The Playgoer: April 2011

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Archives of the Future


Musical theatre historian Doug Reside recounts the mind-bending task of trying to assemble a Rent archive from Jonathan Larson's old MS Word files.
The final draft of RENT on Larson's disks was saved at 12:38 PM on Monday, January 15 using a copy of Microsoft Word 5.1 for the Macintosh.  Opening this file with a vintage copy of the software, it's possible to see the file more or less as Larson saw it in 1996....When I open the same file with a simple text editor like Text Wrangler, though, the text appears to be somewhat different.  In the picture below, you can see the line "Before the virus takes hold" appears as "Before you enter the light."

But I'm looking at the same file!  What's going on?  It turns out early versions of Microsft Word had a setting called "fast save" to speed up the frequent action of writing to a file (a slow process in those days of floppy disks and computers that ran only about 2% as fast as today’s iPhones).  "Fast save" worked by appending revisions to the end of a file rather than completely overwriting the existing the text.  Word 5.1 knew to look for these revisions and integrate them into the main text when the file was opened.  A text editor, on the other hand, just opens the text as it finds it.
His bigger point (from an earlier post) is that you dramatists out there need to start thinking about when you're famous and get smart about your backup software!
Today, researchers at NYPL can read the music manuscripts of Gustav Mahler a century after they were written.  However, unless today's artists and libraries work together to find ways of preserving the digital drafts, emails, even Facebook accounts that now represent most of the contemporary creative and social record, there will be a gaping hole in our cultural history a century from now. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Regional Awards Roundup: DC

Part of an ongoing series...

Monday night was the Helen Hayes Awards, honoring the best of the Washington, DC theatre season. The winners were...


Outstanding Choreography, Resident Production
Parker Esse, Oklahoma!, Arena Stage
Outstanding Costume Design, Resident Production
Anastasia Ryurikov Simes, Othello, Synetic Theater
Outstanding Director, Resident Musical
Mary Zimmerman, Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Director, Resident Play
Howard Shalwitz, Clybourne Park, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Paata Tsikurishvili, Othello, Synetic Theater
Outstanding Lead Actor, Non-Resident Production
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood, The Kennedy Center
Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical
Geoff Packard, Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Nicholas Rodriguez, Oklahoma!, Arena Stage
Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production
Caroline Sheen, Mary Poppins, The Kennedy Center
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Musical
Lauren Molina, Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Lead Actress, Resident Play
Erika Rose, In Darfur, Theater J
Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Production
Colin K. Bills, The Master and Margarita, Synetic Theater
Outstanding Musical Direction, Resident Production
George Fulginiti-Shakar, Oklahoma!, Arena Stage
Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production
Daniel Ostling, Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production
Tom Teasley, The Ramayana, Constellation Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical
Ed Dixon, Sunset Boulevard, Signature Theatre
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Musical
Hollis Resnik, Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play
Naomi Jacobson, Richard II, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Outstanding Supporting Performer, Non-Resident Production
Josh Lamon, Hair, The Kennedy Center
The Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical
The Liar, David Ives, Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Helen Hayes Tribute, sponsored by Jaylee Mead
Tommy Tune (previously announced)
The James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Play
Louis Butelli, Henry VIII, Folger Theatre
The Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play
Johnny Ramey, Superior Donuts, The Studio Theatre
Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Musical
Sycamore Trees, Signature Theatre
Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Play
Othello, Synetic Theater
Outstanding Non-Resident Production
Thurgood, The Kennedy Center
Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences
If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Adventure Theatre
Outstanding Resident Musical
Candide, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Oklahoma!, Arena Stage
Outstanding Resident Play
Clybourne Park, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Hamlet, Folger Theatre
The John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company
No Rules Theatre Company (previously announced)
Factory 449: a theatre collective (previously announced)
The Washington Post Award for Innovative Leadership in the Theatre Community
Ford's Theatre, for their "History on Stage" and "History on Foot" programs (previously announced)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Normal Heart:" Update

Countering previous reports about actors in the Broadway revival of The Normal Heart not being quite ready, NYT mentions today, in an unrelated story about the play, that now "the entire cast is indeed off book."

Break a leg guys!  But maybe a prompter is a good idea just in case...

(Are there still prompters???)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Intiman Updates

Seattle Times critic Misha Berson follows up with the big picture on last week's surprise announcement of Seattle's Intiman Theatre suspending all operations.

