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GETTING THE GUTS: AN INTERVIEW WITH “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” DIRECTOR, DON ROY KING ·

By Tania Fisher

So how does the son of a mailman, from a small town near Pittsburgh, end up directing more live network television than anyone else in the history of the medium–and being one of the most versatile and experienced directors in the television industry today?

Actor/Writer Tania Fisher sits down with Don Roy King to find out exactly how it all happened.

Mr. King is about to embark on his 14th season as director of Saturday Night Live (“SNL”), and he couldn’t be happier.  He’s experienced network assignments that have taken him to 20 countries and 38 states and has a lengthy resume that incorporates productions for nine networks that include directing morning shows, documentaries, telethons, sporting events, concerts, and musicals.

But when he talks about “SNL,” he can’t help but grin.

With 10 Emmy’s (and 28 nominations) and 5 Directors Guild Awards, it’s an understatement to say that Mr. King is a vastly experienced producer, director, writer, and composer.

In addition, Mr. King is the creative director for Broadway Worldwide, a venture that brings theatrical events to theaters and international television. The company has produced four major productions, all directed by Mr. King.

For those who have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. King in real life; he is small in stature, but big on work ethics and generous with his advice for those entering the industry.  In fact, it was his father who taught him to use his small frame to his advantage; sitting his eight-year-old son down one day, he explained, “You’re probably going to be short.  I’m short.  Your mom’s short, but you don’t know how lucky you are.  Why?  For some reason people in general expect less from short people, and when you play ball, the coach will put the tall kids in first, and the teacher won’t call on you first to answer questions. But when they find out you can run as fast and throw as hard as the others–and when the teachers find out you can answer the questions, everyone will be doubly impressed.”  Mr. King says he has never been bothered by his size ever since.

Growing up in the tiny little town of Pitcairn, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, he was always an active athlete, as well as doing lots of acting, and directing his fellow classmates in small plays. He is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, with a degree in Broadcasting, and he has been honored with an Alumni Fellowship, in 2001, and a Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2017.

He was blessed to have loving and supportive parents, which is evident in his self-worth and attitudes about growing up.  Case in point:  I asked him (what I thought was going to be a lighten-the-mood, insert-of-humor type of question), “What did you want to be when you were growing up?”  Expecting the standard response of fireman or doctor or astronaut, I was pleasantly surprised with his response:

I felt I was going to be somebody important; like playing center field for the Pittsburgh Pirates or President of the USA.  I just knew I wanted to be someone important and do something valuable.  I was the all-American kid.  As I was growing up, there was always the thought that I’d go to West Point.  Dad was in the Army Reserves all his life, and he kind of encouraged that aspect, and I really felt I was headed to West Point right through high school.”  Mr. King finished top in the state and entry seemed certain, until a medical exam found something wrong with his back, and they couldn’t take him: “In retrospect I’m glad they didn’t.”

Mr. King explains that he went to Penn State and studied Theater and Broadcasting, but he really didn’t have the guts to move to NYC and become an actor.  “Penn is where I discovered I had a talent for TV directing, and I thought I’d get in the back door that way; to get to my dream of being an actor.”  Mr. King became a director at a local station, then at a bigger station, and then another bigger station in Pennsylvania.

Interest in his theatrical affinity began when he was in the eighth grade.  He was in The Curtain Call Club, run by Miss Boden, and Mr. King fondly recalls, “This club was her whole world, and she devoted her life to these little productions.”  Miss Boden took the young Mr. King under her wing and every Easter vacation she would take a few of the students to New York to see shows.  Mr. King convinced his parents it was worth going, and they somehow scraped together the money to send him to New York to see The Miracle Worker and The Sound of Music.  As it turns out, Miss Boden had written to Mary Martin, and they went backstage to meet her.  “I was this little eighth grade boy who subsequently developed a crush on New York City.  I flew home thinking:  I can’t wait to get back here. I’ll do anything I can to get back here!  There’s such an electricity, and wonderful artists and productions, which changed lives every night.”  But Mr. King confides that as deep as the dream was, he still didn’t have the guts to try it as an actor in New York.

In fact, he explains that the reason he became a Broadcasting major was because he didn’t have the guts to tell his parents he wanted to be an Acting major!  “They had allowed me to go to New York.  Dad was a mailman; they couldn’t afford that weekend trip to NYC and yet they found a way.”  Mr. King proudly tells me that his parents always showed interest and went to everything he did–whether that be football or theater, “I’d be at a junior track meet at the away team, and Dad would rush his mail route to see my 50-yard dash.  They were so supportive.  Mom was strict, and we had chores to do and were encouraged to get good grades and all of that, but they were just so supportive. I was blessed.”

