Archive for the ‘theater’ Category

Christopher Durang – America’s most beloved author of community theater audition monologues – has a new play called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  In 2013 it won the Tony Award for Outstanding New Play.  It won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Production, the Drama League Award for Best Production of a Play, the Drama Desk Award for Best Play, the Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Play and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play.  Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike prominently features a Magical Negro housekeeper who has the power of Voodoo.

If, after reading that, you think to yourself, “That’s enough.  This is the 21st century and I have no interest in racial caricatures of any kind.  Nothing in this play could possibly make up for this conspicuous, shameful, and easily avoidable failure; I am happy to condemn this play to company with the rest of the detritus of civilization left behind as humanity continues on its long moral arc, without hearing another word about it,” well, then, I agree with you.  You can ignore this play for the rest of your life, and not be one degree the worse for it; go forth, and be not bothered by Christopher Durang.

In criticism, though, as in life, it is important to be thorough.

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Cara Blouin

Telling one “ordinary” woman’s life story as an epic performance experience is the kind of stunt I can really get into. There are lots of big-I Ideas in it about who can be considered a viable protagonist, about theater as a means for personal exploration, and also at what point it veers into self-indulgence. The scale has theatricality. There is something great about the idea that so much time and effort could be dedicated to not only taking apart, but also to presenting one life story to an audience.

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braak

My play, “Afterlife” is going to be in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival this year.  Casey Conan, Hero of Art, has made this poster for it.

AFTERLIFE_2

You may recall that I had a play in this festival LAST year.  Many of you were not able to come to NEW YORK CITY in order to see it, so I decided NOT to win that one, and will instead win this year.

We’re Friday, July 26th at 8:00.  Tell your friends.  Also, here is the festival website.

Cara Blouin

Shakespeare was supposed to have written all of his plays in one draft, each of them bursting perfectly formed into the world like the goddess Athena from the skull of Zeus. I don’t currently know any writers who can do that, but the model that playwrights have access to is either apathetic, disingenuous or expects exactly this sort of miraculous birth.

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braak

Yesterday, I saw “Future Fest”, which is a Luna Theater production of short “science fiction plays”, themed around time travel (I guess, kind of?), which whole thing is part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. I haven’t been doing a lot of reviews of theater lately, for a lot of reasons, but I saw these plays and because they are plays performed in a theater, and because Luna Theater is selling tickets to them, and because it is a part of a cultural even that I, as a Philadelphian, am ostensibly meant to be interested in (“The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts”, which, I don’t know if that’s a festival of international arts? Or is the festival itself international? Whatever. The point is, it’s not a couple skits some cats were doing in their backyard just for the heck of it), I have decided to write about this.

We need to talk about these plays, guys.

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Cara Blouin

Theater, Dan Hodge muses, is an impermanent art form, and he stays up nights wondering why he labors so long to produce something so temporary.

He is directing Timon of Athens for PAC at Broad Street now and it is probably wonderful- I’ll be the second to speculate and respond without having yet seen it, as Adrienne Mackey has been railing against some inane reviews of the show this week, as well.

Hodge comes to the conclusion that to perform classic plays is to become part of a larger heritage. And it soothes him to step into that line of history and, although briefly, take hold of an heirloom handed through from Shakespeare’s time to ours, and then to pass it on.

I don’t find the idea quite as reassuring; I’m still wide awake at night.
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This is a very long essay, and it probably constitutes the end of my interest in NBC’s SMASH. I know that most of you will be happy to hear that.

The second season of Smash begins with Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee), dressed as Marilyn Monroe, onstage and singing a song called “Cut, Print… Moving On.” Like all the songs on Smash, it is utterly devoid of context; like all the songs on Smash, it seems impossible that there’s any way to combine it with any of the other songs to form something even resembling a comprehensible musical. All pretense that the in-story show, Bombshell, is really a play that people might actually want to watch is abandoned. The song could have easily been called “Here Is the Beginning of the Second Season, We Have a New Creative Team, We Noticed It Too; Aren’t We All Very Clever?”

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So, the Republican Theater Festival occurred, and all in all, it was really not that big a deal. No fights broke out; I was not required to do karate on disruptively rowdy patrons; I was not asked to use the power of my atomic intellect to rhetorically break a man down into his component parts. So, some disappointments, obviously. But for what had ostensibly seemed like it was going to be a pretty controversial event — one that filled up listservs and email inboxes with hatemail and poorly-worded screeds — it turned out to be a surprisingly non-controversial night on the town.

I am now going to write some things about the plays, and you may consider that, unless I say otherwise, I’m generally just not including the play that I worked on (“Running Amok,” by Quinn D. Eli) in my analysis, for no reason other than I don’t expect you to find my analysis of it objective. Good or bad or what, it’s pretty much off the table. So.

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I’ve got to admit, I don’t know whether those Wilma Theater cats are really happy with the theater that they’ve got. It’s a great big cavernous space, with, I don’t know, three hundred seats or something like that. It can’t be mixed around the way a traditional black box can, though it doesn’t have that weird grandeur that proscenium spaces sometimes have. I don’t know, do you think they like it? Was this is the idea when they built the new theater? “Let’s do a bunch of plays in a space where we can’t rearrange the spacial arrangement between play and audience.”

“Let’s do a Sam Shepard play!”

[Read the rest at the SOE blog]

TQP LOGO readyTwo today, because Holland tricked me by posting yesterday.  I have a hard time knowing what day it is, and it’s not helpful when Holland CHANGES THE SCHEDULE WITHOUT WARNING.  Sweet zombie Jesus, is it Wednesday?  Tuesday?  I don’t god-damn know.

Anyway, here’s a thing I wrote about The Producers, over at my new theater-project blog.  It counts as a TQP post, too, I have decided.

I saw a local theater’s production of Mel Brooks’ musical The Producersa few weeks ago.  Entirely by coincidence, I happened to be there during the talk-back session.  Now, I’ve participated in talk-back sessions before, so I should have known better than to ask serious questions; most of the time, a talk-back is just another opportunity for the actors to blush beneath the gushing weight of the audience’s praise.  It’s not unreasonable; when are you going to see most of these people again?  If you want them to say something nice about you, you need to seize the opportunity.