Category Archives: Commentary

IRELAND MARKS BLOOMSDAY WITH PLAY ABOUT ULYSSES OBSCENITY TRIAL ·

(Rory Carroll’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/16/22; Photo: James Joyce in Zurich in 1915. Photograph: Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy.)

1933 trial that vindicated ‘pornographic’ James Joyce novel made into play to be staged in Dublin

It was a seminal literary trial in which a book itself – not its author or publisher – was the defendant.

The United States v One Book Called Ulysses, as the case was termed, put James Joyce’s masterpiece, which had been banned for obscenity, on trial in a New York courtroom in 1933. The landmark ruling in favour of Ulysses resounded across the world and helped lift bans in other jurisdictions, including the UK.

The victory for freedom of speech eventually faded into history, a dusty footnote, but now it has been turned into a play that will be performed in Dublin to mark the centenary of the publication of Ulysses.

“A history play is never about history it’s always about today, and this seemed a good time to be talking about cancellation and censorship,” said the author, Colin Murphy. “I like stories that can flip how we think about things today.”

The performance of The United States v Ulysses at the Pavilion theatre in Dún Laoghaire will be one of dozens of events on Thursday to celebrate Bloomsday, named after Leopold Bloom, the hero of Joyce’s novel, which recounts his wanderings around Dublin on a single day, 16 June 1904.

The annual celebration – a mix of tours, readings, concerts, screenings, reenactments and tributes – has additional resonance this year as it marks a century since the book’s publication in 1922, a keystone for modern literature.

The Museum of Literature Ireland – its acronym MoLI is an homage to Bloom’s fictional wife Molly – collaborated with 35 Irish embassies and consulates to make a short film, titled Hold to the Now, that mixes scholars and actors, including Stephen Fry. It will premiere on YouTube on Thursday morning.

The day will also mark the first public staged performance of Murphy’s play, which draws on case files, other historical material, and Set at Random, a novel by Declan Dunne about the trial.

“I thought I knew the Joyce story but this had completely passed me by,” said Murphy. “For us Joyce is an Irish story so it was surprising to find this American leg, and this leg is crucial. The verdict creates the possibility of Joyce as a part of mass popular culture.”

(Read more)

 

THE KYIV CITY BALLET TO TOUR THE US IN AN AMERICAN PREMIERE…SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2022 ·

 

(via Scott Klein, Ken Sherman & Associates; Photos: Kyiv City Ballet.)

 

www.KCBTheater.com

The Kyiv City Ballet (www.kcbtheater.com), under the artistic direction of Ivan Kozlov, announced today a U.S tour from September 16 to October 24, 2022. The Fall tour is a US premiere and marks the Kyiv City Ballet’s first United States performances ever. 

 

The day before Ukraine was invaded in February, The Kyiv City Ballet unknowingly took one of the last flights out of Kyiv. The company flew to Paris to begin a long planned tour. They have not returned home. The country of France sheltered them and the company has been performing throughout France, and now Europe, since the invasion began.

 

The US tour will include a full-length Swan Lake (choreography by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Ivan Kozlov), and a second mixed repertory program of three ballets: Thoughts (choreography by Vladyslav Dobshynskyi) a contemporary ballet, Tribute to Peace (choreography by Ekaterina and Ivan Kozlov) a neo-classical work, and Men of Kyiv (choreography by Pavlo Virskya Ukranian folk dance.

“We are honored to share the beauty of ballet with US audiences, through Ukranian artists” said Ivan Kozlov, Artistic Director. “Touring the States for the first time with a range of ballets makes an important global statement. It demonstrates the resilience of the Ukrainian people.”

 

The Kyiv City Ballet’s mission is to bring joy to audiences through ballet by bringing exemplary artists to theatres around the world. In the past decade, the company has successfully toured throughout dozens of countries on four continents.

 

Two of Ukraine’s prima ballerinas: Krystina Kadashevych and Oksana Bondarenko will perform with the company on their US tour. The company’s principal dancer is Vsevolod Maevskiy, a former soloist of the Mariinsky Ballet and Kozlov’s former student.

 

“We are humbled that Rhizome has been asked to produce and strategically support the Kyiv City Ballet on their very first tour to the United States,” said producer Kristopher McDowell. “That major cultural arts centers across the country are coming together to open their doors and their hearts is extraordinary. It is very clear this company and their artistry will have great appeal to non-dance and dance audiences alike.”

 

Additional tour dates will be announced over the summer. The Kyiv City Ballet’s confirmed 2022 US tour schedule is as follows:

 

 

 

Kyiv City Ballet

The Kyiv City Ballet was founded in 2012 by the current Artistic Director Ivan Kozlov. Their mission is to bring joy to audiences through ballet. They strive to bring exemplary artists to theatres around the World. In the past decade, they have successfully worked together with various partners and toured throughout dozens of countries and 4 continents. Their classical ballets include: “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Nutcracker”, “Scheherazade”, “Giselle”, “Chopiniana”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Don Quixote”, “Gala Tchaikovsky”, “Funny Concert” “Strauss Evening”, “Carmen Suite”. Ballets for young spectators and their families: “Cinderella”, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Aibolit and Barmalei”,”Coppelia” as well as “Thoughts,” “Men of Kyiv,” and “Tribute to Peace.”

