Tag: Drama

Provocative Drama – Cassavetes on

When people were walking out of Husbands and Faces en masse I never felt bad about that because I thought that it was pain that was taking them out of the theater and I thought that it wasn’t the fact that the film was bad. It was that they couldn’t take it without changing their own lifestyles, which made both those films very successful to me. I thought at the time that Husbands was anti the lifestyle of almost everyone in America. We presented a lifestyle that went against their lifestyle. People walked out because they didn’t want to accept the fact that there could be anything wrong with the way they lived their lives.

It doesn’t matter whether audiences like it; it matters whether they feel something. I feel I’ve succeeded if I make them feel something — anything. The hope is that you don’t make it so easy for an audience that when they go to your movie they have nothing to think about except, ‘That was wonderful. Good. Next! What else are you going to entertain my great appetite with?’ I want to make you mad. Yeah, that’s going to take longer. And yeah, when we have it we’ll let you know, I mean. And we’ll put it there.

Cassavetes on Cassavetes
John Cassavetes, Ray Carney

Denzel Washington Honors August Wilson’s Legacy at House Opening

PITTSBURGH — On Saturday, crowds gathered outside August Wilson’s childhood home in the historic Hill District here to celebrate the grand opening of the August Wilson House. After a yearslong fund-raising and restoration effort, the house where the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright spent the first 13 years of his life will now be open to the public with the goal of extending Wilson’s legacy and advancing Black arts in culture.

Wilson, who died in 2005, is perhaps best known for his series of 10 plays called the American Century Cycle, which detail the various experiences of Black Americans throughout the 20th century. Nine of these plays are set in this city’s Hill District — a bastion of Black history, arts and culture — and one, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is set in Chicago.

Denzel Washington Honors August Wilson’s Legacy at House Opening
After fund-raising and restoration efforts, the childhood home of the playwright will offer artist residencies and other programming.
Ollie Gratzinger

Titanic as Musical Comedy

They called “Titanique” the show of dreams. Fever dreams. And it was, it really was.

The off-Broadway cuckoo camp-fest at the Asylum in Chelsea is, by a nautical mile, the funniest musical in town right now and is built on an unsinkable idea: It tells the story of the 1997 movie “Titanic” using the songs of French-Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion.

As the captain, hilariously only referred to as Victor Garber, an Irish-inflected Frankie Grande bops through “I Drove All Night” as he pushes the doomed ship to go faster and faster.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown, played by Kathy Deitch, after surviving the tragedy, belts “All By Myself”: “Those days are goooone!”

The situation has become beyond bonkers by the time Jaye Alexander as the Iceberg wails “River Deep, Mountain High” in a neon blue flapper wig and forces the other characters to “Lip Sync For Your Lifeboats.”

‘Titanique’ the musical review: Off-Broadway ‘Titanic’ parody is what your summer needs
Johnny Oleksinski

If Life is a Joke Shouldn’t it be a Good One? – George Bernard Shaw and Tolstoy

“You said that my manner in that book was not serious enough — that I made people laugh in my most earnest moment. Why should humour and laughter be excommunicated? Suppose the world were only one of God’s jokes; would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one?”

Letter from George Bernard Shaw to Tolstoy

In Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days, the character Winnie says something along the same lines:
“How can one better magnify the Almighty than by sniggering with him at his little jokes, particularly the poorer ones?”
(See also: John Simon on Beckett’s Happy Days)

Disney Ushers Don’t Point – Michael R. Jackson Fresh Air Interview

GROSS: Since you worked as an usher at “The Lion King” when you started the process of writing “A Strange Loop” and the main character in “A Strange Loop” is an usher at “The Lion King,” now that you have a hit show, do you talk to the ushers? And do you try to hire ushers for whom this will be a good theater experience, a good opportunity for them to kind of almost be an apprentice?

JACKSON: Well, I don’t have anything to do with hiring the ushers. They’re – they belong to a union, Local 306. They place them in the theaters they work at. But I do. When I go to the show, I do often talk to them. They’re very nice people, but they also have a different situation than I had when I ushered because when you’re a Disney usher, you have this long employee handbook, and you’re considered a cast member. And you’re – and the people who come to see the shows are guests. And they are – and it’s almost like you’re working at a theme park. Like, they want to create, like, an experience for the people coming to see the shows. And so they’re just very strict about everything from grooming to how you can gesture to the restroom and all that sort of stuff. It’s – like, it’s pretty intense.

GROSS: How are you supposed to gesture to the restroom? What’s the proper call?

