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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

 

ROUGH MAGIC THEATRE, 35 YEARS ON: ‘DUBLIN IN THOSE DAYS WAS SO BOHEMIAN’ ·

(Gemma Tipton’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 7/27.)

Company reflects on decades of casting spells and pushing the envelope with its productions

It’s fascinating how the same set of words can have so many different meanings. I’m sitting in on rehearsals for Rough Magic’s forthcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing. Clare BarrettMaeve Fitzgerald and Venetia Bowe are trying out a scene; drawing nuances of emphasis and feelings from Shakespeare’s comedy of love and misunderstanding. When I arrived, Fitzgerald and Barrett were playing swingball on a set that may or may not feature in the final production.

“It helps us learn our lines,” says Barrett, possibly only half joking. Either way, it’s a good metaphor for the quick-witted banter that makes Shakespeare’s lighter writing so sparkling. In the sports hall that’s doubling up as a rehearsal room, sketches for costumes are tacked to the wall and there’s a chocolate cake, gently melting on a table. This latter isn’t a prop, it’s Fitzgerald’s birthday and there have been some tasty celebrations.

They settle down to work. “Let’s not feel any obligation to make things easy for people,” says director Ronan Phelan, as he nudges the action away from the possibly obvious, and into the rich humanity that is why Shakespeare’s plays have endured. He’s not talking about over-complicating, just digging a little deeper. For someone who had the playwright’s infinite variety sucked out in school, it’s a revelation.

Like Shakespeare, although not quite so long-lived, Rough Magic have also endured. Celebrating 35 years this year, and with two productions in preparation for the Kilkenny Arts Festival, as well as the premiere of Marina Carr’s new work, Hecuba, there are few signs of a desire to rest on laurels, or otherwise take it easy. But what does it take to survive through a generation of upheaval, boom and recession? What has changed in the world of Irish theatre, and how do you stay fresh, and relevant, year after year?

(Read more)

Photo: Irish Times

FRANK GAGLIANO ON HAL PRINCE ·

(Frank Gagliano is a playwright who has held many positions in the world of theatre, including being the Artistic Director of Carnegie Mellon’s Showcase of New Plays and the Benedum Professor of Playwriting, West Virginia University.)

The first time I met Hal, composer Claibe Richardson and I were in the Prince office in Rockefeller Center to audition our musical, From The Bodoni County Songbook Anthology. While waiting for Claibe, I recall slowly panning a wall of legendary Broadway productions that Hal had either produced and/or directed (up to that time)—including, West Side Story, Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, and thinking that the only other wall at the time that could equal it would be the office wall of legendary Broadway producer David Merrick (Hello Dolly, 42nd Street).

I recall an upright piano in Hal’s office and might have asked him if Stephen Sondheim or Kander and Ebb had played their new scores on it. Hal listened to the Bodoni County score and was generous, professional—and encouraging.  Later, in my office at West Virginia University, I got a call from Hal—from Venice, Italy.  He thought he had a venue for Bodoni. I met him again here in Pittsburgh, at the William Penn Hotel. He was here to get an award.  I was then the Artistic Director of The Carnegie Mellon “Showcase of New Plays,” and cheekily invited Hal to direct a play by one of our emerging playwrights.  He graciously declined.

I last saw him and his lovely wife Judy on 5th Avenue on my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I recall the moment, because I told him the sad news that Claibe was not well, and dying.  He liked Claibe.  He liked Claibe’s work.

At some point, Hal called me and asked if I’d be interested in trying to write a new book for the legendary Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer musical of the 1940s, St. Louis Women.  He loved that score.  I tried, but I could never (sigh) find a way into that book.

Over the years we’d correspond. I sent him a copy of my novel, Anton’s Leap,  that he read on one of his European trips; to Germany, as I recall. Liked it. Said it was very sexy.

I had hoped to get into NYC to see The Prince Of Broadway. He wrote me that the show had a limited run but they were interested in extending it. I never made it.

My favorite musical of all time is, A Little Night Music. I saw Hal’s glorious production of it during its initial run. Something about that production has stayed in some deep, bitter-sweet, emotional-memory part of me.

Cliché, I know—but true, nonetheless: The Golden Age of the American Musical can be defined, in part, by the theatre life span of Harold Prince—and that wall in his office.

Another cliché: We will never see Hal Prince’s like again. But what a life! What a legacy! What a marvelous human being. My sympathies to Daughter Daisy and the Prince family. RIP Hal.

