David Mamet, the often cantankerous playwright and director, has been playing the book circuit while promoting his new page turner, Theatre. He made an appearance on Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central show, telling the comedian that theatre is dead. Dead because Broadway is basically producing nothing but revivals of plays that weren't funny 40 years ago.
Of course, Mamet makes sure to tout his latest Broadway contribution, Race, currently playing in New York City through August 21, 2010. While shows like Lend Me a Tenor and Promises, Promises ring true to his theory that only unfunny plays are being staged on Broadway, he failed to mention the touchingly funny Next Fall or stirring Red as worthy theatrical offerings that are still up-and-running. Mamet should have used his short moment on national television to attack Broadway's insistence on inserting Hollywood actors in plays. But, of course, Mamet himself has been feeding that frenzy with his last two productions, Race and Oleanna, both of which were star magnets.
Broadway actor Hunter Foster has picked up that more worthy fight with the creation of a Facebook group titled "Give the Tonys Back to Broadway!!," which sets out to urge the Tony Awards producers to allow "those artists who have made theatre their livelihood to take a more active part in its yearly presentation." The group has more than 3,362 members at the time of writing this article.
"I want to draft a letter and start a petition to send to the Tony committee. Let's make a difference!" Foster said in an email.
If the Broadway community could combine the sentiments of both Mamet and Foster, perhaps the next few years could be prosperous not just to the pocket books of theatrical producers but to the art form itself. Watering Broadway with unfunny revivals and star-studded productions spells disaster for all those who call live theatre home.