Mel Brooks' play "The Producers" is Broadway's biggest hit in years, but it's not for everyone – not at a hundred bucks a ticket. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, does theater still matter? We'll talk with playwright Wendy Wasserstein and critic Frank Rich. Also, Samuel Beckett's muse - actress Billie Whitelaw.
Playwright Wendy Wasserstein ("The Heidi Chronicles," "Isn't It Romantic") has a new book of essays, "Shiksa Goddess." She tells Anne Strainchamps she grew up going to the theater and wanted to be sure others got the same opportunity. So she got a grant to bring several high school kids from the Bronx to Broadway and talked with them about their experiences. Also, John Eisner, producing director of New York's Lark Theatre Company, and Daphne Greaves, a playwright who's had several pieces developed there, tell Steve Paulson that the Lark is a "research and development" theater company, and explain how it helps writers. And we hear excerpts from two plays.SEGMENT 2:
For years, Frank Rich was chief drama critic for the New York Times, where he's now an op-ed columnist. He's written a memoir - "Ghost Light." Rich tells Jim Fleming that the Broadway musicals of his childhood were all about dysfunctional families and helped him cope with his own difficult family situation - his parents were divorced and his stepfather loved theater, but was occasionally abusive.SEGMENT 3:
Billie Whitelaw was Samuel Beckett's favorite actress and appeared in his plays for over twenty years. She tells Steve Paulson she never understood the plays but thinks Beckett's a genius. And she describes some of the bizarre physical challenges the roles posed: in "Not I" she was strapped to a chair with only her mouth lit while she delivered a sixteen minute speech as fast as she could. And we hear some examples.Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 01-09-09-A.
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