Founded 150 years ago and now in its fourth location within Baltimore, A.T. Jones is believed to be the oldest continually running costume shop in the country, and it’s as storied as the plays and operas for which it provides wardrobes.
Kander: “Because corruption in society never seems to go out of style. Every once in a while, it becomes more obvious than not.”
Reinking: “Every step is basically a word. Especially with musical theatre, because you’re not doing it for dance’s sake, you’re promoting a story – and, more than that, a moral.”
And they do – more, oddly, than on screen, let alone in real life. Peter Libbey looks at the reason profanity packs the punch it does (and when it doesn’t) – from The Mother****** with the Hat to Jerry Springer – The Opera, where even God curses.
“In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Alabama, the estate argued that Mr. Sorkin’s adaptation deviates too much from the novel, and violates a contract, between Ms. Lee and the producers, which stipulates that the characters and plot must remain faithful to the spirit of the book.”
For all the attention that’s now being paid to correcting the longstanding obstacles that women and minorities face in the field, a number of British theater workers (both onstage and backstage) argue that the barriers against the working class in a thoroughly middle- and upper-middle-class industry are worse. Lyn Gardner talks to a number of those workers about the class problem – and about what they’re doing to fix it.
“It’s not [Nicholas Hytner’s] fault that during his 12-year tenure at the National Theatre he wildly discombobulated expectations of what artistic directors could do. But that is what happened, because … in the wake of Hytner, it’s assumed that a single figure can be as brilliant directing as they are a chief executive, ultimately responsible for everything.” Steven Atkinson, himself artistic director of a theatre company, argues that it’s high time that the demands and expectations of the job be rethought.
“The Ivey Awards have been celebrating theatre in the Twin Cities for the past 13 years. But on Feb. 28, the organization announced that it will discontinue producing the annual awards event due to difficulty raising funds.” Allison Considine looks at the history of the prizes and reaction to their disappearance.
“We are in an interesting cultural moment in the United States as I write this; scandals about the abuse of power through sexual manipulation and assault proliferate in social media. … #MeToo ripples through our awareness, even as older women and men face the reality that their careers, their ambitions, and their visibility have already been impacted by that power for decades. Mine certainly has been. … I don’t know if I will ever again write a play that connects with such a wide demographic of audience members.”
The Tony-winning director (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) will step down as artistic director when his contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season. He has also served as artistic director of San Diego’s Old Globe Shakespeare Festival and directed the Broadway production of Anastasia; he makes his Metropolitan Opera this fall with Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, which will open the house’s season.
Balich also has to convince Italy’s traditionally skeptical art conservators that he’s not out to circumvent visits to the real chapel with a glitzy concoction that includes theater, ballet and many, many bells and whistles. “Italy has all these very conservative art critics, and they are against the idea of ‘spettacolarizzazione,’” he said, using an Italian expression for putting on a big show.
Though his music may often sound as if it were written by a man locked in the basement of the Paris opera—hearing late-nineteenth-century music, muffled, from a couple of floors down—he turns out to be very much a boy of the Monty Python generation, his ears full of rock and British comedy.
The first season of his new company is all white men, and last week, the former director of the National Theatre got mad at those who suggested it should be more diverse – and of course the hit out at quotas. But, says one theatre scholar, Quotas are not about “compromising quality. We are not virtue signalling, ticking boxes, doing fiddly, pointless maths. We are recognizing that centuries of bias have just made it easier to see the worth in the work of white men and have given them readier access to the qualifications and awards and opportunities that serve as shorthand for skill. We are saying that since everyone says they’re committed to diversity but it still isn’t happening, maybe we need some simple rubrics to hold everyone accountable.”
Whew, what? The theatre teacher was fired after he made fake Facebook profiles to try to get into Facebook groups where parents – whose kids apparently weren’t even into, or in, theatre – were possibly maligning him. That came when the school was in the middle of rehearsals for As You Like It – so the teacher’s wife carried on as director. And the kids are very, verrrrrrry unhappy with their school. “This issue became all consuming. Some kids weren’t coming to school. There were arguments, and it was distracting from their learning, it was very disruptive.”
That’s right, it’s Ibsen’s Enemy of the People. Do we need to explain? Well: “What started as a response to a Trump presidency now seems to speak to our times in many ways, with a plot that intertwines an ethically compromised antihero, political extremism, corruption, environmental activism and a lack of accountability for the destruction of a town.” There was even a site-specific play set, and performed, in Flint, Michigan.
