(Michael Schulman’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 5/27; via Pam Green.)
We go to the theatre for communal experiences, whether with an audience of a thousand or of ninety-nine. But what if it were just you? The aptly named company (entity? singularity?) Theatre for One has reduced play-going to its least populated imaginable form: one actor, one spectator. For starters, that means no competing with other audience members over armrests.
Playwrights on the order of Lynn Nottage, Will Eno, and Craig Lucas have contributed five-minute plays to the project, which goes by the collective title “I’m Not the Stranger You Think I Am.” The venue, created with the design studio LOT-EK, is a mobile four-by-eight-foot black booth that looks as if it were made of road cases. Between May 27th and 31st, it will be at Zuccotti Park, the erstwhile home of Occupy Wall Street, and then at the Grace Building plaza from June 2nd to 6th. Last week, it set up shop in the glass-covered Winter Garden at Brookfield Place—not to be confused with Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre, which specializes in Theatre for One Thousand Five Hundred and Twenty-Six.
I would not venture to say that Mr. Patinkin, the Broadway veteran known for his high-intensity style, and Mr. Mac, the exotic performer and playwright usually treading the boards in glittery eye shadow and spike heels, are the last two performers I’d expect to share a stage. Mr. Mac and, say, Wayne Newton would be an odder combination. Or maybe Mr. Patinkin and Karen Finley. Nevertheless they are not performers with an obvious cultural affinity, and the overlap between their fan bases could probably fit in a phone booth.
(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/26; via the Drudge Report.)
Buoyed by a rising stream of tourists, the unexpected popularity of an adolescent with Asperger’s syndrome, the star power of Larry David and Helen Mirren, and the enduring appeal of a lion named Simba, the Broadway season that just ended was the highest-grossing ever.
The Broadway League, a trade organization that represents producers, said on Tuesday that the 40 Broadway theaters had sold a record $1.365 billion worth of tickets in the year that ended Sunday.
(Ros Barber’s article appeared on the Huffington Post, 5/26.)
A great deal of fuss has been made this week about a supposed "newly discovered portrait of Shakespeare" found on the title page engraving of sixteenth century botany book. The editor of UK lifestyle magazine Country Life, in which the discovery was announced, declared it "The Literary Discovery of the Century." The story was dutifully picked up by BBC News Online, and such is the clout of the BBC that by yesterday, all major news outlets were excitedly repeating the story, leading it to trend across social media. The botanist who made the discovery quickly morphed into a "historian" and NBC news even multiplied him into "historians" to add a little weight to the theory.
But the portrait is not a portrait of Shakespeare. There were one or two knowledgable people explaining in the comments sections of various news items yesterday who it was and why, but since their explanations seem to have been drowned out by a slew of "hipster facial hair" comments and breathless speculation, I thought I'd set them down here, in the hope that the madness might be stopped.
(Sylviane Gold’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/22; via Pam Green.)
She doesn’t read newspapers, because the news dismays her. She’s never voted, because in 1915, American women don’t have that right. She’s a product of finishing schools, not universities. And when she travels to Paris, she spends her time at couture houses, not museums. But the lovely, well-dressed woman we meet at the start of Joe DiPietro’s newest play, the final offering of Long Wharf Theater’s 50th-anniversary season, manages to interest, seduce and marry the president of the United States, and then to run the country after he is incapacitated by a stroke.
Anne Washburn's new work, directed by Les Waters, is set amid the drudgery and high tension of a technical rehearsal for a play. The fourteen-person cast includes Bruce McKenzie, Thomas Jay Ryan, Nina Hellman, and Sue Jean Kim. In previews. Opens June 10.
The annual showcase for rising talents continues, with highlights including Kim Katzberg's comedy "Terry: Recovering Pet Detective"; "What's This Called, This Spirit?," a concert-play from the art-rock band the Scouts; "Checkpoint Charlie's State of Affairs," Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein's burlesque variety show; and "Argument Sessions," an interactive piece derived from Supreme Court transcripts.
A new play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ("An Octoroon"), directed by Evan Cabnet, follows a group of ambitious editorial assistants who dream of getting published by the time they're thirty. In previews. Opens June 15.
Amy Morton directs a new play by Rajiv Joseph ("Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo"), in which two imperial guards in seventeenth-century India watch the sun rise on the newly built Taj Mahal. In previews. Opens June 11.
A new musical from Dave Malloy and Rachel Chavkin, the writer-director team behind "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," in which the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff sees a hypnotist after the ill-fated première of his first symphony. The cast includes Gabriel Ebert, Eisa Davis, and Nikki M. James. In previews. Opens June 15.
The New Group presents a play written by and starring Jesse Eisenberg, about an angry grad-school dropout who tries to thwart the impending marriage of his grade-school crush. Scott Elliott directs. In previews. Opens June 2.
(Peter Keepnews’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/24.)
Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85.
Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller. They did not provide the cause.
Ms. Meara was an experienced but relatively unknown stage actress when she joined forces with Jerry Stiller, as members of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater troupe that evolved into Second City (where another male-female team, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, had gotten their start), and later on their own as Stiller and Meara. The duo began performing in New York nightclubs in 1961 and within a year had become a national phenomenon.
(Green’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/14; via Pam Green.)
In “The Legacy,” an 11 o’clock number from the 1978 Broadway musical “On the Twentieth Century,” the egomaniacal producer Oscar Jaffee is at the end of his theatrical rope. Fearing financial ruin, he whips out a gun, announces he’s going to kill himself and offers to bequeath his collection of theater memorabilia to his henchmen:
(Oleg Krasnov’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 5/13.)
The 12th Chekhov International Theatre Festival opens in Moscow May 13. Running through July 17, its program includes 19 stage productions of different genres from 12 countries – Argentina, Belarus, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Russia, Taiwan, France, South Africa and Japan.
Better known as Chekhofest, the event's program consists of two main parts. Productions of the festival's foreign participants will be shown in the World Series, while the Moscow Program will feature recent productions staged by foreign directors and choreographers from Moscow theaters.