The Drama League honored two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway actress Patti LuPone at its 27th Annual Benefit Gala on Monday. She took the opportunity to rally on behalf of up-and-coming playwrights and composers.
“We are at a point in the theater where I don’t know whether new playwrights and new composers can have a voice on Broadway,” she told Niteside at the event. “And it’s crucial that they have a voice.”
The event at the Pierre Hotel included performances highlighting LuPone's career. She said that the honor was especially meaningful because of The Drama League’s commitment to fostering the creation of new work from emerging artists.
“They’ve been in existence for a hundred years, and they’re patrons of the theater,” she said. “They love the theater, they have the money to support the theater, and that is a very important thing -- that patrons who have the means support people in the business to help keep it alive.
“This particular event, for example, is supporting young directors."
Proceeds from the gala will aid The Drama League’s Directors Project, a program that enables young directors in early phases of their careers to assist well-known directors across the country, as well as stage their own productions during a festival in New York.
LuPone stressed that the creation of new work is not possible without producers who support it and audiences who want to see it.
“My fear is that there isn’t an audience for new work because Times Square has gotten so skewed -- it has nothing to do with the theater anymore," she said. "That’s my big problem.
“My other big problem is that all of the big producers -- Disney, Universal, Cameron Mackintosh-- should be supporting black box theater. If they’re making a zillion dollars on 'Wicked' or 'Mary Poppins,' they should take some of that money and create a black box for new composers and lyricists and playwrights.
“Then, we have a chance to grow with them, they have a chance to grow with us, and we get to be educated and consciousness is raised. And theater lives.”