If an artistic director has quantified the dream of theatre on a spreadsheet, they are dead already.
Monologuist Mike Daisey has a beef with the way theater is made in the United States: . He's made that beef the substance of one of his monologues, How Theater Failed America. Now, Todd Olson, Producing Artistic Director (scroll down for bio) at the American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Florida, has beef with Daisey, too. Olson says: balance my budget, wretched actor miscreant; Daisey says: bring it. [more inside]
The recession has hit the theatre world (and the arts scene in general) very hard - but some argue that theatre practitioners aren't doing themselves any favours when seeking funding. The main question insufficiently addressed is "who is the funding for?" - hint: it's not about you. Approaching theatre as a product isn't working, not when MFA acting programs don't often allow its graduates to earn enough to earn back their debt. So now the question is: how can the economics of theatre be changed?
Twelve Angry Lebanese - inmates from Lebanon's infamous Roumieh Prison are putting on an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men - to stunning reviews. [more inside]
Theatre of the New Ear. Two radio plays: one by Charlie Kaufman, the other by the Coen Brothers, recorded live and starring Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. [more inside]
The Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari) is a medieval Japanese account of the rise and fall of the Taira clan and has inspired many other works of art. Click on the chapters and scroll down to see Heike illustrations (or start here), see more art or figures inspired by the Heike. Would you rather read? [more inside]
The Things He Carried. "Airport security in America is a sham—'security theater' designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease."
Paul Sills, son of Viola Spolin and one of the fathers of Chicago style improv comedy through his work with The Compass Players (who sort of morphed into Second City) and through his Story Theatre work has passed away at age 80. Chicago has lost two of its legends in one day.
When Brad and Amy got married, Amy's "Man of Honor" got up to give his toast -- a musical toast. Other friends and family joined in, much to Amy's surprise, and the result, captured here on video, is pretty darned delightful.
Comedian Julie Klausner (of "Hot Jewish Girls want to talk to you!!") has obsessions. So do her friends. As you do, she hosts a comedy night in New York where people can confess and explain (sometimes via powerpoint) the things that drive their compulsions. [more inside]
OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
The Case for the First Folio For centuries, editors of Shakespeare's plays have conflated different published editions (quartos and folios) in an attempt to create one true text as the writer intended. In this essay (.pdf file) Jonathan Bate, one of the editors of The RSC Shakespeare makes the case that in fact what they're doing is editing together different drafts of the play originated by the bard at different times in his life attempting to make better dramatic sense. Essentially that none of the texts you studied at school are what Shakespeare intended to be performed at all. [more inside]
Artslynx's theatre resources section is a goldmine of links to research and support sites for every aspect of theatrical production and dramaturgy. Especially useful are the Artslynx timelines. Need to know when cling wrap came into usage? Check out the prop timeline. Lots of additional links to outside timelines and history sites for anyone with a thirst for obscure sociological information, a love of craptacularly designed scrolling pages, and generally and too much time on their hands. For example: food, fashion, ephemera, and people who have died onstage [more inside]
Northeast Historic Film is the best of quirky Maine. They archive home movies, collect postcards of New England movie houses, and study depictions of New England in major films. Browsing the list of collections is tantalizing; if only some of these were available as clips or on YouTube. They're one of many archives preserving home movies. Also.
Theatre composer imitates teen heartthrob to plug his upcoming Broadway show. Features a cameo from one of Broadway's teen heartthrobs. [more inside]
Photographs of the dancers, actresses, cafe-life figures and prostitutes who were the subjects of Toulouse Lautrec's paintings, including such luminaries as Sarah Bernhardt, "La Goulue" (Louise Weber; remember this?), and Jane Avril, who was the model for this last, iconic, Lautrec poster. View pages of the art matched up with photos, here, here, and here, and go to this page to rummage around in even more collections that include photos of Lautrec, his friends and family, street and location scenes, and lots of other tidbits. [Spanish language site; NUDITY]
"Why (For) Pat Carroll wasn't actually Disney's first choice to voice Ursula in 'The Little Mermaid'? The casting story of one of Disney's most delightful demons.
A free audio podcast of The Globe Theatre’s 2007 version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing has been posted online by the UK's Department for Education for use by teachers and pupils without easy access to a professional production but can be downloaded by everyone. Streaming and mp3 versions available. [via]
An ancient theatre filters out low-frequency background noise. The ancient Greek theatre of the Asklepieion of Epidaurus, built mostly during the 4th century B.C. and now a World Heritage Site, is renowned for its extraordinary acoustics. Researchers have figured out that the arrangement of the stepped rows of seats are perfectly shaped to act as an acoustic filter, suppressing low-frequency background noise while passing on the high frequencies of performers' voices. [Via MoFi.]
Broadway.com has been doing a video diary of Legally Blonde: the Musical as it moves toward Broadway. See the first rehearsal with director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, visit a costume fitting, or catch a sneek peek of the show's pre-Broadway tryout in San Francisco. Legally Blonde starts performance in New York City on April 3rd.
