SHOOTING OF ANTHONY LEE:
The actor that LA police shot and killed at a Halloween party
Sunday (he was carrying a toy gun) was a longtime much-loved Seattle
actor. "For the many in Seattle who knew and admired this
charismatic man who left his mark on our theater scene, Lee must
be remembered not mainly as the victim of a freak shooting, but
as a riveting actor and an extraordinary human being. He deserves
- REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: The Royal Shakespeare Company was
mired in controversy and sagging popularity as recently as two
years ago. "But what a difference a couple of years can make.
In 1996, [Adrian] Noble took the brave decision to cut London
ties in half in favour of retrenchment and more regional touring,
and new blood is continuing to revitalise the company."
Herald (Glasgow) 10/31/00
"By 1993, when he ended his thirteen years as the chief drama
critic for the New York Times, Frank Rich had come to be known
as 'the Butcher of Broadway,' but the Frank Rich that emerges
in the pages of his new memoir is far more Dalmatian than Cruela
New York Magazine 10/30/00
'EM WORKS: Canadian theatre is suddenly hot in Washington
DC. This fall, four plays and a handful of readings are storming
the U.S. capital. "The unprecedented amount of activity is
largely due to the Canada Project, a two-year-old Canadian embassy
initiative that offers Washington artistic directors free theatre
junkets to Canada. The thinking is that if American producers
are exposed to Canadian plays, maybe they will catch the bug and
pass it along to their fellow Americans."
The Globe and
Mail (Toronto) 10/31/00
A musical about wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura
is headed for Broadway, its producers say. "It's like Rocky meets
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, as a musical."
"Despite the work of Pinter, Arnold Wesker and Deborah Levy,
Jewish writing is a neglected presence in British theatre. If
you want to see an overtly Jewish character on the British stage,
you usually have to wait for the ambivalent hero-villains in Shakespeare's
The Merchant of Venice or Marlowe's The Jew of Malta, both written
at a time when Jews were officially banished from the country."
IS TOO HOT FOR SINGAPORE: Singapore's Public Entertainment
Licensing Unit has turned down a permit to stage a play. "Written
by Indian playwright Elangovan, the play is about an Indian-Muslim
woman's experiences of marital violence and rape. Staged three
times in Tamil in 1998 and last year, it had triggered strong
protests from some members of the Indian-Muslim community who
thought it blasphemous and some religious groups wanted it banned."
BLOW TO THE NATIONAL THEATRE: London's National Theatre has
been hit by a fresh crisis after the director of a new production
of Peer Gynt, due to open next month, returned home to Ireland
on medical advice. But his departure was marked by reports of
mounting friction between him and the cast at the Olivier Theatre.
He was alleged to have been asked to leave the theatre last weekend
after shouting abusively at the cast during a preview performance.
Independent (London) 10/28/00
SURE HIT: " 'The Full Monty', the hearty singing adaptation
of the popular English film about a motley male troupe of amateur
strippers, opened last night in a blaze of pure mass appeal. The
show calculatedly pushes as many buttons as an elevator operator,
but it mercifully doesn't hammer at them."
New York Times
10/27/00 (onetime registration required for entry)
DIRECTIONS FOR TONYS? Broadway's Tony Awards are in disarray
- low ratings, infighting and intrigue. Now a veteran producer
is negotiating to come in to try and restore order.
New York Post
TROUBLE WITH THEATRE IN PORTLAND: "Why have so many small
and midsize Portland theaters gone belly-up in recent years? Why
don't the city's hip trendsetters have the kind of yen for drama
that keeps the Seattle theater scene hopping, from our spiffy
professional houses to our fringe cubbyholes?"
RIGHT TO REPLACE MUSICIANS?
A major Toronto theatre producer is attempting to do away with
minimum requirement for the number of musicians it must pay for
its productions. Musicians are protesting. "The technology is
around the corner for all of it to be automated and to bury us.
Right now [the minimum] is all we have, and we don't want to let
it go." Globe
and Mail (Toronto) 10/25/00
- STEPPENWOLF TURNS 25: Twenty-five years after its first
Chicago performances in a church basement, Steppenwolf Theatre
Company is one of the most revered actorsí troupes in the world.
