Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Thunder Feels Like Relief When It Is Stolen

Backstage had a rundown of the TCG conference in Seattle
and I was dreaming up a post, but George Hunka at
Superfluities covered it perfectly, pointing out all
that I would have, (with less verbiage probably.)

I love when that happens because then I just have to do the
blogger speciality:

So check it out here.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Fate of Convention - al Critics
Bill Marx writes about arts issues in his once a week column on WBUR.org, and this week, he is fresh from the recent Critics Confab in California. (Any satirist playwrights feel free to savor the possibilities of a group of critics converging in sunny California for a convention.) Mr. Marx, charged up from the sun and the invigorating break-out sessions, is ready to take on the shrinking column space and the increasing capsulization culture of arts criticism:

"Over the years, commercial pressures, economic hard times, technological change, and editorial indifference have conspired to turn critics into thumb-sucking consumer guides. The savaging of elitism in the culture wars has also accelerated the downward spiral. As the circulation of newspapers and magazines declines, arts writing staff often shrinks. (The "L.A. Times" has gone without a staff theater critic for four years.) Of course, critics could have taken much better advantage of being provocative while they had the column inches. Readers are justifiably silent as puffy-as-usual reviews vaporize. They are content with Zagat-like audience polls."

I would say that the critics are just as content to have less space to fill. Thinking is hard, especially on a deadline. And Good Thinking requires a little rumination. However, one must be aware of the atrophy of the critical thinking muscle that can happen when critics only have the room for snark in their limited column space. And while I do not doubt the legitimacy of larger critical issues in the panning or snarking of certain performance, when the critic has less space to do it in, the chance that perhaps he or she hasn’t fully thought it out grows exponentially. It doesn’t educate the audience, it doesn’t help the artist, and the critic is left shambling forward, dragging the limp and hardening critical portion of his brain behind him like a caveman ready to wield a blunt club.

I remember Robert Brustein once saying that he turned down the New York Times reviewer position because he could not write a coherent review on that type of deadline. Meanwhile, his most recent submission to the New Republic, "Prosecution Plays," was a perfect imitation of the "Movie Minutes" segments of most Arts pages in the newspapers. He took, Pillowman, Thom Pain, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, etc. and rolled them up into one column. (With apologies for doing so.) However, I was disappointed to learn at the end that there was no punchline and that his column was not a satire.

I guess print will constrict even those critics who seek roomier pastures. Where are we to look then? Marx says this about the internet.

"The compelling promise of the Internet is that blogs will fill the vacuum with smart voices unafraid of angering the cultural industrial complex. There are some fine arts blogs around, but few pay the critics they use."

Here is an idea. Have you read the recent reviews of the two Tennessee Williams Plays in the New York Review Books? Ahhh. THERE is a review. Well, who has the time to read that, you ask? Well, not only will I read that, I will pay for it.

If somebody could provide an internet service that provided that level of content and scholarship, I would subscribe in a second, and I know many who would. Although, I also know many who wouldn’t.

How about pamphleteering? Highbrow critics could always run off cheap little pamphlets off MS Publisher and distribute them outside the Huntington and the ART as the audience comes out.

Marx continues:

"In addition, the lack of editorial and ethical standards can foster even more mush and stupidity than in the heyday of the mainstream media."

Mr. Marx brings up a good point, that is hard to get around. For instance, most of the better theatre blogs around are, in fact, written by artists. Playwrights like George Hunka, Actors like Spearbearer Down-Left, and Directors like Isaac Butler of Parabis provide good dialogue on arts, culture, theatre and Can we trust people like this to provide actual theatre criticism? Most of them don't, and they express their hesitancy to do so. There is a great ethical weirdness in giving reviews as an artist. I have sometimes offered quick–takes or reviews to Larry Stark’s Theatermirror, but I am always hesitant about doing so. Am I right in my feelings?

On the other hand, we artists seem to be the ones passionate enough to be trying to form some sort of independent cultural voice through a different medium. Why more critics, especially younger and smarter voices like Liza Weizztuch of the Phoenix, are not creating arts blogs, I am powerless to explain. Terry Teachout’s blog About Last Night perhaps provides an answer.

