Results tagged “Baltimore Sun” from critical difference

For a good chunk of my life, there's been a theater I've particularly cherished for its taste and daring, its embrace of the new, its fervent belief that playwriting and performance are vital to our conversation about the world. It's never been a wealthy operation, but that's part of its charm: that for years it's staged some of the best, smartest, funniest theater I've ever seen, and it's done that on a shoestring.

So when the e-mail announcing its upcoming season arrived a while ago, I opened it eagerly -- and discovered that, for the very first time, there's absolutely nothing this company is staging that I want to see. The season looked, of all things, boring to me.

That's because the artistic director, like many of his peers, is spooked by shrinking budgets and suddenly less-generous patrons. He's playing it safe, or so it would seem: choosing scripts whose track records -- on or off-Broadway, in the West End, regionally -- make them look like sure crowd-pleasers. But the crowd that fills his theater's seats has always been drawn by freshness and edge. What's tried and true elsewhere is probably not going to do the trick.

That sort of common sense may be going by the wayside right about now, as theaters struggle not to lose their foothold in an uncertain economic landscape. An actor friend put it this way in an e-mail, which he's given me permission to quote:

"'This economy' seems to be driving theatres in all sorts of crazy directions and it feels to me as if companies are blindly reacting without taking the time to examine what it is that people really want to see. There is this perceived wisdom that dumbing down or doing more familiar and safer material is the answer to shrinking audiences. I have yet to see the research to back this supposition."
May 6, 2009 2:23 PM | | Comments (3)
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