Tag Archives: american theatre magazine

Link Roundup! – 7/29/16

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Zelda Fichandler poses for a portrait inside the Arena Stage in 1990. (Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

Zelda Fichandler poses for a portrait inside the Arena Stage in 1990. (Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

The Washington post has a story on Zelda Fichandler, who co-founded Washington’s Arena Stage and just passed away at the age of 91:

Mrs. Fichandler helped will Arena Stage into being. A Cornell University graduate with a degree in Russian language and literature, she enrolled in a master’s of fine arts program at George Washington University in the late 1940s and confronted a drama teacher who bemoaned the lack of professional theater outside New York.

“So I said, ‘Why don’t we do something about that?’ Whimsically sealing my fate for the next 40 years,” she told the New York Times.

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HowlRound posted a lovely essay by friend of Company One, P. Carl:

Personal transformation is complicated and terrifying. It’s been a little surreal and sometimes seemingly indulgent to be transitioning as an individual in this dire social moment. We white liberals never imagined an overt white supremacist becoming a viable nominee for president of our country. It didn’t really occur to us, and at some levels feels like it just happened, out of nowhere. But as Claudia Rankine makes so clear in her wrenching book Citizen: An American Lyric, though the fiction of the facts may assume “innocence, lack of intention, misdirection,” the reality, as many people of color have known all along, is that white supremacy is nothing if not intentional, a plot with a clear objective, a plot cascading toward an endpoint, one we see in the numerous and “unbelievable” shootings and deaths of black men and women—black people in cars, on the ground with their hands up, in jail cells for no apparent reason.

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Link Roundup! – 6/17/16

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Onlookers watch as the ZUMIX drum group of East Boston kicks off the third "town hall" forum in the Boston Creates planning process. (Jeremy D. Goodwin for WBUR)

Onlookers watch as the ZUMIX drum group of East Boston kicks off the third “town hall” forum in the Boston Creates planning process. (Jeremy D. Goodwin for WBUR)

The ARTery reports on the policy announcements surrounding the new cultural plan, which is being released today:

In what City Hall is billing as a major policy speech, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was set to announce on Friday a series of initiatives aimed at bolstering the city’s arts scene.

In line with the recommendations of a newly minted master plan for the arts ecosphere, the measures include city-led efforts as well as partnerships with philanthropies, area museums and other outside groups. In some cases, specific dollar contributions are promised; in others, organizations are pledging in-kind donations in the form of facility space or professional expertise.

Included is a new grant-making program aimed at small arts organizations, with funds earmarked for the creation of new work.

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The Conversation examines the dialogue about diversity that surrounded this year’s Tony Awards:

It’s not clear whether the diversity represented in this season’s Tony Awards is a flash in the pan or a positive sign of things to come. It isn’t the first season to feature a number of diverse actors and casts. The 1996 Tony Award season included August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars,” the musical “Rent” and George C. Wolfe’s black history musical “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.”

The next season, however, featured predominantly white shows: “A Doll’s House,” “Chicago,” “Titanic” and a Broadway revival of “The Gin Game.” Thus, without structural changes, this unusually diverse Broadway season is unlikely to continue. In fact, much of the diversity being touted is simply tied to one group, African-Americans. A closer look at the data shows that the diversity needle has actually regressed.

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Link Roundup! – 9/25/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Joy Mead’s great article about unconscious bias for American Theatre is a must-read:

Implicit biases can lead us to interpret plays by female and nonwhite writers through the lens of our stereotypes, which can impair our ability to see them accurately. Scientists who study cognition have found that stereotypes prime us with expectations and assumptions, and then confirmation bias motivates us to focus on anything that confirms our preconceptions and overlook the rest.

There are regular examples of this dynamic in theatre. For example, in a recent Boston Globe review of A. Rey Pamatmat’s Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Company One Theatre, critic Jeffrey Gantz wished the Filipino-American characters’ “culture [was] on display” and complained “it seems odd they have no racial problems at school.” Gantz assumed the playwright’s identity was the most relevant context for his work and looked so hard for the play he expected that he missed the one actually before him. Playwright Mike Lew calls this phenomenon the “anthropological gaze,” noting that it can be a serious obstacle to production.  “How do you distinguish the singularity of your voice when your voice isn’t really being heard to begin with?” Lew asks.

