I USED TO SAY HELLO TO YOUNG JEAN LEE EVERY MORNING.
For a time—more than a year and half, between 2005 and 2007—she worked in the cubicle adjacent to the American Theatre space in the Theatre Communications Group offices on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. By day, Lee was a soft-spoken program associate in TCG’s Artistic and International Programs department. By night, we learned when her Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven had its first workshop productions at CUNY Graduate Center’s Prelude Festival and at HERE Arts Center, she was creating rambunctious, confrontational performance art that struck an immediate chord with downtown audiences—and sent critics into a tailspin of agitation and admiration.
Dragons sailed off from its subsequent premiere at HERE to points across the U.S. and around the world (you can read the text, incidentally, in the Sept. ’07 issue of AT), and from then on Lee’s voguish, on-the-brink theatre company required her full attention. The rest is history, not to mention fodder for senior editor Eliza Bent’s take-no-prisoners interview with the artist (“Destroying the Audience”), on the occasion of the New York debut of Lee’s latest flirtation with incendiary subject matter, Straight White Men. Hello, Young Jean, we miss you.
There’s no missing the ubiquitous trend in theatre that managing editor Suzy Evans explores in her cover story, “Who’s Afraid of Roald Dahl?”: Dahl’s tales of youngsters in glorious peril have become omnipresent on stages, youth-oriented and otherwise, in the late writer’s native Britain as well as in the U.S., and there are additional adaptations in the works for both stage and film. Move over, Matilda, Steven Spielberg is toying with The BFG.
Beyond the feature well—which also contains the 2013 edition of TCG’s much-anticipated fiscal survey Theatre Facts, capsulized by reporter Celia Wren—there’s coverage of enterprising projects being undertaken by such notables as Gingold Theatricals’ David Staller, the actor/director who enlists a gallery of stars to keep the work of George Bernard Shaw alive and kicking; and George C. Wolfe, the inimitable director and playwright who has lent his efforts of late to creative curation at Atlanta’s new Center for Civil and Human Rights. Critics Hedy Weiss and Linda Buchwald check in to assess, respectively, the work of virtuoso musician and solo performer Hershey Felder, and that of the Los Angeles–based company Deaf West, whose new production of Spring Awakening imbues the widely produced musical with fresh impact.
Headline references to fear and annihilation notwithstanding, you may rest assured that no readers will be destroyed while accessing the content of this issue. Hello, and bon voyage.