Tuesday, June 19, 2007

MJR2007 Critic's Art:

Center Theatre Group runs three theaters (including the Taper Forum, where 13 premiered) and boasts an annual budget of $45 million. Past premieres by the company include Biloxi Blues, Angels in America, and Children of a Lesser God. This is no minor theater company, even by world standards.

Why, then, the insecurity? Something of an answer came the next night from John Lahr, senior theater critic for The New Yorker. Speaking before an audience that included notable movers and shakers of the L.A. theatrical world as well as journalists from far-flung regions of the country, Lahr declared:

“If it’s not in The New Yorker, it doesn’t exist in the culture.”

To be sure, Lahr has written about theatrical events in Los Angeles and elsewhere for The New Yorker; his is certainly the most broadly studied and thoughtful voice in American theater criticism today. But the implication of his assertion was nonetheless clear: The majority of important theater happens in New York; and you can tell it is important because it is the theater most often covered in The New Yorker.