We went to see A Public Fit’s production of Incognito (A play by Nick Payne).I can see possibly why they chose this show. It’s a challenge for 4 actors to play a combined 21 roles and a challenge, I’m sure, for the director to put all those pieces and moving parts together. The company was well rehearsed and did a fine job. Everyone was where they needed to be and said what needed to be said, building characters along the way, telling the disjointed story that explores the mind and it’s capacity.
But, this post isn’t really about that play we saw over the weekend. Not really. The production was fine (although the chairs at the Cockroach Theater where the production was produced were pretty uncomfortable.) It’s a greater comment on theater in Vegas…not just theater, but art. Not that I’ve seen everything produced in this town over the past few years. But, we’ve seen a lot. And, it’s all a production of something old if not ancient. By theater standards, Incognito was published in 2014, so not ancient, but it’s been done around the world hundreds of times.
Why aren’t the theaters exploring the current moment? The leading edge of theater and art? Why isn’t our Philharmonic premiering new works at every concert? Same for the ballet. Why are we stuck in this idea of recreating, sometimes over and over, pieces from the past?
Sure, I love a redux of a great piece of theater; I listen to Mozart and Beethoven all the time in my office. But, the point is, I can listen to those and watch recordings of shows. It’s time for new ideas and premiers. We talk about Vegas being at the leading edge of entertainment, but we’re simply not. Like every other place we replay old stuff over and over and over–yes, we have a lot of stuff, but it’s performers churning out the same show night after night, sometimes for years. It’s time for someone to take the reigns somewhere and get the ball rolling and drive Las Vegas to the edge, the leading edge of thoughts and ideas and performance. We should be trying new things and thinking new ideas and exposed to the experience of the new.
I’m not suggesting an outright ban of older works, but perhaps we can start with some balance: alternating new ideas with the old, introducing a premier piece at every concert of ballet, helping our young and up and coming artists to see that they can move beyond Brahms or Andrew Lloyd Weber into something cutting edge that might actually change the world.
Just my thoughts…