Saturday, July 5, 2014
Terry Teachout, the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, was interviewed about his views on theater at Rollins College. He is also the critic-at-large of Commentary, and the author of "Sightings," a biweekly column for the Friday Journal about the arts in America. He also writes about the arts on his blog, “About Last Night”. His latest book, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, was published by Gotham Books. He wrote part of Duke at the MacDowell Colony and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012 to support the book completion. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, was premiered in 2011 in Orlando, Florida starring Dennis Neil as Satchmo. Dennis's performance was powerful and convincing at that world premiere production. It would be hard to imagine another actor filling those shoes. Since that production, Dennis moved to Los Angeles. Satchmo was later produced last year by Shakespeare and Company of Lenox, Massachusetts, Long Wharf Theatre of New Haven, Connecticut, and the Wilma Theater of Philadelphia.
Satchmo at the Waldorf transferred to New York's Westside Theatre, an off-Broadway house, on March 4, 2014. It closed there on June 29, 2014, after 18 previews and 136 performances. According to The New Yorker, "Teachout, Thompson, and the director, Gordon Edelstein, together create an extraordinarily rich and complex characterization. The show centers on the trumpeter’s relationship with his Mob-connected Jewish manager of more than thirty-five years, Joe Glaser Thompson forcefully inhabits both men, and throws in a chilling Miles Davis, delivering an altogether riveting performance." Thompson won the 2013-14 Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Solo Performance" for his performance in the play.
After reviewing so many shows that didn't work, Terry gained insights on what does work best in theater. The simple act of constantly writing made it possible for him to create any scene needed with honest compelling emotion. Sometimes simple persistence and perseverance is what is needed to keep the creative process going. Terry remains an inspiration, sharing his insights with Rollins students year after year.