Also, Artistic Director Kate Whoriskey (who was in the middle of her first season there) has officially resigned rather than wait out the uncertainty. Indeed, better than waiting around to be laid off after already having your paychecks stopped. Talk about adding insult to injury...

As an earlier commenter suggested, this may all have more to do with the local Seattle scene than the state of our nonprofit companies nationally. Still, I can't think of any other theatre as large (budget-wise) and as prominent (prestige-wise) going under in recent years. Can you?

Julie Taymor's Day in Court?

It had to happen...

Law & Order: Criminal Intent will take on the troubled Broadway production Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in an upcoming episode, TVLine reports.


The story will focus on a high-flying show called Icarus, which detectives begin investigating when a botched stunt leads to one of the actor's death. Suspects include a "high-strung and larger than life" director possibly modeled after Spider-Man's one-time director Julie Taymor. The episode also features a bisexual rock-star composer named Arno.
Given Law & Order's indebtedness to the NY theatre community's talent, consider this an homage?

(hat tip: Playbill)

Friday, April 22, 2011

NY Theatre on the Radio

WQXR, New York's last remaining classical music station, used to be owned by the NY Times, who sold it to public radio a couple of years ago. At the time I wondered what the impact might be on the theatre scene since the station was a prime venue for radio advertisements, given the overlap in arts audiences.

Well it turns out my fears were unfounded since, being a public broadcasting station, there are still plenty of commercials--they're just read by the announcer instead of produced by an ad company. ("This program is made possible by...") And I've noticed plenty of theatre productions--both commercial and nonprofit, Broadway and Off--doing some sponsoring to get their ad copy read on the air.

Now the station is going even further and producing a weekly feature: "Around Broadway" with guest star...NY Times' Charles Isherwood! I guess you can take the WQXR out of the Times, but you can't take the Times out of WQXR, huh.  (Ben Brantley used to do a very similar feature on the old QXR--reading abridgements of his reviews--along with lots of other Times reporters.)

I must say, though... given the state of classical music these days as a mostly nonprofit enterprise (nonprofit in live performance, but commercial in recording) I'm pretty disheartened by their Broadway-centric approach to this. Rather than actually celebrate the arts--and forge some "strength in numbers" with nonprofit stage companies in these days of arts funding cuts, not to mention nonprofit radio--it ends up looking like they just want in on some of that Broadway Brand buzz. Indeed, the two installments so far have focused on Broadway shows and the logo is a photo of Patti LuPone in Gypsy.

So while I'm glad I hope they think about renaming the show or at least expanding the focus to help further the sense of an NYC nonprofit community.  Or are they all in too much desperate competition with each other to do so!

You can listen to past and future installments on the site, if not live on the radio on Wednesday mornings at 9:30.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's not the Tweets, it's the Telephones

“You hope these sites generate good word of mouth, but they’re not the thing that is still, in this day and age, the best measure of our show’s potential popularity and financial return,” said Jerry Zaks, the veteran director of “Sister Act.” “That’s group sales.”
Interesting reminder from Patrick Healy in NYT about the purely 20th-century technology (i.e. phones) still driving most Broadway ticket sales.
Indeed it should come as no surprise that group-sales business is essential when you're trying to fill about 1,000 seats a show, eight times a week.

Of course, that's only a Broadway situation, with theatres that big. But notice the brief reference to an Anything Goes sale. That's a production of a nonprofit company, Roundabout. So there's one reason they're on Broadway (along with Manhattan Theatre Club and Lincoln Center)--access to the group-sales market.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Signs of the Times

 New York City, corner of 9th Avenue and 36th street.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lessac the Man

Things I learned from this weekend's NYT obituary of Arthur Lessac, the man behind the technique:

- He was not only still alive until April 7, he was 101 years old.

- He was a Jew born in Palestine, in 1909. (That's Ottoman Palestine, even before the British "Mandate.")

- His real name wasn't Lessac and still nobody knows what it really was. ("Throughout his adult life, he neither used nor mentioned it. He had no wish, his family said, to utter the name of the parents who had left him to his own devices when he was very young")

- He took the name Lessac from a Coney Island family he briefly lived with as a child when not upstate at the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society Orphan Asylum in Pleasantville, NY.

- He was heavily involved in the labor theatre scene of the 1930s, including serving as vocal coach for the legendary Pins and Needles revue and singing in a quartet with Paul Robeson. He taught at Stella Adler's studio, but broke with Elia Kazan in the fifties over his collaboration with the Blacklist.