Mr. Teachout’s powerful critical faculties cannot be contained in his essays and reviews and they bleed into his online postings which are also peppered with quotes from Henry James and other classics. It is work, hard work for him to do this, but seemingly a labor of love.

Larry Stark’s Theater Mirror, started way before the blog craze of the past few years, demonstrates another hurdle for the critic. The frequency of reviewing. Larry would generally see and review far more productions than any mainstream critic, and he was closely followed by such posters to his site as Will Stackman.

Larry’s passion for criticism spilled into essays and commentary about the theatre scene, its artists and its critics. It also evolved into a community of review writers. Theatermirror is a unique type of interface that I haven’t really seen duplicated with such success anywhere else in cyberspace.

So what of the fate of criticism? Mr. Marx seems to be, not so much lamenting the death of criticism, but the fact that critics can no longer find paying gigs with health benefits. I understand your pain, Mr. Marx, but believe me, artists are already there. As anybody who reads here knows, I want good criticism.

Here and there, there are encouraging signs. As I have pointed out in past posts, the Village Voice is offering periodic review space to students of Graduate Drama Criticism programs.

But, Bill Marx concludes his column with a sobering bit of reality and empathy between graduating theatre artists and graduating critical minds:

"The National Endowment for the Arts promptly announced its plans to fund training programs at universities for cultural commentators. This is baffling. In an effort to appeal to the young and restless demographic, the "Phoenix" and other alternative papers are cutting the length of reviews. But academe will be churning out arts critics for nonexistent writing gigs. The reviewing jobs that pay will more likely than not demand spurts of opinion rather than sustained
arguments. Who needs a degree to do that?"

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Virus Spreads, but not Unchecked

In case you were wondering what happens to the American Repertory Theatre's classic aesthetic when it ventures beyond it’s nurtured and womb-like reverence it receives here in Boston, Scott Zigler, ART veteran director has staged The Cherry Orchard at The Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City.

Luckily, there are antibodies that are significantly strong enough to conquer the virus... for now:

Charles Isherwood of the New York Times:

"The debate about evoking the proper measurements of humor and pathos in the plays of Anton Chekhov will endure as long as they are produced, which is to say as long as civilization endures. The new staging of The Cherry Orchard that opened last night at the Atlantic Theater Company, directed by Scott Zigler,
settles the question, evenly if dubiously: it fails more or less equally at eliciting laughter and tears."

He doesn’t go into too much detail about the elements that make this production a failure, but at the end of the review it is revealed and those of us who have experienced it here in Cambridge, know just of what Mr. Isherwood speaks:

"Strangely, Chekhov's plays have a way of disintegrating entirely when they are presented in ineffective productions like this one. Despite our affirmed knowledge of this dramatist's artistry, we find ourselves mystified, staring at a stage full of ill-defined characters hurling sighs, gripes and non sequiturs at one another. Where did all the genius get to?"

Hilton Als of the The New Yorker is not as kind:

"…the production is far from modern. Instead, Zigler has put together a stiltedly old-fashioned show, full of male bombast and female fluttering, with every moment of silence taken up by mugging or sight gags."

Any who have sat through an ART classic empathize. Als goes on:

"As a whole, the actors are so poorly directed that their performances amount to a form of camp. Adams makes
a gallant effort to project dignity and a kind of tarnished grace, but she is weighed down by the other members of the cast, who play their parts in quotation marks."

And here he sums up exactly my feelings on watching the ridiculous Checkov shorts they did a few years ago:

"And while Zigler has cast the show with a number of adults—including the fine film actress Brooke Adams—it is ultimately a high-school production, amateurish and gleaming with anxious, doomed hope."

Theatermania’s review fights hard:

"Conversely, Zigler nearly obliterates the subtext and treats poignant scenes as if they are fodder for slapstick routines. In its best moments, the production is like a feather duster on a baroque cabinet, but purists beware; it's just as often equivalent to a Brillo pad on fine china."

Goes in for the kill…

"Yet Chekhov famously labeled his plays "comedies," and the creative team interprets this as an open call to indulge in labored shtick."

But then succumbs to the academic propaganda that has long protected the ART productions:

"Before dismissing the production as entirely misguided, theatergoers should know that this kind of approach has historical justification. According to the influential Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, Chekhov said his plays were ‘vaudevilles’ that his contemporary Stanislavski had corrupted into ‘sentimental dramas.’ …..Still, this flawed revival makes so many bold and interesting choices that it shouldn't be missed by anyone who cares about Chekhov."

