“The very presence of Mr. Pence — whose views on immigration, like those of Mr. Trump, are anything but celebratory — at this particular show (one previously embraced by the Obamas and Clintons) would seem to signal that an unspoken debate was going on that night. In that case, wasn’t Mr. Dixon belaboring the obvious in delivering the statement prepared by him and his associates (including Mr. Miranda)? Was what he said a condescending equivalent of supertitles for the inferentially challenged?”
Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times: “Artists would be better served to channel the anger and disgust they feel into their work. Let dissent inflame their imaginations. Theater practitioners and patrons — in other words, citizens — would be advised to expand the focus of their outrage.”
Let’s face it, most people don’t read any plays at all before high school. “To introduce teens to plays on the page with Shakespeare is akin to teaching calculus to students before they’ve learned algebra, or even multiplication.”
Howard Sherman: “There will be more plays – and poems and books and movies and perhaps even operas and symphonies – about the new America that looms. The America that was revealed by a rash of racist and misogynist attacks in the past week, has been present all along in some quarters. It has now been given leave to emerge based on a perception that law enforcement may be less concerned.”
Like the “Trump Starbucks” thing organized to buy punish Starbucks by buying coffee and asking for it to be under the name Trump, this appears to be going well. “Finally, there were, naturally, a handful of ‘Hamilton’-related Joe Biden memes that cropped up to join the Twitter fray.”
“Stage acting has long been a poorly paid profession, and it is not unusual for union members to agitate for higher wages. But Off Broadway performers said their campaign this time was different because their wages had become increasingly unacceptable – in most cases, Off Broadway actors are paid no more than $593 a week, in roles that generally last only a few weeks, and they have to pay 10 percent to an agent, 2.25 percent to their union, and about 30 percent in taxes, leaving them with take-home pay that does not, they say, cover the cost of living in New York.”
“In the past, graduate companies kept body and soul together on breadcrumbs for maybe eight to 10 years, always with the hope that if you were good enough you would eventually secure more regular funding. That expectation now seems to have gone.”
It’s the one Shakespearean lead that he resisted for years – “I don’t want to do anything that feels pedestrian or obvious,” he said. Now he’s finally playing the role – Off-Broadway, opposite Daniel Craig – and here he talks about why. (For one thing, the producer spent two years wooing him.)
Washington, DC’s Theater J has gone through more than a little turmoil over what it has presented in recent years; even so, it’s not where you’d expect to see Lucas Hnath’s play about a conflicted megachurch. Adam Immerwahr, the company’s (new-ish) artistic director, explains why he’s producing The Christians and how he’s made over DC’s Jewish Community Center into a megachurch.
“Everywhere you turn there’s a stage luminary. (Look, there’s Robert Morse!) All these familiar faces provide a welcome distraction from the reality that this three-act farce (performed with two intermissions) is a big snore.”
It all started when Davy Rothbart (you may remember him from This American Life – he’s the guy who scalped Chicago Bulls tickets and took his deaf mother to a faith healer in Brazil) found a note on his windshield that said, ‘Mario, I [bleeping] hate you. You said you had to work then whys your car HERE at HER place? You’re a [bleeping] LIAR[.] I hate you I [bleeping] hate you[.] Amber. p.s. page me later.”
It’s fairly standard for Broadway producers to take out insurance covering any illness or accident that causes the main box-office draw to drop out. But does McDonald’s surprise pregnancy (she’s 45) qualify as accident or illness?
The network’s Sports Science shown went backstage with high-tech monitoring equipment and finds out just how much physical strength, aerobic capacity, stamina, and balance these champions actually have. (video)
In Mexico, street clowns are beloved – and they can actually make a living. Jonathan Coumes visits with a trio of them in the city of Querétaro.
The technology presents reality and and a technological overlay that alters that reality. “Altering the visual ‘reality’ of theatrical settings by forcing them to accommodate simulated imagery, AR complicates ontological distinctions between real and virtual environments, presenting both with equanimity.”
