Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Theatre Blogging - Ethics

Thomas Garvey, now almost blogging a whole year, ponders the whole issue of standards and ethics in blogging:

This issue of self-promotion impacts me in a different way, however, in that I'm going to be directing a show this winter for Zeitgeist Stage - and so I'm struggling with how to write about that process, how to cover Zeitgeist, and how much to write about other shows in town. Another blogger, Art Hennessy of Mirror Up to Nature, struggles with similar issues, as his wife, Amanda Good Hennessy, is an active local actress. But should Art and I be so concerned with conflicts of interest when so many blogs are so relentessly self-promotional? (Isn't that, after all, a subtle conflict of interest?) Are there any standards to be broken here at all?

I wonder this sometimes also. I always try to disclose any close associations with productions even when I am just mentioning them in a roundup of local theatre. It seems like a fair thing to do for anybody who is reading this blog. (In fact, I even did this when my blog was semi-anonymous.) But, in the end, I am not sure I am obliged to do this.

As I have stated before, but I'm not fanatical. For instance, I won't say something like: "Julie K. does a fantastic job as Blanche (Full Disclosure: I played a supporting role with Julie in a community theatre production of Inherit the Wind in 1997, but have never seen or talked to her since.)"

My wife acts regularly in Boston. And actors, actresses and directors who work in Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. came through our doors at Essayons Theatre Company at some point.

This familiarity is one of the reasons I do disclosures and one of the reasons I don't review things very often, positive or negative. Though it is not the only reason, or the biggest one. The main reason I don't review often is because I don't have much time. And between the reviews in the Globe, Herald, Phoenix Weekly Dig, PMP Network, Edge Boston, Larry Stark, numerous IRNE reviewers Theatermirror and, now, Thomas Garvey and Bill Marx online, I usually don't have a tremendous amount to add to the discussion in the way of reviews.

It is only if something really strikes me in a certain way, or I see a connection that has not been made yet in other reviews, or I feel that a show is being overpraised or under praised that I will write something.

I will mention when I am directing something or if I have appeared in a film or play or even a commercial. But I don't really see this blog as a self-promotional tool at all.

What is this blog, then?

Like all blogs, it is my thoughts that I choose to put out there. What I write might not be completely unfiltered, (I do try to avoid profanity, etc.) or unedited (I will try to rewrite sentences, change paragraph order or check spelling if I get to the chance.) However, I can promise that what goes on the blog is not tailored.

These are my true thoughts, at the time I am writing them. What you read here is most likely what you get when you talk to me in person. I am not writing to any specific audience.

Also, I try very hard to confine my thoughts to theatre. I will talk about other arts, but I have been very true to theatre this whole time of blogging. Five years almost? Jeez.

Over the years I have had my own critics, people commenting or e-mailing me. I try to engage with anybody who does, but the most interesting critics to me are the ones who think I should "shut up." They say this in a variety of ways, and it always baffles me. You can disagree or try to show me I don't know what I am talking about, but when you are just saying, "I wish you would shut up," or "stop writing this blog," it confuses me for a couple of reasons:

1. There is more choice on the Internet than there will ever be on terrestrial radio, print media, television, etc. If the old saying "You don't like it, then change the channel" had weight with traditional electronic media, its truth has grown exponentially on the World Wide Web.

2. I have absolutely 0.0 % influence. This blog, at its most popular times, has about 70 visits a day, its average is probably close to 30. (For a long, long time it was about 7-10.)

3. It is so easy to start your own blog. It costs nothing, (you can even make a little side money with GoogleAds and Amazon stores,) and it is all on your own schedule.

In short: The great part about blogs is that people can write whatever they want. The BEST part about blogs is that nobody has to read them.

Thomas Garvey concludes, in his typical fashion:

At any rate, the one thing I can guarantee you (aside from my arrogance in asserting opinions that almost always turn out to be right) is that I'll continue my policy of full disclosure. Of course I'm able to do this because I'm not really trying to eke out a career in journalism; nor am I tied forever to Zeitgeist Stage (much less my alma mater). I'm a free agent - and sometimes I think that's what's really at the bottom of some of the animosity I sense from
other writers and critics. I don't have to kow-tow to a witless editor, or tread carefully for fear of rousing the subscriber base. I don't care about these things, and I don't have to - and perhaps that, more than any perceptive edge, is what has enabled me to be so accurate for so long.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Out in the Streets

The Red Sox win the World Series!

