In the last year I have seen shows in Off Broadway theaters from, among other places, Argentina, Canada, England, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Poland, Russia and Scotland. New York is as much a global theater capital as ever, so why doesn’t it always seem that way?
In part it’s because the cultural world has been slowly shrinking for decades. It has been a long time since Howard Taubman in The New York Times wondered why American artists didn’t do more to welcome those from abroad. “Did they think they had nothing to learn from the visitors?” he asked in 1967 in an article about a New York meeting of the International Theater Institute, an organization designed to foster discussion within the industry.
Broadway sticks to a diet of prestige dramas from London while BAM, Lincoln Center Festival and LaMaMa E.T.C. are known for the strength of the adventurous foreign work they host. In the last couple of years a new generation of globetrotting producers, some of whom were born abroad (including Vallejo Gantner of Performance Space 122 and Peter Tear, who runs 59E59 Theaters with Elysabeth Kleinhans), has become more aggressive in pursuing international work…The result has been an excellent season for foreign shows.