“Scarcely past midday on a Monday lunchtime, a full 45 minutes before curtain up, the queue for the box office is already snaking on to the road. Inside Òran Mór, a spacious pub-cum-performance venue in Glasgow’s West End, the line of ticket holders is even longer. They are here for A Play, a Pie and a Pint, a lunchtime series launched by David MacLennan in 2004 and not so much a success as a phenomenon.”
“For theaters, the talkback can connect the venue to its audience, deepen understanding of the work and make the audience feel more like a participant and not merely an observer. Skeptics, however, fear that talkbacks can oversimplify the art onstage or discourage personal interpretation — the stage equivalent of didactic wall text telling museum visitors what to think about a painting.”
“These last stats can be spun positively: In the new-play world, male playwrights are down to just nearly half of all production credits, with women slowly but surely catching up. The glass-half-empty take, though, is that at this rate we won’t see gender parity (or women cracking the 50-percent ceiling, at least) in the new-play sector until roughly 2021.”
“When it visited the Edinburgh Festival in 1985, this Macbeth” – staged by the revered Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa with his company, Saitama Arts Theater – “was declared an ‘overnight legend’, with critics praising its bold gestures and painterly beauty.” Saitama has now prepared a touring revival, which is coming to Britain next month, and, writes Andrew Dickson, it “still makes much homegrown Shakespeare look pallid.”
The Arden Theatre Company, launched 30 years ago by a couple of young Northwestern grads, started out in the little upstairs space at America’s oldest theatre (the Walnut Street). In 1994 they bought a 50,000-square-foot building a couple of blocks from the old waterfront, more or less under the Ben Franklin Bridge. Subscribers started going there – and eating dinner beforehand. Now the Old City neighborhood is Philly’s nightlife capital, and Arden has three stages and an apprentice program, and regularly wins critical acclaim and awards.
“Akhtar, whose work largely centers around the Muslim-American experience, earned a 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his drama Disgraced, which came to Broadway in 2014 and earned a 2015 Tony nomination for Best Play. Akhtar’s other plays include The Who & the What, The Invisible Hand, and Junk, coming to Broadway [next month]. … Hnath made his Broadway debut last season with A Doll’s House, Part 2, earning a 2017 Tony nomination for Best Play. His other work includes Hillary and Clinton, Red Speedo, [and] The Christians.”
“Part of the calculus behind The X is TodayTix’s customer base—3.5 million people across 11 cities, with an average age of 29—which gives the magazine a considerable audience and opportunity for monetization right out of the gate.”
Chad Bauman argues: “Change is hard. I’ll admit it sometimes scares me. There are no guarantees. But how is that different from anything else in the theatre? It does surprise me when theatres elect to stick with a failing business model that is most certainly destined to lead to disastrous results over the long term rather than risking throwing it out the window for a shot at success.”
Lyn Gardner: “At a time when newspapers are facing financial disaster and theatre coverage is one of the first casualties, the BBC should step up to the plate in a way it has neglected in the past. … If Radio 5 Live can have sports news every half-hour, why can’t it have a few minutes of arts news too? Just as many people would be interested to know about the casting of Follies or National Theatre Wales’ plans to make a show about the NHS as would want to know who is in the England cricket team.”
“The London theatre has been in the process of appointing a successor to David Lan since he announced his departure in June, after 17 years at the helm. [Kwame] Kwei-Armah, a writer, director and actor is currently artistic director of Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland. He is already set to leave that post in June 2018.”
If this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival felt bigger, it may have been because it was more complicated to navigate. The event covered more ground than before, including venues spread so widely through the city that the map in the festival brochure seemed to give up. But the shows themselves made it harder to get your bearings.
Sure, Alex Alpharoah’s play about coming to the U.S. as a baby in his then-15-year-old mother’s arms was powerful, and sure, it sold fine during its six-week run at Ensemble Studio Theatre. But its name – Wet: A DACAmented Journey indicates what had everyone from politicians like Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) to the ACLU and the Human Rights Watch showing up, and what has the theatre planning for another run: It’s about DACA, the “Dreamers” program that the president kept saying he would end.
The director says, “Alex makes a point in the book of saying as a young man, you should be the best version of yourself that you can be. And certainly Jonno’s translation of that is: ‘Don’t let your body go to waste when it’s in its prime.’”
On Friday afternoon, at Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre, “a group of left-wing activists moved into the building and proclaimed they were occupying the institution with the aim of turning it into a collectively run theater.” The actors left a newly built stage at the disused Templehof theatre for their ostensible director, Chris Dercon.
Well: “Mr. Weinstein said that when arranging the charitable contributions that flowed to the theater he told some donors that the funds were to support the ‘Finding Neverland’ production. But, he said, it wasn’t his responsibility to further disclose that the money would be used to reimburse him and the other investors or otherwise cover their business obligations. If people wanted to learn more, he said, they could have done internet research.”