The Black Light Theatre of Prague ("Černé Divadlo" or simply Black Theatre) is a Czech performance style characterised by the use of black box theatre augmented by black light trickery. Although this performance style can be found in many places around the world, nowhere is it more prolific or specialized than in Prague. Some sample images: 1 2 3 4. YouTube: 1 2 3.
A short history of Richard Foreman's Ontological-Hysteric Theatre. // "[Richard Foreman's] 'Strong Medicine' (Quicktime) is the kind of mad, risky venture one hesitates to interrupt." // A recent interview with Richard Foreman. (Youtube) // "This website contains hundreds of pages of unedited text which Richard Foreman is making available freely for use by theatrical authors/directors from which to create plays of their own." (Richard Foreman Previously)
Electronic Blockade of Mexican Government: Hactivism and Oaxaca; The Electronic Disturbance Theatre, founded by Ricardo Dominguez has organized a virtual sit-in of Mexican embassy and consulate websites. [More Inside]
The Nickel Under The Foot is one of the most important songs in the history of the American theatre. The back story.
Vermont's Painted Theatre Curtains were made between 1880 and 1940 and are on display thanks in part to The Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance and a grant from the NEA. [more inside]
The Room: The Movie. Triple-threat (actor/writer/director) Tommy Wiseau made his cinematic debut in 2003 with the The Room (see trailer and various scenes), "a blend between a softcore porn flick and a Tennessee Williams stageplay." Wiseau ("who's not just one of the most unusual looking and sounding-with an unidentifiable Eastern European accent-leading men ever to grace the screen, but a narcissist nonpareil whose movie makes Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" seem the apotheosis of cinematic self-restraint...may be something of a first: A movie that prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back-before even 30 minutes have passed." - Variety), allegedly raised $6 million outside Hollywood to cover production and marketing costs of the self-described "black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies" (see various rough dress rehersals). Audience members, including comedian David Cross, have been "marveling at the bizarre editing, bad bluescreen, uncomfortably explicit sex scenes and, of course, the enigma of Wiseau himself" as the film played monthly for years in Los Angeles. Available on DVD, diehard "roomies" swear by the theatrical experience, shout out their own commentary, hurl spoons at the screen and singalong to the soundtrack. Some call it "The Rocky Horror of the New Millenium" and stage "Room" parties. If you look at the marketing campaign or survived a screening you might see The Room as "a seminar on how NOT to make a movie." [Inspired by Boing Boing]
The Ingmar Bergman site is now available in English. I find the 'Universe' section (examining repeated themes) is particularly interesting.
The Sultan's Elephant. A 42-ton wooden elephant materialises on the streets of London, thanks to Royal de Luxe (previously). The BBC has lots of background, including video (obligatory YouTube link). More from TimeOut and The Guardian.
How are you celebrating Ibsen Year 2006? Reading Henrik Ibsen’s plays? His poems? What about his paintings? There’s always Peer Gynt: The Videogame.
Forty-nine published plays. Four Pulitzer Prizes. Three marriages. A suicide attempt. A celebrity for a father. A drug-addicted mother who blamed her habit on her son. A daughter estranged, a son who committed suicide. A Nobel Prize, the only ever awarded to an American playwright. Eugene O'Neill from inside out: a documentary film for American Experience. More inside.
“The Emperor Jones was a landmark drama, not only in conception but also in production: a black actor, Charles Gilpin, was permitted for the first time to enact the leading role in a New York drama.” James Earl Jones and collaborators discuss and rehearse a later production. Currently Elizabeth LeCompte directs Kate Valk, a middle-aged white woman in blackface, in a contemporary production from the Wooster Group. They’ve courted this type of controversy before. The NYTimes loved the show, this review isn’t as glowing.
Dancer Sues Movin' Out for breach of contract and sexual harassment she claims to have suffered during her run in the National Touring company of the Broadway hit. In an interesting move, the dancer, Alice Alyse, has created a lawsuit website to explain her side of the story. Perhaps she'll win, but will she ever work again?
America's First Superstar. He was the highest paid actor in the world, beloved by fans so passionate about his performances that a riot (23 people killed, more than a hundred wounded) ensued when a rival dared to perform the role that had made him famous. He enjoyed all the trappings of a superstar's life: portraits taken by America's most famous photographer, a large mansion (now a historic landmark), and of course a scandalous divorce trial (he lost). He was also one of the most prominent book collectors in the country. Edwin Forrest was born 200 years ago.
The things I will not do when I direct a Shakespeare production, on stage or film. "32. I will not employ a conception of Caliban which would require him to wear a ghastly furry costume reminiscent of a hypothetical offspring of Chewbacca and the Wolf from Into the Woods." "358. If cast members, especially fairies, are supposed to sing, I will make sure they can actually sing before opening night." Some of these appear to have been agreed to through bitter experience. I don't know about you but I'd like to add 400. I will not set A Comedy of Errors in a climbing frame which is meant to represent a lunatic asylum and have lookalikes played by the same actor in both parts as if has a split personality (watching that show was possibly the longest two hours I've spent in a theatre).
