NY Times Critics View Next Millennium

News   NY Times Critics View Next Millennium As part of a special expanded edition on Sept. 29 to celebrate the New York Times Sunday magazine section's 100th year, the editors asked Ben Brantley, Frank Rich and Vincent Canby what works they thought "would still be discussed, viewed, read and cherished 100 years from now."

As part of a special expanded edition on Sept. 29 to celebrate the New York Times Sunday magazine section's 100th year, the editors asked Ben Brantley, Frank Rich and Vincent Canby what works they thought "would still be discussed, viewed, read and cherished 100 years from now."

Brantley, chief drama critic of the Times, selected August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come And Gone (1986), lauding Wilson's "ability to turn vernacular speech into poetry that makes a playwright endure." Frank Rich, former chief critic and now an op-ed columnist, offered a back-handed defense of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats: "This musical's ad slogan, `Now And Forever,' is not a gag. After all, if Puccini has survived for a century, why shouldn't Andrew Lloyd Webber, who dumbed down Puccini for the easy-listening audiences of our own time... Whatever else progress brings in the millennium, it is unlikely to rescue unborn generations from the musical flypaper that is `Memory.'"

Vincent Canby, the Times' Sunday theatre columnist, waxed nostalgic over the works of David Mamet, most notably his Glengarry Glen Ross of 1984. "It seems possible that by 2096, people will think in the sound bytes of computerese... Standing apart from this scene and hectoring heroically, a small but influential group of fanatics will be keeing alive America's late-20th-Century Theatre of Language as represented by the works of David Mamet... Audiences in 2096 won't easily understand Mr. Mamet, who will seem as demanding and rich as Shakespeare is for us today, and far more remote."

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What is YOUR opinion? Take our Playbill On-Line poll in Theatre News. -- By David Lefkowitz

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