Monday, August 28, 2006

Stoppard on Utopia

NY Magazine interviews Sir Tom about the Coast of Utopia trilogy.

... But in theater, Stoppard is addicted to complexity; critics have said that his ideas overwhelm the drama. He’s acutely aware of that delicate balance. At the moment, Stoppard is eyeing the trilogy “rather beadily,” he says. “You’re in danger of falling into this trap of thinking that because something is true, then it absolutely must deserve its place.” Each of the three plays will roll out on its own; come February, theatergoers with iron glutes will be able to see the whole nine hours in one gulp.

Stoppard admits to tireless ambition—“I don’t understand an artist who is not trying to do it for posterity”—and even suggests that a few of his subjects “would be dealt with more deeply in prose.” But what’s likely to make The Coast of Utopia a delight rather than a slog (aside from Billy Crudup, BrĂ­an O’Byrne, Ethan Hawke, and Martha Plimpton) is a narrative scope—­encompassing revolutions and doomed love ­affairs—that you’d expect from Cecil B. DeMille. Could this have been a film? “I think I would get the movie thrown back at me, because these arguments between Russians, they go on rather long,” he says. “To me it’s a fairly ordinary kind of play. I think I’m a difficult conventional writer.”

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