Monday, April 12, 2010

David Mamet and the battle for Broadway | Stage | The Guardian:

There is only Broadway, where there are fewer theatres. More than 25% of off-off Broadway theatres have closed in the last five years alone, mostly in midtown and the west Village. The worth of midtown real estate has raised the rents of Broadway theatres, and, for an average play to recoup its investment, it must run for 15 weeks at near capacity. Which is to say, it must fill 1,200 seats, at an average ticket price of $77 (£50).

To whom, then, must this play appeal? To risk funding of around $11m (£7m), the play, to the rational investor, must be odds-on to appeal to the tourist. The tourist has no memory of last year's play and actors; he does not come to see the new work of a director, of a playwright, or of a designer. He comes to see a spectacle, which will neither provoke nor disturb, whose worth cannot be questioned. He does not come with the theatrical curiosity of the native theatregoer, but with the desire for amusement, and he comes as to an amusement park, for the thrill first of experiencing, and next (and perhaps more important), of being able to relate having experienced that particular thrill deprived to the stay-at-homes. He wants to brag of having seen star X or star Y. The tourist goes to the theatre much as I went, in London, to see the crown jewels.

No adult Londoner would go to see the crown jewels, and no adult New Yorker went to see Mamma Mia! for to do so would have been considered culturally repugnant, branding him as a tourist or dufus. New York, with the rise in real-estate prices and the disappearance of manufacture, business, and thus, of the middle class, has become New York Land.

10:57 PM