Why shouldn't I think about retiring? Four decades of slotting a set number of words on the same topic into a set space should be enough. And over those decades, the New York theater's spirit has manifestly shrunk. I don't mean that the theater's gotten worse: Our art form is a resourceful beast genetically, spawning in every generation both imperishable masterpieces and ineradicable disasters. But the context in which these exceptions thrive has steadily narrowed.This is the kind of thing that Isaac has continually pegged as Feingold's "it was better in my day" grumpiness (which hardly explains this recent effusion). But Feingold goes on, and he's always worth reading to the end (emphasis mine):
These three extraordinary figures bowled me over with their optimistic energy. I've been reviewing the actualities: those convenient, low-ceilinged plays that, too often today, constitute institutional Off-Broadway's only response to Broadway's stream of junk. My fellow panelists, meanwhile, have been contemplating what theater could still be, could still become, in this new century. Theatergoing continues to give me pleasure. I don't insist that innovation automatically equals good; I know what limitations we face. But I fret, often, over our theater's lack of reach. The desires to risk, to connect, to be worthy of the great past, have been stunted by the need to survive in this hectic electronified world.That seems a fair challenge, and from where I sit, one we all might take to heart, on both sides of the footlights, and well outside the theater, too.
Thought and feeling, which are of the theater's essence, find little place in that world's increasing quest for instant gratification. If I stay on, I want the kids under 30 to match the kids over 80 in ambition and hope.