MABOU MINES’ ‘COLD HARBOR’–“A SARDONIC, SOCIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBE OF ULYSSES S. GRANT.” STREAMING UNTIL 1/26 (LINK BELOW) ·

INTO THE ARCHIVES | COLD HARBOR

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Mabou Mines Home

MABOU MINES’

Cold Harbor

CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY

Bill Raymond and Dale Worsley

TEXT BY

Dale Worsley

WITH EXCERPTS FROM THE MEMOIRS OF ULYSSES S. GRANT AND JULIA DENT GRANT

“a sardonic, socio-psychological probe of Ulysses S. Grant.”

**Streaming access can be purchased anytime between 1/21 and 1/26. After your order is processed you will receive a viewing link. You can watch anytime through January 26, 2021.**
PLEASE NOTE PORTIONS OF THIS VIDEO ARE VERY DARK, BUT STICK WITH IT, WE THINK IT’S WORTH IT!

 

A CALL FOR NEW ARTS NORMS IN THE U.S. ·

By Bob Shuman

In a 2019 BBC interview on “Free Thinking, the actress Patti LuPone succinctly noted that the U.S. does not have a National Theatre, nor does it celebrate the work of any dramatic writer, as does Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company. She also feels, having starred on both Broadway and the West End, that producers, and others in Britain, are more interested in the merit of work, rather than huge corporate profit, which affects the caliber of the American scene.

U.S. entertainment unions (SAG-AFTRA, AEA, and others), additionally, can cause confusion for artists—as is happening now with disagreements over streaming media—whereas their counterparts in the U.K. and Canada  find workable solutions for artists instead of roadblocking.  Theatrical product has become uniform—whether that is in terms of political view, names involved, areas of diversity attached to projects, and types of events and stories produced. American theatremakers, themselves, who may believe they are powerless, also, can side with entertainment fiefdoms, which may make them less individually creative.  The phenomenon of gatekeepers in entertainment, and in an industry like publishing, has long become accepted, sabotaging, instead of fostering, the work of practitioners, and subjecting them to rote mechanisms of exclusion.

Others in the professional hierarchy may profit by yoking artists to schemes in which they continue to pay for the hope of market exposure—in an undetermined future.  LuPone mentions that, despite the professional labyrinths, “some shows get through,” which is a little like hearing doctors say, “Some patients live.” However, a 3/28/19 article on Bloomberg captures the importance of American artists and their real power:  the Arts actually “contribute(d) more than $800 billion a year to U.S. economic output, amounting to more than 4 percent of GDP.”  To help demonstrate what this means, “The contribution of the arts to America’s economy is equivalent to nearly half of Canada’s total GDP, and bigger than the economic output of Sweden or Switzerland. Indeed, the arts account for more of U.S. GDP than industries such as construction, transportation, and agriculture.”

Governor Cuomo, fortunately, has expressed his understanding of our arts impact.  On 1/12, as reported in The New York Times, he stated, “New York urgently needs to revive its arts and entertainment industry if it is to recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” despite the fact that American artists waited six months longer than their counterparts in other countries for relief (15 million dollars was released for them in December).  Of course, the need is not specific to one group:  According to the Washington Post, on 1/21, 900,000 people filed for unemployment in the previous week, adding to the 16 million people already receiving benefits.  This does not take into account the needs of those who may have worked part-time, in gigs, or other temporary work, or those undetected and invisible, deemed ineligible for government aid, which can include artists.   

Solutions, nevertheless, can be found for those left behind.  Although the arts, as economic engine, are undervalued in the U.S., other countries see the contributions.  In 2019, they added more to the UK economy than agriculture–the Guardian reported that “the sector added £10.8bn to the economy.”  Currently, as discussed in The New York Times on 1/13, France and Great Britain offer aid geared to temporary or seasonal working conditions of arts workers.  Germany and Austria, with long histories of arts subsidies, implemented bonuses and insurance.  Other countries are working with cultural bailouts and long-term loans.

