The author of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and Guards at the Taj will receive the prize at the end of this month. The award from the Dramatists Guild of America was launched just last year, with Stephen Karam (The Humans) the winner.
“There are, unsurprisingly, literally hundreds and hundreds of contemporary writers of color whose plays will move, engage, titillate, outrage, and delight audiences.”
“Theater owners, confronted day after day by long lines of women (and, sometimes, men) clogging lobbies and snaking down stairwells while nervously waiting for an available bathroom, are excavating, annexing, converting and renovating their buildings to remedy the chronic inconvenience. The biggest landlords are also retraining ushers, experimenting with new methods of crowd control, and even reversing the genders on restrooms.”
Rosalind Early reports on how the Repertory Theater of St. Louis sent the playwright-performer on a “listening tour” and how her work there is and is not like that of Anna Deavere Smith.
“She imagined herself a woman of stern integrity: a playwright who would speak truth to audiences who would pay attention because the magic of the theatre would draw them in. But to attract audiences, she resorted to the kinds of tactics that could make critics shudder.” Alice Kessler-Harris looks at where Hellman pulled the balancing act off and where (and why) she failed.
But he did it anyway. The visionary theatre artist and director of the company Complicité writes about why, and how, he staged Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity.
Attendance for last year’s varied playbill – which included admired productions of Engaged and “Master Harold”… and the Boys on the festival’s secondary stages – was 237,471. That was up almost 5,000 from the year before, but still the second-lowest ticket sales in Jackie Maxwell’s 14-year tenure as artistic director.
Five theaters across the country have already agreed to produce “Building the Wall,” starting next month. “We no longer live in a world that is business as usual — Trump has made that very clear — and if theater is going to remain relevant, we must become faster to respond. … We cannot hope to be useful if we can’t respond until 18 months after the fact.”
Jones, starring in Glass Menagerie on the West End, is also famous for her turn on the show 24. “Jones played President Taylor in two series of 24, from 2009 to 2010. Many saw a distinct suggestion of Hillary Clinton in her appearance and characterisation.”
Theatres usually plan seasons at least a year and sometimes several ahead, but they’re starting to reshuffle and change the lineups, partly because “artistic directors and theater producers — positioning themselves as first responders in a time of political and humanitarian upheaval — grapple with how to jump-start a current-events conversation with audiences.”
Though its practitioners say this isn’t a new discussion, the contours of Middle Eastern theatre have taken on sharper focus after the election of Donald Trump. But it’s also very like other theatre for practitioners from communities of color: “The next round is equal parts main stage productions … and expanding to directors and designers of Middle Eastern descent. That would be radical.”
Let’s face it: “In dark times we need each to do what we can from the centre of our individual strength, skill, understanding and experience. Theatre-makers – playwrights, actors, directors and the rest – need to tell the hard, dark, contradictory truths as we see them, as generously and in as grown-up a manner as we can manage.
“Britain’s National Theatre has a sold-out hit with a revival of Peter Shaffer’s play about bad-boy genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his jealous rival Antonio Salieri, composer to the 18th-century Viennese court. The production, which mixes actors, opera singers and a 20-piece onstage orchestra, is being broadcast in movie theaters around the world Thursday as part of the NT Live series. There are repeat screenings over the coming weeks.”
“When the Hudson Theater reopens on Saturday, Feb. 11 – with Jake Gyllenhaal adding star power to the revival of Sunday in the Park With George – it becomes Broadway’s 41st and newest playhouse, 114 years after it became one of Broadway’s first. (It opened with a production of Cousin Kate starring Ethel Barrymore.)” Erik Piepenburg offers a history of the house, with photos.
The board of the replica 16th-century theatre in London decided to replace Emma Rice last November, just a year into her initial two-year contract. Yet she’s still on the job, and she’s just announced the details of this summer’s season, her last there – and she’s explained why she didn’t just walk away.
Tony Taccone, 65, served as the Berkeley Rep’s associate artistic director for 11 years before taking the reins in 1997. Along the way he has catapulted the East Bay institution to the top ranks of regional theaters. Over the years, the troupe has sent 25 shows onward to London and New York. He has also directed dozens of plays, including Sarah Jones’ solo show “Bridge & Tunnel,” which won a Tony Award in 2006.
The Stage‘s anonymous West End Producer, in response to a reader request, lays out “the cardinal sins of auditioning.” For instance: “Avoid slagging off other directors or performers. We will usually know the people involved, and my casting director will often have slept with them – so they will be personal friends.”
Hand puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets – with visits to a festival in Chicago, an Off-Broadway play, and a gallery show, Laura Collins-Hughes gives us an update on the state of the art.
Michael Billington: “Rufus Norris has made clear that he wants the National to more visibly represent the nation at large: if that means more work by women and greater racial diversity, I am happy to fling my hat in the air. But that need not – indeed should not – mean an almost total severance with the past.”
The poll, hosted on The Stage website, asked whether readers had ever been left unpaid by an employer, after performer Jonathan Ansell stormed a stage in protest against a producer who he claims has failed to pay him money owed.
Small venues are often encouraged to ‘buddy up’ with larger venues to develop their skills, expertise and knowledge. This can lead to an erosion of confidence, implying that small venues are somehow inferior and need help or advice. Small venues operate differently from larger ones, in that they manage their resources extremely well and develop a close understanding of and relationships with their audiences in ways that larger-scale organisations sometimes find difficult to achieve.
Richard Roxburgh, currently starring on Broadway with Cate Blanchett in The Present: “In terms of the study of alcohol and its effects, I probably have an unfair advantage in that I am, A, Australian, and, B, an actor. I’ve had probably an unhealthy overexposure to the shenanigans of booze over time.”
“The experiment brings to mind Komar and Melamid’s “Most Wanted” project in the 1990s, in which that Russian duo created paintings based on polls of what people from various countries like to see in art. Here, the cast, with help from the musician Liljie, go through vignettes that illustrate some of the survey’s results.”
Where are the classics? Almost nowhere to be found. The Guardian’s Michael Billington: “This strikes me as a staggering dereliction of the National’s duty.”
Good news, Hamilton lottery fans: “Beginning Tuesday, 46 seats per performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre will be available on the day-of, through the musical’s digital lottery.”
They “raised about $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states who were told their money was being pooled to buy large blocks of tickets to be resold for a profit.” Instead, the guys spent the money on private school tuition, jewelry, and casinos.
After the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, absurd theatre fell out of fashion. Then came 9/11. “Absurdism is about facing a world in which nothing seems to make sense. It is about accepting that deeply tragic events happen sometimes without much or any warning. It is about the realization that our understanding of the universe is limited and flawed. It is about the embracing the fact that our lives can be both terrifying and ridiculous, indeed the more terrifying, the more ridiculous. And it is about resistance.”
“The sheer reach of film when compared with theatre is certainly the reason why when the two appear to together in a story, it is Hollywood that secures the dominant position over Broadway or the West End. But on Oscar night, when big-budget glamour is all the rage (even for intimate and independently made films), theatre can hold its head high knowing that Academy Award glory owes a debt to the stage, directly or indirectly, even if we have to remind people that this the case.”
Last summer, the Theatre Development Fund – hoping to add more New Yorkers to its largely tourist customer base – tried a pop-up of its TKTS booth at the location where Lincoln Center sells its own discounted day-of tickets. That arrangement has now been made permanent.
For decades she’s been thought of less as a dramatist than as a steely literary figure (thanks to her own efforts) or an inveterate liar (thanks to Mary McCarthy’s). DC’s Arena Stage is spending this season trying to change that.