 

Ivan Kozlov (Artistic Director)

Ex-Premier of the National Opera of Ukraine, The St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet, IBT (Internationale Ballet Theater), and the Mariinsky Theater; the choreographer and teacher Ivan Anatolievich Kozlov was born on 13 December 1982. In 2000, after graduating from the KGHU (Kiyv State Choreographic School), under the tutelage of the Honored Artist of Ukraine, Vladimir Denisenko, Ivan Kozlov was invited to join the ballet troupe of the National Opera of Ukraine, and simultaneously to the world- famous troupe of Boris Eifman in St. Petersburg. He worked as an artist in both troupes. During his work in the theater of B. Eifman, Ivan performed the leading parts in the following repertoire: “Red Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, “Russian Hamlet”, “Anna Karenina”, and “The Brothers Karamazov”. In the troupe of the National Opera of Ukraine, he performed the leading parts in the ballets Swan Lake, Giselle, Spartacus, Don Quixote, Viennese Waltz, and many others. Ivan Kozlov worked under contract as a leading soloist of the “Internationale Ballet Theater” in the United States. From 2007 to 2010, he was the premier of the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky Theater, where he performed the leading parts in nearly the entire repertoire of the theater, as well as in numerous concert numbers. Ivan is a laureate of many ballet competitions, including the Serge Lifar International Competition (2002, silver medal) and the X Moscow International Competition (2005, silver medal). Among the teachers of Ivan Kozlov are some of the most outstanding dancers of the 20th century: People’s Artist of the USSR, Irina Kolpakova, People’s Artist of the USSR Vladlilen Semenov, People’s Artist of the RSFSR, Sergei Berezhnoi, Premier of the Mariinsky Theater, Eldar Aliyev, and Honored Artist of Ukraine, Anatoly Kozlov. Since 2014, Ivan Kozlov has been the executive of the theater, “Kiev City Ballet” with which he has successfully toured Europe and the world.

 

Rhizome Consulting LLC (producer)

Rhizome formed in 2020 by combining the resources of KMP Artists, Sheffield Global Arts Management, and the firm’s strategic partner Ping Pong Productions. The firm provides customized strategies and innovative approaches for arts organizations globally. It works with cultural organizations and artists to innovate from a business perspective. Current Rhizome Consulting clients; include: The Scottish Ballet*; West Australian Ballet*; Beijing Dance Theater*; Charlotte Ballet*: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre*; Chicago Children’s Theatre*; Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble*, Henning Rübsam*; Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dancing Wheels Company*; MUMMENSCHANZ*; PHILADANCO!; Pioneer Winter Collective; Renegade Performance Group; VIVER BRASIL; Helen Pickett*; Yuanyuan Wang*; Kevin Lee-Y Green; Jody Oberfedler; Pioneer Winter; Vera Passos and André M. Zachery. Rhizome helped launch Artists Connectivity, a digital network and education program that connects over 3,000 professional artists. Artists Connectivity stimulates international collaborations between artists from 22 countries. RhizomeArts.com

 

*Companies and Creatives available by arrangement with KMP Artists.

KMPartists.com

 

THE IRISH TIMES IRISH THEATRE AWARDS 2022: ALL THE WINNERS REVEALED ·

(Sara Keating’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 6/12; Photo: Best actress: Bríd Ní Neachtain won for her role in Happy Days. Photograph: Andrew Downes/Xposure.)

Six months ago Ireland’s theatre world was in lockdown. Tonight felt like a big win for the entire creative community

It felt like a big win for the entire theatre community at the 23rd Irish Times Theatre Awards ceremony on Sunday at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, in Dublin. Six months ago, venues, artists and producers across the country were still in lockdown, wondering when the live-performance sector might return to normality.

On paper, the artists shortlisted in the 15 categories, for productions staged in 2020-21, may have looked like competitors. Who was the better actor: Domhnall Gleeson playing a psychologically unstable patient in Enda Walsh’s Medicine or Matthew Malone playing an HIV-positive man in his dying days in Phillip McMahon’s Once Before I Go? But in the courtyard of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham the rivals came together as colleagues.

It seemed especially fitting, then, that the judges’ special award was presented to the National Campaign for the Arts for its “exceptional dedication to advocacy and political engagement on behalf of the arts, particularly during Covid”, an award that recognised the collective endeavour involved in keeping the lamps lit during a period when creating live performance was almost impossible.

