Monday, February 22, 2010

Best American plays?

Posted on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 3:59 PM

John Moore of the Denver Post has surveyed 177 theater professionals for their opinions about the 10 greatest American plays. Top-ten results are here.
Complete list of all 296 plays that got votes is here.

For what little it's worth, Bobo named eight of the top ten off the top of his head.
The two I missed reveal my own provinciality.
But in the overall rankings, note how August: Osage County is knocking on the door.
Women and ethnic minorities might wish for more representation.
I think the list is muddied: Best play by an American that's on ANY subject vs. best plays about the American experience.
I've seen the top 24 plays in performance — then, Little Foxes and Children's Hour, only in the movie versions — and Nos. 27-29 (Topdog, Blue Leaves, Normal Heart), I've never seen in any form.
I'll admit my ignorance: I've never even heard of Mud or My Head Is a Sledgehammer. And I am embarrassed to say that I have never even read A Moon for the Misbegotten
I think Buried Child is ranked ahead of True West because people admire it, respect its artistry, not because it plays better onstage or is more beloved.
Sorry, but Iceman Cometh is a duty, not a pleasure. And I saw Jason Robards in it. 
The plays of Horton Foote should move up; so should Sondheim's.  Musicals, in general, undervalued here.
But your mileage will differ. 

Best candidates for Spokane productions?
Our Town, Osage County, American Buffalo, Little Foxes, Dutchman, Grapes of Wrath, Kentucky Cycle (first half is best, and phenomenal), The Goat, Indians (big production values have lessened its perceived value?), The Boys in the Band. And that's just in the top 100 (after which, in my opinion, choices start getting quirky -- though I've long been an old softie for Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo).
Things would clarify if you restricted these, as the Pulitzer does, to an American focus.Enough. Your choices and comments?

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