Dear theatre friend,
Today is a day for me, and all New Yorkers, to reflect. Every day I’ve seen the same clear, vivid blue sky, makes my stomach clench. Was that the end of my innocence? Am I now necessarily far more wary? I hope never to feel as blindsided as I did twenty years ago.
Perhaps this is why it’s necessary to listen to multitudinous voices — and the arts are a perfect place to begin. Should I have paid closer attention to “The Great Game: Afghanistan” after seeing it at London’s Tricycle Theatre? Intellectually knowing its importance, I returned to our own Skirball Center to see it again. Should I have understood the animosity felt towards the West? I was not able to make that leap.
I have no excuse: I was a well traveled, well read New Yorker. Besides Europe and the Far East, I had spent many weeks gallivanting around Iran, Lebanon, Syria– thinking that the kindness and hospitality I experienced were all there was. Busy taking in the beauty of Islamic architecture, I blithely photographed the posters which read “Death to the U.S.A.”
Everyone is talking about diverse voices in the theatre– but are we really ready to take on difficult political subjects? Fifteen years ago, donors were displeased to have “My Name is Rachel Corrie” come to New York, despite it having won Best Play when it premiered at the Royal Court in London. Understandably, our non-profit companies need to remain in business– now, funding is even more fragile. How many chances can they take??
The unforgettable “Exhibit B,” solemnly presented the inhumanity of European colonial history, when at the Edinburgh Festival. It was canceled a month later at London’s Barbican— boycotted by people who had merely heard of its subject. In Edinburgh, the last room at The Playfair Library was devoted to statements by the actors who chose to appear– they wanted to expose the truth about their own history– many were totally ignorant of their families’ past.
I’m now waiting to discover the stories I don’t know– that’s one of the main reasons I go to the theatre. Of course, books and movies can also open one’s eyes. Alternately, we sometimes need entertainment and diversion– me too!
You can buy tickets today and tomorrow for Jermyn Street’s “The Beautiful Future,” — streaming until the 17th. The Guardian reviewed this revival of young love, confined to one room during World War II– reminding us that things will get better.
You can also stream “Angela’s Ashes: The Musical” from The Irish Rep, based on Frank McCourt’s moving memoir.
Those of you who want an in person experience can buy tickets for BAM’s “By Heart,’ by Portuguese theatremaker and recent Avignon Festival head, Tiago Rodrigues. His work has been called both subversive and lyrical. October 5th through 17th.
Also beginning in October, “The Girl From the North Country,” with book by Conor McPherson and songs by Bob Dylan— it’s an unforgettable big show which will transfer well to a large Broadway stage. Another which I saw twice–do go!
Looking ahead, St. Ann’s Warehouse will be presenting “Medicine” by Enda Walsh in November, after its tour of Ireland and Britain, where it received excellent reviews. It will be streamed on demand at a later date.
I’ll return soon, whenever I find plays that we’ll want to see– whether on screen or in real life.
Carol Tambor publishes a monthly newsletter, which announces worthy shows coming to New York, along with occasional information about London theatre and, of course, the Edinburgh Fringe.