In the end, neither Gleeson nor Malone was triumphant in the best-actor category, although Helen Atkinson, Teho Teardo and Seán Carpio won the best-soundscape award for their support of Gleeson, and Katie Davenport won best costume for dressing Malone, who was gloriously clad in celestial wings for his final scene in the Gate Theatre production. (Davenport’s costuming for Michael Gallen’s opera Elsewhere was also recognised in the award.) Instead the honour for best actor went to Stanley Townsend for his performance as Marcus Conway, the middle-aged protagonist of Solar Bones, adapted from the Mike McCormack novel by Michael West.

Solar Bones also saw Lynne Parker named best director; the Rough Magic Theatre production premiered at the Watergate Theatre as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival in August 2020, marking the reopening of theatres after the first lockdown; the play’s themes of isolation, grief and anxiety chimed uncannily with Covid times.

The best-actress award went to Bríd Ní Neachtain for Laethanta Sona, the first Irish-language production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, which was performed in the extreme environment of Inis Oírr last August as part of Galway International Arts Festival. Buried up to her waist and then her neck in the inhospitable landscape, it was a performance of physical endurance and a psychological challenge.

A big winner tonight was a sleeper hit of Galway International Arts Festival: Volcano, created by Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects, won four of the seven categories in which it was nominated, including best movement for Murphy and best lighting design for Stephen Dodd (who was also commended for his work on the Abbey Theatre’s production of The Long Christmas Dinner). Alyson Cummins and Pai Rathaya won best set for their claustrophobic reconstruction of Nun’s Island Theatre, in which audience members sat alone in booths to watch Murphy and Will Thompson perform a disturbing but life-affirming postapocalyptic tale that unfolded in four instalments over four nights. With any luck, a bigger audience will get the opportunity to see the remarkable work—which took the best-production honour—in the future.

As theatre artists reminded us as they advocated for each other over the past two years, the essence of theatre is its liveness, its ephemerality, its unrepeatable nature. Perhaps the most felicitous honour, then, was the award of the special-tribute prize to the photographer Ros Kavanagh, who has played a key role in preserving the artistic process and output of hundreds of theatre artists over the past two decades, including much of the work being celebrated at the awards. Selina Cartmell, director of the Gate Theatre, called Kavanagh a key collaborator who has a rare ability to “make you understand your role as a director”; the choreographer David Bolger highlighted the beauty of an archive of images that “will last forever when the show is gone”.

The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2020/21: The winners

Best actor

Stanley Townsend, Solar Bones (Kilkenny Arts Festival in partnership with Rough Magic in association with Watergate Theatre)

Best actress

Bríd Ní Neachtain, Laethanta Sona, (Company SJ and Abbey Theatre in association with Dublin Theatre Festival and Galway International Arts Festival)

Supporting actor

Bosco Hogan, One Good Turn (The Abbey Theatre) and The Enemy Within (An Grianán Theatre)

Supporting actress

Bláithín Mac Gabhann, The Seagull After Chekhov (Druid) and Our New Girl (The Gate Theatre)

Best director

Lynne Parker, Solar Bones (Kilkenny Arts Festival in partnership with Rough Magic in association with Watergate Theatre)

Best set

Alyson Cummins and Pai Rathaya, Volcano (Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects)

Best costume

Katie Davenport, Once Before I Go (The Gate Theatre) and Elsewhere (Straymaker and the Abbey Theatre in association with Miroirs Étendus and Once Off Productions)

Best lighting

Stephen Dodd, Volcano (Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects) and The Long Christmas Dinner (Abbey Theatre)

Best soundscape

Helen Atkinson, Teho Teardo and Seán Carpio, Medicine (Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival)

Best movement

Luke Murphy, Volcano (Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects)

Best ensemble

Mojo Mickeybo (Bruiser Theatre Company)

Best production

Volcano (Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects)

Best new play

Mark O’Halloran, Conversations After Sex (thisispopbaby)

(Read more)

 

 

PAAPA ESSIEDU ON GRIEF, DOUBT AND FURY AT BORIS JOHNSON: ‘BIGOTRY IS THE BACKBONE OF HIS CHARACTER’ ·

(Simon Hattenstone’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/11; via Pam Green; Photo: Paapa Essiedu: ‘Before the first day on a job, I have a nervous breakdown.’ Photograph: Elliott Wilcox/The Guardian. Clothes: Fendi. Necklace: Alighieri.)

The I May Destroy You star talks about politics; his great friend Michaela Coel; dealing with drama school racism; and why even as a leading man he still struggles with self-confidence

Paapa Essiedu greets me at his local caff in London. He has a cold drink in his hand, and a bag featuring Basquiat-style daubings hangs over one shoulder. Essiedu is wearing huge shades, black nail varnish, a designer T-shirt that translates Jamaican patois into the Queen’s English, an open shirt and the coolest two-tone raincoat you’ve ever seen. He seems eye-poppingly confident.

