Tag: Theater

Ken Tynan – Theater Aficionado Anecdote

At the last dress rehearsal, a straight run prior to the first preview, I noticed a figure sitting to the rear of the stalls with a notepad. It was Ken Tynan. Afterwards I went up to greet him and found him mopping his eyes with a handkerchief. He couldn’t have paid me a more sincere compliment because what made Ken cry in the theatre was not the sadness of the subject matter but the skill with which it was realised. Provided it matched his standard of ‘High Definition Performance’, he could be brought to tears not only by a tragedy but by a farce, by a solo comedian, by a team of acrobats. They were not easy tears to induce, but it was this genuineness of emotion that had made him such an exceptional critic, and as I was beginning to learn (and rather to my surprise) such a loyal friend.

Stage Blood: Five tempestuous years in the early life of the National Theatre
Michael Blakemore

Highly recommended book

Chekhovian – Michael Blakemore on

The sort of production I aspired to was the very opposite of what at the time was conveyed by the adjective ‘Chekhovian’. Though the plays may leave you with a sense of the sadness and bleakness of life, this is not what they describe. Chekhov’s characters are for ever on the hunt for amusement of some sort, anything to distract them from the underlying drift of their lives. They play games, stage amateur theatricals, enjoy magic shows, or just sit under the trees in the garden having long circular conversations over their tea. And they are always offering each other hospitality. The first two acts of Three Sisters are both extended parties, and the most spectacular party of all, the most absurd, is the ball given by Ranevsky in The Cherry Orchard on the day she and her brother put the family home up for auction. Her social equals who would normally have attended such an occasion have all moved away from the district or died. However, so determined is she to cheer herself up with music and company that she makes up the numbers of guests by inviting such people as the Postal Clerk and the Stationmaster. This is surely as funny as it is tragic, and suggests that the playwright was not joking when he described the play as a comedy. Walk past a London pub on a warm summer night, with customers spilling on to the pavement: the intense and jubilant buzz of people absorbed in the pursuit of a good time blocks out any thought that for some of these same people (and for all of us eventually) winter is not far away. Chekhov allows us, unlike the pub’s customers, to see both these realities at once.

Stage Blood: Five tempestuous years in the early life of the National Theatre
Michael Blakemore

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.
Wikipedia

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

One Hundred Plays of the 20th Century – National Theatre UK

NT2000 One Hundred Plays of the Century
The results of this canvassing formed the basis of NT2000 − a year long Platforms project charting the progress of drama through the twentieth century, as represented by 100 plays. By including each playwright only once, with their most voted for work, the project aimed to present a broad and diverse picture of the last 100 years of theatre.

The one hundred plays in the NT2000 Platform series
1904 Peter Pan by JM Barrie
1905 The Voysey Inheritance by Harley Granville Barker
1907 The Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge
1909 Strife by John Galsworthy
1912 Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby
1912 Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton
1914 Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
1916 Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse
1921 The Circle by W Somerset Maugham
1924 Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey
1926 The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd by DH Lawrence
1928 Journey’s End by RC Sherriff
1928 The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
1928 Plunder by Ben Travers
1928 Machinal by Sophie Treadwell
1930 Private Lives by Noël Coward
1930 Once in a Lifetime by George Kaufman and Moss Hart
1934 The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
1934 Love on the Dole by Ronald Gow
1935 Murder in the Cathedral by TS Eliot
1935 Night Must Fall by Emlyn Williams
1935 Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets
1938 Our Town by Thornton Wilder
1938 Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton
1945 An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley
1947 A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
1947 Men Should Weep by Ena Lamont Stewart
1948 The Lady’s Not for Burning by Christopher Fry
1949 The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
1952 The Pink Room (Absolute Hell) by Rodney Ackland
1952 The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan
1952 Dry Rot by John Chapman
1952 The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
1955 Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
1956 Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill
1956 Look Back in Anger by John Osborne
1958 The Hostage by Brendan Behan
1958 A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney
1959 Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance by John Arden
1959 Roots by Arnold Wesker
1959 A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
1960 The Caretaker by Harold Pinter
1960 A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
1960 Billy Liar by Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse
1961 The Knack by Ann Jellicoe
1962 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
1963 Oh What a Lovely War by Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshop
1964 The Royal Hunt of the Sun by Peter Shaffer
1965 Saved by Edward Bond
1965 Loot by Joe Orton
1965 The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
1965 The Odd Couple by Neil Simon
1966 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
1967 A Day in the Death of Joe Egg by Peter Nichols
1967 Zigger Zagger by Peter Terson
1968 The Ruling Class by Peter Barnes
1970 The Philanthropist by Christopher Hampton
1970 Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer
1970 Home by David Storey
1973 The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn
1973 The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil by John McGrath
1975 Comedians by Trevor Griffiths
1975 East by Steven Berkoff
1976 Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi by Pam Gems
1976 AC/DC by Heathcote Williams
1977 Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh
1979 Bent by Martin Sherman
1979 Educating Rita by Willy Russell
1980 Translations by Brian Friel
1980 True West by Sam Shepard
1980 Nicholas Nickleby by David Edgar
1980 The Dresser by Ronald Harwood
1980 The Romans in Britain by Howard Brenton
1981 Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray
1981 Noises Off by Michael Frayn
1981 Good by CP Taylor
1982 Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
1982 Master Harold… and the Boys by Athol Fugard
1982 Insignificance by Terry Johnson
1983 Run For Your Wife by Ray Cooney
1983 Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
1983 Victory by Howard Barker
1983 Masterpieces by Sarah Daniels
1984 Bouncers by John Godber
1985 The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer
1985 Fences by August Wilson
1985 Pravda by David Hare and Howard Brenton
1985 Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness
1986 Road by Jim Cartwright
1987 My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley
1988 Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker
1990 Racing Demon by David Hare
1990 The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus by Tony Harrison
1991 The Madness of George III by Alan Bennett
1993 Angels in America by Tony Kushner
1994 My Night With Reg by Kevin Elyot
1995 The Steward of Christendom by Sebastian Barry
1996 The Seven Streams of the River Ota by Robert Lepage
1997 Closer by Patrick Marber
1997 The Weir by Conor McPherson

https://web.archive.org/web/20130129192504/http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk:80/discover-more/platforms/nt2000-one-hundred-plays-of-the-century

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.