Politics and drama are disparaged, especially by those who feel the sting of the tragedies presented.
Sometimes, even if the message is on point, the admixture has an oddly inappropriate tastelessness.
Nonetheless, as I have often said, it is the role of art to clarify matters and comment on our foibles and the errors of our ways.
We are often led astray on the roads of life, so we should be grateful to plays, playwrights and the traditions of our theatrical history for helping to put us back on track.
Here is a plot I propose:
Tamburlaine in triplicate or triptych: played alternately by North Korean President Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin and the US President, with Benjamin Netanyahu coming in as a pinch hitter.
In the movie version of the shenanigans surrounding the recent election– the movie from my youth– the big guy is carted away in cuffs. Also, the good people of Montana go to the homes of every single Jewish family that was targeted by Richard Spencer’s crew to make sure they are protected. This is so because in 1950’s America Americans played by the rules, were patriotic and did the right thing.
June 25th addendum: The toddler in big boy pants whose got DC as his playpen may be onto something. He doesn’t care for poor folks (note to those who helped elect him–be careful what you wish for is a real thing). Is there a reality show called Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown?
The play without pause,aka the intermissionless hour and a half (appx) drama or comedy has become a favorite of ours.
The intermission can actually ruin a play and its audience. Drawn in, as we are, by the plotline that has transpired, our attention is broken by the pause. If a piece is long, the intermission is a mercy. We need to use the bathroom, or counterintuitively, grab a drink between acts. We can discuss the suspense, and rehash the story thus far with our mates.
Of course, tradition has it that a theater-work be writ in three acts, with two intermissions. That tradition dates from the days of Marlowe and Shakespeare, days when audiences came and went at their own discretion; some of the Bard’s tragedies were even longer. I love that in England the intermission is called an interval. More recently, most plays had one intermission; sometimes even if there were three acts, the action would just pause between the first and second, until the intermission which ushered in the final act.
And now, most recently, there have been spates of works which condensed to a pithy and intermissionless conclusion.If you’ve said all you wanted in that shorter time, why not just wrap it up. David Mamet has a habit of putting forth his premise and its conclusion in short order with wit and alacrity. Some others are not so skillful. One comedy, whose name I cannot recall, lasted just 51 minutes and not much longer in its run. Sometimes, the extra short play is a relief for theater-goers; sometimes it leaves them wanting more.
Christopher Marlowe had a way with words. Underappreciated, compared to his contemporary, Shakespeare, whose greatness is undisputed and whose popularity remains unrivalled.
Marlowe’s plots, like Shakespeare’s, drew from history and built on themes both personal and universal. His Tamburlaine the Greatis one example of a tragedy with great umph. It is the ultimate tale of an over-reaching hero.
The Jew of Maltais the lesser-known Marlowe version of The Merchant of Venice, well sort of….. It was certainly an inspiration.
Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe were contemporaries, both great Elizabethan dramatists. In fact, Marlowe was considered the greatest tragedian of his era, but somehow Will has outlasted him. Marlowe’s plays are not revived; there is no annual “Marlowe Festival” nor “Marlowe in the Park” to honor his works. There are also no commemorative postcards from Russia for Marlowe, as there are for William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is known now as The Bard, and Marlowe is an obscure reference.
Can Marlowe’s works ever get the scrutiny they deserve? Can he someday share equal billing with Shakespeare? Is there a “market” for a Marlowe retrospective? Would a production of Marlowe’s works meet with audience approval and critical acclaim?
Marlowe met his untimely death in an as yet unresolved murder while his personal reputation was suspect. He had been called to the Privy Council for alleged blasphemies, so perhaps you might say his professional reputation was on the line when he was stabbed to death at the end of May 1593.
Well, yes, of course the purpose of theatre is to entertain, but also as a platform to educate and elevate.
The projected HeForShe Arts Weekthat kicks off March 8th in support UN Women’smission for gender equality arts and cultural institutions in New York City will coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8th. UN Women will partner with cultural and art institutions, like The Public Theater which is taking a lead role. The Public’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis says “The theater is a collaborative form, and the core of collaboration is solidarity. The Public is proud to stand in solidarity with HeForShe and the United Nations as we fight together for a better world.”