Perhaps the Emperor has no clothes after all. As sort of a control experiment, I also searched the reviews for mention of Alvin Epstein, and, right on cue, they confirmed my experiences of watching ART Checkov. For instance, Isherwood writes:

"Alvin Epstein, who plays the senescent servant Firs, provides a welcome infusion of focused energy with his engaging, physically inventive performance, eyebrows twitching in confusion at the blurry world evaporating before his eyes."

Amen Brother.

Lest any person reading misunderstand, I am not doing this to pick on Scott Zigler, who has directed some very effective productions. And I have really enjoyed some of the more revelatory productions at the Loeb Drama Center. More I am doing this as a sanity check for those of us who stand mystified at the end of some ART productions, and then horrified when we read the local reviews praising them.

What I have always felt is that a young company doing the same type of experiments would be eviscerated for such juvenile high jinks.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ah The Classics!

Kind of off the topics, but I got an e-mail from Amazon advertising a great deal:

As someone who has recently purchased literary classics, you might like to know that the Penguin Classics Library is now available in one complete collection--only at Amazon.com.

"The Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection"List Price: $13,317.74Our Price: $7,989.99You Save: $5,327.75 (40%)

Almost half off! Wow!

As many of the reader's comments on Amazon point out...the shipping weight alone is 700 pounds. Although the listing clearly disqualifies the option, I think 1082 books more than qualifies for "super saving shipping."

Seriously though, would somebody want this? (I wonder if it includes the new Hilary Clinton Expose!)

I guess having access to that many classics on your wall would kind of be like having a tactile internet. Just pull books off the shelf, and get a bit of DH Lawrence here, a bit of Milton there.

In fact, it may help one to compose something like the Anatomy of Melancholy. (Which, by the way, does not seem to be listed as a Penguin Classic.) Or maybe The Wasteland.

Or it could provide the perfect setting for some refined wacko to lure in his unsuspecting quarry. Just like on those old Radio Suspense Dramas.

Announcer: Tonight on SussssPense! We have Vincent Price as Richard and Katherine Stanton as Juliet in a tale of terror and Suspense!!!

(Sounds of a Door Opening and Richard and Katherine Coming home to Richard's Apartment.)

Richard: Oh, I hope you had a pleasant time, Juliet.

Juliet: Oh, it was wonderful.

Richard: Yes, they seemed to enjoy it.

Juliet: Your reading of Dante 's Inferno was just the thing to get the people in this stuffy little town to warm up to you. They were all impressed.

Richard: All except that Mrs. Margaret.

Juliet: Oh, she's all right. She's just a little suspicious of outsiders, and what with you buying this old house that nobody has lived in since...I'm sorry Richard.

Richard:That's quite all right Juliet. I am used to being considered an outsider. And as you can see, this old house really isn't so bad. Sure it creaks a little bit in the wind, but it is my home.

Juliet: It sure is. Say, what is that?

Richard: What do mean?

Juliet: That, in the room.

Richard: Oh....that. That is just my Complete Penguin Classics collection. Would you like a closer look?

(Music Cue: Spooky music flows through the rest of the scene.)

Juliet: Is this what came in all those crates?

Richard: It is expensive, I know, but I can't be without my Penguins.

Juliet: There are so many of them. And...why are these ones different.

Richard: What do you mean?

Juliet: Those ones, they seem to have book covers on them. What a strange texture. Almost like...

Richard: Like what, Juliet?

Juliet: Well, I feel silly, even thinking it but they are almost like human skin.

You get the idea.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Feeding the Bear

Ed Seigel gives the pronouncement on Boston Theatre on Sunday and you'll never guess who is at the top of the list!

Well, you probably will guess, it is the American Repertory Theatre.

There are two significant measurements for a theater community. One: Does it satisfy the needs of local theatergoers? Each season for the past seven or eight years the answer has been an increasingly definitive ''yes."
The bar is higher for the second measurement. What if theater lovers from outside the area came to town and said, ''Take me to some shows that make Boston theater special." That might not show Boston theater in as flattering a light.

