Posted in #dystopia, Bloom's day, Bloom's Tavern, Bloomsday, Daily Prompt, dysfunction, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Manhattan Theater Company, Origin Theatre Company, Origins Theatre Company, public performance in public spaces, Roundabout Theatre Company, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, Symphony Space, The Mint Theatre, The Public Theater, theatrical

In Retrospect


By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons
Daily Prompt: Retrospective

“The past is prologue….” It’s a saying that suggests we learn from what has transpired before. At the theater, we certainly try hard to look at history and see where it has gotten us, how we approached our problems, what solutions were on offer. Great thinkers–and dramatists are definitely philosophers in action– have made their suggestions clear.

Shakespeare confronted every manner of political upheaval as well as all the dystopias of the soul. We regularly worship at his altar. This year, The Public Theater puts on a summer in the park season with his Othello and Twelfth Night.

George Bernard Shaw looked at askew the world from a totally original perspective. The Gingold Theatrical Group celebrates his musings in their regular Project Shaw series at Symphony Space and with Shaw Club meetings on Mondays. Manhattan Theater Company and the Roundabout folks have tackled Shaw over the years with productions of Major Barbara and, currently on stage at MTC’s Friedman, Saint Joan.

The roiling and effervescent stories told by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake are part of the annual Bloomsday readings, here in New York with one at Bloom’s Tavern and the other at the above mentioned Symphony Space. The Bloom’s Tavern event is coordinated through Origin Theatre Company and includes both celebrities and an Irish breakfast. To be more exacting, it also features a of the Joyce period costume contest.



Posted in Daily Prompt, Hair the musical, Hamilton, Joe Papp, John Leguizamo, landmark, Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York City, real estate, The Public Theater, theater space

A theatrical intersection

via Daily Prompt: One-Way

There is a short street in the East Village which goes two-ways but is at its heart a one-way street. 425 Lafayette Street, formerly the Astor Library, was saved from demolition, and gained landmark status, when Joseph Papp turned it into The Public Theater.

A part of the theater’s mission statement says “THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for the people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today.” The Public began life in 1954 as the New York Shakespeare Festival, but moved into 425 Lafayette in 1967. Fittingly, the opening production was the innovative and “radically inclusive”  Hair, a musical that has had many revivals over time, including the one in 2011 at the St James Theatre in Times Square.

In honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Public, Lafayette at Astor Place will be co-named Joseph Papp Way on December 1 at 8:30a.m. The Public’s Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis will be at the ceremony along with Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs,  Rosie Mendez,  District 2 City Councilwoman, and Gail Papp, Public Theater Board Member. Gail Papp will unveil the commemorative sign, while Eustis will make a few remarks on the occasion.

The recent history of The Public has given us the 11 Tony winning Hamilton, which transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2015. This year, John Leguizamo brought his downtown show, Latin History for Morons,  to Broadway’s Studio 54. In addition to its free Shakespeare in the Park programs, The Public is also a recipient of countless awards and honors for its productions, which are represented not only on Broadway but on stages across the country and worldwide.

“Joe Papp changed the life of New Yorkers forever, creating a beloved institution devoted to making the life of our culture inclusive,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “It is thrilling that the city of New York will recognize him forever by co-naming this street for him.”

Posted in #festivital, The Public Theater, theater, Theater Resources Unlimited

It’s not just dessert

The arts feed us. They are not like cake. You can skip cake. You have to eat your vegetables.

cakedujourThere is tremendous nourishment to be found in museums and theaters. These provide us nutrients for our soul. I will focus here on theater arts, but it applies to all aspects of essential human endeavors in expression and self-expression.

Good and good for you! 

The arts, in their turn, need nourishing. They are most often supported by the public that attends to them. It’s a kind of symbiosis.

Not for profit theater is particularly vulnerable. The subscription houses that depend upon patrons will tell you that only x% is derived from the price of tickets; the rest is covered by donations, and sometimes public funding. In the present environment, the latter is likely –no scratch that– definitely not going to be much support.

Mind the gap

It is up to us, and to theater professionals to find their way around the gaps.

Twitter is explosive with opinions and comments on all sides, with many an artist standing tall in that forum. Some hail from abroad, including Canada based  University of Waterloo. Others like @GeorgeTakei and @Rosie (O’Donnell) are doing what we expect in their tweets, as is our dear @cher, whose all caps outrage is refreshing.

We can easily concede that the 140 character message does not begin to tell the story. For more complete dialog, there will be many artists empanelled in an effort to understand how to proceed.

The Public Theater is holding a series of fori on the subject of the election’s impact on the arts. In March, the panwels will address what responsible citizens can do in this new dystopian era; the series is called Truth to Power.

On February 20th, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) will take a direct look at the risks this election has created, and how the artistic community should and can address them.

