“Next season, Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Play will be reinstated to the list of competitive Tony Award categories with a new voting process. In addition, it was determined that for similar reasons, the category of Best Orchestrations will adhere to this same new voting process. The Tony Nominators will nominate for these categories as in the past. However, voting on the winners of the three categories will now be the responsibility of a subset of the overall voter pool based on their professional affiliation.”
The project by the American Shakespeare Center, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, “invites writers to submit plays inspired by each of Shakespeare’s, on a schedule coordinated with the theater’s season. Two winners will be chosen each year, and will be performed in repertory along with the Shakespeare play that inspired them, starting in 2019. (Each winning playwright will receive $25,000.)”
“Opening arguments began on Monday in a civil trial about a Broadway musical that never came to be, a real-life drama that, even by showbiz standards, stretched the suspension of disbelief.”
“Carrying a banner reading ‘Satan, leave our city,’ about a dozen right-wing supporters Monday chanted extremist slogans and sang nationalist songs inside the theater in the coastal town of Split before police pushed them out.” The local Catholic archdoicese had called for the play, Oliver Frljić’s Our Violence and Your Violence, to be banned due to some extreme imagery.
Michelle Hensley founded Ten Thousand Things, which “pioneered an operating style — paying good wages to top-notch actors while cutting costs by keeping designs minimal — now practiced by at least eight companies nationwide.” Now she’s stepping down.
Director Dominic Dromgoole: “The British desire not to do things, not to make things, can be very wearying. But Wanamaker, an extraordinary blend of charmer, irritant, huckster, dreamer and impresario, plowed on.”
Edward Hogg isn’t thrilled about the dismissal of Rice: “It’s very sad, really. Especially at a time like this, you really need your true artists, people like Emma, at the forefront of big theatres like the Globe. I’m such a big Emma Rice fan, so with this we want to do our best not only for ourselves and for our show but for Emma as well.”
And the BBC put both Pinter’s “Betrayal” and Joan Bakewell’s “Keeping in Touch” on the air. “You were conscious, as the events unfolded in reverse chronological order, of the way betrayal spreads like a virus through a whole network of human relationships.”
Theatre artist Daniel Park wondered, so he asked: “As a queer person of color and member of Philadelphia’s theater community, I’m invested in and directly affected by your participation in the Ghostlight Project. The movement called itself a chance for organizations to ‘make, or renew, a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone.’ On the movement’s website, it listed a large number of potential, actionable, ongoing actions for participants to take after the event on 1/19. I’m writing to find out what movements and plans your organization has begun since 1/19/17 to put this commitment into effect, outside of producing art.”
That unequivocal statement came from Carole Rothman, the artistic director of Second Stage Theater, which, reports Michael Paulson, commissioned new works by the nine playwrights – seven of them women, three of them African-American, and one of them Asian-American – with the intention of bringing the shows to Broadway.”
“I think it’s made the whole community feel braver about making work that pushes people harder and gives voice to subject matter and to people that we can see being silenced under this administration. The second he was elected, the theatre community got energy and it’s a really great thing that we have a place to put our anger and our fear.”
Dromgoole, whose tenure as artistic director (2006-16) was widely admired, comments publicly for the first time about the controversy around his successor: “Sadly the negativity doesn’t only come from without [the Globe], there is also a fair sum within. There are structural problems, there are personality problems, there is too much fighting for territory, and there are too many who feel free to comment on work without ever taking the risk of making it.”
Having just come through a tumultuous period – a near-collapse, a rescue plan, foreclosure on its home stage (and another rescue), the resignation of the old boss after 35 years, and the arrival of a promising new boss – the flagship of Philadelphia’s nonprofit theaters is taking what its board chair calls “a year off from producing to get our house in order.”