But here's how I would answer the challenge:

I would take them to anything at the American Repertory Theatre, which has pursued a very strong aesthetic in the three years that Robert Woodruff, Rob Orchard, and Gideon Lester have been in charge.

He praises the larger and more established theatres. The Huntington takes some knocks, but Nicholas Martin escapes as their hero. Although it is very apparent that Mr. Seigel is hungry for more "star" appearances such as Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin on the Huntington stages.

The Lyric has been putting together some great seasons, and this coming one is no exception, so I am glad that they are listed. And the New Rep is truly bursting at the seams and it will be interesting to see what comes of the new space.

However, the smaller companies get incredibly short shrift in the article:

. . . and at the BCA

The hope was that as
the Sugan and SpeakEasy moved into the newer spaces that the older theaters would bring other companies to the fore. Zeitgeist Stage Company had an excellent production of Joe Penhall's clever British play, ''Blue/Orange," but I didn't see anything else to attract those hypothetical out-of-towners. Tony Kushner's ''Homebody/Kabul" by Boston Theatre Works was a particular disappointment.

(I have a whole dissection of the Homebody critical reception on earlier posts.)

So the smaller companies get brushed away with a wave of the hand. And the established conglomerates are fed table scraps from the critical buffet. So the secret to developing a world class theatre town is doing the best of what is done elsewhere. Oh, and also having lots of stars, and of course, we can't forget doing away with this laborious Boston trend of hiring local talent...(pleasant dreams local actors.)

One can make too much of developing a local scene. At its best -- Harold Pinter's ''The Homecoming" -- the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, which casts mostly from out of town, reminds you how refreshing it can be to not see the usual suspects.

Where is Ryan Landry in this article? Where is 11:11? Where is Rose Carlson and the great job she is doing running the Piano Factory, taking up the slack for the space lost from the closing of the Leland Center, and producing her Dragonfly Festival?

Something I have developed over the past few years is an understanding of critical distance. I used to be baffled at the mainstream critics' refusal to acknowledge smaller theatre. And in fact, I am still shaking my head when I see the Elliot Norton awards honor plays that have had long successful New York runs as "Fringe." (Another post I want to write about.)

However, after the Critics panel last year and reading so much about criticism over the last two years, I understand the danger of critical advocacy for a theatre scene and for a critic's reputation. It is hard for an Ed Seigel in a piece like this to be suggesting people go to see "anything" done at some of the smaller theatre companies, or fringe theatres around town. It is really hit or miss with most of us. And mind you, I am not making illogical exceptions for myself. But my question is, why feed the larger houses your advocacy, then?

It is apparent to anybody who follows the Boston Theatre Scene at all closely that the ART, while a risk taking company, has many missteps, and what is troubling is that I believe Ed Seigel thinks that there is always something redeeming in the production. A comment I have heard frequently is, "the set is almost worth the price of admission." Things like this trouble me because what starts to happen is a separation begins between companies without resources and those with resources.

The definition of "production value" starts to veer off the rails without an adjustment for ticket price. So, in this model advocacy of the American Repertory Theatre becomes less risky because the audience will believe it has gotten its money's worth some way or another. The more they pay, the less chance of being disappointed because at least they will have seen a Nathan Lane or maybe an incredible set. And they will have comfortable seats.

However, for the price of one ART ticket, they could see several Rough and Tumble, Company One, 11:11, or Devanaugh shows. I think basically it all comes out in a wash when looked at this way.

I think we will not grow-up until the climate of this theatre community becomes open to risk, adventure, and yes, potential for failure.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

When Criticism Becomes Propaganda

I have been reading a little left wing go-go juice as of late. In particular, I have been reading George Lakoff's Moral Politics and Jim Wallis. Please blame the New Republic for the fetish as they had several articles in the last issue concerning Wallis, Lakoff, Democrats and Evangelicals.

So, for the past weeks I have left Eca De Queiros’ Theodorico in a state of suspension in Alexandria on his quest for The Relic. And Eric Bentley is waiting for me to finish his fascinating defense of Flat Characters in The Life of the Drama.

I have been in a political "frame" of mind, which is why I immediately pounced on and devoured Terry Teachout’s article about political theatre for InCharacter. For those of you unfamiliar, Mr. Teachout runs one of the best Art Blogsaround, ( About Last Night ,) and his posting frequency is superhuman.

