Monday, January 4, 2010

Won't Someone Please Think About Shakespeare?!?*

Okay. I've been stewing on this for a couple of days. After reading the comments threads here and here, I think we need a new rule out here in the theatre blogosphere, a corollary to Godwin's Law. We can call it Garvey's Law or reductio ad Bardum or something. It goes a little something like this:

If, in any discussion, particularly of diversity or style, you bring up Shakespeare, you lose the argument. Boom, that's it, you're done. Thank you for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts for you. You can shut the hell up now.

Seriously, it's the absolute worst possible argument to make. And it always gets made.
A: We need more diversity on our stages and less of an emphasis on dead, old white guys.

B: But...what about Shakespeare?!? Are you just going to chuck Shakespeare on the dustbin of history?!? Well, he's an old dead white guy!?!

A: ...Screw off, dickhead.
It's lazy, it's weak and worst of all, it's stupid as hell. No matter what snarky comments people like joshcon or I make, everyone likes Shakespeare. You know why? Because he was a freaking goddamn authentic genius. That's basically beyond debate. The guy was a stone-cold, straight-up, full-on player with no shame in his game. No one who's serious about this field at all is going to question that. So obviously, no one is talking about throwing him on the midden heap.

And here's the thing, too: you couldn't if you tried. That guy is burrowed into the canon like a chigger. He IS the motherlovin' canon. There are Shakespeare festivals and theatres in 49 states. 49! (What up, Hawaii? Don't you like culture?!? Won't someone please think about Shakespeare?!?) The guy only wrote 36 plays. 36! Just in case you missed it, 49 > 36. Very few of those is likely to fold any time, I'm willing to bet. And even if they did, he's on curricula across the country. He deserves to be. Because he was a freaking genius! Not in debate!

If every play by a dead white guy was a play by Shakespeare, I honestly don't think anyone would have many complaints. Okay, some folks would. But really, that's not the problem. Shakespeare isn't the problem. It's all the other dead white guys. Middleton and Kyd and even Jonson and the guy who wrote Our American Cousin (poor bastard) and you name it. It's the guys who weren't geniuses, who didn't write timeless plays that live and breathe today. And yet, they still get produced. Hell, I'll even throw some of those great one-hit wonders on there, like Rostand or Wycherly. I dig the fine folks at Red Bull a lot (full disclosure: I've worked with some of them), but you know crops up in half of their reviews: "It's almost as good as Shakespeare." Those guys weren't as good and they get productions! That's pretty nice work, if you can get it.

In fact, Shakespeare is so much a part of the canon, so much in the popular mind, that people are freaking bored with it! The theatres certainly are. Half of those "Shakespeare festivals" don't produce all that much Shakespeare anymore. They ran out! So now they go to the back-benchers. And it's some kind of offense to suggest that maybe we should throw some of those guys back on the trash heap that you plucked them off of because you couldn't find anyone as good as Shakespeare writing today.
A: Why produce this crazy-ass old white guy who's not Shakespeare?

B: No one's produced him in centuries!

A: Because it's not as good as Shakespeare.

B: It's not! But it's interesting, isn't it? Makes you appreciate Shakespeare more, doesn't it?

A: But...I have this new play, by a young living writer.

B: Well. She's no Shakespeare, is she? We want to produce great plays.

A: Except this one. Which isn't as good as Shakespeare.

B: I'm sorry, what was that?
But when this comes up, it's always Shakespeare going out the window. Always the genius that everyone likes.
A: Gee, it'd be great to have a black president, wouldn't it?

B: Why? What's wrong with all of our other presidents? Huh? You don't wish that Abraham Lincoln hadn't been president, do you?

A:...You're a freaking moron.
Because no one ever says, "What about Rutherford B. Hayes?!?" Why? Because he kind of sucked. So did most of the old dead white guys.

This goes the same for Brecht, Mozart and the B-Boys (Bach, Beethoven), Da Vinci, the whole crowd. They're cool, they'll be fine, and, trust me, no one is going to stop listening to them, really. But to focus the whole system on guys who happen to look like them is just dumb, especially when it's full of people who aren't geniuses. So what if the young writers aren't geniuses yet? Really, neither was George Chapman.

