July 26, 2007



The plural is "organa" or "organums."

On the other hand, the plural of these particular organums should probably be spelled p-s-y-c-h-o-s-i-s



First, I really am interested in talking about this with you.

I certainly don't take issue with your ability to critique television, movies, magazines, etc. I'm sure I would even agree with some aspects of your critiques. However, when discussing how your views on New York theater fit into your "larger message", it's impossible to talk about that without an understanding of what your experience with the topic has been.

My examples may not all fit the narrow criteria you've defined, but at least I have offered some. Although I don't think exposure to selected "scripts and articles" is sufficient for you to base such a stinging critique on, it would still be nice if you offered some examples.

(Are you interested in my "larger message" about the quality of the cuisine in Ashville? What about if I read a bunch of restaurant magazines?)

Your second point is really interesting. I do agree that theater in smaller American communities is too focused on New York. I would love to see community theaters around the country live up to the best ideas around that word and produce theater that reflected the communities where they live. But I'm not so sure that the responsibility for their output rests solely with New York artists. (I know that I don't particularly care if theaters in those communities produce work originating in or set in New York.) Surely, those entities have some agency over their own processes. If your larger message is about a "media" narrative affecting those communities, your focus on an "NYC [theater] aesthetic" seems misplaced.


New York is a collection of people from other places more than anything else. Many writers write about where they are from and many write about where they are from the perspective of where they are from. Ann Marie Healey is a great example of this. If you don't know her, you should. Many of her plays about the midwest have been done in New York and elsewhere.

I think it is important to mention that a lot of exciting theatre of all flavors is being done in the regional theatres and by small theatres throughout the country. Some of these plays speak to a specific community and many do not. If anything, I think as time goes on, new York is becoming less and less the center of theater as the regionals start doing more innovative work and as the real estate prices shoot up here.

As an avid theatregoer here in New York, I'm not sure what a New York play is. There seems to be most any kind of play you could imagine here so I think lumping them together doesn't make a lot of sense.


P.S. Congrats, mac on your recent successes! It's very exciting!


Having grown up in Iowa, and adopting North Carolina as my home away from home, I find the idea that New York Theater has a stranglehold on the American Theater World to be unsupportable. If you look to the plays in development series now, which is what I consider NYMF, The Fringe and SPF to be, you're not going to find much to support your thesis.

Look at SPF, as an example. They are producing 16 plays, and not one of them is set in New York. There is one set in New Orleans, one in Las Vegas, one in the south and one in a non-specific sea-side town, and the rest exist in theatrical ether, like most of the shows I've written and produced.

I might be the luckiest guy in New York, but my theatrical days are spent in the same sort of company that Mac describes, hard-working, kind supportive people who are doing everything they can to tell a story.

Scott Walters

Sean -- OK, let's look at SPF. As you note, most of them don't have a specific setting mentioned. This doesn't mean that they don't have a specific setting, but rather that if the play is set in an northern urban area, the setting needn't be mentioned. It only has to be mentioned if it is elsewhere.

Of the plays mentioned, none seem to be set in a contemporary rural setting.

The one set in Las Vegas (which is neither rural nor southern, by the way), comes "complete with Elvis, Liberace, Seigfried and Roy, Bugsy Siegel, and Showgirls." No stereotypes there, no sir.

The one set in New Orleans is during Katrina. OK, but not really about southern life, is it?

There seem to be two plays set in the south. One is set immediately after the Civil War as the slaves have been freed -- so it violates my rules: 1) contemporary setting, 2) not about racism.

Or are you referring to "Vrooom! A NASComedy," which is described as follows: "Holly "Leggs Nelson, the first woman on the NASCAR circuit, is so fast that everyone thinks she's cheating. Rookie of the Year, "Hotshot," wants to know her better-- or does he want to learn her secrets? A fast-paced comedy about life on the car-racing circuit." If this IS the southern comedy you're referring to, then you've fallen for the stereotype that NASCAR is only a southern pasttime, which it isn't.

The point, Sean, is not that all the plays are set in NYC, but that they are NOT set in a contemporary southern or a rural setting without indulging in stereotypes.

Joshua James

"The one set in New Orleans is during Katrina. OK, but not really about southern life, is it?"

