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THEATRE - July 2000

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 Monday July 31

  • WE DON'T DO BODY PARTS: Singapore's arts scene is tightly controlled by the government. Last month a production of "The Vagina Monologues" was banned by the censors. "The actors submitted the script, including stage directions. Part of the performance involved briefly projecting a picture of a vagina as a backdrop. Choo says the performance could have proceeded without the image but the theatre group refused a change. They were denied a license and will probably lose any government funding." New Zealand Herald 07/31/00

  • YOU EITHER LIKE MUSICAL THEATRE OR... James Joyce's grandson wants to stop the staging of a musical adaptation of Joyce's "Ulysses." "Stephen Joyce has threatened legal action over the production of Molly Bloom, A Musical Dream, which is due to be premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe." BBC 07/31/00

  • NAKED ART: "Performance artists" Yuan Cai and Jian Ji Xi walked naked across London's Westminster Bridge with slogans written all over their bodies. The pair last "performed at the Tate earlier this year when they jumped onto Tracey Emin's bed. BBC 07/31/00

Sunday July 30

  • SHAKESPEARE IN THE HEARTLAND: The Utah Shakespeare Festival won this year's Best Regional Theatre Tony Award a few months ago. The theatre "was virtually unknown in New York until the Tonys but well known among a Shakespeare underground in the heartland. As many as 155,000 theatergoers, mostly young families and older people from the Midwest and Far West, surge into this sedate mountain town in the southwestern corner of Utah each summer for afternoons and evenings of professional theatrical productions." New York Times 07/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday July 28

  • FEASTING ON SUMMER THEATRE: Canada's summer theatres are booming. "The Ontario festivals are tourism fat-cats who feast on private dollars. During a decade when government funding of the arts has been steadily shrinking, the festivals' incomes and expenditures have steadily grown. Stratford is the largest performing-arts organization in the country, and its $35-million budget has increased almost 50% in the last five years. With smaller theatres and fewer seats to fill, Shaw's growth has been less spectacular but is certainly healthy." Toronto Globe and Mail 07/28/00

  • MEDIA LAB COMES TO DUBLIN: Tod Machover and MIT's thinky Media Lab have set up shop in Ireland. "They believe Dublin will host the creation of an entirely new, large-scale art form that combines a variety of media. 'We need to figure out what comes after theatre, what comes after cinema,' Machover says. 'We're hoping to develop a large part of it in Ireland.' " Irish Times 07/28/00

Thursday July 27

  • THE BIG BUSINESS OF NON-PROFIT: New York's Roundabout Theatre was almost bankrupt a few years ago. Tonight it moves into a new $25 million home and has money in the bank. "To some extent, the journey of this one nonprofit theater - from basement to Broadway, from bankruptcy to becoming the country's second-largest nonprofit theater with an annual budget of $20 million - stands as a powerful example of how much the world of nonprofit theater has changed." New York Times 07/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THEATRE AID: American actor Kevin Spacey has started a new company that he hopes will raise more than £1 million to fund new UK theatre venues and productions. "One of his ideas for boosting theatre attendance is to introduce film shows so that places like the Old Vic don't just 'rest on tradition'." BBC 07/27/00

  • ISRAEL'S THEATRES GAIN NEW FANS, LOSE OLD LOYALS: While audience numbers for Israeli theater are up, intellectuals are increasingly staying away.  Says one disheartened theater-goer, "theater had started to become as gray and unappealing as an office, that everything had become technical, that everything I was seeing in the theater was losing its spark of creativity, that it had become a musty bureaucratic mechanism, that the theater was a place where nothing real was happening anymore." Ha'aretz 07/26/00

Tuesday July 25

  • RUSSIAN REVITALIZATION: “With more than 100 theaters in Moscow alone - and another 400 in the rest of the country - Russian theater has survived, in large part because Russians refuse to let it die. There were several times when Russian theater should have fallen flat on its face, but it has survived every crisis with flying colors.” Many deem director Kama Ginkas largely responsible - as Moscow’s busiest and most successful director, he saw five of his plays staged last season alone, each one in its own way a hit. New York Times 07/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