Playwright Yussef El Guindi: “Americans are so averse to politics in their entertainment that the simple act of including Arab or Muslim characters in a play exposes it to the charge of being overly political or didactic. And if the play is written by an Arab or a Muslim? The writer must surely then be peddling some political agenda. Even if, for example, the play revolves around an Arab or Muslim family preparing a Thanksgiving dinner … The very act of rendering a group of people usually depicted negatively in a three-dimensional way is deemed a political act.”
As it does every year, American Theatre magazine omits the Bard’s plays and A Christmas Carol adaptations (because they’d lead year in, year out). Yet the most-produced play of the coming season is … Shakespeare in Love. (Most of the rest of the list is higher-brow.)
Editor Diep Tran: “This year, when I finished calculating the … list for 2017-18, and saw who was at the top, I let out a laugh. ‘Of course!’ I exclaimed. I was not surprised by the name at the top; she had been on it last year, at No. 2, just under August Wilson. It was almost poetic.”
When Ben Brantley reviewed a revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’s Fucking A (a take on The Scarlet Letter), he wrote, “since I am not a character in this work but an employee of The New York Times, I shall be referring to this play only as ‘A.’ (The full title places an Anglo-Saxon adjective before the ‘A,’ one commonly used on cable television but not considered fit for print here.)” Commenters were not impressed: “Given the rather grisly subject matter, I’m wondering if the people who might attend the play would get the vapors if they were to see the name in print.” So the standards editor for the Times explains why the paper won’t print “Fucking A.” (The commenters remain unimpressed.)
“The public won’t get in to Chicago Shakespeare’s $35 million, 33,000-square-foot one-of-a-kind new space until Sept. 19, when James Thierree’s The Toad Knew opens. But you don’t have to wait to see the Yard – a theater where the seats can literally float in midair and the stage can morph into just about any shape imaginable. Crain’s has obtained exclusive images of the Yard’s interior, designed by Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and the UK’s Charcoalblue.”
“While some theatres could not be contacted because phone and power service still were absent Tuesday, managers at some of the most seriously affected theatres considered themselves blessed that they avoided the severity of damage suffered by Houston’s Alley Theatre. Forecasters predicted much, much worse, especially in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, which was hammered but escaped with minimal damage.”
The dispute began in 2016, when Mr. Lombardo, a playwright, was preparing to stage “Who’s Holiday!” — a 75-minute, one-woman play that features Cindy Lou Who, the adorable girl from the book who teaches the greedy Grinch the true meaning of Christmas. In Mr. Lombardo’s version, Cindy Lou Who is all grown up. She is now a hard-drinking, prescription-drug-abusing middle-aged woman who lives in a trailer park and served time in prison for killing her husband, the Grinch.
Lyn Gardner: “Too often, an artist – if they are a woman or are from diverse backgrounds – gets only one shot in a high-profile situation and if they don’t triumph, they are out. But it’s only when the opportunities are sustained, and not just one-off tokenism, that a significant and genuine advancement occurs in the diversity of the arts. This is why it’s important that organisations, particularly flagship ones in receipt of large amounts of public funding such as the RSC, lead the way and put policies in place that don’t just encourage diversity but embed it in their way of working.”
“Her play In a Word, in which a child’s disappearance haunts a mother, ran Off Broadway this summer to critical acclaim. … Ms. Yee’s first professionally produced play was Ching Chong Chinaman, in 2010, about a Chinese-American immigrant family, and she has since written several works for Off Broadway, including The Hatmaker’s Wife.”
“‘We’re not a bunch of bloody hippies,’ Mike Shepherd growls by way of introduction. Turns out the last time a journalist paid Kneehigh a visit at its Cornish home, that was the verdict. The time before, the company wound up being compared to a cult, the rehearsal rooms a commune. Its artistic director has had enough.”
“Staff who are understood to have worked at the Hull New Theatre for more than 20 years were told they no longer had jobs at the venue just days before it reopened. Casual workers at the theatre were told they would need to apply for ‘newly created’ casual roles after its £16 million refurbishment.”
According to advertising agency ODW, which is introducing the scheme, advertisers will be able to reach an audience “with high purchasing power”, building on the success of lucrative cinema advertising, while theatres can bring in additional advertising revenue and promote upcoming productions with trailers.
“Gurney’s work was never groundbreaking, but it resonated strongly with audiences of many ages, even though it was steeped in the lore of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who had dominated America for many years. From the very start, Gurney was quietly, subtly rebelling against his genteel upbringing, simultaneously taking pleasure in the traditions that had surrounded him growing up while poking fun at them theatrically.”
Director Karin Coonrod writes about the process, from getting set materials to the site by boat and hand-truck to the dilemma of casting Shylock (and her unconventional solution) to reworking the unsatisfying-to-us-in-2017 ending, all in the places where the story would have happened.
“On the heels of its most lucrative season yet, with a record-setting $1.37b in ticket sales, Broadway has experienced something of a rebirth. From the success of La La Land on the big screen to Hamilton onstage, there’s a collective renewed interest in theater that’s been reflected in a wave of movie-musicals and televised live-concert experiences. All of this seems, to entertainment industry insiders, like the chorus following a crescendo.” How has this happened? Disney and Glee.