Someone recently mentioned the innovative web browser, Mosaic, and so I binged it. Turns out, it was developed with the help of the Gore Bill in 1993 at the NCSA. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is based in Urban, IL, under the auspices of the University there and with support from the National Science […]Future think — Serendipity
Theater can be distanced, ie by not breaking the fourth wall. It can be immersive, like Tamara at the Park Avenue Armory back in the day, or the McKittrick Hotel programs, Sleep No More or Woman in Black happening now. Audiences sit in the round, or follow the players from room to room, or sit in front of the proscenium, or on stage.
Form and presentation may contribute to the experimental nature of a play. Subject matters in making theater a relevant comment on our times.
These times need a healthy dose of cynical analysis and profound soul-searching. “All animals are equal,” George Orwell says in Animal Farm, “but some are more equal than others.” The Seeing Place, a ten year old theater collective, kicks off the season with a modern adaptation by Brandon Walker of Orwell’s novel.
The theme for this year is the Body Politic, and its Animal Farm focuses on drawing out the ways in which we are susceptible to the collective power of a group. The line between community and a folie à tous is subtle.
Executive Artistic Director, Erin Cronican says of TSP’s production; “By creating this play for just four actors playing 28 characters, we shine a spotlight on the malleability of people’s opinions and desires, which often depend upon who is in charge and what is promised to them.”
Another exploration of present day politics can be found in the works-in-process Siachen at Baruch Performing Arts Center, from April 30 through May 2. This anti-war play, written by Aditya Rawal, takes us to India’s disputed Kashmir region where a group of soldiers awaits rescue. Gwynn MacDonald directs.
George Bernard Shaw was a principled man, whose ideals of humanitarianism and universal human rights were a creed underpinning everything he wrote. His politics were always in evidence in his dramas. The Gingold Theatrical Group’s annual party, the Golden Shamrock Gala 2020, takes place on Monday, March 16th; they will be honoring Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and Ethan E. Litwin. The Gingold Theatrical Group creates theater in the activist spirit of GBS with regularly scheduled events through the year.
LaMaMa, the mother of experimental theater, hosts a play appropriate for our time. Pananadem (Remembering) is about refugees brought to these shores by the Filipino troupe Kinding Sindaw. Potri Ranka Manis, the Founder and Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw is the creative and choreographer behind this production, running from March 12th through March 15th in a New York premiere. The work uses the tradition of myth to capture the experience of the displaced.
or in a like it alot? Our household has a favorite film which we have now watched dozens of times, and that fact has me wondering why? Why that particular film? We have a couple of other must-sees, like Connie and Carla, or Barefoot in The Park, or Moonstruck too. What draws us to these […]What’s in a like? — Take Note
This year I am making no Tony predictions, but reminiscing about years past. Here is one such meander.
Family Man, Sliding Doors, and the Broadway musical If/Then all take a deep dive into questions of alternate realities. They involve shifting time, as does the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves romance The Lake House to slightly disparate effect.
Sliding Doors and Family Man are films which explore what might have been by letting it happen to Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicolas Cage respectively. Similarly, If/Then let Idina Menzel experience a different life if she made different life choices. (The alternate reality I would have liked to see is for the musical play to be honored with a Tony in its 2014 bid.)
It is a giddy fact that the divergent paths the hero or heroine takes leads to different outcomes for him/her in each of these works. Makes you wonder what you might have done had you done differently!
Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.
We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.
What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?
Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.
The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)
Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.
Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.
A little bit like the musical 1776 and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster, Hamilton,The Fourth of July is a theatrical celebration in honor of the United States of America.
That whole nativist thing doesn’t really fly– you know, as in “Immigrants get the job done”– although we might say, we are all immigrants. This is a country that started with a group of British subjects, not native to America, rebelling against their King and country across the seas.
They came as colonists to this land, as all immigrants do, to seek a better life. Economic and religious freedom, and opportunities are common denominators; this is what we all commonly seek for ourselves when we emigrate from one place to another.
