Douglas Gordon taking an axe to the wall of a theatre after bad reviews of his new production is but one tiny example. Critic Michael Billington offers some more – including Steven Berkoff’s notorious death threat.
“Through theatre, the women in the group tell their stories to the people who need to hear them most: police officers, brothel owners, clients, men. The audience gathers in a circle and, in the midst of them, the women act out a scenario where they have been abused or mistreated. They then invite their audience to suggest how the story could have played out differently.”
Don’t have a program: “There was no designated person whose function was to understand the world of the play, to speak up for the playwright and her intent, to argue for the sanctity of the script. That work struck me as vital. Every conversation I had about student theatre I would pull back to this lack of focus on the text. The text must be the crux of all discussion and choices in the theatre.”
The actress/folk hero explains what exactly the audience member whose phone she took away was doing, where in the theater the offender was sitting, and why her nonstop texting was distracting everyone else in the house. (Patti also reminds us that she’s never stopped a show because of a cell phone or texting.) (audio)
Michelle Terry (currently playing Rosalind at Shakespeare’s Globe): “Going into the forest of Arden, disguised as a man, means she gets to explore every possible version of herself.” Ronald Pickup (played Rosalind in Olivier’s all-male production at the Old Vic in 1967): “I was watching a rehearsal in the Old Vic when John Dexter … leaned over and said: ‘Get a fucking pair of legs. You’re going to play Rosalind in a year’s time.'”
Nick Silvestri, age 19, in a prepared statement: “I don’t go to plays very much, and I didn’t realize that the stage is considered off limits. I’ve learned a lot about the theater in the past few days – theater people are really passionate and have been very willing to educate me.” But the Hand to God publicists organized the event. Does that mean the entire thing was a publicity stunt?
“Mr. Miranda, at an airport on his way to a vacation with his wife in Mexico, picked up a copy of ‘Alexander Hamilton,’ a 2004 biography by Ron Chernow. By the second chapter, Mr. Miranda thought the story was made for hip-hop: Hamilton, an orphaned immigrant, plays a key role both in the American Revolution and in the nation’s foundational years, only to stumble with a sex scandal and to die in a duel. Hamilton’s childhood, Mr. Miranda said, made him think of Jay Z’s early days in the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, and Eminem’s upbringing in Detroit.”
“Broadway theaters weren’t built for cell phone usage—many of them date to the early 20th century. They’re made of marble on the outside and have thick walls on the inside, which absorb sound. … Even from a technical standpoint, using your phone in a theater is pointless — your battery drains even if the phone just stays in your pocket.”
“Here’s what I’m wondering. Why haven’t theaters, which have known about this problem for eons, taken a harder line on behalf of their own audiences and productions? Why, in all these years, hasn’t a deterrent been found? … At the point at which actors no longer feel they can do their jobs, management is required to step up.”
You can’t have the RSC and the National receiving millions of pounds of money without a lower price, in my feeling. A lower price should be part of it.” Adding that tickets for the two subsidised theatre companies cost “way too much”, he continued: “I think it absolutely has to be accessible, this stuff. And that should be the condition of subsidy.”
In its response to Mark Rylance’s comments, the National said it was “committed to sharing our work with as many people as possible. We agree with Mark that affordable ticket pricing plays an important role in that, and use our public funding to help achieve that accessibility.” Tickets to its main house shows, its spokesperson continued, ranged from £15 to £55, with no additional booking fees.
See? It’s not just music critics doing it. “It’s a lesson that audiences have yet to learn. … Patti LuPone will not tolerate your foolery in a Broadway theatre. Or off-Broadway. Or in a Las Vegas concert hall.”
Five-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell: “The kinds of roles I was being offered were just – I’d been there and done that, and I just didn’t want to do that anymore. … I’m 58 years old, and it’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. It’s eight shows a week, and I’ve been disappointed in the kind of theater that you can make a living doing.”
“Customers were asked to book tickets in advance – so we still captured their data – but they did not pay until after the show. There was no obligation to pay anything, entirely removing their financial risk. … Six months on, I’m pleased to say it has been a huge success, with some startling results.”
“Taymor’s film reveals more of the spectacle than any one spectator at the theater could have seen. Nonetheless a filmed version of a stage production cannot quite capture the sense of being there, even if the wizards currently developing the science of virtual reality no doubt are conceiving ways to eliminate the distinction.”
“The truth is that with any art form you have to wade through a lot of less good stuff to find the gems, and there is a purpose in the less good stuff because that’s how artists, novelists, film-makers and theatre-makers learn. And for the reader or the audience there is a real pleasure in going on a journey with an author or a theatre-maker and seeing them develop over a period of time. If everything was astonishing it would be very dull.”