Literary managers everywhere, let us congratulate ourselves. We’ve landed at last. After years of being considered too minor to merit mention at all, in recent months LitMen & Women have made the lists of those currently considered blameworthy for the state of the American theater.
The latest jeremiad comes from today’s New York Times – in the Letters column of the curiously named Arts & Leisure section. A playwright inveighing against the success of August: Osage County opines:
I do not think it is only the writers who, as Mr. Letts says, are at fault for a “lack of bravery,” but it is also the lack of vision of artistic directors and literary managers across the country who are conforming to the basest levels of mediocrity in our culture. And they come up seasonal mush, theater that is far from provocative and for which the audience does not have to think.
Wouldn’t it be grand to wield the power this writer ascribes to Literary Departments? If only, if only… Well, he jumps on a popular bandwagon. Pundits from Richard Nelson to Mike Daisey are pointing the finger at literary managers these days. Not to mention that critic from Atlanta who claimed a local playwright’s popularity was the creation of a dramaturgy cartel!
The charges could actually seem sort of … sweet. Were they were not so risible. And ungrateful. You have to wonder where many a writer would be today without the assiduous promotion of the wee little literary folk. Personally? I’ve lobbied for both the above-mentioned writers frequently in the past, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.
I’m rethinking that now.