And so he should be. Essiedu is establishing himself as one of the finest actors of his generation. His punk, graffiti-artist Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company was unforgettable, not least for his astonishing, tearful delivery of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy. He was heartbreaking as the hook up-addicted rape victim Kwame in Michaela Coel’s brilliant TV drama I May Destroy You, and complex in Jack Thorne’s Kiri, which dealt with the abduction of a black child from her white adoptive family in Bristol. As reporter Ed Washburn in the TV series Press, he constantly kept you guessing – is he too noble for the scuzzy world of the tabloids or the most unscrupulous of the lot? Essiedu has a rare suppleness as an actor, both verbal and physical, that keeps him one step ahead of his audience. Now he’s starring in Sky’s existential sci-fi thriller series The Lazarus Project as a regular fella who discovers he has the ability to turn back time. Essiedu gives another beautifully nuanced performance. As George, he is bewildered, soulful and utterly believable, anchoring both the premise and the series.

Well, you’re a very good actor, I say. “Do you really think so?” he asks. I assume he’s fishing for compliments. Well, don’t you? “Erm … I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I just started a job yesterday and on the day before the first day on every job, I have a nervous breakdown, thinking: this is the one where people will find me out, see that what’s underneath the car bonnet doesn’t work.” Genuinely? “Genuine!” he says fiercely.

Essiedu in The Lazarus Project

When you say nervous breakdown, how bad are we talking? “Like, really bad. I need a lot of support from the people who are close to me to drag me into the car to go to work on that first day. It’s generally only the first day or the first week.” You really don’t want to go? “Yes. I’m like: I’m going to fuck it up. I read, ‘What are you doing here?’ on everybody’s face. Or, ‘Oh my God I’ve made a huge mistake in inviting you to be in this’ in their body language. You know that thing when you project what your brain wants you to see on somebody who is probably just having a cup of tea? I read things into them that they are hopefully not thinking.” He comes to a stop. “Maybe they are thinking it.” Blimey, I think – we’ve only been talking for a couple of minutes.

He tells me he’s starving, and always has Colombian eggs when he’s here. “But I’ve got a real phobia of people watching me eat.” I tell him I won’t watch, and can’t see anyway because the sun’s so strong. “Do you want to borrow these?” he says, pointing to his shades.

Essiedu, 32, was born in London to Ghanaian parents. His father, Tony, a lawyer, returned to Ghana when he was a baby. His mother, Selina, who taught fashion and design at adult education colleges, was a single parent; he was an only child. They were a team, adored each other, relied on each other, and couldn’t be closer. She struggled for money, but Essiedu won a scholarship to a private school. She encouraged him to work hard, and he did – for himself and for her.

I ask if he has a photo of her. He brings out his phone. “Do you think I look like her?” He does, and it’s obvious he wants me to say so. His eyes burn with emotion. What made her so special? “She was just an amazingly loving, strong, resilient and, for me, inspiring person.”

(Read more)

 

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (133) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

I went out to the front of the stage and stared into that awful hole beyond the footlights, trying to become accustomed to it, and to free myself from its pull; but the more I tried not to notice the place the more I thought about it. Just then a workman who was going by me dropped a package of nails. I started to help pick them up. As I did this I had the very pleasant sensation of feeling quite at home on the big stage. But the nails were soon picked up, and again I became oppressed by the size of the place. (AP)

DRAMA DESK AWARDS 2022: WINNERS ANNOUNCED (LIST) ·

(via Scott Klein,  Keith Sherman & Associates)

 

WINNERS ANNOUNCED

 

Awards will be presented Tuesday, June 14 at Sardi’s Restaurant

 

 www.DramaDeskAwards.com

 

 

Winners for the 66th Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced today.

 

This year’s Drama Desk Awards will take place at Sardi’s Restaurant (234 W 44th Street) on June 14th from 3:00 – 6:00pm. The full list of winners is available at the website www.DramaDeskAwards.com, and below.

 

In keeping with the Drama Desk‘s mission, the nominators considered shows that opened on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway between July 2, 2021 and May 1, 2022 for this year’s Awards. Only live performances were eligible – if performances were also available for streaming, 21 or more unique live performances were required. 

 

The Drama Desk Awards are produced by Tony Award winner Scott Mauro/Scott Mauro Entertainment and the show is being written by six-time Emmy Award winner Bruce Vilanch.

 

Limited tickets to the ceremony are available at: www.DramaDeskAwards.com and to purchase an ad in the virtual program, please email Dustin Fitzharris at dfitz.geo@yahoo.com.

 

 

About The Drama Desk

The Drama Desk Awards, which are presented annually, honor outstanding achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway. What sets the Drama Desk Awards apart is that they are voted on and bestowed by theater critics, journalists, editors, and publishers covering theater. 

