Thursday, December 03, 2009

Brustein - The More Things Change?

Jenna Scherer has an interview with Robert Brustein, former Artistic Director and Founder of the ART in Cambridge.

Here is Brustein on the current direction the ART is taking:

I happen to have the annoying quality of being very faithful to an idea. I still believe that a company of resident actors working together on new plays and new interpretations of classics is an exciting way to go in theater, and one that grows the audience and grows the company. But it’s not the only way to go and it’s not the way the A.R.T. is going now. Maybe someday we’ll come back to it. But right now it’s very hard to find that repertory ideal being exercised in too many places in the United States. It’s just too expensive. But it’ll come back. If you don’t like something in this country, just wait. It’ll change.

Brustein's play Mortal Terror about Shakespeare and the Gundpowder Plot, is having a reading on Sunday at the American Repertory Theatre.

The Shakespeare/Guy Fawkes combination seems to be very hot right now. Father Bill Cain's play Equivocation opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is playing at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.


Thomas Garvey said...

How exactly does Brustein convince himself that the ART was ever really about a repertory acting company? It was always about direction and design, not acting. Woodruff pushed that meme a little further, now Paulus has drop-kicked the "play" part almost completely. Surprise, surprise.

And don't you wish he'd stop trying to hitch a ride on the (by now slightly over) Harold Bloom-Stephen Greenblatt Shakespeare publishing boom? Sheesh.

FWL said...

Equivocation's also playing at the Geffen in L.A.

Lis Riba said...

If the play was by anyone but Brustein, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

But having seen Brustein's previous play about Shakespeare ("The English Channel"), I'm hesitant.

Thomas Garvey said...

You're not alone. Outside his small circle of connections and supporters, Brustein is not considered a talented playwright.

Ian Thal said...


I agree that ART, at least anytime that I attended a show. whether it was Brustein or Woodruff in the AD chair, has appeared to be primarily a directors' and designers' theatre and never an actors' theatre.

That can be a fine thing if the director has a basic respect for the actors and their craft but far too often I saw actors putting forth strong performances only to see their work sabotaged by some directorial concept. If memory serves me right, Woodruff was generally the worst offender-- in the sense that he seemed to completely disregard both script and the actors.

This wasn't to say I never found ART productions interesting , but "interesting" and "good" are not always the same.