Case in point. Really? And Mart Crowley isn't even dead! (No offense, Mart, glad to hear you're still with us. Thanks for being a good sport!) You couldn't commission a young playwright to write a new play about the life of gay men now, even as a reflection on how things are different, 42 years later? It would probably be less than the New York production rights. But, you know, it's old. So obviously, it's good. Right.

There are totally legitimate arguments against David Byrne's immodest proposal, and, in all fairness, some of them do show up here. But "What about Shakespeare" isn't a good argument. It just isn't. Next time it comes up, play 'em off, Keyboard Cat. (That reference is almost as topical as The Country Wife. Ba-zing!)

*Cf. Also.

46 comments:

The Director said...

This is pure gold. Seriously. Kudos.

Scott Walters said...

I agree entirely. Shakespeare is an outlier. But if you teach theatre history as much as I do, and read the plays as much as I do, you know that most of them don't really ring the bell today. They require too much backfill, too many program notes, to make sense. Many of the Greeks still speak to today, and I would assert that's because those plays are closer to fable than tale (closer to myth than life) -- Ted Hughes' translation of "The Oresteia" is pure gold. But watch the eyes of a young person reading "Phaedra" or "The Rover" and you will see more glaze than you'll see at the local Krispy Kreme.

By the way, I don't think Byrne was suggesting that the classics not be taught, but he did suggest that spending large amounts of limited public arts money on things like Wagner's Ring Cycle was less important than arts education -- specifically, letting kids participate in the arts. That seems pretty tame to me. Now, how it would seem to Shakespeare, I don't know...

99 said...

I think shabby, little lower middle-class Bill S. would be thrilled, to be honest.

And, yeah, it's kind of obvious that Byrne is talking about funding and resources and opening up the gates a bit. Apparently, that's a little freaky to some.

Ian Thal said...

I have to say, I like your version of Byrne's argument far better than Byrne's, but I'm really shocked that you don't like Rutherford B. Hayes.

99 said...

I never met the fella, but his ratings aren't so high. Still, he did get to be president which is a lot more than I can say.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

I love this.

*slow clap*

Jaime said...

Tangentially: some Middleton really is awesome. It is my life's duty to defend The Roaring Girl, and bring it up even when its amazingness hasn't been questioned. (Granted, it's Middleton and Dekker, but how much of a nerd do you want me to be?)

The rest of this post is right, though.

Duncan Pflaster said...

As a playwright, I've used the "But Shakespeare Did It" more than once, referring to style, but have usually been able to cite other examples... The main one being what Robert McKee calls "Multi-plot"- sure, Shakespeare did it in Midsummer, but it's also in Ragtime, In The Heights...

Just as not all DWM are great, Not all modern playwrights are great- if a producer/director has a passion for a play, I think they should produce it, whether it's written by Lope de Vega or David Mamet or some kid who just graduated from Cooterstown High School.

I think it's lazy not to learn from the past; to dismiss a play simply because the playwright is dead, male, and white is silly.

On another note, after seeing excellent productions of The Changeling and Women Beware Women recently, I think I may actually be beginning to prefer Middleton to Shakespeare.

And if you count Les Romanesques, Rostand was a two-hit wonder.

joshcon80 said...

Exactly. It's not that I think we should forget about Shakespeare and the Greeks and Brecht forever. I actually really love them. I also adore Moliere and Oscar Wilde. I just don't feel like they really need my advocacy. They'll be fine, which is more than i can say for the brilliant young playwrights I know working today.

That said, I do think there are dead playwright who don't get produced that are awesome. My mentor recently gave me a compliment (I think) by saying that I was the Maeterlinck of the new millennium. I'm ashamed to admit that I had to look Maeterlinck up on Wikipedia.

Also, I know it's desperately uncool amongst modern, PC gays, but The Boys in the Band is one of my favorite plays. I love, love, love it and have never had the chance to see it onstage. I'm so glad I saw your link.