After college, Mr. King kept his focus on New York City.  He maintains he used his TV career to get back here as soon as he could.  He worked at a bigger station in San Jose, and then went back to an even bigger station in Pittsburgh, finally getting an option to direct at Channel 5 in New York:  “Maybe I got here too fast but it worked here.  Getting to NYC was a dream come true.”

What led him to become the Director for Saturday Night Live?

Mr. King explains that by this time he’d had thirty-seven years of experience as a TV director behind him, although he still enjoyed work on morning shows: “But they were more about what to wear, or a cooking segment, and there were moments when I felt like I’d sold out on my dream; that this wasn’t really show business.”  Then, out of nowhere, he received a call from a man he’d worked with way back when.  His friend had gone on to be the Associate Director of “SNL” and the woman who had been directing the show for ten years was moving on, and so his friend asked him if he was interested.  His immediate response was: “There is no show I’d rather direct!  I’d always had great respect for what seemed like a difficult production to do, especially because it’s live.  But once I got involved, I was even more shocked.”

Even though Mr. King had directed every type of program, he admits that he’d never directed sketch actors, and he couldn’t believe they’d take a chance on someone who hadn’t done that type of thing before.  But he met with them, and sure enough, they were looking for someone who had done comedy and had sketch comedy experience.  Then on Labor Day, in 2006, while he was standing in line at Disney World with his daughter, he received a call telling him that Lorne Michaels wanted to meet with him and could he be back in NYC in two days?  “So my daughter and I flew back and I met Lorne.  I sat there for about an hour just listening to him talk about how he didn’t want to start over again with a new director, but that he had no choice.  As I recall, I’m pretty sure the only words I uttered throughout that entire meeting were at the start, when I said nice to meet you.”  But a telephone call the next day clarified everything for Mr. King, when he was told they’d take a chance on him and give him six shows to see how he handled it.  “It was an incredibly steep mountain to climb.  I started to question myself.  I was comfortable, successful, why take this risk?  I hadn’t had butterflies in my stomach for a long time; why take this risk?”

The answer soon became evident. “What I realized is that regret is a wasted emotion.  I thought to myself; if I don’t do this, if I don’t try it, I’ll regret it.  I can always come back, and if I fail, I fail, and you don’t know until you try.”  Three weeks after that meeting he was directing his first “SNL” show.  Indeed a steep mountain to climb!  “I found myself saying I don’t know how to do this, how do I set this up? Which camera where?  I really struggled.”  But Mr. King insists he is glad he took that challenge, claiming he’d never had more fun climbing a mountain, or received more reward or exhilaration from doing what he’s always dreamed:  “The show is designed to make people laugh and clap and think.  I play a small role in that and I’m proud and thrilled to be a part of that–working with brilliant people and telling stories that offer healing and hold people accountable.  I’ve never had a job that is as rewarding and important and as close to that dream I had as an eighth grade boy.”

Mr. King was fifty-eight years old when he finally made that childhood dream a reality.

He laments that there is a panic in college kids nowadays to make a definite decision about their careers: “The fact is you don’t have to decide today what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.  Your passions can change; you can find a whole new set of challenges much later down the track.  I was so glad I took that risk late in my career or I wouldn’t have what I have now, which is pure satisfaction of a professional life worth living.”

And though it’s true that many young people starting out in this industry think it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and contacts, Mr. King advises, “It’s not a race; there is no reward for getting that first big job early–if you get it before you’re ready you might not be prepared and fail.  You know, even if you can’t be working in your desired field and you work at Pinkberry, you’re still developing other skills that will make you ready–work ethics, dealing with people.  It’s all valuable experience.”

What about living and working in New York City and all those awards?

“I love the magic of the city, the electricity, the sense that on this tiny little island so much art is being created and so much money is changing hands and news is being created, and at the same time you can stay home and do nothing if you want, just like everywhere else.  I still have as much excitement about being a part of this place as I did as a kid.”

