Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America

Synopsis

The volume treats the reader to a comprehensive view of American commercial theater and how it operates. It provides a unique view of what some of the movers and shakers in the commercial theater think about the state of their business. With one exception, none of the people interviewed has ever before had an extended opportunity to discuss, for the record, the nature of their work, especially those aspects that are usually ignored by the media. Those interviewed made comments on four broad topics: their personal background and key experiences in the theater; their views on the present state of financing, production, writing, casting, directing and designing; their insights into day-to-day theatrical management; and their opinions on proposed changes in theatrical practices.

Excerpt

The book is founded on forty-seven interviews conducted during 1983-84, 1988, and 1989. With few exceptions, the interviews each lasted from one to three hours and yielded transcripts forty to eighty pages long, double- spaced, or 10,000 to 20,000 words. The interviewees had ample time to reflect on topics in four broad areas: (a) personal background and key experiences in the theater, (b) views on the present state of financing, production, writing, casting, directing, designing; (c) insights into day-to- day theatrical management; (d) discussion of specific changes required in theatrical practices.

Although this wealth of data has informed the writer, only a small part of it could actually be used directly in the book. This book, then, selects interview material from only twenty subjects and contains only excerpts from much longer interviews.

In selecting which interviews to include, I was guided by a desire to communicate as much as possible about how producers, and those who work closely with them, think about their work. The long chain of events leading to financial and critical success for a play begins with a decision, usually by a single person, to produce it. With very few exceptions, scholars of American literature and theater have avoided studying this act of critical judgment. The assumptions and tastes from which it springs, the forces influencing it, the internal and external goods it serves, have been much more the sources of legends than the objects of disinterested inquiry. Yet, far more than the disputations of academic critics, this act of judgment, title by title, extends the canon of American drama.

All performers, audiences, critics, and scholars wait on the decisions of producers. But who these people are, where they come from, and how they achieve their influence is a story understood only in outline. What is presented here is little enough compared to what could be told. Yet it is fuller than has ever been put between two covers before.

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