Boston's Huntington Theatre Company will accept the 2013 Regional Theatre Award at the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 9. Along with announcing winners, the Tony committee praised the Huntington in a statement released in April:
"Promising new talent creates eclectic seasons of exciting new works and classics made current," the statement said. "The Huntington Theatre Company has gone above and beyond by mentoring playwrights in the Huntington Playwriting Fellows program, educating young people in theatre, and providing Boston-based companies with discounted audience services and facilities."
Artistic director and ARTery contributor Peter DuBois spoke to Radio Boston about the significance of the award and what Bostonians can expect from the company.
On why Huntington was chosen for a Tony:
I think we’re in a really exciting period right now and we've really expanded our new play programming. I can only go from what we've heard from the folks at the Tony Awards which was that a lot of the new work that we’re doing was being recognized. And our focus on Boston writers and really bringing Boston writers into a national scene I think was a big part of it, too.
You see it in the food movement, it’s all about eating local. I think Boston’s got a lot to offer in terms of writers directors, performers and I think that that’s being brought to bear on a national stage now. It’s very exciting.
On Lydia Diamond’s "Stickfly", produced by the Huntington Theatre in 2010:
Lydia is one of our Huntington playwriting fellows so she’s a local writer and someone we’re extremely proud of. "Stickfly" tells the story of the Levay family who are out on Martha’s Vineyard and fireworks kind of explode when the boys come home and we realize throughout the course of the play that the father has had an affair with the housekeeper. Over the course of the play they realize that the housekeeper’s daughter, who is filling in for her over the weekend, is actually their sister and it's quite an explosive and amazing story. And Lydia is actually developing it now for HBO. It looks like that’s going to go as a series so we’re really excited that that was born at the Calderwood here in Boston.
It digs deep in terms of the dialogue about race and class and integrates it into a really intriguing domestic melodrama. It's smart, it's funny, it's ferociously contemporary and it deals with the complexities of race in our time. It's also a story that takes place in our backyard, it takes place in Martha’s Vineyard.
On how technology, like new "tweet seats," where the audience can use their smart phones, is changing theater:
I took a pretty firm position when the “tweet seats” thing was happening because my feeling is when the curtain goes down the phones are off and your focus is on the stage. What we have introduced is something called “Twittermission,” where people during intermission can come out to the library and be in dialogue with one of our artists.
It could be a scenic designer that’s in New York. So you’re watching the show in Boston, you go out to the lobby, the projection designer, the scenic designer or maybe it’s an understudy who’s downstairs in the dressing room is tweeting live during intermission and those tweets are on our flat screens in the lobby and you can interact and interface with those artists. What I love is also people from other cities can be in conversation with people who are in our lobby.
On the audience's attention span:
I do feel like part of the limited attention span is that people are hanging on every word. They’re not leaning back and letting things wash over them. So every word, every thought, every beat in the play has to have meaning and significance. So that is what I think has shifted. Our attention spans are much more, I find, sharper.
On theater in Boston:
I don’t think it’s a mistake that Boston was considered the "try out city." "Oklahoma" started here. It used to be that musicals and plays would start in Boston and we were the "try out city" for New York. I think it’s because back then, and today, Boston has always had a sophisticated audience ... I think the sophistication of the audience makes it incredibly exciting to create work here. For artists who may be trying to get their work in to larger markets like New York and London, Boston is a great city to be developing your work because there’s a sophisticated crowd watching your work. So as you’re going through preview periods and you're responding to what the audience is saying or hearing you know you have a really good barometer here. You know the taste buds that are deciding on the final balance of the dish, those taste buds are really sophisticated.
This program aired on June 4, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.