During the time that Mr. King was directing The Mike Douglas Show, there was a lot of traveling involved, and they would occasionally do a week in LA.  “Mike wanted to move to LA, but I didn’t want to go, and I was offered a new show:  America Alive, in NYC.  So I thought I’d rather live in NYC than go to LA, and it’s a brand-new show that I’ll get to create from scratch.”  Mr. King thought this would be a perfect opportunity to stay where he wanted to stay.  The program was similar to a midday version of Good Morning America, with the same concept; a group of reporters and correspondents.  “That show lasted only eight months!  It flopped, and I was out of work for the first time in my life.  I thought, O.K., this is a sign from God, my TV career has skidded to a halt–it’s time for me to follow my dreams and go back to acting.”  Mr. King was only 27 or 28 years old, and he immediately enrolled in acting classes.  He recalls that he jumped in with his usual fervor and passion, but what was great was that he was no longer a desperate actor saying please pick me.  “I was a professional director who had an Emmy, and I was comfortable and wasn’t desperate in auditions, which I’m sure worked to my advantage.”  Around that time Mr. King was receiving offers to direct independent projects on the side, but then he was given Good Morning America: “The acting dream died again.  At that point I’d had the sense of now what and how to pay the rent?  I’d had this comfortable lifestyle.  It was unsettling.”

When Mr. King directed The Mike Douglas Show in Philadelphia he was only twenty-five and, as he describes it, “way too young to be directing it–we had all the big names:  Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Bob Hope–I didn’t appreciate the fact that I was getting to work with them and see them off camera.”  Mr. King won an Emmy, in 1977, for the show with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire appearing together for the first time and talking about the industry.  “I became a jerk the very next day.  Everyone treated me differently, and I treated people differently; I was just full of myself,” he recalls.  Not long after that, Mr. King was asked to serve on one of the Blue Ribbon Panels for the Emmys, and he says it’s then that he realized how hard it is to make a judgment:  “You watch a great show, but how do you know if it was well directed?  I realized it’s such a subjective decision, and it’s a flawed system.”

He has since appreciated the degree to which his profession is a collaborate effort:  “The statues I’ve gotten since . . . if it weren’t for Lorne Michaels making “SNL” the best it can be and hiring brilliant set designers and writers, and all the best people in their fields, then my directing would have no chance of being pointed out for my directing awards, so I’m much more humble about receiving them.  It’s the good fortune of working with brilliant people.”

Is there another skill set you possess that hasn’t been explored that you’d like to explore?

“I don’t think I’m going to be the center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates!  But I grew up thinking I could do anything.  But still, I’m seventy-one, and I may not get a chance to live out all my fantasies.”  Mr. King has recently done public speaking, mainly at colleges, where he talks about the industry.  “But I still have the acting bug!”  Mr. King also consults on movies, like 2010’s Morning Glory (with Harrison Ford), where he ensured that the TV scene was depicted accurately.  He played the role of Merv, the Director, in that same film.  Mr. King also played himself in 2018’s A Star Is Born.

What were some of your favorite TV shows growing up?

Mr. King remembers that he grew up with many kids who were TV fanatics who went to see tapings of live TV shows and even had souvenirs from TV shows.  He claims he was not one of those kids.  He reminisces that he and his brothers watched the TV show Superman with George Reeves.  “Here’s the thing,” he tells me, “We had a black-and-white TV, and I wasn’t allowed to read comics.  So when Mom made us Superman costumes for Halloween, we wore black shorts,  white T-shirts, and some kind of grey cape things.  Then, when I went to see the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve, I was shocked and thought they had changed the colors of the costume!  All that time I’d had no idea it was in color!”

Any general advice for those entering the industry?

“There’s an overriding cliché maxim that lots of kids hear, and that’s just get your foot in the door.  Some think it’s a good idea to find a place you’d like to work and get in at an entry-level position, like becoming a receptionist at “SNL” or writing cue cards for The Tonight Show–then people get to know who you are and see that you’ve got a great work ethic and you can move up through the operation.  But I say be wary of that.  Every network I’ve worked at is filled with young, talented, frustrated kids who get stuck in those entry-level jobs.  So this doesn’t always work.  They will hire the people with experience.”  Mr. King cites the example that networks are not going to let, say, a receptionist, have a go at something else because in that position they are not really being exposed to the other position that they want to eventually do.  “So my advice is go where you can get the kind of work you want to do; go to a small station or production company, doing that position. You’ll get the experience and learn what you need to and be able to keep moving up to bigger and better positions.”

Mr. King adamantly expresses that while it’s valuable to be bubbling with passion and new ideas and, as with many young people starting out, wanting to be the smart kid on the block, what should always come first is work ethic:  “It’s so much more important that you show up on time and you do the best you can and you don’t complain–people are always more likely to hire this type of person.”

