Category Archives: Commentary

THE PLEASURES OF BRECHT ·

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A celebration of the simple joys of life, and the story of Brecht’s much-loved poem that described them.

In 1954, poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht was the leader of his own theatre company and an international literary star. But his relationship with the East German communist party was growing increasingly strained, with projects derailed and poems censored. It was a time of disappointment, as he began to see the gap between the hopes that kept him alive throughout the years of war and exile, and the reality of life in the GDR.

Out of this context came a simple poem, Vergnügungen, a list of pleasures, which moves from “the first look out of the window in the morning” via showering, swimming, the dog, dialectics and “comfortable shoes” to “being friendly”, a phrase that for Brecht signified a utopian ideal.

The poem is a statement of the delights of the everyday, but it also looks out into the world beyond the private sphere.

Writer and ecologist Joanna Macy, philosopher Christopher Hamilton, pleasure activist Adrienne Maree Brown and German scholar Karen Leeder reflect on what Brecht’s list of simple pleasures can tell us about our own time.

Music composed and performed by Phil Smith. 
Piano pieces recorded on location at Brecht’s house in Buckow, Germany

Produced by Phil Smith 

A Somethin’ Else production for BBC Radio 4

 

BLACKOUT DARKENS BROADWAY, BUT SONGS BRIGHTEN SIDEWALK SCENES ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/13; via Pam Green.)

Most theaters closed down on their most lucrative night of the week, but some casts gave their fans a memorable moment.

“The Phantom of the Opera” was one of about two dozen Broadway shows that had to cancel performances during the blackout.

Nightly at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theater, Hades, the king of an industrial underworld, boasts of his “power chords and power lines” before bellowing, as the lights flash, “I conduct the Electric City!”

But on Saturday night, even the title character of “Hadestown” turned out to be powerless.

The blackout that darkened parts of Manhattan’s West Side forced the closure of all but a handful of Broadway shows — as well as movie theaters, Carnegie Hall, a Jennifer Lopez concert at Madison Square Garden, much of Lincoln Center and many smaller venues, stranding ticketholders and disappointing tourists who had flocked to performance venues for a Saturday night out.

“There was a line of people outside waiting, so we hate to have to not do the show for them,” Aaron Tveit, one of the stars of “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” which is now in previews, said disappointedly as he left the shuttered Hirschfeld Theater. “Hopefully everyone is just safe.”

The electricity failed about an hour before curtain for most shows, meaning the casts and crew were already in place and audiences were on their way.

(Read more)

Photo:  The New York Times

 

OUTDOOR SHAKESPEARE: THE PIONEERS OF A SUMMER TRADITION ·

(Georgianna Ziegler’s article appeared in Shakespeare & Beyond, 7/9; via Pam Green.)

Shakespeare by the sea, on the river, in the park or garden, on the common – in the summertime Shakespeare’s plays are everywhere outdoors! High-profile shows in New York’s Central Park or at Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival may come to mind for active theatergoers today, but the inspiration for this kind of outdoor performance actually came from semi-amateur theatricals, often led by women, in England and America in the late 19th century.

Lady Archibald Campbell, Agnes Booth, and As You Like It

One of the earliest and most influential of these productions was organized by Janey Seville Pastoral Players. In 1884 and 1885, they put on productions of As You Like It at the Coombe Warren estate in Surrey, with proceeds going to charity. (The Folger Shakespeare Library owns an archive of ima Callander, better known as Lady Archibald Campbell.

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*****LIFE OF PI REVIEW – TRIUMPHANT TIGER BURNS BRIGHT IN A STUNNING SHOW (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/9.)

Crucible, Sheffield

Transformative puppetry, design and direction, and a great human lead, make this adaptation of Yann Martel’s book unmissable

5/5 stars  

A tip for playwrights: when you want to field a formidable character, make sure you give them a good build-up. Do as Lolita Chakrabarti does in her theatrically savvy adaptation of the Yann Martel novel and keep us waiting. By the time Richard Parker, the accidentally named Bengal tiger, slinks on stage, she has primed us to expect something awesome. We already believe in his animal power and carnivorous appetite.novel and keep us waiting. 