I was home from the last performance of our ghost stories in time to see the end of the game last night, but went to sleep before some of the mayhem started in the streets. Unfortunately students went a little nuts again and some ended up causing serious damage. (It is reported that an officer had teeth knocked out by a rock thrown by a reveler.)

The level of rioting was nothing like a few years ago, but after the unfortunate death of Victoria Snelgrove, the actions of the students seem almost irrational. While I am all for celebrating, I would hate to see another death like that.

As the game was finishing, news on other stations was already cutting away to the phalynxes of riot police starting to face off with potential celebrators. It was almost, in a sick way, as if it was the pregame show for another battle that was going to take place once the baseball game was over.

This celebratory rioting will dominate headlines and talk radio for a day or two, but contrast that with Patrick Gabridge's report from the front lines of a different type of public expression this past weekend:

I was left feeling that I'd at least done something. But maybe it's
fortunate that I also don't feel like it's likely to make a big difference in the outcome. Not this one thing. But it was encouraging to see 10,000 other people willing to take time out of their days, away from college football and Red Sox pre-game shows, to let the world know they think this war is a bad idea. If all of those 10,000 people keep at it, keep raising their voices, maybe it'll make a difference.

I checked the Boston Globe this morning to try to find coverage of the
march. The first page featured a big photo of the Red Sox game from last night, of course. I don't have a problem with that. The column of news roundup gave no mention of the rally. The other front page stories were: Michelle Obama revels in Family Role, a piece about mostly unused HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes in the Big Dig, and a story about a suburban physician who did bad things to seven patients.

Hmm. No protest coverage.

Well, how about the local "City & Region" section? ....

As another note, while I was driving home from Chilling Tales last night I heard Christopher Shinn being interviewed on a local radio station. Mr. Shinn's play Dying City is currently playing at the Lyric Stage.

The host and Shinn were talking about Larry Kramer's plays and how speaking out about the state of the world almost seems like an obligation. I was flipping back and forth between the Sox and the interview, but it was invigorating to hear theatre discussion on the radio.

In the blogosphere there has been some talk about apathy. Isaac Butler posted about it recently, and Scott Walters, theatre professor in North Carolina, has a long response:

I don't know that any of these musings have anything to do with Isaac's questions -- I suspect it is a middle-aged riff on a young person's struggle. But I would offer that waiting for The System to change, and the people within that system, is a red herring. There will always be a System, and most of the time it won't support what you believe in. Ignore the system; focus on yourself. Determine what you believe in, and then follow that star.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup

Christopher Shinn's Dying City at the Lyric Stage is reviewed in the Globe and the Phoenix, and Bay Windows


The all-women Macbeth by Actor's Shakespeare is playing at BU Studio 210 and the Dig, Globe, Carl Rossi in the Mirror, and Edge Boston have pretty favorable reviews.

Brendan at the Wimberly Theatre officially opened this week, the Globe, Phoenix, the Herald, a short review on Theatermirror.

The Globe, Herald, and the Theatermirror all have their takes on Ben Elton's Gasping in Charlestown.

Company One opens Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye this weekend at the BCA Plaza Theater.

Theatre Offensive's Out on the Edge Festival is up and running with the Five Lesbian Brothers take on Sophocles, Oedipus at Palm Springs is highlight.

New Rep starts previews of A House With No Walls tonight. The Thomas Gibbons play is part of the National New Play Network.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Misunderstanding of Writing

Laura Miller in Salon reviews a new book about screenwriting. It is timely with the looming strike of the WGA writers.

This quote shows where some of the animosity between management and writers had its beginnings:

To the tough, practical, working-class men who founded the movie industry, it looked suspiciously like loafing. "None of them were quite sure what a screenwriter did," he writes, "or even how he did it. Certainly he or she delivered an artifact, a screenplay, that worked or didn't, but where did it come from? ... Did it take them a year to write a screenplay, or only one day and then they waited a year to hand it in? There was no telling because nobody could see the work occur."