Our legislators, who recognize the economic engine of the arts, must champion delayed abilities and the powers of those who  continue to be oppressed in the field–yet, one area, arts-based education programs, has been in decline “for the past couple of decades,” according to Bloomberg.  Funding in a public-private partnership with the Mellon Foundation, though, which was also announced by Governor Cuomo, will “distribute grants to put more than 1,000 artists back to work and provide money to community arts groups.”

Better would be if such events were available, throughout the state, for those who need this pandemic year to establish footholds for themselves, not for others whose careers are already validated.  Students whose professional aspirations are stalled, beyond inconvenience, and who will now be competing with those younger than themselves and with more current school experience—these are the performers whom New Yorkers should be seeing, congratulating, and paying for.  Their time to shine has been curtailed.

Some would consider that the time of COVID might, in fact, be ripe for reevaluation and rethinking, where government, practitioners, and audiences must envision a new theatre for those who participate, based on improved working conditions and fresh ideas.

After almost a year, seeing the difficulties of others, and experiencing them ourselves, we have learned so much—sometimes about things that were being done wrong or couldn’t be heard at all. 

We can’t go back.

–Bob Shuman

 

Photos from top:

NY Times; BBC; Brandeis

IRISH REP: THEATRE @ HOME WINTER FESTIVAL STARTS 1/26 ·

Irish Reps Theatre @ Home Winter Festival begins on Tuesday, January 26!

Featuring all nine of our Performances on Screen, from Molly Sweeney to The Weir to A Touch of the Poet, this free Festival is the perfect way to start your 2021, safe and socially distant at home!

Molly Sweeney

YES! Reflections Of Molly Bloom

The Weir

Love, Noël

Belfast Blues

Give Me Your Hand

A Touch of the Poet 

On Beckett / In Screen

Meet Me in St. Louis

Select a weekly show-time and stick to it – each week the schedule changes, allowing you to see 4 unique productions over the course of the festival!

Reservations for all the Performances on Screen are free but required in order to access the dedicated screening links. Donations of $25 per show, or $100 for the festival, are suggested for each viewer who can afford to give.

Visit Irish Rep for more information

IRELAND: ‘2020 WAS GOING TO BE THE MOST AMAZING YEAR EVER FOR US’ ·

(Sara Keating’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 1/16; Aisling O’Sullivan, Cathy Belton and Derbhle Crotty in The Approach by Mark O’Rowe. Photograph: Patrick Redmond.)

It is the morning after the opening weekend of her latest theatrical venture and Anne Clarke is feeling tired but buoyant. The first performances in the Theatre for One booth, which had been waiting patiently in the foyer of the Abbey Theatre for performers to inhabit its intimate stage since September, finally welcomed audiences, many of whom – Clarke included – were experiencing live theatre again for the first time in nine months.

Despite her own involvement behind the scenes, Clarke “was not prepared for the overwhelming emotion that hits when you are so close to an actor performing a play for the first time in nine months. It was really quite overpowering.”

The staging of Theatre for One at the Abbey was originally conceived as part of the cancelled Dublin Theatre Festival in October. Its December premiere was being staged as part of a pilot for a return to live performance under Covid restrictions, which have been particularly harsh for those in the performing arts.

Clarke was among many in the industry who was vocal about the blanket closure of an “an impeccably well-run industry” that “is a more controlled and safe environment than vast swathes of other activity that was permitted when Level 5 was lifted. I acknowledge the importance that we all do our best to keep ourselves and others safe – and it was wonderful that as well as every shop, hairdresser and gym, that galleries, museums and cinemas were reopened. But the fact that the theatres – where health and safety is in the DNA of every production even before Covid times, where a show has already been risk assessed within an inch of its life before it opens – remained closed just did not make sense to any of us”.

Clarke, who served on the Arts Council’s advisory group for the Covid-19 crisis, was delighted to offer Theatre for One as an experimental example of how safe and efficient live theatre could be, not just for the artists she had commissioned to create the work but for the whole industry.

