The appreciative smile, the chuckle, the soundless mirth, so important to the success of comedy, cannot be understood unless one sits among the audience and feels the warmth created by the quality of laughter that the audience takes home with it.

-- James Thurber


An introduction to Babel's theatre section

by Paul Linkletter


In the age of tell-it-like-it-is journalism (Rush Limbaugh, moderator) an admission. It's all true; American Theatre IS dead. Let's admit this and get it out of the way now.

FACT: No one writes anything worth watching anymore. If it's worth watching, it's too expensive. If it isn't too expensive, it's not something you can bring the whole family to see. If you can bring the whole family to see it, they won't want to go. If they go, they won't like it.

Only the British are writing good plays. Only dead Americans ever wrote good plays. Arthur Miller might as well be a dead American. It's just as good made into a movie of the week (or at the movies if the play was by Neil Simon, who isn't a dead American, but that's okay, he writes like TV and so we know what we're getting with him, and his work is getting more "SERIOUS" with the capital letters so we can include him as one of the few good ones left, but we probably won't go see his work either) so I'll wait.

Too many men are taking off their clothes on Broadway, while not enough women are taking off theirs. Shakespeare is not a dead American either, so why are we trying to do him? We do not have any great ACTORS -- also with the capital letters -- or if we do, they are not as good as the British.

You cannot hum American plays (you cannot even hum American musicals -- God, Steve, what are you writing? Cannibal operas? Naked people singing about love in tunes that do not sound like Puccini or Rodgers and Hammerstein? STOP!!!!!!!!!)

Americans cannot write dialogue because we do not know how to speak and those who try to sound poetic are fools for not sounding like we speak. David Mamet says FUCK too much.

Who can pronounce Ntozake Shange's name and why isn't she writing a sequel to "for color'd girls" (we didn't see it, but we heard it was good)?

Only gay men are left on Broadway and that's why all the men are taking off their clothes. Theatre only exists on Broadway, so all theatre is gay. Families cannot go see gay theatre. Someone needs to tell George C. Wolfe to stop telling us he's Black, because BLACK PEOPLE (those caps again) do not go to the theatre (they cannot afford it and they would not appreciate it if they went.) Families cannot go see black theatre. George C. Wolfe is gay so that is why he has a job in New York. He is doing every show, so all theatre is Black Theatre.

New Playwrights do not have talent because they are not dead and they are American so they cannot be any good. Playwrights produced anywhere but New York are not playwrights so they do not count. Theatre produced anywhere but New York is not Theatre so it does not count. Theatre is not being produced in New York (revivals aren't Theatre) so all theatre is dead. This proves it. 

Fine. Theatre is dead. I intend to examine the corpse until something better comes along. This is what MASQUE is going to be about. Corpse examination, with footnotes.    



Jerusalem's Khan Theatre begins
new season despite budgetary woes -- June 1999

by Rachel Bell


Doing the Dance of Death:
A conversation with director Derek Horton

by Yves Jaques

Some of the most inventive, thoughtful, and deeply disturbing theatre to grace Seattle area stages in the past several years has come courtesy of local performance maverick Derek Horton. Whether as a director deconstructing an American classic like Our Town, or as an actor playing the role of a female idiot savant in Pookie, Horton projects a sense of play and lunacy that is sorely lacking in much of today’s theatre. Yves Jaques spends an evening with Horton over beer and whiskey discussing the state of the American theatre.



Bailar la danza de la muerte:
Conversaciones con el director Derek Horton

Entrevista: Yves Jaques

Una muestra del teatro más innovador, profundo y perturbador que ha tenido la deferencia de pisar los teatros de Seattle en los últimos años, llegó de parte del artista visionario local Derek Horton. Ya sea como el director que deconstruye el clásico norteamericano "Our Town" (Nuestro pueblo) o como el actor que encarna el rol de una discapacitada mental con habilidades asombrosas en "Pookie", Horton propone un sentido del juego y de la demencia que lamentablemente no abunda en la mayor parte del teatro actual.