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Speaking of A. Rey Pamatmat, his recent 2amt post is also another good read about representation on stage:

If you’re telling me the only way to preserve an enduring work of art is by performing it in a way that is racist and outdated, then you’re telling me that white supremacy is so central to the work that it’s not an enduring piece of art. Enduring art can be revisited and reconceived to speak to people of a different time and in a different context than the ones in which it was created — you know, it can endure. Frankly, I don’t believe white supremacy is so central to the works of Gilbert and Sullivan or to The Mikado specifically that it’s reworking would mean nothing of value would be left in the show. It could be produced in a way that speaks to the broader audience of people that make up New York theatregoers. The most important thing to preserve in The Mikado is not the fact that it was conceived from ideas of white supremacy in a time and place of unchallenged white supremacy. The important things to preserve are catchy tunes and some poo jokes.

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Link Roundup! – 9/18/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Inua Ellams addresses participants in the 2015 London Midnight Run.

Inua Ellams addresses participants in the 2015 London Midnight Run.

In American Theatre, Teresa Eyring talks about the Midnight Run in London:

The brainchild of the London-based Nigerian poet and playwright Inua Ellams, the Midnight Run is now in its 10th year and has been replicated in 4 other cities. In this anniversary year, groups of 30 or more people gathered at theatres in South, North, East, and West London (the Albany, the Roundhouse, the Almeida, and the Bush). Each group was populated with a facilitator and several artists. The facilitators’ jobs were to map out a journey through their assigned sections of London. Artists, who were part of our group, gave workshops along the way. Participants experienced parks, churchyards, secret pathways, and businesses they wouldn’t have otherwise seen—or seen in this manner. Rory Bowens, an assistant studio manager at NTS (Nuts to Soup radio), conducted interviews and captured sounds. A story was broadcast at midnight. Meanwhile, Katie Garrett filmed the experience. Honoring UNESCO’s International Year of Light, 50 percent of the proceeds went to provide sustainable lighting to a women’s center in Senegal.

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Bitter Gertrude’s game of Racist Art Apologia Bingo is worth reading in light of another maddening casting controversy, this involving The New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players’ production of The Mikado:

The main problem with the “preserving ART” argument is that racism and racist caricatures had one cultural context in the Victorian (or Elizabethan, or Classical, or what you will) era, and have completely different contexts now. Fighting to preserve a racist work as written most often vandalizes that work’s original intent. The racist symbol was created to convey a meaning it can no longer convey. Yellowface can no longer convey the meaning Gilbert originally intended when writing The Mikado because that meaning has been superceded by a modern understanding of yellowface’s inherent racism. Even if you believe the yellowface in The Mikado means “Victorians are racist; isn’t that funny?” it can never mean that to an audience in 2015 because yellowface is read as racist in and of itself, and stomping your feet and insisting that Gilbert’s intent was completely different does exactly nothing to change that.

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Link Roundup! – 7/23/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Berkeley Rep's teen council gathers at a monthly meeting. (Photo by Ben Hanna)

Berkeley Rep’s teen council gathers at a monthly meeting. (Photo by Ben Hanna)

American Theatre Magazine has a story about how regional theatres are using teen programming to change the makeup of their audiences:

Large theatre institutions can seem impenetrable to high schoolers. Narrow programming interests, high ticket costs, and a lack of diversity are just a few of the barriers that can make theatres feel unwelcoming, or worse, irrelevant to teen audiences. So it’s hardly surprising that many theatres are working to break down these walls and integrate teens into their organizations—and not only into their audiences. Through teen council or teen ensemble programs, young folks all over the country are getting hands-on experiences at regional theatres, where they learn all aspects of producing theatre, receive leadership training, and make important contributions to their respective institutions.

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On her blog, Melissa Hilllman breaks down the issues with the overuse of the word “offended”:

People who are resisting bigotry are often dismissed with the belittling idea that they’re “offended,” as if fighting cultural oppression and the tools with which it creates, disseminates, and preserves that oppression are equivalent to an imaginary schoolmarm shocked at finding the word “fuck” carved into a desk. No, we are not “offended.” We’re fighting bigotry, and it’s belittling to pretend it’s just about offending our personal, delicate sensibilities.