And what does Mr. King like to watch on his own TV set? 

Baseball and football, of course. Go Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers!

Copyright © 2019 by Tania Fisher.  All rights reserved. 

Photo credits: AARP.  All rights reserved.

JAPAN THEATRE OLYMPICS GOES BACK TO ITS ROOTS FOR NINTH ITERATION ·

(Andrew Eglinton’s and Mika Eglinton’s article appeared in the Japan Times, 8/13.)

Since the late 1970s, people from all over the world have traveled to the village of Toga in rural Toyama Prefecture to attend Tadashi Suzuki’s renowned acting classes or to see the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) and other invited artists perform at the site’s specially crafted indoor and outdoor theater spaces.

The village has also played host to the Toga Festival, which brings practitioners together in the creation of new dramatic works. The festival is testament to Suzuki’s deep-held belief in the collaborative power of theater. For Suzuki, collaboration is not simply mixing cultural difference and creative passion: It involves training and learning a shared vocabulary of movements, expressions and ideas; and finding a common ground on which to build something entirely new. This is part of the reason why Suzuki decided to elaborate his own theater methodology and has taught it since the 1970s.

The site itself helps facilitate this pursuit of artistic truth. The combination of remote access, sprawling wilderness, and the iconic gasshō-zukuri, or A-frame thatched roof farm houses used for performance practice, brings a focus and clarity to the collaborative work that is increasingly difficult to achieve amid the mass distractions of urban life.

This same spirit of collaboration will form the backdrop of the ninth edition of the Theatre Olympics in August and September. The event is co-hosted by Japan and Russia, and Suzuki will oversee a program at the Toga Art Park, while his counterpart, Valery Fokin, will run a separate program at the Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Both events will showcase international works, many of which were directly or indirectly influenced by the theater culture of Toga.

(Read more)

Photo: Japan Times

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI ·

One accidental touch, the bud opened and from it burst fresh young petals, seeking the warmth of the sun.  And with me, an accidental touch of the makeup brush on my face served to open the flower of the role in the shining glow of the footlights.  This was a moment of great joy, that paid for all my former pangs of creation.  (MLIA)

GUGGENHEIM, ANNOUNCES FALL 2019 SEASON ·

A scene from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin @ London Coliseum. An English National Opera Production.
(Opening 11-10-18)
©Tristram Kenton 10-18
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

WORKS & PROCESS, THE PERFORMING ARTS SERIES AT THE

GUGGENHEIM, ANNOUNCES FALL 2019 SEASON

 

Highlights

·  New commissions by Machine Dazzle and Caroline Shaw

·  Rotunda performances by Dance Theatre of Harlem, Roomful of Teeth, and Caleb Teicher and Ben Folds

·  Theatrical first looks at Joe Iconis, Theresa Rebeck, and Erica Schmidt featuring Peter Dinklage

·  Dance previews featuring Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet West, National Ballet of Canada, and Washington Ballet

·  Behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Metropolitan Opera‘s Akhnaten and Porgy and Bess 

“An exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process.” ­­­­­­-The New York Times

 

Works & Process at the Guggenheim is pleased to announce its fall 2019 season. Since 1984 the performing arts series has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to leading creators. The intimate Frank Lloyd Wright­-designed Peter B. Lewis Theater is the venue for seventy-minute programs that explore the creative process through stimulating discussions and riveting performance highlights. One-of-a-kind productions created for the Guggenheim’s rotunda offer a unique experience of the landmark space celebrating 60 years as an architectural icon.Additional information is available at worksandprocess.org.

Audience members are invited to cocktail hour, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the The Wright restaurant and artist receptions in the rotunda following most evening programs.

Works & Process lead funding is provided by the the Ford Foundation,Florence Gould Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Evelyn Sharp Foundation, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Fall 2019 Season Schedule

WORKS & PROCESS COMMISSION

Treasure by Machine Dazzle

Thursday-Saturday, September 5-7, 7:30 pm

Distant dreams come full circle in this Works & Process commission ofmultidisciplinary artist and maximalist Machine Dazzle. Undressing layers of his past to make sense of the present, Machine will introduce12 new looks alongside stories stitched together through song. Treasure is accompanied by music director Viva DeConcini and her band, and will premiere made-to-measure on the occasion of New York Fashion Week.

Treasure by Machine Dazzle is commissioned by Works & Process at the Guggenheim with support from Pomegranate Arts and a creative residency at LUMBERYARD.

