“Called the Visionari scheme, the initiative is looking for 20 people who are “regular, irregular and importantly non-theatre attenders”. The advisory group will spend a year learning about the theatre through workshops led by the venue’s staff. After the initial year the group will begin to guide, challenge and inform programming decisions at the theatre.”
As the state’s only member of the elite-tier League of Resident Theatres, with a $7 million budget and audiences in both Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona Theatre Company is better equipped than any other Valley company to be a leader on the issues of equity and representation for women and people of color — which, ironically enough, makes Ivers, who formerly led the Utah Shakespeare Festival, something of a “great white hope” for theater diversity here.
The man who produced and/or directed more than 21 Broadway musicals and brought now-classics to the Great White Way had some issues getting his own story to the stage. “A shortage of investors was at one point an issue, astonishingly – or perhaps not so, given the proliferation of jukebox musicals and movie and brand adaptations that have attracted latter-day Broadway producers. Prince, now 89, was never fazed. ‘So many of the shows I’ve done were met with cynicism, initially,’ he says.”
Art imitates life imitates art: The play, “inspired by Kushner’s Louisiana upbringing, is set in Lake Charles, La., during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement. The plot centers on the uneasy relationship between a Jewish family and their black maid, Caroline, but the era of change is emphasized by a number of background events: the assassination of President Kennedy, the non-violent protests led by Martin Luther King Jr., and—in a particularly timely subplot—the destruction of a courthouse Confederate statue by teenagers in the small Southern town.”
Basically, the problem is money. “The Houston theater scene knew and respected the couple, and critics generally adored the work they did. But a few years in, and after receiving grants to form the company, Lehl and Tobin-Lehl realized that there was no system in place for 4th Wall to grow. Billing themselves as champions of artists, their plea for more support – enough to pay a small, full-time administrative staff – fell on silent ears.”
It means the same thing it did before, only more so: “With a cast far more racially mixed than the European-descended men who penned the Constitution, the play’s power is that promises of equality made in the 1700s should never be forsaken. The American dream, the play suggests, belongs to all, not to the resentful and narrow vernaculars reverberating through red and blue state battles.”
You’d think that some folks in the suburbs near Chicago had, somehow, never met a lesbian couple: “More than 2,000 people have seen the outdoor show, which closes Sunday, since previews began July 12. Rice received about two dozen phone calls, letters and emails complaining mostly about the relationship between courtier Touchstone (a role typically played by a man) and shepherdess Audrey (a role typically played by a woman).”
The Majority, a new show at London’s National Theatre by the performer and playwright Rob Drummond, is inspired by a wave of recent electoral upsets, from the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to the Brexit vote last year. Throughout the show, Drummond asks a series of timely questions to which the audience votes “yes” or “no” on in real time, with the results immediately revealed, as he demonstrates how easily the shape of a question can alter its answer.
The Pulitzer-winning playwright (Between Riverside and Crazy, The MF with the Hat, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot) began his career as an actor, and old colleagues still want to work with him. But until this summer, he hadn’t been onstage since 2004, and in the meantime he’d let stress affect his health in other ways and backed out of several acting jobs he’d already accepted. As the time approached for the revival of Mamet’s American Buffalo he’s now co-starring in, his body brought things to a crisis.
The Rolling World Premiere project, operated by the National New Play Network, “helps underwrite new plays to make sure they get at least three separate productions in three totally separate markets, all within 12 months – and all billed as world premieres as the play ‘rolls’ cross-country to various theaters, casts, and settings.”
The truth is, everybody is an outsider. Everybody. So, we mustn’t fear presenting that in a work of art so that people have different ways of seeing their outsiderness reflected. This is what I say to young people: “It is not a waste of your life to be a writer, or to work in the arts.” I think the more we see ourselves represented, the more that opens up possibilities for younger people.
“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group has announced a new partnership with one of China’s largest live entertainment groups to develop the country’s musical theatre industry. Among the first projects to be announced are the first Chinese-language production of Tell Me on a Sunday and a training course taught in collaboration with Arts Educational Schools.”
Following 12 months of workshops and training for the participants, the London-based project, called Dangerous Spaces, will commission half a dozen playwrights to write scripts for six actresses each. Those scripts will be produced, along with an all-female Shakespeare staging, in the 2018-19 season.
“At a time when funding for the arts is in absolute peril, how will we inspire the next generation of theater artists to still see the theater as an art form worth dedicating their lives to? How can theaters keep the focus of not only their audiences, but now their artists too? Perhaps playwrights could bounce seamlessly between stage and screen. But as so many are finding themselves fulfilled both artistically and monetarily by other mediums, will the theater become what it often does for successful TV and film actors, something they return to here and there when their shooting schedule allows it?”
“Like any Broadway spectacle, the excursion was a splice of authentic emotion and fabrication. It seemed equal part an earnest bid to get people off the sidelines and into a picket line and equal part showbiz hoopla aimed at bolstering a show that opened last week to mixed reviews and that has not yet caught fire with ticket buyers.”
“That fearlessness on the part of Russian theatre artists has led to an increase in audiences, including that most coveted of demographics: the under-40 set. One had only to look at the audience at Gogol Center, where I saw Kafka on a Saturday night.” Diep Tran visits the Golden Mask Festival, where Russia’s top companies present their best work of the season over two months, at the end of which a jury awards a Russian national equivalent of the Tonys or Oliviers.
The backstory: There wouldn’t be an Intiman Theatre in 2017 if it wasn’t for Russell. For audiences, for the company and the Seattle theater community at large, Russell has been nothing less than a turn-around artist — in some ways, a controversial one — whose upfront progressive politics and improvisational style made him a real mover and shaker.
This is practical info. First of all, silence around accessibility is not going to help. Second, plan ahead. “If you want to produce a play that has three Deaf characters, start allocating money for professional ASL interpreters several months in advance. If you want to stage an inclusive musical in a ‘historical’ venue that is inaccessible to performers who use wheelchairs, start researching retro-fits and accessible ramps, and make friends with an architect or designer who can help.”
The list of performers who came to sing Sondheim and so much more is long, and those who couldn’t be there in person sent audio and video songs as well. “In at least one moment, Ms. Cook seemed to signal that she was hearing them, according to [singer Jessica] Molaskey. ‘We started singing and she lifted her finger up to her mouth. … She tapped her lips twice and I thought she was singing with us.'”
“Whenever anyone tries to argue that theatre shouldn’t ‘be political,’ I like to tell them the story of A Game at Chess. Thomas Middleton’s last play, which premiered in 1624, is mostly unknown outside of academia today; in the seventeenth century, however, it made quite a splash and resulted in the closure of the Globe theatre.”
“While rap aficionados and theater nerds have exhaustively cataloged the rich referential web of Mr. Miranda’s “Hamilton” score, little attention has been paid to the show’s engagement with the music that Alexander Hamilton would have known in his lifetime.”