Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Upside

So, a while back, I went off on theatres as banana republics as, generally a bad thing. But then, there's this. (I know it's a casting notice, but it has the key information.) Rattlestick is producing a play they produced eight years ago. It's not a remount, it's a new production. This is the upside of the banana republic model.

I'm not fully sure of the reasons for the re-production, but I'm sure it has something to do with the play, with the theatre liking the play and maybe feeling like it didn't get its due when it was first produced. Since that production, Thurber's first, she's gone on to some acclaim and some great productions. Maybe that first one was flawed in some way. I don't know. But for whatever reason, Rattlestick is remounting it.

I can believe that it's not a wise financial decision. There's no reasonable board member, producer or boss that would say, "So you want to remount a play that didn't do very well, eight years ago, and you're not even touting it as substantially rewritten or reconceived, or putting a big star in it? You're just doing it? Yay!" But when it's your banana republic, well, that's what you can do. Will it be a success? Who knows. I hope so.

But it's also a reminder of what an odd theatre world we live in, how badly premiere-itis affects this town. There's all of this talk about how great rep companies are and how hard they are to hold together, but I don't think there's enough talk or thinking about the way a rep company is supposed to work. You're supposed to have plays in your repertory, plays you revisit from time to time, re-mount and re-explore. We have this great storehouse of plays, good plays that got bad productions or bad receptions, plays that were important and are now forgotten. We have a theatre that's supposed to be dedicated to that, but really only schedules one a season. For a New York audience, it has to be new.

But it's nice to see someone who runs a playwrights theatre remember that supporting playwrights lasts longer than one play.

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