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A MIGHTY GROOVE: SADLER’S WELLS SETS UP NEW DANCE HOME IN EAST LONDON ·

(Lyndsey Winship’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/26; via Pam Green.)

Due to open in Stratford next year, the sibling to the Islington institution will have a special emphasis on local talent, hip-hop and artists of colour

The sun is beaming across London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Next to West Ham’s London Stadium is the tangled red steel of the Orbit; nearby, a line of swan pedalos wait to be paddled up the River Lea. There are cranes everywhere, busy building. This is the view from the top-floor studios of a new theatre for dance, Sadler’s Wells East, a sister venue to the original Sadler’s Wells in Islington.

The O’Donnell + Tuomey-designed building has just celebrated its “topping out”, the completion of its concrete structure. It’s a significant milestone for Sadler’s Wells’ artistic director Sir Alistair Spalding, the wry, affable, recently knighted 64-year-old who is a driving force in UK dance. “This has been my mission all the time at Sadler’s Wells, to really put dance at the centre of cultural life in London,” he says. This new theatre is definitely in the cultural thick of things: due to open in November 2023, it is part of the £1.1bn East Bank project that includes a branch of the V&A, BBC studios and a vast new home for the London College of Fashion.

While on the current building site you can’t yet see the rusty-red Italian brick facade, the sawtooth roof or theatrically inspired lighting by designer Aideen Malone; even so, you can see its great potential. A huge, L-shaped foyer hugs the corner of the building across the bridge from Zaha Hadid’s curvaceous Aquatics centre, full-height windows inviting people in. There’ll be a movable stage for local dance companies to perform on, a bar and cafe. Spalding calls it “a people’s theatre”. “It’s not just about the art, it’s about who sees it,” he says, hoping that will include lots of people who haven’t yet discovered their love for dance. Young local people are already being invited to take part in workshops this summer to find dancers for the theatre’s opening show, Vicki Igbokwe’s Our Mighty Groove, about the power of the dancefloor.

Back in 2013, Spalding announced his desire to build a mid-scale venue and various developers got in touch, usually with offers to build a residential block with a theatre underground. The East Bank proposal offered much more, though; still, it’s had a few wobbles along the way, such as when it was realised that the residential towers that would have part-financed the site were going to interrupt a protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral from Richmond Hill on the opposite side of London. “That was nearly the end,” says Spalding. Then there was Covid, which delayed building work by about a year. And Brexit, with its resulting price increases for materials. Although the real Brexit impact is felt inside the theatre, where a new layer of admin and visas for touring shows means more costs and staff – the opposite of cutting red tape – plus switching to a European haulage firm because of cabotage laws. “If this soft power thing is going to work, you have to make it easy for people to travel around the world,” says Spalding

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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)

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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…

WHAT DO SHAKESPEARE AND MAMET HAVE IN COMMON? ·

(Sarah Larson’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 4/4/22; Illustration: Sam Rockwell, Darren Criss, Laurence FishburneIllustration by João Fazenda.)

“American Buffalo” ’s Laurence Fishburne, Darren Criss, and Sam Rockwell ruminate on junk and iambic pentameter on a visit to a thrift shop.

Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell, and Darren Criss, who star in the Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” at Circle in the Square, and Neil Pepe, who directs it, met up the other day at a West Side thrift shop called No Particular Hours (“Vintage Goods / Industrial Artifacts / Dead People’s Things”). The play, from 1975, is about three desperate characters in a junk shop; the group had planned to visit one in March, 2020, shortly before the show’s opening; two years later, there they were. The proprietor, Jerry Lerner—tall, grizzled, fisherman’s cap—let them wander, offering occasional commentary. (Of a carved statue: “I used to call that Bali Parton.”) The shop, a chockablock riot of curiosities—wagon-wheel chandelier here, helmeted mannequin head there—was a bit more festive than the “Buffalo” set, and the actors were a bit snazzier than their onstage counterparts. Fishburne (Donny, the junk-shop owner) wore an African-print-inspired combo from Moshood, of Brooklyn (“I modelled for them in the eighties”), with a drawstring waist. Criss (Bobby, Donny’s slow-witted gofer) gestured at his own plaid pants, and said, “I’m also rocking the drawstring.” Rockwell (Teach, their ne’er-do-well friend) looked mischievous—rascally mustache, sweater with “high end” in colorful letters. “It’s just a sweater I got because I’m a Hollywood phony,” he said, smirking. Criss and Fishburne laughed. “I’m a dickhead, and I wore a dickish sweater,” he said. They laughed more.

