Saturday 19 July 2008

everyman and the select few

Michael Frayn's new play Afterlife at the National, about Max Reinhardt's staging of the morality play Everyman, shows how the great director and impresario attempted to break down the barriers between theatre and audiences - a very Fraynian theme in itself (see Noises Off, Look, Look).

Reinhardt's goal was to bring Everyman to everyone. But, as so often, this involved substantial patronage from the very few. Wealth could not save the character of Everyman in the play, Frayn notes, but it could save Everyman the production. In a fascinating postscript, he writes,

'It sounds more and more like the situation in the British (and the German) theatre today, which struggles piously to present plays about poverty and degradation to an audience not very closely acquainted with either - and which has to be subsidised by the charitable efforts of people on even more remote terms with them.'

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