“I don’t think anyone wants to live in a country where you can do almost anything but not go to the theatre,” she says with the trademark passion she has brought to her collaborations with Enda Walsh, Mark O’Rowe and Paul Howard, among others, over the years. “I don’t think anyone wants to live in a country where theatre ceases to exist.”

‘Unproducing’

While lobbying and campaigning for her own and her colleagues’ future, Clarke was busy making new plans too. When theatres were faced with closure in March, she says, “There were a few weeks when I, along with everyone else in the theatre world, was ‘unproducing’ our plans, to borrow a term from [Scottish playwright] David Greig.”

(Read more)

OPENING NIGHT: JOHN CASSAVETES’ UNROMANTIC ODE TO THEATRE IS STUNNING ·

(Chris Wiegand’s article appeared in the Guardian 1/19/; Photo: Going on … Gena Rowlands in Opening Night. Photograph: Alamy.)

One of many tantalising theatre shows cancelled last year by the pandemic was The Second Woman, a 24-hour-long production at the Young Vic, London, in which Ruth Wilson was to repeatedly perform the same scene with a succession of 100 actors. This exploration of gender and power was inspired by John Cassavetes’ 1977 film Opening Night, about a troubled star’s out-of-town tryouts for a Broadway-bound play called The Second Woman.

After months of watching stage productions on screen while venues are closed, from archive NT Lives to lockdown live streams, I returned to Opening Night to start a new series looking at the ways cinema has depicted the world of theatre. I’m avoiding some of the more obvious titles (Birdman, All About Eve, movies based on plays or musicals such as A Chorus Line) and will be including a range of international choices over the next few weeks to see how film-makers have depicted the theatrical experience.

Cassavetes is hailed for ushering in a new style of American independent movies with naturalistic classics including Shadows and Faces, but he was no stranger to ambitious theatre. Within a few years of Opening Night, he was staging a trilogy of plays in Los Angeles with the same lead actor, his wife Gena Rowlands.

When we first see Rowlands in Opening Night, she is waiting to go on stage, calming her nerves with a nip of booze and a last drag on a cigarette. Cassavetes captures the jittery energy behind the scenes as well as the intense sensation of simply being on stage: when the curtain goes up, we feel the glare, echo and volume of the experience, the sheer nowness of it all. This is immediately juxtaposed with a rather dreary perspective from the stalls, where a fixed camera shows the uninspiring drama in which Myrtle stars.

What Cassavetes does brilliantly is present brief moments that exist somewhere between the private and public as we see the actor, Myrtle Gordon (the superb Rowlands), entering and leaving the stage, switching in and out of character, waiting for cues while hidden from an audience who loom in the background. This is what I’d love to see captured in more streams of theatre productions: multiple cameras used not just to shoot the drama but also showing actors immediately before and after their scenes.

(Read more)

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (108) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

[Gordon] Craig dreamed of having the entire performance take place without intermissions or the use of the curtain. The public was to come to the theatre and see no stage whatsoever. The screens were to serve as the architectural continuation of the auditorium and were to harmonize with it. But at the beginning of the performance the screens were to move gracefully and their lines were to take on new combinations. At last they were to grow still. From somewhere there would be light. . . . . (MLIA)

HOW 8 COUNTRIES HAVE TRIED TO KEEP ARTISTS AFLOAT DURING PANEMIC ·

The National Theatre in London, Sept. 21, 2020. Governments around the world have tried to support the arts during the pandemic, some more generously than others. Lauren Fleishman/The New York Times.

by Alex Marshall, © 2021 The New York Times Company; via Pam Green 

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- In December, owners and operators of theaters and music halls across the United States breathed a sigh of relief when Congress passed the latest coronavirus aid package, which finally set aside $15 billion to help desperate cultural venues. But that came more than six months after a host of other countries had taken steps to buffer the strain of the pandemic on the arts and artists.

Here are the highlights, and missteps, from eight countries’ efforts.

France

President Emmanuel Macron of France was one of the first world leaders to act to help freelance workers in the arts. The country has long had a special unemployment system for performing artists that recognizes the seasonality of such work and helps even out freelancers’ pay during fallow stretches. In May, Macron removed a minimum requirement of hours worked for those who had previously qualified for the aid. He also set up government insurance for TV and film shoots to deal with the threat of closure caused by the pandemic. Other countries, including Britain, quickly copied the move.

