A key bit of the post (though you should read the whole annoying enchilada) is:
I sometimes think the decline of naturalism as the standard format for contemporary drama has simply made it easier for writers to get sloppy in ways that were more or less forbidden to contemporaries of Ibsen and Shaw and Wilde. Young playwrights these days employ direct address indiscriminately, breaking the spell of essentially naturalistic works because they have failed to grapple with some problem of structure. One reason the work of Annie Baker (“The Aliens,” “Circle Mirror Transformation”) stands out is her very sparing use of direct address.
The idea that you have to know the rules – even master them – before you break them seems to have lost some of its currency, because in our post-Beckett theatrical landscape there really are no rules.
Yay for the Annie Baker love, but still... really, dude? Isherwood especially (and rather unkindly) calls out emerging playwright Kristoffer Diaz:
Examples are almost too numerous to bother citing. A particular offender from last season was the Kristoffer Diaz play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” about the colorful world of professional wrestling. I’d estimate that at least three-quarters of the play consisted of, um, elaborate monologues from one or another character describing events the playwright was unable to dramatize or chose not to. This secondhand description was particularly frustrating in a play about a sport that thrives on the display of combat. Conflict, that key ingredient in drama, is hard to come by when the characters in a play refuse to engage with one another.I didn't get to see Diaz's play, but the reasons why Isherwood is dead wrong where the direct address is concerned are numerous. I'd list them all now, but lucky for me I don't have to. Diaz has already done it over on his blog. Seriously, read it.
I happen to fucking love the direct address. As an audience member and as a playwright. Do I like fourth wall dramas as well? Totally. It seems to me the theater lacks diversity on every front - lack of women, people of color, working class playwrights- but we also lack diversity in form. Isn't there (or shouldn't there be) room for everybody at the table? For all voices? It just seems to me that these sweeping proclamations about what plays should or should not be are poisonous.
I've noticed lots of criticism about young playwrights. We're too quirky! We don't follow the rules! Just google Sarah Ruhl, the queen bee of new and "quirky" playwrights, and you'll see what I mean. Some people spew perfect vitriol at her.
The thing is, we're not quirky at all. Just like every single generation before us, we have a different voice and our own rules. Whether Isherwood chooses to take part in our stories, to support our voices, is up to him.