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LORCA (IN OUR TIME, BBC RADIO 4–LINK BELOW) ·

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LORCA

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), author of Blood Wedding, Yerma and The House of Bernarda Alba, who mixed the traditions of Andalusia with the avant-garde. He found his first major success with his Gypsy Ballads, although Dali, once his close friend, mocked him for these, accusing Lorca of being too conservative. He preferred performing his poems to publishing them, and his plays marked a revival in Spanish theatre. He was captured and killed by Nationalist forces at the start of the Civil War, his body never recovered, and it’s been suggested this was punishment for his politics and for being openly gay. He has since been seen as the most important Spanish playwright and poet of the last century.

With Maria Delgado Professor of Creative Arts at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

Federico Bonaddio Reader in Modern Spanish at King’s College London

And Sarah Wright Professor of Hispanic Studies and Screen Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH VERSUS HARVEY WEINSTEIN: INSIDE THE BATTLE TO RELEASE ‘THE CURRENT WAR’ ·

DSC02416.ARW

(Adam White’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 7/3; via Pam Green.)

Spare a thought for the Benedict Cumberbatch of an alternate end-of-2017. Having said goodbye to Sherlock, fresh from the global success of Doctor Strange and still basking in the glow of his first Oscar nomination in 2016, Cumberbatch was well and truly on his way to securing that elusive Academy Award.

All courtesy of an eagerly anticipated new drama, and this time with no pesky Eddie Redmaynes waiting in the wings to steal his “charming English toff” thunder. But then Harvey Weinstein happened.

Washing up in on July 26, amid bafflement as to why it’s been sat on the shelf for quite so long, is The Current War, a Cumberbatch Oscar-bait vehicle somehow even stuffier than The Imitation Game, yet coated with none of the same chocolate-box sheen.

Instead it arrives under a cloud of ill-repute. Today better recognised as Weinstein’s last stab at awards-show glory, The Current War fell victim to the Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations within weeks of its initial festival screening in 2017, transforming into a starry, Old Etonian bargaining chip to help Weinstein out of a legal bind. And left behind was a director desperate to pick up the pieces.

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HAMILTON CLANCY ON THE ROAD: SitPL’S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TALKS NYC’S DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT), 90% CHUTZPAH, AND THE MOST DYNAMIC ASSOCIATION OF ARTISTS IN THE WORLD ·

Hamilton Clancy (producer/director/actor/theatre (producer/director/actor/theatre maker) has been making theatre in and around Manhattan for the last 25 years and is the current/founding artistic  director of The Drilling Company where he oversees both Shakespeare in the Parking Lot as well as Bryant Park Shakespeare. Additionally Mr. Clancy is the artistic director of the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Ridgefield, CT.  Mr. Clancy began working with Wynn Handmann at The  American Place Theatre in the early 1990’s and was an original member of the interactive experimental Offerings, also at The  American Place Theatre. After working regionally and with several  other  downtown troupes, Mr. Clancy founded the Drilling Company in 1999.  With The Drilling Company Mr. Clancy has commissioned and developed over 350 new short plays,  producing 21 projects over the past 15 years, celebrating playwrights of  social conscience.  Brian Dykstra, P Seth Bauer, Eric Henry Sanders, C. Denby  Swanson, Trish Harnetiaux, Will Eno, and Vern Theissen are a few of the outstanding writers Mr. Clancy has had the privilege to commission, produce, and direct. Additionally Mr. Clancy has developed and produced 9 world  premieres, including the 2013 NY Times Critic’s Pick, The  Norwegians, which was originally produced and developed by Mr. Clancy, and now published by DPS.  Mr. Clancy is responsible for FREE Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, in Lower Manhattan, offering full productions of Shakespeare plays in a parking lot on the Lower East Side.  Additionally Mr. Clancy is responsible for inaugural and current productions of Bryant Park Shakespeare, and for seven years, oversaw the  development of new works at The Drilling Company Theatre for New Plays  on 78th Street, in Manhattan.  Mr. Clancy has written and received  grants  from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Department of Cultural  affairs, Brad and Melissa Coolidge Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Select Equity Group.

His feature  film and  television credits include HBO’s Wizard of Lies (2016), Billions (2016), Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015), Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, American Gangster, The Better Angels, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Hamilton can be seen as Kowalski in Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, among many others. He was raised in New Orleans, LA and is the  proud  father of Joseph and husband to the  remarkable Karen Kitz-Clancy.

