As quiet as it’s been on here lately, and although I have seen all of three plays in the last two months, 2014 was actually a pretty exciting year in theatre for me:

Theatre 2014
Theatre 2014 2

Still: there are regrets. I didn’t write about too many of those shows. I have half-finished drafts of posts about the Schaubühne Hamlet, Jamie Lloyd’s Richard III, and Katie Mitchell’s Cherry Orchard in digital drawers, but the productions are now too far in the past, my thoughts too scattered, and the posts will remain unfinished. Other shows I desperately wanted to write about: Cheek by Jowl’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore; A Doll’s House in Frankfurt; Faust at the Residenztheater; Kontakthof at Luminato; The White Devil at the RSC; Hamlet in Manchester — but I didn’t even have enough time or energy to start drafts about those.

I also missed a bunch of productions for which I had tickets, but which I was just too busy, or too tired, to see. Particular regrets: Concord Floral at the Theatre Centre in October and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Storefront just a few weeks ago. And Soulpepper’s Tartuffe, which I missed because I couldn’t find a parking spot anywhere in the Distillery. Hooray for public transport. Another reason to hang my head in shame: I didn’t manage to make it to Stratford (ON), no matter how much I really, REALLY wanted to see their two Midsummer Night’s Dreams. One thing that’s kind of obvious, with hindsight, is that it’s much easier to pack in tons of shows when I’m not in Toronto, away from all the daily obligations of what is, after all, a full-time job.

Some stats. Playwrights: Shakespeare, 16 shows. Ibsen, 5. Chekhov, 4. Ancients, 6. Beckett and Webster, 2 a piece. Places: London, 18 shows. Berlin, 11. New York, 7. Hamburg, 5. Elsewhere in the UK: 2. Elsewhere in Germany: 5. And Toronto: 24. Directors: Tim Carroll, 2; Dimiter Gotscheff, 2; Jackie Maxwell, 2; Julie Taymor, 2; Michael Thalheimer, 2; Katie Mitchell, 3 (how’s that for a weird list?).

Resolutions for 2015?

– Write more regularly.

– Stop putting stuff on Facebook; throw up shorter blog posts instead. (Andrew Haydon was nice enough to copy-and-paste a whole bunch of my Facebook notes about Theatertreffen shows into a post on his own blog back in June, but I shouldn’t rely on the kindness of strangers.)

– See more shows in Toronto. 24 isn’t terrible, but half of those were festival productions. And I live here. A show a week, on average, should be manageable. (But in my defence, going to the theatre is part of my job — and my work is about old plays. So unless more Toronto companies start putting on stuff written before I was born, I have limited professional incentive to pay attention to what they’re doing, sadly.)

– Get out of London more. Get out of Berlin more.

Lastly, in case anyone cares, here’s what I did manage to write about:

– The Julia Taymor Midsummer Night’s Dream
– Tim Carroll’s “OP” productions (also the greatness of Mark Rylance)
– Frank Lengella as King Lear
– The dreadful Ethan Hawke Macbeth and its absurd program note
London Road at Can Stage
Duchess of Malfi at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
– The wonderful Secret Theatre
Happy Days at the Young Vic
– Simon Solberg’s pretty delightful Kabale und Liebe in Cologne
– Katie Mitchell’s Alles Weitere… in Hamburg
– Elmar Goerden’s great, great Wild Duck in Mannheim
– The train wreck that was Medea at the NT
– The intriguing, but ultimately (to me) unpersuasive The Nether at the Royal Court
– The disappointment that was Benedict Anderson’s Streetcar at the Young Vic
– Philip McKee’s intriguing Bloody Family at the Theatre Centre

One of the reasons I wasn’t especially productive this past summer was that I spent many hours observing the Tarragon’s re-staging of Thomas Ostermeier’s Enemy of the People in rehearsal and previews. Hundreds of pages of notes will eventually become a proper scholarly essay, though some sort of blog post might emerge as a by-product as well. And of course I was busy translating and adapting Ödön von Horvath’s Kasimir und Karoline, for a project with the Howland Company — more about that later in January.


One Response to 2014 in Review

  1. There’s nothing to keep you from doing a post of impressions of things that stood out from the productions you didn’t get to write about, in full. I don’t care how long it’s been, I can still pick out standout moments from almost any theater production I’ve seen but one: The All’s Well that left me with the impression of all the actors standing there like deer mesmerized by headlights ( I walked out in record time). You did have a full year! Glad you saw the Malfi at the Wanamaker, I would love to see how the playhouse has turned out, but I haven’t been to the Globe since 1995, when I was part of the Atlanta Shakespeare’s cast playing The Mandrake at the Globe’s workshop season. I can’t travel much, as you’ve been so fortunate to do. Have a good new year, Holger

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