JACKSON: Open-handed. You’re never supposed to point.

‘A Strange Loop’ writer and composer started out on Broadway as an usher
Michael R. Jackson’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is about a young Black gay musical theater writer named Usher, who works as an usher at a Broadway show — just like Jackson once did.

Musicals I Want Song – Definition, Example of

The “I Want” song (also called an “I Wish” song) is a popular type of song featured in musical theatre, and has become a particularly popular term through its use to describe a series of songs featured in Disney Renaissance films that had the main character singing about how they are unsatisfied with their current life, and what they are searching for.

Knowing that Menken was classically trained in structure by his genius partner, the late Howard Ashman, not to mention his years with Disney, I looked for the “I want” song in the score. It was there, but it was that stupid western-fantasy number about going to Santa Fe. All right, I said to myself, time to squeeze this lemon. I devised a prologue to set up Jack Kelly as our hero and leader of the Newsies. I made him an aspiring artist who lives in a rooftop hideout. As the curtain rises he and Crutchie, a physically challenged boy, are just waking up to start their day. The boy worries that he won’t be able to keep selling newspapers because his bad leg is getting worse. Jack cheers the boy’s spirits with the promise that one day they’ll escape the city altogether and make a new life for themselves in the clean open air of Santa Fe. Cue the song! “You want to open with what?” Menken was perplexed to say the least. “‘Santa Fe,’ sung as a lullaby to Crutchie. Yes! It’s his promise to make life better for them”:

Don’t you know that we’s a family?
Would I let you down?
No way! Just hold on, kid, till that train makes Santa Fe!

“And then, at the end of Act 1, when the entire world comes crashing in on Jack, the battle is lost, his friends are defeated, he barely escapes with his life, he climbs back to his rooftop hideout and, in desperation, unleashes an emotionally charged reprise of the song, crying out to the skies for salvation!”

Just be real is all I’m asking,
Not some painting in my head!
’Cause I’m dead if I can’t count on you today—
I got nothing if I ain’t got Santa Fe!

Alan listened and nodded. He was sold. Jack was already adjusting the lyrics for both versions, and we were on our way.

For the record—if you think I was happy allowing a physically challenged child to be named Crutchie you still don’t know me. But, as I said, whenever possible, I had to respect the intangible magic that made the original so beloved. Hateful as I found it, I knew there were those who would miss a boy dubbed Crutchie if I renamed him.

I Was Better Last Night
Harvey Fierstein

RIP – Peter Brook

By then Mr. Brook, who took delight in “shaking up terrible, stultifying old conventions,” as he put it, had become a thoroughgoing iconoclast. Some mark that change at his 1960 Paris production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony,” a work considered boldly subversive at the time. For Genet’s scenes of exotic life in a Paris brothel, Mr. Brook used striking-looking amateurs, found in Paris bars, as well as professional actors and dancers. But a radical revival of “King Lear,” staged for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London in 1962, was more significant.

Not only did Mr. Brook encourage Scofield to play the titanic hero of tradition as a painfully flawed human being, but just before the production’s opening, he threw out the set that he himself had designed, ensuring that the plot unfolded on a bare stage under plain lighting. The resulting epic unforgettably exposed the cruel absurdities of humanity.

Peter Brook, Celebrated Stage Director of Scale and Humanity, Dies at 97
He was called “the greatest innovator of his generation,” leaving an indelible mark with plays, musicals, opera and a relentless curiosity.

“There are three kinds of audiences [for Shakespeare]: a normal audience, an audience with Peter Brook in it, and you lot.”
— Patrick Stewart (former Royal Shakespeare Company member) speaking to the 18th International Conference of Shakespeare Scholars at Stratford-on-Avon

The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups
Ron Rosenbaum

Capsule History of Broadway

While Broadway theaters are colloquially considered to be “on Broadway”, only two active Broadway theaters are physically on Broadway (the Broadway Theatre and Winter Garden Theatre).[5][a] The Vivian Beaumont Theater, located in Lincoln Center, is the furthest north and west of the active theaters, while the Nederlander Theatre is the southernmost and the Belasco Theatre is the easternmost space. The oldest Broadway theaters still in use are the Hudson TheatreLyceum Theatre, and New Amsterdam Theatre, all opened in 1903, while the most recently constructed theater is the Lyric Theatre, built in 1998. The largest of the Broadway theaters is the 1,933-seat Gershwin Theatre, while the smallest is the 597-seat Hayes Theater.

