Internationalism is the umbrella under which American Theatre’s yearly May/June issue stakes its claim, and the theatre folk you’ll hear from and about in these pages have mined a rich vein in the “Southern Exposure” special section. The three feature articles in the section delve into the recent theatrical history of Latin American nations with whom the U.S. theatre community has burgeoning interactions—namely Cuba, Chile and Mexico. And they bring us thrillingly up to date on what artists and audiences in our own country can learn from the form and content and context of the work being done there—and, especially in the case of our collaboration-rich relationship with Mexico, vice versa. Make the most of this journalistic journey south by setting out with an open mind and an open heart.
But there’s far more to this issue than south-of-the-border ruminations. An equally rich collection of back-of-book reports touches base in a fulsome array of locales across the U.S., from coast to coast and points between. Let’s put some pins in the map.
Interested in the Heartland? Eliza Bent’s Strategies column catalogs the twisty process by which Blue Barn Theatre in Omaha, Neb., managed to create just the right new home in which to pursue the work it wanted to do. Head due south till you hit the Dallas suburb of Irvine, Tex., and discover in Alexandra Bonifield’s detailed account how that city’s Lyric Stage rescued the classic musical Lady in the Dark from obscurity.
Dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers will be pleased to hear, via arts reporter Linda Buchwald’s tete-a-tete with Rajiv Joseph and a pair of his favorite actors, that the playwright’s much-anticipated new two-hander Guards at the Taj is immanent at Atlantic Theatre Company. Go west, as far as you can get from Manhattan without hitting the Pacific, and there’s news, reported by frequent contributor Steven Leigh Morris, about Los Angeles’s distinctive 24th Street Theatre and its diva director Debbie Devine; about a pair of Seattle theatres that, according to local critic Misha Berson, can satisfy your cravings for a good meal and for good theatre at the same time; and, down the coast in Portland, Ore., about television actor Silas Weir Mitchell’s new gig at Portland Center Stage.
Bouncing back to the middle of the country, you can hang out with PJ Paparelli and American Theatre Company (as did contributing writer Thomas Connors) to explore the Chicago public housing crisis in The Project(s). Or, if you’re tired of big cities, join reporter Bill O’Driscoll on a Saints Tour with theatremaker Molly Rice in the struggling mill town of Braddock, Pa., where the neighborhood is fodder for on-site performances. Is your map full of pins?
The old saw that “geography is destiny” no longer applies, for the most part, in our super-mobile, info-sharing, globally connected world. But geography remains, nevertheless, like an old-fashioned road sign, a crucial measure by which American Theatre calculates its coverage. That’s because our subject is live performance, and live performance happens only in places—real places where real people live.