"No important American theater ensemble has survived for
even close to 25 years with the same core of performers. The troupe
has expanded from its original 9 members to 33, but every one
of the original members is still active. There is no such thing
as a former member." New York Times 10/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
STRIKE OVER: The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation
of Television and Radio Artists reached a tentative agreement
with the advertising industry to end their nearly half-year-long
CANARY-IN-A-COAL-MINE THING? London's National Theatre is
about to report its first budget deficit since the mid-1980s.
The National, which receives government subsidies of more than
£1 million a month, has suffered in the past year from bad reviews
and some delayed productions. "It is only a slight loss,
at £160,000, but that is being seen as a worrying overspend. If
the National Theatre is doing well, then everyone perceives that
London theatre is doing well - so many would prefer that it was
FOR THE RICH: "In an era in which national funding and
patronage for the arts have been all but gutted by Bible-thumping
senators, Kersnar has come up with a way to continue doing what
he and his partners are good at, and still keep his family out
of the poorhouse: Shaking the Tree - a company formed specifically
to produce plays for the viewing pleasure, and instruction, of
wealthy family audiences."
STORY: Stephen King and John Mellencamp are collaborating
on writing a musical together. Yes, it's a ghost story. "Our goal
is some day to end up on Broadway. We're not going to take it
straight to Broadway." Chicago
Sun-Times (Billboard) 10/23/00
FOR DEAD PLAYS? Debate about the direction of London's National
Theatre rages on in the press. Does no one like the National these
days? "In order to establish the right mission for a national
theatre, we need to strip the idea of theatre back to the bone.
There is no place for retrospective seasons based on the architecture
of the building, no room for knee-jerk reliance on the classics."
Guardian (London) 10/21/00
MOVES TO HOLLYWOOD:
The theatrical version of "The Lion King" finally moves
to Hollywood in the newly-restored Pantages Theatre - and it looks
every bit as good as it does on Broadway.
COMMERCIAL/NON-PROFIT VENTURES GO BAD: The commercial failure
of "The Wild Party" on Broadway last season "raised broad
questions both about the Public Theatre and about Broadway's capacity
to handle unorthodox fare. An examination of the musical's short,
troubled life highlights those issues and the problems that can
arise in the increasingly frequent partnerships between nonprofit
theaters and commercial producers." New
York Times 10/19/00 (one-time registration required for access)
TONIGHT JOSEPHINE: The musical "Napoleon" opened
in London this week to generally dreary reviews. But though the
show is being billed as new, it looks awfully familiar to the
effort that bombed in Toronto six years ago. Globe
and Mail (Toronto) 10/19/00
A new program at Ontario's Stratford Theatre Festival brings corporate
executives together to learn management lessons from Shakespeare.
Sessions include: "How might the leaders in Hamlet have been more
effective leaders?" and "How would you rate a Shakespearean leader?"
Days are jammed with seminars, the evenings devoted to social
dinners and two Stratford performances, 'Hamlet' and 'As You Like
It'. Perhaps because of the cost and because a few of the participants
are on government payrolls, the vast majority wanted to remain
Globe and Mail 10/18/00
COLOR LINE: When asked if there is a crisis
in black theatre in Britain, Nicolas Kent, director of north Londonís
Tricycle Theatre, has more than a little to say. "I could
go on and on listing the problems. The fact that there is no theatre
building run by a black or Asian director, that there is no black
children's company and that theatre staffs and boards are overwhelmingly
white." And what about so-called "color-blind casting?"
"We don't just need to be told that the RSC is to have a
black Henry VI. What we need is enough money to support black
companies to do black-generated work." The Guardian (London) 10/18/00
PERCEPTIONS: George C. Wolfe heads into his
eighth season at the helm of New Yorkís Public Theater/New York
Shakespeare Festival with two costly Broadway flops in his wake
- and $14 million in losses his theater has had to absorb. "Theater
veterans have been asking why the Public's board backed Mr. Wolfe
on yet another risky Broadway venture so soon after the last one,
and how it could stand by him when artistic directors around the
country have been let go simply for losing subscribers." New York Times
10/18/00 (one-time registration
required for entry)
OF LIFE: "Big themes hover around this yearís Dublin
Theatre Festival. The first has to do with the transition from
a monocultural society to a multicultural one, which Ireland
is beginning to experience with some ferocity as the success
of its 'Celtic tiger' economy sucks in more migrants and refugees.
