Friday, January 14, 2022


Today was the day my play Kew Gardens was supposed to premiere at Actors' Theatre in Santa Cruz. Alas, live performances of the play have been cancelled, just the latest casualty of 2022.

Fortunately, Actors' Theatre will be filming its 8 Tens @ 8 Festival this year, and the play should be available to view streaming sometime next month. Both Bill Peters, who is directing Kew Gardens, and Sienna Thorgusen, who is starring in the one-woman play, are okay, in spite of the Omicron surge.

Omicron has not shut down Broadway (though it has closed a number of shows), which means that last night I got to see Irene Sankoff and David Hein's musical Come From Away. Seeing a play about 9-11 has different resonances in 2022. Watching it, I certainly remembered my own experiences that day, and the loss of Carol LaPlante, who died in the Towers, but there were other feelings, too, and the memory of all the people in my life who have died of Covid, including Marge Green who passed only recently.

Then, last night, I got word of another passing. Terry Teachout, the long-time theatre critic for the Wall Street Journal, is dead at 65. For nearly 20 years, he wrote for the Journal in a way that wrote for all America. Rather than just cover theatre in New York City, he traveled across the country, reviewing regional productions that were often doing far more exciting work than what is usually seen on or off Broadway. (I invited him to come out to Michigan to review Detroit Rep's production of my play Capital, but alas, he never responded.)

Teachout was an enthusiastic supporter of Gingold Theatrical Group and Bedlam. He also loved attending shows at the Mint Theater Company, which sent out a brief memorial to him today. According to Jonathan Bank, the Mint's producing artistic director, "Terry reviewed 14 Mint productions between 2005 and 2018. His impact on the Mint, and so many other smaller companies, is profound and immeasurable."

The only time I met Teachout in person was at a Shaw conference in New York, where he argued that just as we've liberated the plays of William Shakespeare from having to always be set in the same time period, we should free the plays of Bernard Shaw and other more recent dramatists from always being staged the same way. He particularly praised Bedlam's innovative production of Saint Joan.

So many losses in the past couple of years! Let's hope for better things in the year to come.