“American Buffalo,” a blunt, staccato symphony of F-bombs, haplessness, and simmering rage, centers on a scheme to steal a valuable nickel and culminates in mayhem. Pepe, a prolific director of Mamet with the presence of a director of much gentler fare, leafed through a bin of old wrenches. “We’ve been talking about what makes a lot of noise,” he said. “There’s stuff that happens physically—it will all be choreographed, hopefully, so that all is safe.” Fishburne got intrigued by an old brass fire extinguisher; earthenware jugs (“Jugs, baby! Now, that’s country”), one of which he blew into, jug-band style; and an early-twentieth-century toaster, which he picked up and carried around.

“Our shop is not as nice as this,” Rockwell said. “We don’t have a ‘Clash of the Titans’ poster. Boy, I would buy that.” He crossed to a wall of old posters. “Or ‘Carmen Jones,’ ” Fishburne said. “I have the one from ‘Black Orpheus.’ ”

“Dude, that Harry Belafonte–Danny Kaye video you sent me was awesome,” Rockwell said. They fist-bumped. Which video? Criss asked.

“It’s called ‘Mama Look a Boo-Boo,’ ” Fishburne said.

“Belafonte was a real sex symbol,” Rockwell said. A feed bag caught his eye. “ ‘Purina Goat Chow,’ ” he read. “I had that for breakfast.”

In 2020, they had rehearsed for three weeks before everything shut down, then continued for several more weeks via FaceTime. “This is the longest I’ve prepared for any show in my entire life,” Criss said. Pepe said that he hoped it would feel “lived in.” Fishburne said, “I’ve wanted to do this play since I was a kid.” When “Buffalo” first made waves, he added, “I was in the Philippines, doing ‘Apocalypse Now,’ ”—but “the talk of it . . . this play changed shit for the American theatre. Nobody had used language like this before.” Pepe said, “All of a sudden, Mamet’s doing iambic with the stuff of the streets.”

Mamet wrote “American Buffalo” while living in Chicago and hanging around with poker players in a junk shop. “Some of the guys were ex-cons, and in the business of thievery,” Pepe said. “He would hear their stories. The play has this idea of wanting a bigger piece of the pie.”

“ ‘Gatsby’s Tennis Nets,’ ” Fishburne said, reading a tag aloud.

On a counter in front, a wooden box displayed a mysterious object: ivory-like, rounded, and carved with dancing skeletons. The visitors leaned in. “I was cleaning out an apartment, and I said, ‘Oh, nice bowl,’ right?” Lerner said. “Then I turned it over and said, ‘Holy crap.’ ”

“It’s a turtle shell,” Fishburne said.

“It’s the top of somebody’s skull,” Lerner said.

“Holy shit!” Criss said. “That is intense! ”

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HARPER LEE ESTATE TOLD TO PAY $2.5 MILLION IN DISPUTE OVER ‘MOCKINGBIRD’ PLAYS ·

(Alexandra Alter’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/10; via Pam Green; photo: In 1969, Harper Lee and Dramatic Publishing agreed on a contract that authorized the company to license a stage adaptation of her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”Credit…Donald Uhrbrock/Getty Images.)

The estate is contesting an arbitrator’s ruling that it had been too aggressive in limiting productions of a 1970 adaptation of the novel as Aaron Sorkin’s new staged version came to Broadway.

The ruling found that under pressure from Scott Rudin, then lead producer of a different adaptation of the book, which was intended for Broadway, the estate interfered with Dramatic’s contracts, and tried to prevent some productions of the work.

The ruling, made in January, comes nearly three years after Dramatic invoked an arbitration clause in its contract to prevent limits on productions of its adaptation.

Dramatic’s adaptation, by the playwright Christopher Sergel, has long been a staple at schools and community theaters around the country. It’s the version of that has been staged every year in Lee’s hometown, Monroeville, Ala. And for decades, Dramatic was the only publisher Lee had authorized to license a theatrical adaptation of her beloved 1960 novel about a crusading lawyer named Atticus Finch who represents a Black man who is unjustly accused of rape in a small town in Alabama.

Then, in 2018, Rudin brought the new Aaron Sorkin adaptation to Broadway, where it became a box office hit.

Christopher Sergel III, president of Dramatic Publishing Company and the grandson of the author of the first adaptation, claimed that the Lee estate acted in concert with Rudin to prevent some local productions of the play from going forward. In cease-and-desist letters to local theaters, Rudin’s lawyers claimed that those productions were no longer permissible because of the Sorkin adaptation. As a result, at least eight theaters canceled productions of Dramatic’s version of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

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RADIO CITY ROCKETTES CHRISTMAS SHOWS CANCELED DUE TO COVID OUTBREAK—‘HAMILTON’ CANCELED ·

(Luke Funk’s article appeared on Fox5 New York.)

NEW YORK – The Radio City Rockettes are canceling their entire 2021 season due to COVID-19 cases.

“We regret that we are unable to continue the Christmas Spectacular this season due to increasing challenges from the pandemic,” the Rockettes posted on Twitter. 