Artistic Director HAMILTON CLANCY tools through Bob Shuman’s SV interview, as Romeo and Juliet, directed by Lukas Raphael, premieres at Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, 7/11 (to play through 7/27).

What does the AD of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot–known for plays performed outside during the hottest days of summer–do during the winter?

For many years we’ve focused on new work during the winter months.  Last year, for example, we premiered Gabriel, by C. Denby Swanson. We also, customarily, sponsor new play readings.  We have a Bare Bard  series, too, in which we gather actors to read Shakespeare plays aloud,  without rehearsal.  Having developed an accomplished company over  some  seasons, Bare Bard serves as a winter rejuvenation, which can sometimes be revelatory and inspire our choices for the summer months.

Which came first:  Shakespeare in the Parking Lot or the Drilling Company? 

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (SitPL) came first.  Shakespeare in the Parking Lot was begun by the legendary company Expanded Arts, which coined the term.  They ran a very active storefront theatre space on  the Lower East Side, for about eight years, in the early ‘90s.  When the  storefront lost its lease, the founder moved upstate, and it looked like  Shakespeare in the Parking Lot would be relegated to the distant  memory of Off-Off-Broadway, downtown.  But a group of intrepid actors decided they would continue SitPL.

The Drilling Company began in 1999. We began and thrived for many years producing short play projects.  In 2000, I was invited to be part of  the continuing Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.  The Drilling Company’s early and continuing mission was to bring diverse audiences together for a  common theatrical event.  SitPL perfectly connected to this mission.

We began coproducing SitPL in 2001, and, in 2006, we took over  producing it completely, despite a complicated gentrification process  transforming the  Lower East Side.

Describe the most significant challenge for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.

In 2012, Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) was approved  by the New York City Council, which meant that land was suddenly  available for development.  SPURA broke am almost fifty-five year stalemate between city government and developers, and a  feeding  frenzy began, which meant that the parking lot, at Ludlow and Broom Streets–where SitPL had been performing for twenty years–would be no more.

How did you find the Clemente Parking Lot, where the company is currently performing?

We  literally spent hours and hours and hours walking around the Lower  East Side looking for a parking lot. The only other possibilities were giant school yards and school parking lots.  In the first twenty years of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, we always performed in a public parking lot.  Accent on public.  There were no gates.  No locks. (The biggest challenge, honestly, has been the lock on the gate.) All of our other options, since then, have been with institutions who are maintaining private property and, as such, our negotiations are more complicated than with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT).  In  2015, however, we knocked on  the  door  of  the Clemente, and they welcomed us into their parking lot.

You also direct plays in Bryant Park.  How and when did that begin?                                                                                                     

Bryant Park came to see Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.  They dug it.  They read in The New York Times that DOT was hassling us to “pay” for  the parking spaces we were using, when performing.  So they wanted to reach out to us and invite us to begin performing Shakespeare at Bryant  Park.  Specifically, the visionary was a man named Ethan Lercher, who  had been with Bryant Park for many years.                    

Part of the history of Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in Central Park deals with confrontations with the city of New York.  What has your experience been like, dealing with public authorities in Manhattan? 

That answer is part of an ongoing story, because we still don’t have our Delacorte  Theatre, and we are searching for our Robert  Moses (NYC Parks Commissioner).  I can say we’ve had the best of times and the  most ridiculous of times.  Financial challenges, of course, are ongoing, because the idea that something FREE for the public should also enjoy FREE occupancy cost is anathema.  Nevertheless, we have been very  fortunate on several occasions when city luminaries, such as  Council woman Margaret  Chinn and  former City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, jumped in to save us when we were imperiled.

At the end of the shows, a hat is passed—does your work need funding or do you prefer things as they are? 

Our work needs funding.

Over the years–and currently–it has survived on 90% artist chutzpah, 8% public contribution, and 2% government funding.  We have also been tremendously fortunate to add Bank of America to our list of supporters, which sounds as if we have entered some rarefied level of backing.  Really, our Bank of America sponsorship comes through Bryant Park Picnics–so we are the happy recipients of their generosity towards Bryant Park.

What has really held Shakespeare in the Parking Lot back, though, is our  unwillingness to allow it to be anything else but FREE.  Corporate sponsors can be unsure of supporting something in a “Parking Lot”–which may not appear glamorous enough for a theatrical venture in Manhattan.