Monday July 24

  • DO WE HAVE TO MENTION THE SPONSOR? The Roundabout Theatre sold its name to American Airlines. The Wintergarden almost had "Cadillac" above the marquee. The arts love those corporate dollars. But at what price? Newsday 07/23/00 

  • TOO RAUNCHY FOR BOSTON? A Canadian play "Shakespeare's Dog" has been closed in Boston because, the theatre company says, the Boston festival found the play "too raunchy." CBC 07/24/00

Sunday July 23

  • HOW ABOUT GETTING EXCITED? Chicago's Goodman Theatre is moving into a long-awaited new $46 million home this November. So why does the upcoming opening "seem so remarkably lackluster just four months prior to ribbon cutting? And why does the initial season for what is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity seem like an afterthought?" Chicago Sun-Times 07/23/00

  • ACTING TOUGH: Being an actor is tougher than ever. "In Britain, over 90 per cent of them are unemployed at any given time. Yet while the number of graduates pouring out of drama and stage schools continues to rise, the opportunities are dwindling. And finding out about openings is harder than ever if you're not already one of the lucky 10 per cent." The Observer 07/23/00

Friday July 21

  • USHERING IN THE TRUTH: Want to know the real theatre scoop? Talk to the people who see it all - the ushers. "Indeed, perhaps no one has seen the changes in theatre-and by extension, some of the cultural shifts in the society at large-more vividly than those doughty black-clad ushers who've been moving up and down the aisles, flashlights in hand, for the long haul." Backstage 07/20/00

  • WITCHING HOUR: Theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh is in desperate need of a hit (he hasn't had one since "Miss Saigon"). Now the reviews are in on "Witches of Eastwick" which opened in London this week. "Judging from the reviews and the reaction to the show from the theater elite here this week, Mackintosh seems to have hit a double. And with his unrivaled talent for marketing and publicity, he just may be able to steal his way to third, theater people here say. New York Post 07/21/00

Thursday July 20

  • MR. LINCOLN HAS OTHER PLANS: Philadelphia has a thriving industry of "historical look-alikes" - people who dress up as Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln for parties or events. With the Republican National Convention coming to town soon, business figured to be booming for the bogus Abes, Toms and Georges. But it seems that Republicans are last-minute partiers, and now many of the portrayers are booked for other gigs. Philadelphia Inquirer 07/20/00

Wednesday July 19

  • WITCHING HOUR: Cameron Mackintosh's new £4.5 million production of "The Witches of Eastwick" opens in London to an enthusiastic audience. BBC 07/19/00

  • THIS TIME NO FIGHTING: Rome's Coliseum will stage its first performance before a paying audience in 1,500 years. Instead of fighting lions of gladiators, Greek tragedy will be on the bill. "The performances were made possible by building a wooden structure over a section of underground labyrinth that once housed gladiators and wild beasts, capping years of restoration work." The Times of India (Reuters) 07/19/00

  • BUT AT LEAST IT'S OUTDOORS: Ah, it's the British summer theatre season. "Of course, many of these performances with their accompanying picnic hampers may be jolly social occasions, but have as much to do with theatre as a summer's evening at Kenwood for the 1812 overture and fireworks has to do with classical music. Essentially these affairs are a substitute for the village fete, or a form of cocktail party where the culture is gulped down as easily as the Chardonnay. They are marked by the exclusivity that so dogs theatre." The Guardian 07/19/00

  • DIFFICULT TO LOVE: The theatre world gathers to memorialize producer David Merrick. "It was Mr. Merrick's difficult, enigmatic personality that pervaded the memorial yesterday. While several speakers expressed a love of the shows he created, few conveyed a comparable love of the man." New York Times 07/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry

Tuesday July 18

  • NEXT GENERATION: The O'Neill Theatre Conference has a new director, only its second in 35 years. In his first season at the conference James Houghton is trying to put the emphasis even more firmly on the writers, and he has made small but significant alterations. New York Times 07/18/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • A FLOP OF HISTORIC PROPORTIONS: A $10.8 million Australian production of "Pan" has closed in Sydney, a failure by any measure, and one of the biggest disasters in Australian theatre history. "More than any theatre enterprise in Australia, including the jinxed Sunset Boulevard and the ill-fated Sisterella, Pan appears to have been cursed." Sydney Morning Herald 07/18/00

  • CRITICAL PATH: Martin McDonagh seemed to have it all three years ago. Coming from nowhere, suddenly "several of McDonagh's ferociously comic and unsettling plays" won great reviews and top literary prizes in the US and Europe. But then there was a drunken squabble with Sean Connery at an awards ceremony, "some cranky critical backlash and a few damning interviews" and McDonough retreated. Now he's back with a new play. Seattle Times 07/16/00

Sunday July 16

  • PROUD GRADS OF THE RSC: Movies like the "X-Men" are all about special effects, things being destroyed and shooting. So why do you need Royal Shakespeare Company-trained actors like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan for that? "Shakespearean actors need to make a living too; why should the Keanu Reeveses and Tom Cruises of the business grab all the money and the fame? And one can imagine that a Hollywood blockbuster like ''X-Men'' gives actors such as McKellen and Stewart a few months to rest their well-trained acting muscles - the equivalent of reading a beach book after a year of classics." Boston Globe 07/16/00

Thursday July 13

Wednesday July 12

  • OR SHOULD WE CALL IT ENTERTAINMENT ART? Performance art got a lot of attention in the 90s. What's it up to now? "People seem more interested in packaging it than in actually doing it. Let's just say that if performance grew out of a wish to make art more present, more visceral in the '60s and '70s, that trend has decidedly reversed itself. Over the past decade, this art form definitely shifted toward entertainment—or, at least, the proscenium." Village Voice 07/11/00

Tuesday July 11

  • IN FROM THE FRINGE? Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre "revolutionised Scottish theatre in the 1970s with highly-charged, visually-striking productions, and scandalised the good councillors of the city with blood, nudity, and cross-dressing." Artistic Director Giles Havergal reflects on how the Citz has reinterpreted itself in recent years.  The Herald (Glasgow) 07/11/00

  • FEATHERWEIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: The surprise 1997 hit movie "The Full Monty" is set to open on Broadway this fall as a full-fledged musical comedy, which has some observers wondering whether Broadway really needs one more "musicalized" version of a slight tale. "There's nothing new in Broadway musicals adapting featherweight entertainment. Back in the '50s, shows like 'Damn Yankees' or 'The Pajama Game' were based on light novels. Today, those light novels are more likely to be TV shows or movies." Salon 07/10/00

  • THE GUTHRIE'S EXCELLENT YEAR: Minnesota's Guthrie Theatre had a good year - record subscriptions and box office, commitments for building an ambitious new home and the extension of its artistic director's contract. Minneapolis Star-Tribune 07/11/00 

Monday July 10

  • STANDALONE THEATRE: Is theatre in Los Angeles merely a showcase for movie talent? A ghetto where actors toil until they get discovered by the movies or TV? Not hardly. "Local stages are a resource that the industry has been able to exploit with virtually no outlay of cash." But the thriving LA theatre scene exists quite apart from the commercialism of the Industry. Los Angeles Times 07/10/00

  • LOSING MONEY IN SUCCESS: Judging by most of its statistics, the musical "Footloose," which closed last week on Broadway, was a pretty good success. It staged 737 performances, played for well over a year and half, was seen by hundreds of thousands of people, and produced a cast album, a national tour (with another planned) and the possibility of future companies in London and Australia. So why did it still lose money? Minneapolis Star-Tribune (NY Times) 07/10/00

  • COLONIAL THEATRE UNEARTHED: Archeologists have uncovered a colonial theatre at Williamsburg that counted Washington and Jefferson among its patrons in the 1760s. Chicago Tribune (AP) 07/10/00