 

The 2021-2022 Drama Desk Nominating Committee is composed of: Martha Wade Steketee (Chair; freelance, UrbanExcavations.com), Peter Filichia (Broadway Radio), Kenji Fujishima (freelance: TheaterMania), Juan Michael Porter II (TheBody.com; freelance: TDF Stages, Did They Like It?, New York Theatre Guide), Ayanna Prescod (freelance: Variety, New York Theatre Guide, Today Tix), Zachary Stewart (TheaterMania), and Diep Tran (freelance: Backstage, American Theatre, Broadway News, New York Theater Guide).

 

 

 www.DramaDeskAwards.com 

 

 

Follow the Drama Desk Awards 

@DramaDeskAwards 

on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates

 

 

2022 DRAMA DESK AWARD WINNERS

 

**Winners are highlighted and starred

Outstanding Play

Cullud Wattah, by Erika Dickerson-Despenza, The Public Theater

English, by Sanaz Toossi, Atlantic Theater Company

**Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon, Manhattan Theatre Club

Sanctuary City, by Martyna Majok, New York Theatre Workshop

Selling Kabul, by Sylvia Khoury, Playwrights Horizons

The Chinese Lady, by Lloyd Suh, The Public Theater

Outstanding Musical

Harmony, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

**Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

Six

The Hang, HERE Arts Center

 

Outstanding Revival of a Play

for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf

**How I Learned to Drive, Manhattan Theatre Club

Lackawanna Blues, Manhattan Theatre Club

Skeleton Crew, Manhattan Theatre Club

Trouble in Mind, Roundabout Theatre Company

Twilight: Lost Angeles, 1992, Signature Theatre

 

Outstanding Revival of a Musical

Assassins, Classic Stage Company

Baby, Out of the Box Theatrics

Caroline, or Change, Roundabout Theatre Company

**Company

 

Outstanding Actor in a Play

Brandon J. Dirden, Skeleton Crew, Manhattan Theatre Club

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out, Second Stage Theater

Jacob Ming-Trent, Merry Wives, The Public Theater (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

**Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues, Manhattan Theatre Club

John Douglas Thompson, The Merchant of Venice, Theatre for a New Audience

 

Outstanding Actress in a Play

Tala Ashe, English, Atlantic Theater Company

Ruth Negga, Macbeth

Andrea Patterson, Cullud Wattah, The Public Theater

**Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew, Manhattan Theatre Club

Shannon Tyo, The Chinese Lady, The Public Theater

Michelle Wilson, Confederates, Signature Theatre

 

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night

Myles Frost, MJ

Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire

**Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop

Chip Zien, Harmony, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

 

Outstanding Actress in a Musical

Kearstin Piper Brown, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

Sharon D. Clarke, Caroline, or Change, Roundabout Theatre Company

Jeanna de Waal, Diana

**Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square

 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play

Joshua Boone, Skeleton Crew, Manhattan Theatre Club

Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind, Roundabout Theatre Company

Daniel K. Isaac, The Chinese Lady, The Public Theater

Billy Eugene Jones, On Sugarland, New York Theatre Workshop

**Ron Cephas Jones, Clyde’s, Second Stage Theater

 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play

**Francis Benhamou, Prayer for the French Republic, Manhattan Theatre Club

Stephanie Berry, On Sugarland, New York Theatre Workshop

Sonnie Brown, what you are now, Ensemble Studio Theatre

Page Leong, Out of Time, NAATCO and The Public Theater

Kenita R. Miller, for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf

Kara Young, Clyde’s, Second Stage Theater

 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

Justin Austin, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

**Matt Doyle, Company

Jared Grimes, Funny Girl

Tavon Olds-Sample, MJ

 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

Judy Kuhn, Assassins, Classic Stage Company

Tamika Lawrence, Black No More, The New Group

**Patti LuPone, Company

Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

Jennifer Simard, Company

 

Outstanding Director of a Play

Knud Adams, English, Atlantic Theater Company

Saheem Ali, Merry Wives, The Public Theater (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

**Rebecca Frecknall, Sanctuary City, New York Theatre Workshop

Taibi Magar, Twilight: Lost Angeles, 1992, Signature Theatre

Whitney White, On Sugarland, New York Theatre Workshop

 

Outstanding Director of a Musical

John Doyle, Assassins, Classic Stage Company

**Marianne Elliott, Company

Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Six

Bartlett Sher, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

 

Outstanding Choreography

Ayodele Casel (tap choreography), Funny Girl

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, Six

**Bill T. Jones, Garrett Coleman, and Jason Oremus (Irish + Hammerstep), Gelan Lambert and Chloe Davis (associates), Paradise Square

Liam Steel, Company

Christopher Wheeldon, Michael Balderrama (associate), Rich + Tone Taleuega (Michael Jackson movement), MJ

 

Outstanding Music

**Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six

Jason Howland, Paradise Square

Matt Ray, The Hang, HERE Arts Center

Carrie Rodriguez, ¡Americano!

