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THEATRE - March 2000

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  • SENT ELSEWHERE: "Theatre is not just New York," says a representative of the National Theatre Artists Residency Program, which funds collaborations between theater artists and theater companies to develop new work. The organization announced the recipients of its $1 million in annual grants - and not one New York-based theater received funding. Backstage 3/30/00

  • THE THEATER OF SCIENCE: Broadway has an unlikely new hit - a play depicting the fabled meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. In 1941, the German Heisenberg was eagerly pursuing a workable atomic bomb for his country and the Danish Bohr was researching quantum physics in Copenhagen. Its success bodes well for a developing genre: science-based theater. Wired 03/31/00

  • WORLDS APART: A British Council-sponsored season of English plays being produced in Paris has been shaking up intellectual French audiences who aren't quite sure what to make of the "crude language" and campy acting. "To French audiences, the British season has often been disorientating. Should, for instance, they take seriously the camp acting in the Kaos Company's "Importance of Being Earnest"? Or learn to laugh at Oscar Wilde, an author popular in France as a symbol of resistance to tyrannical British officialdom?" London Times 3/31/00

  • FIRST LOVE: British director Sam Mendes accepted his Oscar for "American Beauty" Sunday and immediately pledged to use his success to draw attention and financial backing to his first love, British theater. Mendes is the artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse, where he said his award "will provide power and funds." The Age (Melbourne) 0 3/29/00

  • WHO'S THAT GIRL? As the Humana Festival for New American Plays - the foremost festival of new theater in this country - gets under way in Louisville, Kentucky, theories are rampant about the true identity of playwright Jane Martin. Martin's plays (including "Keely and Du") have enjoyed many productions at Humana, yet no one has ever met her. There is much speculation that she is actually Humana founder Jon Jory, who is stepping down as the festival's director this year. NPR 0 3/28/00 [Real audio file] 

  • THE SOUND'S THE THING: A great many successful Canadian plays started out as projects for CBC radio. "Requiring only some actors, a sound effects technician and a microphone, it has always been a cheap and easy place to make a start or take some risks." Toronto Globe and Mail 03/28/00

  • HERE'S TO YOU, MRS. ROBINSON: In a star turn reminiscent of Nicole Kidman's striptease in "The Blue Room" last season, Kathleen Turner is causing quite a stir in London for her (equally revealing) portrayal of Mrs. Robinson in the new stage adaptation of "The Graduate." London Times 0 3/29/00

  • A RISING STAR: Critics have almost universally panned Elton John's "Aida," but they've all agreed on one thing: singer Heather Headley, in the title role as the Nubian princess who falls in love with her captor, steals the show. Trinidad-born Headley has joined Audra McDonald as "the most exciting young singing actresses in the American theater." Newsweek 04/3/00

  • THEATRE GLUT? It's not like business is terrible - there are still hits aplenty in London's West End theaters. It's just that many of the theaters are having a hard time making a go of it. Are there too many theaters to go around? The Observer 03/26/00

  • HELEN HAYES AWARD NOMINEES ANNOUNCED: A dreadful year for new musicals last year, and this year's theater awards confirm. Studio Theatre's "Indian Ink" and Signature Theatre's "Sweeney Todd" lead the pack. The awards will be presented May 8 at the Kennedy Center. Washington Post 03/22/00

  • PLAYS THE POPE WON'T SEE: The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has come out with its annual report on anti-Catholicism; the arts section lists 18 plays that contain "anti-Catholic motifs," including one work by Nobel prize-winning author Dario Fo. The league objected to Fo's play, which depicts "Pope John Paul II as endorsing birth control and drug legalization after 'being confronted with thousands of third world orphans.' Fo's pope also suffers from paranoia, and is under the care of a witch doctor." Backstage 3/21/00

  • THE UNSTOPPABLE AIDA: Has it gotten to the point on Broadway that theater people are just grateful that a star like Elton John would sit down and write for the stage, no matter what the project looks - or sounds - like? New York Times 03/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • CLOSED CAPTION THEATER: London's Royal Shakespeare Company will begin simultaneous captioning of its productions for deaf audience-members. The Guardian 03/15/00 

