Engagement isn’t just a simple matter of making more information available. It’s a mindset. “What if a person pays $50 for a show they end up hating? Or what if a person is organizing a night out with friends, or a date, or a family gathering—and everyone has a poor experience? Our goal is to show them that a new play is exciting because it’s untested, not in spite of its lack of production history. Who wouldn’t want to be part of something new? Letting the audience learn more about process allows them to share in our excitement.”
“It was both liberating and frustrating for us to create this space where we could finally express ourselves in our city, but that had to be zoned off from the public in order to protect the safety of the actors. Many of them were not out at work or in their families.”
“I’m really interested in not dictating how someone should vote, but there is a way to voice and to extend what you see and how you experience something—you have a form of expression, and sometimes that form of expression is artistic, but what we all have is the power to vote and to have our voices heard. So taking advantage of that journey from heart to head to action.”
“We sprint to the dressing room, throw off our Vans and put on Elizabethan boots, toss tunics straight over our Nirvana T-shirts, and run around the woods to make our entrance on Shakespeare & Company’s verdant outdoor stage in Lenox, Mass.”
Can theatre serve the political moment? Some recent works on stage in New York all attempt it.
“From 2002 to 2012, director Michael Grandage was the head of London’s Donmar Warehouse. The position he inherited from Sam Mendes was long on prestige, artistic achievement, and honors. But money? Not so much. But now the director, who long labored in the not-for-profit world, stands to enter the big money as the newly-tapped director of the forthcoming Broadway stage adaptation of the Disney film Frozen.”
As the New Freedom Theatre in North Philadelphia begins its 50th anniversary season, its debt has been reduced, it’s paying its actors, its productions are getting great reviews – and three longtime staffers have been abruptly fired, several attendees at a post-forum reception were forcibly removed and arrested, and protestors are demanding the replacement of the executive director.
“Kate Shindle is compiling quite the résumé. Once she was Miss America. Now she’s a labor leader, the president of Actors’ Equity. And this week she began playing the nation’s most famous lesbian cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, in the touring production of the Tony-winning Fun Home.”
“The work of August Wilson has for years sustained Brandon and Jason Dirden, actor brothers who have found themselves turning again and again to his plays for meaning and inspiration. Now, for the first time, the two are playing the same role, at the same time, on opposite coasts: Levee, the angrily ambitious trumpeter in one of Wilson’s best-known plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. … The two spoke in a joint telephone interview about their relationship with Wilson and with each other.”
“The most expensive seats have increased by £7 since last year alone, when they cost an average £86.78. Since The Stage began records in 2012, the average top-price seat has increased from £72.12.”
The producing artistic director said that the 20-year-old festival “needed to figure out how to best serve its artists, audiences and alumni — in part by taking the time to analyze its trove of data on them.”
“The last time Lisa Dwan was in a Samuel Beckett play, her mouth was all that appeared on stage. Now, as she acts and co-directs her latest adaptation of the writer’s work, Dwan has decided to suspend herself in mid air above a bog.”
“When Asian American directors don’t make the short list to work on plays by Asian American writers, my heart breaks. When this happens, we’re not just being denied a job, we’re being denied an invaluable opportunity to connect with our peers.”
No question about it – being a repertory theatre is a challenge on every level. But there are enormous benefits to be had too…
“After a 10-month run on Broadway in 1927, the play was deemed by a grand jury to be such ‘obscene, indecent, immoral, and impure drama’ that it might corrupt ‘the morals of youth’. West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for obscenity, and travelled there in style – garlanded in roses, wearing silk underwear and riding in a limousine.” Who’s reviving it? A troupe called the Dirty Blondes.
“A return to Broadway would be a remarkable moment for Mr. Drabinsky, who was convicted of fraud and forgery in Canada in 2009. As a theater producer he won three Tony Awards, for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Show Boat and Fosse, but he has not had a production on Broadway in 15 years, and is unable to travel to the United States because he is considered a fugitive there.” His vehicle will be a new musical adaptation of Madame Sousatzka.
“LeCompte takes the award for 40 years of Wooster Group work encompassing a string of experimental, boundary-pushing, multimedia shows that include Route 1 & 9, L.S.D. (Just The High Points), Brace Up! and The Emperor Jones. She co-founded the troupe with Spaulding Gray, with Willem Dafoe among its original members; Frances McDormand has performed with the company in recent years.”
“The company said Wednesday that it had recently concluded that the scale of its current productions was not permitted by restrictions on the property, and that it would immediately vacate the premises. Three productions by other theater companies renting the Soho Rep space, including one that was scheduled to begin performances Thursday, will have to be relocated or canceled.”
“Over ambient sound came the disembodied voice of the Canberra musician Reuben Ingall. ‘There are plain-clothed police officers patrolling every floor. You’ll be watched on camera for the whole trip and Australian federal police officers are armed with SR16 semi-automatic assault rifles,’ he said. ‘When you head through security, act as normal as possible. How does a normal person act? Be like that.'”
Says one former student, Paul Ketchum, “He knows exactly where to put pressure to release the inner playwriting beast of his students. Mac would hate this, but he’s like a fucking dramaturgical acupressure neuromancer.” Wellman talks teaching, structure (he hates it) and gossip with another former student, Eliza Bent.
“National Theatre-approved backstage hardware products will be developed as part of a new relationship with theatrical goods supplier Flints. The tie-up means that props and carpentry departments at the NT will test new products for Flints, including paints and other prop-making tools, which will then be given an NT ‘stamp of approval’ and carried in Flints’ catalogue.”
“Ruhl, 42, is based in Brooklyn and is the author of plays such as The Clean House, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, Passion Play and The Oldest Boy. She previously won the MacArthur ‘genius’ grant and is a Tony nominee and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.”
“There was a time when ‘second-acting’ – sneaking into a Broadway theater at intermission before the second act – was as common as the cigarette break in the middle of a musical. It was a time-honored rite of passage, practiced by generations of starving actors and students of the theater. … But today, when security is ultravigilant and shows are under pressure to sell out night after night, the practice has all but gone dark.”
The blaze began on Sunday morning (Sept. 25) under the theatre’s stage; it damaged the stage floor and scenery for the upcoming, and now postponed, production of Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.
“It seems the smaller the community, the more space there is to expand and embellish local narratives. Mixing one part fiction, one part myth, and one part truth, these narratives flourish in the festivals, parades, and plaques that have become the cultural landmarks of a city five miles north of Boston.”
“Other venues are stepping in to fill the artistic void, but many people are still expressing disappointment and doubt about the future of the downtown theater.”
“I wanted something that you would look at, and without having it hit you heavily, you would understand it came from the ’20s and ’30s. We wanted to show a certain modernity that had style.”
“Or … is something else true? Is it actually a bear market? Is our theatre in a moment of peril?”
“Don’t worry if you didn’t know the 43rd president was on trial. This was an off-Broadway verdict, the conclusion to a new play called The Trial of an American President. The trial was fiction, but the vote, from nine members of the audience chosen to be the jury, was very real.”
From Sophocles through Roman spectacles and the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol to Sarah Kane, a look at the means – decorous, horrifying, inventive – playwrights, directors and stage managers have used to depict characters’ ends.