THEATER

MCC TheaterSeared by Theresa Rebeck

Monday, September 9, 7:30 pm

Harry, a brilliant and hot-headed chef, scores a mention in a food magazine, and his business partner sees profits finally within reach. The only problem is Harry refuses to serve his masterpiece for the masses. Mix in a shrewd restaurant consultant and a waiter with dreams of his own and it all goes to hell in this hilarious and insightful new play that asks us to consider where art ends and commerce begins. Prior to its New York premiere at the MCC Theater, playwright Theresa Rebeck and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel take audiences into the kitchen of their fit-for-foodies comedy as cast members perform highlights.

DANCE* MUSIC

The National Ballet of CanadaOrpheus Alive by Robert Binet and Missy Mazzoli

Sunday, September 15, 3 pm

Orpheus Alive retells the tragic myth of Orpheus, casting the titular characteras a woman; Eurydice, Orpheus’ fallen lover, as a man; and audiencemembers as gods of the underworld who hold Orpheus’s fate in their hands. Choreographed by Robert Binet, Choreographic Associate of the National Ballet of Canada, and featuring a commissioned score by acclaimed composer Missy Mazzoli, Orpheus Alive is a story of love, loss, and an extraordinary artist facing the limits of his mortality. Company dancers and the Mivos Quartetperform excerpts, and dramaturg Rosamund Small moderates a discussion with Binet and Mazzoli about the creative process before the ballet’s world premiere in Toronto.

OPERA

The Metropolitan Opera: The Gershwins Porgy and Bess with Angel Blue, Camille A. Brown, Eric Owens, James Robinson, and Golda Schultz

Monday, September 16, 7:30 pm

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess returns to the Met for the first time since 1990 in a production directed by James Robinson with choreography by Camille A. Brown in their company debuts. America’s “folk opera,” asdescribed in 1935 by its creators, tells the story of Porgy, sung by Eric Owens, and his love for the drug-addicted Bess, portrayed by Angel Blue, with an all-star ensemble that includes Golda Schultz. General Manager Peter Gelb moderates a discussion with the creative team while cast members presenthighlights from the upcoming production.

MUSICAL

The New Group: Cyrano by Erica Schmidt, with Peter Dinklage and Aaron Dessner

Saturday, September 28, 7:30 pm

Prior tothe New Group’s world premiere of Cyrano, director Erica Schmidt,actor Peter Dinklage, and composer Aaron Dessner illuminate the creative process behind the new adaptation of the classic tale Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Schmidt’s Cyrano is a proud man who, believing himself unlovable, agrees to woo the woman he loves on behalf of someone else. With a charged contemporary immediacy to the dialogue, Cyrano is an enduring story about heartbroken yearning, and features haunting music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of the National, lyrics by Matt Berninger of the National and Carin Besser, and choreography by Jeff and Rick Kuperman.

DANCE

Ballet West: Balanchine’s Ballets Russes “The Song of the Nightingale” and “Apollo”

Sunday, September 29, 3 and 7:30 pm

With sets and costumes designed by Henri MatisseThe Song of the Nightingale (Le chant du rossignolis a tale about a mysterious songbird who cures an ailing Chinese emperor. Created by George Balanchine in 1925 when he was only 21 years old, The Song of the Nightingale was his firstpartnership with composer Igor Stravinsky, leading to a 46-year friendship thatresulted in some of the greatest ballets of the twentieth century. This production marks its US premiere and designates Ballet West as the second company in the world to present this important reconstruction by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer. Prior to the work’s October premiere in Salt Lake City, Ballets Russes expert Lynn Garafola, Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College, Columbia University, moderates a discussion with Hodson, Archer, Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute, and Balanchine Trust repetiteur Victoria Simon on Balanchine’s development as a choreographer, the influence of Asian art on Matisse, and ethnic representation in the twenty-first century. The discussion will be accompanied by excerpts performed by Ballet West dancers. Simon will restage the 1928 Balanchine-Stravinsky collaboration Apollo, including the original birthing scene and final ascent to Mount Olympus. 

WORKS & PROCESS ROTUNDA PROJECT

Dance Theatre of Harlem at 50

Monday, September 30, 6:30 and 8:30 pm

Founded in 1969, the Dance Theatre of Harlem made its 1971 official New York debut in the rotunda with a performance that included founder Arthur Mitchell’s Tones.To celebrate the Guggenheim building’s 60th and Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 50th anniversaries, Works & Process will present a Rotunda Project with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The company will pay tribute to its history in a restaging of Tones, with music by Tania León, and other works from their repertoire.

