By Dudley Cocke
American Theatre magazine September, 2000
Letter to the editor
I haven't read Jane Alexander's Command Performance, but I sharply disagree with your reviewer Stephen Nunn's opinion ("The Beltway Virgin's Tale," July/Aug. '00) that the National Endowment for the Arts is overly populist, with the inference that populism is part of the NEA's problem.
This little concern of the moment fits into a big concern: that the American theatre has lost touch with its populist history, a history that reached its zenith with the Federal Theater Project. My mantra: There will be no Golden Age of American theatre without broad, popular participation. Theatre history tells me this.
So does present experience. Last month I caught the Royal Shakespeare Company's Taming of the Shrew and watched the excellent actor playing Grumio (and the other good actors playing low parts) die for lack of any audience rapport. The play's ticket cost $55.