Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Previewing" the "Season"

Michael Feingold published an article about the upcoming theatre season in this week's Village Voice (thanks to my friend Owa for alerting me to it) entitled "A Plea for Theater Producers to Become Less Predictable." What Feingold mostly talks about in the piece is the crush of revivals on Broadway this season. He also mentions a few off-/off-off-Broadway companies: the Pearl, the Mint, Peccadillo, and Keen.

But I'm afraid that Feingold is seeing here only what he looks for. If he would like to see work that isn't a revival and/or is something fresh and UNpredictable, I suggest he look beyond Broadway and beyond four NYC theatre companies that have made their fortunes by doing revivals. He might, for example, want to check out one of these theatres during the next few months: 59E59 (festivals of plays from Ireland and Poland), Playwrights Horizons (new pieces by Nicky Silver and Adam Rapp this month), the Lucille Lortel (new work from MCC Theater and Aquila Theatre Company), the Chocolate Factory (a new play by Mac Wellman), the Abingdon (Robert Brustein's new play), Womens' Project at the Julia Miles Theatre (Saviana Stanescu's new play), or La MaMa, or P.S. 122, or Theater for the New City (three or more brand new works every month at each of these esteemed venues).

Not to mention: Rattlestick, HERE, BAM, the three Horse Trade theatres, the Ohio, the Cherry Lane, Endtimes at the Gene Frankel Underground, the Flea, the Atlantic, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public, and, yes, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Roundabout, and Lincoln Center, all of which premiere new American plays this fall.

He might also consider checking out the New York Musical Theatre Festival or the upcoming A.N.T. Fest at Ars Nova, if he's interested in checking out the work of new artists.

I should add that Feingold is hardly alone in his narrow view of what constitutes "theatre" in New York when constructing a preview feature: neither Ben Brantley nor Charles Isherwood ventures beyond Broadway in his season preview piece in today's New York Times.

I do have to agree with Feingold on one point, though. He begins his article by saying:
They're previewing the new season again—just as if, in the world of global
warming and the 24/7 media barrage of the Internet, such things as seasons still
mattered. How long has it been since you could demarcate your year by the
weather?

And he's absolutely right. The New York International Fringe Festival, perhaps more than any other entity, has broken down the traditional summer-time barrier to new theatre; the indie theater season in NYC, at least, is year-round nowadays, which is why this year we instituted the Indie Theater Sneak Peeks feature on indietheater.org, predicated on the idea that there is no "season" but instead that every single week there are new shows that need to be talked about.

I don't know what to do to get some of my fellow theatre reviewers to realize how much the theatre landscape has changed in NYC -- i.e., that the most interesting stuff in town is almost NEVER on Broadway, but instead is just about everywhere else. But I hope that the readers and audiences and die-hard theatregoers will get the message.

1 comment:

RLewis said...

I thought the same thing when I first read Feingold's plea, but then again, I know that he, like you, see all the theater possible in 7-day weeks. And someone at the Voice has to see the big $tuff, so I cut him some slack. Maybe what we need is for Alexis to write the indie version of this article. Personally, I don't know how anyone sees all the important Off Bway, moreless the Off Off that is 10 times bigger. Bless you both.