The musical KPOP, for one, while the clash for Best Play ended in a tie.
“Some of the features will be visceral (an opportunity to look down the barrel of a gun alongside a reconstruction of the Weehawken, N.J., dueling grounds), and others will be academic (an explanation of the debates over Hamilton’s financial policy ideas.) There will be artifacts — mostly replica letters, documents and objects as well as a scale model of New York in 1773, a walkway between military barracks, video, and, yes, music from the show.”
Judy Hegarty Lovett, director of Beckett specialists the Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland: “The challenge is both daunting and promising. When we first staged Beckett’s novel Molloy in 1996, there were fewer questions about why we wanted to take it from page to stage. We knew Beckett himself had staged elements of his prose works in a one-man show performed by Jack McGowan. If the author himself had attempted to do it, surely it was possible. In the intervening years, I’ve come to see the staging of his prose as a convergence of form and content similar to that of the written works, where the very means of communication is in doubt.”
You can view a movie whenever you want, but it exists in a past that you cannot alter. Live theatre may be evanescent, but it is always of the moment; it routinely brings the past into the present, and it can be altered from production to production. What, then, is the responsibility of theatremakers towards live shows that either were created or are set in the past?
Most of the Will-Shakespeare-of-Stratford skeptics, such as Mark Rylance, seem convinced that no one from a 16th-century small-city artisan-marchant background could possibly have written such artful and erudite drama. That’s ridiculous because, points out Oxford historian Jonathan Healey, “many, perhaps most, of the greatest minds of the age were people of ‘middling’ origins.”
Five members of the board of directors of the prominent English touring company Out of Joint “have walked out in reaction to a range of issues, including the way Arts Council England treated the company following the departure of [founding artistic director Max] Stafford-Clark, who was accused of inappropriate behaviour by a number of former colleagues last year. … The members are also understood to have become increasingly unhappy with the way the company was being run by new artistic director Kate Wasserberg and executive producer Martin Derbyshire.”
“Last fall, … former Writers intern Tom Robson accused longtime Artistic Director Michael Halberstam of sexually harassing him both verbally and physically in 2003. … A few weeks later, [the Writers Theatre board] found that Halberstam had committed ‘inappropriate and insensitive comments in the workplace’ but had exhibited no other ‘inappropriate sexual behavior.'” Clyde Fitch Report managing editor Sean Douglass writes, “I don’t think Halberstam is a bad person, and I believe his apology is honest. I also don’t think he should be exiled from the Chicago theater community … But how does he still have his job there?”
Rock star Tim Howar, playing Freddy in a new revival of the ABBA/Tim Rice musical Chess, had to leave the theatre at the intermission of the first preview performance because his wife had gone into labor. “Understudy Cellen Chugg Jones stepped into the role despite never having completed a full cast rehearsal – winning a standing ovation and praise from co-stars Michael Ball and Alexandra Burke, who both said he ‘smashed it’. “
The power of theatrical visibility has the potential to create real change in society towards the acceptance of “othered” individuals, as we have seen from the power of queer characters onstage, which translated from the stage to movies and TV, and, finally, into the national vocabulary. But this progress has notably lagged when it comes to the representation of disability onstage.
Parliament had to intervene so the show could be produced in London – yes, it took an act of government to allow the actors to be naked onstage. Back on Broadway, during previews in 1968, show co-writer Gerome Ragni explained that the rules about nudity were flexible in the production: “Anybody who feels like it can take his clothes off. Everybody wants to now, even the stagehands. We turned them on.”
The Goodman Theater’s five-and-a-half-hour stage adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s mammoth, seemingly unstageable novel 2666 drew a stream of ardent fans of the Chilean novelist to Chicago in 2016. The scope and technical complexity of the production – which involved five distinct sets, 15 actors playing 80 characters, and an elaborate movie-within-the-play – made subsequent productions difficult. But now those who were unable to make the trip can binge-watch the entire thing online [for free], from a couch anywhere in the world.”
In the season that concluded last night, 33 new shows opened in Broadway houses. But while Broadway is usually spoken of in commercial terms, it’s worth noting that 10 of those shows were produced by the subsidised companies resident at Broadway venues. That’s 30% of this year’s total output.
“Flight, from Glasgow-based theater company Vox Motus, is not exactly theater in the traditional sense. In fact, there are no live performers. The entire story is told via 230 miniature dioramas on a rotating carousel. Audience members sit in private booths along the perimeter of the carousel, listening to a soundtrack through headphones as the tiny scenes pass by and light up, one after the other.” (audio)
“Often seen as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, the plot centres on Angelo, a puritan hardliner on a mission to clean up the city he is put in charge of, and the sister of a man he sentences to death, Isabella. After pleading for her brother, Angelo offers to save him in return for sex. … The role swap will probably take place about halfway through, with some scenes being replayed, including the key moment when Angelo makes the offer to Isabella.”
Where would British theatre be without him? Quite possibly in a more interesting place. Of course, we are blessed to have all those wonderful plays, but the success of Shakespeare has created a gold standard by which all British theatre is calibrated. He set us on a path of literary theatre that still dominates today. A little less Shakespeare production might allow a bit more room for new plays and the devised, visual and physical work that often gets too little space on our stages.
“[Sierra] Boggess, who got her start as Ariel in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid in 2007 before joining the casts of Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock, [had been cast as] Maria in a Royal Albert Hall concert performance of West Side Story.” The ensuing controversy changed her mind.