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John Lahr quotes
A prose writer never sees a reader walk out of a book; for a playwright, it's another matter. An audience is an invaluable education. In my experience, theatre artists don't know what they've made until they've made it.
'Angels in America' - which is composed of two three-hour plays, 'Millennium Approaches' and 'Perestroika' - proved to be a watershed drama, the most lyrical and ambitious augury of an era since Tennessee Williams's 'The Glass Menagerie.'
Did you come of age in those sweet summers of the early nineteen-sixties, when the airwaves were full of rock and roll's doo-wop promise of joy and the nation was full of J.F.K.'s eloquent promise of a New Frontier? I did. Life seemed to be laid out before us like a banquet; everything was for the taking, especially hearts.
I was the first critic ever to win a Tony - for co-authoring 'Elaine Stritch at Liberty.' Criticism is a life without risk; the critic is risking his opinion, the maker is risking his life. It's a humbling thought but important for the critic to keep it in mind - a thought he can only know if he's made something himself.
In 1957, 'West Side Story' had introduced the musical to the reckless dark side of teen-age life; 'Bye Bye Birdie,' set in Sweet Apple, Ohio, where the citizens apparently dress mostly in chartreuse, mauve, orange, periwinkle, and turquoise, was a walk on the bright side.
In Britain, the theatre has traditionally been where the public goes to think about its past and debate its future. The formation of the National Theatre, at the Old Vic, near the South Bank, in 1963, institutionalized the symbolic importance of drama by giving it both a building and state funding.
Of the modern critics, although I disagree with almost everything she says, I admire Mary McCarthy's eloquence and social observation in 'Sights and Spectacles'; she thinks in print, but she doesn't have a real feel for the stage.
Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot,' billed as 'the laugh sensation of two continents,' made its American debut at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, in Miami, Florida, in 1956. My father, Bert Lahr, was playing Estragon, one of the two bowler-hatted tramps who pass the time in a lunar landscape as they wait in vain for the arrival of a Mr. Godot.
'The New Yorker's' drama critics have always had a comparable authority because, for the most part, the magazine made it a practice to employ critics who moonlighted in the arts. They worked both sides of the street, so to speak.