By Jim O'Quinn
One of the questions American Theatre gets asked most frequently is about the range and diversity of the magazine's coverage: Do we worry if all the stories in an issue seem to be about big-city theatres and their big-budget productions, with little or nothing about small-fry companies in out-of-the-way places? Isn't a brand new play always more newsworthy than yet another Molière, a breakout new talent more exciting to read about than an established artist everybody already knows? When we do a profile of a playwright, then do we have to do one of a director or an actor to balance things out?
You bet we worry about such things. Planning for each issue of the magazine involves analyzing our coverage for an engaging mix in terms of geography, size and types of theatres, kinds of work discussed (classic, contemporary, avant-garde), cultural focus and gender, theatrical disciplines and more. Some issues are more successful than others at achieving the range we feel a national arts magazine should aspire to. This one hits the mark, I think, in some interesting ways.
Just for fun, test the list of categories above against the table of contents. You'll observe, for example, an array of disciplines: Alongside Terry Hong's insightful cover feature on playwright Philip Kan Gotanda and Rick Pender's appreciation of playwright Carson Kreitzer, there's Misha Berson's career-spanning interview with director Dan Sullivan, while actors get their due in Randy Gener's up-close-and-personal profile of Raúl Esparza and Charles Marowitz's provocative commentary on the Method. Ethnic and cultural issues are explored both in Gotanda's portraits of Asian-American life and a spate of new work by Native Voices at the Autry, reported on by Sarah Lemanczyk. Erik Ehn's remarkable documentation of a theatrical response to genocide in Rwanda sweeps us beyond our own borders into international territory, and beyond categorization.
Theatre, you have to conclude from such a mix, is an art of almost endless variety and richness. That's a truism we rediscover every month as we try to capture its expanse between two covers.