Monday, February 15, 2010

Arts Reporting: Survey Identifies 10 Most Important American Dramas, Denver Post,

Received on-line: an in-depth survey carried out by the Denver Post, flagged by the February 14 edition of the free on-line daily

and annotated by ALT:

An excerpt from the article by John Moore, Denver Post theatre critic:

The 10 Most Important American plays
-- Theatre must speak for its own time, but will time be kind to the plays being written today?. . . [W]hen it comes to American plays, greatness can be as elusive as their favorite subject: that fickle American dream.

So which plays rise to the top over time? The Denver Post asked a long list of theater professionals nationwide to give an opinion. Their cumulative take: U.S. writers have produced only two plays in nearly 50 years that belong beside the very best, Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" and August Wilson's "Fences."

Our informal survey asked 177 playwrights, directors, actors, professors, agents, producers, students, bloggers, critics and theatergoers to rank the 10 most important American plays ever written.

The top 10 largely reflect a world of booze and brawls, of the disintegrating American family and the gross inequity of the American dream.

And the average age of those plays is 52.

Fittingly, the most historic American play is the one most often described as Greek in scope and tragedy: Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" — a working-class "Oedipus Rex."

Kushner's apocalyptic "Angels" was next, hailed by The New York Times for creating "an astonishing theatrical landscape, both intimate and epic," making it "the most thrilling American play in years." It's followed by "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Long Day's Journey into Night."

Kushner calls "Salesman," "Streetcar" and "Journey" "the unquestionable big three" of American playwriting.

About the Austin annotations, with links:

Long Day's Journey into Night
was performed as an Actors' Equity Code Project, May 27 - June 7, 2009 directed by Dr. Lucien Douglas for an ad-hoc group that called itself "Ar Rud" (Gaelic: "Our Thing"). Click for ALT review of May 31, 2009.

Anderson High School did Our Town November 12-15, 2009. Wilder's classic will be performed by the University of Texas in April in a traditional staging and by the Zach Theatre in April-May in a more modern staging, probably influenced by the recent successful revival in New York City. Both companies are offering a discount, available with password, to encourage audiences to see the two versions.

Tex-Arts in Lakeway offers The Glass Menagerie February 26 - March 14, directed by Michael Costello and featuring Babs George and Jude Hickey.

City Theatre will stage A Raisin in the Sun February 25 - March 21, directed by Lisa Jordan, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the play.

City Theatre staged August Wilson's Fences February 26 - March 22, 2009, directed by Lisa Jordan and featuring Robert Pellette, Jr. Click for ALT review of March 1, 2009 ; click for ALT profile, "The Incantations of August Wilson and 'Fences.'" (February 25, 2009)

Read more about the survey at the Denver Post on-line. . . .

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