Germany

Germany’s cultural life has always been heavily subsidized, something that insulated many arts institutions from the pandemic’s effect. But in June, the government announced a $1.2 billion fund to get cultural life restarted, including money directed to such projects as helping venues upgrade their ventilation systems. And more assistance is on the way. Germany’s Finance Ministry intends to launch two new funds: one to pay a bonus to organizers of smaller cultural events (those intended for up to a few hundred people), so they can be profitable even with social distancing; and another to provide insurance for larger events (for several thousand attendees) to mitigate the risk of cancellation. Germany is not the first to implement such measures; Austria introduced event insurance in January.

Britain

In July, the British government announced a cultural bailout package worth about $2.1 billion — money that saved thousands of theaters, comedy clubs and music venues from closure. In December, several major institutions, including the National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company, were also given long-term loans under the package. Even with the help, there have already been about 4,000 layoffs at British museums alone, and more in other sectors.

Poland

European cultural aid hasn’t been enacted without controversy. In November, Poland announced recipients of a $100 million fund meant to compensate dance, music and theater companies for earnings lost because of restrictions during the pandemic. But the plan was immediately attacked by some news outlets for giving money to “the famous and rich,” including pop stars and their management. The complaints prompted the culture minister to announce an urgent review of all payments, but the government ultimately defended them, and made only minor changes.

(Read more: artdaily.com  or nytimes.com)

HOW THE LEGACY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. INSPIRED THE DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM ·

(Walter Rutledge’s article appeared on Playbill Online, 1/18; Photo of Arthur Mitchell by Sharon Perry.) 

THE GREAT AMERICAN ARTS INSTITUTION WAS BUILT ON A MODEL OF INCLUSIVENESS.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed a rally in Memphis, Tennessee, delivering his iconic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. Initially, there had been concerns he might miss the rally due to a bomb threat. The following day, as King prepared for another rally, he turned to musician Ben Branch and said, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” Then he stepped out on to the balcony of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. Julian Barber, a reporter for WTOP TV in Washington D.C., was the first to report Dr. King had been shot. Soon all three national television networks would interrupt their broadcasts with the news of his assassination.

Harlem seemed to react to Dr. King’s murder with a collective moan. Strangers embraced and openly sobbed on the street, then parted, going on alone, while others simply asked, “Why? Why?” this moment of deep despair Dr. King’s own words, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars,” offered both solace and the will to keep the dream alive.

Arthur Mitchell, compelled by the tragedy, took action. He saw the opportunity to change the lives of the young people in his community by opening a ballet school. In the beginning, Mitchell’s vision of bringing classical ballet to the youth of Harlem was met with doubt. “Well, the field really thought I had lost it,” explained Mitchell. “The rumors that went around—‘he’s crazy, insane, nuts, black kids can’t relate.’ Even the black community didn’t know why I was coming uptown to do ballet.”

Skeptics never deterred Mitchell. In 1955, he joined New York City Ballet. By 1958, he was a soloist and in 1962 he became the first African American to achieve the rank of principal of a major ballet company. At that time, only three other African-American dancers held positions in the city’s major ballet companies.

(Read more)

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CARY GRANT ·

Recollections in His Own Words and by Those Who Knew Him Best

Nancy Nelson’s Evenings with Cary Grant, which uses the icon’s own words—and is enhanced with material from Grant’s personal papers—draws from the remembrances of Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Reynolds, Sophia Loren, Quincy Jones, Deborah Kerr, and George Burns (over one hundred and fifty voices in all). Together these friends, colleagues, and loved ones provide a sublime, truthful, and candid portrait—as close to a memoir as Grant ever got.

Foreword by Barbara and Jennifer Grant.  Available now.  

“Forget the other Grant books, this is it.  Superb.”–Kirkus Reviews.

“It’s a lovely, funny book about Cary.”–Katharine Hepburn.  

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