- He also taught voice to rabbinical students at Jewish Theological Seminary.

- Finally, as to his signature training philosophy itself:
His method, Lessac Kinesensic Training, is a holistic, almost spiritual approach encompassing speech, singing and movement. Acutely concerned with sensation, the method teaches people to feel the vibrations of their own voices as they speak or sing. In doing so, it makes them aware of the bodily systems that work in concert to produce a voice pleasurable to speaker and hearer.


Mr. Lessac’s two books, “The Use and Training of the Human Voice” and “Body Wisdom: The Use and Training of the Human Body,” are assigned in drama programs throughout the country. Today, his work is carried on by the Lessac Training & Research Institute, which conducts workshops and teacher-training programs. 
What's your experience with Lessac?  Do you recommend his technique to young actors today?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulitzer to Clybourne Park

Good news!  The Pulitzer Board this year decided that: a) an award in drama would be appropriate, and b) that one of their selected jury's recommendations was worth taking! (If you recall, the latter was not the case last year...)

The winner is Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Runners up were Lisa D'Amour's Detroit and John Guare's A Free Man of Color.

Having not seen or read Clybourne Park, I can't comment on how deserving it is of the award. What I can say objectively, as an analyst, is that this is another big win for Chicago theatre (after August: Osage County's recent win, as well as last year's Ruined, which premiered at the Goodman) and an award that will put playwright Bruce Norris on the map in a bigger way, perhaps beyond what have been his two home bases, Steppenwolf and Playwrights Horizons.

I'll also back off from saying more given I know too members of the jury very well: LA Weekly critic (and sometime Playgoer guest-blogger) Steven Leigh Morris and CUNY Professor David Savran.

And given that Dr. Savran happens to be sitting on my dissertation committee I think it would be not only unethical but downright stupid not to recuse myself, don't you?

Full jury was:

Peter Marks, drama critic, The Washington Post (Chair)
Chris Jones, drama critic, Chicago Tribune
David Savran, distinguished professor of theater, CUNY Graduate Center
Lynn Nottage, playwright, New York City
Steven Leigh Morris, critic-at-large, LA Weekly
AnywayI may have little to say about this but I'm sure some of you have lots! Tell us what you think of the selections. Any overlooked titles you would have championed?  Remember that eligibility entailed a major US professional production during the 2010 calendar year.

Intiman Shuts Down

The Intiman Theatre drama continues. The board of this prominent Seattle nonprofit company which has been dealing with huge financial woes this year just announced they're bailing on the rest of the season effective immediately, in the hopes of reopening in 2012.

Meanwhile, they've laid off the entire staff (with two weeks' notice)--including the new artistic director Kate Whoriskey. The intention apparently was not to fire her, per se.  But let's see if she sticks around waiting till 2012...

(All this despite the board's announcement two weeks ago that everything was just fine.)

Quite an artistic director's nightmare.  Reminds me of the classic Seinfeld where George is all psyched to finally get a corporate job only to find out that the entire board is under indictment. ("Of course, you are aware...")

Otherwise, this is also a pretty big ship to go down in our fleet of professional regional theatres. One of Seattle's big three nonprofits, Intiman was also Bartlett Sher's theatre from 2000-2010. (It also won the Tony's Regional Theatre award in 2006.) And as David Brewster, of the Seattle micro-news site, Crosscut, reminds us, the other two institutions aren't doing so hot either:

ACT Theatre, which also dealt with a financial crisis by suspending operations for a season, has recently reinvented itself by using its multi-stage theater as a way to draw in varied audiences and mount some shows at lower costs. The Seattle Repertory Theatre is in a kind of controlled "pause," reducing costs while preparing succession plans and new directions.
Brewster also offers sound advice for Intiman's future:
Intiman has very much been a theater revolving around the needs and charisma of its star directors, most of whom were better as stage directors than as artistic directors who could make the whole company flourish. That approach is probably no longer affordable, and it may reflect a Broadway and New York orientation that has outlived its appeal. Now Intiman needs to think more about the present needs of the community: how this theater should fit in, what other users its playhouse might host, and how the whole teetering world of Seattle theater should adjust after this new seismic shock.
I think the problem, though, may not be whether or not Sher or Whoriskey were the best artistic directors possible for the place. Those with fewer NYC commitments might have been marginally better.  But could the theatre still have survived the huge systemic challenges going on right now to such institutions? Don't forget that this news comes on the heels of the Philadelphia Orchestra filing for Chapter 11.