Performing Artists and The Robot Uprising: Writers, Actors, and Directors bring us one step closer to the robot apocalypse, or provide us the necessary training to win the battle.
This week we had the the Sphinx Competition (old article) here in Detroit. Following on the heels of rampant consumerism and willy-nilly football, The Sphinx Organization brings urban diversity to classical music - Latino and African American students between 12 and 22 years old are challenging their elders with talent and enthusiasm.
Theatre History is the Theatre Museum of London's vast online collection of ephemera, containing more than 1500 objects that record the history of the performing arts in Britain since the 1600s. There's lots of goodies, but don't miss the goldmine of fabulous photos, posters, and prints.
The Misadventures of the Wholesome Twins. A Musical Parody. Song titles here. My favourite moment from the website is in the cast list -- Courtney Love (et al): Robyn K. Pilarski.
Man shot and killed after viewing of "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" yesterday at Loews theatre in Pittsburgh. "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" is the title of the new movie by rapper 50 cent, who appeared on ABC's "The View" this morning- 50 Cent says he is sorry for the loss of life, but neither he or his movie is responsible. This isn't the first time that this theatre has had trouble; last Christmas a mob of unruly teenagers overran the theatre. Loews has since pulled the movie from its theatres nationwide, and will do so until the investigation is complete, which may be awhile- in the extremely crowded theatre nobody saw the attackers leaving.
Harold Pinter at 75. In One for the Road, the protagonist is Nicolas, a whisky-sodden interrogator who has brought in a family for questioning (and, it is implied, raping and torturing). In the short, sharp shock of The New World Order, we eavesdrop on a conversation between two torturers, held over the top of their mute, blindfolded victim's head ("We haven't even finished with him. We haven't begun."). In Ashes to Ashes, the interrogation of Rebecca by Devlin takes a sinister turn as we learn that her ex-lover participated in state-sponsored violence. In Mountain Language, a sadistic guard plays power games with a group of mountain dwellers, who are forbidden from speaking in anything but the language of the state. In Party Time, Pinter lampoons the smug security of the middle classes, portraying an insufferably élite party which carries on regardless of the violence and terror on the streets outside. Now, for Pinter's 75th birthday, some of the tormentors and the tormented so potently etched in his later plays are assembled together in a new dramatic work with a musical setting by the composer James Clarke.
Frederick August Kittel, known as August Wilson , passed away yesterday. The playwright wrote tremendously strong plays wining the Pulitzer Prize in both 1986 for The Piano Lesson, and in 1985 for Fences. 2005 saw the production of the finial play (Radio Golf) in his cycle of 10 plays examining African-American experience in the 20th Century in the United States. Broadway will honor him by dimming the lights tomorrow (Oct 4th). As well, on Oct 17th, the Virginia Theatre on Broadway will be renamed for Wilson. A 1990 audio program from MPR about Wilson. (RealAudio, 54 mins). Thank you Mr. Wilson
Taking NYC by Storm: The Moscow Cats Theatre. Also with dogs and clowns, apparently.
Found in translation: Much more than / Hip hop Chaucer, and it don't stop / Hip hop Aeschylus, and it don't stop / Hip hop Shakespeare, and it don't stop / Yeah [3.4MB .wmv], and it don't stop, and it don't quit.
Sometimes You Can't Fix You On Your Own. (Quicktime and Windows Media.) If there has ever been doubt about Coldplay's burning ambition to be U2, let it be put to rest.
The Game? University of Central Florida instructor Jeff Wirth - an Interactive Theatre pioneer, author, and one time editor of the long defunct ITN resource - brings something like David Fincher's The Game to life. Interactive Theatre describes forms of theatre that directly involve audience members in the action, from plays like Tony and Tina's Wedding to kitschy dinner theatre like the Murder Mystery Players to the one actor/one audience member pieces of Cruel Theatre.
Cornwall's Minack theatre. Perched on the cliffs at the SouthWestern tip of the UK, the Minack offers the chance to see classic theatre with a spectacular natural backdrop. The open-air theatre was originally conceived by Rowena Cade in the 1930s, and she was also personally responsible for much of the construction of the facilities that still exist. The pictures and 360 panoramas available here should give you some idea of the place. A few more here.
Buying Rare Race Records in the South. Music That Americans Loved 100 Years Ago. The Cheney Talking Machine. Just three among dozens of amazing articles about early recording machines and American popular music at the astonishingly detailed site of Tim Gracyk, author of Popular American Recording Pioneers: 1895-1925. Scroll down for bios of forgotten stars, including Nora Bayes - who performed in the Follies of 1907, before Flo Ziegfeld's name became part of the title, George W. Johnson - "the most important African-American recording artist of the 1890s," and piano player Zez Confrey, whose sheet music for the 1921 hit "Kitten on the Keys" sold over a million copies and became "the third most-frequently recorded rag in history."