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Link Roundup! – 7/17/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Lisa Kron, left, and Jeanine Tesori accepting a Tony Award for best score, for their collaboration on "Fun Home." Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Lisa Kron, left, and Jeanine Tesori accepting a Tony Award for best score, for their collaboration on “Fun Home.” Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The New York Times has a story about The Count — a study that tracks the number of female-written productions that are done each year.

Overseen by the playwrights Julia Jordan and Marsha Norman, the study, called “The Count,” is to be updated each year. Until now, besides a handful of older analyses, it had been unclear just how many female playwrights were seeing their work staged, according to Ms. Jordan.

“We wanted to create a baseline,” she said, “and to document the change.”

Judging from the numbers, the picture for women is rosier than a decade ago. A 2002 report from the New York State Council on the Arts found that 17 percent of productions across the country had female playwrights. According to the new report, that figure now sits at 22 percent.

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The ongoing conversation about the way theatre critics handle race in their reviews is continued in this article by Diep Tran for American Theatre, which gives four ways critics can be less racist:

We theatre journalists are a marginalized minority ourselves: overworked, underpaid, and constantly fighting to justify our existence. We’re not all that different from the artists we claim to love. And if we really love theatre, then we need to find a better way to talk about the diverse people who make it. Because right now, we—whose job it is to tell the truth—are failing at it.

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#StaffChat: Being A Better Collective

#StaffChat posts feature articles and news that the C1 team discusses as part of our weekly all-staff meeting. We’d love to hear your thoughts too — hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!

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A few of the C1 founders -- (L to R) Mark VanDerzee, Sarah Shampnois, Mason Sand, and Shawn LaCount.

A few of the C1 founders — (L to R) Mark VanDerzee, Sarah Shampnois, Mason Sand, and Shawn LaCount.

Company One was founded as an artistic collective, meaning that decisions about the organization are made democratically by the company members as a group. C1 has grown a lot over the past seasons, and Boston has had its own share of changes in recent years, so this week we are chatting about what it means to be a collective right now in this city, what it means to our company’s identity, and how we can be a better collective as we continue to grow.

Last year, American Theatre Magazine ran this article by Eliza Bent examining collectives, especially focused on Kansas City Actors Theatre. The article opened with some historical context about this particular type of model, and a great (if somewhat bleak) question to frame some of our conversation:

Collectives have a considerable and varied history in American theatre. From the legendary Group Theatre to Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a mission of shared responsibility has been guiding like-minded U.S. companies for nearly 100 years. While each of these collectives can be distinguished according to membership, mission and moment in time, they have faced similar challenges—the promotion of an artistic identity, establishing a presence in a community and the necessity for fiscal solvency. Often it’s been the fiscal challenge that has obliged collectives to dissolve. This occurred with the Group, when in the late 1930s its celebrated actors left the organization for more lucrative hiring opportunities in Hollywood and the commercial theatre. A more recent and broadly emblematic example can be seen in the termination during the 1970s of permanent acting ensembles at America’s regional theatres—the era’s fiscal realities forced theatres to job-in casts on a show-by-show basis.

On this front, not much has changed. In fact, operating a theatre collective today is harder than ever. This stark reality begs the following question: Can a collective achieve artistic and economic success in the contemporary American theatre—and, if so, what is a potential model for accomplishing those goals?

As we think about that question, here are a few others to consider:

  • – What aspects of C1 feel most like a collective?
  • – What aspects of C1 feel least like a collective?
  • – Why is is important that we have a collective ethos?
  • – How is our collective ethos communicated to our audience and artists?
  • – If you could improve one thing about how we function collectively, what would it be?

