Posted in Manhattan Theater Company, New York City, New York Theatre Workshop, playwright, Playwrights Horizons, theater, theater arts, theater folk, theater for the common good, theater lovers, theater space

for future generations

Creativity takes many forms, some of them as written words. Novelists and poets create works that are, so to speak, one dimensional. As a rule they work alone, although Jim Carrey, the quirky oddball actor, has a novel in collaboration with Dana Vachon; a two person project called Memoirs and Misinformation. Notwishstanding this notable accomplishment, the book of fiction is a solo effort, with perhaps a preface in tribute written by an admirer.

The cinema and the theater depend on a crowd to put them across. There are directors, and actors, stage setters, and costumers, all preparing to set the scene in which the characters develop. Theater is meant to be live and in person. Film comes packed in celluloid (or the latest technology.) Both movies and plays are multi-dimensional.

Theaters across the country are busy producing plays, playlets, interactive and passively viewable to keep us in touch with and engaged in the playwright’s vision. Manhattan Theatre Company asks “Why do we love theatre?” Their answer, “seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.” In aid of this, they present the “student monologue challenge.”

Playwrights Horizons is promising “Be right back, New York City” and is showcasing its 2021 season. The New York Theatre Workshop quotes The Washington Post-“Theater has a future, believe in it.” NYTW offers memberships in support of a future season.

(See also, articles on the virtual theater, compiled here:

Posted in #DanceTheatreOfHarlem, #Roundabout, comedy-drama, dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, dark drama, domestic drama, drama, musicals and dramas, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, theater, theater arts, theater folk, theater lovers, theater space, Uncategorized

FRONT ROW CENTER

We have given up a lot to the coronavirus. For our own safety and that of those around us, we voluntarily restricted our freedom of movement (#Stay_Home) and our love of congeniality (#SocialDistancing). We traded our daily routines of work and cocktail hour for being at home and meeting via Zoom. We have become shutins and anti-social. We don’t go out except to walk six feet apart from others, just for the sake of getting some air.

What we give up when we indulge in at-home theater viewing is

  • 1. the live-actors-in-real-time theater experience
  • 2. the 4th wall
  • 2a. “great seats”
  • 3. the chance to go out, dress up and make a night of it
  • 4. the spontaneity of a flubbed line and a good save
  • 5. the in-built feedback a live audience provides

Streaming a play on-line is a different experience.

  • 1. The action is pre-recorded, or, if contemporaneous, involves only one actor
  • 2. The distance between you and the stage is filtered through a screen.
  • 2a. You still have the best seats in the house.
  • 3. You may well be in your pjs, as so many of us are these days, or workout clothes.
  • 3a. Your dinner may have been oreos or a box of mini-wheats.
  • 4. If there is a flub or a falter, it ceases to be spontaneous once taped.
  • 5.. You are likely watching alone on a laptop or tablet.
  • 5a. At most, you are likely part of an audience of 2.

The privacy of your home is a sanctuary into which you are bringing a sacred event. Cool. But not the same as experiencing theatrical expressions in a theater space.

As I said in a recent post, theater artists also yearn to stay active, contribute and engage in what they love. Audiences are part and parcel of what they love to do. Broadway World is sharing updates about shutdowns and “Living Room Concerts” with me as well as “Songs from the Vault” and “157 Musicals and Shows You Can Watch Online.” Their “Broadway Rewind” took me down memory lane to some productions I really enjoyed over the years.

Roundabout Theatre Company sent an email with encouraging tidbits, including this montage from last season’s Kiss Me Kate:


Dance Theater of Harlem reached out with a newsletter on their 50 Forward which includes a video of a signature dance by Louis Johnson, who died in March, created by him for the company in 1972. Forces of Rhythm remained in the DTH repertory alongside works by Arthur Mitchell and George Balanchine.

New York Theatre Workshop’s email announced Virtual Programming; it is no great wonder that these companies are also looking for donations to help them tide over in these tough “shutdown” days. It is remarkable how much creativity is being put to alternative use!

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.”