FG

www.gaglianoriff.com 

PTP/NYC (POTOMAC THEATRE PROJECT):  ‘HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT’ AND STOPPARD’S ‘DOGG’S HAMLET’ AND ‘CAHOOT’S MACBETH’ (REVIEWS FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Historians, looking back at contemporary American theatre, will have to evaluate whether our stages were reflections of society or partisan distortions. Were our artists “living in the truth,” as former Czech president Václav Havel would ask, or were they politically motivated, sold out, blindsided, outfinanced, or unable to speak due to silencing opinion-makers, the market, or even Google, facebook, or twitter.  A work like Rob Ackerman’s Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson, from The Working Theater, which played off-Broadway, during June and July, sees America’s employed as powerless and compliant–and the boss as original and supremely intelligent, even while he demonstrates only basic knowledge.  In Christopher Shinn’s Dying City, which ran at Second Stage this spring and summer, the highlight is the storytelling, although the characters are types—the smart, contemporary woman, the sensitive, uncloseted gay actor, and the disturbed soldier—all meeting progressive expectations.  What audiences may not be questioning, though, is to what degree the arts in the U.S. are really free—and this is where a writer like Havel, whose rarely performed Vanek plays (three of them here, of four; banned during communism), are now running at PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) until August 4, alongside two short pieces by Beckett and Pinter, in Havel: The Passion of Thought.  Even if most Americans can not know the horror of life in Czechoslovakia, in the last century, one of the short plays in the evening, a two-hander called “Protest” is a pros-and-cons checklist for the conscience, universally true for anyone who must challenge authority, in any of its guises–or even only intends to send a tweet.  America itself has powerful censoring mechanisms, despite the First Amendment, strongly expressed in 1978 by Russian Nobelist and Soviet labor camp survivor, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom Thomas Farnan, in Human Events, reminds us, wrote that the media, Western news reporting,  “[endorses] ‘fashionable trends of thought and ideas’ while suppressing ‘independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life.’” Solzhenitsyn was severely criticized—in fact, told to go back where he came from, like “the Squad” today–but his observation regarding “fashionable trends of thought and ideas” is essential when thinking about American arts.

 

“The Protest” is set in Prague, outside a lovely garden home, marked by flowering magnolias and gladiolas–in thirty-two shades–of a television and film writer (played robustly by Danielle Skraastad), who admits that she is “pushing fifty.” She must make a decision on bold action, regarding a court decision, thinking aloud to an old theatrical friend, a dissident (a non-judging David Barlow): “When the rest of us want to do something of ordinary human decency, we automatically turn to you as though you were some sort of agency for the conduct of moral matters.  Perverse, isn’t it? Sickening, isn’t it?”  Her choice is to regain her self-esteem, lost freedom, and honor, even if it means losing her job—or to continue living on “the path of accommodation” and “shameful compromise.”  She realizes that she must be made an example of, and punished cruelly, if she chooses the first option.  She would be the bad conscience of people who do not act, and who will smear her, ultimately thinking her decision stupid, nothing more.  The dilemma is not simply Eastern European, of course, and must be made not only by the accommodating characters in Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson (also set in the television industry), but also in other contexts, such as teachers’ rooms in academia, validating disproven conclusions on Darwin’s theory, for example, the Hollywood of #MeToo, and at publishers and theatre companies, among various jobs throughout the country, adherent to the common wisdom, as opposed to critical, independent thinking.

“Interview” may remind of Chekhov’s short story, “Misery,” where the need to express thoughts, explain oneself, becomes so urgent that the central character begins confiding in a least likely figure.  In Chekhov, this is a horse.  In Havel’s short play, the character is Vanek, who is asked to inform on himself.  Havel’s plays can have elements of absurdism—as they drink and munch peanuts–but he is not whimsical, and his writing can even sound like O’Neill’s realism. It is not lost on viewers, at Atlantic Stage 2, that the playwright does not advocate socialism, part of the current U.S. national debate (what other son of a builder do you know who does not advocate socialism and became president of his country?).  Havel’s characters are bored and drunk, living futile lives, without work ethic and devoid of meaning: “What about me?” says the crass, tormented brewmaster (Michael Laurence), “I’m only good enough to be the shit on which your fucking principles can grow so you can be a goddamn hero. . . . You’re gonna show off  . . .  about the way you handled barrels in a brewery! But what about me?  What can I go back to?  Huh? What future have I got?  What?”  In the plays, Havel works full circle—climax and catharsis always lead back to stagnation, point zero; contradiction (Vanek, for example, is expected to make friends but not become “chummy”) and repetition. The characters can never progress psychologically, much less spiritually, which they appear to want to do, even if they can only make pretense to commercial mimicry.

