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Suzuki (center) with Kameron Steele and Anne Bogart in June at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (Photo by Janouke Goosen)

Letters for Dec. 2017

Readers respond to a story about the history of Suzuki and SITI Company, and an article about conservative theatremakers.

Unsung Suzuki Heroes 

I write to you in regard to the article “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (Sept. ’17). I believe that it failed to mention two crucial ambassadors for Suzuki’s training in the States, Robyn Hunt and Steve Pearson.

They were both part of the original group to go over and train with Suzuki and his company in Toga back in 1982. Since that initial visit they trained and acted with Suzuki’s company for more than 12 years. Suzuki then encouraged them to spread his work back in the States, which they are continuing to do even today.

I write to you for the love I bear for my mentors, Robyn and Steve, as well as for the respect I have for the training. I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to Suzuki’s methods by Robyn and Steve when I was a student at the University of South Carolina earning my MFA. With their support I was able to train with Suzuki himself and with his company in Japan this past August. While there I was able to experience programs they helped establish, see buildings and acting studios they helped build, and work side by side with actors from the company who, at the mention of Robyn and Steve’s name, bowed with great reverence.

I hope that there is some way in the near future that American Theatre can help recognize Robyn and Steve’s role in spreading Tadashi Suzuki’s method in the States. For without them the lineage would truly be incomplete.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

James Costello
Nanjing, China

The Right Stuff?

Here’s the thing, my conservative friends (“Enter Stage Right: Conservative theatremakers look for inroads onstage,” Nov. ’17): If you want to make art that expresses your worldview, you make art that expresses your worldview. You don’t stand there crybaby-ing that you long for a day when you can do it. Write something, find a stage, cast it, build a set, sell tickets, and see what the response is. You make art and then you stand, exposed to the audience and the critics. That’s how we do it. Wipe the snot off of your noses and get cracking on that script.

Michael Martin
New York City

I’m fascinated by the idea of Conservative Theatre as distinct from or as a response to a supposed Liberal Theatre. Most Leftist playwrights I can think of—for example, Miller, Kushner, Churchill—often deeply question liberalism in their work, if not overtly criticize it. Is there a truly great play by a liberal playwright that argues that some policy or platform is perfect?

I also question the assumption that conservatism is so pervasively absent from the American stage. I’d argue that much of the canon espouses a socially, culturally traditional worldview in its implicit moral lessons, and in my experience, a good portion of regional theatre audiences leans right.

What worries me about a Liberal Theatre or a Conservative Theatre is that we would seem to start out either trying to prove a way of life as correct or otherwise oppose it. That often makes for bad storytelling. Perhaps an attempt to explore humanity as deeply as we can isn’t ideological at all—it’s just truthful drama.

Nick Gandiello
New York City

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