What Do You Want? Our Readers Vote for Drama



by Austin Baer

Not long ago, we asked our readers which of the performing arts they would like to see more of on television. The leading category—ahead of opera, ballet, symphonic music, modern dance, jazz, mime, and striptease (honest)—was drama. “One fine play a week would not be too many!” writes Dr. Lois R. Fries, of Columbia, South Carolina. No, indeed! Dr. and Mrs. H. J. Sawyer, of West Bloomfield. Michigan, long for oldtime live TV drama like CBS’s Playhouse 90— which would certainly look classic if the executives broke open the vaults for reruns of, say, The Eighty Yard Run. starring the young Paul Newman, or Requiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.

Margaret R. Wise, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, expresses a fondness for “plays based on historical novels.” Hear, hear! And how about a rerun of The PalUsers, based on six novels by Anthony

Our November Arts & Entertainment Poll asked the question “Do you watch the performing arts on television? If so, which art forms would you like to see more 01“.’“ Many readers listed more than one preference. The top 5 categories were:

DRAMA: 32%

OPERA: 28%





Trollope, with its absorbing portrait of a Victorian marriage of convenience that over a lifetime transforms itself into a marriage of true minds?

A reader from Renton, Washington, would like more drama with “fewer commercial breaks,” a wish many viewers share, though not Johnnie L. Painter, of San Jose. California, who has no use at all for the performing arts on the box: “TV fails to capture the grandeur.” There goes the bathwater, and the baby too. Consider the violent, majestic sweep of the Henry VI trilogy and its

sequel, Richard III, as mounted for the small screen by Jane Howell in the PBS series The Shakespeare Plays.

Some of our respondents crave spectacle. Brian Blanchette, of Hope Valley, Rhode Island, requests shows specially produced for TV, with “better production values.” Translation: bigger budgets. (Result: more commercials.) Dr. Beth Gruber, of Garden Grove, California, prefers bare bones: “Theater w ith a neutral viewpoint, that is, with a fixed camera position without closeups of actors’ faces etc. There are other things going on on stage besides the face of the speaker. We should be the ones to decide w here to focus.” Yes, a thousand times yes, in theory, but unless you measure your screen in yards (and unless it is high-definition), what is there to see but a blur? I‘11 take multiple cameras every time, camera crews with steady hands, and a video director in command of the medium.