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December 12, 2013


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"Christopher Hampton, best known to American audiences as the translator of Yasmina Reza's plays and the writer of David Cronenberg's worst film."

You can be right on this topic without being unnecessarily dismissive. Hampton isn't really "known" to American audiences at all. To theater people, he's known first and foremost as the writer of Dangerous Liaisons, which I thought was an exhilarating play when I first encountered it. I enjoyed his film The Quiet American as well.


I'm not being dismissive, Christopher, I'm trying to explain why using box office skittishness as an argument in favor of producing three plays by a playwright The Guthrie's audience hasn't heard of and doesn't care about is a very strange argument to make. I personally like both Dangerous Liasons and The Quiet American. Hell, I'll even go to bat for ART and God of Carnage. I simply doubt it's the case that a Guthrie subscriber knows who Hampton is. And if they did, it's more likely to be for his recent work rather than a play he wrote thirty years ago.


Well, I don't think who the audience knows should be the yardstick by which we measure play selection. The Guthrie audience is probably not familiar with Lisa Kron, Lynn Nottage or Amy Herzog, but that's no reason to eliminate their work from consideration...However, producing three plays by the same author in one season is almost willfully courting disaster no matter who it is (Shakespeare included, I think).

Lisa Timmel

Just to underscore what you are saying here (and brag a little), The Huntington just extended our two spring shows: Becoming Cuba by Melinda Lopez and Smart People by Lydia Diamond. Our international/national/classical white guys do fine, but our local writers, most of whom are not white guys, go gang-busters. My biggest take away is that if you sincerely and consistently invest in your community, they will invest in you.


Here's the bigger point: they did this ill-fated Christopher Hampton fest in the aftermath of their Tony Kushner festival, which also was a disaster. And people mostly DO know who Kushner is.

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