07 March 2008

"Opportunities Create Artists"

From Playbill:

Lincoln Center Theater has announced the launch of a new initiative dedicated to the work of emerging playwrights, directors and designers.

Entitled LCT3, the program is Lincoln Center's answer to the frustrations emerging artists face within the standard system of readings and workshops.

"Opportunities create artists," LCT artistic director Andre Bishop said in a statement. "And it is essential that institutional theaters provide as many intelligent opportunities as possible because that is how theater artists grow – in production."

This is an awesome new program, and I believe I once offered up my firstborn child for the chance to be a part of it. (Offer stands.) I do wish that it didn't have to be framed as a response to frustration - rather than "We're doing this in response to your complaints," more like "Here's an exciting new program to satisfy a need and help make better theatre, and make it in a better way." (Although it may seem like a ripoff of Roundabout Underground, this idea was floated in this Sun article last year. And if two of the more staid nonprofits want to support emerging work, I am not gonna complain. Besides, it actually sounds similar to Steppenwolf's dramaturg-drool-inducing First Look series.) Tickets will be $20, which is always awesome. In principle, and because then I can maybe afford it.

First up at LCT3, playing at the Duke (LCT3 will play off-site until LCT builds their own new 99-seat space), will be Clay, a one-man hip hop musical that played in CA (Ahmanson? at the Kirk Douglas theatre) last year. On the one hand, I wish that LCT had chosen something more exciting that I'm more excited about. (The piece has some great writing, mostly in the lyrics, but the story, about a white boy who discovers hip hop but "discovers he can't escape his past" isn't as special, and I have trouble with one-person shows unless the one person is a Nilaja Sun-esque powerhouse.) On the other hand, if LCT3 is really what it claims to be, what they produce in October will not be the same thing I saw a few months ago, and there's a lot that's good and exciting in this piece to be developed.

(On the third hand, writer/performer Matt Sax is really cute.)

I also maybe wish they were developing something that hadn't already had a full production. I don't think they ever call what they're doing a "developmental production," but it still feels weird. Are they trying to start with a surer bet? Are they trying to earn street cred by starting with a hip-hop piece? It doesn't sound like this is supposed to be just a third stage for LCT (as Roundabout Underground, respectably, is). Paige Evans, formerly from MTC, has good, interesting taste, but LCT is saying that this is not just a space for producing edgier/younger/whatever work. If this program exists to fill a need, "recognizing the frustrations that young playwrights have with the current system of readings and workshops," I hope that need helps dictate how they program.

1 comment:

Johnny said...

Young theater, new theater, new venue for young writers who don't have the worlds "Sarah" or "Roberto" in their names, a place for young directors who are not named after synonyms for falling down or [insert funny reference to other young director who directs constantly here]. Awesome! Awesome! Thank you, LCT, you're so cool!

Look, I LURVE you, LCT. I lurve that you give the best intellectual hand job in the city. You made me weep *three* times last week at South Pacific. Rock and Roll was the 2nd best thing I've seen this season.

But face it: if you've got a show that's ALREADY been workshopped to death and presented in a major regional theater to warm reception, ie, a piece that's been proven, don't start your new "exciting underdeveloped new theater" iniative with it. ESPECIALLY if it's a piece that has the words "hip-hop" in its zip code. Because we all know what you're saying, LCT: you're white as white can be, and that works for you, and when you disrupt that (which, let's not kid, you don't - "Dessa Rose" and "Bernarda Alba" may have had people of color on stage, but you were still all about your rich white audience there), your subscribers get queasy.

So welcome to LCT's new iniative: separate but equal theater opportunities for plays that aren't designed for a rich white audience.