Yesterday the Village Voice published a piece by Tom Sellar titled “The City’s Best (And Not So Best) Progressive Theater”. Its one of the only “end of the year/decade” piece to focus on progressive/experimental/avant-garde work and companies. In it he poses…
Ten years into the 21st century, it seems a fitting time to look at the state of New York City’s theatrical avant-garde. How has it evolved over the past decade? Who’s doing the most inventive work, and who’s coming up short? What exactly constitutes a vanguard these days, and where is it heading?
Big Art Group, Radio Hole, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Thomas Bradshaw, Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Les Freres Corbusier, Cynthia Hopkins, Elevator Repair Service, Witness Relocation, The TEAM, Taylor Mac, Sibyl Kempson, Improv Everywhere, and Mike Iveson are discussed among others.
Ultimately, there are degrees of “avant-garde”: Not many artists today call for, say, burning down museums and libraries in the name of new technology, as the Italian Futurists did a hundred years ago. Nor do we hear many downtown voices calling for a new order, or even for an end to a disastrous war—as theatermakers here did in the 1960s. In 21st-century New York, aspirations look milder and more careerist: Experimental stage artists want creative outlets and a responsive public. Understandably, they also seek good publicity and financial relief. But in the next era—now under way—there’s an appetite and opportunity for enlarging the theatrical experience in New York. If anyone can seize the day, it may be Big Art Group, Nature Theater, and anyone else with the intellectual muscle to build up the vanguard.
Read the full article here