Anyway, I'm all for dead white guys as long as the rest of us get a shot too, and I don't particularly think our limited resources should be thrown at writers who, frankly, don't really need our help.

Ian Thal said...

Part of the reason I like digging into older styles is because there's a lot of cool technique and devices that I can appropriate for my tool box. (For instance, I'm a real fanatic when it comes to the commedia dell'arte tradition.)

I've certainly devices found in Shakespeare's work like using a five act narrative structure, or including a vulgarian to provide counterpoint to the "serious material" or run multiple plot lines through the play.

But I do that because those techniques are well within my current ability, in that I don't need to be on Shakespeare's level to use them.

He's a genius so we should study him so that we can steal from him and personalize the swag: after all, it's what he did with his predecessors.

P.S. His contemporary John Webster is also great: I saw his Duchess of Malfi last year. What a twisted little play.

Thomas Garvey said...

Uh - I know you're on a hair-trigger these days, but really, you've got to stay on your meds! I think it was Josh who made some snarky comment about Shakespeare, actually - when I noted that it was pretty unlikely, however much he might have learned from Nick at Nite, that Josh had equalled Shakespeare, he began to cry. And now this. Sheesh.

But I also have to point out that your argument is bullshit. No, Middleton and Webster, etc., aren't nearly as good as Shakespeare. They are, instead, about as good as, say, Albee or Miller. Just as Chekhov is not quite as good as Shakespeare, but still better than Tennessee Williams. Just as Euripides is better than Tony Kushner. And they're all a lot better than the young playwrights writing today.

So once again we hit that "quality problem." I'm not arguing for these people because they're white, much less dead; I'm arguing for them because they are interesting. Just accept it, ok? If you don't listen to the best of what was written in the past, your standards are inevitably lower, because you just don't understand what the historical standards are.

As to your claim that Shakespeare will always be with us - I admire your optimism, but am disturbed by your naivete. Already he's constantly under attack, from both the academy as well as the likes of you. And you can feel it in the culture - fewer and fewer people can comprehend Shakespeare when they're exposed to it; his hyper-rich text simply short-circuits sensibilities used to txt.

I know, of course, that you argue from self-interest, which I understand. But just do so honestly, ok? I know that even though there's no way you're as good as Shakespeare or Sophocles or Chekhov, or even Middleton or Rostand, you still want your play produced. But your argument really can't be with the Big Dogs - it has to be with the little dogs in your league, as in "No, don't produce Josh's play, produce my play instead, because it's better!" That seems to me a far stronger and more logical argument than, "No, don't produce Middleton, produce my play instead, because Middleton's dead!"

99 said...

*sigh*

Sorry, Thomas, I missed the day they handed out the crib sheet that says which playwright is "better" than which and why, out of all of history, we choose to venerate a small handful of them and let others fall into disrepute, only to be discovered later as some lost master. They must have just given that to you.

It isn't a quality problem; it's a bullshit standards problem. If we stick with the ideal that a play is meant to last forever, all time and be Important to be worth it at all, then we should all just pack up our bags. Because history is full of playwrights and full of plays that are better than yours (and I'm including mine in that "yours"). New voices can and should be heard and judged on their own qualifications and strengths, but to A) judge them against titans and B) deny them a place on our stages because they're not, right now, deemed titans by you, cuts the field off at the legs. For someone who claims to love the arts, you seem to be pretty willing to hasten its demise. And I can't abide by that.

As for the permanence of Shakespeare, you say "tomato," I say "tomato." Again, Shakespeare festivals in 49 states. Regularly producing. Currently on Broadway. Part of the language, the lexicon, the fabric of our society. The guy's not going anywhere.

And then you did it. You broke the rule! I'm not trying to get rid of him. No one is! So, you know...play him off, Keyboard Cat. Enjoy the home version of the game. I know you're already pretty familiar with the home version.

99 said...

