Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

I have been reading William Goldman’s The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway. You may remember Goldman as the author of such films as The Princess Bride or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the script doctor for many, many more. In 1968, he saw every show during the Broadway season, talked to critics, directors, actors, writers, ushers, ticket sellers. He had a study commissioned to see why people go to the theater. Goldman knows what he’s doing, and for as crabby and sarcastic and bitchy he is about his material, it’s plain that he has enormous affection for Broadway, and for the theater in general.

There’s a lot in this book that isn’t really particularly useful, anymore. The box office and budget numbers, for instance, must be adjusted for inflation since 1968. At the time, Goldman’s study showed that fully a third of Broadway audiences were out-of-towners; I suspect that this number is even higher now. And, of course, the mechanics of the Broadway theater industry are peculiar to Broadway, and don’t really apply in places like Philadelphia.

But there is one thing that remains as true fifty or so years later, and that is dramaturgy.


Hamlet, Gender, AND SO FORTH

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Braak
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Today on Threat Quality:  everyone go to the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s blog.  I want to have a conversation about what it means to cast Hamlet as a woman.

Hamlet is one of the greatest roles in theater history and so it is unsurprising that women as well as men would dream of playing the prince. What may be surprising to some, however, is how longstanding the tradition of women playing Hamlet is and how much the casting of a woman can bring to both the play and the audience.

Vague thoughts about setting up a set of independent theater awards in Philadelphia.

So, I want to start up some awards in Philadelphia for independent theater.  Awards are always a tricky thing; I mean, on the one hand, no one working in the arts should care about awards, because they’re bullshit, right?  Even if you could accurately create a system for quantitatively evaluating performances or direction or design, how would you configure a system to ensure that you were judging it fairly?  And then, what’s even the point of the award?  You’re not going to be able to give them out until the show’s closed, anyway, so it’s not like it’s going to directly impact audience attendance.  Certain people really care about getting awards, but really, I think we can all agree that artists who work primarily for the purpose of being officially honored by some arbitrary organization are probably not at the top of the list of great artists.


Livestreaming the New Play

Posted: August 2, 2010 in Threat Quality
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Super-exciting news over at the SOE blog, where I have announced that, in conjunction with an internet-affiliate, we’ll be live-streaming Empress of the Moon all around the world on opening night!

We’ll be officially announcing when and with whom soon, but I’ve just got all of the clearances to say this:  the SOE will be livestreaming the opening night performance of Empress of the Moon.  As long as you go to our affiliate between the hours of 8:00 PM Eastern/Standard and…whenever the show is over (I think it’ll be around 10:00 PM), you will be able to watch Empress of the Moon, live, ON THE INTERNET.

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Posted at my super-duper cool SOE Theater blog.  This counts as a TQP post, too, because you know if I didn’t have an SOE blog, I’d just be writing stuff like this here.

I was a hair’s-breadth from using all of my (completely imaginary, entirely assumed) authority from flat-out issuing a moratorium on staged readings.  They are a pain in the ass, mostly, a lot of times they just feel like a scam, and, in my own, personal experience, they rarely provide any kind of useful feedback.

But, in defiance of the life lessons I learned from Niccolo Machiavelli, rather than simply declaring an enemy and waging war on it, I think an investigation into the subject is in order.

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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.

(cross-posted at my workblog for Iron Age Theatre’s SOE division)

Just saw REV Theater Company’s The Witch of Edmonton over the weekend; I’m not going to say much about the quality of the production, as the play isn’t running anymore, so who cares?  It wasn’t the best design, direction, or acting that I’ve ever seen, but I doubt that, even if it were, such elements could have salvaged the play itself.

The dramaturg for this play left extensive notes in the program, gently beginning the process of interpretation.  She (?  I actually can’t remember the person’s name, and have lost the program, so we’ll have to rely on my memory here) says that during the combined reign of the Tudors and the Stuarts, more than 2500 plays were written and produced.  She does not address this question:  how many of them are actually worth doing?


(UPDATE:  Nicole from Nice People responds in the comment section here. Not a hundred percent sure how I feel yet, though I am disdainful of the idea of putting personal safety ahead of art.)

Well, controversy is important in the theater, and I like it.  Love Jerry is a play currently in production by the Nice People Theater Company; it is a musical about a pedophile, about his family, and about how they deal with each other.  I guess; I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m intrigued by the idea, especially because of Wendy Rosenfield’s recent Inquirer review of the piece.


Theater, of course, is not engineering; terminology tends to be a little fuzzy.  Sometimes we learn it one way, sometimes we learn it another way.  I’m going to lay out my terminology for the difference between a thrust stage and a three-quarter round stage, and we’ll see if it makes sense; if not, maybe we can come up with some better identifiers.  This is also maybe of interest to reviewers (like Moff, for instance, who might be less familiar with the particular intricacies of staging), so apologies if its more information than required.


Thoughts on Acting

Posted: April 23, 2010 in Braak, theater
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This has been on my mind a lot, lately; obviously:  because I’m in a play, and surrounded by actors, all of whom are engaged in their “processes.”  For the non-actors out here, “process” is extremely important to actors.  There are fights about what is a good “process”–though everyone generally agrees that process is unique–we kind of jealously guard the methods we use in our process, too.

I once read an interview with Alan Moore in which he talked about the creative process, and how so many writers don’t like to talk about it as though it’s a real thing, but a kind of magic thing; he attributed this to writers not really understanding how they do what they do, and fearing that close scrutiny would spoil the whole thing.