Deconstructing Richard

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As far as scaling back the more experimental nature of some of his work, Hamburger admits to having gained some perspective during his tenure. "There are audiences out there who want to be challenged by a Sternheim Project, and there are audiences who enjoy a Having Our Say [Emily Mann's Broadway hit about a pair of 100-year-old African-American sisters, which DTC will stage as the last show of its current season]. A season should be balanced to please everybody. I enjoy both kinds of shows. And plus, now that I have a kid, I want to do more children's programming.

"Back during my first season, I chose A Doll's House, The Cherry Orchard, and A Streetcar Named Desire," he recalls. "And people complained that they were such safe, familiar plays. Well, they're saying the same thing about this season, with plays like An Ideal Husband and Long Day's Journey Into Night. But it's all how you look at the material. I mean, we're still dealing with Oscar Wilde and Eugene O'Neill, for God's sake."

Hamburger promises to make Long Day's Journey something more than everyone expects. And so far, his more predictable play selections have reflected an intriguingly contemporary political and social sensibility. The art of theater, after all, is doing more with less. But when talented artists are reduced to beggars, their imaginations wither in a particularly tragic way. Let's all pray Richard Hamburger doesn't die a pauper's death before our eyes.

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Jimmy Fowler