That's the thing about any kind of writing: It may be difficult, but it
sure looks easy -- you can do it in your pj's! Until the advent of reality TV talent shows like "American Idol," most of us existed in blissful ignorance of the sheer number of
completely untalented people who remain convinced that they are destined for stardom. But consider this: Although practically anyone can instantly recognize tone-deafness when they hear it, in a world where fewer and fewer people read at all, bad writers can go on believing in their (unappreciated) genius
indefinitely.


In all of my contacts with writers, good, bad, mediocre, brilliant, amateur, professional or dilletante, I am not quite so sure that I have ever met a single one who works exactly the same way.

A few weeks ago I heard Dennis Lehane, author of Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River, in a great interview on the Eagan and Braude Show here in Boston. Margery Eagan, a columnist and reporter, for the Boston Herald was asking him about how he got his start.

Mr. Lehane revealed that he wrote his first book in about 3 weeks of straight writing. Wow, right?

Eagan was tenacious in her questioning though. "Now wait a minute," she said, " there are a lot of steps between writing the book and it getting on the shelves."

Indeed. Through the next few minutes Mr. Lehane outlined the rest of the process. He gave the manuscript to mentor, who said it was good, but needed work.

Lehane then rewrote and rewrote it over a period of months, (maybe four of five different drafts.) Finally, the manuscript was ready for an agent. The agent tried to sell the book for about year until it finally got a publisher.

Writing is an interesting process both on the business end and the process end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sox and the Cycle - How are Boston's Theaters Faring

In reflecting on the closing of Jimmy Tingle's Theatre, Joel Brown of HubArts states:


We can say we want more edgy theater, more on-point political humor, more alternative venues, but how many of us actually get off our asses on a Wednesday night and go out and buy a ticket?


Zeitgeist Stage Producing Artistic Director, David Miller, left Brown the following comment, which I am quoting in full with Mr. Miller's permission:

Your observations resonate particularly strongly for me at this time. Zeitgeist Stage Company is co-presenting the Boston area premiere of The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan. Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Cycle is 9 plays over 6 hours in 2 parts with 23 actors portraying over 120 roles covering 7 generations of 3 families over 200 years. Two fringe theater companies have joined forces to present this ambitious production in the 90 seat Plaza Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts.

The show has received glowing reviews. In The Boston Globe, Louise Kennedy observed, “Huge, engrossing, and powerful in the way that only an epic can be.” Carolyn Clay in The Boston Phoenix called it, “A sweeping, small-scale triumph.”

While Iris Fanger in The Patriot Ledger called The Kentucky Cycle, “A theatrical privilege not to be missed!”

However, three weeks into the run, most nights there are more actors on stage than in the audience, and numerous times those in attendance have been in the single digits. How many people, indeed, actually attend alternative venues for edgy theater on a Wednesday, Friday or even a Saturday night?

Having operated a fringe theater company in Boston for six years and, typically, presenting little known works by lesser known playwrights, we’ve faced our share of small houses and marketing challenges. However, a Pulitzer Prize winning American Epic presented in an intimate setting, and seemingly presented very well indeed, didn’t appear it would be the tough sell it has turned out to be.

So, please, before bemoaning the lack of theatrical opportunities out there, explore the alternative offerings of the smaller venues all around town. You may be very pleasantly surprised you did.

Sincerely,
David J. Miller
Producing Artistic Director
Zeitgeist Stage Company





The Red Sox are probably not helping things, and we have just gone through an indian summer of sorts here in Boston. And, (from my experiencing producing things,) if New Englanders have the opportunity to get a little more outdoors on either end of the winter they will opt out of spending time in a dark theater.



In response to an e-mail from me, Miller said that while the Sox are not helping, it is probably the overall length of the entire cycle, (both parts together are 6 hours,) that is keeping people away. He points out that each part can stand on its own.

Miller has faced the Sox in the post season before.

"Yeah, Credeaux Canvas was up against the Sox playoffs in 2004," he remembers. "We managed to always get an audience on game nights, although it definitely had an impact."

"I'm afraid it's going to be more severe for this show, which is having trouble getting an audience already. Hey, Credeaux had a 30 minute nude scene to off-set the Soxs, this just has murder, mayhem, & land-lust."