Jeanine Tesori, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

 

Outstanding Lyrics

Amanda Green, Mr. Saturday Night

Taylor Mac, The Hang, HERE Arts Center

**Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six

David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

Lynn Nottage, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

Shaina Taub, Suffs, The Public Theater

 

Outstanding Book of a Musical

Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel, Mr. Saturday Night

Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six

Lynn Nottage, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

**Bruce Sussman, Harmony, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

 

Outstanding Orchestrations

Tom Curran, Six

Greg Jarrett, Assassins, Classic Stage Company

Mark Hartman and Yasuhiko Fukuoka, The Streets of New York, Irish Repertory Theatre

**Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ

 

Outstanding Music in a Play

Te’La and Kamauu, Thoughts of a Colored Man

**Bill Sims Jr., Lackawanna Blues, Manhattan Theatre Club

Michael Thurber and Farai Malianga (drum compositions), Merry Wives, The Public Theater (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

 

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play

Beowulf Boritt, Merry Wives, The Public Theater (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

Wilson Chin, Pass Over

Marsha Ginsberg, English, Atlantic Theater Company

**Takeshi Kata, Clyde’s, Second Stage Theater

Junghyun Georgia Lee, Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord, New York Theatre Workshop

 

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical

Emma Bailey, Six

**Beowulf Boritt, Flying Over Sunset, Lincoln Center Theater

Bunny Christie, Company

David Zinn, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

 

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play

Linda Cho, The Chinese Lady, The Public Theater

Gregory Gale, Fairycakes

Tilly Grimes, The Alchemist, Red Bull Theater

Qween Jean, On Sugarland, New York Theatre Workshop

**Jennifer Moeller, Clyde’s, Second Stage Theater

 

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical

Machine Dazzle, The Hang, HERE Arts Center

Susan Hilferty, Funny Girl

Santo Loquasto, The Music Man

**Gabriella Slade, Six

Catherine Zuber, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

 

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play (tie)

**Christopher Akerlind, Clyde’s, Second Stage Theater

Reza Behjat, English, Atlantic Theater Company

Isabella Byrd, Sanctuary City, New York Theatre Workshop

**Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic, Manhattan Theatre Club

Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, Cullud Wattah, The Public Theater

 

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical (tie)

Natasha Katz, Diana

**Natasha Katz, MJ

**Bradley King, Flying Over Sunset, Lincoln Center Theater

Jennifer Tipton, Intimate Apparel, Lincoln Center Theater

 

Outstanding Projection Design

**59 Productions, Flying Over Sunset, Lincoln Center Theater

David Bengali, Twilight: Lost Angeles, 1992, Signature Theatre

Stefania Bulbarella and Alex Basco Koch, Space Dogs, MCC Theater

Shawn Duan, The Chinese Lady, The Public Theater

Sven Ortel, Thoughts of a Colored Man

 

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play

Tyler Kieffer, Seven Deadly Sins, Tectonic Theater Project & Madison Wells Live

Hidenori Nakajo and Ryan Rumery, Autumn Royal, Irish Repertory Theatre

**Ben and Max Ringham, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Jamie Lloyd Company at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Mikaal Sulaiman, Sanctuary City, New York Theatre Workshop

Lee Kinney, Selling Kabul, Playwrights Horizons

 

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical

Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Company

Paul Gatehouse, Six

Kai Harada, Kimberly Akimbo, Atlantic Theater Company

**Gareth Owen, MJ

 

Outstanding Wig and Hair

Matthew B. Armentrout, Paradise Square

**David Brian Brown, Mrs. Doubtfire

Paul Huntley, Diana

Charles G. LaPointe, MJ

 

Outstanding Solo Performance

Alex Edelman, Just for Us, The Cherry Lane Theatre

Arturo Luís Soria, Ni Mi Madre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

**Kristina Wong, Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord, New York Theatre Workshop

 

Unique Theatrical Experience

**Seven Deadly Sins, Tectonic Theater Project & Madison Wells Live

 

Outstanding Adaptation

**Merry Wives, by Jocelyn Bioh, The Public Theater (Free Shakespeare in the Park)

The Alchemist, by Jeffrey Hatcher, Red Bull Theater

 

Outstanding Puppet Design

Amanda Villalobos, Wolf Play, Soho Rep.

**James Ortiz, The Skin of Our Teeth, Lincoln Center Theater

Rockefeller Productions, Winnie the Pooh, The Hundred Acre Theatre at Theatre Row

 

Harold S. Prince Lifetime Achievement Award

In four decades as playwright, novelist, actor, and director, Alice Childress (1912-1994) challenged racism with engrossing stories and memorable characters. When a New York producer demanded revisions to soften the impact of Trouble in Mind, after an initial run Off Broadway and prior to its Broadway debut, Childress withdrew the script. Sixty-five years later, the Drama Desk celebrates the long-delayed Broadway premiere of this timeless masterpiece and salutes Childress as a towering figure in contemporary theater history.