The professionals, who  grace  our  stage, however, are accomplished in  theatre, film, and television, even if Shakespeare in the Parking Lot seems  an unlikely arena for Hollywood scouts to prowl for new talent to put in  their next indie feature or new Netflix  series. That is not how our industry works, and I don’t know if it ever really did.

Our shows are a collective gift to the community.  One hundred percent  of  those who are sure about Shakespeare in the Parking Lot have felt our  magical nights of theatre, unfolding in the most ordinary of circumstances, where community, in the most simple of ways, comes together.

Always Shakespeare?

Always. Some have suggested we branch out. To me, though, Shakespeare  is a rock star who still rocks, whom we’re still catching up with, as a  culture.  Our business is to breathe life into the plays, some of the great wonders of mankind–but we don’t takes sides in the “Who was Shakespeare?” debate.  We leave it to others to fight over what’s controversial on the subject.

What do you find are the advantages of working in a parking lot?

Well, the first advantage is the lowered expectations.  People don’t think they will be touched.  It gives you the opportunity to make magic with very little.

Secondly, there is a surprising intimacy because the audience is so close. Lastly,  there is theatricality, because the actors have to speak out to be heard.

What was your first outdoor production, as an actor?

I was lucky enough to be cast as Orlando, in the Rakka-Thamm (RT) production of As You Like It, at Washington Square ParkGorilla Rep was an offshoot if RT.  They were the early “move-them-around-the-park” FREE Shakespeare.  In one scene, I would drop out of a tree and ask for food.  One night I was doing that, and before anyone could say the next line, a little girl raced onto the stage, grabbed an apple from the basket in front of us, and offered it to me.

That was 1991–and that’s why theatre is special.

How do you get used to working/rehearsing in a public space?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think you ever really get used to it.

The challenge is to work on discovery in the early part of the process, so you can use the latter half to stage the play.

Do you rehearse outside, during the summer–how does that work?

We start inside, but after about ten days, we find an outdoor space.

How do you personally work with actors, since you are one yourself?

I give actors a lot of freedom.

And I try to listen.

Every actor we work is a famous movie star–to me.

Treat actors like movie stars, not puppets.

Do you think differently when casting Shakespeare in the Parking Lot than you would for a more traditional production?

Absolutely. You need warrior-actors. Big circuits with vocal equipment. But there is zero space for those who are cursed with pride.

When I was first asked to work in the parking lot, I called an actress who I knew had played Desdemona.  She told me to not do it.  There were no dressing rooms, too little rehearsal, and it was too hot.  She had a horrible experience.

Now I had done Baltimore dinner theatre, where you served drinks at intermission and worked for tips.  I was still working catering jobs at the time, as a sanitation captain.  All pretense of dignity had been stripped away, so the parking lot was an easy lift for me.

Our profession is a rigorous life, no matter anyone’s fortune in it.  It bruises the souls of so many.  A parking lot actor will know that, but have enough grit to go on.

Your favorite role as an actor?

Hamlet

Why?

It’s the greatest role ever written by a playwright for an actor to play.

Other than that, no reason.

Must good stage work be political? 

It’s difficult to bring oneself up against reality, in 2019, on the planet Earth, and not be political in some way.  Good stage work should reveal current reality–it should reflect the times.  I would propose that endeavors to not be political are just efforts to keep the patient  asleep.  There are many who have this interest, and it is, perhaps, more commercially viable to be an agent of anesthesia, rather than of awakening.  Our political gestures, in art, may not always succeed.  But our successes, as artists, are judged via many, many vectors and variables.  Wallace Shawn says in My Dinner with Andre, “I try to bring myself up against some bits of reality and to share  that with an audience.”  If we are attempting to awaken the sleeping patient, in  our audience, then we are, at least, working in a valid direction. 

Do you find yourself working with the same people—either with those who work on the stage or behind it?

Very purposely. It’s an always-evolving family. People come and go, but I’m interested in the products of associations that can last a lifetime, not the run of a play.  Here’s what I wrote on a napkin, a long time ago:  “The Drilling Company is the most dynamic association of artists in the world.”  

