Friday, August 20, 2010

Jaws on the Big Screen

Just got back from seeing Jaws on the big screen at the Somerville Theatre. It is playing tomorrow night as well.

I hadn't seen it in a theater since I was a kid.

As you can see from the promotion above, there was plenty of good fun had by all. And I can report that Jaws still can make 'em jump!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Around the Horn - What to Read?

Willow Skies

During summer, it is easy to lay back and let things build up in the Google Reader. Here are a few things you may have missed, but might want to check out.

Helen Epstein has been quite taken with The Nibroc Trilogy out in Chester Theatre. She has reviewed all three plays for The Arts Fuse:

Hutton’s script rarely lets its actors or audience down. It’s fun, witty, moving, poetic. The Nibroc Trilogy builds from a chance encounter on a train between two passengers to a full portrait of a society in the grip of major changes.

Epstein reviewed Last Train to Nibroc, Rock City and Gulf View Drive.

Tom Garvey tries to preach some perspective on outdoor Shakespeare and also outlines several textual points about Othello that directors must at LEAST grapple with, before they cast the play, or get too far with a "concept."

Othello is not Denzel. Or Taye.

We like our modern Othellos to be not merely hotheads, but also hotties as well. An understandable matinee-idol impulse, to be sure. Shakespeare's Othello, however, is an old soldier, weathered rather than beautiful, and engaged in an obvious May-December romance. To be blunt, if he and Desdemona are the hottest people in the room, then a key point in Shakespeare's vision has been occluded. We should never, ever expect that they would fall in love.

Tom also has a couple of posts at the Clyde Fitch Report comparing Mamet's prescriptions for Theatre to the results evident in the Broadway production of Mamet's Race.

Guest blogger, Peter Zazzali, at The Playgoer has a series of posts about current state of American Acting Training. This is from part III:

Today the profession has become even more competitive as an increasing number of actors are entering an unstable job market. When the League of Professional Theatre Training Programs began in 1972 there were only a handful of university-sponsored acting programs, currently there are nearly 300. At the time, regional theatres contracted actors on a yearly basis thereby providing them with professional stability. As I mentioned in my previous blog, this situation began to change during the middle-1970s when external sources of funding for these theatres decreased. Nevertheless, university acting programs have proliferated ever since. From Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Maine, BFA and MFA programs have become ubiquitous at America’s colleges over the past twenty years despite the fact that the professional demand is simply not there.

Terry Teachout posts about the Imagining Madoff affair:

Which brings us to the heart of the matter: Why on earth did Mr. Wiesel, of all people, threaten to drop the big one on Ms. Margolin and Theater J? Not only is he prominent and admired, but he is also a celebrated human-rights advocate who has famously declared that "indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil." Yet he has proved himself utterly indifferent to the rights of a serious artist and a well-regarded theater company to make art as they see fit, merely because their art portrays him in a way he doesn't like. I wouldn't go so far as to call that hypocritical—not quite—but I have no doubt that it's unworthy of a great man who ought to know better.

And Leonard Jacobs agrees, putting forward an idea to create a play about the whole affair.

On the "business of theater" front, Travis Bedard talks about social media:

What role is social media playing in regional theater? It is playing a very small role thus far. Like any good business Regionals are waiting for smaller, nimbler companies to create best practices and proofs of concepts around social media that ensure some stability before they risk time or treasure on it.

Also, Robert Weinhardt-Kendt at The Wicked Stage has been sending dispatches from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival including a review of Culture Clash's new show, which is part of a huge initiative for American plays:

Possibly even more striking is that this ensemble-created political comedy is the first salvo in "American Revolutions," a series of 37 plays commissioned by OSF from the likes of Robert Schenkkan, David Henry Hwang, Suzan-Lori Parks, Young Jean Lee, and many more. This is not business as usual for the classical rep company nestled anomalously in the Siskiyou mountain plain, to put it mildly. I look forward to more in this vein.

My inbox is starting to fill up with announcements about season opening shows around town, so blogging may pick up a bit around the blogosphere.

For now, I'll keep enjoying the weather.

I Do Occasionally See Movies, Too!

