“The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist – had lain undisturbed in the library at Saint-Omer in the north of France for 200 years.”
South African playwright Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B mimics the “human zoo” exhibits of colonial “natives” seen in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. After four years of touring without much controversy, this year Exhibit B has seen “loud debates and furious demonstrations in Europe about the boundaries between artistic freedom and exploitation, censorship and political incorrectness.”
Ibsen and Shaw included lots of them; Eugene O’Neill wrote so many that they’ve been made into a play by themselves. Sinmon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), on the other hand, says his play couldn’t have become what it is if he had written out how he thought it should look and sound. Lyn Gardner considers the issue.
The writer and original star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch “said he was initially reluctant to play Hedwig again after his yearlong run downtown and then in a 2001 film adaptation. But as he watched [Neil Patrick] Harris, Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall in the role over the last seven months, … ‘I was kind of itching to do it, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it, because I’ll be too old.'”
“For those who savor a good Broadway catastrophe, Dance of the Vampires is near the top of the shortlist of infamy. But for the Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski, that flop 2002 musical, based on his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, deserves – no, demands – another chance.” And it’s getting one, in Paris.
“It made perfect sense that the man who was one of the original producers of the musical Annie was also the Broadway director of Hurlyburly, David Rabe’s cocaine-strewn drama about Hollywood hedonists. Or that after hitting box office gold with the musical spoof Spamalot, he switched gears and concentrated on dramas by Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter … He had tremendous instinct not only for what was funny but what could grab an audience, surprise them, wake their minds, move them to indignation or, better yet, tears.”
A report from early this year argues that performing arts “are inherently social arts and provide a necessary opportunity to develop the skills of socialisation and communication required by a healthy democracy.” Maddy Costa writes about how she’s exploring that idea in her London theatre festival, Dialogue.
“The Shubert Organization, which owns 17 of Broadway’s 40 theaters, has completed a deal to take over New World Stages … The move creates a significant opportunity for the Shubert Organization to shepherd fading Broadway shows out of their theaters and into New World Stages, where new profits might be reaped because of the lower Off Broadway production costs.”
“It sold 1.7 million tickets globally, across 1,982 performances of 22 productions in 2013/14. In 2012/13 it sold 1.5 million tickets. Of the company’s £61.3 million income, 74% was self-generated, up from 73% the year before, with trading income amounting to £5.5 million, up 15% on 2012/13 figures.”
“The Tony Awards administration committee … on Thursday asked the rules committee for the Tonys to review a request by theatrical sound designers, Broadway actors, and many others to restore Tony Awards for best sound design for a play and for a musical. The administration committee eliminated those two awards in June.”
“To many at that time, an all-male Shakespeare production seemed like a one-off curiosity that would lead nowhere. … We were nervous opening with this strange experiment; the first performance was in Farnham and the following week was Rio. … The news slowly started to spread. Soon festivals were inviting us to perform in other countries.”
“While [most site-specific] productions are held in controlled and sanctioned spaces, [Jeff] Stark’s works take place in locations like abandoned power plants and disused subway stations, with no permission or permits, and are subject to a rude lack of cooperation from the real world.” The play at hand: an enactment of the Persephone myth at Brooklyn’s notoriously polluted Gowanus Canal.
“In the past, it was all so easy. When you bought a theatre ticket, you could be pretty confident that you would sit in a row with other people, watch the play in the dark and clap at the end. …No longer. Audiences are increasingly asked to be participants or collaborators; to take part, sometimes to follow instructions, and occasionally even to have agency.” But many remain reluctant. Should they?
“That’s a tidy sum in an industry where many plays cost $4 million to produce, and most end up losing money. But with Broadway’s 40 theaters nearly all booked, and plenty of shows waiting for vacancies, the recent jockeying for the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater reflected the imperative of producers and directors to hold fast to a prime theater that finally comes their way.”
“Howe & Hummel has never been performed. It hasn’t even been published. In the 50 years since [Joseph] Heller completed it, it’s never had so much as a public reading. Only two copies of the typescript survive. … In subsequent years, Heller would rewrite reality as artfully as Howe and Hummel, and erase Howe & Hummel from his life. His autobiography spares not a word for the project he devoted so many months to.”
“With the best will in the world you cannot see everyone who applies or is submitted by their agent. Even on a fringe profit share production there are over 1,000 CVs to consider. … So how do you pick just 75 candidates?” Phil Wilmott explains how he does it – and he doesn’t like it any better than actors do.