During the inaugural arts week in March, venues for ballets, operas, Broadway shows, concerts, as well as other theatres, galleries, and museums will enjoy the opportunity to join the HeForShe Initiative and spotlight the work of UN Women as the global champion for the rights of women and girls. These other partner institutions will also donate a percentage of proceeds to UN Women to support its efforts in advancing women’s empowerment and gender equality globally.
Emma Watson, British Actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador adds “… it makes perfect sense for HeForShe to partner with arts institutions like The Public Theater to evolve the behaviors, norms, and perceptions that shapes our cultural view of gender.” The goal for HeForShe is gender parity, to be achieved as Planet 50-50 by 2030. (See how the League of Professional Theatre Women are awarding gender equality in the theater, here.)
The stories of three very different women merge in The Hundred We Are, by the famous Swedish novelist, playwright and activist Jonas Hassen Khemiri. In The Hundred We Are, Khemeri conflates the lives of a young radical, a middle-aged housewife, and a discerning world-traveler in his innovative new memory play. The Hundred We Are, is at the cell from March 16th through April 8th, in an Origin Theatre’s production. For information on Origin and The Hundred We Are, visit www.origintheatre.org.
From February 25th through April 6th, LAByrinth Theater Company presents the New York premiere of The Way West by Mona Mansour, directed by Mimi O’Donnell, and featuring in its ensemble Deirdre O’Connell. The comedy treats the serious subject of debt and dependencies in a funny and poignant way. To learn more about The Way West, please visit labtheater.org.
Abrons Arts Center & New York City Players (NYCP) present a world premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Really, directed by Richard Maxwell and designed by photographer Michael Schmelling, from March 16th – April 2nd. Reallyconcerns itself with grief, and intimacy. In the play, a woman takes photographs of her boyfriend’s mom, and they jockey to a claim on him. To learn more about Really, please visit www.nycplayers.org and also abronsartscenter.org.
In the world of Shakespeare, there is always something to celebrate and often something to learn. It is the 400th year of William Shakespeare, and Letter of Marque Theater Company has uncovered a “new” play by the Bard. Double Falsehood, at the Irondale Center March 5th through April 9th, 2016, has many elements usual in a Shakespearean work. The action in Double Falsehood is propelled by a sexual assault, which Letter of Marque is using to create an important dialogue. During the run, there will be additional programming and panels to discuss rape culture in our country. To learn more about Double Falsehood andLetter of Marque Theater Company, visit www.lomtheater.org. To learn more about the panels and programming discussions, please also go to www.lomtheater.org/double-falsehood.html
Starting in April, in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Alice Birch explores the thorny questions of gender supremacy and how inequality is sustained through the politics of language. Playing at Soho Rep, April 5–May 1,extended to May 15ththe production, presented in association with John Adrian Selzer, and marking U.S. debut of the award-winning U.K. playwright is directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. To learn more about Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., please visit sohorep.org.
Edward R. Murrow contributed mightily when it came to doing good. He brooked no nonsense even from the scary likes of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Joseph Vitale looks at the man and his career in Murrow, starring Joseph Menino, and directed by Jeremy Williams. Murrow, produced by Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, is in a limited engagement at The Wild Project from May 4th through May 22nd. To learn more about Murrow and about the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, please visit www.MurrowThePlay.com and http://www.phoenixtheatreensemble.org/murrow/
Somthing Rotten! makes (up) musical theater history! For the record, Somthing Rotten! did not win the 2015 Tony for Best New Musical. You can make it up to them: Somthing Rotten! soldiers on at the St. James with its scrappy fairytale of the genesis of musical theater eight times a week. The idolized charismatic Shakespeare and his rivals the unsung Bottom brothers (they do sing, it’s a musical) are its center and its firmament. Catch up with Something Rotten!, again or for the first time now. It’s musical theatre history in the making.
Brian d’Arcy James is having the time of his life.
In the context of Something Rotten!, at the St. James Theatre for what is destined to be a very long run, his jubiliation seems unwarranted.