Ticket prices are a frequent topic of discussion among theater-goers. Not much wonder when the cost of a seat to see Hello Dolly! or Hamilton for instance can go as high as $1600+. Of course, the savvy buyer will find tickets for these attractions at better prices as well. Even the less hyped Broadway show sells in the range of $99 (discount for the orchestra) and $239 (premium). I get it, it’s expensive to mount a Broadway attraction. When a show closes before its scheduled time, the producers don’t get back their investment.
The fact that the arts are a business in no way detracts from their art. In any given season, despite the iffy-ness of ROI, there are some 35+ (this 2016-17 season, it’s 39) productions put on the Broadway stage.
For the for-profit theater, revivals and transfers of off-Broadway hits seem like the better bet. Musicals always seem to drive the market, although I read a stat that those who go to musicals, generally go to 4 vs those who like a straight play see 5 in the same period. The not-for-profit houses have different mandates: Playwrights Horizons produces new, often commissioned, work, for instance.
On the other hand, The Mint revives plays that have not seen the stage for a long while, with the motto, “Lost Plays Found Here.”
The struggle to get investors to back a project can be complicated. Predicting the public’s taste can be a risky business. For producers, raising money for each production involves looking beyond their own pocket. Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU), for instance, has an annual bootcamp for perspective investors. This past February the workshop was called Raising Money for Theater: Who, How and When to Ask. TRU offers seminars on the business all year round.
Ticket prices at the profit-making theaters are certainly a ticket to recouping the cost of mounting a production. How do the not-for-profit productions–both on and off-Broadway– make ends meet? Concerns over government defunding of the arts makes this year a particularly critical one for the not-for profit theater and its counterparts in dance.
Asking for money becomes an art of its own. Inventive ways of getting donations crop up all the time. A gala is, often, called for, and will attract a reasonable amount of money. Galas usually include dinner and a chance to mingle with the talent after a performance. Some galas have themes, like for instance the Ballet Hispanico’s 2017 Carnival Gala Celebrating Trailbrazing Latina Leaders which honors Rita Moreno and Nina Vaca. The black-tie event is on May 15th at the Plaza Hotel.
The honored guest is a standard approach. Keen Company, a subscription house with a long history off-Broadway, for instance, holds its 2017 Benefit Gala on May 22nd with guests Molly Ringwald and Amy Spanger. The Pearl Theatre Company and Playwrights Horizons are under similar constraints to raise funds beyond the monies brought in by subscribers by throwing parties for patrons and offering opportunities to support them.
The latter brings Patti Lupone, Christine Ebersole and Kelli O’Hare to the Playwrights Horizon gala on May 8th. The Pearl offers classes through its Conservatory.
Most of the dance troupes hold Galas at season kickoff; for New York City Ballet this corresponds with the Fall and the Spring openings. Paul Taylor American Modern Dance generally has theirs on the second night of performance each spring at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. (The theater is in itself an example of major fund-raising efforts, with Koch having paid for a renovation of the house which is home to @NYCballet and visiting dance cos.)
Youth America Grand Prix galas are a little like a serues of awards ceremonies. (We’ve talked of past YAGP galas on several occasions at VP.com.) The American Ballet Theater, although they have a gala as well, takes a slightly different approach to year round fundraising. It has patrons supporting dancers, an individual member of the troupe can be billed as being sponsored by a donor.
Subscription tickets are supplemented by sales of regularly priced tickets but that is far from enough to cover the costs of running a theater. Roundabout Theatre Company and MTC hold benefit evenings, inviting their subscribers and other patrons to dine with theater luminaries. Second Stage are holding their “Spot On” gala with honorary chair Bette Midler on May 1st. They also hold an annual bowling with the artists event; you can’t spell fundraising without fun.
Subscription houses depend on membership support (see the Pearl’s program of offers) to be able to offer their programming; subscribers are asked to give a little more. Seat-naming is another popular–and fairly democratic– way to bring cash into the house; the average donor can generally afford to put a plaque on a seat. On a grander scale, we have patrons who fund an auditorium or a theater (see David H. Koch above) or a patron’s lounge. Sometimes the sponsor is corporate like American Airlines for whom Roundabout’s 42nd Street house is named. With sponsorship come other perks, of course, like good seats, and access to staff.
