Robert Carsen’s production of the old Gene Kelly classic for Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet (and which he hopes to bring to Broadway) isn’t entirely in black-and-white: “We use sepia toning sometimes. If it’s in a garden, it’s tinted green. If it’s indoors, it’s tinted pink. In the fantasy section, when it’s not in Los Angeles anymore or making a movie but dreaming of being on Broadway, in the Broadway melody, that all goes into gold and warm tungsten stage lights.”
The Phoenix Theatre: “Once you build a big machine and have to keep feeding it, then you’ve made a decision that’s going to impact every area of the organizations, not the least of which is the artistic. But we never want to be so beholden to chasing dollars that that becomes our major pursuit… At the end of the day, the business operation is there to enable the art.”
The playwright was one week into rehearsals for Describe the Night this past August when the storm flooded Houston and did $15 million worth of damage to the Alley Theater. He wondered if it was even appropriate for the show to continue – hell, he wondered if his vocation as a playwright was of any use to the world at all – yet, as he writes in this essay, both he himself and the Houston community had deeper resources than he had known.
Michael Ball uses bay rum for Sweeney Todd and a cheap old perfume of his mother’s for Edna Turnblad (Hairspray). Fenella Woolgar deployed Chanel No. 5 (with an extra spritz) for a 1950s snob. David Greig sniffed canned mackereal to put him in mind of the chilly mountains of Scotland. Before playing a homeless man, Arthur McBain sniffed a paper coffee cup after the coffee was finished. David Jays explores the use of aromas, and the emotions they trigger, with these and other actors as well as a ballet star and a perfumer.
“The piece particularly draws on the experience of Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, who served 16 months of a two-year sentence for hooliganism … Recreating the humiliation, intimidation and forced labour of a Russian gulag might seem like the ultimate in misery porn – especially when it’s taking place in the Saatchi Gallery, just a stone’s throw from Sloane Square.”
“We fought to be on the stage. We should reclaim that word: I don’t know where it came from, this fucking notion that putting ‘ess’ on the end makes us weak. I would be no less afraid of a lioness than a lion.”
The show, which satirizes Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton, started a limited-engagement run in July of 2016 and has since moved near the show it skewers (in an affectionate, smart way that had even Miranda laughing and applauding). Along with the U.S. tour, a London production may also be in the works.
It’s true: “In years past, this relationship was an illicit tryst, a badge of shame. Today, it is an artistic triumph. Many writers head to theater school with dramatic polygamy in mind, and those already established in theater actively pursue meetings with TV executives.”
Stuart Emmerich: “My only experiences of gay theater had been plays like The Boys in the Band, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, Tea and Sympathy and Streamers — plays where the gay character was either closeted or bitter or suicidal, and usually all three. It was a shock to see Mr. Fierstein, as Arnold, strutting around his apartment in his floppy rabbit slippers, cracking jokes, sharing affection with both his lover and his foster son, and going ferociously head-to-head with his disapproving mother, played by Estelle Getty, then unknown.”
The organization acts as a producer and manager all in one, from mapping out a show’s tour route to managing it on the road. “We view ourselves as being in service to the artists and the work, and we also view ourselves as being in service to our colleagues who will be our client.”
Lyn Gardner: “If the anniversary of the Russian revolution offers one reason for the current glut of Chekhov revivals, the other may well be the way the plays speak so directly to a world in flux, where the characters cannot comprehend or adjust to the cultural, social and political earthquakes that engulf them.”
“An investigation opened by the theatre, following allegations that the actor had sexually assaulted young men while working [as artistic director] there, led to 20 people coming forward to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour up to 2013. … The Old Vic said a ‘cult of personality’ had existed around Spacey during his time as director and that his stardom and status had prevented people, particularly junior staff and young actors, from speaking out.”
“I believe the future is less about what ‘live theatre’ is or isn’t, and more about the further blurring of lines of categorization. People will be less clear about the difference between “theatre” and “live performance” and “immersive” and “public art” and “interactive”, especially once ‘reality’ based technologies like AR/MR/VR invade the live sphere with faster and smaller real-time processing.”
“We knew if we were going to get extremely reduced ticket prices for the kids, then it would require a lot of bridge-building to all of the producers. After all, you’re asking for them to make an investment in their future, and, when they’re not sure they’re going to be open next month, it is really hard to think about the future.”
“Over 20 years, hundreds of performers have joined the show in cities around the globe. These are some of their stories – laced with hope, tragedy, homesickness and triumph.”