Mr. Teachout, unlike most critics, does well to start off the article praising successes before descending into evisceration. He liked the production of Nine Parts of Desire, but hated Sam Shepard’s the God of Hell. He was not alone in his thinking.

Although he tries to stick to the important topic of Truth and Beauty in Art, his whole thesis seems to be closely echoing the Conservative rallying cry of "Fair and Balanced," which gets my shields up a little bit. More than likely this is because it seems as if Mr. Teachout, whom I believe is a conservative, is coopting his critical space to fight back a little in terms of the ongoing culture war.

"Turning messy fact into orderly fiction necessarily entails simplification; turning it into artful fiction demands as well that this simplification acknowledge the full complexity of human nature and human experience. These seemingly contradictory requirements can easily be fumbled by the artist whose principal goal is to persuade the audience of the rectitude of his cause. Yet propagandists are rarely prepared to tell the whole truth and nothing but. They alter reality not in order to make "everything more beautiful," but to stack the deck."

This is a dead on accurate quote, but what puzzles me is the toss off line right before this paragraph. Teachout says, "No matter how artful a play like The Exonerated may be, its effect as art will dissipate if its claims to truthfulness can be significantly and successfully challenged, (as those of The Exonerated have been). " Mr. Teachout, please provide a footnote or a link of some sort, because I follow theatre news relatively closely and I don’t remember reading anything like that.

Now, The Exonerated seems to have been the most successful and entertaining of the docudrama types of plays that have been produced recently. It presents a challenging obstacle for conservatives, conservative critics, and critics of this type of theatre. While I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Teachout regarding most all of these plays, I think the Exonerated has been a somewhat of a triumph for that type of theatre. I suspect that he does as well, so it is strange that rather than engaging with it, he needs to toss it off with an unsupported attack on its truthfulness.

The mantra of most Right Wing media criticism has been the Liberal Dominance of the creative and news realm. And this whole essay appears to be somewhat of a template of the same issue. In fact, at one point Mr. Teachout appears to be using the same exact arguments that we saw in Right Wing attacks on the Dixie Chicks and others. Basically the argument goes: "Look, after they stated their Liberal Views, their album sales declined."

Strangely, Mr. Teachout, who I know knows better, appears to be linking quality or truthfulness to box office appeal:

"Not to mention the fact that the highly publicized Embedded, even though it was written and directed by a movie star, failed to transfer to a Broadway theatre. Nor should it be overlooked that the two most stringently politicized musicals of last season, Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change and Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, failed to please a sufficiently large number of Playgoers and had their runs cut short as a result."

After reading the article, the overall impression I hope one will come away with (and the point I think Teachout is really trying to make,) is that the plays which are held up to ridicule in his essay are bad not because they are POLITICAL, but because they are BAD. However, some of the tilt of Teachout’s argument is, like most of the political discourse these days, guilty of the same thing it condemns.

For instance, Jim Wallis in his recent book God’s Politics, kind of lashes out at the Right for coopting religion, but the thesis of his book would appear to be that Democrats should start framing things spiritually as well. Mmmm. What’s not good for the goose, is not good for the gander either, Mr. Wallis.

Terry Teachout and Mark Steyn are right to use their reviewing space to challenge artists who specifically present political arguments as the thesis of their work. But I am not so sure that Keats’ negative capability is a fair way to present a good template for politically inclined writers. After all when conservative critics start using their spaces to present a political worldview aren't they boring people just the same? And to continue in that vein, who is reading them?

I am finishing niggling on what I am sure most of you think are small points. On the whole, the core of these types of arguments should always go to the idea that Power is the Enemy of Truth and Teachout believes and writes of this.

*(I could go into a whole posting explaining why his characterization of Tony Kushner’s Angel’s in America is wrong. But suffice to say Mr. Teachout and I have much different takes. While Roy Cohn does end up in Hell, I felt that Joe Pitt destroyed his wife, who thankfully is getting a fresh start and Louis Ironson cheated on his partner. And I see no reading of the text that would indicate that Mr. Kushner thinks anything differently about these characters. Assassins was a bold experiment which failed way back in the early 90's, and constant revivals of it, without any serious reworking, are misguided.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Theatre Artists....Always Be Closing!

