Aug 18, 2009

Back in Business

Just edging back into the swim of work and the world after a few weeks on daddy leave, and finishing up a couple of deadlines, and ready to get back into the fray. A few short notes:

• Kurt Weill has been my favorite composer, bar none, roughly since my college years (since this record, to be precise), so I guess I owe a lot to the late musicologist David Drew. This quote from the Guardian obit describes a worthy, if lonely vocation: "He wished to diagnose and correct the received opinions and sloppy judgments about the classical music of the 20th century and its makers that came from both commercial and political pressure."

• While I appreciated David Cote's call to bloggers to snap out of their nicey-nice habits and "engage! enrage!," I think he went too far with his needlessly nasty takedown of George Hunka, a blogger/playwright with an admitted tendency to narrowcast and theorize in ever more rarefied and linguistically tortured ways but who remains an essential voice in the theatrical blogosphere. This isn't the first time Hunka has had trouble because he's a playwright/blogger; the Times sent me to review his play In Public a few years back (and no, David, it did not contain any "half-naked women reclining on divans enunciating morbid, goth-chick poetry while staring inscrutably at the audience"), then spiked the review, as far as I can tell because George and I were on each other's blogrolls. (With the Times' permission, I published my review here). Maybe there's a lesson for artists who put their thoughts out there so nakedly, but I think it's unfortunate that Cote penned such a thoroughgoing trashing of a relatively powerless artist from a position of editorial authority. I have to wonder, what with Hunka announcing plans for theatre minima's first season, what sort of coverage he and his company might expect from Time Out.

• In the damn-I-wish-I'd-written-it file is Kate Taylor's nice, economical piece on the major changes Bill Rauch has brought to Oregon Shakespeare Festival (though her lead is a bit of a groaner).

• So the Civilians are hunkering down in the San Fernando Valley to work on a play about the porn industry. After doing a play about the Christian right. I liked This Beautiful City and loved Gone Missing, and think the Civilians are great, but it feels like they're using a playbook--savvy urban liberals strive to empathetically decipher America's extreme/horrifying subcultures--that feels just a little shopworn. It's as if the Civilians are turning into the theatrical equivalent of The New York Times magazine circa 1995 rather than the quirky, unpredictable theatrical equivalent of This American Life. (And that's not even counting Steven Leigh Morris' objection: that the L.A.-based Center Theatre Group is behind yet another show by out-of-towners.)

• The only way I can keep some sane perspective amid the health-care kerfluffle is to read Mathew Yglesias, who helpfully points out the limitations of the presidency and aims his fire at the agency and moral (ir)responsibility of the Blue Dogs.

All hail the Dirty Projectors.

1 comment:

isaac butler said...

Hey Rob,

I think it's worth noting that the Porn Musical is one of several projects The Civilians have going. Another one (for example) is about the Atlantic Yards project and its impact on the community of Prospect Heights written by Lynn Nottage, which couldn't be further from the formula you discuss.