Suddenly, this year in Dublin, the youngsters working in the
cafes and burger bars are no longer Irish, but North African,
Filipino, Russian. Itís a change that has come as a profound
culture shock to a country so long used to the experience of
mass emigration, depopulation and loss."
TRAP: Audiences are clapping more and more in the London Theatre.
"It is common in the West End for audiences to applaud the
first entrance of major stars, as if grateful that they bothered
to show up at all. Elderly actors always get a particularly big
hand. This has nothing to do with their acting ability and everything
to do with their longevity. This applause does not mean 'You're
marvellous' but 'Isn't it amazing that you aren't gaga and in
a bathchair'?" The Guardian
Critics are lining up against London's National Theatre director
Trevor Nunn. But "Nunn's fiercest critics might want
to think twice before hysterically demanding that he be ousted."
After all, who would replace him? It's not an idle question.
Observer (London) 10/15/00
AT THE TOP: The knives are out for London's National Theatre
boss Trevor Nunn. He's being accused of not delegating, of not
developing new talent, and producing work that ought to be better.
But hold on, writes one critic. "Not only has he toiled at
least as hard in office and rehearsal room as his workaholic predecessors,
Eyre and Peter Hall, paradoxically getting himself attacked for
not sharing or delegating power, but he has brought us some of
the finest productions and performances Iíve seen."
The Times (London) 10/13/00
ART OF LISTENING: "Having problems hearing the play these
days? You are not alone. Directors of Canada's larger theatres
say their audiences increasingly complain they just can't hear
the actors speaking. Is it a case of collective deafness? Are
modern theatres poorly designed for acoustics? Have actors lost
the art of projecting a whisper back to the rear balcony? Or have
theatregoers lost the art of listening?"
The Globe and Mail 10/12/00
INCOME BY ANY OTHER NAME... Three years ago Jujamcyn, the
third-largest theatre producer on Broadway, began a $1 surcharge
on all the tickets it sold. The company called the fee a "restoration"
charge to fund restoration of its theatres. But it refused to
include the fee's income when calculating royalty payments to
its directors and choreographers. This week an arbitrator ruled
Jujamcyn must include the charge and pay hundreds of thousands
of dollars in back payments.
New York Post 10/12/00
OF THE GREAT WHITE WAY:
Elton John's "Aida" was disliked by the critics, dissed
by the Tony awards, and generally made fun of in the theatre world.
Yet the show has become a surprising hit on Broadway, pulling
in $800,000 a week.
New York Post 10/11/00
- BACK-SEAT DIRECTOR? Critic Michael Billington blasted
Londonís Royal National Theatre (and its artistic director Trevor
Nunn) several months ago for a "lack of imagination"
and "saturation diet of musicals." Now heís outlined
a plan to save the RNT, with developing new work at its core.
"My complaint at the moment is that the National programme
resembles that of the more conservative opera houses which assume
that there are simply 50 golden masterpieces to be endlessly revived
from here to eternity." The Guardian (London) 10/11/00
- TAKING A STRONG STAND: In a bold stand against the Australian
governmentís recent restructuring of performing arts funding (in
which state theater companies will have to turn to private investors
for substantial backing), Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Director
Robyn Nevin has pledged to quit her position rather than comply
with a more commercial business model. Sydney Morning Herald 10/11/00
- "BECKETT TIME" , an international festival of the
Irish writer's work, kicks off in Scotland this week. But unlike
other tributes, this one wonít rely on "Godot" and other
Beckett staples. "I wouldn't want the festival to be predictable.
With a Brazilian puppet group redefining three of his short plays,
Beckett texts projected on to well-known Glasgow buildings, a
season of his films at the GFT, and a Beckett flotation tank inspired
by his work for radio, it could hardly be called that." The Herald (Glasgow) 10/11/00
THE WEB IS CHANGING THEATRE: Theatre productions heading
to Broadway used to be able to open quietly out of town and
work the kinks out. No longer. The web has changed it all. "This
torrent of gossip, news, amusing tidbits, and reviews - most
of them unfiltered, unverifiable, and true - in chat rooms and
on bulletin boards at sites such as playbill.com, broadway.com,
and talkinbroadway.com, is throwing producers and the reporters
covering them for a loop. Why? For the same reason the Web has
turned every other industry inside out: It's democratized something
that used to be the exclusive purview of an entrenched elite,
and the entrenched elite ain't happy."
