Alex Massie

Whither the American dramatist?

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The New York Times' Ben Brantley says this was a year in which drama reasserted itself on (and off) Broadway. If so then that's a splendid thing. It's notable, though, that just two American plays make his list of the top ten* dramas to have played in New York this past year. No fewer than seven are the work of British and Irish playwrights (with only two of the productions Brantley hails being revivals of, respectively, Pinter and Sherriff).

I draw no broader point from this than to suggest that if five of the best ten dramas presented in New York this year - according to New York's most influential critic** - are contemporary Scottish, Irish or English plays then a) the existence of empty British cathedrals don't seem to have ruined playwrights' ability to fashion successful drama and b) more pressingly: was this just a down year - relatively speaking - for American drama or is there a (doubtless cyclical) shortage of American dramatists right now?

I mean, I'm all for a British (and Irish) invasion but seven out of ten* (even if some were American productions) plays seems to be over-doing it.

Perhaps Terry Teachout will oblige us with his rather more expert thoughts on the matter.

*The tenth being a new production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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