Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Boston Theater in the Blogosphere

Zakim Sunflowers 2
The Hub's theater scene is the subject of chatter on the Internet these days.

HowlRound, the playwright-centered blog of Theater Commons, is focusing on Boston this week.  There are guest posts so far by Ilana Brownstein, current dramaturg for Company One, and Meg Taintor, Founder and Artistic Director of Whistler in the Dark.

This is one of the key paragraphs, to my mind, of Brownstein's overview of the logistics of the Boston theatrical landscape:

So, while it’s safe to say that in the past decade Boston has seen an explosion of new spaces of all sizes, for many fringe companies, truly affordable and regularly available space is still a challenge. Unlike other metropolitan centers whose downtowns suffered economic downturns in the 1970s and ’80s, Boston has never had significant tracts of blighted urban property awaiting an influx of artists. Or if we did, they were in areas artists refused to go. It’s an historical challenge for us, how we might follow the lead of storefront-heavy theater cities like Chicago. I hear a yearning from our community for this kind of space, that there’s a real hole in the spectrum for scrappy producing organizations. But we’re a small-footprint city, and too expensive; the developers are too hungry for spaces that in other cities are transformed by the creative class.

Meanwhile over at The Hub Review, Critics Thomas Garvey and Beverly Creasey are discussing race on Boston's stages.

BC: Well, this past year I've noticed something disturbing recurring several times. (I see about 200 small and large theater productions a year). I've seen repeated instances of the casting of white actors in parts either specified for, or originated by, actors of color, like the “Brother” role in Songs for a New World.
TG: So in an ironic twist, you began to see casting of white people in those few roles that had long been reserved for actors of color.
BC: Exactly. Even though it's absurd to hear a white man singing/talking about being black. Which by the way, has happened twice to Jason Robert Brown's Songs. Two different productions in less than a year!
TG: Maybe we should re-title that one Songs for a White World . . .
BC: What are these people thinking? They didn't even have the sense to change the lines and take out the ethnic references! It also happened to A Chorus Line this summer, at a big Equity company that has often cast nationally - a white actress played the role of the Asian-American dancer (who even talks about being stereotyped!!). I asked why this was the case and was told they “couldn't find anyone." Now this has been quite a year for Asian-American women on the stage and just off the top of my head (without consulting StageSource) I can name four local actresses. So the real answer is they didn't try very hard.