Those who attended Henry the Sixth, Part Three, in August, a few years back, would have seen you beating a drum during different sections of the play.  From a directorial point of view, why did you decide to do this?

The play was about war–the build up to it and the excitement of it.  The drum was a blessed Indian (First People’s) drum.

I wanted the rhythm of war to never leave the audience.

Most important event or influence that prepared you for your work?

Wynn Handmann. I’m definitely a disciple–and, occasionally, I like to hope I’m one of the apostles, but Wynn (Artistic Director of the American Place Theatre) doesn’t think or talk that way.

I would have done nothing, in my  life or career, if I had not had the good fortune to stumble into his  class.  I was fortunate, as a young  actor, to score a role in a play at  The American Place–actually surprising Wynn himself.

Honestly, Wynn never did  anything for me, personally, except to welcome me into that classroom.  But I listened.  And I met a core of extraordinary artists.  I saw that the key to creating extraordinary things was the collection of a group of extraordinary people, seeking a common goal, in a single room or pocket of time.

So, I don’t think I myself am particularly exceptional, other than to have been fortunate enough to have had the gift of the others–who  have  worked with me on our shows.

What’s the worst job you ever took to keep yourself afloat as an artist? 

If  you work in catering it becomes more a question of which catering job  forced you to swallow your dignity the most.

So I have  stories I can tell, but  everyone who  works in catering has them.

It’s a psychotic industry that is as addictive to the struggling artist as crack  cocaine or meth.

And I don’t think you beat it. You endure it .

But my personal mantra  is, “All Good Comes  From Catering.”

And in point of fact, The Drilling Company got its original 501(c)(3) status  through a generous grant from The Great Performances Catering  Company, run by Liz Neumark.  So, back to  you, Liz Neumark.  Their generosity helped me learn how to fish.

One piece of advice that you would give an artist trying to break into the business today?

It’s about who you work with.  So find people who you can work with well–and work with them, not the others, if you can help it.

Don’t be too disappointed by nonacceptance.

You’re not good or bad.  You’re who you are–and trying to get better.  If you’re up for doing that for your whole damn life, you’re okay.

Best play you’ve seen in the city in the last year, besides one of your own?

The Ferryman. Hands down.

Irish Rep’s O’Casey Trilogy was the most impressive feat of  producing  and theatre I’ve seen Off-Broadway in years.  Remarkable excellence.

What’s different about being a professional in the Arts than you ever suspected during your training?

The hopelessness of it all.

It’s just how it is.  Once you get comfortable with that–and you never really  do–but once you make peace with that, well, it’s just something that is  antithetical to training.

Why would you train to do something that is hopeless?

I don’t know, but we do.

It’s just that very, very, very few trainers ever, ever say the truth out loud.

One production you were associated with, whether from Shakespeare in the Parking Lot or elsewhere, that you didn’t want to see end.

The Norwegians.

168 performances.

We could still be running that play.

What’s the first play you ever saw—how old were you and where did you see it?

Peter Pan.  I saw it in the gymnasium of Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.  I believe I was seven years old.  My aunt, who was a senior in high school at the time, was playing Peter Pan.  I didn’t know it then, but  my father was backstage (her brother-in-law) pulling a rope and making  her fly.

Magic!

(c) 2019, 2017 by Hamilton Clancy (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

Visit Shakespeare in the Parking Lot 

Visit the Drilling Company 

Clancy bio:  The State of Shakespeare

Photos (from top): This Week in Shakespeare, The New York Times; Shakespeare in the Parking Lot/The Drilling Company (Jonathan Slaff, Aifric Chriodain); Shuman; TimeOut; WynnHandmanStudio.com; Lee Wexler; Rob Wilson

Press: Jonathan Slaff

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot will present “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Lukas Raphael, July 11 to 27 at La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk Street. This popular New York summer institution is now in its 25th year. Its concept–presenting Shakespeare plays with a “poor theater” aesthetic in a working parking lot–is now widely imitated around the US and around the world, with productions as far away as New Zealand. The Drilling Company, Artistic Director Hamilton Clancy, has produced the attraction since 2005.

“Romeo and Juliet” will be performed July 11 to 27, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM. All admission is free. Seats are available on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving early to secure a place. Audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out. No one has ever been turned away and there’s never a wait for tickets.