Miller closed with the words of a veteran producer,

"This too shall pass, but not before the best of 7 series has played out!!"
.
(Photo of Red Sox from New York Times, Photo of Kentucky Cycle from Zeitgeist Stage.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boston Theater Closing - Tingle's Will Shutter

Well, in case you haven't heard, Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway will be closing at the end of the month.

The Somerville News has a small article here:

“It’s been a dynamite 5 years,” said Tingle, a stand up comedian and
the theater’s owner, artistic director, producer and principal performer. “But after 5 years, it got to be too much work and responsibility for me. I was losing the time I need to write, to perform, to sleep. I decided at the last minute not to renew the lease.”


For five years, the space beneath Elm Street presented a wide array of entertainment, community and political events including comedy, theater, music, fundraisers, poetry readings, kids shows and
political debates. Tingle estimates his theater brought 75,000 people into Davis Square in five years..


No word on the what the fate of the place will be.

Can the theatre community rally and keep it open?

I was part of a group spearheaded by Brett Conners, of the late Pet Brick Productions, that tried to develop a plan for the theatre way back when it was in a bit of jeopardy. Somebody else swept in and kept it open though. They eventually gave up the lease as well and I think that was when Jimmy Tingle took it over

The rent is very expensive if I remember correctly, but the space looks great.

Actor's Shakespeare has a show coming up there, anybody hear how this will effect that?

Penny for your Thought Police

While the PC movement had influence in political circles, the censorship movement had actual teeth in the form of laws. I suppose the basic difference is in the social verses the political. The PC movement could influence people not to see a show like B!D!F!W! (Bitch! Dyke! Faghag Whore) but censorship actually stopped it from being presented. In 1993, at the big gay march on Washington, DC, censorship and the PC movement came together to stop scenes from B!D!F!W! from being presented at the Gala. ... This was a period that saw anti-pornography lesbians hold hands across America with homophobic born again Christians who were also anti- pornography. Lesbians who tore down posters of B!D!F!W! in the 1990’s and who boycotted the performances because they believed that those words offended women, because the show had strippers and, because I mocked burlesque by turning it into a nude political diatribe against political correctness and the elitism and control of second wave feminism, are now unwilling to accept that this period - a mere ten years ago - did not exist.


- Penny Arcade, performance artist in an Edge Boston conversation with Craig Lucas and Kate Clinton. The subject is the PC Movement.

When Prolific Authors Can't Shut Up...

Rebecca Traister, writing in Salon, is getting annoyed with J.K. Rowling's latest tour, during which the fantasy authour has taken the liberty of spinning the Potter universe larger with every appearance:


I am a devoted reader and admirer of J.K. Rowling, and it honestly pains me a bit to say this, but from a literary perspective, she's out of control here. Her abundant generosity with information is surely a response to a vast, insatiable fan base that does not have a high tolerance for never-ending suspense, ambiguity or nuance.

(...)

It would also be understandable if, after more than a decade of telling stories about this world and these characters, Rowling is unable to stop. She has been a great and comprehensive builder of a fictional universe, and she's famous for keeping reams of folders containing the back stories and astrological signs of every major and minor character ever to appear in her pages. One of the things that made the Potter books so good was the sense that Rowling had utter mastery over every corner of her realm. Who could blame her for wanting to keep the kids happy by doling out bits of it? It's not as though Rowling would be setting a precedent: J.R.R. Tolkien spent much of his post-Middle-earth life tinkering with the details of the world he created, and delighting and gratifying his adherents by providing them with additional information about it.

But when too much of the back story (and, more disconcertingly, the future story) gets revealed –- especially in an age in which an author is not simply sending letters to readers as Tolkien did, but making utterances that will be disseminated and analyzed by a global network of Web sites -- it seems to have not so much a gratifying effect as a deadening one.

(...)

I suppose it's nice to know that in Rowling's mind, Harry is a successful auror. But in my mind, based on the seven books I devoured, Harry, whose greatest gifts were as a teacher, is the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and eventually the Hogwarts headmaster. I suppose in the minds of other readers, Harry might manage a Quidditch team, or work for his uncle Vernon at Grunnings or something. I'd love to have that conversation with those other readers; I'd also love to have it with Rowling, in a Tolkien-style exchange. But when Rowling declares to an international audience what Harry's adult job is, then the possibility for such an exchange is over. Speculation over what Rowling might have wanted us to surmise about her hero's future is over. Bully for Harry, boo for the notion that fictional characters take on lives of their own in their readers' minds.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Savage - ing Logan

Dan Savage was in Boston recently and had some things to say about the aesthetics of our transportation systems.