What we may be seeing here is the first crack (or one of the many first cracks) in the whole regional theatre/LORT network that has defined the profession's national nonprofit landscape for the last fifty years. Basic economics tells us that a cyclical change is due, in response to a changing world. Where does it lead?

One lesson, perhaps: cities other than New York might find it harder to support more than one large nonprofit theatre institution. Who has money to subscribe to even one theatre season these days, let alone three. So either the subscription model goes, or the theatres themselves.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giving Lanford Wilson Notes

Jack Viertel offers a fond, and self-effacing, reminiscence.

Lanford Wilson, who died on March 24, gave me my first real lesson in dramaturgy. He did it with a characteristic mix of gentleness and anger, masking hurt with pride and wit. And he did it, as he so often did back in the ’80s, with a drink in his hand.

This was in Los Angeles in 1987, where he was working on rewrites for his play “Burn This,” which was in previews at the Mark Taper Forum. I was a young, ignorant staff dramaturge [sic!*] at the Taper, and he was, well, Lanford Wilson – my hero. I was expounding, pretentiously, no doubt, on some line of dialogue in his play, and he was staring at me with a look that I later came to recognize as veiled incredulity. Finally I must have overstepped my bounds. He drained all but the last swallow of a margarita, and then reared back and aimed the glass at my head.

He didn’t throw it, however. He just held it in place like a man who was wondering whether to let fly or not. Then he said, rather gently, “When speaking to a playwright you care about about his work, find a word other than ‘cliché.’ ” Then he drained the last swallow and put the glass down on the table and we moved on.


Chastened, I realized that pontificating to him about his play might be a genuinely stupid way to try to help. So I asked him what his preferred method of getting notes would be.

“On paper,” he said. “That way I can pin them to the wall and throw darts at them until I’m actually ready to read them. I never know when that will be.”
More here.

*NY Times still considers "dramaturg" too Germanic a spelling apparently, preferring a form of the word nobody, in any language, currently uses.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Staged Reading at Broadway Prices?

Healy reports today on NYTimes.com that the much anticipated revival (and B'way premiere) of Larry Kramer's landmark 1985 AIDS play The Normal Heart is so pressed for rehearsal time that they're not guaranteeing actors will be off book, making the whole production potentially a very dressed up stage reading at B'way ticket prices.

First their director, Joel Grey, got cast in a hit musical and will divide director duties (somehow) with George C. Wolfe.

Second, the production was meant to be a transfer of an actual staged benefit reading of the play in the fall. Problem is, they never planned the time necessary to go from script-in-hand to full staging.

Rick Miramontez--who has already provided the community with much entertainment in the thankless job of Spider-Man press rep--is on the job:

The show’s spokesman, Rick Miramontez has said all spring that “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s landmark play about AIDS and New York in the 1980s, will have “all the values associated with Broadway productions,” including a complete team of designers and full staging. But he has also noted that the 10-member cast has had relatively little time to prepare for the show, given standing commitments for several of them. Late last month, Mr. Miramontez (speaking on behalf of the producers) could not say definitively if the actors would be off book, instead repeating that the show would be “presentational in nature.” 
Yes, "all the values"! Except acting rehearsals.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Theatre in Ruins

Abandoned playhouse in Gary, Indiana--one of 75 ghost theatres throughout the USA featured on a thoroughly depressing yet stunning Buzzfeed photo compilation.

Below, what must have once been a lovely in-the-round space, the Starlite Music Theatre in Latham, NY.


(hat tip: Cote)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mer Khamis' Freedom Theatre

As a follow-up to last week's story of the murder of Palestinian actor/director Juliano Mer Khamis by Arab militants, here is a five-minute documentary profiling his "Freedom Theatre" in the West Bank--an arts center and school for Palestinian children.  As he movingly pleads at one point to the (implied) Western audience of the film, "We are not terrorists." Then, last week, as if to make a terrible point, he was killed by terrorists. You'd never know from these clips that he was soft on the Israeli occupation. But his genius was to use the model of artistic collaboration as a model for peaceful co-existence.


