That was quick! The redoubtable George Hunka has already responded to my post of twelve hours ago -- he must have one of those splendid buzzers that goes off whenever anyone drops his name -- and quite a stinger it is too.
Eager as ever for constructive dialogue, I wanted to leave a comment for him at his blog ('Superfluities'), but his HaloScan comments box crossly informed me that it would be truncating my message because it exceeded 3000 characters. (So did the dramatis personae of Angels in America, but I didn't see anybody truncating that...)
So either: read George's post and then read the below; or, skip the whole darn thing and carry on redecorating the loft. Up to you, my dears.
Warmest thanks for taking the trouble to plow through my post and respond to its admittedly hardline propositions. If there's nothing else to be proud of in what I wrote, I'm glad that as a consequence it's already prompted some fine and pugnacious writing.
I've already had my turn, and there's not much to add to my original post, which I hope your readers might take a look at for themselves, in that I think perhaps your characterization of it is a little unresponsive to its occasional niceties. For example, I try to say pretty carefully what I mean by "broken", and it is surely clear from the post (though not from the soundbite you lift) that that process would necessarily include "exploration" and "examination". I would never wish for any living playwright's work to be insensitively trashed or treated disrespectfully simply, as it were, for kicks: but, I reiterate, the guiding responsibility must be to the theatre event, not to the playwright's secluded conception of it. Theatricality emphatically does not inhere in a play, it is the opposite of a play, for the reasons I delineate in my post. Writing in which theatricality inheres is what I start off my describing as 'writing for theatre'. You don't seem very interested in the distinction, which is fine, that's where we came in and I don't honestly expect to change any minds with what I write.
You're quite right that some theatre events that don't depend on the primacy of literary text end up being nothing more than empty spectacles, and I am as disdainful of those as you are. But it is reductive to imply, as you seem to, that all work built on these more recent models tends inevitably towards such vacuity. If that's been your experience, that's a pity. Though it is worth remembering how local to our cultures and our times is the Albee model. Global theatre is much older and much more various, as you know. The Albee model continues to prevail in our own cultural situation principally because it is compatible with industry and with capitalist enterprise. Which is, not least, how you end up with the farcical and distressing endeavour of good and faithful scholars tying themselves in knots over who exactly wrote what line of what we call Shakespeare. It's comical that I'm the one who ends up being portrayed as an extremist when it's the Albee position that ends up disappearing into its own fundamentalism.
I suspect the underlying difference between our positions, George -- and I'm glad you say this, because it explains much -- is that you think "it's not as if theatricality itself is inherently good or bad". I start from, and depend utterly on, the contrary position: that theatricality -- by which I mean not the decrepit artificiality of most commercial theatre, but the social relation into which the ideal theatre brings artists and audience -- is inherently good. The promise of theatre, in initiating a communal experience in which the only circulating capital is attention, is its potential to create lasting and meaningful change in people's understanding of their civic lives. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't waste my time on theatre; perhaps as a consequence I would more blithely enjoy playgoing as a pleasant interlude in what would then be an entirely different working life.
May I mention, in passing, that while you're more than welcome to find my remarks not "very interesting", you can be assured that no bureaucrat has ever been impressed enough by anything I've said ever to give me a grant. Or at least, I have never made a successful application to the Arts Council of England. My work so far is supported only and entirely by producers who have seen it, live, and found it sufficiently interesting that they want to help develop it. So the suggestion that the strenuous theoretical tussling that, for example, my blog from time to time helps to channel is no more than modish blindsiding rhetoric designed to titillate arts funders is, honestly, a bit unworthy of you.
So there we are. You think I'm being vague, I think you're being pretty vague (particularly in your woolly defence of the imagined criticism of your comparison of theatre and music); I dare say we're closer anyway than we think. I note how you mention "Beckett's theatrical texts" rather than "Beckett's plays", and I'm sure you do so carefully, and I quite agree. Beckett is a paradigmatic example of the kind of 'writing for theatre' that I'm advocating. You don't, presumably, think of his late work as empty spectacle?
Hope you're able to discern "what the fuck I'm talking about" in the above, and furthermore in these