“But first, it’s important to highlight the one thing we can’t learn: What really got him fired. … That said, there are plenty of important takeaways from the narrative about Isherwood’s firing.” Liane Davey offers four of them – and they may seem obvious, but people forget them all the time.
That Laura Collins-Hughes chose to think about Big River, and specifically the Black character of Jim, in the context of an America currently “plumbing its own soul over questions of privilege and belonging,” did not please Jack Viertel, the long-serving producer of Encores! In a hyperbolic, vitriolic response, Viertel characterised the review — which he acknowledged was positive — as “stunningly polarized, politicized, narrow-minded and unfailingly myopic.”
Producer Jack Viertel: “Mark Twain does not go in and out of style. Whatever one thinks of the specific success or failure of Big River’s efforts to translate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the stage, it is faithful to Twain. I’m stunned to read, for instance, that Ms. Collins-Hughes is upset about the character of Jim being the only important black character in the piece.”
“The genre-busting, glitter-dusting performance artist … and his musical director, Matt Ray, have been named winners of the 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, for their 24-hour work, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.”
New York magazine’s Boris Kachka investigates – and while there’s no definitive answer yet, the situation ain’t pretty.
It’s been a tough few years for the flagship of Philly’s nonprofit theaters: PTC nearly collapsed in 2014 and its new-ish home was foreclosed on the following year. Fortunately, the new producing artistic director, Paige Price, has already turned around Theatre Aspen, where she was performing as an actor in 2007 when suddenly found herself the boss. As David Patrick Stearns reports, “her Philadelphia appointment … means giving up spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery but having a near year-round, locally-based audience and a theater with running water.”
“No other piece of stage business has burned itself so deeply into the collective consciousness. All the greats have been there, from Richard Burbage to Thomas Betterton, Sarah Bernhardt to Laurence Olivier. Even Bart Simpson has got in on the act. Given all this, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that, for Hamlet‘s earliest audiences, seeing real human remains on stage would have been a shock.”
When Kahn announced that he’d be stepping down after two more seasons, he said that he would leave his successor a financially healthy company. Artistically? That may be a different matter, worries Peter Marks.
So that’s where “enemy of the people” comes from. The enemy was unpopular, and undoubtedly an “elitist”; but he trafficked in fact, and he was right. Trump obviously had no grasp of this
Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro: “The state of the world was really crushing me, and then Tracy got the script into my mailbox. I called him and said that we are lucky you write plays for us.” (And you know that a play by the writer of Killer Joe and August: Osage County is going to be furious.)
Diep Tran tells the story of #FairWageOnstage.
Milia Ayache writes about adapting, staging and performing Derek Walcott and Biljana Srbljanović in Arabic with her Masrah Ensemble.
The circus, for many, represents nostalgia for a “simpler” past — although that past can be tricky to reconcile with the injustices embedded in history. Still, there’s something inherently entertaining about a circus. So the new circuses aim to define what that is…
“It’s no longer controversial to give other authors a share in Shakespeare’s plays—not because he was a front for an aristocrat, as conspiracy theorists since the Victorian era have proposed, but because scholars have come to recognize that writing a play in the sixteenth century was a bit like writing a screenplay today, with many hands revising a company’s product. The New Oxford Shakespeare claims that its algorithms can tease out the work of individual hands—a possibility, although there are reasons to challenge its computational methods.”
How Qui Nguyen started Vampire Cowboys, realized he would never be “mature,” wrote the play Vietgone, and found director May Adrales for a partnership made in theatre paradise.
Can “Amélie” and “Come From Away” make it where West Coast transplants have failed before? The L.A. Times’ Charles McNulty says, “Musicals en route to New York receive an enormous amount of tinkering, polishing and sharpening. Rarely, however, does all this primping smooth over structural cracks in the book or holes in the score.”
The news was announced yesterday, with the publishing and theatre licensing company blaming an “unsustainable rental increase” of up to 300% at the Fitzroy Street premises over the past five years.
Seems like we hadn’t seen much of Wilder’s second-most famous play in recent years; Wilder himself once wrote that “it mostly comes alive under conditions of crisis.” Laura Collins-Hughes talks to three prominent directors – Carey Perloff, Bartlett Sher, and Arin Arbus – and playwright Paula Vogel about both the script’s problems and why this might be a good time to produce it again.
During the big real estate bubble a few years ago that led to China’s now-notorious “ghost cities,” expats like David Borenstein found work as what Chinese called a “laowai-for-rent” – appearing at real estate sales events pretending to be a foreign businessman or musician or athlete in order to make the development look international and important. Borenstein tells Linda Poon what it was like.
Fast-rising Off-Broadway director Saheem Ali writes about how he saw his first show ever on a trip to London and came home to Nairobi obsessed – and came home to the Kenyan capital and cast, designed, directed, choreographed, and starred in his own “very makeshift, highly illegal, passion-fueled” production of it.
A corporate restructuring firm paid $1.3 million for the company at a bankruptcy auction, and the show will go on this fall, celebrating Big Apple’s 40th anniversary.
Cassie Tongue argues that, in the age of Trump, the musical about striking newsboys in 1899 New York is newly relevant – “urging grassroots action to organise, protest and agitate for change, and emphasising the importance of a fearless fourth estate.”
There are three new plays in New York dealing with the Sandy Hook school massacre. Alexis Soloski and Erik Piepenburg speak with the playwrights about how they depict gun violence in their scripts.
Hamilton in London and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are working hard on strategies to combat “the secondary market” and the high prices it charges.
Kahn will leave having made Shakespeare a native language in the nation’s capital, and having done more to reshape and elevate D.C. theater than anyone since the late Arena Stage founder Zelda Fichandler.
The manager of the theatre’s bookshop was formally charged in Magistrate’s Court with sexual assault on a female.
“When Jim Barrie took the original show to theatre he had to give stagehands more time to switch scenery. He created a scene that could be performed at the front of the stage. This scene featured a pirate ship and Captain Hook. The role soon expanded and the rest is history.”
“Listen, I love it when directors and actors make bold choices with Shakespeare, or play against him – and a lot of innovation begins in university or amateur theatres. But there’s a difference between subversive takes and regressive ones.”
“Just as we need to produce more women, LGBTQIA artists, and people of color (that is to say, more people who aren’t straight white men), we need to consider what plays should no longer be produced. This is not about political correctness. This is not about censorship. This is drawing a moral line that defines what is in and out of bounds in our culture.”
Though both shows are making tons of money in their home theaters, they’re trying new things as Hamilton preps for its London opening and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for New York. “‘I’ve been in the business 50 years, and I’ve lived through lots of scalping,’ said Cameron Mackintosh, producer of Cats, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. ‘It’s just got far, far more sophisticated, because of automation’s creeping stranglehold on human beings.'”