He did find the above ground parts of the T "beautiful." However, Massport doesn't get as nice of a treatment:

But Logan? What a shithole. It’s like the Greyhound Terminal in downtown Chicago in the early 1980s. Ugly like Logan doesn’t happen by accident. Someone did this on purpose.

Boston Theatre Friday Roundup

There is simply so much theatre going on that I can't possibly cover it all.

The Kentucky Cycle continues at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Brendan, Ronan Noone's second play at the Wimberley this season is up now. Todd Williams at the Huntington's Blog has posted some backstage stuff as well as an intriguing photo of the set model, (which looks to be emulating the reflective glass of the Hancock building.)

You have a couple of more nights to catch Image Theatre's reprise of the well-recieved Distant Music, the play is both setin and produced in a bar.

If you are out in Lowell you may want to catch Merrimack Rep's Regional Premiere of The Pursuit of Happiness about a high school senior who decides that going to college is the first step towards indoctrination into a soul-crushing grind.

Boston Playwright's Theatre has started up their season with The Devil's Teacup. Note that Melinda Lopez's new play will be at the BPT in February.

Tim Robbin's production of 1984 plays for tonight and tomorrow night only at Northeastern University.

For those who missed Speakeasy Stage's long run of Bat Boy the Musical a few years ago, it is being presented at the Factory Theatre.

Please welcome the Lyric's production of Christopher Shinn's Dying City, about the aftermath of soldier's death. (Remember, there is a war going on!)

Actor's Shakespeare Project opens the curtains on an all woman MacBeth at the Studio 210.

The Charlestown Working Theatre presents the Theater on Fire production of Gasping which is by one of the writers of Blackadder.

And Boston Theater Works closes A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum this weekend.

Whew! You can't say there isn't anything to go see.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Marlowe Mania and Too Much Titus?

Boston Blogger Elisabeth Riba, host of the extremeley useful Bard in Boston site, is squeezing in the Marlowe Symposium in Washington D.C. in one day.


That's dedication!


While we are on the subject of the Bard In Boston, a post there points out the following:



The fall productions for both MIT Shakespeare Ensemble and Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club will be Titus Andronicus.

MIT's is scheduled for October 25-27 and November 1-3 at 8:00 PM
Harvard's is scheduled for December 7th - 15th.

This will make four versions of Titus to be staged in the Boston area in just over a year (following productions by Wellesley last fall and ASP in the spring).



Do we need this much Titus?



(Photo from the RSC production of Titus Andronicus in 2006.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Theatre Space - Intimate and Grand? Helicopter AND Airplane




The Marines contend that the V-22 is an assault aircraft and that no pilot who finds himself dodging bullets is going to fly it gently. "The airplane is incredibly maneuverable," says Lieut. Colonel Anthony (Buddy) Bianca, a veteran V-22 pilot. But the dirty little secret about an aircraft that combines the best features of an airplane and a helicopter is that it combines their worst features too. The V-22 can't glide as well as an airplane, and it can't hover as well as a helicopter.

That's from the recent Time Magazine cover story on the V-22 Osprey, which has a history reminiscent of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

At Santa Monica College a new theatre has opened.

Locally, a new space has opened in the old Hasty Pudding Building, over at Harvard.

Both these theatres have have multi-faceted staging options:

At the Harvard Space:



The stage opens simply to the audience, without being either a thrust type or a proscenium, though it can be given a proscenium look by means of a curtain. A mechanical platform at stage front moves up and down. The platform does triple duty: It can be a stage enlargement, an elevator to move scenery up and down, or an orchestra pit. That's typical of the ingenuity of the New
College Theatre. Fitting everything into the available space behind the old Pudding was a 3-D problem, like solving a Rubik's Cube.


In California:



"What makes the Stage unique is an apparent duality," Zecchetto said. "It's built upon simultaneous intimacy and grandness. It's big and small at the same time."

