“Box-office grosses, which have been climbing since 2013, rose 5.5 percent, to $1.449 billion, a new high, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Broadway League … There are bargains available for all but the buzziest shows, but still: The average price paid for a Broadway ticket during the 2016-17 season was a record $109, up from $103 the previous season.”
Kirill Serebrennikov, famous in Russia as both a stage director and a filmmaker, was taken into custody and held for interrogation following a raid of the Gogol Center (of which he’s artistic director), his apartment, and 15 other addresses. (He was released late in the day and said he was questioned as a witness.) Authorities claim that the issue is suspected embezzlement of state arts funding at the Gogol, but Serebrennikov is a well-known critic of the Kremlin’s policies on freedom of expression, LGBT rights, and Crimea, and several of the theatre’s more controversial stagings have been investigated for violating morals laws.
News broke last week that Edward Albee’s estate had denied permission for the casting of a black actor as Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, reigniting yet again the debates on non-traditional casting. Alexis Soloski looks at the good-faith issues in the debate: “Part of the difficulty has to do with whether we perceive theater as a collaborative form in which a play is made new each time a director and actors put it on, or whether plays exist as blueprints for a single ideal staging that each production will realize to greater and lesser extent.”
As one crew member says, “It’s the largest theater performance in human history on the longest passenger train in human history.” Camila Domonoske reports.
Of the four nominees for the Tony Award for best new play, three had Off-Broadway runs, and each of them was honored by the Obie judges.
“It’s legal. But is it ethical? Is it fair that contemporary directors should be chained by the views of a writer who died a year ago, especially if those views demand active and explicit racial discrimination?”
Although Brook has the aura of a sage, he rejects the kind of theater in which artists condescend to their audience by assuming superior knowledge. Such “pretension” offends him. It’s the problem he has with Brecht, whose “tremendous scenic talent” has been eclipsed by his theoretical writings. As for the influence of Artaud, Brook classified him with the modernist English theater artist Edward Gordon Craig “as visionaries who gave their life to try to say what meaningful theater could be,” even if they weren’t able to achieve it themselves in performance.
“The Guthrie has become more inclusive than it’s ever been, with game-changing shows like “The Bluest Eye.” That goes into territory once claimed by, say, Penumbra, which still has the deepest expertise in doing African-American fare in the Twin Cities. Inclusiveness means that actors and artists can make a greater living even as it leaves theaters like Mu feeling that they are becoming “feeder companies” for bigger institutions. It’s a complicated issue.”
And its 50th anniversary celebration wasn’t just a big party with a lot of celebrities. Charles McNulty: “The show, which was produced and directed with finesse by Robert H. Egan, reflected on CTG’s legacy not simply to indulge in nostalgia but to sharpen the theater’s mission as it moves into a future that promises to be every bit as impossible — culturally, politically and economically (let’s not even bring up the traffic) — as the past.”
Carol Ann Tan: “When people ask this question, what they’re really saying is that they feel entitled to what I have — that they want my opportunities and successes for themselves. Except they don’t want the part where everyone questions my ability to speak English fluently. They don’t want the part where people avoid socializing with someone who is so culturally divorced from the familiar. They don’t want any of the heartbreak or loneliness that also accompany my identity. In short, they don’t want the experiences that have informed my perspective.”
Fry, who left a production in 1995 to figure out his own mental health, said, “Swings and dance captains are there in order, every single day, to work out if there’s an injury who will be replacing who in the chorus, who is coming in to double for this part and so on. The day may come when someone says: ‘I’ve broken my ankle’, and [someone else says]: ‘I’ve got the day off because I have had a depressive episode’, and it will sound the same.”
Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson is Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ first African-American ringmaster, and as the circus runs its last performance on May 20, he’s the circus’ final ringmaster as well. “Ironically enough, I will be the very last voice in the 146-year history of this show, so I will be the last person you hear to speak of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ — which is a wild little paradox, to be a first and a last at the same time.”
The artistic director of the group’s patron and incubator, ACT: “When they called me in 2011 and said, ‘We want to do the Ring Cycle of Chekhov and take it around the world,’ I was terrified, and told them so. … They loved it. ‘That’s the response we want,’ they said. Eventually, I fell deeply in love with the author—and the company too.”
“This points to the effects of decades of a lack of equitable representation on the stage and media, as much as a disparaging perception of Asians generally in the ‘age of terror’. It presents some real challenges for venues, producers, funders, schools and philanthropists to make a concerted effort to draw attention to the centrality of arts in national life for everyone, not least Asians.”
“From what we can gather from statements from both parties is that the Albee Estate wanted full approval of the casting of this show. Once they saw that an African-American was cast as Nick, they requested that he be recast as a white man, when the director refuses, the shows rights are revoked. While the Albee Estate is using the ADVERTISING(probably casting notice) with a black actor as the reason they are stating a violation of the agreement, it’s pretty clear that the reason is because of the black actor who was cast as Nick. It appears as though Mr. Albee, for at least professional productions, wants that role to remain white.”
