Albert Innaurato Gives Part II of an Exclusive Interview with SV's Bob Shuman.
Innaurato’s short play Doubtless, produced by John McCormack, appeared at 59E59’s Summer Shorts series in 2014. Gemini, winner of the Obie Award, became the fifth longest-running play to appear on Broadway: premiering Off-Off-Broadway in 1976, and moving to Broadway in 1977, it ran for four years (1, 819 performances). The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie won a second Obie in 1977. Other plays include Passione, Magda and Callas, Coming of Age in Soho, Gus and Al, and Dreading Thekla. While attending the Yale School of Drama Innaurato wrote The Idiots Karamazov, I Don't Normally Like Poetry but Have You Read Trees, and Gyp, the Real-Life Story of Mitzi Gaynor with Christopher Durang. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Vera: U.S.O. Girl; additional television credits are: The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and short plays for PBS, including Death and Taxes. Innaurato has directed many operas, premiering new work as well as interpreting classics, for a small company in Philadelphia, where he moved to work at the Prince Music Theater. Adjunct at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Temple University, essayist, and cultural critic in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and very frequently in Opera News, Innaurato blogs about serious music and opera at: http://mrsjohnclaggartssadlife.blogspot.com/.
Why won’t you work with Streisand?
I almost did, when I had jobs out there. But I can't imagine writing anything that would resonate with her in any way. But she is a very smart person, and I bite my lip in furious jealousy at Larry Kramer's getting to work with her.
What do you hope for when getting a play produced? What kind of actors do you look for? What do you need from a director?
Getting a play produced seems like a dream to me now, harder than it seemed when I was young in Philadelphia–when I was merely dreaming about a career.
Today, we have the not-for-profit movement, which in my view has produced and promoted tons of crap and also-rans and, despite its category, is essentially the worst kind of commercial theater, with none of the advantages the actual commercial theater had for playwrights
Institutional theater only does so many plays a season. They plan seasons more than a year in advance. Most of them need money. Because they need money, they are in the business of sure things. A play should be a good prospect for rave reviews, from a worthless press full of ignorant idiots. The raves should draw producers, who are genuinely able to “move” the play to a commercial run. Having produced a lot of these plays gives the theater a “great brand.” A great brand is crucial in not-for-profit arts for raising money from funders and donors, who want to feel proud of where they put their money, and who also are being solicited by dozens and dozens of beggars–I mean artists.
For the playwright, who receives the privilege of what may mean many compromises in mounting the work, financial payment is minimal. He or she also promises the theater company a large percentage of any income that accrues from the play. So, considering the chances of the work getting sold to the movies, being produced often in the bigger regional theaters, and getting a commercial mounting in London are important factors when the boss chooses what play to do. Some theaters try to come up with gimmicks to generate press: a season of all female playwrights, a season of playwrights under thirty, a season of political plays, and so on. Because money is an issue, only one or two of these theaters will consider a play with a large cast (more than four people). They must be sensitive to the ever-shifting winds of PC, the new censorship.
Incapable of being politically correct myself, I’m not interested in the new censorship, this contemporary effort to smother any truth and certainly, any individual perception or understanding in everything. We are a society that can no longer tolerate risk, shock, rage, intense disagreement, confrontation, or scandal.