Every other week, the editors of American Theatre curate a free-ranging discussion about the lively arts in our Offscript podcast.
In this week’s episode, editors Rob Weinert-Kendt, Russell Dembin, and Diep Tran discuss our March issue on theatre of war and why we decided to dedicate an entire issue of stories to veterans and combat narratives. Then we discuss the latest New York Times controversy, this time over a contested review of the musical Big River. Our takeaway: When it comes to critiquing classics, it’s important to acknowledge both the past and the present.
Then we interview playwright Maurice Decaul, currently the leader of TCG’s Veterans and Theatre Institute, a former Marine—and one of the curators of and contributors to the March issue. He tells us about his tour in Iraq, how he became a storyteller, and why he doesn’t let his sons play shooter video games.
For lovers of theatre history, Russ recommends The Light Years, the newest play by the Debate Society, currently running Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, about Steele MacKaye, who once designed a 12,000-seat theatre.
Diep recently saw Branden Jacobs-Jenkins‘s newest play Everybody (now playing Off Broadway at the Signature Theatre), based on a 1501 morality play. Diep thinks that what Branden is doing with classics like Everyman and Octoroon—i.e., cutting them up and refashioning them for contemporary audiences—should be done more often with old works.
Rob saw the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George at the Hudson Theatre (with Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford), and to his surprise he came out loving the second act, including the Chromolume sequence.