The show had canceled Friday show due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases among members of the production moments before the 11 a.m. performance.  At least some of the cases appeared to be among members of the orchestra.

The annual show features the Rockettes and is a holiday tradition in the city.  People were already in their seats when they were told the show was canceled.  Children and adults were seen crying outside the Midtown Manhattan venue after realizing they were not going to get to see the show.

NY SETS RECORD FOR SINGLE-DAY CASES

Many in the crowd were tourists who had traveled to New York City to see the show.

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TONIGHT’S PERFORMANCE OF TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL CANCELED DUE TO POSITIVE COVID TESTS RESULTS IN THE COMPANY ·

(Chloe Rabinowitz’s article appeared in the NY Post, 12/16.)

Performances are scheduled to resume on Friday, December 17.

Tonight’s performance of TINA – THE Tina Turner MUSICAL (Thursday, December 16 at 7pm) is being canceled due to positive Covid-19 test results within the Broadway company.

Performances are scheduled to resume on Friday, December 17.

Produced by Stage EntertainmentJames L. Nederlander and Tali Pelman, in association with Tina Turner, TINA – THE Tina Turner MUSICAL currently stars Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tina, Tony Award nominee Daniel J. Watts as Ike, Kayla Davion as Tina (at some performances), Dawnn Lewis as Zelma, Tony Award nominee Myra Lucretia Taylor as Gran Georgeanna and Jessica Rush as Rhonda. TINA – THE Tina Turner MUSICAL also features Juliet BennSteven BoothNick Rashad BurroughsGerald CaesarJulius ChaseAyla Ciccone-BurtonHolli’ ConwayLeandra Ellis-GastonCharlie FranklinJudith FranklinJosiah GaffneyMatthew GriffinAri GrooverSheldon HenryDavid JenningsRoss LekitesRobert LenziRob MarnellJhardon DiShon Milton, NaTonia Monét, Phierce PhoenixJustin SchumanAllysa ShorteEric SiegleCarla R. StewartSkye Dakota Turner, Eric A. Walker Jr., Katie Webber and Michelle West.

Written by Tony Award nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, TINA – THE Tina Turner MUSICAL is directed by Tony Award nominee Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Tony Award nominee Anthony Van Laast, set and costume designs by Tony Award nominee Mark Thompson, musical supervision, additional music and arrangements by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Tony Award nominee Bruno Poet, sound by Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Tony Award nominee Jeff Sugg, orchestrations by Tony Award nominee Ethan Popp, wigs, hair and makeup design by Drama Desk Award winner Campbell Young Associates, music direction by Alvin Hough Jr. and casting by The Telsey Office.

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MARÍA IRENE FORNÉS: THE PUBLIC THEATER’S UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL MABOU MINES & WEATHERVANE PRODUCTIONS –‘MUD’/’DROWNING'(JAN 12-30) ·

FORNÉS  RETURNS TO MABOU MINES FOR UNDER THE RADAR  
THE PUBLIC THEATER’S UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
MABOU MINES & WEATHERVANE PRODUCTIONS 
PRESENT
MUD/DROWNING
WRITTEN BY
MARÍA IRENE FORNÉS
DIRECTED BY
JOANNE AKALAITIS
WITH NEW MUSIC COMPOSED BY
PHILIP GLASS
PERFORMANCES
January 12-30, 2022
Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 pm
Sunday at 5pm

MABOU MINES
150 First Ave. Second Floor, NYC 10009

Tickets, now on sale, are $25 and available through The Public Theater.
TICKETS

Mabou Mines’ and Weathervane Productions’ unique celebration of the legendary, late playwright and director María Irene Fornés—a pairing of Philip Glass’ transformation of her five-page play Drowning into an opera and a version of her acclaimed play Mud, both directed by Mabou Mines co-founder JoAnne Akalaitis —returns as part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. These intimate productions, both with new music composed by Glass, were first presented at Mabou Mines in February, 2020.

For both works, Akalaitis and her collaborators have developed an aesthetic and philosophical framework to honor the homemade quality of many of Fornés’ own stagings—a “production style that understood just how profound stillness, sparseness, and playful humor could be” (Los Angeles Times).  Akalaitis describes these works as “a conversation between the actors, design, the music, the singers, and of course the primary conversationalist in all this is Irene. They are seemingly stylistically very different—with the quotidian atmosphere and language of Mud and the monstrosity of the characters and opaqueness of the poetry in Drowning—but the heartbeat of both these pieces is in the same body.”

DONATE

SUPPORT FOR MABOU MINES is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council and Materials for the Arts, The NYC Women’s Fund by the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment/The New York Foundation for the Arts, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Howard Gilman Foundation JKW Foundation, The NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, Emma A. Shaefer Charitable Trust, Shubert Foundation, the Tides Foundation and the W Trust.ation, the W Trust and Emma A. Shaefer Charitable Trust.

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