The Best American Plays, fourth series 1951-1957, was written at a time when the game of theatre was beginning to be forever changed by two entertainment competitors, film and television.
In the first paragraph of his introduction, And Still It Moves, he states that theatre, "...according to reasonable expectations should be gasping out its life by now instead of enjoying better health than those giants of mass-communication, the motion pictures and television." Looking back and reading those words made me grimmace. If such a statement were ever true it certainly is not the case now. Film and television are the giants and most theatres have become the naughty younger sibling trying to immitate it's bigger siblings success, the spectacle trying to justify the costs of tickets, or the social rabble raiser. I personally have nothing against any of those, but as I look down the list of the best American playwrights of 1951 to 1957 I am left wondering where did the plays all go? What wasteland houses them?
I will question aloud whether or not the newest generation of playwrights that find themselves in the unfortunate position of writing straight plays or comedies have found a new home in the very places that were once the enemies of the theatre, film and television.
Judging by the productions of a lot of theatres I doubt there is much that can be done to stop the constant trickle of new writers fleeing to more stable (and often more welcoming) waters.
Thus the question remains, Can American theatre survive in the 21st century? Or is it now gasping out it's last breath as the across the country theatres keep going dark, forever.
Does still it move?