In San Diego last summer, at the national conference of the Dramatists Guild, the results of a major research project called “The Count” found that of some 2,500 productions sampled nationwide, only about 22 percent were of works by female writers.
Although the organization is financially stable (thanks in no small part to a $23 million endowment, one of the largest for a regional theater in America), the size of the main theater (398 seats) severely limits how much the theater can generate in ticket sales, even though it has the largest subscription base in the state at 15,000. So it has to depend on other revenue streams.
“In my experience, the art world has a disdain for theater. When I present my work to theater people, they call it performance art. When I present it to the art world, they call it theater.”
“I don’t really write about the real world. Or let me put it in a different way. Pretty much everything I’ve written doesn’t take place in any real country. It’s always a made-up country. My plays are more like dreams that are dreamed by someone from planet Earth but they don’t quite take place on planet Earth.”
The 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall has long been the preferred home for the awards because of its size and proximity to Broadway. But Radio City will be booked this summer with the new “Rockettes New York Spectacular.”
“If I have a general criticism, which is true of my Shakespeare acting and most Shakespeare acting I hear, is that it’s too slow. It’s too reverent. It’s like taking a rap song in 400 years from now, that we think is really wonderful, and deciding it really should be said slowly so all the lovers of rap can hear every word.”
“The [Théâtre du] Châtelet production …, based on the 1952 movie, is directed by Robert Carsen, designed by Anthony Powell and choreographed by Stephen Mear. It faithfully reproduces the dialogue and action of the film, with its songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, and its famous splash-in-the-puddles, rain-drenched dance solo for Gene Kelly.”
“The award for top play was picked up by Stephen Adly Guirgis’ ‘The Motherf**ker with the Hat,’ which was directed by Indhu Rubasingham. The New York-set comedy centers on a drug dealer, recently released from prison and trying to go straight, and his volatile girlfriend. The production formed part of the Rufus Norris’ first season as artistic director at the National Theater.”
“There’s nothing like a Tony Award for getting regional theaters interested in a new play. But I don’t think Broadway should be the ultimate goal of today’s best playwrights.”
“Soon some of the wrestling fans were coming to hear their favorite wrestlers read poetry—and in turn some of the poetry fans started going to wrestling matches to see their favorite poets wrestle. Conversations started happening between these groups of unlikely spectators, and a popular event was born.”
But backstage is a different story. When will that change?
“The most striking new development is the normalization of onstage digital communication: the number of shows in which mobile devices and social media are not the subject of comment or criticism, but simply a contemporary reality.”
“The ingredients of Futurity, a new off-Broadway show, promise a noble failure. The story crams together the bloodiness of the American civil war, the barbarity of slavery, the purity of mathematics, the promise of artificial intelligence and the wisdom of Ada Lovelace (Lord Byron’s daughter, who was an early computer scientist and a metaphysicist).”
“I realized in that moment that my craft, my artmaking and the reasons I came to theater in the first place were not present in the room anymore. What was present was worry about making payroll. And that is anathema to creativity. It started shutting down the joy of being an artmaker.”
The Disney stage blockbuster on Wednesday released 360-degree footage of its opening song “Circle of Life” that lets users look left, right, up, backstage and at the audience, even when sitting on a couch.
Katherine Soper wrote ‘Wish List’ as her dissertation play at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She will be back at work at Penhaligon’s perfumers on Regent Street, where she has worked for two years, on Wednesday. “I do that part time, and the rest of the time I try and write,” she said.
“Last week, Clarion University in Pennsylvania was forced to cancel its planned production of Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India. The reason: casting. Three of the characters were written as Indians, and the predominantly white school had cast two white actors and one mixed-race actor in the roles. Earlier the same week, Katori Hall objected passionately in The Root to a Kent State University production in Ohio of her two-hander The Mountaintop, in which the role of Martin Luther King Jr. was played by a white actor.” Diep Tran looks at why the issue isn’t as simple as let-the-best-actor-get-the-role.
“Adult actors, cast overseers, teachers, and choreographers make sure no child is left behind when it comes to keeping grades up, feeling protected, and maintaining as much of real life for their young castmates as possible.” A director, choreographer, or touring company manager “must deal with tutors, handlers, and parents as an airport-runway controller would a busy flight plan.”
“But the greats may find Broadway a bigger challenge than they really want. Making movies is an art but appearing on Broadway a daily dare.”
Although there are hundreds of struggling playwrights yearning for a production, there are also independent producers and small not-for-profits hearing the words, “You can’t produce my play first, because then the larger theatres won’t want to produce it.” The real problem: it’s true.
“Since I first wrote about color-conscious casting, I’ve learned—by directing my own productions as well as casting plays that I did not direct—that color-conscious casting doesn’t guarantee a color-conscious production. Diverse casting is a cause; a more challenging and/or inclusive conversation is not inherently an effect.”
“The Belarus Free Theatre is banned in Belarus, but Will Gompertz was invited to a performance at a secret London venue.”
“I cast it without thinking what color people were at all. I would have cast a black Jesus if I had the right person for the role. I wasn’t thinking that this was a play about race. When I do plays about race, I try to be extraordinarily sensitive to those issues.”
“The nervousness that theatre-about-theatre raises in critics and audiences is similar to the prejudice among literary critics towards novels that have novelists as their protagonists: a fear of professional special pleading and jokes that mean more to producers than consumers.”
That’s the take of Avi Hoffman and Suzanne Toren, who play Willy and Linda Loman in the New Yiddish Rep’s production. “[Hoffman] hears Yiddish in the structure of Mr. Miller’s dialogue, as when Willy’s girlfriend asks when he’ll be back in town and he says, ‘Oh, two weeks about.’ Ditto Linda’s famously awkward immortal line, ‘Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.’ ‘Who talks like that?’ Mr. Hoffman asked, the question rhetorical. ‘That’s Yiddish.'”
“Is there any legitimate reason for calling out this one actor’s race, since it is not being discussed as germane to any interpretation of the production or the particular scene. It is, so far as I can tell, casual and irrelevant. Which makes it stand out to me all the more.”
“These gentlemen did not appreciate a freckle-faced little lady telling them what to do in anything resembling an authoritative voice. They would yell back at my request and I would immediately back down.”
When Shakespeare used the word “black” he was not exactly describing a race the way we would. He meant instead someone with darker skin than an Englishman at a time when Englishmen were very, very pale. Although Othello is a Moor, and although we often assume he is from Africa, he never names his birthplace in the play.
“The big question for us is how to serve the state in a way that someone from Duluth can find the same value in our work as someone who lives in one of those condos right next to us.”
China Doll, “bolstered by Mr. Pacino’s star power, has been selling very strongly at the box office, but there has been some skeptical early buzz about Mr. Mamet’s play and Mr. Pacino’s performance, and the delay will both lengthen the amount of time the team has to work on the project before critics weigh in, and reduce the effect of reviews because they will run later in the play’s limited run and after the traditionally lucrative Thanksgiving weekend.”