Tag: Theater

Theater as Model of World

It has often been said that the Elizabethan theater was the image of the world. The open stage was a busy marketplace, its trapdoor led down to hell, the curtained inner stage exposed the confidences of private life that four walls hide, the balcony was that higher level from which some may look down so that others can look up, and the highest gallery was a reminder that the order of the world is maintained by gods, goddesses, kings and queens.

Threads of Time
Peter Brook

RIP – Gregory Sierra

Gregory Sierra was born on January 25, 1937 in New York City, New York, USA. He was an actor, known for The Towering Inferno (1974), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Vampires (1998). He was married to Helene and Susan Pollock. He died on January 4, 2021 in Laguna Woods, California, USA.

He is familiar to fans of Barney Miller (1975) as “Detective Sergeant Chano Amenguale”, and as “Julio Fuentes”, the Puerto Rican neighbor on Sanford and Son (1972), wherein his character was often the butt of racist insults and jokes via the show’s main character, “Fred G. Sanford” (portrayed by Redd Foxx).

He worked with the National Shakespeare Company and in the New York Shakespeare Festival, appeared in off-Broadway productions and, in one brief brush with Broadway, was a standby in The Ninety Day Mistress in 1967.

Attended the Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, a Brooklyn, New York prep school for boys aiming for the priesthood.

IMDB

August Wilson, American Bard – The New York Times

While worthy on its own, the play is just one-tenth of the monumental project that defined Wilson’s career. With “Jitney,” a story about a group of ’70s-era cabdrivers that he wrote in 1979, he began his Pittsburgh Cycle (a.k.a., the American Century Cycle): a decalogue about Black life, one for each decade of the 20th century, all — except for “Ma Rainey” — set in his Pennsylvania hometown, where he was born in 1945. He completed the plays out of chronological order, for he didn’t initially set out to create a series, but nonetheless found a story and characters to represent each decade. And he wrote right up to the end: In 2005, the year of his death from cancer at the age of 60, he finished the last one, “Radio Golf,” about white encroachment and local politics in the 1990s. In addition to these 10 dramas, he wrote six others, but it was the Cycle that solidified his legacy as one of the country’s most important playwrights, an essential figure in not just Black theater but the American canon as a whole; two weeks after his death, Broadway’s Virginia Theater was renamed in his honor.


Chief among them, perhaps, is the 65-year-old actor Denzel Washington, a producer of the new “Ma Rainey” film and one of the playwright’s leading advocates. In 2010, Washington won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the protagonist, a 1950s sanitation worker named Troy Maxson, in the Broadway revival of Wilson’s most lauded work, “Fences” (1985). In 2014, the Wilson estate, led by the playwright’s widow, Constanza Romero, now 62, approached the actor about adapting the entire Pittsburgh Cycle to film, beginning with the 2016 film version of “Fences,” which Washington directed, produced and starred in opposite Davis, who won an Oscar for her role as Maxson’s beleaguered wife, Rose.

Washington sees his responsibility as both Hollywood connector and Wilson custodian. He convinced Wolfe, 66, the renowned theater director, to helm the new film; and then worked with Romero to hire his friend Samuel L. Jackson and his son, John David Washington, to appear in the next Wilson film, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Piano Lesson” (1987), a 1930s saga about ghosts and a family heirloom that will be overseen by Barry Jenkins. For the rest of the Cycle, which will be shot out of order over the following years, directors and actors such as Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay and Laurence Fishburne are all “circling,” Washington says. Over the phone this fall, he compared this undertaking to a relay race, passing on the baton in hopes of winning new audiences for the classics that Wilson left behind. “Lord knows he couldn’t take them with him,” Washington says. “And thank God he did leave them. Now they’ve left them in my hands, and I put them in other people’s hands.”

August Wilson, American Bard
Perhaps no playwright has asserted the richness and complexity of everyday Black lives and language so deeply. Now, two screen projects affirm his legacy for new audiences.
Maya Phillips, NYTIMES

Actors, Audience and Company

The actor is in the first instance company, and we thank him for the pleasure of it.

But he is company of a very peculiar kind. I enjoy his company but he does not enjoy mine. He does not even know I am there. And this is agreeable to me, and partially accounts for the whole complex. In life, one is often lonely, and yet when company comes, one feels put out, “crowded.” While life will never let one have anything both ways, it is the mission of art to do just that. And here one finds the theatre assuaging one’s loneliness without imposing the pest of company. The actor cannot pick one out of the audience and speak to one. If that ever does happen – when, for example, a comedian picks on a spectator – this is specifically an aggression against the convention, an exception that proves the rule. Having the actors’ company, it is a pleasure not to have to do anything about it, to be polite, to respond visibly, and so on. In the theatre, one does not have to be grateful, because one’s gratitude has been paid off in cash beforehand, as in houses of even worse repute.

