in most societies, there was nothing deader than an old play. This was also the case in America up until the 1960s. Does this seem weird to you? It does to me.
But it leads me to ask another question, perhaps a bit different those being asked by my fellow bloggers: what is it about modern plays that makes theatres (and theatregoers) reluctant to attend them? Why does an audience that regularly floods to see brand new movies avoid new plays? Doesn't this seem counter-intuitive?
Following my usual preference, I encourage self-examination rather than accusation. How have we (and the generation that preceded us) created this situation? How are we reinforcing it? And is there any way to remedy it?