  • BROADWAY BOX OFFICE makes big jump last week. Variety 03/14/00

  • SO WHAT IF IT MAKES MONEY: Does Toronto have a theater crisis? The city is currently stuck with a glut of live-performance venues, with little or nothing to fill them and too few entrepreneurs willing to risk production dollars. The Canadian Opera Company is trying to raise $130 million to move out of its current home at the Hummingbird Center and build a new theater. Some want to tear the Hummingbird down. Others want to spend $30 million on fixing it up. What fuels the indignation of the Hummingbird's management is that the 3,200-seat behemoth is actually generating a profit. (Indeed, it's the only city-owned venue, including the Toronto Zoo, that's in the black.) Toronto Globe and Mail 03/13/00

  • TEAR 'ER DOWN: There are better acoustics in a pinball arcade. better sight lines in a football stadium. The word "albatross" comes to mind. Toronto Globe and Mail 03/13/00

  • FROM SILVER SCREEN TO STAGE: Musicals may not be popular fare at the movies, but increasingly, stage musicals are being made out of movie themes. Variety 03/13/00

  • FINAL BOW: Wreckers get to work on row of theaters on Broadway's 42nd St. New construction planned for the site, near where the Lincoln Tunnel traffic spills into the city, is supposed to include four 99-seat theatres off a central lobby, a 199-seat theatre, and a 499-seat theatre, as well as up to 30 stories of apartments. Backstage 03/09/00

  • BAD DRESSING ROOMS AND ALL, theater community still feels nostalgia for four NY 42nd Street theaters being torn down this week. New York Times 03/13/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BEGINNING OF THE CORPORATE END: So American Airlines supported the arts by giving New York's Roundabout Theater $850,000 a year for 10 years. In return the airline gets its name on the theater. But "American Airlines isnít supporting the arts, bless them. They are paying a tax-deductible fee in order to advertise and sell their corporate logo on Broadway. Philanthropy has sweet zilch to do with it." New York Observer 03/07/00

  • FINDING NEW WRITERS FOR THE THEATER: Theater hasn't made much of a murmur in Soho for years - it's the center of film and TV land. Now the newly-energized Soho Theater and Writer's center has become a creative hotbed. London Times 03/08/00

  • INVISIBLE THEATER: The best new British theater? Not the RSC or the National Theatre, many think. Artsadmin is a largely invisible supporter of experimental theater, exported to the world - Artsadmin sorts out its artists' petty cash, finds them rehearsal space, administers their lives - a curious hybrid of producer, manager, facilitator and promoter. Most of all, it has become a champion of new work. The Guardian 03/08/00

  • WELCOME TO THE MIDDLE CLASS: In Los Angeles a new theater middle class rises. There are a hundred theaters out there. But, like the city itself, LA's "theater district" is spread out hither and yon. "People from out of town look at a map of L.A., see all the theaters and can't believe it - they're all over the place." Los Angeles Times 03/05/00

  • FROM SHAKESPEARE TO AMERICA: Ashland, Oregon's Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a behemoth among regional theaters with its $15.48 million budget. Last year it sold a record 374,246 tickets, filling its three theaters to 93 percent capacity. But as this year's season opens you might want to think about renaming the festival the Oregon American Play Festival. Seattle Times 03/05/00 

  • A FLEA IN THE SOUP: Tiny Tribeca theater in Manhattan tries out as a home to the smallest dance projects. The Flea Theater operates seven days a week, often layering two paying shows, ranging in price from $12 to $35, in one evening. New York Times 03/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THEATER OF SUBSTANCE: Much has been written lately about the lack of new plays and experiences of substance on Broadway this season. One critic wonders if the analysis is justified. Boston Globe 03/03/00

  • BEING AT THE OFF-CENTER: As New York's Times Square has spiffed itself up, Off-Broadway theaters, traditionally resident on the fringe of the Great White Way, have begun springing up in the heart of the district. Christian Science Monitor 03/03/00

  • RETOOLED "AIDA:" The Chicago critics weren't particularly kind to Elton John's Disneyfied "Aida" musical fantasy. Nevertheless, the production is set to open on Broadway later this month after a makeover. Backstage 03/02/00 

  • HEY, IT WORKS FOR SPORTS STADIUMS AND BOWL GAMES: Broadway's Roundabout Theater is to be renamed after an airline. Meanwhile, the venerable Wintergarden is expected to be renamed after a car. Corporate branding comes to Broadway. New York Times 03/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)