Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Game of Debasement

My good friend and college chum Andrew Rhodes (of Makeshift Theatre Co. in Boston) shared a fantastic article by Brendan Kiley today.  The article is a couple of years old, but certainly not a couple of years stale.

The title of the piece is "Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves":
1. Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already. The greatest playwright in history has become your enabler and your crutch, the man you call when you're timid and out of ideas. It's time for a five-year moratorium—no more high schoolers pecking at Romeo and Juliet, no more NEA funding for Shakespeare in the heartland, and no more fringe companies trying to ennoble themselves with Hamlet. (Or with anything. Fringe theater shouldn't be in the game of ennobling, it should be in the game of debasement.) Stretch yourself. Live a little. Find new, good, weird plays nobody has heard of. Teach your audiences to want surprises, not pacifiers.
Go forth and read the whole damn thing.

There's something to be said for debasement.  Or abasement, for that matter.  As George Seldes, author of The Seven Lively Arts once wrote, "For in America the fear of vulgarity is the beginning of deadness.  Abase!"

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