A favorite experience of travelers to London is a visit to Great Britains National Theatre, but for a whole lot less money American theater lovers can enjoy the National Theatre Live HD broadcasts at Macons Douglass Theatre, again this year one the few participating venues in the Southeast.
Coming Sunday to the historic theater is the NTs 50th anniversary screening of the 2010 broadcast of The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett, a quintessential British playwright if there ever was one. The Bennett play was well-received when it was initially broadcast in 2010, and its likely to be popular in 2013, especially among Anglophiles.
Briefly, the curtain rises on the rehearsal of a play (Calibans Day) about a fictional meeting between the poet W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten in Audens rooms at Oxford University about 25 years after they last met. In the course of the rehearsal, the actors and stage manager discuss their roles, the actors craft and other issues in the realm of art. A review in The Telegraph (of London) calls the show filthily funny and unexpectedly moving.
Since the NT playbill for the show is available online as a pdf (www.ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/11638-the-habit-of-art), complete with comments by Bennett, seeing one of these broadcasts truly is the next best thing to being there.
A friend of mine at the University of Georgia drives from Athens to see some of the NT shows at the Douglass, and I suspect more theater folk would come from around the state if they fully comprehended the splendor of these broadcasts and the opportunity they offer. All that is lacking is a restaurant next door serving steak and kidney pie.
Several more of these NT productions (including War Horse) will come to the Douglass this season, just one more thing for Macon to be proud of. Spread the news.
The Habit of Art
When: 3 p.m. Nov. 17
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $20 adults, $15 students and seniors