“Where there’s truth to the idea of a television ‘golden age’ (ask me over a cup of coffee or a whiskey ginger someday), it’s in the fact that cable and streaming outlets have allowed shows to flourish when they appeal to more deeply invested but smaller audiences. This is what I have called in the past The Age Of Enthusiasm. It has also encouraged the proliferation of shows that are more idiosyncratic, personal, and experimental than television was before. Now, drama and comedy enthusiasts have daily exposure to stuff that’s weird and complicated and formally experimental. They are a good, prepared audience for interesting plays in a way that I, as a teenager in the late 1980s, was not.”
“I was their second choice for Usual Suspects, fourth choice for American Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards. I think my career is definitely going in the right direction,” said Kevin Spacey. “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”
“For the greater good of theater criticism as a legitimate form of journalism and for the greater good of theater as an art form, yes, I’d have preferred that the Times authentically looked for, and found, a 30-year-old woman of color or a 34-year-old man of Asian ethnicity or even — in the spirit of a long tradition — pulled some 27-year-old reporter off the sports desk and provided them with a shot.”
“While U.S. theatres have a long way to go in terms of equity, diversity, and inclusion, they are a multicultural utopia compared to the narrow demographics of those who write about the thea¬tre … That’s why American Theatre is proud this year to help administer an arts journalism track as part of the Rising Leaders of Color Program.”
Out Front, Atlanta’s new LGBTQetc. theater company, was preparing its upcoming production of Paul Rudnick’s The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told when it began receiving messages and a petition from an organization called American Needs Fatima thundering that “this blasphemous play is a vile insult to the Mother of God!”
“The Tonys have gone hostless before — with dire results. Theater people still wince at the memory of the 1999 awards, when a bunch of actors stood in a circle and declaimed famous lines from plays.”
The artist Okwui Okpokwasili blurs boundaries, hates talking about genres, and collaborates both with her husband and a variety of other performers. “Nearly six feet tall, with a hypnotic voice and limbs that swallow up space, she pushes herself to the edge as a performer, playing with extremes of ecstasy, sadness or rage with almost dangerous intensity.”
Seriously: All 40 theatres were full (the 41st is under renovation right now). How rare is this? (And what’s doing well, or less than well?)
That is one devoted audience member: “Using her free-flying privileges as a now-retired pilot, [Beverley Bass] has followed the musical’s developmental journey from La Jolla to Seattle to Washington to Gander to Toronto to New York, often with other female pilots in tow. Ms. Bass is both watching the show and reliving the events, clutching her husband’s hand as the emotions return.”
Take a Tony winner, a guy touring in “Hamilton,” and Renée Fleming, and what do you get? A revival of “Carousel,” of course.
An understudy goes on – and the music and lyrics writer addresses that fact – in the final preview before opening. How’d that go?
Of course, the program is called “Disney Musicals in the Schools,” and the kids produce and perform a “Disney KIDS” musical during the year they get funding and support, but hey: “Teachers will learn how to create all parts of a show, including building a rehearsal schedule, developing and maintaining a budget, choreographing a number, teaching the music and directing a show.”
“Much has been written about Miss Saigon, primarily by white writers: about the yellowface controversy, about the actors involved. But very few Vietnamese-Americans have weighed in. We are the sixth-largest immigrant group in America, numbering 1.3 million. And yet popular narratives of the Vietnam War typically exclude us. And as Miss Saigon tours the country next year, the most popular narrative of all will continue to shut us out.”
Declan Donnellan: “Plays without ideas are boring. But all ideas are dead until someone gives them flesh. Angels is full of ideas – bursting with them – but they land in our laps only because they have been vomited up by the living situation.”
Nelson Pressley looks at the growth taking place at Charm City’s flagship theater company, Baltimore Center Stage, and smaller companies that are feeling secure enough to invest in actual real estate.
Says Tania Bruguera about her directorial debut, happening this month in Portugal, “I’m interested in how Endgame brings power dynamics into our everyday lives. It feels relevant to see this piece today, when the world is seduced by so-called strong political figures and when democracy is abused instead of enacted. It feels like the end of a chapter.”