By Jim O'Quinn
Nothing makes an editor happier than working on a solid story about a topic he knows and loves. Except maybe working on three such stories in tandem. That was precisely my experience as American Theatre prepared the package of high-spirited feature pieces that leads off this issue.
Under the umbrella title "Inimitable Ensembles," the articles delve into the work of a trio of one-of-a-kind companies—the simultaneously rowdy and brainy Pig Iron Theatre Company of Philadelphia, the relentlessly inventive Neo-Futurists (who originated in Chicago but might show up on your doorstep any day) and the utterly unpredictable New York City-based Nature Theater of Oklahoma (thank Franz Kafka for the ironic moniker).
It's been my good fortune (as will be the case for many lucky readers, geography notwithstanding) to have seen all three ensembles perform—a circumstance that spiced up the editorial process with delicious comparisons between my own responses to the work under discussion and the analyses of our astute, critically savvy writers.
For example: There's rhetorical eloquence in critic Rebecca Kastleman's evocation of Nature Theater's Poetics: a ballet brut, the captivating production that she praises for its "transformation of everyday gestures into something awesome and new." Good observation. For me, Poetics (with its Aristotelian title and its journey from aesthetic austerity to pop-culture spectacle) also prompted the impression that the show's creators had something more in mind, something truly epic—perhaps even the historic arc of theatre itself, from its beginnings in elementary gesture and ritual to its modern-day aspirations of mass appeal and commoditization. Far-fetched? You decide.
Test your own reactions to the playful and innovative work described in these pages against the interpretations our arts reporters proffer. You might want to use our website's new comment boxes to share what you think with us and other readers (see below). Whether or not you see these ensembles through the same lens our writers do, you'll come away from their articles with an inescapable impression: that the American theatre flourishes when its artists find ways to unselfconsciously chart their own iconoclastic course.blog comments powered by Disqus
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