Tasha Lawrence and Shuler Hensley in The Whale
Joan Marcus
Tasha Lawrence and Shuler Hensley in The Whale

And so writers now apparently desire, more than they did a decade or two ago, to tell stories through the theater, to help us perceive how the inhabitants of a civil society connect, and the dangers that strike when they forget how to do so. For some time now, scripted plays have been looked down on by academia and the avant-garde. The text as company assemblage or directorial opportunity has been exalted. But the playwrights, awaiting their chance, have learned to adapt their strategies to slip past the theoreticians' schematic rubrics. While they waited, American society crumbled. Now, when it needs them, they step forward. They take their tactics from today, their rigor from the great modernists of a century ago, and their cue from their precursor Gertrude Stein, who said, "A landscape is such a natural setting for a battlefield or a play that one must write plays."

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