HOW DO I GO TO SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT? 

* Performances are at: Parking Lot of The Clemente, 114 Norfolk Street (E. side of Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington). 
* Shows are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM and admission is FREE
* Seats are available on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving early to secure a place. You are welcome to bring your own chair. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out.
* We’ve never turned anyone away and there’s never a wait for tickets.
* Subways to The Clemente: F to Delancey Street, M to Essex Street. MAP

WHERE AND WHEN:
July 11 to 27, 2019
La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk Street
FREE
Subways: F to Delancey Street, M to Essex Street.
Presented by The Drilling Company
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM
Running time 100 minutes

BROADWAY: LIBERACE MUSICAL BASED ON HBO MOVIE “BEHIND THE CANDELABRA” FINALLY ON THE WAY, PRODUCERS WANT BRADLEY COOPER ·

(Roger Friedman’s article appeared on Showbiz 411, 7/29.)

Liberace and his glittering pianos are finally on track for Broadway.

For the last couple of years, movie producer David Permut–who just produced the all-star Mueller Report reading– has been trying to line up the right elements for this project.

But now all systems seem ‘go.’ Permut has got the rights to HBO’s award winning mini series, “Behind the Candelabra,” which starred Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, Scott Thorson. The mini series won tons of awards.

Permut tells me now it’s time to think about who will play the flamboyant superstar. In a perfect world, he wants Bradley Cooper. Now that we know Cooper can sing and play instruments, this makes sense. It’s a potential Tony Award winner.

The prospective director would be Christopher Ashley, who won the Tony in 2017 for “Come from Away” and is the director of the La Jolla Playhouse. “Behind the Candelabra” will start there.

(Read more

***** ‘THEATRE FOR ONE’ (REVIEW PICK, IE) ·

(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in The Irish Times, 6/25.)

Thought-provoking theatre where the audience is just you

Review: Theatre for One’s six microplays are bracing, intimate-as-a-whisper performances

THEATRE FOR ONE

Outside Cork Opera House
★★★★★
Annie Ryan of Corn Exchange once described her Car Show, which played to no more than three passengers at a time back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as “the best show you never saw”. Now, conspiring to populate Octopus Theatricals’ tiny collapsible venue with microplays from the nation’s finest writers and performers, Landmark Productions has a new claim to that title. The only thing these bracing, thought-provoking and intimate-as-a-whisper five-minute, one-on-one performances can’t satisfy is demand.

The structure that greets you outside Cork Opera House (which is presenting the show with Cork Midsummer Festival) is something between a giant gig case and a magician’s box. That seems appropriate. Srda Vasiljevic and Eoghan Carrick, their directors, make the plays feel as immediate as a song, revealing and then concealing their performers, as a kind of conjuring act. Now you see them. Now you don’t.

In that blink of intensity neither the playwrights, the actors nor the audience ever seemed so electrically aware of each other or, for that matter, themselves.

(Read more)

Photos: Irish Times

A PLAY DISSECTED WHITE PRIVILEGE IN EDUCATION. THEN THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL BROKE. ·

(Nancy Coleman’s article appeared in the New York Times, 6/21; via Pam Green.)

Jeremy Wechsler was on his way to rehearsal one morning in March when his phone started, and then wouldn’t stop, going off.

The artistic director of Chicago’s Theater Wit was at the helm of “Admissions,” a wry glimpse at privilege and educational opportunity through the eyes of a white teenager — deferred from his dream school — and his parents, officials focused on diversifying their East Coast boarding school. The play was set to begin performances in just over a week.

As Mr. Wechsler made his way to the theater, he got one text after another — “Have you seen this?” — with links to that morning’s unfolding news: Federal prosecutors had charged 50 parents, coaches and test administrators in a wide-reaching college admissions scheme, a scandal implicating wealthy families who, according to the Justice Department, had cheated, bribed and photoshopped their children’s way into elite universities.

“Admissions,” which was written by Joshua Harmon and opened Off Broadway exactly a year before the scandal broke, doesn’t have much to say on bribery (or cropping a student’s face onto a water polo player’s body, for that matter). But its overarching themes — how far parents will go to secure opportunities for their children, and the systemic advantages some demographic groups wield over others — reverberated through the emerging details of the scandal.

(Read more)

Photo: The New York Times