ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas

THEATRE

Negro Ensemble Company: A Brief History Of A Pathbreaking Theater Group

The NEC's roots lay in a drama workshop for Harlem youth that founder Robert Hooks ran in a makeshift theater in his apartment until the landlord found out. The professional company was born in 1967 with a Ford Fourndation grant, and it went on to become perhaps the most successful Black theatre group in the world, with a Pulitzer, two Tony Awards, more than a dozen Obies — and more than 4,000 alumni (including quite a few famous names) who learned acting, directing, and theater tech there. - American Theatre

For 100 Years, Magicians Have Been Sawing People In Half

On January 17, 1921, in a north London theatre, "an English magician called Percy Thomas Tibbles literally and laboriously sawed through a sealed wooden box that contained a woman. It was a sensation and has since become one of the best known magic tricks, performed with all manner of tools and varying degrees of blood – always involving someone cut in half and nearly always with them miraculously put back together." - The Guardian

Do Critics Shape The Theatre Of Their Time? Ben Brantley Says —

"Has it really happened that way, though? To go back to my paragon, Pauline Kael, she was perceived as shaping the course of Hollywood, and I'm not sure she did when you look back at it. Culture — like history, and we know how perverse and also cyclical history can be — follows its own inevitable patterns. … I don't think critics are shapers. I think we're mirrors." - American Theatre

Freelancers, The Lifeblood Of British Theatre, Are In For Another Terribly Rough Year

The situation under the third lockdown is, if anything, worse than in March because the freelancers don't have anything to fall back on. "In telephone interviews this week, four theater freelancers said they had set up their own businesses to get through the pandemic; another said he was working as a delivery driver; and another said she was relying on a combination of unemployment checks and parental support." - The New York Times

The Royal Shakespeare Company Attempts A Return Of A Midsummer Night’s Sax Comedy

Swinging the Dream, a 1939 musical that flopped after 13 performances despite (or because of?) having a cast of 150 and three bands. It's being revived, rewritten, and live-streamed during the pandemic. - The Guardian (UK)

Dr. Fauci Says That Theatres May Reopen In The Fall If Vaccination Program Is A Success

He said that "the timeline hinged on the country reaching an effective level of herd immunity, which he defined as vaccinating from 70 percent to 85 percent of the population." In addition, audiences will likely be required to wear masks for some time, for the safety of performers and staff. - The New York Times

‘Now I’m Sounding Like One Of My Characters’ — Suzan-Lori Parks On Playwriting

"It's like what 'Michelangelo' said, right? He's working with the marble and taking away everything that's not the sculpture. And let's put Michelangelo in quotes, 'cause was he really the one who actually said that? But, anyway, the idea still holds. I feel that whatever I'm writing exists already. … Like I'm following something through the woods. Eyes open. Ears open. Heart open. And I'm following a path that is sometimes behind me." A Q&A with fellow playwright and MacArthur Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. - The Paris Review

How Equitable Pay Leads To Better Theatre

"Since pay equity leads to higher quality work, any company interested in having the best product to share with their community will center pay equity within their company because the benefits to the business are undeniable." - Howlround

The Stage 100 For 2021 Honors British Theatre’s Response To COVID

"Arts workers in the NHS, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, actor Michael Balogun and theatre company 20 Stories High are among those recognised in this year's The Stage 100 list, which has been reimagined to celebrate the industry's response to the pandemic." - The Stage

A New Print Magazine (!) About Theatre Is Here

"The folks behind Encore Monthly, a brand new magazine about theatre that just published its first issue …, think the time is ripe to provide theatregoers, deprived as we are of theatre we can witness in person, to read about it, and they say they're equipped to hang on until it comes raging back." In a Q&A, founding editor-in-chief Robert Viagas talks about what Encore Monthly will focus on and why he thinks it can work. - American Theatre

Film Version Of ‘Hamilton’ Is Eligible For Golden Globes And SAG Awards But Not Oscars. Here’s Why

Disney bought the rights to the specially shot and edited footage of the Broadway production and planned to release it in movie theaters — until the pandemic changed everything and the show was put on Disney+ instead. That's similar enough to other movies from 2020 that the Globes consider Hamilton eligible; SAG, oddly, puts it in the TV movie category. The Motion Picture Academy, on the other hand, made a deliberate decision to exclude the project from the Oscars. Reporter Scott Feinberg provides an explainer. - The Hollywood Reporter

When Theatre Comes Back To Stages It Will Be Different. But That’s OK

"While there have been times during the past year when theatre and all who work in it have felt helpless, unloved and ignored, there is also plenty of evidence that it does matter and can make itself matter – not just to its own community but beyond. When theatre doesn’t just think of itself, when it thinks beyond the next show and the box office, it can and does make a difference – over and over again." - The Stage

Reverse-Engineering Zoom To Make Online Theater

"Jared Mezzocchi has been systematically exploring what Zoom and the editing program Isadora can offer theatre practitioners during the pandemic. He has been working in the field for over a decade and has explored it from multiple points of view — designer, director, playwright, artistic director. … We Zoomed in November to talk about the production, how to reverse-engineer Zoom, Isadora as the way forward, and more." - HowlRound

Progress Report: BIPOC Representation In American Theatre

"Time will tell if theater grantmakers adopt the coalition’s demands en masse, and some of the demands have yet to make it into grantmakers’ toolboxes in a meaningful way. But at the very least, We See You has done a huge service for funders by creating a checklist of familiar, provocative, and disruptive action items." - Inside Philanthropy

The TikTok Musical That’s Already Earned $1 Million

At a running time of 51 minutes, and with perhaps only half the numbers required for a full adaptation of the 2007 animated Oscar-winner, this “Ratatouille” is a mere appetizer. But with a winning Tituss Burgess as the human embodiment of Remy, the Parisian rodent who can stir up a mean beef bourguignon, it is a promising first course. And the harbinger of a future property on the school circuit or maybe even in some professional incarnation. (Another leading indicator: The Actors Fund announced that the production surpassed $1 million in ticket sales on its premiere night.) - Washington Post

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