Theater: Directors Fiddle, Authors Burn

Playwrights take a stand against radical "interpretations"


complete parody of the play," read the judgment. "Anybody who cares for the work couldn't fail to be disgusted." It was the kind of criticism that theater people dread, but there was worse. The statement was stapled to the playbill, and it was written by the playwright.

Last month the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., opened a new production of Endgame, Samuel Beckett's 1957 comedy of despair. In his stage directions, the Nobel-prizewinning author specified a parched setting, an empty room with two small windows. Director JoAnne Akalaitis set the action instead in a kind of postapocalyptic subway station,...

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