“The tools are only interesting when they’re in the hands of artists who do new things with them. So we worked with Imaginarium, who are excruciatingly talented, and gave them these tools and said: ‘What else would you do? How do we make that happen?’ Teaching our team the agility and resourcefulness you need in live theatre has been great. It’s also been great to see the ingenuity of the designer and then rise to that, and think about how they can do their work.”
Edgar Oliver, who’s just concluded the third in a series of autobiographical plays, is so much more than a New York downtown fixture.
The Battersea Arts Centre combines personal stories with an exhibit of what’s important to these migrants: “It reminds us that a culture is made up of individual stories about who we are.”
Ralph Fiennes won a best acting award, as did Billie Piper (whom US fans might know from Doctor Who) – and Glenn Close completes a theatre comeback in London with an award as well. The director of the Harry Potter play said, “It’s a show about the peril of isolation, about unity, about family and about love.”
With a battle on several fronts – get more women on stage; make sure their characters are real, not caricatures; get more women into directing, etc. – what is the state of theatre for women characters in general? One playwright: “Probably the best decision every writer can make is to cultivate a loyal group of friends who are much smarter than you, whose feedback you trust, and who will tell you, ‘This is bullshit.'”
Broadway, of course, and a cappella Broadway at that: “The culture’s awareness and understanding of a cappella, and all the things a cappella can do, has changed. It’s not just a bunch of old guys singing ‘Blue skies smilin’ at me!'”
These two guys met as undergrads and wrote the now infamous song “Edges” (the one musical theatre majors sing for every audition). Now they have a potential big hit on Broadway, the festival-awards-sweeping movie “La La Land” (starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, no big), and are – aside from a certain guy known as Lin-Manuel Miranda – “the future of the musical, on stage or screen.”
“Why Noh? Why now? No (Noh) why. Noh is indirect drama, better suited for posing questions than, like Ibsen or Arthur Miller, positing answers. If we did know why, we wouldn’t need Noh, and clearly, we do.”
“Actors who have done the part report it to be one of the hardest (if not zaniest) challenges of their career. Here’s a look at several of them, plus insight from puppet designers on what inspired their own Tyrones. Simple answer: It wasn’t all Elmo.”
“As a technology university that has never had a drama or dance department, the University of Bradford seems like a weird old place to host one of the country’s first professional practice venues. But when the university was formed, the incoming senior management appointed fellowships in theatre and music, believing that engaging with art and culture was an intrinsic part of any education, technical or otherwise.” (Those were the days, eh?)
“A playwright in his mid-30s wants to pen an epic tale of ambition, authority, and power. He turns to his nation’s history, to characters familiar to his audience from school and legend. He performs a kind of magic trick.” Hamilton or Henry IV, Part One? Both, of course – and they have more than that in common.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez on In Transit: “When we started this a lot of people didn’t know what a cappella was. For advertising in the Off-Broadway version, we called it ‘vocal orchestration,’ because a cappella was this weird Latin term that the marketing team was afraid would alienate people. Now our tagline is ‘Broadway’s first a cappella musical.’ The culture’s awareness and understanding of a cappella, and all the things a cappella can do, has changed. It’s not just a bunch of old guys singing ‘Blue skies smilin’ at me!'”
“It is unlikely that the country will turn to the performing arts to guide its gun policy, but it could do a lot worse. The stage and screen are the places where the balance of freedom of expression and scrupulous attention to safety have been achieved. If only this were true on our streets and college campuses.”
It’s a 240-seat venue and it’s dismantleable. “It’s going to cost somebody a bit to move it but it’s a very good opportunity for a new company or a school, or somebody like that, provided they’ve got a suitable space to put it in,”
“I don’t know what ‘being faithful to a text’ means. There’s not one truth. As a director or actor, you have to give an interpretation of a line. I get 10 different people to say ‘I love you’ – three words, an objective truth – and yet each time it is spoken it is different. I’m known for my preparation. For actors, this is not a threat, it is freedom.”