sketches (as well as his own journals,ndiaries, and other materials collectednon the North American expedition) innthe family castle near Koblenz, wherenthey remained undisturbed until beingndiscovered following World War II. ccnShehbaz H. Safrani is a writer andnpainter based in New York.nSTAGEnBeware thenLimelightnby David Kaufmann”Who can keep up with anythingnthese days?”n—Denis Donoghue,nThe New Repubhc, 3/10/86n”If a National Theater is to be innonly one city, it should, of course,nbe in New York, the center of thencountry’s cultural life and the fountnof its theatrical traditions. That’snwhere the acting and directing talentnwould most naturally gravitate.”n—Benedict Nightingale,nFifth Row CenternDespite the bad press it receives bothnnationally and locally. New York theaternis not as comatose or as bankrupt asnmany now suppose. What has been itsngreatest asset historically, its spectacularnabundance, remains its chief characteristicntoday. Despite the perennialnprophecies of doom and the sort ofnwistful nostalgia that informs our contemporarynviewpoint regardless ofntopic, New York continues to be thentheater capital of the country, if notnthe world.nThe false impression has to do withnthat loaded and jaded label, “Broadway,”nand the notion that Broadway isnsynonymous with New York theater.nSuch an attitude remains as provincialnas it ever was, and as far from annaccurate portrayal of what constitutesntheater in New York as it has beennsince the 30’s or 40’s, when the Off-nBroadway venue began to expandnmore or less in proportion with Broadway’snever-diminishing output. Thenreasons for the attitude are complicated.nBut what amounts to little morenthan a reactionary response has beennall too readily seized upon by thenbig-time financiers and Broadwaynfranchisers who bemoan their lossesnon three or four investments evennwhile they recoup those losses on ansingle “hit.”nIt is, after all, ludicrous to suggestnthat Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco,nBoston, Minneapolis, Seattle,nHouston, Louisville, New Haven,nPhiladelphia, or Washington, DC,nwith their one or two or three noteworthyntheater companies apiece, canneven begin to compete with the vastnscope of New York theater. New Yorknhas, to name only the more prominentncompanies. The Ensemble StudionTheatre, Playwrights Horizons,nRoundabout Theater, ManhattannTheatre Club, the WPA, the CirclenRep, the Hudson Cuild, the AmericannPlace, the Second Stage, The ProductionnCompany, Mirror Repertory Theatre,nThe Music-Theatre Group/nLenox Arts Center, La Mama,nTheatre for the New City, VineyardnTheater, BAM, Theater of the OpennEye, and perhaps the most significantnof all, Joe Papp’s Public Theater,nwhich alone houses numerous stagesnand annually introduces more thanntwice as many productions as, say, thenGoodman or the Guthrie or the AmericannRepertory Theatre.nEach of these companies behavesnlike the more celebrated regional theaterncompanies throughout the country,nand a number of them even providenthe repertory situations for which thenmore vociferous critics of Americanntheater apparentiy pine. Last year evennintroduced the first of what may becomenan annual event, unique to NewnYork: the American Theater Exchange,na consortium of productionsnfrom American regional theater. (Thenfirst season included Faulkner’s Bicyclenfrom the Yale Repertory Theatre, Season’snGreetings from the Alley Theatrenof Houston, and In the Belly of thenBeast from the Mark Taper Forum innLA.)nDuring the 365 days in 1985, Inmanaged to attend 144 different playsnand musicals on that narrow spot ofnland between the Hudson and the EastnRivers; and I have no way of knowingnhow many such events I missed in thensame area. Of course, I could tell younhow many shows opened on Broadwaynduring the 1984-85 theatrical seasonn— 31 —and I could add that it was fivenfewer than arrived on Broadway duringnthe preceding season, and 19 fewernthan the 1982-83 season. But the Off-nBroadway circuit seemed to swellnsimultaneously—and in more thannjust quantifiable ways. And that farnmore nebulous region which has naturallyncome to be known as Off-Off-nBroadway behaved very much like thencosmos—i.e., in both observable andnmysterious ways.nMany claim that the greatest tragedynin American drama is that there isnnone. Part of the mandate which crit-nLeft to right: Alan Wilder and Gary Sinise in a scene from Pinter’s ThenCaretaker. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.nnnMAY 1986/43n