Floor Seating: $100/$95

Ramp Standing: $60/$55

Lead funding provided by the Ford Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

DANCE

The Washington Ballet: NEXTsteps

John Heginbotham, Jessica Lang, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Sunday, October 6, 3 and 7:30 pm

Artistic director Julie Kent, a champion of new choreography, discusses upcoming world premiere works by choreographers John Heginbotham, Jessica Lang, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Witness exclusive performance excerpts and a live rehearsal prior to the October 23 premiere in Washington, DC.

Lead sponsor Monica B. Voldstad.

OPERA

The Metropolitan Opera: Akhnaten by Philip Glass, with Anthony Roth CostanzoKaren Kamensek, Phelim McDermott, and J’Nai Bridges

Wednesday, October 16, 7:30 pm

On May 6, 1984, the very first Works & Process program featured Philip Glass’s Akhnaten before its debut at New York City Opera. This fall, prior to itsMetropolitan Opera premiere, General Manager Peter Gelb moderates a discussion with the creative team and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who plays the title role of the revolutionary ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Highlights are performed by members of the cast. Originally presented in collaboration with Improbable by the LA Opera and English National Opera, this production received the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production.

MUSICAL

Two River Theater: Love in Hate Nation by Joe Iconis, with John Simpkins

Sunday, October 20, 7:30 pm

Writer Joe Iconis and director John Simpkins discuss the turbulent rock romance, Love in Hate Nation, set in a 1960s juvenile hall, and cast members perform highlights prior to its world premiere at the Two River Theater with moderator Laura Heywood. Classic girl group, Wall of Sound-style vocal harmonies meet punk rock spirit in this rebellious and romantic new musical that uses classic “bad girl” movies as the inspiration for the story of young people caught between eras of a changing America. Sixteen-year old Susannah Son is carted off to the National Reformatory for Girls to get her head put on straight. There she meets the aggressively incorrigible Sheila Nail, and a relationship forms which leads to an all-out “revolution in the institution” as they attempt to break out of the boxes society has created around them.

DANCE

Dance Lab New York and Joyce Theater Foundation Lab Cycle: Female Choreographers of Color in Ballet

Sunday, November 10, 7:30 pm

For one night only, see the culmination of Dance Lab New York and Joyce Theater Foundation’s partnership promoting and advancing female choreographers of color in ballet. Provided with a stipend, studio time at theJoyce’s Artist Residency Center, professional dancers, a studio supervisor, and administrative support, choreographers Margarita Armas, Amy Hall Garner, Micaela Taylor, and Preeti Vasudevan explored the classical, neoclassical, and contemporary ballet idioms. Lourdes Lopez, Artistic Director, Miami City Ballet, moderates the discussion with Dance Lab New York founder, Josh Prince, and the four choreographers.

Lead sponsor Stephen Kroll Reidy

DANCE * MUSIC

Brian Brooks Moving Company: Immersive Technology

Sunday, November 17, 7:30 pm

Brian Brooks, choreographer and Mellon Creative Research Fellow at the University of Washington’s Meany Center for the Performing Arts, and Michelle Witt, Executive and Artistic Director of the Meany Center, participate in a discussion moderated by Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge. Prior to the performances’ premieres in 2020, see highlights from Brooks’s fellowship, where he explored dance in intimate physical and digital spaces and collaborated with Seattle-based physicists and virtual reality programmers.

DANCE

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: New Work

Monday, November 18, 7:30 pm

Preview a world premiere from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s December season at New York City Center. Artistic Director Robert Battle and the choreographer participate in a moderated discussion and Ailey’s acclaimed dancers perform highlights.

Members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform Park Avenue Armory Events,
Choreography by Merce Cunningham,
Arranged by Robert Swinston
Music by David Behrman, John King, Takehisa Kosugi, and Christian Wolf
Décor by Daniel Arsham at the Park Ave. Armory in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall on December 29, 2011.
Credit: Stephanie Berger

DANCE

Merce Cunningham Centennial Celebration

Sunday and Monday, November 24 and 25, 7:30 pm

Dylan Crossman, a former member of Merce Cunningham Dance Company, curates a program celebrating the 100th birthday of modern dance legend Merce Cunningham. Fellow former company dancers, including Jamie Scott, perform duets examining Cunningham’s evolution over decades. A unique MinEvent (an uninterrupted sequence of excerpts of works by Cunningham) made for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater at the Guggenheim including movements from Night of 100 Solos will be performed by dancers from A.I.M, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Limón Dance Company, New York City Ballet, and more. Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung and music by John King complement the program. Andrea Weber moderates a discussion with former Cunningham dancers Kimberly Bartosik and Gus Solomons.

