Michael Kahn.

Offscript: Beyond Shakespeare With Michael Kahn

On this week’s podcast, we welcome Michael Kahn, who will soon retire from Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. He talks about his career highlights. Then the editors discuss Russian theatre and potential Pulitzer nominations.

Every other week, the editors of American Theatre curate a free-ranging discussion about the lively arts in our Offscript podcast.

In this episode, we talk about Russia. That’s because editor Diep Tran just got back from Russia, after attending the Golden Mask Festival. She tells fellow editors Rob Weinert-Kendt and Suzy Evans about festival highlights and about how Russian theatre differs from American theatre (more state funding, for one). Then, after writing up many, many season announcements, the editors discuss which plays are in contention to make the Top 10 Most-Produced Play list in 2017-18—and which plays may take the Pulitzer Prize next Monday, April 10.

Then we sit down with Michael Kahn, artistic director of Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C., who is retiring from the post in 2019. Kahn discusses his long career, which goes back to the Joe Papp days, reminisces about how D.C. theatre has changed in the last 30 years, and tells us which Shakespeare plays are perfect for the present political moment.

Download the episode here. Subscribe via RSSiTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

This week’s recommendations:

The HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies,” because of its conversations around censorship in community theatre (it involves Avenue Q) and the presence of theatre fanboy Iain Armitage.

For those interested in the future of theatre criticism, Diep recommends the book The Critics Say…57 Theater Reviewers in New York and Beyond Discuss Their Craft and Its Future by Matt Windman, in which he interviews dozens of theatre critics (including Rob). Required if you’re thinking of becoming a theatre critic.

Speaking of theatre criticism, Amanda Peet’s essay for the New York Times is a must-read as an example of how artists can navigate their relationship to theatre criticism. In her case, it was to institute a policy of not reading them, but that’s not the only way to respond. Rob encourages artists to promote the work of theatre critics more; promotion and support will help keep the craft alive—and just maybe help with the urgent task of replenishing and diversifying the critical talent pool.

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