The Art of Distance No. 36


The Art of Distance

In March, The Paris Review launched The Art of Distance, a newsletter highlighting unlocked archive pieces that resonate with the staff of the magazine, quarantine-appropriate writing on the Daily, resources from our peer organizations, and more. Read Emily Nemens’s introductory letter here, and find the latest unlocked archive selections below.

“As we revealed last week, the Winter 2020 issue of The Paris Review features the theater—an Art of Theater interview with Suzan-Lori Parks and excerpts of three new plays by David Adjmi, Kirk Lynn, and Claudia Rankine. Read more about the genesis of this special issue and the collaboration with guest theater editor Branden Jacobs-Jenkins in my editor’s note. This week, we hope you pick up the new issue (it’s available online now and hitting newsstands Tuesday, December 8), but in the meantime I wanted to share some earlier theatrical content from the Review. Read on for unlocked pieces from issue no. 142, the last installment of the Review with a theatrical focus, but also from another touchstone issue—no. 39, which features conversations with twentieth-century theater titans Edward Albee and Harold Pinter. For another dose of theater, RSVP for our issue launch event on December 16 at 6 P.M. ET. It will feature a live table read from Kirk Lynn’s new play, The First Line of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ Until then, read well, stay healthy, and have a good week.” —EN

Photo: Albarubescens. CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wendy Wasserstein’s Art of Theater interview includes a conversation about humor in the theater. “Humor masks a lot of anger, and it’s a means of breaking up others’ pretenses and of not being pretentious yourself.”

A small country shop on the island of Inishmaan circa 1934. Door in right wall. Counter along back, behind which hang shelves of canned goods, mostly peas.” Step into the opening scene of Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan.

Going back to 1966, Edward Albee’s Art of Theater interview begins with a question about getting panned. “I see you’re starting with the hits,” Albee replies. But even in his less popular endeavors, Albee finds grace. “I retain for all my plays, I suppose, a certain amount of enthusiasm. I don’t feel intimidated by either the unanimously bad press that Malcolm got or the unanimously good press that some of the other plays have received.”

And because what would a week be without some unlocked poetry, here are two theatrical poems: D. Nurkse’s “First Love” describes a performance of Romeo and Juliet, and Frank O’Hara’s “To John Wieners” captures the swirling energy of the theater before curtain.


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