Sally Greene, who hired Spacey as the theatre’s artistic director, “said it made her ‘sick to the stomach’ to think people may have suffered harassment or abuse [there]. The theatre is facing questions about how much was known among management and trustees about Spacey’s alleged behaviour during his 11 years in charge. Former employees have described it as an open secret.
“The organization announced the inaugural Bridge Award on Monday, granting $10,000 to a playwright who has served in the military for the production of a new play.” This year’s judge: Suzan-Lori Parks.
Yeah, not great. Whew. “We ought to carefully consider who is excluded from the experience when required to sit in perfect silence, in a designated squeaky seat, in darkness, next to strangers, with no food or drink, without a bathroom, in a narrow row, for several hours. In fact, now that I’ve written that, it sounds more like a hostage situation than a way in which I want to spend my entertainment dollars. Oh, and PS, there are one million stairs, because this play is produced in the non-accessible, historic building that’s within the budget constraints of this small non-profit.”
The problem isn’t just Shakespeare; it’s also Chekhov – and Arthur Miller, all three of whom dominate English-language theatre training and thus the classroom, and it’s partially why so many women majoring or doing grad work in performance get to act much less often than their male counterparts. “The coexistence of these phenomena — the paucity of plays by women in the classroom and the narrow selection of roles for women in production — begs the exploration of a connection. Are members of an artistic community less likely to put gender parity onstage if it is not presented to them offstage as artistically valuable?”
Well, we know why, but we don’t know why the show did what it did in the first place: “The production, whose lead producer is Scott Rudin, refused to provide tickets for one of the Tony nominators, Jose Antonio Vargas, and as a result, Tony officials pulled 1984’s eligibility. (Broadway sources, speaking on background because they weren’t authorized to comment, said the Tony Awards were also rebuffed in efforts to buy the tickets for Vargas.)”
“There have been no major productions with female Othellos in recent times, but they were not unknown in the 19th Century. At the Queen’s Theatre in London in 1833, a Mrs Selby “enacted the part of the valiant Moor to the satisfaction of a numerous audience”, according to the London Courier and Evening Gazette.”
“In a recent survey we carried out, 74% of people who said they were interested in volunteering would do it to have fun; 56% to spend time with like-minded people; 52% to give back to their community; and 48% to feel useful. Volunteers clearly want more out of their experience than just freebies. In fact, for an organisation like LTO, free tickets would probably lead to a financial crisis if we gave them away to all our volunteers.”
“Bringing [Hamilton] to Puerto Rico is a dream that I’ve had since we first opened at The Public Theater in 2015,” said Miranda in a statement. “When I last visited the island, a few weeks before Hurricane Maria, I had made a commitment to not only bring the show to Puerto Rico, but also return again to the title role. In the aftermath of Maria we decided to expedite the announcement of the project to send a bold message that Puerto Rico will recover and be back in business, stronger than ever.”
“The big message is that many of the hundreds of professionals in Toronto’s indie scene want to stay there, that it’s not necessarily somewhere people pass through on their way to full-time jobs in building-based theatre companies. So how to make indie theatre careers sustainable is a crucial question.”
“Actors often incur significant expenses such as transportation costs when they audition or work out of town. Actors routinely pay for advertising materials like headshots and website hosting. There are many other costs to working on the stage, including commissions to agents. Itemized deductions help level the playing field for workers like actors who are required to spend a large portion of their income on business expenses. Eliminating Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions would be devastating to tens of thousands of our members by lowering their incomes and raising their taxes.”
“[Ishii Yuichi’s] 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.” Yuichi talks with journalist Roc Morin about what professionally pretending to be someone’s father or bridegroom is like and why Japanese people use – and need – the service.
Well, this is a little different from the usual accusations we’ve been seeing lately: “The Budapest Operetta Theater says it has dismissed its artistic director after an actor said he was beaten by him with a coat hanger in 1994.”
“Mike Durkin stands on Kensington Avenue, handing out fliers for a play he wants the neighborhood to help him write. It’s called The Old Man and the Delaware River, an adaptation of the celebrated Ernest Hemingway short novel, The Old Man and the Sea. … In Durkin’s version, the old man is the people of Kensington and the struggle is the opioid crisis.”
“Half a century after Bruce’s death, the social satirist and free-speech champion is a character in a drama unfolding at Brandeis University, where theater and arts faculty decided to postpone the planned fall staging of a script by a distinguished graduate, playwright Michael Weller, after some students and alumni complained the work vilified its black characters and the Black Lives Matter social movement. Weller then withdrew the work, entitled Buyer Beware, to premier the play with professional actors ‘elsewhere,’ according to a Brandeis spokesman.