Our off-site theater reviewer Thomas Jenkins sent us a very intriguing article from the January 15 issue of The Guardian penned by playwright Neil LaBute. As his works are being performed in the UK (his double-feature Helter Skelter/Land of the Dead is playing at the Bush Theatre in London), he has a few words of wisdom for playwrights and theater audiences here in the States.
LaBute shows a genuine concern for the way theater is going these days, but his rationale is cemented with his statement: “Theatre is not dying.” Although he agrees that American theater is in danger, he explains what he believes are the problems — small casts retreading the same territory (he admits to falling victim to this as well with his focus on gender themes — if you’ve seen a few of his works, i.e. In the Company of Men, Bash: Latter-Day Plays, and The Shape of Things, you’ll understand). His criticism is harsh, but well-deserved, going so far as calling “most writers ... pussies.” LaBute believes it is the job of playwrights to feature works that cause controversy and stir up the public — whether the work is good or bad. And we couldn’t agree more.