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Sellars' Vision

August 31, 1986

Perhaps all of us who have come to California do so, at least in part, to escape the failures--private or professional--of our lives "back East." That has always been the lure of the Golden West and its promise to new opportunities.

But when Peter Sellars says that he is finally ready to embark "on my real life," one wonders at his sense of history, not to mention responsibility ("Peter Sellars: Boy Wonder Grows Up," by Dan Sullivan, Aug. 24).

No man of the Ph.D. candidates to whom he compares himself would have been allowed to nearly wipe out two theaters (the American National Theater and the Boston Shakespeare Company).

Perhaps Sellars is indeed a "genius" and a visionary, and in time audiences may indeed learn to "read" his directorial "language." But, before granting him his reality doctorate, I would suggest he take one more course: on the social function of the theater.

It may be well and good that the theater reflects the personal vision of individuals such as Sellars and others (Robert Wilson comes immediately to mind), but it must also reflect the need for society to express itself: Writers and directors must speak for a community, as well as to it.

Otherwise, our theaters, while brilliant, will be arrogant, sterile and bankrupt, no matter what our best intentions might have been.


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