What I’m Trying to Do Here

For something like thirty years, I had the luxury of writing a column for Dramatics, a magazine put out by the Educational Theater Association. The primary audience was high school kids enrolled in drama programs. It was a terrific gig. I generally wrote six pieces a year, so, unlike other critics, I wasn’t under pressure to cover everything. I was spared the obligation to pan shows that other critics had already dealt with (though, occasionally, I was able to speak up for work I thought had been misunderstood or treated unfairly). I focused on what I thought might be most useful for teenagers interested in what was going on in the theater but not living within easy reach of New York or Chicago. My editors gave me free rein to write about what excited or challenged me.

And then covid hit. Dramatics is in the process of transforming into something else and I can only assume that someone thought, “Gee, if he’s been writing for us for thirty years, doesn’t that make him kind of old to be writing for a young audience?” I got a note thanking me for my years of service and that the new editors were going to rethink the coverage.

To which I can only respond, yeah, I see their point.

Except, I keep going to theater and I keep having thoughts I want to share about what I see. And I believe the fact that I have been going to (and making) theater for more than fifty years makes it possible for me to discuss current work within a useful awareness of work and artists that laid the foundations of what we’re seeing today. So here I am at “Making the Scene.”

Also, I also read constantly and watch a lot on various screens, large and small, and what I read and watch enters into a dialogue with what I see onstage, so I allow myself the license to discuss non-theatrical works. It’s all story-telling.

I’m pleased if you find this blog useful or stimulating (or annoying in a good way). Please drop a line if you want to add a thought or discuss something. I enjoy conversation as much as story-telling.

About dgsweet

I write for and about theater. I spent a number of years as a resident playwright of a theater in Chicago which put up 14 of my plays, and I still think of Chicago as my primary theatrical home, though I actually live in New York. I serve on the Council of the Dramatists Guild. Between plays, I write books, most notably SOMETHING WONDERFUL RIGHT AWAY (about Second City), THE O'NEILL (about the O'Neill Center) and THE DRAMATIST'S TOOLKIT (a text on playwriting craft). I also occasionally perform a solo show called YOU ONLY SHOOT THE ONES YOU LOVE. I enjoy visiting theaters outside of New York. I can be reached at dgsweet@aol.com.
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1 Response to What I’m Trying to Do Here

  1. Jeff, I value all your insights because they are always intelligent and informed, not to mention well- written. Keep them coming. Unfortunately, it seems to me our modern society doesn’t seem to respect wisdom that can only come from age, experience and perspective. A sad commentary on contemporary American culture. Best to you both.

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