Rebecca Mead visits the Three Day Hangover theatre company, founded last year, which performs “textually divergent interpretations” of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet” in crowded New York bars.
“Children of a Lesser God, a groundbreaking play about the relationship between a deaf woman and a hearing man, who clash over ideas about speech even as they fall in love, will be revived on Broadway during the 2015-16 theater season … The director will be Kenny Leon, who won a Tony Award in June for staging the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun last spring.”
“Gender equality organisation Tonic Theatre analysed productions staged on September 13. This found that of the 24 productions staged across the top 20 theatres in receipt of the most Arts Council England core funding, women accounted for just 8% of writers, 37% of performers and 38% of directors. Women made up 17% of sound designers, 22% of lighting designers and 57% of set designers.”
Exhibit B came under attack for its alleged racist portrayal of black African people, with campaigners demanding its withdrawal from the Barbican programme. The Barbican confirmed today that it had been forced to cancel the remaining performances due to “the extreme nature of the protest and the serious threat to the safety of performers, audiences and staff”.
“The two best justifications for the practice are a relative shortage of major roles for women and a desire to freshen up overfamiliar texts.” Yet, argues Mark Lawson, cross-casting sets carefully wrought father-daughter and mother-son relationships (Prospero and Miranda, Lear, Hamlet and Gertrude) awry, and “if the governing aim of a production is to make the play seem different, perhaps those involved ought to be doing a different play.”
“Affluent Indian urbanites – till now weaned on a censorship-prone diet of cinema and soap operas – are awakening to this new form of entertainment, fascinated by the prospect of non-stop laughs for an hour. And they’re willing to pay for it.” But comedians doing their usual skewering of taboos face more-than-usual risks.
Sir Isaac Newton, Chris Jones observes, probably did not say “yay” – except in a new play about him now running in Chicago. “That in itself is not a new idea; playwrights have been modernizing historical subjects and simplifying conversations for generations. But in [this case and others], the anachronisms are intended to draw attention to themselves. … So what gives with this trend? To some degree it’s a consequence of the Wikipedia-ization of our culture.”
“We need technology to be fully focused on how to improve the live experience. Like: Get me to my seat faster, make the actors more excited, give me stuff that makes being in the venue better. I don’t think live events are going anywhere. I’ve doubled down. This is my business and my life, but we’re becoming irrelevant because we have to figure out how to remain relevant in peoples’ lives. And technology is a part of that.”
Charles McNulty: “Don’t look now, but a positive trend seems to be developing: A bumper crop of talented American playwrights more interested in artistic expression than commercial validation is being recognized with the most prestigious awards and lucrative fellowships available.” Exhibit A: the MacArthur Fellowship that just went to Samuel D. Hunter.