Josh, Ian, Duncan, et al.-

Good, rousing points all. And I'm planning another post to extend this a bit and talk more about influences, but using a Shakespearean technique or stealing a bit of his style (or Beckett's or Mamet's or whoever's) is, of course, fair game. We should be inspired by them. That's all good. But "Shakespeare did it" isn't an excuse for bad writing.

Paul Mullin said...

Just read this and loved it. It certainly anticipates an essay I plan to write and post at "Just Wrought: "America loves Playwrights!—The Deader the Better; or How The English Speaking World Wields its Greatest Playwright as a Club to Kill Theatre".

I remember a few years ago I suggested that Seattle take a one-year sabbatical from Shakespeare. You should have heard the uproar. It's like I suggested knife-raping kittens on stage.

Frankly, I think the whole country could use a 3-year break from the Bard just to cleanse the palette, remind us of how great he really is, and allow him a little rest from spinning in his grave over "concept" productions of MacBeth.

Ian Thal said...

The irony is that regular readers of Hub Review know that Thomas can be very supportive of new work when he finds interesting; whether his "interesting" and your "interesting" line up is quite another matter.

Seriously: Somebody who puts a sidebar on his blog promoting bushgreen.org as a worthy model is not trying to discourage new work.

That's all I'm saying on this: Thom can defend himself more than adequately.

99 said...

Shh! Paul! I'm trying to lull them into lowering their guard by saying no one wants to get rid of Shakespeare! How else will all us unwashed rowdy hordes storm the academy walls? We've got to get at those co-eds somehow!

joshcon80 said...

Thom,

I rarely cry, if ever. I merely pointed out that it was pretty cheap of you to use me in your argument when I wasn't looking(Re: Why Young People Can't Write Plays. Part One Billion.) especially since you don't know anything about me. I was defending myself against a bully, which you are.

As for my original comment, as 99 has written, it was tongue in cheek. It doesn't need excusing and certainly didn't warrant your abuse.

Also, FOR THE LAST TIME, you are not the arbiter of good taste. Who are you to rate the greats against one another? Who are you to say that there are no great young playwrights? What you don't know could fill a book, as my mother would say, and IS filling up the blogosphere.

Ugh. You're the WORST.

99 said...

Ian, I know you guys are buds and I'm not asking anyone to defend anyone else. The issue isn't "supportive of new work" vs. "hates new work." It's not that simple. I completely agree that there are matters of taste involved and not everything is to everyone's taste. This whole thing isn't about the validity of new work; it's about what is the priority. When people, like myself, Scott, and Isaac, say that there should be a shift in priority towards new work, Thomas and others chime in with "Leave Shakespeare alone." And, honestly, seem to judge that anything that doesn't rank with Shakespeare as wanting. It's an impossible standard. But what makes it bullshit is when Thomas says, "Well, those guys are just more interesting than what X or Y is doing." Aristotle used Oedipus Rex as his touchstone for the essential ingredients into what makes a play. Therefore, Oedipus Rex is the standard. If you find the standard more interesting, of course, Oedipus Rex is more interesting than any play that isn't Oedipus. It's a circular standard.

Thomas Garvey said...

Ok, 99, play on, but this is a game you're playing all by yourself. I see far more new work than you do, I'm willing to bet . . . at least one new play a week, in fact, and often more. Meanwhile, you seem to have a standard that circles around . . . yourself.

Ian Thal said...

So, am I bad when I actually find these polemical exchanges entertaining? Does my earlier half-assed attempt to make peace morally excuse me from being amused?

99 said...

There is no moral excuse for being amused by polemical discussions, Ian! None at all!

Dude, attempting to amuse is basically the motivation of my life. I started out trying to educate, then elucidate and finally entertain before I settled on amuse. I take what I can get.

Tony Adams said...

Thom, so are you saying none of the "young playwrights writing today" are any good? All have a quality problem?

That is a ridiculous notion.

Paul Mullin said...

We get a very similar argument a lot in Seattle. "We'll do local plays when local plays are good enough." It's a crap feint, completely missing the point of how plays get made and how they get better. They get made by making (or if you'll indulge me "wrighting") them, not just putting words on paper. They get better by producing them.

