Isaac Butler and Dan Kois: ” Call it the Rylance Rule: Great stage actors can be great on film as well, but their film careers are always less interesting than their stage careers.” And Mark Rylance himself is their Exhibit B; Exhibit A is Nathan Lane: “So why on earth would we want to push one of the four or five best living stage actors onto film? Is Nathan Lane’s road to an Oscar worth the dozen great performances on stage that he’d sacrifice to get there?”
The playwright politely ducked the question about what might come next, saying that he was eternally on the hunt for material—in magazines, newspapers, science journals, monographs—but hadn’t yet located something that felt like a script. Brexit fascinated him, he added, as did the rise of Trump. He’d also considered writing a drama about cloning, and another on the Leveson inquiry. So far, though, nothing has quite stuck. “I like to think that something is marinating. I read out of a combination of normal interest and the hope that there will be a play in there, or the half-notion of a play.”
“If you’ve got somebody as distinguished and inventive and good as [director] Marianne Elliott, and she says, ‘I would love to do Company with a female central character.’ … What is there to lose? It can only make the play either interesting or, if you dislike it … dislikable … but still. I’m fumfering here, but the point is: That’s what keeps the theaters alive. So I’m always open.”
After a long rehearsal and a lot of planning, actors know how to substitute themselves for the characters (mostly without creating problems for the actors themselves). They can be “clear about drawing distinctions between performance and life. Ms. Grant believes in ‘really healthy, strong boundaries,’ she said, and as Mr. Hernandez put it,’This is literally my job. I went to school for it. I’m not skeezing on anybody. It is in the text.’ No carnal appetite here.”
The Shakespearean actor said it was “a dream come true,” despite the fact that she’s succeeding another woman, Emma Rice, whose vision for the Globe was famously undercut when the theatre’s board decided to force her out (Rice is headed to the Old Vic).
Can the U.S. ever catch up? Hm. “Americans say we are modern and experimental. … But for me, I don’t see that. I don’t think it’s that much of a provocative performance at all.”
Suzan-Lori Parks: “I love them because they are difficult. If they were easy I wouldn’t find them as delightful and delicious.”
Real glassware in the theatre bar, for one thing. And the patrons like it. “‘It shows class,’ said Billy-Grace Ward of Manhattan, who was drinking Champagne before a performance of 1984. ‘It’s not a disposable experience.'”
One of the current students; “It’s sad to see such a unique, outstanding, renowned college be let down by a bunch of suits who didn’t make their mind up over the future of it, and there’s at least a hundred of us that have been left with the mess they patched together for us.”
“When Major-General Charles Sandford recalled the scene at the Astor Place Theatre on May 10, 1849, it was with a sentiment one would not normally associate with a night at the theater. ‘During a period of thirty-five years of military service,’ wrote the general, ‘I have never seen a mob so violent as the one on that evening. I never before had occasion to give the order to fire.'”
Nicole Chung writes about her meaningful mother-and-child trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Winter’s Tale.
“I as a director do not feel it is my responsibility to have a dialogue with a young person about subject matter that should be left to the parents. So to do a scene that is dealing with sex — I mean, I have trouble even just communicating a kiss and the emotion of love and attraction, let alone talking through a scene where they’re having sex. There’s no way I could ever do anything like that.”
“The play, he says, will not focus on the Trump presidency itself, but will be set two years before the election. Kushner says he will try to write Trump as a direct character, rather than anything oblique or symbolic. ‘He’s the kind of person, as a writer, I tend to avoid as I think he is borderline psychotic,’ Kushner says. ‘I definitely think that incoherence lends itself well to drama, but he really is very boring. It’s terrifying because he has all the power, but without the mental faculties he ought to have.”
We’re are not in Hoboken but in a space beneath the 14th Street entrance and exit of New York City’s High Line, and this is the immersive theatrical experience of Seeing You.
“[It’s] about more than booking acts, selling tickets and waiting for the cash to roll in. It means knowing where to hire a crane at 3am so you can lift a trampoline through a window, as Zoo Venues’ artistic director, James Mackenzie, had to do one year. Or dealing with a hole that opens up overnight right in front of Pleasance Dome’s entrance. Or ferrying truckloads of water from Leith to fill the Pleasance Courtyard tanks when the water supply fails, so the venues’ toilets can flush.”
Writes editor Adam Moss: “Sara never imagined herself a critic, but she has the makings of a great one. She comes at theatre criticism from an unusual background and perspective, which will be helpful, but she also happens to be a wonderful critical writer—vivid, wry, interesting, impassioned. We’re excited to welcome her to the dialogue.”
