Saturday, July 03, 2010

Theatre is not all one thing....


One of the shortest interviews in Richard Eyre's book of them (Talking Theatre, Interviews with Theatre People) is with Cameron Mackintosh, the extraordinary entrepreneurial producer of shows like Les Mis, Phantom, Miss Saigon and more.

In this interview there's no talk of Brecht, or Beckett, or Joan Littlewood - people who dominate the questions in many of the other interviews. Here the name of Andrew Lloyd Webber isn't temporarily forgotten by the interviewee (as it is in the preceding interview with John McGrath); in this interview, of course, it's celebrated.

There's one brief question and answer I'd like to quote - it comes from page 278 of the book.

Eyre: Do you accept some sort of hierarchy of art by whichpeople talk about operetta as sort of second-rate are and, as it were, Verdi and Mozart as first-rate art?

Mackintosh: I always thought the best defence of that was a wonderful critic in the Sunday Times called Harold Hobson, who wrote about a Ray Cooney farce saying: 'This is on an equal part with Hamlet.' Because, you know, whatever the art is, as long as it is absolutley of the best and true to what it is trying to do, then it is a marvellous piece of work. To me, there is absolutely no difference.

Through the rest of the book we've had the 'intellectual' theatre people saying some wonderful things, but also seemingly focused on political, physical, metaphysical, out on the edge theatre. Mackintosh is quite refreshing. Pity there's no more of him in the book!


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