Theaters who don't do new works, absolutely new and fresh at least once a season deserve all the derision we can heap on them. And based on what I'm reading here, we got a lot to heap!

So heap away!

(God, some days I really do miss Curt Dempster.)

99 said...

You and me both, Paulie. You and me both.

The Green Cat said...

"everyone likes Shakespeare."

Sorry, I have to say it: I don't really like Shakespeare. Is he an important playwright? Yes. Do I think his work should still be produced? Yes. Can I appreciate it for what it is? Mostly. Do I want to watch it? Not really.

Okay now that I've outed myself, I'll creep back into my corner.

Jack Worthing said...

I think what Garvey is trying to say is that no young writer, at the moment, is immediately changing the language and landscape like Williams, Pinter, Mamet, Churchill, etc. did when they broke through. And I don't think that point can be argued. It's not to say it won't happen. But when I see Ruhl, I look to Paula Vogel; when I see McCraney, I look to Peter Brook; when I see Rapp, I look to Shepard, etc. All of them might be world-changers, in the end. But right now they're not doing it. And before anyone accuses me of being a fogey, I'm a young playwright. I have my own struggles with this. I don't want to start a conversation about the anxiety of influence, blah blah; I'm pointing out that while good writing might have many attributes -- superior craft, subtlety, humanity, wit -- truly great writing always brings the shock of the new. And for that, Arthur Miller beats Christopher Shinn, or me, every time.

And can we please quit pretending there's something evil about value judgments?

99 said...

Are we comparing Arthur Miller of The Man Who Had All The Luck with Chris Shinn of Four? Pinter's The Room with Eurydice? Neither of those are perfect, of course, because the times are so different. Playwriting doesn't happen in a vacuum. My issue with the entire formulation is that it assumes that there is a direct comparison. The entire field is so different, the career paths are different, the landscape isn't the same.

My biggest issue with the whole value judgment thing as an objective measure is that it assumes a certain kind of observer. If a person walks in off the street, can they feel the shock of the new? Or can only someone versed in Pinter/Brooks/the entire canon feel it? Which is worth more? What if the person who walks in off the street doesn't feel it and the expert does? It's a completely made-up standard. And that's okay! It's all made-up standards. But why act like there aren't?

All of us are building on what came before. Pinter built and adapted English vaudeville traditions. Shepard used Western legends and movies images. The greats do it, the less than great do it. The question is how.

Dennis Baker said...

While I feel I need to admit that I love Shakespeare, and fell in love with theater at a Shakespeare festival, I do agree that Shakespeare (and others) are done at the sacrifice of new plays.

I would be intrigued at a theater that committed to the idea that for every "classical" play they did, that the very next production would be an original work. That way the season would be fifty/fifty split between classical works, that might be the very play that gets that high schooler hooked on theater, and new plays which connect audience to a new voice.

Paul Mullin said...

If you're shooting for being the next Mamet or Churchill, your sites are too low.

All this hand-wringing about not being sure of your context in the canon is crap.

You think Odets fretted over such nonsense or Brecht? Get your plays done and if someone's stopping you, fight them.

Enough is enough.

joshcon80 said...

Jack,

"I think what Garvey is trying to say is that no young writer, at the moment, is immediately changing the language and landscape like Williams, Pinter, Mamet, Churchill, etc. did when they broke through."

Maybe we should give some the chance. We could create some room by slowing down production of dead white guys.

And I don't think arguments of quality are verboten, but I do think to rate the great playwrights against one another on some demented bell curve and to insist that your opinion is holy writ is preposterous.

Thomas Garvey said...

Thanks, Jack, for saying part of what I'm trying to put over to these people. But the other part is an even tougher sell - they all seem to think that they're being silenced and judged, but actually, playwrights today seem to me to get more praise right out of the gate than they did in the recent past. These kids' hair would curl if they got a load of what John Simon used to dish out in the 60's and 70's. And as for Mullin's and Baker's posts about theatres that do new plays - in Boston, almost every company does more new work than anything else. I can only think of one group - the Actors' Shakespeare Project - that concentrates on classics, because, well . . . check out that name . . .