Diep Tran: “We theatre journalists are a marginalized minority ourselves: overworked, underpaid, and constantly fighting to justify our existence. We’re not all that different from the artists we claim to love. And if we really love theatre, then we need to find a better way to talk about the diverse people who make it. Because right now, we—whose job it is to tell the truth—are failing at it.”
“The program, known as the A.R.T. Institute, is housed within Harvard’s acclaimed American Repertory Theater, and has had several recent setbacks that contributed to the freeze. In January, the federal government called out the institute for burdening its students with loan debt averaging about $78,000 each.” This for a program that does not confer an MFA degree.
“When Kevin Broccoli wrote his two-man play James Franco and Me, he had vague hopes that the real James Franco might tweet about it or maybe, just maybe, come see a performance. Instead, Mr. Franco’s lawyers have sent a cease-and-desist letter to a New York theater that was going to stage the satire in August.”
“The performance will be characterised by a more casual approach to noise and movement in the auditorium. However, the performance itself will be unchanged. Chilled performances are aimed at people who feel more at ease knowing they are able to leave the auditorium at any time. These include people with dementia and people with babes in arms. They are similar to relaxed performances, which the RSC already runs. However, unlike relaxed performances they do not make any changes to the production, such as reducing sound volume, turning up the lights or providing break-out areas.”
Dozens more men than women are acting on stage because of the continuing fascination by arts institutions and audiences with William Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and histories – written during a time and in a place where women were legally prohibited from acting.
“The play’s lead actor, Mohamad Alrefai, showed up for his first interview at the United States Embassy in Beirut eager to introduce himself and to show his supporting documents for a visa, only to be told by an American consular official to keep his mouth shut, he recalled, and his stack of papers to himself. Several members of the group were asked to furnish their social media handles so American officials could read what they had posted. The director, Omar Abusaada, said he was asked if he belonged to a terrorist organization. “Would an actual terrorist say yes?” he later wondered aloud.”
Laura Collins-Hughes: “The capacity to take women seriously is at the heart of all of this: the idea that we’re not an aberration but half the population, and just as human as the other half. It is ridiculous to me that the need for equal footing even has to be a discussion — that the inherent value of a theater that looks and sounds and feels like all of us should require defending.”
For a play running at the Lincoln Center, actors and designers converged on New York from six different countris. “Under most circumstances, obtaining a United States visa is arduous. In the case of these visiting artists, the ordeal involved proving that they had a good reason to enter the United States, that they were not a security threat and that they had no intention of staying in the country. The Trump administration’s travel ban — and the legal turmoil around it — has made the whole process all the more bewildering.”
This is in addition to performances that reduce the sound volume and turn up the lights – so-called “relaxed” performances – and are aimed at slightly different audiences, for “people who feel more at ease knowing they are able to leave the auditorium at any time. These include people with dementia and people with babes in arms.”
Yep, it’s the Bard. “Dozens more men than women are acting on stage because of the continuing fascination by arts institutions and audiences with William Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and histories – written during a time and in a place where women were legally prohibited from acting.”
“Like a hardcover book, ‘cast album’ is starting to seem like a retronym. LPs are only available as collector’s items, and even CDs are on their way out. Instead, new scores, or just individual tracks from them, are downloaded or streamed in digital format, often before a show has opened. They can then be played in any sequence or combination a listener may devise.”
“Licensing fees for shows can often be the highest expense on a school production’s budget. Depending on the show, amount of performances, ticket prices, etc, they can often range to $2,000-$3,000. In fact, according to MTI’s Cost Estimator, a 4 performance run of “Annie” with an auditorium of 200 seats, tickets at $15 and a 4 performance run(standard for most high schools) would likely cost between $1,998 – $2,703. That’s a lot for any school but near impossible for one with very little funding.”
I’ve conducted a thought experiment. If I were running a regional theater company and decided to devote an entire season to plays by women, which ones would I choose? Within five minutes, my imaginary season was planned. Not only did I make a special point of including two pre-1960 works that are now largely (if not entirely) forgotten, but I deliberately steered clear of the usual staples. No “Little Foxes,” no “Raisin in the Sun,” no Caryl Churchill or Sarah Ruhl —just six fine plays that I picked for no other reasons than that I think they’re good and are likely to appeal to the average playgoer, regardless of gender.
Andrew Lloyd Webber: “Theatre is highly labour-intensive. On the whole, the prices of West End theatre are incredibly reasonable considering the cost of putting something on.” Told that tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are over £100, ALW said, “We don’t charge anything like that for School of Rock.” (Orchestra/stalls seats for School of Rock in the West End are currently £129.50.)