Thursday, January 04, 2007

commenton longenbaugh's seatte weeky jan 3 piece on seattle theater


THEATER The problem with theater in Seattle are the following, closely linked:1] a] that no memory exists of the origins of theater in sacrifice and ritual; b] that no one has thought through what is still feasible in theater during the age of multiple media where theater is in no way central to the intellectual or moral life or class of a region compared to what it's importance in other parts of the world; and just to make sure there is no misunderstanding, I do not have in mind anything having to do with that bane, those abortions of the avant garde, that travel under the hopeful moniker "multi-media": I mean understanding the medium, and in its time, in its historical circumstance;c] that theater in Seattle is not even museal, as is the Seattle Opera, and symphony.2] that Seattle audiences chiefly giggle and go "Ah" as the curtain opens to sets that are so much more spectacular than their Bungalow abodes; and, as the last director of the Seattle Rep noted, too many of the folks hereabouts prefer to chug in their boats up and down the ship canal. Yet, that these folks, perhaps because they now drink coffee, regard themselves as sophisticated - that is probably the worst of it.3] that the main Seattle reviewer, Misha Berson, at the Seattle Times, serves more of a facilitating than critical function; that during the nearly 13 years I have been in Seattle, the city has not one critic of note save Roger Downey [potentially a critic of national stature, even with all his problematics] who gave it his best for many years but then succumbed to his first avocation to be food critic. There are occasional buddings, such as Annie Wagner, at The Stranger, but then she has never gone out into the world to compare and learn as have far too few of the Bungalow guys and gals. Mr. Longenbaugh I recall as Mr.Downey's sorry successor, who always copped out on meeting me. His piece is as sorry as what he used to write.4] that there are too many theaters that do too many and chiefly lousy shows, and thus do not attract a younger audience, which has oodles of more interesting and funnier and demanding alternatives, to replace the older gigglers. On main theater doing good work instead of three doing one good show out of their annual four might be a beginning. 5] that the subsidy trough on which everyone feeds militates against good work, and that it ought to be eliminated. The Empty Space must have gotten a total of 1.5 Million dollars, during my time here, in subsidies and fund raisers before the board caved at the request for yet another 75 k.6] During my nearly 13 a half years here my experiences with theater in Seattle have been nearly entirely negative - from performances to the people working in the field. One reason that most of them are in Seattle is that they couldn't make it elsewhere, and thus... and that those who come here from eleswhere are quickly appalled and leave as quickly as they can manage.Having had a lot of my work done in the first incarnation of The Empty Space [when it appears that venue was still inspired by its origin in the cellar of a bombed-out Hamburg building] I met most of the original founders. Each of them has their points, as which pointer doesn't, but as Dalmatians go each of them also has more blank stretches than spots. I am not impressed by the newest head of the Seattle Rep. At a Civic Club meeting to introduce himself he said he was going to bring international theater to Seattle; asked by someone who knows them which artists or theaters he had in mind, he wouldn't specify and instantly retreated into local boosterdom by saying he wanted to do local yokels first. Trying, with the guidance of Kurt Beattie, to get a Handke festival going at the UW we were hung out to dry while going through the process because, it turned out, the head of the drama school, Sarah Nash Gates does not back anything not initiated not by her no matter that we all were put under the impression that she was backing us; or that I wanted to take over the drama school...who would but to clean it out or give most of it that final shove over the cliff.The writer studied at the Berliner Ensemble in the 50s, has worked in the theater with Herbert Berghof, E.G. Marshal, Peter Brook, Jack Gelber, Carl Weber, etc; as a publisher did nearly all the work of Sam Shepherd, the first volume of Kroetz plays and introduced Augusto Boal's work to the U.S.; and has translated and or adapted most of Peter Handke's plays, the early Kroetz plays, and plays by Tankred Dorst, Werner Schwab, Brecht and Honoré Balzac, and collaborated on the translation of a half dozen plays by Heiner Mueller; as well as written a half dozen crowd pleasers himself.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website


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