One’s relations with the other members of the audience are equally ambiguous. Here one is, sitting down with total strangers to share experiences of considerable intimacy. It is rather promiscuous of one.

Then there is one’s relation to other members of one’s own party in particular. Is it sociable to invite people to the theatre? The motive is likely to be in part sociable but can just as easily be in part antisocial. One is relieved of the responsibility, after all, not only of talking to the actors, but of talking to one’s friends. Once the curtain is up, in what sense is one even still “with them”?

In what sense, indeed, is one there at all? Who, at the theatre, is related how to whom? For a couple of hours, I bask in the pleasure of my friends’ company, I also relax in the pleasure of their imagined absence, while I turn my attention to a brief romance I am enjoying with  – did I say actors? It is actually the characters I am experiencing, and the actors will drop their roles at eleven o’clock and become characters I do not know, handing me back to my friends who suddenly are very much “there” again.

Eric Bentley, The Life of the Drama

Broadway – Sometime in the Future

From Playbill, what’s scheduled as of 11/26/2020:

In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and under the continued direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Broadway shows in New York City suspended performances March 12, 2020. Although too soon to commit to a return date, Broadway theatres extend ticket refunds and exchanges through January 3, 2021. An official return date will be announced at a later time. Off-Broadway, Tour, and Regional closures are on a show-by-show basis. Click here to consult Playbill’s roundup of Off-Broadway and National Tour cancellations, hiatuses and up-to-date information.

Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations Broadway Musical Imperial Theatre249 W. 45th St.
Aladdin Broadway Musical New Amsterdam Theatre214 W. 42nd St.
American Buffalo Broadway Circle in the Square Theatre235 W. 50th St. Begins Previews March 2021
The Book of Mormon Broadway Musical Eugene O’Neill Theatre230 W. 49th St.
Caroline, or Change Broadway Musical Studio 54254 W. 54th St. Begins Previews 2021
Chicago Broadway Musical Ambassador Theatre219 W. 49th St.
Come From Away Broadway Musical Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre236 W. 45th St.
Company Broadway Musical Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre242 W. 45th St.
David Byrne’s American Utopia Broadway Begins Performances September 17, 2021
Dear Evan Hansen Broadway Musical Music Box Theatre239 W. 45th St.
Diana Broadway Musical Longacre Theatre220 W. 48th St. Begins Previews 2021
Flying Over Sunset Broadway Musical Vivian Beaumont Theater150 W. 65th St. Begins Previews 2021
Girl From the North Country Broadway Belasco Theatre111 W. 44th St.
Hadestown Broadway Musical Walter Kerr Theatre219 W. 48th St.
Hamilton Broadway Musical Richard Rodgers Theatre226 W. 46th St.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two Broadway Play Lyric Theatre214 W. 43rd St.
How I Learned to Drive Broadway Samuel J. Friedman Theatre261 W. 47th St. Begins Previews 2022
Jagged Little Pill Broadway Musical Broadhurst Theatre235 W. 44th St.
Lackawanna Blues Broadway Samuel J. Friedman Theatre261 W. 47th St. Begins Previews 2021
The Lehman Trilogy Broadway Play Nederlander Theatre208 W. 41st St.
The Lion King Broadway Musical Minskoff Theatre1515 Broadway
Mean Girls Broadway Musical August Wilson Theatre245 W. 52nd St.
The Minutes Broadway Play Begins Previews March 2022
MJ The Musical Broadway Neil Simon Theatre250 W. 52nd St., New York, NY Begins Previews September 2021
Moulin Rouge! The Musical! Broadway Musical Al Hirschfeld Theatre302 W. 45th St.
Mrs. Doubtfire Broadway Musical Stephen Sondheim Theatre124 W. 43rd St.
The Music Man Broadway Musical Winter Garden Theatre1634 Broadway (At W. 50th St.) Begins Previews December 20, 2021
The Phantom of the Opera Broadway Musical Majestic Theatre245 W. 44th St.
Plaza Suite Broadway Play Hudson Theatre139-141 W. 44th St. Begins Previews March 19, 2021
Sing Street Broadway Musical TBANew York Begins Previews 2022
SIX: The Musical Broadway Musical Brooks Atkinson Theatre256 W. 47th St.
Some Like It Hot Broadway Musical Begins Previews 2021
Take Me Out Broadway Helen Hayes Theater240 W. 44th St. Begins Previews March 2021
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical Broadway Musical Lunt-Fontanne Theatre205 W. 46th St.
To Kill A Mockingbird Broadway Play Sam S. Shubert Theatre225 W. 44th St.
Trouble in Mind Broadway American Airlines Theatre227 West 42nd Street Begins Previews 2021
West Side Story Broadway Musical Broadway Theatre1681 Broadway (W. 53rd St.)
The Who’s Tommy Broadway Musical Begins Previews 2021
Wicked Broadway Musical Gershwin Theatre222 W. 51st St.