March 3-5, Dixon Place in association with the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art hosts an International Human Rights Festival as their answer to life in the post election USA. The festival, a first of its kind in NYC’s long cultural history, celebrates the arts and activism.

Tom Block, the force behind the International Human Rights Festival talks about progressive art:



Posted in 1986 bombing of El Al plane, activists, Andy Bragen, duped by love, Joseph Stiglitz, new work by Paul Taylor, Play Company, Public Forum Solo, Rich and Poor, The English Bride, The Public Theater

News from the rialto…

Just something I’ve always wanted to say. 

Not that we aren’t bringing notable tidings. 

Here are some things to look forward to, some near term, and others off in the distant– or maybe not so distant– 2014:

Michael Gabriel Goodfriend as Ali Said and Amy Griffin as Eileen Finney in
“The English Bride” at 59E59 Theaters through November 17th. 

Photo by Bob Eberle.
Love is a powerful narcotic, especially for someone who feels as unworthy of it as Eileen Finney (Amy Griffin) in Lucille Lichtblau’s “The English Bride.” Eileen is duped by love for an Arab stranger, Ali Said (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend) into unwittingly committing an unspeakable act. 

Ezra Barnes as Dov and Amy Griffin as Eileen Finney in “The English Bride”
at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Bob Eberle

“The English Bride,” in a NYC premiere at 59E59 Theaters ( presented by the Centenary Stage Company, opens on October 30th and runs through November 17th, is based on the true story of the failed 1986 bombing of an El Al airplane. In Lucille Lichtblau’s re-imagining of the events, Eileen is interrogated by a Mossad agent named Dov (Ezra Barnes.)  “The English Bride,” is the winner of the 2011 Susan Glaspell Award.

The Play Company ( opens its 2013-14 season with a world premiere site-specific work by playwright Andy Bragen. In “This Is My Office,” playing from November 5th through December 8th, the space in which the blocked writer, Andy Bragen (played by David Barlow) takes on a symbolic role which brings harmony, reconciliation and redemption.

Let’s not forget to visit The Wild Project (, where there are a slew of activities, on stage and screen. From November 8th through the 23rd, see Victor Liesniewski’s “Cloven Tongues,”  featuring Casey Biggs, Catherine Curtin, Ema Laković and Alex Mickiewicz. In this drama about a brutalized woman and the social worker and priest who struggle to help her heal. Also at The Wild Project, “Hope is Expensive,” performed and written by  by Jill Pangallo, playing on December 10th and 11th, is more of a darkly humorous look at our delusional culture.

On December 9th, The Public Theater ( will present a Public Forum Solo with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on income inequality and what the artistic community can do about it. “Rich and Poor” is the topic which will be addressed in the  conversation featuring artistts and activists following Stiglitz’s talk.

Paul Taylor Dance Company’s ( annual New York season will begin on March 12th and run through March 30th. During this year’s celebration of PTDC,American Dreamer,” Paul Taylor’s 139th dance piece, will be introduced on Wednesday, March 12th when the PTDC kicks off its Diamond season at the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. 

The Diamond Gala Performance and Dinner is set for Thursday, March 13th. Gala tickets available at $850, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 ( Diamond anniversariees seem to have some fluidity in their timelines, in the case of the PTDC, it is a mere 60 years old. On Friday, March 14th, Paul Taylor will unveil the 140th work of his long and prolific career. 

Posted in Paul Taylor, Prof Steve Nelson, Shakespeare in the Park, Sondheim, Taylor 2, The Public Theater

Around Town: Dancing and Drama

Just the two of us:  Come hear what NYU Professor Steve Nelson has to say about Paul Taylor’s duets and how they fit into the stream of his work. This free Take on Taylor humanities series program is on Thursday, September 20, from 7 to 8 pm at the Taylor Studios at 551 Grand Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Everyone is invited for the discussion and to see Taylor 2 in action.

Steve Nelson, in addition to his role teaching musical theater and popular entertainment at NYU, is the producer of the Songwriter Series for the Library of Congress which releases recordings of songwriters performing their own material. Prof. Nelson is the author of “Only A Paper Moon: The Theater of Billy Rose,” and an editor on “The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser.”   His presentation will be interspersed with performances from Taylor 2, a company of just 6 performers who travel around the world demonstrating Paul Taylor’s dance style.  
In Public Theater news, “Into The Woods” is set close out the summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park season, and tickets for the [indoor] 2012-13 season at the Public’s revitalized downtown home are on sale.  The Public’s renovation of its Astor Place digs cost $40million and includes revamped spaces and on-premises restaurants.  Colman Domingo’s “Wild With Happy” will usher in the Fall programming in October. You may get single tickets at the box office at 425 Lafayette Street,  by phone at 212.967.755 or at