The beginning of Broadway theater can be traced to the 19th-century influx of immigrants to New York City, particularly Yiddish, German and Italian, who brought with them indigenous and new forms of theater. The development of indoor gas lighting around this same time period allowed for the construction of permanent spaces for these novel theatrical forms. Early varietyburlesque, and minstrelsy halls were built along Broadway below Houston Street. As the city expanded north, new theaters were constructed along the thoroughfare with family-friendly vaudeville, developed by Tony Pastor, clustering around Union Square in the 1860s and 1870s, and larger opera houseshippodromes, and theaters populating Broadway between Union Square and Times Square later in the century. Times Square became the epicenter for large scale theater productions between 1900 and the Great Depression.[1]

There is no standard date that is considered the beginning of Broadway-style theatre.[8] A few landmarks that are considered the beginning of the Broadway era include the 1866 opening of The Black Crook at Niblo’s Garden, considered the first piece of American style musical theater,[9][10] the 1913 founding of the Actors’ Equity Association, the union for New York Theater performers, and the 1919 Actors’ Equity Association strike which gave actors and performers the recognition of a “fully legitimate professional trade”.[8] Mary Henderson in her book The City and the Theatre breaks down theater on the street Broadway into three time periods. “Lower Broadway” from 1850 to 1870, “Union Square and Beyond” from 1870 to 1899, and “Times Square: the First Hundred Years” (1900–2000).[8] The current official Broadway/Off-Broadway division began with the 1949 Actors’ Equity agreement.[2][3]


Hamlet and Radiohead – Fat Ham Review – NYTIMES

…James Ijames’s outstanding transformation of Shakespeare’s tragedy into a play about Black masculinity and queerness, both echoes “Hamlet” and finds a language beyond it.

So I’ll start with a scene that especially evokes this production’s charms: In the middle of a backyard barbecue, a group of family members and friends sitting around a table covered with plates of ribs, corn on the cob and biscuits is suddenly bathed in a blue spotlight. They break out into an impressionistic dance (choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie), curling forward and arching backward in slow motion, arms fanning out, then they slump down into their seats and begin headbanging. All the while, our hero, Juicy (Marcel Spears), whom Ijames characterizes in his script as “a kinda Hamlet,” mournfully croons along to Radiohead’s “Creep.”

This is Ijames’s tongue-in-cheek style of wit: Of course the melancholy prince would have sung “Creep” had Thom Yorke and his band been around in 17th-century England. Without undermining its drama, “Fat Ham” pokes fun at the theatricality of Hamlet’s anguish.

‘Fat Ham’ Review: Dismantling Shakespeare to Liberate a Gay Black ‘Hamlet’
James Ijames’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, set at a Southern barbecue, gets its first in-person production at the Public Theater.
Maya Phillips

Who’s More Real – The Character or the Actor Playing the Character – Pirandello Quote

FATHER …On the contrary, I was inviting you to come out of this game [with a warning look at the LEADING LADY]—of art! Art!—which you play here with your actors; and I ask you once again quite seriously: who are you?

DIRECTOR [turning to the ACTORS, astonished and also irritated]. Well, what a bloody nerve! Someone who claims to be a character comes and asks me who I am!

FATHER [dignified, but not overbearing]. A character, sir, may always ask a man who he is. Because a character really has a life of his own, marked by his own traits, which means that he is always ‘someone’. But a man—I’m not talking about you, but about man in general—a man may well be ‘nobody’.

DIRECTOR Maybe. But you’re asking me, me the Director, the boss! Have you got that?

FATHER [almost under his breath, modestly soft-spoken]. It’s a matter of knowing, sir, whether you, as you are now, really see yourself … in the same way, for example, as you see in retrospect what you once were, with all the illusions you then had; with all those things within and around you, as they then seemed—and indeed truly were for you. Well, sir, when you think back on those illusions which you now no longer have, on everything that no longer ‘seems’ what once for you it ‘was’—don’t you feel, not the boards of this stage, but the earth, the earth itself, give way beneath your feet? For you must conclude that in the same way all ‘this’ that you feel now, all your reality of today, as it is, is destined to seem illusion tomorrow.

DIRECTOR [not understanding much and stunned by the specious argument]. So what? What are you trying to prove?

FATHER. Oh, nothing, sir. Only to make you see that if we [indicating himself and the other CHARACTERS] have no reality beyond the illusion, then maybe you also shouldn’t count too much on your own reality, this reality which you breathe and touch in yourself today, because—like yesterday’s—inevitably, it must reveal itself as illusion tomorrow.

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Luigi Pirandello