This program is presented courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust as part of the Cunningham Centennial celebrations. Choreography by Merce Cunningham © Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved.

DANCE * MUSIC

Peter & the Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi

Saturday, December 7, 1, 2:30, and 4 pm

Sunday, December 8, 1:30* and 4 pm

Friday, December 13, 6:30 pm

Saturday, December 14, 1, 2:30 and 4 pm

Sunday, December 15, 2:30 and 4 pm

Isaac Mizrahi narrates and directs Sergei Prokofiev‘s charming children’s classic. Ensemble Signal performs the music, and the cast, wearing costumes by Mizrahi, performs choreography by John Heginbotham, bringing the 30-minute story to life for the young and young at heart.

Premium front row seating for all performances $100/$95 members

General tickets $45/$40 members

*In partnership with the Guggenheim’s education department and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, for the December 8, 1:30 pm program, two-time CaldecottMedal winning illustrator Chris Raschka, will read from his illustrated telling of Peter & The Wolf at 1:30 pm, followed by the performance starting at 2:30pm. Tickets for this special event are $100/$95 member and include a signed copy of Chris Raschka’s Peter & the Wolf.

No matter how tall or small, everyone needs a ticket. Please enter via the ramp at the corner of 5th Ave & 88th St.

WORKS & PROCESS ROTUNDA PARTY
Swing Dancing with Caleb Teicher, Ben Folds, and Eyal Vilner Big Band

Monday, December 9, 6:30-11 pm
Choreographer and dancer Caleb Teicher, musician Ben Folds, and friends come together for a special performance set in the Guggenheim rotunda. Accompanied by Eyal Vilner Big Band, Teicher will teach an introduction to swing dancing, followed by a party to put the moves in motion.

Lead sponsor First Republic Bank

6:30-11 pm:

VIP Cocktail Reception, Performance, and Dancing

VIP table for six: $5,000

Table for six: $3,000

VIP seated ticket: $500

Rotunda floor general seated ticket: $250

7:30-11 pm:    

Performance, Drinks and Dancing

Ramp standing ticket: $75

MUSIC

Rotunda Holiday Concert with Roomful of Teeth and Caroline Shaw

Sunday and Monday, December 15 and 16, 7 pm

Celebrate the season with the joyous sounds of holiday music and a new Works & Process commission of composer Caroline Shaw. Roomful of Teeth perform as part of this beloved annual tradition in the museum’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda.

Floor seating: $60, $55 Friends of Works & Process and Guggenheim members

Ramp standing: $25, $20 Friends of Works & Process and Guggenheim members

Location:         

Peter B. Lewis Theater

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street

Subway: 4, 5, 6, or Q train to 86th Street

Bus: M1, M2, M3, or M4 bus on Madison or Fifth Avenue

Tickets:            

$45, $40 members (unless otherwise noted)

$10 student rush tickets one hour before performance, based on availability

(for students under 30 with valid ID) 

Priority ticket access and preferred seat selection starts July 22 for $500+ Friends of Works & Process and Guggenheim members at the Associate level and above.

General ticketing starts July 29.

For more information, call 212 758 0024 or 212 423 3587, Mon-Fri, 1-5 pm, or visit worksandprocess.org.

guggenheim.org/social

Seared photo: Daniel Rader

For more information, press tickets, and photos, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Duke Dang, General Manager

Works & Process at the Guggenheim

212 758 0024

ddang@worksandprocess.org

Michelle Tabnick, Publicist

Works & Process at the Guggenheim

646 765 4773

michelle@michelletabnickpr.com

May Yeung, Publicist

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

212 423 3840

pressoffice@guggenheim.org

 

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI ·

One feature in my makeup gave a living and comic expression to my face, and something suddenly turned within me.  All that was dim became clear, all that was groundless suddenly had ground under its feet, all that I did not believe suddenly found my trust.  (MLIA)

ON ADJACENT STAGES, TWO HAUNTED HOUSES, CIRCA 1882 AND 2019 (SV REVIEW PICK, MA) ·

(Jesse Green’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/12; via Pam Green.)

A sumptuous Ibsen revival starring Uma Thurman and a knockout premiere by Adam Bock close the Williamstown season with a metaphysical “boo!”

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two ghost stories are running side by side here at the Williamstown Theater Festival, but only one has “Ghosts” as its title.

That’s the headliner, on the festival’s main stage: Ibsen’s classic about a family and a society possessed (and literally sickened) by inbred amorality. To the play’s already overflowing grab bag of symbols and hot topics circa 1882 — syphilis, incest, arson, euthanasia — the director Carey Perloff adds gorgeous stage pictures, eerie live music and a glowy Uma Thurman giving a creditable performance in a famously difficult role.

Just across the lobby, on the festival’s Nikos Stage, is the other ghost story, as stylistically distant from Ibsen as a play could reasonably get. In Adam Bock’s “Before the Meeting,” the walking dead are recovering modern-day alcoholics and drug addicts, setting up a church basement for a series of 12-step meetings. They don’t discuss abstract philosophy; their chief concerns appear to be the maintenance of the coffee urn and the arrangement of the chairs.

But over the course of eight days, as the play digs deeper, its naturalistic trappings drop away. Eventually Mr. Bock takes us dangerously close to the glowing core of Ibsenism, giving the Off Broadway treasure Deirdre O’Connell a stupendous 25-minute monologue that rips open the story with heartbreaking self-reproach. Phantoms, she demonstrates, do not come unbidden into our lives; we invite them, over and over.

(Read more)

Photo:  Troy Record.com

5 GREAT RUSSIAN PLAYWRIGHTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ·

(Alexandra Guzeva’s article appeared in Russia Beyond, 8/16.)

Russian plays are no less famous in the theater and opera world than the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in the literary. If you see any of the following authors on the bill, grab a ticket quick!

So you think Russian theater began with Anton Chekhov? Nyet. Pieces for the stage started appearing in Russia in the 18th century, largely composed under the influence of ancient dramatists and the French playwrights Moliere and Beaumarchais. One of the most famous (and funny) of that time is Denis Fonvizin’s The Minor, about a mummy’s boy fussed over so much that he is incapable of tying his own shoelaces.

Russian drama was in some ways revolutionized by diplomat Alexander Griboedov’s Woe from Wit (1822–24), which introduced political satire into the set-piece predicaments of older plays, and spoke to the audience in livelier, more colloquial language.

Unfortunately, Fonvizin and Griboedov were both one-hit wonders. However, the coming generations churned out masterpiece upon masterpiece, nearly all of which are still regularly staged to this day. Here are the must-sees.

  1. Alexander Pushkin

(Read more)

Ateneum, Tretyakov Gallery, Public domain

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, A SHAKESPEAREAN IN WASHINGTON ·

(John Muller’s article appeared in Shakespeare and Beyond, 7/19; via Pam Green.)

In his life and times Frederick Douglass was known around the world as an orator, abolitionist, suffragist, and reformist. While living in Washington, DC, where he spent the last quarter-century of his life, he was also known to many as an admirer of William Shakespeare.

Today, tens of thousands of people visit the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site each year at Cedar Hill, Douglass’s home in Anacostia, where the library shelves hold volumes of Shakespeare’s complete works and a framed print of Othello and Desdemona hangs above the mantle in the west parlor.

Douglass frequently alluded to Shakespeare in his oratory and was known to attend performances of Shakespeare at local Washington theatres. On at least two occasions Douglass served as a thespian for the Uniontown Shakespeare Club, a community theater company.

Furthermore, as a philanthropic patron of the arts, Frederick Douglass used his networks and influence within Washington society to support and advance the careers of Black artists, nearly a century before the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

(Read more)

Listen to a BBC Radio 4 “In Our Time” broadcast on Douglass 

ANDREA ANDRESAKIS: MY WOODSTOCK ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE ·


Andrea Andresakis, Stage Director/Choreographer, has written about her Woodstock Anniversary Tribute*: “I just finished editing this short video in time for the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. (I wasn’t there, but I’ve been to Bethel for other Anniversaries and have fond memories).”

Perfect for the heart of August, heat and dreams–can it really be half a century ago? 

Angel, by Jimi Hendrix

Choreographed by Andrea Andresakis

Danced by Megan Roup

Filmed by Rodney Thornton at the Chernuchin Theatre, NYC

I hope you enjoy it,

Andrea

Stage Director/Choreographer

SDC

www.Andresakis.com 

*  If you are having trouble playing the video, press the Pop-out box on the upper right hand side of the screen (with the diagonal arrow).