Also on You Tube is Mer Khamis's 90-minute film Arna's Children about his Jewish-Israeli mother and their founding of the Freedom Theatre together.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Regional Awards Roundup: Los Angeles

As Awards Season comes upon us, I thought it might be interesting to start posting the results of all the non New York City based awards that happen in our other theatre capitals around the country.

The point is not to validate all the troublesome competitive and commodifying aspects of awards in the arts, but rather to use such lists as a snapshot of what's going on around the country. I find it interesting to see what plays are getting done, who's acting in them (perhaps you'll see a name of a long lost colleague), what the up and coming companies are in different towns, etc.

Today's edition: Los Angeles and Monday's LA Weekly Awards devoted to "celebrating the best of L.A.'s small theaters"--i.e. not the Taper.

32nd annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards Winners


PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR

La Razón Blindada (Armored Reason), 24th Street Theatre

REVIVAL PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR (of a 20th- or 21st-century work)

Wit, Actors Co-op

MUSICAL OF THE YEAR

Hoboken to Hollywood, Reasoner Productions at the Edgemar Center for the Arts

DIRECTION (TIE)

Peter Haskell, Kataki, Prince Livingston Players at the McCadden Place Theatre

Simon Levy, Opus, Fountain Theatre  

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

Jeremy Aldridge, Hoboken to Hollywood, Reasoner Productions at the Edgemar Center for the Arts

COMEDY DIRECTION

Jaime Robledo, Watson, Sacred Fools Theater Company  

MUSICAL DIRECTION

Paul Litteral, Hoboken to Hollywood, Reasoner Productions at the Edgemar Center for the Arts

ENSEMBLE

Oedipus El Rey, Theatre @ Boston Court

MUSICAL ENSEMBLE

The Women of Brewster Place, Celebration Theatre

COMEDY ENSEMBLE

Yellow, Coast Playhouse

LEADING FEMALE PERFORMANCE

Nan McNamara, Wit, Actors Co-op

LEADING MALE PERFORMANCE

Kevin Brief, A Prayer for My Daughter, Crown City Theatre m

SUPPORTING FEMALE PERFORMANCE

Agatha Nowicki, Parasite Drag, Elephant Theatre Company

SUPPORTING MALE PERFORMANCE (TIE)

Tom Costello, Take Me Out, Celebration Theatre

Garrett Matheson, Take Me Out, Celebration Theatre

Thomas James O'Leary, Take Me Out, Celebration Theatre

TWO-PERSON PERFORMANCE

Robert Mammana and Will Bradley, The Twentieth-Century Way, Theatre @ Boston Court


SOLO PERFORMANCE

Ann Randolph, Loveland, Santa Monica Playhouse  

FEMALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE

Christine Estabrook, Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them, Blank Theatre

MALE COMEDY PERFORMANCE

Henry Dittman, Watson, Sacred Fools Theater Company


ONE-ACT PERFORMANCE

Candice Afia, Blood and Thunder, Moving Arts


PLAY WRITING

John Steppling, Phantom Luck, Gunfighter Nation at the Lost Studio

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT

Lee Kissman

QUEEN OF THE ANGELS

Jessica Kubzansky & Michael Michetti


PRODUCTION DESIGN

Brewsie and Willie, Poor Dog Group and the Center for New Performance at CalArts at the 7th Floor Penthouse

ADAPTATION

Luis Alfaro, Oedipus El Rey, Theatre@ Boston Court


LIGHTING DESIGN (TIE)

Efren Delgadillo Jr. and Adam Haas Hunter, Brewsie and Willie, Poor Dog Group and Center for New Performance at CalArts at the 7th Floor Penthouse

Dan Weingarten, A Tale Told By an Idiot, Psittacus Productions at Son of Semele Theatre/Lounge Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN

Christina Wright, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Open Fist Theatre Company

SET DESIGN

Potsch Boyd, Kataki, Prince Livingston Players at the McCadden Place Theatre

SOUND DESIGN
Robert Oriol, Oedipus El Rey, Theatre @ Boston Court

CHOREOGRAPHY
Tina Kronis, Anton's Uncles, Theatre Movement Bazaar at 24th Street Theatre/Bootleg Theater

PUPPET DESIGN
Lynn Jeffries, Project: Wonderland, Bootleg Theater

ORIGINAL MUSIC
Andrew Conrad and Andrew Gilbert, Brewsie and Willie, Poor Dog Group and the Center for New     Performance at CalArts at the 7th Floor Penthouse

FIGHT CHOREOGRAPHY
Louis Roth, Kataki, Prince Livingston Players at the Lex Theatre

PROJECTION DESIGN
Steven Calcote, The Limitations of Genetic Technology, Off-Chance Productions at                
    Theatre of NOTE 

TRANSLATION
Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe, The Marriage of Figaro, City Garage

SPECIAL CITATION

Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble's trilogy of original plays presented in repertory at the Powerhouse Theatre: Gospel According to the First Squad, Wounded, and Survived, collectively titled The War Cycle. Each concerned the U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan. The citation is given for breadth of vision and clarity of purpose by an ensemble

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Oscar Wilde in HD!