According to who, YOU? Are you really maintaining that anyone who lives in New Orleans isn't living a Southern Life?


I do, and I can say they'd probably find your insinuation insulting, not to mention the fact, you haven't read the plays, so you making wild assumptions based on titles alone . . .

Your whole position is completely ridiculous . . .


I know beau's play and it's pretty specific and in my opinion does not indulge in stereotypes. It is about the characters more than the location but New Orleans is definitely a character in the play.

I've sort of lost the point of this argument. Are there some plays about specific locality that you love and think should be produced but aren't produced? Or are you wishing that playwrights would write environmental plays about the south? Kristen Palmer (who i know very well) has a play called Local Story about a group of kids in rural Virginia that just finished a run in the DC fringe and will be produced in LA in Theatre of Note's space in October or November. Naomi Wallace and Chris Shinn are two other playwrights that I think write about or have written about specific location. So has Marsha Norman, Paula Vogel and many many others. I just don't think what you're saying is true. Many many regional theatres have plays about where they are. And many of these plays also are produced in New York, but as I said above, I'm not sure that New York is so much the center of theater anymore.


Are you ignoring my paragraph above, Scott because you don't see any straw men to knock down or just because I am not being argumentative enough and you like to argue? I'm willing to bet you could come up with 5 playwrights I haven't mentioned who write about a specific place and who are produced. Although I believe most playwrights, like me, don't really write about specific places so much as they write about characters. Although, if you had been here in new york for Clubbed Thumb's recent summer opening, you would have seen 50 short plays written on commission, each one about one of the 50 states. None of the ones I saw relied on sterotypes.

Joshua James

His entire argument is specious, which I outlined here - http://writerjoshuajames.com/dailydojo/?p=347 in SPECIOUS AS YA WANNA BE.

And you're right to mention Naomi, a friend of mine, who focuses on a lot of those issues (TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, for example) and let's not forget Sam Shepard or Horton Foote, both of whom received Pulizters (as has Tennesee Williams and a host of others) . . . I mean, his whole argument is based on an environment, The New York Theatre scene, which he is unfamiliar with, except for what he reads in the paper . . . it's completely and utterly ridiculous, and made worse by the fact that he is entirely unrepentant about his whole line of bullshit.


Having spent 2 days at Scott's blog trying to get him to converse with me at a level of logic and verifiable fact, I sadly have to concur, though it saddens me to do so.

Joshua James

Mac, I have to say I admire your persistance and most of all, your utter respect and civility when dealing with this situation, I truly do.

I also believe, however, that while one can have respect for people's indvidual right to believe what they want, we don't necessarily have to respect the views specific to that person.

So I can respect Scott as a human, but as a writer and theatre person, I think his whole mindset on this subject (and many others) is ridiculous and wonky, and I have little respect for it . . . and it's terrible he teaches at a college level, it is.

And I think he's a bully . . . and bullies don't care if you're polite to them or not . . . they do what they do unless you stand up to them.

Which is why I think comparison to the Bush administration is apt . . .

Joshua James

By the way, I performed in THE KENTUCKY CYCLES professionally as an actor in Iowa Summer Rep in 1993, the year it won the Pulitzer, after Seattle but before it moved to New York City . . . it's a great piece of writing . . . very moving and powerful . . . the only rub is that it's a little too close to Matawan, by John Sayles . . . but it doesn't traffic in stereotypes, it traffics in history and drama on one piece of land over a hundred years.

Scott Walters

No, Adam, I just hadn't been back to check the comments. Too busy fielding comments at my blog. Sorry. I'll try to respond, if you are still interested.

Scott Walters

By the way, I meant that the New Orleans play is about an extraordinary situation, rather than daily life. And yes, I am making assumptions from the title and descriptions -- what was I supposed to do with that particular challenge?

Scott Walters

Mac, I am still baffled about your sudden condemnation and bolt for the door.

Dan Kois

Hey, guys, I just got here! Anything going... whoops.


also what about ATL? Don't they do lots of work by local writers? I see a musical up there now about Kentucky.

Scott, If you had wanted to respond, you would have--i was speaking of the comment i made about Anne Marie Healey and some of the other writers i mentioned.


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