“In the revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, the actors alternate between playing the lead role (the cunning, assertive Regina Giddens) and a supporting one (Regina’s timid, abused sister-in-law, Birdie). … In a free-flowing conversation at BuzzFeed‘s New York headquarters, the actors talked about taking on this unique challenge, as well as their thoughts on the theater at large, aging, and roles for women over 40.”
Mind you, this wasn’t a telecast of the theatre performance; decades’ experience has shown that those can be just dandy. (Yes, yes, it’s not the same as being there. Not everyone can get there.) This was a BBC television adaptation, with television conventions. Yes, sometimes that can work; Time Out London theatre editor Andrzej Lukowski analyzes why, for this play in particular, it did not.
“Chris Dercon’s plans for the theater — which mark a distinct shift toward interdisciplinary work and international artists — have garnered criticism since his appointment. A Belgian-born curator, he most recently ran the Tate Modern, where he helped oversee a major expansion into a new building. Mr. Dercon’s close ties to the market-driven British art world have raised eyebrows among those who see his background as a strange fit for a theater that relies largely on public funding and has a long, anti-establishment political tradition.”
A onetime child star, James Rocco initiated the Ordway’s Broadway Songbook series, which celebrates musical theater composers. He also built up the Ordway’s in-house Broadway-style producing arm, putting on shows such as “A Chorus Line,” “Paint Your Wagon” and the recent smash, “West Side Story.”
“The show is the brainchild of an Australian animatronics company, and its only previous production was in Melbourne. Its arrival on Broadway has been long delayed: In 2010, the producers said they were aiming for a 2013 Broadway bow; in 2013, they talked of a possible 2014 Broadway opening, as well as international productions of the show; and by 2014, they had stopped attaching a timeline to their project. But now, for the first time, they are announcing a theater as well as a time frame.”
“A recent National Endowment for the Arts report claims that nationally, theater ticket sales are 6 percent lower than they were a decade ago. Yet our small, local companies, who routinely bring us work by provocative young playwrights — plays in which naked people appear, in which topical issues are discussed over coffee, and women exchange the occasional tongue kiss — are thriving.”
“The premise: a bunch of people sign up for an online dating service called Ok.luv because they want to find dates. Guess what happens next? They go on dates. Musical hijinks ensue.” But Some in the Seattle theatre community were offended by descriptions of the characters in a casting call.
By the time he left, Sir Nicholas had overseen the staging of 100 plays and established many of the features that people now take for granted, among them cheap tickets and live-cinema relays. He had also helped to produce some of modern theatre’s triumphs: “War Horse”, “One Man, Two Guvnors”, “The History Boys”, “His Dark Materials” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”. Annual turnover in 2015 had climbed to £117m, of which just 15% came from the public purse.
The planned new building will house two expanded spaces: a flagship 700-seat theatre and a 250-seat space. A new cafe and restaurant are planned, along with extra rehearsal spaces, a creative arts hub and expanded office space for staff. A spokeswoman for the theatre said the group believes the “current building is inadequate for artists, audiences and staff. We have been seeking to find a solution to improve this situation for more than 10 years.”
Well, the problem is understandable, really: “Broadway serves both a local market and a tourist one, theater snobs and theater newcomers. If you go to a Broadway show only once a year and your ticket likely costs upwards of $100, do you choose the intellectually engaging drama or the [musical] with the lights and back handsprings and sequins? … Why do a play on Broadway at all?” As Alexis Soloski explains, there are some good reasons.
For a start, there are growing pains (though “pains” isn’t really the right word): really successful pub ventures morph into actual theatres, even as established theatres (including subsidized ones) open their own pubs with separate stages. Even so, writes Matt Trueman, there’s still a lot of vitality in the movement.
David Ivers was artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City from 2011 until stepping down earlier this month to accept the same title with Arizona’s leading producer of live theater. He takes over on July 1 from David Ira Goldstein, who has led the company for 25 seasons — including the current one, which was nearly canceled in the midst of a financial crisis.
“We knew that there was going to be a water feature but we didn’t know there would be a 30-foot long exposed electric circuit along the drip edge of this pool which had three- to 4,000 gallons of water.”
At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this year, the role of Hotspur is played by Alejandra Escalante, and it works brilliantly. “She’s too much. She’s too blunt and too loud and she never stops talking. She knows what she’s worth, and she’s worked hard to prove it, but these days that isn’t enough anymore. Now everyone says she needs to be quieter, needs to be gentler, needs to not be the things – aggressive, impulsive, passionate, utterly wholly constantly sincere – that have helped her claw her way to where she is. Which Shakespeare heroine? Why, Harry Percy.”
Basically, says a theatre-maker who had the experience and then did the research, theatres doing what she calls lesser-known work “must paint a detailed picture of the experience with information that appeals to both the practical and adventurous sides of our audience members.”