The design, inspired by the "horseshoe" shape of Italian opera houses, allows eye contact with the actors and musicians onstage from any seat in the house. But the theater, despite its small seating area, has a variable proscenium and, according to SMC officials, a stage larger than UCLA's Royce Hall, which seats 1,833.

The Stage will be able to accommodate a full orchestra onstage and a 45-member orchestra in the pit. The acoustician is Chris Jaffe of Santa Monica-based Jaffe Holden Acoustics."Theaters of this seating capacity can never do the things we can," Zecchetto said. "I do not think there is another performance space in the United States with these characteristics."

"It's grand AND intimate" sort of reminds me of "it's a helicopter AND an airplane."

Don Hall had a post yesterday about, "what do you really need for theatre?"



"Where are today's Arthur Miller's?" I'd hazard a guess that whomever they are, they are not writing for shows that require a giant functioning wizard head or the ability to fly from the rafters. It is likely that this generation's great playwrights are produced on the fringe of popular theater with budgets that are just a bit more than a month's rent in Lincolnwood.

(...)

The magician who trucks in card tricks can, unfortunately, only play to an intimate gathering. Only the David Copperfield's of the world get the big stadiums and to play a big house, you gotta have some gimmick.

In the 1980's Cameron McIntosh introduced the world of music theater to the swinging chandelier and the blockbuster musical was in vogue again after years of neglect. Twenty-seven years later, the pendulum swing to a more intimate card trick has yet to sway fully although shows like Doubt seem to be able to introduce a less gaudy aesthetic and still succeed.

Boston is finally getting a production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamporphosis, directed by Sugan co-founder Carmel O'Reilly, and I wonder what space other than the Loeb could accomodate it. (I saw it at the Intiman in Seattle which has an overall thrust configuration.) Perhaps this is what has kept it away. But while technological advances are important, maybe it does boil down to, "it's not the size, but how you use it."

The ART has always done visually stunning design and lighting work in the Loeb Drama Center, and the new Zero Arrow, but some of the other spaces in town have trouble creating a truly intriguing design concept within their cozy confines.

I know there are designers who read this blog. What are some of the better or innovative designs or lighting you have seen for smaller theater spaces in the last season or two?

I will throw out two I liked, but I am, by no means an expert on design:

PS Films presented Simon Says at the Black Box in the Boston Center for the Arts and created a thoroughly convincing, (yet abstract enough,) disheveled and cluttered scholar's study. Filled with dark wood, glass-doored bookcases and ancient and decade old tomes, the newspaper strewn office suggested perfectly the eccentric, and possibly looney, academic who inhabits it. The detail, (right down to the solid chairs emblazoned with both an ivy league seal and some type of Eastern characters,) was worthy of some of th Huntington sets. The curtains to the office served as screens to use video projections, although I can't comment too accurately about this effect because I was sitting very close and sharply to one side.

(What I love about the Boston Center for the Arts is that a couple of weeks later this intimate setting has now been transformed into the canvas for the epic Kentucky Cycle.)

I also liked how director and designer worked together to make New Rep's production of White People an interesting weave of three seemingly disconnected monologues.

Anybody else?

"No Theatre Is Entitled To Coverage"

Courtesy of a comment on Don Hall's Angry Guy in Chicago Blog, comes this little article about the Chicago Reader cutting back on theatre coverage.

It seems the local alt-weekly was swallowed by a larger shop and now the publication is being designed out of town.

Albert Williams, the Reader's Chief Critic, is handing over the reviewing assignment duties to Laura Molzahn (as the article's author Carrie Kaufmann reports):

Though he is not assigning reviewers anymore, Williams was not fired. He is still on staff as chief critic. And he’s not unhappy about not having to juggle opening nights.

“I’m relieving myself of a lot of administrative stuff,” Williams
said.Part of the “administrative stuff” since about this past March was explaining to theatres why they couldn’t be reviewed. As recently as a year ago, Williams was assigning anywhere from 10 to 18 reviews a week. (The number varies depending on whether you talk to Molzahn or Williams.) In any case, it insured that virtually every theatre in the city was covered in The Reader.

But all of that ink—and pay to freelance writers—cost a lot of money. And The Reader finally got some competition, with the advent of Craig’s List and the entry of TimeOut Chicago to the market two and a half years ago. Now, said Williams, “No theatre is entitled to coverage.”