New York Magazine 10/09/00
MOST PROLIFIC PLAYWRIGHT? Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is
working on his eighth produced script this year. "Unless
and until someone can ante up eight produced new scripts this
year - and show a couple of musicals and two screenplays in
the hopper - it's probably safe to dub Hatcher America's Most
St. Paul Pioneer Press 10/10/00
A NEW MUSICAL THEATRE: "While many on the West Coast
see Broadway as a monolithic entity 3,000 miles away, "Broadway"
is really about the people who create the shows - and it's those
creators who came to Los Angeles at their own expense because
they wanted to be part of this conference. Their presence wasn't
simply to share anecdotes and professional expertise, but to
stimulate West Coast musical theater writers and encourage us
to keep creating new shows."
Los Angeles Times 10/09/00
DAY...er...NIGHT JOB: A new biography claims that Shakespeare
was a highly regarded actor and that he thought of himself as
"doing a little writing on the side."
The Independent (London) 10/08/00
AN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TO DO? Recent productions at London's
National Theatre bring up questions about the role of the artistic
director. Trevor Nunn recently spent a lot of time "fine
tuning" another director's production of "Romeo and
Juliet." But critics are beginning to ask - shouldn't the
artistic director be out developing new talent and bringing
it into the theatre rather than fixing broken plays?
The Independent 10/08/00
THEATRE PLAY: Critics commonly trash Disney for its commercialism
and bland focus. So many were surprised when "Lion King"
showed up on Broadway a few seasons ago and turned out to be
an artistic success. Now Disney's into theatre in a big way,
and there are reasons beyond just money. "Disney's interest
in theater may also be due in large part to the fact that people
who know and love theater are running the show."
Angeles Times 10/08/00
ACTORS AND AUDIENCES:
Director Joe Mantello and
actress Mary Louise Parker talk about "acting, directing
and audience members who snack during performances." New
York Times 10/08/00
registration required for entry)
OVER: Playwright Harold Pinter will make his acting debut
in one of his own plays as part of a ten-play Pinter-fest coming
WORLD'S LONGEST-RUNNING PRODUCTION: Every 10 years since the
1600's the residents of Oberammergau have performed a passion
play. "This year, more than 2,000 locals, almost half the
village, will give 100-plus performances to half a million visitors.
Qualifications for participants are severe. If you weren't born
here, you must have lived here for 20 years, or ten if you marry
a lifelong resident. Until 1990, rules for women were even more
rigid. Actresses had to be unmarried and under 35." New
- WHAT THEATER IS NOT: "Entertaining," "instructional,"
"celebratory," or "cathartic," at least in
the opinion of one riled performing arts professor. The solution?
"We should refuse to sit and watch the same old masquerade,
the same old plays, the same old actors. We need to kill the theatre
off so that new performance can have room to grow." The Guardian (London) 10/04/00
LEADING BLACK THEATRE CLOSES:
New Jersey's Crossroads Theatre Company has closed down. The Tony
Award-winning company, one of the nation's most prominent black
theaters, announced its decision Monday. "The bottom line is that
we are in great debt - $1.7 million to $2 million in debt."
Philadelphia Inquirer (AP) 10/04/00
PRESS COVERAGE OF ACTORS STRIKE?
About 120 actors picketed the New York Times to protest what they
see as an anti-actors' union slant to the newspaper's coverage
of the actors strike against the TV commercial industry.
CANADA GOT ITS OWN THEATRE: Back in the 1960s Canada's regional
theatres didn't produce Canadian plays because they said there
weren't good Canadian plays. And maybe it was true. But a Trudeau
government program helped feed a lot of actors and soon enough
there were Canadian plays worth watching. The
Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/02/00
SEASON FOR OEDIPUS: It's been decades since a major production
of "Oedipus Rex" was staged ion New York. Yet, "it
is one of the greatest plays ever written, certainly on the short
list and close to first prize." This season will see two
very different productions. New
York Times 09/30/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
LIFE'S A STAGE: Jeffrey Archer's new play opened in London
last week. But its convoluted plot was "no stranger than
real-life on the day that the former Conservative deputy chairman
was charged with perverting the course of justice, perjury and
'using a false instrument', he was also making his (official)
world debut as an actor."
Sunday Times (London) 10/01/00