commented on Sound and Fury: The Controversy Over "A Piece of Work" at On the Boards
Just to clarify, for anyone who doesn't click through to FB (which, I'm assuming, is most everyone): I didn't say 'A Piece of Work' was meaningless, I said it was flimsy -- a decades-old notion carried out with new technology but less invention or wit than when the Dadaists did it with a pair of scissors and a hat. I don't question than you can draw meaning, poignance, and humor from randomly generated text, but I don't see why you'd want to sit in a theater to do so. It would have made a fine interactive website.
Feb 2, 2010
commented on The Bash for Bart and the Fight over Local Theater
The whole local/national argument confuses two different things: One is a sort of absolute notion of quality, the idea that there is 'greatness' that stands above all other concerns, that there are works of art that are simply more profoundly moving (emotionally/intellectually/spritually) than others and performers who are simply more talented (and therefore naturally rise to national prominence).
The other is a completely different value system, wherein intimacy (of place, of sensibility) and a shared frame of reference create a different but just as powerful impact. That even though Scot Augustson (to use the example cited above) may not be obviously writing about Seattle, his work is shaped by the multitude of factors that shape my life (everything from city politics to the county's racial/cultural mix to regional cuisine to the affect of the weather on our moods) and therefore his writing addresses my life in a thousand tiny but significant ways that the work of, say, David Mamet cannot. Similarly, Marya Sea Kaminski is swimming in the same cultural water as I am, and so her performances have nuances that speak to me in a way that those of an actor jobbed in from New York cannot.
Saying "All that matters is working with the best people to produce greatness" is like saying that because Conan O'Brien and Craig Ferguson are smart, witty, and charming, I no longer need to talk with my friends. You can have both, but you need to value each for their own worth.
(And I'm not saying local artists can't be "great" -- Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Moliere were all, to their communities, local artists. "Greatness" is a dumb thing to pursue because really, you're talking about endurance over time, and you can't know what's going to hold up when you're in the moment. In Shakespeare's day, he wasn't considered any better than Beaumont and Fletcher, who are now forgotten by all but academics.)