From the publisher...
Where is the Classic Theatre?
Louisville has some great cutting-edge theatre. We have every reason
to be proud of groundbreaking and innovative works
produced by Specific Gravity Ensemble, Bunbury,
Le Petomane and Necessary Theatre, to name just
a few. But must our range of choices be limited to "groundbreaking
or bust"? Where are the classics?
I recently posed this question at a gathering of TheatreLouisville
reviewers. "Walden" was the answer they offered. Certainly,
Walden Theatre is a theatrical gem, and a landmark
in our cultural landscape. But there's something
wrong when the great playwrights are exclusively
the province of students. Moreover, what is this
scenario teaching them? Presumably, these gifted
young people dream -- as we did -- of one day performing
or directing such coveted roles as Amanda Wingfield
... Willie Loman ... Lady Bracknell ... but, also
like us, they won't be able to do that here. It's
painful to think that the Louisville theatre community considers the
greatest works of dramatic literature to be a right of passage, to be
packed away and forgotten.
My daughter teaches at MATCH in Boston, MA, a school that was recently
profiled on the ABC national news for the marvelous
work it has done in turning the most disadvantaged
and problem kids into honor students. The article
stressed that MATCH's students recently placed
first in the state for math scores. However, what
it neglected to mention was that MATCH's teachers
also consider the arts to be an essential part of education, and take
their students to see live theatre, such as a recent production of Hedda
they were studying it in class. For our Louisville
students to see Ibsen -- or Wilde, Shaw, Miller,
take your pick -- they would have to travel far,
I've become increasingly puzzled about this, so I asked a number of
local theatre professionals why their companies don't produce any of
the classic works. Most often, the response was that it doesn't fit
in with their "company's vision." I can understand it not
fitting in with a company's business model, but I find it hard to believe
that most directors and producers are so shortsighted as to forget the
masterpieces that made us who we are. Many seem to have chosen to remove
their glasses -- but not quite all. At a recent meeting of Theatre Alliance
of Louisville, an alliance member made a surprising proposal: Suppose
that several of our independent theatre companies each sent a representative
to form a Classic Theatre Consortium. That group would then work together
to present at least one or two classics per year, performed either in
a donated public venue or at schools.
An exciting prospect, yes? But his proposal fell flat. There was no
But perhaps it was because the wrong people were listening. I'm now
making this same proposal to all of the actors, directors, producers
and patrons who read theatrelouisville.org (which is a sizeable number,
according to the hit counter). Are you interested in seeing this happen?
Email us at
and we'll put you in touch with one another.
Let's add "widest range of offerings" to the impressive list
of superlatives we can claim. We owe it to ourselves, our community
and the next generation.
Published Nov. 1, 2007
Where is the Classic Theatre: An Update
I've received a number of replies from readers
since posting the editorial "Where is the Classic
Theatre?" on Nov. 1. It's gratifying to see how
many people are in agreement that Louisville needs
more classic theatre, and how many voiced their
support both for that and for theatre in all its
forms. Only one reader expressed the opinion that
Louisville theatre should focus only on the new,
and that the so-called classics should remain rites
of passage for students. I would have been disappointed
if I hadn't received at least one such response.
After all, as that is the status
quo, clearly someone feels that way. Nonetheless, I was tempted
to ask him whether we should also close down the
art museums and concert halls,
or move them to the schools -- or, indeed, why
theatre seems to be the only art form for which
the question is even raised.
Then I received this exciting email from one of Louisville's best
known theatre professionals:
I would like to let you and the readers of Theatrelouisville.org
know that I am in the beginning stages of forming
a classical theatre company here. I have many plans, dreams, goals,
fantasies that right now are indecipherable, one from the other.
However, have your readers stay tuned for more information on The
Savage Rose Classical
First goal is to hold auditions in the summer for a fall 2008 production.
--J. Barrett Cooper
So there you have it, and you heard
it first right here! We'll certainly keep you