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.”
The Exil Ensemble is “a group of seven performers from Syria, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan who can’t pursue their art in their home countries and who are now in residency at the Maxim Gorki Theater” (whose house director, incidentally, is Israeli). “But how do you turn your own arrival into art so soon? How do you face the trauma? And express yourself in a new language?”
“I felt sick to my stomach from the second I opened my eyes that morning, but it wasn’t the familiar queasiness of too little sleep, or too much bourbon the night before.” Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music and lyrics for Waitress, writes about taking over the show’s title role – the first time she’s performed in musical theater since she got eaten by a plant in Little Shop of Horrors in high school.
“Since the presidential election, private citizen Hillary Clinton has permitted herself two main types of recreation: hiking in the woods outside her Westchester County home and attending Broadway shows. Clinton has been the biggest unbilled star on Broadway this spring season, and there is no better endorsement than her heartfelt fandom.”
“For decades, Als has been a highly visible public intellectual. … In addition to writing his regular columns for The New Yorker, Als is an author, photographer, curator, and overall cultural force.”
With her drama, now on Broadway, about working-class folks in a struggling Pennsylvania factory town, Nottage becomes the first woman playwright to win two Pulitzer Prizes.
A roundtable discusses the issue. “The line that jumped out to me from Green’s interview was when Green quotes his new executive editor [Dean Baquet] as saying, ‘It’s wrong to try to solve all of an institution’s diversity problems in one hire.’ So the answer is … to not solve any of them with this hire?”
“In the past thirty years, the range and scope of American theatre has diversified, and yet most full-time critics in America are predominantly white. When theatremakers of color create art that seeks to prefigure the world we wish to live in, being reviewed by someone entrenched in a white supremacist hetero-patriarchal, capitalist gaze is counterproductive. Being reviewed by someone who is not able to meet our art where it is at is problematic.”
The show had tied the record for nominations at 11 – and it won nine, which burst above the previous records set by “Matilda the Musical” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
Shows rarely impress on both sides of the Atlantic, though some transfer shows do even better in their second country than in their first.
Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre, in addition to asking patrons to try to ensure their babies won’t spit up on other patrons, has a policy that in part says, “We do not think that the theatre is a place for any child who cannot yet walk and can be very distressing during certain performances due to flashing lights and loud sound levels.”
Perloff said her biggest regret was the failure to sustain A.C.T.’s core acting company. (“The city got too expensive — artists can’t afford to live here anymore.”) But the theater’s thriving acting conservatory remains, and in an era that has seen nonprofit theaters become clearinghouses for jukebox musicals and other commercial trifles from Broadway, she has shored up A.C.T.’s reputation as one of the most principled regional theaters in America.
The idea may seem absurd – he wrote about people’s private lives, and he’s known to have disliked all but the most genteel political protests – but the directors and critics who’ve talked with writer Lisa Rothman make a very good case. (For instance, “The central music of Chekhov’s plays is people talking-talking-talking but never listening.”)
It all started with the Micro Teatro Por Dinero in Madrid in 2009: ten-minute plays performed in very close quarters at three euros a ticket. (It was the start of the financial crisis.) “[Now] the Micro Teatro Por Dinero franchise has been sold to venues in 15 different cities around the globe, including Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Lebanon, even Miami.”
Appraiser Matthew Haley was visibly trembling as he examined the tiny manuscript, written in Latin in 17th-century script. “We don’t know who the person who wrote it is,” says Haley, “but obviously if it’s a 17th-century hand they were either going along to Shakespeare’s plays when they were being performed and taking notes, or they were reading one of the first four printed editions of Shakespeare, which is really amazing.”
And they do pull it off: Oslo. A Walk in the Woods. Stuff Happens. The Prisoner’s Dilemma. Pacific Overtures. (Okay, that was gunboat diplomacy.) Even Call Me Madam. “[Alexis Soloski] recently discussed stagecraft and statecraft with the authors of past, current and coming plays. Unfortunately, writing hasn’t improved their own negotiating skills. ‘That’s why I have an agent,’ [one of them] said.”
“Ars Nova is unusual – creatively, structurally, and otherwise. It’s not a traditional theatre company; it’s a finder, developer, and nurturer of unconventional artists working in hybrid forms.” And yes, it provides medical and dental insurance to its employees.
Amit Lahav of the company Gecko, on The Wedding: “It’s about the social contract that we all have with the state, the agreement in its simplest form that says you will be protected in return for taxes and loyalty. What if you start feeling, as I have, that you are in a forced marriage and the terms of the contract – potential changes to human rights; surveillance – are shifting beneath your feet, what can you do?”
“If you are a performer who is also a dance captain, your minimum salary increases by $300. If you are an assistant dance captain, it increases $150. For each principal role that you are understudying, your minimum increases $33. For every performance in which you, as an understudy, actually end up playing that principal role, you get an extra 1/8 of your weekly salary. Tony nominated lead actors normally see a $500 per week pay bump while winners can see that number climb to $1000 per week.”
Basically, the set designer had to work super, super hard. “We probably redesigned the show 18 different times,” says David Korins. Many things changed and, perhaps, evolved.
As an art critic in the theater reviewer’s seat, I found myself wondering why the art market continues to hold dramatic appeal, and why so few people get it right. Of course biographical plays have always appealed, whether done straight, like the play “Red,” about Rothko, or more dreamily, like the Seurat-refracting “Sunday in the Park With George.” Yet the big-money domains of the auction houses and the largest galleries remain stubbornly beyond most writers’ faculties.
“More than just a nice showcase for Josh Groban, ‘Dust and Ashes’ makes the non-linearity of mental illness dramatically compelling.”
In Chess Match No. 5 from Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, “the two people onstage are conspicuously playing chess; they also make toast, fiddle with a radio, drink tea and trade disconnected aphorisms and anecdotes [from Cage]. They are not visibly doing theater, if that means plot, traditional characters or singing cats.”
The NewsHour‘s Elizabeth Flock talks to BFT artistic director Natalia Kaliada about the large (and rare) demonstrations that broke out last weekend against the government of longtime dictator Alexander Lukashenko and the company’s activities connected with them.
Rob Weinert-Kendt talks to Green about how he got into criticism (sideways and reluctantly), all the things he did before, and how even he had hoped the Times wouldn’t hire another white guy.