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.
Archive for theater
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.
Hello! Please welcome this post by guest contributor Cara Blouin. –ed
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?”
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.
Yeah, I know. This is a real thing, anyway, and the number one reason that I’m working on it is that hardly anyone every invites me to direct (and by “hardly anyone” I mean “no one”), so I am going to take the opportunities that come my way. But despite my base craving for acclaim and attention, I was still hesitant to touch this one with anything short of a very long pole, and so sat down and did some soul-searching, trying to reason my way through it. This is what I came up with.
My play, Glossolalia, is one of the 40 finalists in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival (SFOOBSPF, I guess?). My friend Casey made me a poster to help advertise it.
I like it. My understanding is that I will actually have to battle in a kind of Thunderdome-style competition with the other playwrights, so I am practicing my swinging-a-chainsaw-while-attached-to-bungee-cords as we speak.
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!”
Today I am here to talk to you about The Woman in Black, and just so we’re clear here: I am not going to “review” The Woman in Black, like I’m Roger Ebert and I’m trying to help you decide how to spend a Saturday night. A review like that is going to say things like, “I won’t give too much away, but…” I am going to give everything away. If you do not want the movie “spoiled” for you, then stop reading at once. Maybe get back to work? It’s the middle of the day, you probably have some kind of job you should be doing.
Anyway, The Woman in Black.
So, Stephen Adly Guirgis wrote a play called The Motherfucker with the Hat (I can write the whole title out, because this is a blog and not a newspaper), and a company in Hartford called TheaterWorks recently did a production, and cast two twenty-something white actors in roles written for two thirty-something Latinos.
There was, as you can imagine, a bit of a fuss.