Monday, December 10, 2007

Raising the Conundrum of an American Theatre

Not a long post on this, but as someone who admired Columbinus a great deal, I read with interest this Chicago Tribune piece on P.J. Paparelli and his American Theatre Company. Great name, of course, and redolent of the American National Theatre that actor Sean Cullen tried to start up a few years ago, recruiting me and everyone else on earth, I guess, to be on this or that committee.

Paparelli isn't saying that he wants to create a national American theatre, but what do we all think of the idea? It goes all the way back you realize, even well before Eva Le Gallienne, who I wish I could have met.

Some say our regional theatre system IS our national theatre. Yes? No?

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1 comment:

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Great question, Leonard. The quick answer is that in a country as spread out, heterogeneous and unsocialistic as ours, the regional theater system might be the best way to run a "national" theater. A good one would have to be decentralized, like the Federal Theatre Project was (though the FTP was quite far from a very good "national theater," it was a start). Problem is, our current regional theaters (with a number of heroic exceptions) don't necessarily reflect their "regions," let alone the nation, as much as they perpetuate a kind of New York-ratified consensus of what constitutes American theater (one-word titles suffice: Art, Doubt, Proof, Wit, etc.). Still, at this point in the season--with substantial straight plays making a comeback on Broadway and OB seasons at Playwrights, Roundabout, Signature and SoHo Rep, among others, stepping up their game--the New York standard looks pretty high.