Link Roundup! – 6/12/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Fun Home, the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name, won big at this year’s Tony Awards. It was a solid night for women in general this year, with women winning in almost every category they were nominated in, as noted by FiveThirtyEight:

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Lisa Kron’s acceptance speech for winning Best Book (Fun Home), which was frustratingly not aired on the live telecast, spoke to the variety in this year’s Broadway season. Her fantastic speech is below and well worth watching:

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The pool party in McKinney, Texas that resulted in another viral video showing the police force’s unnecessary use of violence is a potent reminder of the fraught history behind public swimming pools:

Campaigns by civil rights groups like the NAACP to integrate public pools often turned very, very ugly. “Groups for and against segregation threw rocks and tomatoes at one another, swung bats and fists, and even stabbed and shot at each other,” Wiltse wrote. Even after Brown v. Board of Education ostensibly desegregated America’s schools in 1955, a federal judge sided with Baltimore’s pro-segregation argument that pools “were more sensitive than schools.” (That decision was later overturned.)

 When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel's pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested. Horace Cort/AP


When the group of white and black integrationists refused to leave the motel’s pool, this man dived in and cleared them out. All were arrested. Horace Cort/AP

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Link Roundup! – 3/27/15

Link Roundups feature articles and bits of internet goodness that our dramaturgy team digs up. If you find something you want to send our way, drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, Michael Countryman, Hannah Bos and Carolyn McCormick in "The Open House" by Will Eno at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, Michael Countryman, Hannah Bos and Carolyn McCormick in “The Open House” by Will Eno at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

In American Theatre, Issac Butler writes about several contemporary playwrights who are taking the traditional realistic living room family drama and turning it on its head:

In the current crop of anti-realist plays are Eno’s The Open House and Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate, both mounted last season at New York City’s Signature Theater, and Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, a recent critical success at the Public Theater. Next season, Taylor Mac’s Hir will have its East Coast debut at Playwrights Horizons. All these plays simultaneously deploy and subvert various tropes of the genre: difficult fathers, family secrets, eccentric mothers, a compressed time scheme, money worries—and, well, white people.

They’re also all set in and around living rooms, the most common and persistent setting in contemporary American theatre.

While it can be frustrating to walk into a theatre and see yet another couch in front of yet another television three feet away from yet another cluttered bookshelf, the ubiquity of this setting isn’t hard to understand. After all, the living room’s history and linguistic roots intersect with American theatre’s primary concerns. “Living room” is simply the American term for the parlor, whose name derives from the French parler, to talk. It is figuratively, then, a space for talking. Parlors are also a middle-class (or, if you must, bourgeois) invention, much like the theatres that regularly reproduce them onstage.

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Jason Tseng, the Community Engagement Specialist at Fractured Atlas, has a compelling essay up at Medium about LA’s 99-seat Theatre Plan and the issue of funding for small companies:

The top 3% of arts organizations by budget size ($10M and above) received 60% of all arts and culture funding. Conversely, the bottom half of organizations by budget size ($100k and below) received only 5% of that funding.

Not only is this deeply problematic from a purely class perspective, Holly also notes that this wealth gap disproportionately effects racial and ethnic minority communities, as well as other oppressed groups. This phenomenon is also not limited to the U.S. In fact, a similar report out of Britain cautioned that drastic changes to arts funding need to occur in order to avoid a “cultural apartheid.”

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#StaffChat: Next Theatre (Chicago) Closing

Staff chat posts feature articles and news that the C1 team discusses as part of our weekly all-staff meeting. We’d love to hear your thoughts too — hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!

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On her Bitter Gertrude blog early last month, theatre artist Melissa Hillman’s post “The Most Important Thing in Theatre You’re Not Talking About” brings up an issue in the non-profit world that could use wider attention:

THEATRES ARE CLOSING.

Nonprofit theatres all over the country are in trouble. While larger theatres are doing better than they were during the recession, a jaw-dropping amount of small, indie theatres and even midsize theatres are in trouble.

Her post came on the heels of an announcement from Next Theatre that they would be shutting down mid-season. Hillman gives an interesting perspective to the news reported by Chicago Times and American Theatre Magazine and at this week’s staff meeting, we’ll be looking at a few articles about Next Theatre as a case study for the issues Hillman discusses:

Amy J. Carle and Jerry McKinnon in "Luce," Next Theatre's final production after 34 years. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Amy J. Carle and Jerry McKinnon in “Luce,” Next Theatre’s final production after 34 years. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

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