The real trouble with you guys' situation is that in the end, the audience won't risk seeing your work. It's not the critics, or the theatre management. It's the audience itself.

99 said...

I'm not even sure what you're saying there, Thomas. Honestly, without snark. Are you saying that "you guys" (i.e. Josh and Paul and I) are being shunned by audiences? I can't speak to Paul's recent work, but Josh's MilkMilkLemonade played to packed houses and wound up on a bunch of Top 10 lists. My audiences, when I get 'em, aren't complaining. It's such a weird dodge.

I took a look back at your Top Ten and Honorable Mentions from this year. Of the 28 plays you mentioned, I counted exactly two NEW plays (i.e. Boston world premieres). The other plays you consider as "new" were new to Boston and many of them are already established on the regional circuit. (Let's not open the can of worms of the race/sex breakdowns, shall we?) I don't want know if you're getting a clear picture of actually new work. Or maybe none of the actually new work in Boston qualified for your lists. Which might be saying something as well. Maybe Boston would benefit from more of a focus on new work...

Thomas Garvey said...

I don't write about all the new work I see, 99. Because it's too weak artistically. So you're quite right, almost nothing brand new that I saw made my "Best Of" list. But why would new work by inexperienced playwrights be strong, exactly? Because you think you're brilliant? Or because "MilkMilkLemonade" was funny, and sold out its 50-seat house? Just wondering.

I don't write about the weaker new work I see because I don't feel like beating up on someone who probably just invested half their rent money in their show, and because, to be blunt, I can count on the audience not being there for new work. It will die on its own without intense promotion. It's that very same "intense promotion" of weak new work, like the plays of, yes, Sarah Ruhl, that I fight, because I know that somewhere out there there is a very good or even great new playwright who will need that promotion. Is it clear to you now? Or is there some other somersault you can do to keep your self-promoting panties in a bunch?

99 said...

One of these days, Thomas, you will need to learn to make some sort of argument without throwing in a gratuitous ad hominem attack.

But thanks for clarifying your world: the new work you see is, by definition, weak and therefore not worthy of support or an audience. The new work that is produced is produced because of a sliding scale and curved grading that lets weak work through. If it sells out a small house, it doesn't count. If it sells well in a big house, or receives critical praise from people other than you, that's because taste has degraded. Anyone who champions the need for new work does so out of narrow self-interest and self-promotion. Any disagreement with any of this is whining.

Good to know.

joshcon80 said...

Garvey, you can attack me or my work or my audience all you'd like, but you will never be the end-all be-all of taste.

Somewhat off the topic, you seemed to have really enjoyed "The Slutcracker." That's great! Maybe you would have liked "MilkMilkLemonade." Maybe you wouldn't have.

Not all of us want to be the next Shakespeare. After all, there was only one Shakespeare ever. Not everybody can be the next Tony Kushner (how does he compare to Sam Shephard, by the way?) The new millennium needs new Charles Ludlams too, after all. Maybe that will be me, maybe it won't. But it's not for you alone to decide.

Thomas Garvey said...

And one of these days, you'll have to learn to tell the truth as well as finally admit your actual name. I looked through all my "Best of 2009" lists myself again, and came across 8, not 2, new plays, most of them world premieres, one or two revisions of pieces workshopped elsewhere. To wit:

The Superheroine Monologues
A View of the Harbor
Sins of the Mother
Little Black Dress
The Miracle at Naples
The Random Caruso
Shooting Star
Truth Values

So count yourself not just a mediocre playwright but a dishonest mediocre playwright.

99 said...

Well. You added two things, presumably from your nods to performance and other artistic endeavors, which I didn't include. Since you didn't provide links, even to your original reviews, I did some Googling. Superhero Monologues and Truth Values were the two I found listed/described as premieres. I should have given you Sins of the Mother, so that was an oversight on my part. Little Black Dress was a bit harder to find, but I also missed that one.

