Friday, September 18, 2009

I Like to Complain

I refuse to comment on the Avenue Q move, I could, but I could also comment on Jon & Kate and I don't because, it's not worth it for me to add to the discussion. So I told you all that I would comment on the unsurprising rise of Jordan Roth, right? That I can/will do... in brief. I have known Jordan for quite a while. I appreciate his kindness towards me in recent years and the effort he has put in at Jujamcyn re: Givenik (which is a great thing I was very happy to sign up The Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation on). But I'm very wary of spin. It's great that a younger person is heading up a theater organization--I hope he is hugely successful. But I did note that the coverage sort of glossed over the "purchase" part of the story and Jordan's less-than-stellar track record as a producer. I didn't even remember he produced The Karaoke Show--and I still don't remember what The Karaoke Show was--until I read his American Theatre Web bio (which says: "He was graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University," which I thought was incorrect but is apparently just a traditional way of writing such things). Anyway, all that said, Jordan is a popular figure in the theater now and I like Jordan and I wish him success. I just like a big picture...Of course, nepotism is in full bloom over at Nederlander and the Shuberts, well, whatevs, so Jordan has a shot at out-shining those groups. If Jujamcyn does great things during his tenure, maybe people will write about him without mentioning his rich parents. One can hope.

So--I know this happened weeks ago--but Kerry Butler only doing 6 performances in Rock of Ages? Come on... And I know Amy Spanger didn't even do that many, but then again she also claimed The Wedding Singer was grueling, so, you can't judge by her. I know that there are those out there that are going to say these songs are super hard to sing, but, yeah, I really don't think that character has as hard a time as Kim in Miss Saigon. I mean, I'd rather people say they are not going to be there than just not show up (like half the other actors in the industry are doing all the time now), but I still wonder what happened to the days the same person showed up and belted out songs eight performances a week. I even think those were the days of less amplification and therefore more belting. But, anyway...

Yesterday, I attended the press conference for the announcement of the winners of the Steinberg Playwright Award (also referred to as 'the mimi,' which I have to honestly tell you kept making me think of Mimi Le Duck and that horribly misguided off-broadway staging of it). Congrats to the three winners, this post isn't about them though. Something happened at the press conference that annoyed me. A journalist (whose work I believe I've mentioned here before in a non-flattering way, but who shall remain nameless now) asked why there had "never" been any female winners of the award. Now, this is only the second year of the award. Last year, it was only given to one person, Tony Kushner, and this year to three. I was so taken aback by this question that I actually turned around and asked someone on the press team to confirm for me that this was just the second year. Eduardo Machado, who is on the award's advisory committee, stood up and gave a great answer about how good playwriting isn't about gender or race. But THEN someone from the board felt the need to get up and justify the fact that there was no woman on the list. This person informed the journalist that the advisory committee had been concerned about this topic and had thought hard about it and consulted the board about this matter. I am all for women's rights--I hope for the day when the Tonys feature as many female authors as male authors. I mean, I am a Wellesley girl. But we're not talking that these people have given 50, or even 10, awards and none have gone to women, we're talking about 4 males. Four. That's not a huge pattern of discrimination. This is like when all those articles about women playwrights came out supporting bad--or at the very most mediocre--plays just because they were written by women. I'm a huge Lynn Nottage fan--I think she is one of the most talented playwrights being produced today. I think Ruined was the best play I saw this year. I hope she gets the Mimi next year, maybe she will. But I don't think the committee should pay special attention to her because she is a black woman. If they don't like her body of work as much as I do, they can give their award to someone else they enjoy more, even if that is a guy. I don't think like Theresa Rebeck deserves this award. And I genuinely don't think it should be discussed in gender contexts at this stage. Yes, there is sometimes a need to look at something and say, "Wow, there have been 67 men and only 3 women recipients, there may be an issue here." If it rises to that degree, then I'd question it. Totally. And there is no bright line rule to when it rises to a degree that is questionable, but I'd have to say that, the Steinberg Playwright Award isn't there yet. Bringing up the gender issue now cheapens the process. It's why when women do achieve things they are often said only to get it because they are female. It's wrong.

Happy New Year to all my fellow jews! I shall be back next week.

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