Finding the Game – Meaning Of, Improv Concept

From the wide spectrum of opinions emerge two fundamental definitions of game, based mostly on its relative importance to the scene. The first definition is associated with the improv community of Chicago, and the second is associated with the community that it birthed, the UCB.

1. The game is any pattern that emerges within a scene that the improvisers may follow while exploring the relationship between the characters.

2. The game is the single pattern of unusual behavior that defines the scene.
WILL HINES: [The game is] a consistent pattern of behavior that breaks from the everyday pattern of behavior. The reason we say that is we want games that are based on an unusual thing, something that’s different from reality, that repeats in a consistent way. That’s our mathematical way.

KEVIN MULLANEY: For me game of the scene is a metaphor: Games have rules, and so can scenes. It’s up to the players to figure out those rules as the scene develops. The rules can be ways in which the characters behave or react, patterns to the way they think, or rules governing the situation or even the world in which the scene exists.

Matt Visconage, Vulture

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot – Is it Dramatic?

Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot has established itself as the most original contribution to dramatic literature since 1950. The distinction of the writing is undeniable. All kinds Of good things may be said about the dialogue, “but is it dramatic?” Let us set aside the fact that very little happens in the play, for this is true of so many good plays. And many good plays have wrongly been found undramatic (“not a play”) by their first critics. The first critic to make the point, and repeatedly, that Beckett’s dialogue is not dramatic is Beckett himself — in that dialogue. For this “criticism” is inherent in the recurrent joke of letting the conversation simply dry up and having one character tell the other to say something. In this, Beckett has put into a play what “cannot be put into a play.” For in a play, the dialogue cannot conceivably dry up. A play is, so to speak, a much longer piece of dialogue, reduced to the number of lines one sees in the final text by the craftsmanship of compression. Pauses can only occur when they are equivalent to dialogue, when their silence is more eloquent and packed with meaning than words would be. The dramatist fights against time. He cannot “get it all in.” His craft is the filling out of every nook and cranny that each second as it passes may offer him, just as the painter’s craft is the filling in of each square inch of canvas. That any part of the dramatist’s precious couple of hours should stand empty, and that there should be any difficulty about filling it, is absurd. But Waiting for Godot is ‘drama of the absurd.”

Eric Bentley. The Life of the Drama

What Went On in Sodom – Sister Mary Ignatius Explains

SISTER: To answer your question, Sodom is where they committed acts of homosexuality and bestiality in the Old Testament, and God, infuriated by this, destroyed them all in one fell swoop. Modern day Sodoms are New York City, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Los Angeles… well, basically anywhere where the population is over 50,000. The only reason that God has not destroyed these modern day Sodoms is that Catholic nuns and priests live in these cities, and God does not wish to destroy them. He does, however, give these people body lice and hepatitis.

It’s so hard to know why God allows wickedness to flourish. I guess it’s because God wants man to choose goodness freely of his own free will; sometimes one wonders if free will is worth all the trouble if there’s going to be so much evil and unhappiness, but God knows best, presumably. If it were up to me, I might be tempted to wipe out cities and civilizations, but, luckily for New York and Amsterdam, I’m not God.

