Theatre consultant and blogger Howard Sherman, who we enlisted to review a raft of graphic editions of Shakespeare, finds it ironic that as a kid he wasn’t a big comic book reader—“save, of course, for the essential MAD magazine,” he specifies. “Yet now in my middle age I have acquired this stack of illustrated Shakespeare books! Even though the article is finished, I find myself regretting the books I couldn’t locate, and have this nagging feeling that I’ll involuntarily keep adding to the collection.” Minimalized dialogue doesn’t offend his sensibilities, Sherman says, because “Twitter has indoctrinated me into the world of conversations the length of a dialogue balloon.”
Arts reporter Jonathan Mandell came up with the idea of examining the history and status of theatre subscriptions when he overheard artistic directors and managing directors talking about the topic at the 2012 Humana Festival for New American Plays in Louisville, Ky. “I had no idea when I started my reporting how sensitive the subject is,” Mandell says, “and how simultaneously passionate and ambivalent people are about it. It’s an issue that seems as contentious among theatre administrators as abortion is in the general population.” His article turned out to be a search for answers to that conundrum.