 

Ensemble Award

In Six, Adrianna Hicks, Andrea Macasaet, Brittney Mack, Abby Mueller, Samantha Pauly, and Anna Uzele bring to musical life the women who married England’s King Henry VIII. The fanciful result is a buoyant dramatization of their individually purposeful and collectively empowering journeys.

 

The Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award

This season, as a woman hiding her brother from the Taliban in Sylvia Khoury’s Selling Kabul and an English instructor straddling two very different cultures in Sanaz Toossi’s EnglishMarjan Neshat embodied disparate characters so fully that it was hard to recognize the single actor in the two roles. Whether in drama or comedy, Neshat mines the playwright’s text for a vast panoply of emotions that yield vivid, intricate portrayals of the parts she undertakes.

 

Additional Special Awards

Dede Ayite seems to have costumed half the actors of this theater season with her designs for Merry WivesSeven Deadly SinsThe Last of the Love LettersChicken and BiscuitsSlave PlayNollywood DreamsAmerican Buffalo, and How I learned to Drive. Whether dressing working-class Marylanders of the 1960s, amateur criminals of the 1970s, or West African immigrants in today’s Harlem, Ayite has a knack for conveying characters’ means, values, and aspirations before the actors utter a word.

 

Adam Rigg enhanced storytelling through wildly varying scenic designs this season including: a house in wood, shadow, and reflective glass that draws the audience into the Flint, Michigan water crisis in Cullud Wattah; a community cul-de-sac where trauma and history are celebrated in On Sugarland; and the falling walls, flower-covered hillsides, and functional seaside fun ride of The Skin of Our Teeth.

 

With the category-defying Oratorio for Living ThingsHeather Christian aims to encompass all human existence in a single inventive and startlingly beautiful work. In times of pandemic, war, and social upheaval, Christian’s work (directed by Lee Sunday Evans and brought to life by a superb cast and creative team) is an awe-inspiring reminder that, even in the darkest times, there will always be artistic peaks to scale.

 

Final tally of Awards

 

4 Wins

Clyde’s

Company

Six

 

3 Wins

Flying Over Sunset

MJ

Prayer for the French Republic

 

 

2 Wins

Lackawanna Blues

Paradise Square

 

1 Win

A Strange Loop

Cyrano de Bergerac

Harmony

How I Learned to Drive

Kimberly Akimbo

Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord

Merry Wives

Mrs. Doubtfire

Sanctuary City

Seven Deadly Sins

Skeleton Crew

The Skin of Our Teeth

 

 

 

 

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JAMMING WITH JOKERMAN: HOW BOB MARLEY AND BOB DYLAN’S SONGS POWERED HIT MUSICALS ·

(Ammar Kalia’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/31; via Pam Green;  Photo:  Arinzé Kene in Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical and Shirley Henderson with Adam James in Girl from the North Country. Composite: Tristram Kenton.)

Olivier award-winner Simon Hale on the thrill of orchestrating two legends’ tracks on Get Up, Stand Up! and Girl from the North Country

It’s not often you get the green light from Bob Dylan to run riot with his songs. But for composer Simon Hale and playwright Conor McPherson, a call from the Old Vic theatre in 2017 was just that: an invitation to rework Dylan’s songbook into a musical, with the blessing of free rein from the artist.

The ensuing show, Girl from the North Country, opened that year to rave reviews for its deft transformation of 19 of Dylan’s journeying songs into a story set in 1930s Minnesota. Following runs in the West End and on Broadway, the show is now embarking on a UK tour and Hale is back in the rehearsal room.

“This is an unusual piece. We don’t deliver songs in the way that musical theatre generally does,” he says. “We don’t play for applause, we go from one song to another and sometimes they drift off as something else happens. I worried about representing such an iconic songbook this way but Dylan followed his instinct and so I did the same.”

Hale, 58, has spent most of his career traversing genres. Cutting his teeth as a touring keyboard player for Seal in the early 90s, he went on to arrange string sections for early Björk and Jamiroquai albums. He has since arranged Sam Smith’s 2015 Bond theme, Writing’s on the Wall, and recorded with George Michael and Céline Dion. But it was a call to write orchestrations for a US production of Spring Awakening in 2006 that established a lasting relationship with the theatre.

“Collaboration is very visceral in theatre and that’s what has kept me coming back,” he says. “Everyone’s in the same room, whereas making a record or film, you’re in and out in a few hours and you don’t have the same human connection.”

The role of an orchestrator might facilitate human connection but it can also be a tricky mediation. Typically, you work with existing songs or demos that need the addition of extra instrumentation. “You have to create a new character in that story, one that has to fit seamlessly but that also adds to the essence of the song, so that when it’s taken away it’s missed,” Hale says. “It’s a challenge but you have to trust yourself, otherwise you get swallowed up in trying to copy other people’s visions.”

