NOTE: This short essay by Tom O'Horgan is part
of the longer article listed above.
Invite The Young In
by Tom O'Horgan
I am not a member of that speed-freak society that believes breaking windows and raging through the streets is the only important theater today. However, a cursory thumbing of the last half decade, its assassinations, war, and general unrest could lead you to believe that someone is trying to tell us something.
When we first auditioned actors for "Hair" it was almost impossible to arouse any response from young people. The hunt for the original 30 elusive long-haired talents was the most arduous task in my memory. But a few months ago in San Francisco, 1,800 young heads showed up for the audition. This was followed in Chicago by 2,200 on the first day of the search. To date, over 4,000 have made themselves known to us in Chicago, and every week we see hordes of people here in New York. Coupling this with the Woodstock Festival last summer and the Moratorium, we begin to see a massing of people, mostly young, who wish to come together and participate in some significant event.
It seems obvious to everyone except those most vitally concerned with broadway's welfare that any peace demonstration or rock concert has more actual theater and audience than 90 percent of the boredom perpetrated on Broadway. No significant audience will sit still for the )two-and-one-half-hour double-talk smutty joke about tired businessmen set to plastic soulless period music) show.
I abhor that blue-haired audience that disdains the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation the young audience can give our theater. If they do not invite them in, they are sitting in the wake of our dearest friend.
Curiously, the new building codes have brought about new monuments to Broadway. It would seem a breath of air to build new theaters but, to my knowledge, these houses are faithfully reproducing all of the 19th-century mistakes. I have not heard of one flexible theater space being considered. No one knows in what direction theater will go but most certainly it will not return to the 19th-century.
Theater will not die. It will just move elsewhere, and, if we assiduously apply the methods we have been using, Broadway will become a parking lot full of cars with no place to go.
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