ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


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

Before Coming Back To Live Interior Performances, Theatre Audiences Want Vaccines And Masks

A survey of frequent theatregoers says that widespread vaccines are the only way most people will feel comfortable in the theatre - and, even with that, 94 percent of those surveyed said they still want mask requirement in place. - American Theatre

Pandemic Lockdowns Were Supposed To Be A Chance To Rethink The Ways Theatre Operates. Has That Happened?

To an extent, yes, it has. Reporter Natasha Tripney talks with theatremakers around Britain about the positive developments — the success of streaming, increased engagement with communities, more egalitarian casting, long-distance collaboration — that started to arise during this public health disaster. - The Stage

‘Moulin Rouge!’ — An Oral History Of A Broadway Smash Snuffed Out By Disease

"Set in fin de siècle Paris but supercharged by 75 pop songs, it opened to a rave from The New York Times ('This one's for the hedonists,' exulted Ben Brantley), and it was regularly selling out all 1,302 seats, even during a holiday season when it cost $799 to watch from a cafe table encircled by cancan dancers." Then came COVID, of course: not only did the show have to close, 25 (!) members of the company, including all three leads, got sick. - The New York Times

Take It From A Times Theater Critic: The Trump-To-Shakespeare Analogies Really Don’t Work

Jesse Green: "I admit that I do it too. … But even these comparisons are reductive — in both directions. Shakespeare's characters are much richer and more readable than someone as unforthcoming as Trump. At the same time, we'd be lucky if he were merely Shakespearean; no made-up villain, even Iago, is as alarming as someone for whom all the world is truly a stage." - The New York Times

Founders Of Belarus Free Theatre Get Death Threats From Lukashenko Government

"We will definitely find you … and we will hang you side by side." So said a column in Sovietska Belarus, the more-or-less official newspaper of the post-Communist dictatorship. The targets were Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, who fled to the UK as political refugees in 2011 but have continued to work long-distance with Belarus Free Theatre, which they founded in 2005 and which still produces and performs dissident drama in secret. - The Daily Mail (UK)

How Did American Theater Deal With The Trump Era? Urgently

"For the most part, it didn't aim straight at the president. … Rather, producers elevated formally adventurous, politically incendiary plays — like Heidi Schreck's What the Constitution Means to Me and Jeremy O. Harris's Slave Play — that spoke meaningfully to our nation’s troubled soul. Audiences, hungering for that holiest of dramatic experiences, catharsis, used the ritual of theatergoing to think and hurt and heal." - The New York Times

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