Sunday July 9

  • MAKE IT FREE AND THEY WILL COME: The British government proposes to make admission to museums free. But what about theatre? "An entire generation has got out of the theatre habit: education, prejudice and attention span are all partly to blame, but the biggest barrier is expense. As an incentive to people who don't like theatre because they've never tried it, a proportion of seats should be free. There will always be those who save hard to afford the outrageous prices, but unless we make it easy and cheap for some of the others, those who grew up on cheap and easy visits will be dead and there will be no one to replace them." The Observer (London) 07/09/00

  • SOMETHING AFOOTE: "Hollywood may forever think of Foote as the Oscar-winning screenwriter of the original 'Tender Mercies' and the adapted 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' but his stature within theatrical circles has soared in his ninth decade." Los Angeles Times 07/09/00

  • WHAT'S HAPPENED TO 'BLACK' THEATRE? "It seems that black theater has become less mainstream now than it was 30 years ago. And partly this is because of a polarization anticipated by the very term 'black theater.' Today, black theater is like women's theater or gay theater - almost a species more than a variant, virtually a political statement rather than an artistic style." New York Post 07/0900

  • BOOM TIMES FOR PHILLY THEATRE: Philadelphia has had another record theatre season at the box office. A boom economy and popular plays are given credit. Philadelphia Inquirer 07/09/00

Friday July 7

  • MONEY WOES SQUEEZE TWO BROADWAY SHOWS: Two high-profile shows scheduled for Broadway have been scrambling for money this week. "The Visit," a new musical starring Angela Lansbury and Philip Bosco set to open in the spring after an out-of-town tryout in Boston this fall had one of its main investors reduce their stake. Meanwhile, "Little Women," which was to have opened in the fall at the Ambassador Theater, has been pushed back to the spring, while producers try to raise more money. New York Post 07/07/00

Wednesday July 5

  • PROD TO GREATNESS: London's theatre press is ganging up on Trevor Nunn for his three-year-old stewardship of the Royal National Theater. "In general, critics have taken Mr. Nunn to task for what they call cautious programming that they say leans too heavily on crowd-pleasing musicals and not enough on new work and younger playwrights." New York Times 07/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Tuesday July 4

  • THE ART OF CHITCHAT: In Ireland, a gathering devoted to the art of gossip and idle talk. "At what is apparently the first festival of its kind in the world, an international cast of contributors will spend their time in the land of blarney talking about chatting." The Independent 07/04/00

  • THE BROADWAY THEME PARK: David Hasselhoff? The Harlem Globetrotters? Upcoming attractions on Broadway read more like a cheap weekend in Vegas than a serious stab at serious theatre. 07/04/00 

Sunday July 2

  • HELP FOR THE THEATRE? A group of prominent British actors writes to England's Chancellor to plead for help for the theatre. "We feel that for far too long lack of adequate funding has led to a decline in working opportunities, to fewer new productions and to smaller casts. The extent of this decline is such that quality of productions in our regional theatres is seriously threatened." The Independent 07/01/00

  • REBUILDING ART AFTER WAR: "Croatia remained largely peaceful during the second half of the 1990's, but the earlier Balkan wars left a mark on the nation's cultural life. Its once-lucrative $4 billion-a-year tourist industry and vibrant artistic scene - almost destroyed through the mobilization of a large part of the male population, emigration and civil unrest - have only recently shown signs of recovery." New York Times 07/02/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BETTING ON THE "WITCHES": Theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh used to be a money machine, with a string of worldwide music theatre hits. But since "Miss Saigon," his last big world-wide hit ten years ago, his track record has been shaky: " 'Moby Dick' sank, 'Martin Guerre' staggered through three incarnations before closing, and last year his Sondheim compilation, 'Putting It Together', stumbled and fell on Broadway. Will his new "Witches of Eastwick" turn his luck around?  Sunday Times (London) 07/02/00