Molzahn won’t say how many new theatre reviews The Reader will run each week, only that it will be fewer and that it will vary from week to week.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Take the Teachout Anti-Modernist Quiz

Just thought I would pass along a link to Terry Teachout's quiz about modern painting.

His simple question, before linking to a list of paintings:

I pose the following question: do you think the following works of art are "more or less consciously fraudulent"?


Take a look for yourself.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

West End Theater in Gloucester - Watch Out!


Or so says Brendan Kiley of Seattle's Stranger.




More precisely he warns every theatre with the call letters of WET, because it seems the Womens Expressive Theater in New York City has laywered up in a gallant cause to protect their precious acronym.




Their first target is the young Washington Ensemle Theatre in Seattle. A very hot company right now.




At the end of the article, Kiley warns:




One interesting thing to note about Women's Expressive Theater is their proud display of Quest Magazine's issue about the next Generation of Philanthropy. The founders of Women's Expressive Theatre are listed in the Quest 400. But look at the cover photo of the magazine, over which WET has, I assume, strategically placed the pull quote boxing of their article.



The unobscured cover photo is in a small image at right, but you can see it larger through this link.



Three babes in slinky numbers, holding back a rugged looking canvas bag marked "FEED." The accompanying photo shoot for the article, worthy of Supermodels Personals Blog goes a long way to enhancing the WET's mission of "producing media that challenges female stereotypes." (As a side note, the babes are some of the regulars on the New York Society pages, Minnie Mortimer, Lauren Bush, and Amanda Hearst.)


The article accompanying the babe shots says the following about WET: "They teach girls how to look at the media with a critical eye and to take smart risks."


Why are they so darn possessive over their acronym you ask? Well, it seems they want to own the acronym because of its allusion to pornographic descriptions of women.


This from a 2005 Gothamist interview with Women's Expressive Theatre founders Sasha Eden and Victoria Pettibone:




Sasha:...So in the world of WET, it's a woman's world that a man gets to come and play in.

Interviewer: Speaking of that acronym, do you ever find that calling
yourself what some people might call such a provocative moniker gets in the way of your purpose? Gives people the wrong idea? Makes people think that you're doing ….

Sasha: That we're porno producers?

Interviewer: Well, that's one possibility. But no. Are you ever
concerned with giving the wrong idea to some people? Are you worried that of all things your company name could potentially scare people (and sponsors) off?

Victoria: We appreciate that it starts discussion no matter what that discussion turns out to be because it opens up a door that I think no other name that I've come across does quite that way. And that's what we're trying to do – open that thought and open that discussion, and if somebody has a negative response, well that's really valuable so let's talk about what that's about. Ultimately we have a sense of humor about it, so if somebody really gets upset, it's like, Lighten up.




So lighten up everybody! Except, of course, Washington Theatre Ensemble...We'll see your ass in court!!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Kentucky Cycle Reviews Starting In...


Wow. The Globe, Herald and Phoenix reviews are already out for The Kentucky Cycle.

There are indelible theatrical moments over the course of the day's viewing of Robert Schenkaan's 1994 Pulitzer Prize winning play, (or two evenings depending on how you want to see it.) One of them is captured in the picture to the right.

Like Thomas Garvey of the Hubreview, ( I met him in person for the first time last Saturday at The Kentucky Cycle,) I am too close to the production to try and pass off an objective review.
However, I do have things to say, and hope to be able to formulate them intelligently before the 7 week run of the play is over.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup

The Red Sox will cut into some fo the audiences, but if you find yourself out looking for some theatre, fear not.

The Kentucky Cycle opens this weekend at the Boston Center for the Arts. It is a co-production of Zeitgeist and Way Theatre Artists. The play is an epic about the bloody history of the Bluegrass State. There has been a lot of recent press about the opening. Here and Here . (Full Disclosure: I know many people in the cast. My wife plays a couple of roles.)

Double Edge brings its Republic of Dreams to the Charlestown Working Theatre.

At the New Rep, Streetcar Named Desire is closing, but tick...tick...Boom keeps on ticking.

And, speaking of Tennessee Williams, The Phoenix has a piece about a one-man show titled about Williams. The show's title: Everybody Wants Me To Write Another Streetcar.

Boston Theaterworks continues with A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to the Forum.