Theater is a demanding artform. Give a little, get a lot.
Fatman, his only super power is being able to finish off 3 whole slices of chocolate cake after eating a whole pizza pie. (#alternativefact: Fatman says, it was a small pie.)
He enters a Uni-sex bathroom as a shlubby but clear-eyed businessman to don a fatsuit and emerge as #Fatman, plumped-up and puffed-up.
There’s room for a backstory in The Legend of Fatman.
Speaking of legends….
Is Michael Mnuchin issuing a warning to us with The Legend of Tarzan and Midnight Special? Is it to stay away from movies like these, or does it go deeper. Sad. Very poor ratings for both films.
Speaking of warnings: when the EPA no longer insures that our water supply is clean, and we need healthcare, where will we turn?
Price and Ryan have a health care plan for us. It’s called #Deadpool.
Motto: Life– did you expect to get out alive? Don’t bet on it! #Deadpool.
Selling point: If you need it so badly, put your money where your mouth is.
A random middle-aged white man clearly believes he is protecting the country. He’s on the phone telling a pal as he walks uptown that “there were definitely terrorists there.” He is sincere, but really he has no idea.
He is doughy but unlike Fatman he is no business man.
I am writing a drama about a failed businessman, who sees himself as a great visionary. One day he walks into a bar, and sits on a stool, pronouncing that he knows he could do a better job than the “so-called politicians.” The guys at the bar perked up and listened to him as he went on to prove how much he could do for them.
You know, I could get you your jobs back, he tells them. The world is not treating any of us fairly, he points out. I get that all the time. It’s so unfair. It’s hard being a white Christian. I got audited. Can you imagine? It’s so unfair.
Sad when a smart person like me isn’t appreciated, he goes on. Let me tell you, I am very smart. I can get your jobs back from China. It’ll be huge.
The plot goes on from there, where the trial balloons of his “campaign” which seem destined to unravel are picked up by news media. He becomes something of a media darling because what he says is always outrageous. He entertains. He’s a headline grabber.
He tells tall tales, some would call lies, but for now the media just laps it up. His lies don’t worry the press, because at every turn, it looks like his progress will be thwarted. His supporters do too.
They love him, despite the disparity of their circumstances with his. They like that he says he can do anything and still win at the polls. They believe him, and they make it come true.
The plot is easy, although motivation and dialog are more of a challenge.The story has a storybook ending for our central character. For others it is the stuff of true nightmare and horror films.
The beauty of my drama is that it relies on a fact in the new America: Lying has become an art form for a segment of our society. One with faithful and believing acolytes.
Satire is an ineffective tool that only acts as an irritant to those in power and a balm to the rest of us. What is actually going on, the reality is already unbelievably absurd.
The actions of our leaders, sometimes extra-legal, unAmerican, anti-democratic, unpatriotic are already beyond the pale. They cannot be mocked. They are mocking us.
Diversions diverge from the democratic. Divisive cries deviate from the democracy.
Demonic acts dictate a dictatorial regime.
Never has preaching to the choir expressed the state of the union more completely. The New Yorker has a cartoon (by Sipress) in which there is a weather forecast for Dems and another for our friends across the aisle.
Tickets to Hamilton may (probably not) be available this holiday season thanks to a non-controversy P-E Trump fracked up from a non-incident at the theater. (As it turns out, Trumpistas did not relinquish their tickets en masse, and the show is sold out in all the cities across America in which it is playing.)
When VP-E Mike Pence attended a performance recently, cast member Brandon Victor Dixon used the curtain call to petition his elected official on behalf of the other half of our country. P-E DJT took offense, and a sort of boycott was born.
For the record, VP-E MP said he was not offended: “And I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said, according to news reports from CNN to the NY Daily News.
The play, which won 11 Tonys last year, has been a hot ticket since it started its Broadway transfer in the summer of 2015.
Hamilton is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s paean to America, in which the Founding Fathers (and some Mothers) are portrayed by a racially diverse cast, and issues of states’ rights and federalism are rapped.
As with everything emanating from this inclusive show, the Hamilton curtain call was a model of restraint.Witness what was said below: