Category Archives: Events

***** CAMILLA WHITEHILL AND STRICTLY ARTS: ‘FREEMAN’ (SV PICK, SCOTLAND) ·

(Bridget Minamore’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/19.)

In Freeman’s first five minutes, six figures on stage grapple with one another in the low light. Their bodies twist and turn, they climb on each other, they are flung over shoulders and thrown from one person to the next. There’s a violence in their movements: at one point, a performer looks as though he is hanging from a tree. At the end of the sequence, the five black cast members lie on the floor, the sole white performer sitting on a crate. There’s a sense they’ve all been killed, died in a traumatic way. Soon we find out they have.

A collaboration by writer Camilla Whitehill and Strictly Arts, Freeman is a revelation, a piece of stunning physical theatre that deftly looks at deaths in police custody, institutional racism and mental health.

Focusing on six real-life people, including Michael BaileyDavid Oluwale, and Sarah Reed, the cast leap and tumble their way through each of their often painful stories. Danièle Sanderson’s slickly directed, fast-paced hour sometimes feels unrelenting. Projected images and music are subtle but strong, complemented by sounds made by the performers’ bodies. Claps, punches and slaps all begin to sound sickening, and the horror of being tasered or treated with electroshock therapy is not shied away from.

(Read more)

Photo: Strictly Arts

THE HAMILTON D.C. WOULD RATHER NOT SEE ·

(James P. Pinkerton’s article appeared in American Conservative, 8/15.)

The musical portrays him as a hip Master of the Universe. But there was much more to him than that.

So how does the musical Hamilton hold up, three years after its debut? That is, from its beginnings in the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton era to today, in this Age of Trump? As we shall see, things have changed.

The historical Alexander Hamilton, of course, is timeless. As aide-de-camp to George Washington during the Revolution, as the most prolific author of TheFederalist Papers, as our first treasury secretary—indeed, the most influential figure in President Washington’s cabinet—as the face on the $10 bill, and, more broadly, as the thinker who gave his name to a whole tradition of economic and political thought, Hamilton has always been a bold-print name.

Yet the debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton off-Broadway in February 2015 proved that there was yet more oomph in the Hamilton brand. The show was an immediate hit; later that year, it moved to Broadway, where it has established itself as a seemingly permanent ticket- and T-shirt-selling phenomenon. Since then, Miranda, author and original star of the show, has seen his opus win 11 Tony Awards, while he himself has won the Pulitzer Prize.

At the time of its opening, observers were startled and intrigued by four things about the show.

(Read more)

‘QUEEN OF SOUL’ ARETHA FRANKLIN HAS DIED ·

(Mesfin Fekadu’s and Hillel Italie’s article appeared on the AP, 8/16; via Pam Green.)

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think,” ”I Say a Little Prayer” and her signature song, “Respect,” and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit. The statement said “Franklin’s official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute” in Detroit.

The family added: “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”

The statement continued:

“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

(Read more)

Photo: BBC

UK PLAYWRIGHTS CONDEMN BOMBING OF GAZA THEATRE ·

(Oliver Holmes’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/16.)

Caryl Churchill and National Theatre director bemoan ‘devastating loss’ after Israeli strike

Leading playwrights and directors in Britain have severely criticised the bombing of a major cultural centre in the Gaza Strip by Israel’s air force, calling it a “devastating loss for the already isolated community”.

In a letter to the Guardian, 14 figures from UK theatre, including the director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris, and dramatist Caryl Churchill, condemned the “total destruction” of the Said al-Mishal Culture Centre.

We condemn the destruction of Gaza cultural centre in Israeli airstrike

(Read more)

PARIS CABARETS: CAN WE ASK FOR MORE THAN THE CANCAN? ·

(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/9; via Pam Green.)

PARIS — There are a number of attractions that Parisians are happy to leave to tourists. These include the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées, as well as some of the city’s most popular shows: specifically, the cabarets.

Indeed, while out-of-towners flock to the Moulin Rouge, the Lido or the Crazy Horse, many of the capital’s theater buffs have never even been. The genre that was once the toast of Paris lost touch with the times in the last decades of the 20th century. Its theatrical revues remain as extravagant as ever, yet the stories they tell often feel stuck in the past.

These venues still marshal impressive resources. Patrons at the spacious Lido and the Moulin Rouge can drink and dine, with high-end service, before and during two performances every night. The Moulin Rouge’s current revue, “Féerie,” is seen by around 600,000 people every year, half of them foreigners. It comes with 100 performers, 1,000 heavily sequined costumes, five pythons — and a cost of 8 million euros, or around $9.25 million.

What, however, does this buy? Today’s cabarets require viewers to suspend not just modern theatrical expectations but irony, too. Dramaturgy is, at best, threadbare; old-fashioned exoticism and sexism are par for the course. The goal — the only goal — is to dazzle, be it with feathers, jewels, acrobats or naked women.

(Read more)

Photo: Get Your Guide

LET’S GO: THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE PRESENTS “THE EMPEROR,” A PARABLE ABOUT POWER, FEATURING KATHRYN HUNTER AND TEMESGEN ZELEKE, SEPTEMBER 9-30 ·

THE EMPEROR

Adapted by Colin Teevan
From the book by Ryszard Kapuściński
Directed by Walter Meierjohann
Co-Produced by the Young Vic, HOME, and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

“A resonant and troubling metaphor for the great melancholy of power.” — The Guardian

Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA; Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director) kicks off its 2018-2019 season with the U.S. premiere of The Emperor, featuring virtuosic shape-shifting actor Kathryn Hunter and Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke, founder of Krar Collective. Walter Meierjohann directs this parable about power in decline—an adaptation by Colin Teevan of Ryszard Kapuściński’s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title, about the downfall of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. With two performers onstage,The Emperor explores political power by foregrounding the stories of those operating under it, from Selassie’s many servants (including his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer, and dog-urine wiper), to government bureaucrats, to students opposing Selassie’s rule. Performances of this co-production from the Young Vic, HOME, and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg run September 9-30 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center (262 Ashland Place), TFANA’s home in the Brooklyn Cultural District.

The Emperor marks Hunter, Teevan and Meierjohann’s return to TFANA following their acclaimed Young Vic production of Kafka’s Monkey (based on Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”), which came to TFANA in 2013. Once again, they present an engaging theatrical adaptation anchored by Kathryn Hunter’s riveting storytelling abilities.

Hunter—who has also played at TFANA as a memorable Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (directed by Julie Taymor) and in The Valley of Astonishment (directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne)—is a remarkable artist. The first British actress to play King Lear in a professional production, she transforms to create the physical shapes and inner hearts of characters she plays—female, male, animal, or spirit. When the play made its world premiere at the Young Vic in 2016, the “tiny, nimble, crackle-voiced” Hunter was praised for “her particular mixture of gravity and irony” (The Guardian), and, in a tour-de-force performance of 10 characters in loyal service to the Emperor, for being “probably…genuinely the only performer alive who could possibly pull [her shows] off.” (Time Out) “Tremendous musician” (The Guardian) Temesgen Zeleke, a former student of legendary Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astatke, was praised for “beautifully reinforc[ing] the shifts in mood with his krar and pedal-drum” (The Independent), and as an actor and singer embodying various aspects of insurgency.

Jeffrey HorowitzTFANA’s Founding Artistic Director, says, “The Emperor raises important issues that extend beyond the production. TFANA is presenting this extraordinary work of art in part as an invitation to our audiences to engage in the complex conversations that this parable of power elicits. Our hope is that the dialogue will be as illuminating as the artistry on stage.”

Kapuściński, who many considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize during his lifetime, cagily used The Emperor to illuminate corruption and avarice in his native country, communist Poland. Today, as adapted and performed by this acclaimed theatrical team, the material just as strongly illuminates our world’s continuing and disturbing fascination with despotism. A series of panels will contextualize the production and the questions it provokes, and will be held on September 15, 22, and 29.

The cast of The Emperor is Kathryn Hunter (Southwark Playhouse’s Cyrano de Bergerac; TFANA: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Young Vic’s Kafka’s Monkey) and Temesgen Zeleke (leader of Krar Collective). The creative team includes Walter Meierjohann, Director (HOME’s Artistic Director, Theatre; In the Red and Brown Water at the Young Vic, TFANA: The Young Vic’s Kafka’s Monkey); Colin Teevan, Adaptor (The Bee starring Kathryn Hunter, Duke of York’s Doctor Faustus, TFANA: The Young Vic’s Kafka’s Monkey); Ti Green, Design (RSC Swan’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, Watford Palace/Bolton Octogon’s I Capture the Castle); Imogen Knight, Movement (West End: The Birthday Party; Royal Court Theatre’sNuclear War, National Theatre’s AmadeusMike Gunning, Lighting (West End: Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandAlice’s Adventures Underground ); Paul Arditti, Sound (The Young Vic’s The Inheritance and The Jungle, National Theatre’s Macbeth); Louis Price, Video (HOME’s The Funfair, the Barbican’s Unleashed); Dave Price, Music (National Theatre’s From Morning to Midnight; Royal Shakespeare Company’s CymbelineA Soldier in Every Son); Kathryn Hunter, Creative Associate; and Cat Robey, Assistant Director.

Performance Schedule, Ticketing, and Other Information

Performances of The Emperor will take place in the evenings, September 9, 11-16, 18-21, 25-28, and October 2-5 at 7:30pm; matinees on September 22, 23, 29, 30, and October 6 and 7 will take place at 2pm.

Panels will be held Saturday, September 15 at 5:30 (before the evening performance), Saturday, September 22 (after the matinee performance), and Saturday, September 29 (after the matinee performance).

Theatre for a New Audience is committed to economically accessible tickets and offers tickets at a range of prices for The Emperor.

$20 New Deal: all Performances.  Age 30 and under or full-time students of any age.  May be purchased online, phone, or at the box office, in advance or day-of, with valid ID(s) proving eligibility required at pickup.

$20 Brooklyn Pass: all Performances. Members of local Brooklyn non-profit organizations through Brooklyn Pass program.

$28 TDF: selected performances. 

$60: all performances with a TFANA subscription.  

Special Discounts: TFANA offers special discounts available by joining TFANA mailing list at www.tfana.org.

$90-$100: all performances.

$125 Premium Seats: all performances.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn.

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NICOLAI KHALEZIN: ‘GENERATION JEANS’ (SV PICK, AUSTRALIA) ·

(Cameron Woodhead’s article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, 8/12.)

A Belarusian call to arms

In our country, if jeans are proffered as a symbol of freedom you can be pretty sure someone’s trying to sell you something. But then, we didn’t grow up behind the Iron Curtain.

Co-founder of Belarus Free Theatre Nicolai Khalezin did, and with Generation Jeans he turns his life story into a kind of gonzo memoir, blending satire on authoritarianism with a fierce and urgent call to action in the ongoing struggle for human rights.

Jeans first appear as a motif through serio-comic anecdotes about smugglers and bootleggers in the former Soviet Union. Under communism, Western goods were prized, and Khalezin wasted no time dabbling in the black market as a young man.

True, the stylish and strapped-for-roubles could and did try to fudge it: bleaching the bejesus out of state-issued denim pants until they cracked, trying to get that deliberately distressed look, but they were fake jeans everyone knew were fake (a bit like the fake democracy that seized Belarus after the Soviet collapse).

(Read more)

AT SALZBURG FESTIVAL, HIGH PASSION AND REDEMPTION ONSTAGE ·

LEADING TEAM, “Jedermann”
Michael Sturminger, Regie
Renate Martin, Andreas Donhauser, Bühne und Kostüme
mathias rüegg, Komposition und Musikalische Leitung
Harald Kratochwil, Choreografie
Hubert Schwaiger, Stefan Ebelsberger, Licht
Thomas Egger, Sounddesign
Constanze Kargl, Dramaturgie

(A. J. Goldman’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/2; via Pam Green.)

SALZBURG, Austria — The Salzburg Festival may nowadays be synonymous with classical music, but this venerable summertime event, founded nearly 100 years ago, has drama in its DNA. For the first festival, in 1920, two if its founders, the director Max Reinhardt and the playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, joined forces for a legendary production of “Jedermann” (“Everyman”), Hofmannsthal’s 1911 drama based on a medieval mystery play.

Staging “Jedermann” has become one of Salzburg’s enduring traditions. For nearly a century, the work, subtitled “The Play About the Death of the Rich Man,” has been preaching (in rhyming couplets) against avarice and exhorting the festival’s well-heeled audiences to do a charitable deed.

The highly allegorical drama centers on the prosperous and dissolute character of Jedermann, whose callousness and appetites have offended heaven. When Death pays an unexpected visit, Jedermann scrambles to find a companion for his journey to the afterlife. Deserted by his friends and lover and confronted by the paucity of his good deeds, he turns to faith in God, accepts the will of heaven and dies happy.

Over the decades, many of Austria’s leading actors have been attracted to the virtuoso title role, including Maximilian Schell, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Peter Simonischek. Since 2017, Salzburg’s Jedermann has been the stage and screen star Tobias Moretti. From the first moment, Mr. Moretti makes the wealthy man despicable, although not entirely without charm. After Death (a melancholy and intense Peter Lohmeyer, skeletal and tattooed) pays his visit, Mr. Moretti registers the panic and terror of a man who realizes too late that he has lived the wrong life. The psychological transformation from sinner to penitent is an extremely tricky one to pull off, but Mr. Moretti’s performance has the dramatic and psychological scope required to make it convincing.

(Read more)

Photo: Panorama Tours

 

 

WINSTON NTSHONA, TONY-WINNING SOUTH AFRICAN ACTOR, DIES AT 76 ·

(Richard Sandomir’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/5; via Pam Green.)

Winston Ntshona, a renowned black South African actor whose performances on Broadway in two short anti-apartheid dramas earned him a Tony Award in 1975 with his co-star, John Kani, but led to their imprisonment the next year, died on Thursday in New Brighton, a township near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He was 76.

His death was announced by the South African State Theater in Pretoria. His son, Lawula, told the local media that he had been ill for several years.

Mr. Ntshona’s theatrical career was inextricably connected to Mr. Kani’s. Both were factory workers in the mid-1960s when they joined the Serpent Players, a mixed-race troupe that the white playwright Athol Fugard had helped form. South African blacks could not be employed as “artists” at the time, so Mr. Ntshona and Mr. Kani were classified as servants to Mr. Fugard in the identification passbooks that blacks were required to carry.

“South Africa was a strange place,” Mr. Ntshona recalled in an interview with The Globe and Mail in Toronto in 2001. “Everyone was totally oblivious to the need to express the plight of the black people. Everybody wanted to forget there was pain — they just wanted to be entertained.”

(Read more)

Photo: Channel 24

WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III, DIRECTED AND ADAPTED BY AUSTIN PENDLETON, AT HB STUDIO, 124 BANK STREET ·

AUSTIN PENDLETON DIRECTS AND ADAPTS A NEW STAGE VERSION OF SHAKESPEARE’s GREATEST VILLAIN IN

WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III

STARRING PENDLETON AS HENRY VI and MATT de ROGATIS AS RICHARD III

PERFORMANCES BEGIN AUGUST 1st at THE 124 BANK STREET THEATRE

OPENING SET FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 4TH

Tony nominated theatre luminary Austin Pendleton directs and adapts a new stage version of Richard III, Shakespeare’s greatest villain, in WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III, which begins performances August 1st at the 124 Bank Street Theatre.  The play combines texts from William Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 3 and Richard III, to create a version, which has never been seen before. The production stars Pendleton as Henry VI and Matt de Rogatis as Richard III, while giving a fascinating take on one of history’s most notorious villains. The opening is set for Saturday, August 4th at 7PM.  WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III will play a limited engagement through August 19th.  Tickets are $25, for tickets and further information visit www.proveavillain.com.

With the two texts combined, director Austin Pendleton’s WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III explains how Richard III evolved into the events that shaped his tyranny. In the text of Henry VI, Part 3, Richard performs the role of a subjugated good brother while secretly behaving with bloodthirsty abandon.  Killing Henry, Richard then declares himself severed from his family and brotherhood and stands alone in his quest for the crown.  In the text of Richard III he is now the central character of the play stopping at nothing to become king, while keeping his subjects and rivals under his thumb.

“What’s always fascinated me about Richard III is how he became to be the way that Shakespeare so brilliantly portrays him in the play named after him” says Mr. Pendleton.  “I believe the answer to all of this is clearly dramatized by Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 3, the play that leads up to Richard III.   So when Matt de Rogatis, whose exciting Hamlet I’d seen a couple years ago, came to me with the idea of Richard III, my first thought was to align the two plays.  I am very excited about WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III.  With a great deal of judicious cutting we to managed to get a swift and compact script and thus we can track the development of this troubled and terrifying Richard from a young man searching for love and acknowledgement to the monster that became King Richard III,” he continued.

Joining Austin Pendleton and Matt de Rogatis in the cast are:  Jim Broaddus, John Constantine, Milton Elliott, Debra Lass, Johanna Leister, Rachel Marcus, Pete McElligott, John L. Payne, Carolyn Groves, Greg Pragel and Michael Villastrigo.

Lighting is designed by Steven Wolf and “Project Runway’s” Maya Luz is the costume consultant.

Austin Pendleton’s Broadway directing credits include Spoils of War, The Little Foxes  (Tony Nomination), John Gabriel Borkman, The Runner Stumbles and Shelter. Off-Broadway, he has directed Hamlet, Ivanov, Three Sisters (Obie Award) and Uncle Vanya (CSC), Vieux Carre, and Toys In The Attic (Pearl) Fifty Words (MCC) and Between Riverside and Crazy.  He directed the London production of Detroit at the National Theatre and has directed many productions regionally including Say Goodnight Gracie at Steppenwolf, and Fathers and Sons, Beach House, The Master Builder, Miss Julie and The Dance of Death at Long Wharf. As a playwright, he has written Orson’s Shadow, Uncle Bob and Booth. He has most recently appeared in New York in Dress of Fire, City Girls and Desperados, Delta in the Sky With Diamonds, The Workshop, Consider the Lilies, The Sea Gull and King Lear.  He made his NY debut in 1962 in Oh Dad, Poor Dad …, directed by Jerome Robbins, In 1964 he made his Broadway debut, again directed by Mr. Robbins, as Motel the Tailor in the original cast of Fiddler on the Roof.  Since then he has appeared on Broadway under the direction of Alan Arkin in Hail Scrawdyke (Clarence Derwent Award); Mike Nichols in The Little Foxes in a cast which included Anne Bancroft, George C. Scott, Margaret Leighton, Beah Richards, E.G. Marshall, Maria Tucci and Richard Dysart; Morton da Costa in Doubles; James Lapine in The Diary of Anne Frank with Natalie Portman and Linda Lavin.  Next season he will appear in Choir Boy at MTC on Broadway.  Off-Broadway he appeared in the title role in The Last Sweet Days of Isaac and won an Obie Award.  He has appeared in about 250 movies, including “My Cousin Vinny,” “What’s Up Doc,” “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps,” “The Front Page,” “Catch -22,” “The Muppet Movie,” “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” and “Short Circuit.”  He wrote the libretto for A Minister’s Wife.  Mr. Pendleton is the recipient of the 2007 Drama Desk Special Award as “Renaissance Man of the American Theatre”

Matt de Rogatis was most recently seen as Roy in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway revival of James McLure’s Lone Star at the Triad.  Before that, he played Frederick Clegg in the American premiere of The Collector at 59E59 Theaters and the title role of Hamlet at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre. Other New York Credits include The Elephant Man in The Exhibition, Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Ken in Red, which was revived and uniquely staged in Chelsea at The Jim Kempner Fine Art Gallery.

The playing schedule for THE ROSES: HENRY VI & RICHARD III is as follows: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7PM, with Sunday matinees at 3PM through August 19th.  There is one Saturday matinee on August 4th at 2PM.   Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by visiting  www.proveavillain.com

Photo: de Rogatis and Pendleton: Chris Loupos.

Press: Glenna Freeman PR.