The frontier is here.Posted: September 24, 2011
I just came home from two weeks in New York, where I saw as many new plays as my budget would allow.* I had a marvelous time. And I was really impressed by what I saw; I love New York and I always will. But…I was no more impressed than I am by the new plays I see regularly in Durham. There are fewer of them, sure, and my survey of New York theater was by no means comprehensive. But based on what I saw, I felt that new work in Durham is easily as brilliant, well-acted and well-produced; and just as inventive, risky and provocative, if not more so.
Maybe this point has already been well made and well-taken; maybe I’m imagining resistance to this idea that’s not actually there. But I think–especially in this economy–there’ll be more and more artists congregated in smaller cities, where the rent is cheap and the sky’s the limit, where they can flourish both financially and creatively. I know that’s why I’m here.
The first show I saw back in Durham was Glass by Little Green Pig, a liberal adaptation of The Glass Menagerie and the works of J. D. Salinger, wherein, in front of a sold-out house, characters snaked microphones outside, had scenes in cars in the parking lot, morphed into Ziggy Stardust, stripped down to leg braces, slithered over each other’s bodies, lit candles all around the stage, sang with banjos, committed incest, ran outside into the parking lot, ran back inside and jumped at each other and stuck. They got a standing ovation.
The world is flat; the frontier is everywhere.
*I saw Sleep No More by Punchdrunk, The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind by the New York Neofuturists, Eightythree Down by J. Stephen Brantley & Hardsparks, Cymbeline by Fiasco Theater, Completeness by Itamar Moses at Playwright Horizons, and The Lapsburgh Layover by The Berserkers in residence at Ars Nova.