By David Savran
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Extra resources for A queer sort of materialism : recontextualizing American theater
The New York Times crit ics will continue to fret, wring their hands, and exhibit other symptoms of middlebrow anxiety. And they will continue to attack work, like the Michael John LaChiusa/George C. Wolfe The Wild Party, that too point edly and angrily takes up the miscegenated history of the American mu sical theater. But rather than kill these innovative projects, perhaps each of them should just take a Valium, get a good night's rest, and call his psy chiatrist in the morning. The Queerest Art Chapter Two The Queerest Art In the United States, the "gay nineties" bore witness to an unprece dented efflorescence of cultural productions by or about lesbians and gay men.
For although the critic is finally a mediator and recy cler of opinion, he is able to exert an extraordinary amount of influence on New York theater and, by extension, on theater throughout the United States. Since the demise of the New York Herald-Tribune in 1967, New York has basically been a one-newspaper town when it comes to theater. Certain musicals (like Sunset Boulevard or Jekyll and Hyde) are review proof, and a few other critics carry some weight, especially with audi ences and plays that fall either above or below the upper-middlebrow cat egory.
161 Despite this dreary forecast, there are some positive signs: the continuing efflorescence of innovative theater, usually located far from Broadway's precincts, that delights in all forms of unnatural intercourse; and the development of a new generation of musicals, post-Rodgers and Hammerstein, post-Lloyd Webber, post Sondheim, post-Larson. Many are collaborations between commercial and nonprofit theaters and represent, in Ira Weitzman's words, "a healthy mixture of established and emerging artists;' both "more experimental composers" and "a groundswell of young people writing in a more pop vernacular:'162 So perhaps a revived musical theater that is both com mercially viable and aesthetically and politically bold will find a way not of denying or renouncing theater's long-term middlebrow position in the cultural hierarchy but of exploiting it and discovering a new vibrancy in the unpredictable intercourse of high and low.
A queer sort of materialism : recontextualizing American theater by David Savran