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This is apparently the season of the improbable stage production here in SoCal. Two much-acclaimed works of cultural criticism (each with ties to the journalistic tradition, but with very different results) have been set loose upon the stage in L.A. this fall. I saw one this weekend, which sadly maintains the self-congratulatory analysis-free (and solution-free) sensitivity to the plight of the oppressed of its originary text. (This production has also led me to the conclusion that the revolving set is the worst catastrophe ever to be visited upon the legitimate theater.) The other, which originated in New York last year, I haven’t seen, but am somewhat curious about. At least there’s something inherently theatrical about the original text, having performance as its subject, but nonetheless — can the critical import of the analysis of a performance be fed back into performance?

There’s something in this new trend, I think, that bodes well for the future of scholarship. No longer content with the mythical crossover book, which extends beyond its academic audience to reach a general readership, the scholarly author can now have as a grail the sale of stage (or, perhaps, even film) rights to her newest monograph. In fact, I am thinking of taking on as a new project the stage and/or film adaptation of other works of criticism. Any suggestions?

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