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You
Christopher Durang, Volume I: 27 Short Plays

Fresh Air – Assorted Theater Interviews

https://freshairarchive.org/playlist/2402

October 29, 1997 21:19 David Mamet’s Advice for Actors. Playwright and Screenwriter David Mamet. His latest film is “The Edge,” and he’s recently published two books: “The Old Religion,” (Simon & Schuster) is a novel about a southern Jewish man falsely accused of murder. “True and False: Heresy and Common sense for the Actor” (Pantheon) is a guide to acting that negates the common and popular dramatic techniques. Mamet won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

June 11, 1991 13:01 Playwright Christopher Durang on New York Theater Durang is best-known for his controversial play, “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.” A new collection of six of his plays has just come out called “Christopher Durang Explains It All For You.” He joins Fresh Air to talk about some of his successes and failures, and his frustrations with New York theater. Added

December 11, 1998 11:12 Frank Rich Dismisses His Title as the “Butcher of Broadway” Once the most powerful reviewers in America, The New York Times’ former drama critic, Frank Rich has a new collection of his reviews published “Hot Seat : Theater Criticism for the New York Times, 1980-1993 by Random House.” When he stepped down as critic in 1993, It was considered a great day for many playwrights. The British press once dubbed him “The Butcher of Broadway;” playwright David Mamet called him “a terrible critic..

April 24, 2020 29:30 Remembering Tony Award-Winning Character Actor Brian Dennehy The burly actor, who died April 15, played the leading role in Death of a Salesman, in both the Broadway production as well as the 2000 TV movie. Dennehy spoke to David Bianculli in 1999.

March 26, 2020 16:35 ‘Fresh Air’ Remembers Broadway Playwright Terrence McNally McNally, who died March 24 due to complications related to COVID-19, won Tony awards for Love! Valour! Compassion!, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime and Master Class. Originally broadcast June 1993.

November 13, 2019 35:15 Actor Willem Dafoe Reflects On A Career Of Being A ‘Good Bad Guy’ Dafoe has played villains, soldiers, van Gogh and Jesus. He’s earned four Oscar nominations and appeared in more than 100 films — including, most recently, Motherless Brooklyn and The Lighthouse.

January 3, 2017 50:30 Lin-Manuel Miranda On Disney, Mixtapes And Why He Won’t Try To Top ‘Hamilton’ The creator of the hit musical Hamilton, talks about his early love of musicals, and writing rhymes for Hamilton.

May 29, 2014 44:00 From The Screen To Broadway: Chris O’Dowd Takes On ‘Of Mice And Men’ The Irish actor was introduced to a large American audience through the film Bridesmaids. He’s now playing Lenny in the revival of the theatrical adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic.

August 16, 2013 27:03 Bobby Cannavale, At Home On Broadway The actor, who starred in Glenngarry Glen Ross opposite Al Pacino, has been acting for the stage since he was a teenager in Union City, N.J. “It was the only thing I ever wanted to do, really,” he says.

November 22, 2012 50:16 Gershwins And Me’ Tells The Stories Behind 12 Songs. Musician Michael Feinstein chronicles his experience working as an archivist and cataloger for legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin. The book is presented through the stories of 12 of the Gershwin brothers‘ songs, including “Fascinating Rhythm,” “The Man I Love” and “I Got Rhythm.” This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 17, 2012. Add

August 30, 2012 17:58 David Alan Grier’s ‘Sporting Life’ On Broadway. The stand-up comedian and star of In Living Color played Sporting Life in the opera Porgy and Bess. The show, which won Tony Awards, closes on Broadway next month. This interview was originally broadcast on May 22, 2012. David Alan Grier plays Sporting Life in the opera Porgy and Bess, which closes on Broadway next month. Porgy and Bess won two Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

May 15, 2012 49:11 Audra McDonald: Shaping ‘Bess’ On Broadway The actress is nominated for her fifth Tony Award for the Broadway musical Porgy and Bess. “There’s very few quiet moments for Bess,” she says. “They’re all very big, very emotional. … And to commit to that night after night is very difficult.

Britain’s National Theater – Coronavirus Season

The Security Manager
Collen Heskey

It’s been like a ghost town. You start to think of those horror films where there’s a major catastrophe — zombies — because it’s so quiet.

You could tell how empty it was because the mice stopped. We had the pest controller still coming once a week, and he was catching less and less, until one day he got nothing. There’s no one dropping food.

In the six months, you know what I actually did? I learned to play piano. Never played one in my life, but I found myself in a rehearsal room and thought, “Why don’t I do something different?”

I went on YouTube and there was a lesson for Elton John’s “Song for Guy,” so I watched a bit, memorized a few notes, and when I had a break, went up there and tried to play.

I’ve come out of all this with something, which is really nice.

Alex Marshall
Six Months in the Life of a Locked-Down Theater
Britain’s National Theater hopes to reopen in October after being closed for more than 200 days. But even with the shutters down, it’s been an eventful and emotional time for its staff.