Metropolitan Playhouse's "Within the Law" is an Indie Theater Now CLASSIC

June 19, 2014

Our focus here at Indie Theater Now has always been on new work. Today that changes just a bit: we're announcing an extension to our mission--one that we've been planning for quite some time, and that  complements our program in a dynamic and valuable way.

Today we launch Indie Theater Now CLASSICS.

I have believed for a very long time that there is enormous power in seeing and reading drama from centuries past--especially, for us Americans, American drama from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. If we are interested in the practice of the art and craft of theater, we discover the tools and techniques and tricks that our ancestors found or invented--the very ones that we may take for granted nowadays but were once full of surprise and vigor. (And sometimes we are startled to discover that what we think is avant-garde and experimental was tried out on stages when our great-great-grandparents were theatergoers.)

Even more important, we discover who we are, where we came from, and how we got to where we are now when we devour these older texts. Before TV, radio, and film, theater was the popular media culture of its day: the same way that Archie Bunker and Rosanne Connor and Will and Grace will teach our grandchildren about how we lived and thought and played and believed, so too do Uncle Tom's Cabin and Secret Service and countless other American dramas reveal our common past. It's living history, made fun because theater is meant to entertain first and foremost.

So here's what we're going to do with this new section of the ITN library:

We are going to publish the scripts of selected old plays. They'll all be in the public domain, and they'll all be relatively hard for the average person to come by. Mostly, though, they'll all be work that offers something resonant and vibrant to the contemporary reader/student/actor/director/teacher/producer.

We aren't just reviving scripts, though. The real value we'll be adding here is combining the texts of these plays with cogent analysis by a current indie theater practitioner. Our aim here is to bring context and background to the work, to explain why it matters to us now--why you should see it, or read it, or produce it yourself NOW. Because, you know... we're Indie Theater Now.

Our premiere Indie Theater Now CLASSIC is Within the Law by Bayard Veiller, written in 1912, as produced by Metropolitan Playhouse, and richly annotated by Metropolitan's artistic director, Alex Roe. I've written about the play here on the blog. You can (and should) check out the current production at Metropolitan, which runs through June 29.

We will be working with Alex in coming weeks and months to bring additional titles to our CLASSICS, drawn from his company's long and fruitful history of engaging with significant works from America's distant dramatic past. And we are eager to work with other artists who are immersed in similar work: please email me if you'd like to get involved with this new endeavor of ours!

And of course, as always, your feedback is vital. Comment here or email me--let us know what you think about this new expansion to Indie Theater Now.





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