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Showing posts from November 6, 2005

The Return of Zachary Mannheimer

Zachary has posted in my comments box a response to the rather heated discussion we have been having concerning his article, "Our Own New Deal: Planting Roots for American Theatre" over at the Brooklyn Rail website. As usual, Zachary makes an elegant case for his ideas, sans the table-thumping to which I am all-too-often prone. He writes:

"I'd like to comment on a few of your comments to clear some things up that seem to have gone astray...I'd like to get back to the original topic at hand.

First of all - I AM saying that we need to leave NYC. No, I am not holding a gun to anyone's head, but I do believe that we need to go. And I'll tell you why...

Matt says: "Zack wants those of us who live in New York to bring our enlightened sensiblities to the world outside NYC. I'm just not sure they need us to do that..."

While I thank Matt for his kind words, I believe that he is misrepresenting what I am trying to say, and perhaps it is my fault for…

From the Sports World

From nfl.com's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," by Gregg Easterbrook. Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor of The New Republic, a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. His latest book, The Progress Paradox, was released in December, 2003 by Random House.

What Hollywood Could Learn from the NFL Film types are bemoaning a bad year at the box office. They blame DVDs, Internet piracy, El Nino: Everything but Hollywood itself. Tuesday Morning Quarterback suggests the box-office slump is a rational market response to a string of lousy movies. Major studios now assume that if you take a couple of brand-name stars, put them in a plot that makes no sense, have them read listlessly from a terrible script -- then add cleavage and explosions -- millions will pay $8 to sit through the result. The governing Hollywood premise is that typical ticket buyers are so incredibly stupid as to lack any ability to tell a good movie from a b…

On Hegemony

Apparently several of my fellow bloggers feel that I have personally insulted them with my last post, especially the following comment: "It sounds as if you are weekend warriors working day jobs to pay for your theatre habit." I really did not intend it to be insulting (argumentative, yes; insulting, no). Josh wrote this: “"I want to write for a living. I don't want to be a weekend warrior, like the cover bands I've written about in "No More Covers" - driving a truck during the week and doing theatre on the weekend." My use of “Weekend Warriors” came directly from him, and while he seems to have meant it in a belittling way, I did not intend it to be so. What I meant was that, whether you are in NYC or Iowa, most artists are working another job in order to pay the rent because this country doesn't support its artists. Working a job is hard, it is admirable, indeed it is almost heroic! But you’re doing the same thing in NY that you’d do in Iowa…

A Few Comments of My Own

I'm going to start with a few little things that regularly tick me off, and that are surfacing in this discussion. A few quotes:

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with people that was to be big fish in a small pond - but it's not what I, myself, want out of this life - I want to do it for a living. As Matt pointed out, you simply cannot do that from Bumfruck Iowa. You can't. If you could, I'd still be there."

"You don't go to Alaska to harvest tropical fruit.In that analogy, it's clear when I say Alaska, I mean Zack's Wichita, and when I say Tropical Fruit, I mean artistic praise. Let's just assume that when a producer in the great plains sees "produced in New York" on a play's resume, they're more likely to take a look at it than when they say "ran for ten years in Wyoming."

"I cannot find that in my hometown of Boyertown, PA, where baseball is the order of the day."

"That being said, I also feel tha…
Holy Cow! We're up to 12 comments on Zachary's "Our Own New Deal" essay! I think there are three things I need to do: 1) bring the discussion out of the depths of the Comments box and into the Main Floor of the blog, and 2) perhaps organize the discussion in such a way that all the responses to individual comments and questions are in order (this may not be possible, but we'll see), and 3) wade in with my own comments, since anyone who has read this blog knows I am in complete agreement with Zachary and I hate to see him get to have all the fun or arguing!

Zachary's original post is here.
Joshua responded: "It is a well-written essay. I admire it. There is nothing I would like more than to be able to move to a smaller town where I can have a bigger house (for half the rent) a car and a motorcycle, along with green grass on a lawn and much cheaper beer in the bar. However. I want to write for a living. I don't want to be a weekend warrior, like the co…

"Our Own New Deal"

Zacharay R. Mannheimer, the Producing Director of the Subjective Theatre Company, posts a brilliant essay entitled "Our Own New Deal:Planting Roots for American Theater" over at the Brooklyn Rail blog. In it, he proposes that NY theatre artists spread out across the country, taking up residence in towns outside of Manhattan. His ideas about how to approach such a thing illustrate concretely what I have been calling for in my own posts on "regionalitis" on September 19, 20, and 22nd. To me, Mannheimer is someone who is thinking outside the box and trying to solve some problems. I highly recommend his essay.

Douglas Bails

A C Douglas has this enlightening post in my comments box: "Please read my response to George Hunka's remarks in the comments section of your previous post on this matter. That should make more clear to you my position in this business. And just to make very clear my position on the text, you, and Mr. Butler, and Mr. Hunka take it as inarguable that the text is not the play. I, on the other hand, insist that the text IS the play -- if it's worth something, that is. That's the core of our disagreements on everything in this business, and I now see (well, actually I saw it before) we'll simply have to agree to disagree on this core principle."

Mr Douglas, there is a difference between making assertions and making an arguable claim. A line such as "Thus has it always and universally been, and thus it will always be," with which you end a previous comment, is an assertion that is unsupported with evidence, either historical or logical. It is, in fact, …
A C Douglas responds:
"I think you need to reread what I wrote instead of responding in knee-jerk fashion as you've done here. Note, please, that nowhere did I used the words interpreter or interpretation, and my focus on the director as servant was as faithful translator (i.e., faithful to the text and the vision of the play's creator), not mindless, uncreative toady. But the director's creative contribution to the work should be to "faithfully and as free from distortion as possible translate the creator's work from its form on the printed page into its truest, most effective concrete physical form so that the work becomes apprehensible to an audience in a theater as its creator envisioned it, which vision is embodied fully in the text or score itself."

I am puzzled about how I have misinterpreted Mr Douglas.But first, the catalyst for Douglas' screed, which are the following words from Isaac's post on the role of the director. Isaac writes:

We ma…

A C Douglas

Over at Parabasis, guest blogger Abe Goldfarb takes A C Douglas to task for a decidedly uninformed post responding to Isaac's comments on directing. Douglas' hobbyhorse are directors (in his case, opera directors) who see themselves as creative artists instead of "servants" to the play. He gets bent out of shape by "Eurotrash" directors who use the text as a pretense for their own theatrical meanderings. Well, me too. Nobody should accept a director who dismantles a play or an opera in order to strut their egos. However, the alternative is not seeing oneself as a "servant" of the play.

The director is creating a new work of art, not interpreting a pre-existing one. To interpret a play would be to describe in words the play's meaning, significance, etc. But a director transforms the text into a new work of art: a performance. He or she works with words, pauses, inflection, breath, facial expression, movement, rhythm, images, sound, lights, music…