And Away We Go — Talking Politics and Theatre With Terrence McNally

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06 Dec 2013

"The fact that I'm a happily married man is something that I did not expect in my lifetime, and I think theatre has a lot to do with that, frankly," McNally added.

Citing dramas that responded to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement, McNally said, "There are changes in the society now that are going to be reflected in theatre in the years ahead, and I think that the fact that we have a new kind of mayor in NYC is going to somehow be reflected in the plays that are being seen... He hasn't even been inaugurated yet, but I think we will see changes in the way we live, and I think theatre will reflect them. I don't think theatre always causes changes, but it certainly reflects them... I do think theatre had a significant role in shaping public opinion... We are chroniclers of the times."

McNally also commented on the price of theatre tickets, which have risen to new heights since his days of sitting in the balcony for $2.90.

"People think of theatre that is only smash hits on Broadway that can raise their ticket prices to $500 or $2,000 a pair...It's not a healthy theatre, and I think that that bubble will burst," he said. "There should be a healthy audience and plays that cost a reasonable price on Broadway so I would love to see a change there... They've got to continue to make theatre more accessible. The theatre has got to get back to as close to being free as it can. To say that people trudged up the hill at Delphi to see a play at the theater of Dionysus as part of a religious experience is very different than getting an American Express Gold Ticket. And we've got to reconcile the two; theatre has got to include all of that."

And, what about his own future? 

"When people say to me, 'When are you going to retire?,' I'm a little offended — well, not offended, but surprised they would that that," he said. "I love what I do. I read that 60 percent of Americans didn't like their jobs — no wonder this country has problems. If you hate something that you do every day for eight hours... how terrible! For 75 years, I've been doing something that I like, and I'll retire when it stops being fun, or when the typing gets too bad, or the brain is going."

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