ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


What Is Native American Comedy?

"I’ve debated different scenarios in my life about “What is Native?” And that is like the million-dollar question, at least within Indigenous communities at this moment. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus, and I love that, because it just demonstrates how diverse we are — that there is no singular definition — and that’s okay." - New York Magazine

Will Upright Citizens Brigade Ever Reopen? ‘I Don’t Know’, Says Amy Poehler

In a feature interview for The New York Times Magazine, the co-founder of the famed, and now troubled, improv company and school said, "It’s been brutal for us. We're basically using the fire of COVID to start some new version. We're changing our school and our theater to not-for-profit." (She and her co-founders have said they'll give up leadership of UCB when that happens.) "Whether or not we'll be able to get there, I don't know." - Vulture

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Of ‘Fleabag’ Fame Is Now The President Of Edinburgh Fringe Society

It's an honorary, spokesperson role during a year when Fringe Fest may be online or may be in-person, or both, depending. Fleabag got its start at Fringe in 2013. Waller-Bridge: "From leaking caves to cobbled streets to the glamour of the Traverse Theatre up to Arthur's Seat, this festival is a beating heart of an industry that has been all but crushed by the pandemic, and I'm proud to be a part of the fight with the Fringe Society for its much needed survival and glorious return." - BBC

The Show’s Going On Down Under

This sounds wildly exotic and dangerous to most theatregoers in the U.S. right now: "A few days ago, Kylie Estreich went to a theater in Sydney to see a Broadway show. In person. With hundreds of other people. She showed her ticket, went to her seat, and sat elbow-to-elbow with her masked mother on one side and a masked stranger on the other." I'm sorry, what? That's right, Australia has it figured out. - Washington Post

As The Tonys Remain Undetermined, Where Are Previous Nominees Now?

A Broadway stage manager who's now in graduate school for (logically) organizational leadership project management: "I initially thought, well, I'll get a class or two under my belt and then we'll be back. Well, now it appears that I will be graduated before." - NPR

American Shakespeare Center Loses Director, Will Be Actor-led

Ethan McSweeny has served as artistic director of the American Shakespeare Center since 2018. He announced his resignation effective Feb. 11, 2021. - Washington Post

When Thornton Wilder Came Up With An Act Four Of ‘Our Town’

"Following his enlistment in the military in World War II, only ten days before he would age out of eligibility for active service, Wilder reported for training in Miami, Florida, on June 27, 1942, having completed the screenplay for Shadow of a Doubt. In what was surely a most unusual training exercise, Wilder quickly participated in what was referred to as Act 4 of Our Town for the program Contact, broadcast out of WKAT in Miami on July 8." - Literary Hub

What’s At Stake For Chicago With The Sale Of Second City (To A New Yorker)

Chris Jones: "The issue now is the future of an institution that is not just a major tourist draw to Chicago but one of the very few avenues for diverse, Chicago-based comedic talent to move to a national stage. A decades-long success record needs no reiteration here, nor does the entertainment-industry dominance asserted by the coastal cities that typically see Chicago as a market or a location, not a generator of content." - Yahoo! (Chicago Tribune)

Now: Better Theatre Than Yesterday

"This present moment places us in an exciting crossroad between former traditions and the emergence of technical and multi-platformed storytelling. I do not believe we are in a purgatory until we return to in-person venues, but instead that we are on the precipice of incredible innovation. The future of our art form will be deeply impacted by the ways in which we respond to the present situation today." - Howlround

UK’s National Theatre Ends Tours To Europe

Yes, it's because of Brexit: a statement from a company spokesperson said that "the potential additional costs for visas and current uncertainty around social security contributions mean regrettably it is currently not financially viable. We hope that in future we'll return to tour in Europe. However, that will not be possible until we have further clarity on these points." - The Guardian

Second City Has A Buyer

Last summer, after the pandemic led to the layoff of two-thirds of the company's staff and accusations by alumni of color of serious race issues, co-owner and executive producer Andrew Alexander resigned; in October, he put Second City up for sale. Final purchase negotiations are now reportedly underway with private equity firm ZMC, which is owned by the CEO of the video-game company behind Grand Theft Auto. - Financial Times

Actress Fired From ‘The Color Purple’ After Anti-Gay Posts Loses Lawsuit

A British employment tribunal unanimously rejected Seyi Omooba's claims of breach of contract and religious discrimination, finding that "there is no breach of contract because the claimant was in prior repudiatory breach … the contract was empty because the claimant would not have played the part, and her conduct, pulling out at a late stage, had she not been dropped when she was, would have wrecked the production." - WhatsOnStage (UK)

Finally: More Money, Resources For Black Theatre?

In the last seven months, there has been a groundswell of support for Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that are focused on specifically and directly helping the Black community. People have recognized that to dismantle a flawed system, we need to invest in a new one. After decades of talk about funding theatres and artists of color, some are finally stepping up with the money. - American Theatre

Claim: The COVID Shutdown Has Revolutionized And Democratized Theatre

"The result is a worldwide swarm of approaches that have profoundly opened up the possibilities of the form, most likely for good. The word ‘theatre’ stands at the starting post, all but outgrown. It now applies as much to something happening in the palm of your hand as it does to an event beamed to you from a thousand miles away. It is hard to think of an art form at any time in history so radically reconsidered and swiftly reformed." - The Stage

COVID Has Shown Us That Theatre Is Too Dependent On Its Buildings

Lyn Gardner: "At their best, are creative powerhouses, community hubs, a place of inspiration, succour and sanctuary. But often they come with self-perpetuating, top-down hierarchies" — not to mention burdensome running costs — "and fuel a self-importance around that building that keeps it from connecting with local networks, unknown artists, and from practices that do not conform to the norm. … They are not the only show in town, and maybe their dominance needs to be reconsidered." - The Stage

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