Celebrating ten years covering drama for the Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout is such a gifted guide to stagecraft that he’s begun to practice the art himself. No surprise, really. Before the play became (exclusively) the thing, Teachout was a gadabout, though of the high-end literary kind. Among other pursuits–including sitting, presumably lonely, as a conservative on the review committee for the NEA–Teachout played jazz bass and wrote a bunch of books. He knows from Balanchine to Mencken, from the apex of elegance to the power of pith. Music still figures prominently in his creative imagination–his first play was called Satchmo at the Waldorf. Satchmo, of course, is the great Louis Armstrong, about whom Teachout also wrote a book. And for all his dedication to Thespis, the critic/playwright (and librettist!) is still at the book business, bringing next to sonorous life the elegant Duke Ellington.
There’s just one complaint, really: it’s rather a shame that Teachout’s bailiwick at the Journal has been relegated only to that drama which transpires in theaters. For the most far-reaching, devastating, and mysterious drama of the last decade certainly took place on Wall Street itself.
Terry Teachout (photo: c-spanclassroom.org)