The line from Death of a Salesman "Attention must be paid," is on my mind. And, it's not because there is yet another revival of the 50+ year old play now in previews.
Note to self: I've got to remind myself to get tickets to this show before the reviews come out -- because Phillip Seymour Hoffman will probably be amazing. (Trivia: he played Willy Loman in a HS production).
But this line resonates with me because earlier this year in the span of six days (2/21 - 2/27) the world lost three theater professionals who should be remembered.
Barney Rosset (1922-2012). Rosset bought Grove press for $3000 in the early '50s and brought D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller to our shores.
His first major publishing juggernaut was Waiting For Godot by Samuel Becket. He paid $150 for it and gave the author a 2.5% royalty. The play has sold more than 2.5 million copies. But Rosset also subsequently published plays by Brecht, Alfred Jarry, Clifford Odets, Jean Genet, Joe Orton, Ionesco, Harold Pinter, and David Mamet to name just a few.
I remember collecting Grove plays because I thought -- if it was published by Grove -- it had to have some merit. Who would dare publish playwrights with the ferocity that Mr. Rosset once did? Perhaps only Jeff Bezos has the means, but I doubt he has the world view and taste to have Ubu Roi and American Buffalo in the same hemisphere.
Theodore Mann (1924-2012). Mr. Mann co-founded the Circle in the Square theater which still stands on west 50th street. The theater moved there from Greenwich Village in the early seventies.
Mr. Mann produced and or directed over 200 productions. He was instrumental in shaping the careers of Al Pacino, Jason Robards, Geraldine Page and Colleen Dewhurst. He produced the American premier of Long Day's Journey into Night. With just that one production, his place is theater history is secured.
Howard Kissel (1942 - 2012) Howard Kissel wrote about the arts his entire career. He was a reporter and critic at Women's Wear Daily and then at the Daily News for twenty years.
A quote from the Kissel Daily News obit struck me,
“He always said he was the luckiest person alive, because he got to do everything he ever wanted,” said John Sullivan, a friend and former editor at The News. “He got to live in New York, attend all the shows and museum openings, write about theater and write books about the great people of theater.”
His books include a biography of David Merrick, the lectures of Stella Adler and his most recent "New York Theater Walks" were all published by Applause Theater Books.
He seemed like a person you could just not hate as the user comments from this nytimes.com blog post attest: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/theater-talkback-howard-kissel-a-man-who-relished-culture/
Thanks for paying attention.
On to the next production!