Remember the blog I wrote on Monday in reference to the NY Times article about Off-Broadway? Well, yesterday, Charles Isherwood (NY Times Theatre Critic) commented on that article and had his own bone to pick about "the innovation-crushing hegemony that Broadway has come to have on New York theater."
Check it out, here. It seems I'm not the only one who is troubled by the current state of affairs.
Here's a sampling from his piece:
What worries me about the colonization of Off Broadway houses by Broadway refugees is the notion that there is room in the New York theater only for mass-market commodities. The Broadway-to-Off trend only underscores the high-end commercialism that has made it impossible for fresh, adventurous works to have extended lives off Broadway.
While the comments had just started to pour in when I read this article, I'm sure there are going to be many more to come. Which means one thing: We've got a serious problem here.
So my question is: what are we going to do about it?
Here's what I proposed on Monday:
If Off-Broadway is becoming an entity that can only sustain itself by recycling hit Broadway musicals (and I have nothing against that, since I love both Avenue Q and Rent), then it's not the Off-Broadway of yesterday. And so that means, artists are just going to have to find new ways to create their own "Indie-Theatre" and launch their productions.
The problem is, how long can we "Indie-Theatre" artists continue to create and launch productions in the most expensive city in the country and not have to move back in with our parents? I joke, but seriously, what I'm doing right now is not sustainable beyond May 8th. (And I'm working about 15 non-related jobs to make it happen.) After that date, if that "innovation-crushing hegemony" doesn't take interest in Helen on 86th St. and provide the financial means for me and my show to move to the next level, it's back to the drawing board. That, my friends, is the unsettling reality.
And one final thing that I guess is more ironic than unsettling is the fact that Helen on 86th St. is actually a very "commercial" piece that just happens to be getting developed in a very non-commercial way.
Sorry. Can you tell I'm a little frustrated this week?
But, I guess that's how a movement starts. Frustration fuels action, and so here we are...
On the bright side, who ever thought that Helen on 86th St. would come this far in less than a year? I certainly didn't. And if there's anything I've learned throughout this process, it's this: If there's a will, there's a way.
So, Mr. Isherwood--if you'd like to meet for a cup of coffee and do some positive brainstorming on how to save fresh, innovative and adventurous theatre... you know where to find me.
And as for the rest of you--don't forget to come on by The York this weekend to check out our latest musical piece, Mother of the Year, along with 3 other great mini-musicals by Jim Colleran, Andy Monroe, and Rob Krausz & Danny Lepeck! Click here for tickets and info.