Jul 9, 2010

Local Hero

"I remember it distinctly, it was 1963 and I was sitting in a 110-seat theatre watching Frank Gilroy’s Who’ll Save the Plowboy? and thinking, 'This is good, as good as anything I’ve been seeing downtown.' I realized that homegrown theatre is good...And so what we do is, we cover the waterfront. We go to everything that looks interesting. Theatre in Chicago did not grow by the placement of a large cultural center in downtown. It was not trickle down. It came from below."
So said Richard Christiansen, longtime Tribune critic, in a talk with his successor, Chris Jones, and several appreciative theater folks, at the recent TCG Conference. All the talk of Chicago's non-hierarchical scene, in which you could put on a show in a tiny storefront and know that the Tribune would come, made my heart ache for the scrappy and vibrant theater scene I used to cover in Los Angeles, and which, as Don Shirley reports, is getting less and less covered by the year. I have many complicated thoughts about this which I'm too busy to unpack at the moment, but suffice to say that one of the reasons I'm in New York rather than L.A. right now is that because I saw a limited career future in covering that scene for the publications that would employ me there.

No comments: