Thursday, April 02, 2009

Note For Young Companies

For those young theatre artists forming companies here in Boston, thinking about what plays to do, maybe start with reading some of those in this post by Alexis Soloski in the Guardian:

It's a source of frustration for most drama critics and theatre professors that some of our best-loved plays are rarely or never produced. High on my list of plays I'd kill to see: Karel Čapek's The Makropoulos Case, Antonin Artaud's Jet of Blood, John Ford's The Broken Heart (which features theatre's most gruesome wedding scene), and any number of French and English melodramas that have fallen from favour. I'm a sucker for spectacle and for scripts that pose great scenographic difficulties. How do you make that bosom teem with milk? How do you stage a wedding with a corpse?

Soloski solicits suggestions from her readers.

How about it Mirror readers? Any neglected plays you would kill to see here in Boston?


Daniel Bourque said...

Great question. Most of the stuff I'd like to see in this vein is stuff I'd also like to direct, so stay tuned and I'll get around to them one of these days. A few obscure favorites: The Surprise by GK Chesterton, Stewart Parker's Spokesong, Synge's Deidre of the Sorrows and anything by Harley Granville-Barker or William Congreve. For rarely performed classics, I'll pick Life's a Dream, A Dream Play, The Shoemakers Holiday, Arden of Faversham and The Shadow of a Gunman.

What I really wish is that Boston had venues like St. Anne's Warehouse or the Brooklyn Academy of Music so we could get some of the dynamic touring companies of the world to come here. When was the last time (excepting Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth by Day) even Mabou Mines was here? Or The Wooster Group? Hell, even the Acting Company's tours don't stop in Boston! The ICA is picking up a bit of the slack, but it's not that big a gesture by any means. ART has done some of this in the past but the past few years have been really hard on them for many reasons. A wish list: Cheek by Jowl, Out of Joint, Kneehigh, Punchdrunk and Matthew Bourne's New Adventures. Elevator Repair Service's Gatz. Or that we had some companies with enough vision to do things like the Goodman's O'Neill festival, or even host companies the way that the Public does in New York with the Under the Radar Festival.

Ian Thal said...

Back in September, you asked me about any Dario Fo plays I felt had been neglected on Boston stages. So I won't repeat those recommendations.

Another play I'd like to see is Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth which, despite being a Pulitzer Prize winner, isn't as well known as Our Town. I once saw a production of it on television when I was a child and I was mesmerized by it and then came upon (and read) the script last year. It's a rather ambitious and strange play that would challenge an ambitious company.

Daniel Bourque said...

Skin of our Teeth is great, and so are Wilder's one-acts, most of which very rarely see production. I also love The Matchmaker which was the play that became "Hello Dolly". I know there was a production at Williamstown about ten years back, but it's one which you hardly ever see because of the size. I've got a special place in my heart for the play since being cast in a high school production of it was what spurred me to pursue theatre in the first place. With that said, speaking of all things Wilder, I saw the current off-Broadway revival of Our Town in New York directed by David Cromer a few weeks back and it was easily the best thing I've seen all year

Watching theatre, unfortunately is sometimes like listening to radio- you get the same five plays by writers over and over again in the same way that classic rock stations play the same five songs by Hendrix and Zeppelin. And I'm not excusing myself from this trend- I'm always fired up to have a crack at a familiar play I've loved for a long time. But I wish companies would dig a little deeper when pulling out classics- much as I love Shakespeare, for example I'd rather see something by Jonson, Marlowe or Dekker then another one of the comedies done over and over again.

Ian Thal said...

The ongoing discussion about the role of academic theatres reminded me of a play that left a huge impression on me as an undergraduate: Mikhail Bulgakov's Molière, or The Cabal of Hypocrites. I haven't seen or heard of a production since, and it's something I'd love to see again.