The Boston Theatre Marathon played a few weeks ago. I didn’t make it this year, what with work and other commitments.

Larry Stark still has the best and most detailed run-down of the Marathon at the Theatermirror. The major dailies used the aforementioned cookie cutter style to run-down the festivities. At least Terry Byrne of the Herald attended and reviewed, whereas the Globe and the Phoenix sent the stringers.

Phoenix stringer, Liza Weizztuch was granted extensive space to cover it, though she includes reviews of two other plays. I have been incredibly busy and this has resulted in my being too late to link to some of the reviews.

Perusing the reviews was akin to the experience of taking out the same old cookie cutters every Christmas. The template for reviewing the Marathon is always the same, maybe because a Ten-Minute Play Festival format yields pretty much the same results every time. The festival puts on about 50 ten minute plays a year and has by far the best concentrated sampling of talent, both writing wise and acting wise, of any other theatrical event in Boston.

However, from attending in previous years, and reading the reviews this year, I started to think a little statistically. What is really valuable about the experience of concentrating so many works into a short period of time is that it makes a little petri dish in which we kind of quantify artistic output.

Now the Boston Theatre Marathon puts on about 50 ten minute plays a year. My career is sales, and I would like to present a sales statistic from a few years ago. There is no getting around the fact that sales is a numbers game. We have probably all heard the maxim, "If you are not making sales, you are simply not talking to enough people." Well, let's break down those people into two groups. In sales we call them Suspects and Prospects.

Suspects are basically the "looks like a duck" assumption. They are a company or person who looks, from a casual glance, like they might have the money and the need for your product. In the case of the Theatre Marathon, they are the scripts they receive when they put out their intitial call. These Suspects seem formatted the right way, they are typed, they have characters, dialogue, some of them have plots. In other words, they look like a duck, walk like a duck, etc.

In sales, the suspects must be contacted and QUALIFIED? Qualifying basically consists of calling suspects and finding out if they really do need your product, and if they really can afford your product. If these things are true, the suspects become prospects.

Prospects are people or companies that could use your product, and can afford it. Prospects are the people you start selling to. You send them direct mail, you call them once a month, try to get in front of them for a presentation, you take them to the US Open. Basically, you kiss their ass and, as we know from the great Mamet play, you are always closing.

So how does this relate to a the Boston Theatre Marathon? Some of you following closely may already be onto it, others have probably clicked some of the links on the right side.

Well, basically, an understood sales statistic is based on contacting 100 Suspects. Not leaving a voice mail, not mailing them a letter, but having a qualifying conversation with them on the phone. (Don't even try to think about how many actual dials you have to make to contact 100 people.)

Well, after you make these qualifying conversations you will find, right away that 50 of the 100 are simply not interested. They don't have a need for your service or product, they can't afford it, or they are happy with the way things are currently.

So that leaves you with 50 . Basically, these are the ones you want to clarify further, you want to nurture them. But you still have to understand that these 50 are not going to all be buying customers. They might....maybe further down the line. But not right now.

Here is how the remaining 50 usually break out:

35 - These could be a future lead, they might say
"contact me again next year, etc. There are some promising things there, but really, intheir current state they are nothing to get excited about right now.

(The remaining fifteen are now able to be called Prospects.)

10 - Seems very interested. They are open to talking. You see
ways in which you could work together soon. Your product or service could help them.

5 - Hot Lead! There is an urgency and excitement. They
want to meet with you right away. There is no doubt that you have an answer to their problem. The only question is, Is it the right answer?

Now out of the Hot Five you can count on anywhere from two to three being Buying Customers. In other words a perfect Prospect.

So out of 50 top suspects only 3 buying customers.

Relating this to the Theatre Marathon, statistically speaking, out of the 50 plays you probably should only count on about 2-3 being Outstanding.

I have though about this in regards to theatre in general. Eugene O'Neill wrote about 50 plays, could we break his down into these categories, with Iceman, Long Day's Journey, and Moon for the Misbegotten being the three buying customers?

It made me think a lot about how many new plays are produced a year, (not enough,) and how many are really worthy of that top three status. I think the movies get this a lot better than we do in theatre. Although I can't confuse Hollywood with art, as David Mamet talks about in his article, "Bambi Vs. Godzilla" in Harper's this month.