This story has it all: Feuding theatre owners who used to be allies, Harry Potter, and highly juicy details about the Broadway touring business – and a judgment that allows a show to go up this Wednesday. – The New York Times
“While no date has been set, [the Detroit Repertory Theatre’s] longtime artistic director and co-founder, Bruce Millan — who helped launch the company in 1957 — has announced he’s begun planning for his retirement. When that happens, Leah Smith, the Rep’s marketing and development director, will step into his considerable shoes. The Detroit News spoke with Millan and Smith at the theater last week.”
“The Alabama Shakespeare Festival will commission 22 plays in the next five years, with more than half of the commissions set to go to female playwrights and playwrights of color. Rick Dildine, the artistic director of the [festival], … emphasized that the plays will focus on ‘transformative moments in the South that caused important and lasting changes to its people, culture and land.'”
“The average top-price ticket across all West End shows is £117.52, up 19% compared with 2017. This is the first time the average top-price ticket has exceeded £100, since The Stage started surveying in 2012. … For the first time in six years, The Book of Mormon has been overtaken as the most expensive seat across the entire West End by Hamilton, which has top-end tickets costing £250.”
At the Edinburgh Fringe this past summer and currently in London, Los Angeles actor Natalie Palamides performs her solo show titled Nate, in whch she plays an unrepentantly dopey douchebag. For two nights this week, Palamides had the show’s director, Phil Burgers (who performs as a clown under the stage name Dr. Brown), stepped in for her while she called out directions from just offstage. Did the gender swap change everything about the show? Brian Logan went to find out.
“Theatre Communications Group’s Theatre Facts 2017 observes that, with the recession largely behind them, U.S. theatres in 2017 were in a position of relative stability. … Naturally, not every company in the country was in this position, but that relative stability meant some theatre organizations could carve out time to address debt reduction, engage in strategic planning, and prepare for upcoming changes.”
Our big takeaway from the project was finding a common point of interest and building engagement with groups around that. If we started with people who were too far removed from the work, we failed. We had to be realistic about the learning journey audiences were on, given that we were only performing in venues for one or two nights, with an eight to ten week lead-in. We thought creatively about the elements of the production that the groups we hoped to engage might connect with. That could be anything from the politics, to the music or props, to the feel of the show (more like a gig or cabaret).
“It built all my confidence up, I felt alive again. I felt like there was a future.” Reporter Bruce Munro talks with current and former prisoners in Scotland (including one who’s gone on to study at the Royal Conservatoire) about the changes that prison theatre programs helped them make in their lives.
Sorkin describes how he approached the challenges of translating one of America’s most beloved novels into a different medium in a different century (the world has changed a lot since Mockingbird was written) and how the production’s team handled the lawsuit from Lee estate executor Tonja Carter.
Its primary accomplishment is its bluntness, reflected in the subtitle A Candid Look at Broadway. No writer has better captured the way theater insiders actually talk about their craft. Goldman listens in on artists discussing how to fix shows out of town, to curmudgeonly patrons and critics on the aisle, and to producers working out how to make money—even on flops. Goldman never wrote another book about the theater, and he wrote this one with the unmistakable swagger and detail of someone who can burn every bridge because he knows that his subsequent career will be elsewhere.
It started with recruiting: “Music hall stars of the day such as Marie Lloyd, Phyllis Dare and Vesta Tilley believed they were doing their bit for the war effort by exhorting – and sometimes shaming – the men in the audience into joining up. ‘We don’t want to lose you / But we think you ought to go,’ went one not very subtle refrain.”
Some might think comedy hasn’t actually changed that much – remember Andrew “Dice” Clay? Is he that different from Louis CK? – but it has, and “for some of that, we have to thank the influence of UnCabaret, the alternative showcase that celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Theatre at Ace Hotel with a mostly all-star showcase that spent almost as much time looking inward at what it means to have a conscience in comedy as it did eliciting obvious laughs.”
But too bad for the fire safety staff: “While stage door staff will be retained in a revised role, the RSC said it was continuing with a proposal to merge the fire and safety officer roles, with the fire officer role ‘absorbed into the security roles,’ which are contracted out.”
Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? Ten plays in Off-Broadway theatres by playwrights who are women of color? And yet: “If a play by a white playwright fails, no problem; there’s another white play lined up after. If a play by an Asian artist fails, that means ‘Asian plays’ don’t sell. It’s not one person’s failure, it’s a collective failure.”