Some of you may not realize, but I do write some thoughts about film as well. I write about it over on another one of my blogs that is kind of strictly devoted to that art.

It is called Gate Dimension, check it out if you get a chance. I thought about including my film thoughts here as well, but I like to keep this mostly to performing arts.

Above is an image from Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - part of a little photo essay on the film.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shhh! Returns - For A Very Limited Time.

Extended or return engagements on the Boston Fringe theater scene are very rare, due to our limited space issues.

One of the more delightful fringe offerings of the last few years was New Exhibition Room's Shhh! And it is returning late night tonight, after their current production of Candyland at the Boston Playwright's Theatre. After tonight, you'll have to go down to the New York International Fringe Festival to catch it.

Details here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Who is Anis Shivani?

Book Critic

If, two weeks ago, you took a look at the Huffpost Blogger profile for Anis Shivani, not much would have stood out to you. He submits many posts of the typical style for the Books section of the site, and, at most, they have generated maybe around 100 comments in total.

That all changed Saturday morning when Shivani unleashed his photo slideshow of The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers.

It is now Sunday and there are over 1000 comments and the story has been shared over 5000 times on Twitter and Facebook combined.

Here is just a taste of his introduction:

The academy is ruled by "theorists" who consider their work superior to the literature they deconstruct, and moreover they have no interest in contemporary literature. As for the reviewing establishment, it is no more than the blurbing arm for conglomerate publishing, offering unanalytical "reviews" announcing that the emperor is wearing clothes (hence my inclusion of Michiko Kakutani).

The ascent of creative writing programs means that few with critical ability have any incentive to rock the boat--awards and jobs may be held back in retaliation. The writing programs embody a philosophy of neutered multiculturalism/political correctness; as long as writers play by the rules (no threatening history or politics), there's no incentive to call them out. (A politically fecund multiculturalism--very desirable in this time of xenophobia--is the farthest thing from the minds of the official arbiters: such writing would be deemed "dangerous," and never have a chance against the mediocrities.)

The MFA writing system, with its mechanisms of circulating popularity and fashionableness, leans heavily on the easily imitable. Cloying writers like Denis Johnson, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, Aimee Bender, and Charles D'Ambrosio are held up as models of good writing, because they're easy enough to copy. And copied they are, in tens of thousands of stories manufactured in workshops. Others hide behind a smokescreen of unreadable inimitability--Marilynne Robinson, for example--to maintain a necessary barrier between the masses and the overlords. Since grants, awards, and residencies are controlled by the same inbreeding group, it's difficult to see how the designated heavies can be displaced.

Shivani is an author of fiction, with at least one book on Amazon. His profile, interestingly enough, lists just about all of the players in the insular world of literary fiction and the Academy:

His fiction, poetry, and criticism appear in leading literary journals such as the Boston Review, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Agni, Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, Colorado Review, Pleiades, Boulevard, London Magazine, Stand, Times Literary Supplement, Meanjin, Cambridge Quarterly, and elsewhere.

He lists prizes he has won and he is also a graduate of Harvard University.

At the moment, he promises to follow up with his lists of "underrated" contemporary American authors, to be followed by the most overrated and underrated global authors. You can bet many will be watching for those posts.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Typical Multiplex - 12 Screens, Nothing to See!

Boston Theatre - Friday Roundup

Shakespeare At Dusk

Last Chance

The Happy Medium Theatre Company will close its Family deValues at the Factory Theater this weekend.

F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's production of the musical Violet closes this weekend at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.


On the Boston Common, Shakespeare's Othello plays out under the stars in Commonwealth Shakespeare's annual outing.

Over at the Central Square Theatre, Watson and Sherlock Holmes keep searching for the mystery behind The Hound of the Baskervilles

The unemployed denizens of an city on the verge of apocalypse still have to worry about finding a job in New Exhibition Room's premiere of Candyland at the Boston Playwrights Theatre.

Fully Committed keeps Gabriel Kuttner busy playing 40 characters. The play is outdoors so check the website and the weather.

Company One's wolves, princesses and other fairy tale characters are still haunting the stage in Grimm.

You can take a drive up to Beverly to check out Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the North Shore Music Theatre.