A View of the Harbor played in Phoenix in '08: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2008-11-06/culture/view-of-the-harbor-at-herberger-theater-is-saved-by-its-cast/

Shooting Star played Texas in February: http://www.zachtheatre.org/stages/shooting_star.html

You get two back. You got two wrong. I didn't call you a liar or a mediocre critic. Those are what you call ad hominem attacks.

99 said...

And, again, for those keeping track at home: 28 plays on Thomas' list of Top 8 and Honorable Mention plays (not performance, directing or design). 4 world premieres.

isaac butler said...

Woah. Okay. I think we all know something's gotten out of hand when a theatre critic is debasing people's work that he hasn't seen. That's generally considered out of bounds, isn't it? And I know by saying this i'm pretty much setting up a "read some things by J. Holtham and Josh Conkel and shit all over them" blog post, but i just wanted to say, I think that's a sign that maybe we should cool this shit off for a second.

And Jack... I understand what you're saying, but it's also true that culturally, theatre is diffrent (and positioned differently) now then it was in the 1950s, for better and for worse. I don't know that one playwright could have the cultural impact of Miller anymore. And while I agree Sarah Ruhl isn't Caryl Churchill, that's also because Caryl Churchill is a once-in-a-generation talent.

And also, when I read Pinter, I see Beckett, when I read Miller, I see O'Neill. That doesn't lessen their work as writers.

One other question...a nd if you don't feel comfortable answering this because it might compromise your anonymity, i understand and respect that, even though we disagree a lot (unlike some people in this comments thread, i don't only disrespect desires for anonymity from people I disagree with).. do you teach? And if so, how does your understanding of the quality of new plays out there and the system producing them impact your teaching?

Jack Worthing said...

I do teach sometimes, Isaac. But could you explain the rest of your question a bit more? I want to be sure I understand it. Thanks.

Thomas Garvey said...

Uh, 99 - can you even read? Those are best PRODUCTIONS, not best PLAYS. I didn't do a "best play" or "best new play" list. I believe "Shooting Star" was workshopped prior to its Trinity outing, and the "Harbor" shown in Merrimack was I think basically the premiere production, imported from Phoenix.

But you know what? Stop googling. Because you're so dishonest it's getting a little creepy. I understand now why you've been hiding under a rock. We'd all be better off if you went back there. But I better sign off now before I really go ad hominem on your ass.

99 said...

Thanks for joining us, Thomas! Always a pleasure. See ya next time!

Isaac, you were saying?

isaac butler said...

Hey, I'm not even sure what I mean sometimes, Jack!

What I think I was trying to get at was this... Jack I'm pretty sure is a playwright from some stuff he's said in other comments. Which would make him a living playwright, which would make his plays by definition new work... and I'm just wondering how his own work and (if he taught) teaching fits in to how underwhelmed by a lot of new work that's out there he feels. Does that make any sense?

I guess part of what I 'm asking is, and I know it's hard to do this an remain anonymous (That's why I came out as Isaac Butler 7 days after starting Parabasis) is there a way to make this conversation a little more human/personal on top of talking about the system. I just want to invite Jack to get a little more here's some of what my experience has been concretely and how it informs my viewpoint on the lack of originality in new work etc.

okay that's incoherent. i just got some bad news over the phone about an old family friend, so that's the best i can do. good luck.

Thomas Garvey said...

Actually, in a way you're right to close down the conversation, because engaging with the ongoing NY blogosphere circle jerk is kind of a waste of time; I can get a dog if I feel like hearing any more whining, and you'll eventually find out the hard way no matter what.

99 said...

Jack & Isaac-

I think there's an interesting thing to discuss there, but it might get lost in a thread this long (as we verge into Nazis in the basement territory). If you want, I can start a new thread. Feel free to e-mail me (if you have an anon e-mail, Jack) and let me know.

Jack Worthing said...

It's a good question. Let me think about it a bit. I do think it's worth a new thread, 99.