Most fringe festivals, because they don’t actually produce the plays they present, don’t demand a cut of revenue from subsequent productions. But the New York International Fringe Festival requires a 2% cut of subsidiary rights revenue from any production anywhere on Earth for the next seven years. Howard Sherman gets both FringeNYC and the Dramatists Guild to explain their opposing positions on the issue, and then gives a verdict.
If the contents of our phones are juicer than those of our relationships, can drama survive or even compete?
In this podcast he discusses: Why we’ll never go back to making reviewers review the opening night performance.
What he thinks when he sees a quote from one of his reviews splashed on a marquee. Why Writers should NOT read his reviews. What he’s looking forward to this season. How he responds to “hate mail.”
“The jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons opened on Nov. 6, 2005, and won four Tony Awards, including for best new musical, in 2006. It is now the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history; at its closing [on Jan. 15], it will have played 4,642 performances.”
Actor Keith David: “‘There is a rhythm in this language that if you betray, you won’t find the truth of. It’s inherent in the language. … [And his characters] are rich, full, incredible human beings – and thinking human beings, colorful not only in their use of language but the way in which they think and communicate, both with each other and out in the world.”
“How are the soon-to-be-implemented rules” – requiring that any employee earning less than $47,476 per year be paid extra for working more than 40 per week – “affecting workers and theatres on the ground?” Diep Tran talks to the people in the proverbial trenches.
“One theme all three shows explore is the dual nature of contemporary identity. With the pervasiveness of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, most young adults have two, if not three, versions of themselves—ranging from the public and curated to the private and sometimes secretly chaotic.”
“When science is presented through theatre, students aren’t as afraid of getting things wrong and feel free to shout out, or even dance, answers.”
“When the conditional love song is a solo, the real subversions begin.”
“Somewhat overshadowed by the #TonysSoDiverse hype of the evening were the best performance awards in a play category: all four went to white actors over the age of sixty. After such an exciting season on Broadway, where productions finally reflected the zeitgeist of our times, are Broadway plays lagging dangerously behind?”
“In 2003, the Times reported that ‘some 500 students’ were enrolled in ’30 or so improvisation and sketch-comedy classes’ at U.C.B. In 2011, New York had the figure at approximately eight thousand. The organization doesn’t reveal numbers (the better to avoid quibbling about not paying its performers), but one current employee let slip the latest tally: last year, U.C.B. trained twelve thousand students. That’s about five million dollars in revenue.”
Andrzej Lukowski, theatre editor at Time Out London: “I [now] realise the essential reason theatres are so full of old people is that they don’t have to support their offspring. … There are no theatre access schemes to help out nice middle-class people who happen to be temporarily skint because of childcare, and quite right too. But … anybody who says theatre is for everyone is living in a fantasy land.”
“Shakespeare’s Globe is planning a major redevelopment project that will create a new library and archive facility, rehearsal studios underneath the theatre and an upgrading of its production departments.”
“Word of mouth, and stories in trade papers like Backstage, swell the ranks of actors eager to become Standard Patients. Compensation ranges from $25 an hour in Manhattan to slightly more for assignments involving long commutes to outer boroughs; actors mobilized as “secret shoppers,” who infiltrate clinics to monitor the behavior of entire medical staffs, are paid from the moment they arrive until they leave, including, sometimes, hours of waiting around.”
“The past several years have marked a revival for the Cambridge theater, which in 2008 was mired in financial and artistic distress. Since then, the ART has doubled its revenue as it launched 10 plays and musicals that ended up in New York, a record pace for the theater. The shows have won a bevy of Tony awards, notice that’s led to regular sellouts of its 534-seat Loeb Drama Center.”
“Many of the original cast members of Hamilton have left this summer, and now one more of the show’s pillars is saying goodbye, at least for now: #Ham4Ham. The mini-concert series, which has been taking place outside the Richard Rodgers Theater several times a week at the show’s lottery, will take a break after one last performance on Wednesday.”