Just under half of all UK theatres currently at risk are in coastal towns, the Theatres Trust has revealed, as it issues a plea for seaside venues to be “restored and repurposed”. By investing in the buildings, it claims that they could become cultural hubs to “serve their local communities and drive regeneration”.
“Beyond its eerily accurate forecasting about the corporatization of news media and the degradation of truth, this Network has a timely and more fundamental message about the power of anger and what happens when society unleashes it en masse. It just might not be the message that audiences expect, or one that its principal constituents see eye-to-eye on. They have been trying to discern its meaning since they staged it in London, and are still negotiating with the play and with each other.”
The online survey was held in response to news that English National Opera is seeking permission to project adverts on to its safety curtain. Of 443 respondents to the poll, which asked: “Would you object to theatres screening adverts during the interval?”, 62% said they would object and 38% said they would not.
“One of the industry’s faults is that producers can find themselves in financial trouble and in a bid not to lose face may not want to tell anyone else about it. Invariably, this sees the situation escalate to crisis point, and by that time with the problems apparent, they’re often irrevocable.”
As theatre addresses more of things like mass shootings and sexual assaults, the warnings have arrived. “The phenomenon has led to searching discussions at theaters large and small, pitting a traditional impulse — to preserve art’s ability to surprise, shock and stir — against a modern desire to accommodate sensitivities and not alienate paying customers.”
Patricia Ione Lloyd is acutely aware both of image and of the limits of what image can do in a world that’s not as kind as it should be to queer women of color. “The stories that people tell themselves about black women or black queer women or poor women, those are myths, but people still hold onto them. I’m really trying to tell myself different stories about myself that can help me move through the world in a more powerful way.”
Howard Sherman surveys the current landscape, where experienced critics discarded by legacy publications are now turning up at high-quality websites, and, though an imbalance remains, a few of those legacy outlets have hired younger female and nonwhite writers. (Sherman seems to have forgotten about Hilton Als, though.)
With more than 200 Welsh actors having joined 40 of its playwrights in making public complaints about how little actual theatre the company is making and how few Welsh artists are being employed to make it, the chief executive of the Arts Council of Wales — which gives NTW £1.6 million each year — has issued a statement observing pointedly that “to be ‘national’ is a privilege, not a right.”
The £100,000 public fundraising campaign to double the number of ladies’ loos in the building is fronted by a video featuring actresses Joanna Lumley, Bertie Carvel, and a ferocious-looking Glenda Jackson reading tweets from audience members on the subject.
The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.” Immediately after that, “People started running,” audience member Rich Scherr said. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’ ”The man was escorted out a few minutes later and the show continued.
Fortunately, Mike Birbiglia doesn’t do it quite the way Patti LuPone does. And he’s playing himself in his one-man Broadway show, The New One, so he can talk to offending audience members directly without breaking character. Here, with audio of recent examples, he explains how and why he does it.
If Shakespeare is the only named author on the national curriculum, how is it that 31% of those surveyed failed to recognise the playwright’s name? That only 53% had been on a school trip to a theatre is equally depressing, but the two stats might be related…After all, why should they know of him as a playwright if they have never experienced his plays as ‘play’?
Lyn Gardner: “Nobody thinks accountants should always put accountancy before everything else, so why is the ‘show must go on’ mentality, whatever the cost, so pervasive in theatre? In part, it is because jobs are hard to come by, and nobody wants to get a reputation for unreliability, but most of all I suspect it is because holding it together whatever the stress you are operating under is seen as a badge of honour, part of being a trouper. No wonder so many deal with the stress by self-medicating with alcohol.”
“The Arkansas Repertory Theatre on Tuesday announced it will offer a four-show season to spearhead its attempt to return from the brink of nonexistence. … The board had declared April 24 that it was suspending operations, canceling the final production of the 2017-18 season and the entire 2018-19 season because of critical cash-flow problems.”
“[Bob] Avian, credited as the musical’s co-choreographer [with the late Michael Bennett], and [Baayork] Lee, the original Connie Wong, travel the world to stage virtually every major production of A Chorus Line, passing on the steps to new casts and identifying dancers who might be able to do the same in the future.”
Under Lynne Meadow, who has been artistic director since 1972, MTC has won 23 Tonys and seven Pulitzer Prizes; produced off and on Broadway; and supported writers from Lanford Wilson to Stephen Adley Guirgis.