Hale, who realised as a child that he had perfect pitch, initially composes his music in his head before he commits pencil to paper. “I’m always thinking in my own time, visualising the music,” he says. “The first time anyone ever hears what I’ve done is in the recording session. There is a fear in anticipating that first note being played but the shock of those black and white dots being turned into sound never gets old. The sense of danger is good.”

Trusting that connection between his mind’s eye and the performers bringing his work to life has paid off. In April, Hale won an Olivier award for his orchestration of another Bob’s songbook for Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, directed by Clint Dyer. The two projects were markedly different. “Girl from the North Country is set in a period where the composer of our show wasn’t born, so we’re entirely reimagining the music, whereas in Get Up, Stand Up! we’re trying to faithfully represent the brilliance of what Bob Marley did in his life,” he says. Working with arranger Phil Bateman, Hale’s role was to take his selections of Marley’s songs and realise them with the band. “It’s all about detail – providing that sense of rhythm and melody that means any talented musician can turn it into exactly what we’re trying to convey, night after night,” he says.

(Read more)

LOUIS LOVETT AND THE DARK HEART OF CHILDREN’S DRAMA ·

(Chris McCormack’s article appeared in Irish Times, 6/6/22; Photo: Louis Lovett weighs up the challenge of The Tin Soldier: `What a child knows is their own world. So we like to bring in aspects of things they don’t know.’ Photograph: Ruth Gilligan.)

`Every child arrives hard-wired to imagine, to pick up an object and play with it’

Looking back on the past decade, it is tempting to ask Louis Lovett, an actor dedicated to making plays for young audiences, why he started getting spooky.

Cast your mind back to 2010′s adventure fantasy The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly, and you’ll remember Lovett arriving colourful and light-hearted, in a striped swimsuit, as a young girl on a mission to save her family. You could easily divide the plays made by his company Theatre Lovett into two camps, one characterised by such narratives that are original and consoling. The other camp, containing adaptations of fairy tales and popular stories, is boldly sinister.

“Very often with theatre for young audiences, the rainbow colours and the brightness are what you come to expect. That wasn’t our thing. We went towards those darker colours,” says Lovett. Ahead of his new play, The Tin Soldier, a version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, he shares his experiences of what happens when you make children’s stories dark.

For instance, a few years ago Theatre Lovett toured the chilling play A Feast of Bones – a tonal turning point for the company. During one post-show discussion, young members of the audience voiced their strong disagreement with the ending. The play had served up something that was fascinatingly morbid and difficult to resist: the possibility of revenge.

A retelling of the folk tale Henny Penny, A Feast of Bones found something very serious in that story of a chicken who, believing the world is ending, recruits a group of animals to alert the king, only for her to lead them into the deathly clutches of a fox. The foolishness and violence held historical echoes for Lovett. “I saw a parallel with the march towards war in 1914, and with this mob mentality. It was an obsessive drive based on an idiotic assumption of something falling on someone’s head,” he says.

He gave the idea to playwright Frances Kay, who set the narrative in wartime France, in a dimly lit cafe where folk musicians play songs containing subtly murderous lyrics. Henny Penny is now disguised as a waitress, and is wracked by survivor’s guilt after the death of her friends. Her customer is the fox, a war profiteer who gains from other people’s suffering. Henny Penny brings plates in and out of the kitchen, and, with each course, there are hints that the fox, unbeknown to himself, is being served his own family to eat.

Atmospheres of menace

Lovett has a talent for creating atmospheres of menace, but what if it sways children to mistake the hero for an avenger? “One of the key elements of these plays is the responsibility you have for young audiences. You can’t go around saying vengeance is a dish best served cold,” he says. After Henny Penny leads the fox to the horrifying conclusion that he devoured his own loved ones, she reveals that it has all been a masquerade, and reunites him with his family. The fox has learned the horror of his actions but that wasn’t enough for Lovett’s audience. “The children wished she didn’t let him off the hook,” he says. They wanted blood.

That puts Lovett in a complex position, where the demands of being an artist often resembles the responsibility of an adult setting an example for young people. Since A Feast of Bones, there haven’t been as many instructive lessons about how to contemplate the consequences of someone’s actions. Instead, he went down the path of presenting uneasily reconciled, real-life issues in ways that were easily recognisable.

(Read more)

UKRAINIAN THEATER PLAYS TO EVACUEE CHILDREN IN ODESA BOMB SHELTER ·

(via Radio Free Europe, 5/31)

It’s billed as an escape from anxiety for kids who have been evacuated from war-torn parts of Ukraine. The Odesa Youth Theater is staging special performances in bomb shelters. The play is also topical: It tells the story of how people unite to drive out a stranger who is occupying someone’s home. Originally published at – https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russi…