“Mortified, like The Moth, Upright Citizens Brigade, and even TED Talks, is one of the hundreds of live events around the world that have sprouted up during an era in which experiential entertainment, or the IRL economy, were supposed to grow more cherished (and more lucrative) … [But] live events exist in the same way many independent publishers exist – on a shoestring budget in which the performer is usually the last to be paid.”
“‘We thought they could learn a lot from professional actors about public speaking skills,’ said Drew Tagliabue, the executive director of PFLAG NYC, an organization for family members of gay and transgender people. The group runs the Safe Schools Program, which sends those emissaries into classrooms to talk about coming out. … But what was planned as a class about how to hold onto an audience became something different.”
“Festival City Theatre’s Trust, which operates Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and Studios and the King’s Theatre, saw an end-of-year profit of £180k – helped by a 40% rise in fundraising income – allowing it to meet reserve targets a year ahead of schedule. The theatres attracted 420,000 visitors overall, while the proportion of audience members drawn from the local area rose from 61% to 69%.”
“Funding isn’t there for the smaller groups. … The percentage that’s taken up by the bigger groups is really high and we have to share the rest.”
“I worked with my acting teacher Harold Guskin to help me create the edgiest possible performance. We found autoerotic, neurotic, nightmarish and subliminal obsessive layers everywhere in the plot. The morning after opening night, the word ‘lovely’ appeared twice in a review describing my character. I was ‘ever-lovely’ and in ‘lovely’ voice. Nothing else.”
“It’s not about being a great actor. … It’s about studying craft, deriving a sense of strength from that craft, and feeling that you’ve grown in some way. If students get anything from this program that they can apply to any other aspect of their lives, that’s a huge success for us.”
“I realized if I didn’t support diversity, it wouldn’t necessarily happen. It’s so very easy to find yourself the only one if you’re not careful. I always have diversity in mind. I always am thinking about who’s on my team.”
In June, 90 staff members and 80 freelancers of the Volksbühne sent one to the Berlin House of Representatives expressing deep concern that Dercon will trade long-established artistic standards for “a globally extended consensus culture with uniform presentation and sales patterns.” Volksbühne means “People’s Stage” and was established in 1914 as a working-class theater committed to the experimental.
Company co-founder Jeff Perry: “Our group had an interesting mix of individual ambition, and even hubris, and love of group work. If we had started Steppenwolf in Los Angeles or New York, I don’t think we would have been left alone long enough to put down these roots.”
“‘It’s always hard to put a finger on why something is suddenly in the zeitgeist,’ said [Sarah] Ruhl, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee. ‘I don’t know why it is happening with tennis in theater right now. But for me, while researching the Bush dynasty, I realized tennis is such a big part of their lives and a wonderful metaphor for family competition and sibling rivalry.'”
Charleston’s theater community is one of many where the debate continues. Says one artistic director, “People are driven by ticket costs. The reason we do it is to eliminate a barrier to participation.” Another argues that pay-what-you-will “devalues the art.”
Whenever I have waded into this debate, making the argument that the best solution to the stalemate would be some sort of compromise that would provide a feasible economic path for those institutions that have benefited from the old plan while paving the way for a new era in the city’s theater ecology (one more conducive to institutions being able to pay their artists, compete for new plays and widen their audiences), a few passionate theater folks write to remind me of the state of L.A. theater before there was what used to be known as the “Equity Waiver.”
“While physician-patient encounters may be structured, every interaction is, to some extent, improvised. … Medical schools are increasingly adapting improv tools to enhance patient interviewing, simulate difficult conversations, and facilitate learning in medical teams.”
“Sara Garonzik, who has helmed the Philadelphia Theatre Company from its tentative days as a professional troupe in 1982 to its status as a well-regarded and highly visible anchor for the Avenue of the Arts, has decided to step down from her post as executive producing director.”