It looks like the Roundabout will be the first major US institutional theatre to try an NT-Live (or Met Opera) style HD simulcast of a live performance in multiple cinemas worldwide this June. A wee bit irony, though, that the production will a revival of an English classic, The Importance of Being Earnest, imported from Canada's Stratford Festival.  (Okay, some of the cast is new.) And it won't quite be "live" but a recorded performance.

Still...hats off to Todd Haimes. Someone had to be first. And it's interesting that his partner is LA Thearterworks, who have been doing good things with radio.

Read all about it on the Roundabout's blog(!) and at EarnestHD.com!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

As if Obama Doesn't Have Enough Problems...

The Onion imagines the Prez taking on the ultimate political challenge of directing a community theatre musical:

"I would like to thank the 110 million Americans who came out for the first round of auditions, and urge them to remember that, if they were not called back, there's still plenty of room in the chorus for anyone who wants to get involved, and I'm casting extra gamblers and Hot Box Dolls, too" said the president, who is staging the two-act musical with assistant director Gen. David Petraeus, stage manager Austan Goolsbee, and pit conductor and attorney general Eric Holder. "Also, the role of Nathan Detroit is still wide open. We need a really strong Nathan. He pretty much carries the show."
Well, something to do during the gov't shutdown, at least.

Such hobbies, they say, even have a history!
The tradition stopped abruptly in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush directed a shockingly graphic revival of the musical Hair.

The Murder of Mer Khamis

Juliano Mer Khamis was a mixed-race theatre artist and peace activist living and working in the West Bank. Sadly he has paid the ultimate price for his outspokenness.


An Israeli actor and peace activist who ran a drama project in a Palestinian refugee camp has been shot dead by masked men, metres from the theatre he founded. Juliano Mer Khamis, 52, had received threats for his work in Jenin in the northern West Bank but continued to divide his time between Jenin and Haifa in the north of Israel. Witnesses said he was shot five times.....

While his work was widely appreciated by Palestinians, his bringing together of young men and women angered conservative Muslim elements in Jenin. In addition to threats, fire bombs were thrown at the theatre. However the project was supported by local militants.
It doesn't take much to make theatre very dangerous sometimes.

More about this fascinating actor/director and what he was able to achieve here, in Time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"So... What'd You Think?"

Is there any more anxiety-inducing question than this after a friend's show?

Luckily, Christopher Shinn bares all and offers helpful advice on how to address this inevitable test in your friendship with a playwright. Among the don'ts:

The Magician: The magician disappears at the end of your play. You wait and look for him to no avail. Six months later, when he finally calls or emails to get together, no mention is made of the show. He’s made the play disappear!
And the do's:
The Anti-Narcissist: The narcissist believes his opinions are objective truths. He is afraid of speaking them only because he is afraid that his godlike judgment will irrevocably impact the recipient...When the anti-narcissist says he doesn’t like the play, it almost feels like an act of love. He says in a gentle voice something like, “I’m not sure I always understood what you were trying to say, but I’ll keep thinking about it.” The anti-narcissist knows what he felt but is also suspicious of his own reaction. With him, the playwright experiences a world of compassionate others who are tolerant and accepting even when critical.
Anyone else prefer to be flat-out lied to? Or do you just not invite your friends at all?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Quote of the Day

"If people are paying good money to see Bad 'Spider-Man,' why spend huge sums of money to create Slightly Better 'Spider-Man'?"

-Alex Beam, Boston Globe

Friday, April 01, 2011

All Eyes on LA

At least over at TCG, which is holding its annual conference there (for artistic and managing directors) in June. Accompanying it will also be a major theatre festival.  The Los Angeles theatre scene has no greater champion than the Weekly's Steven Leigh Morris, and he tells us what's going on and why we should care.