Tea in Our Harbor

Ready for Your Grill This Fourth of July: Broadway Producers

In a way, I pondered, hefting my styrofoam tomahawk, our battle was as much on behalf of British and Irish artists as for our own. They too would not want to see a degraded and vapid theater dominate New York, much less feel that only their exotic accents allowed them to prevail in it. London's award-givers might not be able to tell a good play from a cretinous embarrassment, or a real actor from a simpering gibbon, but plenty of London's artists damn well knew the difference. It wasn't England we wanted to wipe out, but ineptitude, whatever its accent. And who put English ineptitude first? Why, that strange quasi-elite, people of influence who declined to have any faith in their own country and its culture. For them, there had never been an American Revolution, much less an American theater; we still belonged to England. Our fight was with our own Tories, not with the goods they imported.

I summoned my hardy boys and girls to gather round. "Hardy boys and girls," I said, "we will burn no scenery today. Let it stand, right down to the last pathetic cardboard helicopter. Broadway is over. Downtown, and the resident theater movement across the country, have drained away its vitality. Children of hope, we have a country, a life, a tradition, and as much talent and training as the world can demand. Let us create the American theater elsewhere, and make it great. It would have been nice to use these lovely old buildings for the purpose, but the realtors who own them want nothing human inside. Soon they will be condos and mall boutiques, and the real Broadway of the past a memory. All we have to do is create new memories to match it, and our place in history will be as secure. This Broadway, that false memory, will vanish from the world's mind. By 2025, David Hare and Andrew Lloyd Webber will be scholarly footnotes as irrelevant to world theater as Cellier and Stephenson."

"Who?" said a hardy lad.

"My point exactly, Mark Hardy," I replied. "They were once the toast of London. Now— they're toast, and no more likely to be revived than Slag and Aspects of Love."

"What were those?" murmured an awestruck hardy lass.

"Never mind, Jo Hardy," I answered, a shade wearily, for I felt cold, standing so thinly clad by the dawn's early light. "Leave this and come downtown. We have a great deal of creative work to do." Sharing tissues, we wiped the paint off our faces and headed south, no longer caring to destroy what was already dead.

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