RNT Shortlists 20th Century's 100 Top PlaysDate: 21 September 1998
The Royal National Theatre is embarking on a project to catalogue the 100 most important plays of the 20th century. The project, entitled NT2000, is a celebration of 100 years of theatre in the lead-up to the new millennium.
Throughout 1999, the National's Platform programme will stage presentations from the 100 plays selected. The presentations will run chronologically, at approximately two per week throughout the year, and will include a reading from the play, preceded by an introduction or interview to place it in its historical and social context. Where possible, authors, original cast members and other people connected with the play or period will be invited to provide a personal perspective of the work.
In order to determine a representative sample, the RNT is polling a wide variety of individuals both inside and outside the theatrical profession. Voters are asked to list plays which they believe are 'great', 'influential' or 'important'. 'The choice of the plays is, naturally, one of the most difficult areas of the project to undertake,' says Angus MacKechnie, RNT Platforms Manager. 'We are seeking to canvass the opinions of numerous writers, actors, directors, designers, administrators, critics, academics, commentators, politicians and many other interested parties to arrive at the final list.'
Despite the democratic nature of nominations, there are some restrictions - most controversially, the exclusion of musicals, a decision which has been greeted with outrage by many prominent producers and directors. In an interview with The Independent, Sir Cameron Mackintosh commented, 'I simply don't understand it. The big musicals have been seen by more people in the 20th century than most plays. So when they use the word significant, I would ask significant to whom? Don't the general public count? What are the criteria for these people?' Eight of the ten longest running shows in London are musicals, including Mackintosh's Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.
According to MacKechnie, 'plays with music' are allowed but musicals are not as these are simply a different art form.
Platforms is a regular RNT programme of early evening discussions, readings, interviews and debates. For NT2000, the presentations will take place twice weekly at 6.00PM and will last for approximately 45 minutes. NT2000 will be accompanied by a complementary NT Education programme.