At the center of Quiara Alegría Huedes’ Elliot trilogy of plays – Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue; Water by the Spoonful; and The Happiest Song Plays Last – is the former soldier. But Elliot isn’t someone the playwright made up out of whole cloth. Instead, he’s based on her cousin, whom she calls her muse. Sure, she changed some details, but “the fictional Elliot’s life is close enough to this young man’s that he can confidently be regarded as the Ur-Elliot, the original model, the irreducible essence of Elliot-ness from whom all other Elliots on various stages have sprung.”
Succeeding company co-founder Howard Shalwitz is Maria Manuela Goyanes, 38, who is currently director of producing and artistic planning at the Public Theater in New York City. (Public artistic director Osklar Eustis describes Goyanes as his “his producing right hand.”)
Lauren Wingenroth: “Last month, Buzzfeed News confirmed 17 instances of groping or sexual misconduct by patrons of the immersive theater show Sleep No More. Having experienced the show for the first time just a week before the story broke, I can’t say I was surprised by the accusations. … At every step of my two and a half hour journey through the show, I felt that the safety of the performers – and of the audience – was being compromised for the sake of an experience that just wasn’t worth the risk.”
The real Anne was unequivocal about the particular Jewishness of her suffering and about her perpetual otherness. She wrote, “We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or just . . . representatives of any other country for that matter, we will always remain Jews, but we want to, too.”
“Greet audience members, take tickets, work the concession stands, run the elevator. Point the way to seats, restrooms, box offices and exits. These are some of the tasks of a volunteer usher at theaters across New York City. The lure: a free ticket. The competition: increasingly fierce.”
“Lift: Slobodan Show premiered at a packed theatre in Gračanica, a Serb-populated town outside Kosovo’s capital of Pristina. It was performed by a local theatre group and artists from Serbia. Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority shunned the play.” Slobodan Milošević, the eponymous dictator, died in 2006 while on trial for war crimes and genocide in The Hague.
That takes the crown from Harry Potter And The Cursed Child which last year scored 11 (tying with 2008’s Hairspray).
As the national dialogue around gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, disability and other factors is continually evolving, the theatrical canon is being rewritten daily. Will audiences not already in love with My Fair Lady find the relationship between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle a budding romance that leads to equality between two people of different classes – or is it a document of a man moulding a woman into his ideal, for his own ends?
“Annotations in the margins of a 16th-century text that is believed to have been one of the sources for Hamlet could have been made by Shakespeare himself, according to an independent researcher. John Casson was looking through the British Library’s copy of François de Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques, a 1576 French text thought to have been one of the sources for Shakespeare’s tragedy … [He] noticed that faded ink symbols had been made in the margins next to six passages.”
Katori Hall says change won’t be easy: “That requires a lot of giving up. Giving up your seat to let people sit at the table who haven’t always been allowed to sit … that’s often not on the stage, but where the decisions are made. That’s on the board. How many black artistic directors does the UK theatre scene have? I’m always asking, are we performing inclusion, are we performing diversity? Or are we actually doing it. Let’s see if the acknowledgment phase shifts through into the action phase.”
Basically, Italia Conti may be out of room and looking to expand.
“I have also come to realise that, as a critic, I am complicit in this exchange. By going to review work at venues where actors are not paid, or paid very little, I am effectively endorsing a system that advantages some at the expense of others.”
“For Lindsay Acker and Austin J. Sachs, students at Eastern Mennonite University who spent 3½ months last year in the Middle East, the one-man play that came to their campus compelled them to grapple with all sorts of wrenching memories. … And for Gassan Abbas, the Palestinian actor from Israel who has been performing I Shall Not Hate in one college town after another, the experience has broadened his understanding of the compassion in this country – as well as a sense of its myopia about the world.”
An Israeli critic reviewing the production at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater “wrote that he went into ‘aesthetic shock’ when he realized that he was not watching Puritans in colonial New England, but a far more familiar group, one that Miller himself, disillusioned and ailing, had called ‘an armed and rather desperate society at odds with its neighbors but also the world.'”
“In a unanimous decision, the São Paulo [State] Court of Justice said an injunction to block the performance of The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven – in which the trans artist Renata Carvalho plays a transgender Jesus Christ – was unconstitutional.”
“Few visual moments are as strange as the scene at the beginning of act two, in which Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air, apparently leading him to Duncan’s bedchamber. This hallucination provokes one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches: ‘Is this a dagger which I see before me?’ … For this strangest of plays, the paradox is fitting: its best-known prop is almost certainly invisible.” Andrew Dickson looks at the ways some of the great actors and directors have handled the scene.