Nick Bottom, the character James so winniningly inhabits, is a failed playwright, who has lost the patronage of Lord Clapham (Peter Bartlett.) Nick’s deep envy of Will Shakespeare’s (Christian Borle) meteoric success gnaws at him.
To help with the family finances, Nick’s wife Bea (Heidi Blickenstaff) disguises herself as a boy in order to work at menial labor. She says woman should be allowed to work; “it’s the ’90s, soon it will be 1600; there’s a woman on the throne….” Nick’s writing partner is his brother, Nigel (John Criani), a talented young man who admires Shakespeare.
Nick is reduced to paying a soothsayer, Nostradamus (Brad Oscar), for ideas from theatre-future. The result of the collaboration between Nick and…
For some of you drinks and Shakespeare may sound like a companionable way to spend an early fall afternoon. For you, there is ShakesBEER, NYC’s original Shakespearean pub-crawl. New York Shakespeare Exchange, creator of the viral smash The Sonnet Project, has scheduled the Hell’s Kitchen event for Saturday, September 12 and Saturday, September 19.
Start off at Landsdowne Road, where check-in begins at 2:30pm move on to Perdition, The Gaf, and conclude the festivities at The Waylon.
Scenes from Shakespeare plays break out at each location, as actors stand shoulder-to-side and cheek-by-jowl to the audience, drawing them in to each scene. Samplings from As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry IV, Part 1, are included in the three-hour pub crawl. This season’s Shakespearean bash features plenty of romance, a few mistaken identities, and everyone’s favorite tippler Sir John Falstaff.
The players include Carey Van Driest, who also directs; Chris Thorn; Brendan Averett; Shane Breaux; Elizabeth Neptune; Sarah Nedwek. Besides Van Driest, Eva Gil, and Ross Williams take on directorial duties for September’s ShakesBEER, which is produced by Kim Krane and Cristina Lundy.
Pipeline Theatre Company tells a ghost story in the world premiere of The Gray Man by Andrew Farmer, opening September 24-October 18 at Walker Space.
In The Gray Man, Simon is haunted by grief, a little girl who speaks of missing children and a familiar figure from the stories his mother told him outside his tenement window.
The production will be directed by Andrew Neisler, with an original score by composers Mike Brun and Chris Ryan. The Gray Man stars Tahlia Ellie, Daniel Johnsen, Katharine Lorraine, Claire Rothrock, and Shane Zeigler.
Dzieci Theater Company presents a site-specific adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Makbet, adapted from and directed by Matt Mitler, begins performances on Thursday, October 1 for a limited engagement through Sunday, October 18.
Dzieci’s Gypsy tribe greets you with song and dance, drinks and divination, at Sure We Can in Bushwick, then embarks on their wild, whirlwind of a ritual. Shakespeare’s “Scottish tale” comes alive in this gypsy version, employing haunting folk songs and chants from Eastern Europe. Dzieci explores the very essence of theatre and storytelling in their exuberant rendition of Macbeth, with a handful of actors taking turns in various roles to recreate the dark mood inherent in the classic drama.
The cast of Makbet features Megan Bones, Yvonne Brecht, Ryan Castalia, Felicity Doyle, Timothy Garlid, Golan, Jesse Hathaway, Su Hendrickson, Polina Ionina, and Matt Mitler.
At the Brooklyn Performing Arts Center, Michael Feinstein opens the 2015-16 season with The Gershwins and Me on October 24th.
In a full season of performances, The Vienna Boys Choir, on December 12th, and The Colonial Nutcracker, on the 13th, are BPAC’s holiday offerings.
Since its founding in 1954, Brooklyn Center for the PerformingArts at Brooklyn College has presented outstanding performing arts and arts education programs, reflective of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, and at affordable prices. Each season, over 65,000 people attend performances at the 2,400 seat Whitman Theatre; of these attendees the 45,000 schoolchildren from over 300 schools who attend their SchoolTime series represent one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the borough.
Children’s programming is a large part of the Brooklyn Center’s mission, with productions of Clifford the Big Red Dog™ – LIVE!on April 17th and Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Moveon May 15th as examples of what’s on tap.