ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


If One Could Only Read Samuel Beckett’s Thoughts On His Best-Known Phrases

"All in all, the oracular quality of these lines, their sheer wisdom, makes of Beckett, much against his will, no doubt, something of a sage." - The Irish Times

When Broadway Returns, Ticketing May Be Different

Why did Jujamcyn switch from Ticketmaster to SeatGeek (more commonly a sports ticket app in the U.S.)? For one thing, SeatGeek is very commonly a contactless system, which now seems possible valuable for preventing viral spread. Also, there's the ease of selling more things: "Beyond selling tickets, its technology could be used to allow customers to order food and drink, arrange transportation, purchase merchandise and get other information." - The New York Times

Time To Bring Back Leonard Bernstein’s Musical?

Mark Swed thinks so: Bernstein "devoted four years to the musical. He wrote more music for it than for any other theater work. The show had a $900,000 sponsorship from Coca-Cola. It was billed as the musical of the decade. The show closed on Broadway after seven performances. It was the biggest artistic disaster of Bernstein’s life. The reviews were just awful, all of them. Critics called it 'simplistic,' 'sophomoric' and 'a Bicentennial bore.' Bernstein thought he had written his greatest show. He was right, and the simplistic, sophomoric critics were wrong." - Los Angeles Times

Tonys Voting Has A Plan, But The Awards Date Is A Mystery

The Broadway League and the American Theater Wing: "One, the much-delayed awards will be scheduled 'in coordination with the reopening of Broadway.' And two, the voting will take place from March 1 to March 15." OK. Why not be flexible at this point? - The New York Times

Why “Our Town” Still Resonates 80 Years Later

With the country splintered, its institutions shaken, a book documenting a classic American play affirming shared life experiences and bedrock values seems especially timely. Published Jan. 28, “Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’ in the 21st Century” is an oral history of a dozen or so recent productions of this famously stoical and spare play. It’s a drama so scrubbed of artifice that the first stage directions in the script are: “No curtain. No scenery.” - Washington Post

Mike Birbiglia On Doing Comedy Over Zoom

"I've done about 18 of these virtual shows, and I've learned things from them that I thought I had long understood after 20 years of being a professional comedian. People need comedy. At very least, they need to laugh — particularly when life is most burdensome and unwieldy. People need to laugh to be reminded what laughter feels like and why anyone would have laughed in the first place. It's the defibrillator that sends a shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm." - Vulture

New Design For COVID-Safe Pop-Up Theatre

The Vertical Theatre, as it's called, will be modular, with a capacity of 1,200 to 2,400, seated in small groups separated (if necessary) by clear screens. The structure has a roof, but the sides are open to allow airflow. The UK-based creators hope to have at least one Vertical Theatre hosting shows later this year. - WhatsOnStage (London)

With No Mardi Gras Parade, New Orleans Creates Floats Out Of Houses

"Look around Rona, socially distanced float houses have become a thing. A really big thing. Apparently, if you to take the parades off our streets, our streets become the parade. From Gretna to Metairie to Bywater: Lavishly, lovingly, laughingly decorated houses are becoming as ubiquitous as potholes." -

Improvised Comedy: How New York’s Standups And Clubs Are (Barely) Making It Through Lockdown

"Despite a state ban on live comedy performances, the pandemic hasn't destroyed the New York comedy scene — it just pushed it underground. … Venue owners are finding ways to stay in business by exploiting exemptions set aside for religious services, indoor dining, and trivia nights (yes, really) as a means to get comics back onstage, even if that stage is in a church or on the subway." - Vulture

COVID And Theatre: How Half A Dozen Different Countries Are Coping

Here are reports from Taiwan ("Shows go on – with precautions in place"), Italy ("A sharply divided theatre world"), the U.S. ("Struggling on despite lack of leadership"), Sweden and Denmark ("Back to lockdown"), and Greenland ("Cut off from the outside world"). - The Stage

Longtime Folger Theatre Director Janet Griffin To Step Down

The announcement means the departure of one of Washington’s longest-serving theater chiefs and an opening in a company with a prestigious literary pedigree: It is an arm of one of the world’s great classical collections, the Folger Shakespeare Library. - Washington Post

Stand-Up Comedian Jailed For Jokes He Hadn’t Told Yet

On New Year's Day, Munawar Faruqui, a rising talent in India's relatively new comedy circuit, was starting off a two-week tour with a gig in Indore when the leader of a Hindu extremist group accused Faruqui, who is Muslim, of "insulting religious sentiments" (a crime in India) and had him arrested. He had not yet even started his routine. Two courts have denied him bail, and the police say releasing him would cause "a law-and-order situation." - BBC

When Everything Is Seen Through A Screen, What Is Theatre?

"Digital performance has only exacerbated the definitional crises during this year of hard and soft quarantine. At a recent UCLA roundtable on the subject of the future of theater, I came to the conclusion that, even in this pioneering moment in which artists from different time zones can collaborate without ever coming into direct contact, place still matters." - Los Angeles Times

The Playwright We Need To Snap Us Out Of The Past Four Years Is Brecht

"Telling a lie over and over can make it seem true. It can also remove agency from the viewer, ceding the individual's judgement over to the expectations of the story being told. Brecht refused to let his audience lose themselves in the funhouse mirror of such representations. 'Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it,' he wrote." - Zócalo Public Square

André Gregory: What I Learned From Brecht (And His Wife)

"As I was at the beginning of my education as a young director, as well as a nervous, nerdy intellectual, I asked Helene Weigel about the Verfremdungseffekt, Brecht's famous 'alienation effect' theory. … Weigel laughed and said something like, 'Don't pay any attention to Bert's bullshit and theoretical nonsense. Just look at the work. Look at the work, and see what you see.'" - American Theatre

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