In “Private View” a couple (Christopher Marshall and Emily Kron) looks toward the West for its cues on everyday life, such as food, art, sex, parenting, and purchase of consumer goods.  The ideas have not grown organically out of their own culture, however, and the characters come across as earnest and empty fakes.  Although the PTP/NYC season 2019 centers on four writers, known for their contributions to the subject of human rights, the chief among them are Havel and Tom Stoppard, both of Czech origin (although Stoppard, for much of his life, has been a British citizen).  In “Private View,” the playwright most invoked, in Havel’s one act, is Ionesco, another Eastern European (in this case, from Romania, who settled in France).  Students and readers can sometimes not understand why artists will speak figuratively–in symbol, for example (a rhinoceros) or metaphor (a cabaret to represent Nazi Germany—the sad news of the death of Hal Prince has just been announced), instead of being direct and exposing the thing itself.  The explanation is usually, “Because it would be too painful”; another reason may that it is too dangerous.  The Vanek plays may seem to talk around what’s really going in a Communist satellite fifty years ago, which had led  PTP’s Co-Artistic Director Richard Romagnoli, in 1991, to add two further short plays in creating Havel: The Passion of Thought, by Pinter and Beckett.  Yet, even so, you may be able to hear the screaming: “Life is hard and the world is divided. Our country has been written off by everybody, nobody’s going to help us, we’re in a very bad way, and it’s only going to get worse–and you can’t change it!”

Pinter’s sobering play, “The New World Order,” takes the audience into a torture room, where assumptions are dismantled, as a hooded man listens to his captor’s threats, spoken as banalities: “He hasn’t got any idea at all of what we’re going to do to him.” Although the assassins are about as bored as the brewery workers in “Interview”—in fact, one seems to maliciously echo the brewmaster’s monologue in Havel’s play: “Before he came here he was a big shot, he never stopped shooting his mouth off”—the leader explains that they are “keeping the world safe for democracy.”  Beckett’s play, “Catastrophe,” actually written in honor of Havel—a work in which Pinter had also played as an actor–has especial bite and edge at PTP/NYC (the consummate direction for the Havel evening is by Richard Romagnoli).  The play (here, the speaking roles are, nontraditionally, played by two women, Madeline Ciocci and Emily Ballou, whose forward-march pacing give the play a fascist edge)–seems to be questioning how the media distorts—and makes fashionable–human rights’ victims—Havel and Solzhenitsyn, for examples, and Natalia Kaliada and Nikolai Khalezin, from Belarus Free Theatre, and Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, to only begin a listing—who might say that what they were doing had nothing to do with becoming celebrities.

Although this review is being finished, at the end of July, during the second night of the Detroit Democratic debates, it should be mentioned that people can be fearful of socialism, despite its current fashionableness in the United States. One need only look at Sir Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet (known for its 15-minute rendition of Hamlet) and Cahoot’s Macbeth, probably a director’s nightmare (ably undertaken here by Cheryl Faraone), a complicated mosaic of different languages (Early Modern English, Modern English, as well as one the playwright has completely made up), utilizing a large cast. Additionally, as if a new society is being constructed during the plays, there are different settings and shifting set pieces, including huge, brutalist alphabet blocks, created for a Stalinist era (the design is by Mark Evancho; the three costume designers for the evenings are Glenna Ryer, Chris Romagnoli, and Rebecca Lafon;  and Hallie Zieselman designed the lighting). Amit Prakash, visiting assistant professor, Middlebury College,  has written, “In a society dominated by ideology, words are completely untethered from their meanings, shared human experience is always up for debate, and truth is as evasive as a hunted animal.”

Stoppard seems to see dislocation and language reconstruction as occurring due to changing ideology, and these plays appear to be giving a Stoppardian mirror image of Czechoslovakia, during the 1970s and 1980s (Ed Berman, who worked with the playwright at Almost Free Theatre in London, has also been consulted for Potomac Theater Project’s Stoppard plays). Although based on Shakespeare, the work is also influenced by Beckett, Havel, Wiggenstein, Pavel Kohout, detective novels, Ionesco, and the Theatre of the Absurd, to start.  One setting for Cahoots Macbeth is a home, which can seem unusual, given that plays are being performed there, instead of at a theatre.  Faraone writes, “forbidden to practice their art in public, one survival strategy (for artists, in Czechoslovakia) became performing Shakespeare in ‘apartment theatre.’” Such playing areas affirm what Kaliada has said, in interviews about stagings in another Eastern European country, Belarus (performances are given in apartments or at birthdays or weddings, to elude authorities).  Havel discusses how to evade them in “The Protest”–by hiding in a department store:  “You mingle with the crowd, then at the moment when they aren’t looking, you sneak into the bathroom and wait for about two hours. They become convinced you managed to sneak off through a side entrance and give up.”

What happens if you are caught?  Stoppard’s detective/government inspector (Tara Giordano, in a trench coat) explains:  “I must warn you that anything you say will be taken down and played back at your trial.”

For more info visit http://PTPNYC.org, Like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/pages/Potomac-Theatre-Project-PTP/32709392256, follow on Twitter at @ptpnyc (https://twitter.com/ptpnyc), and on Instagram at @ptpnyc.official (https://www.instagram.com/ptpnyc.official).         

The Atlantic Stage 2 is accessible from the A, C, E, L trains to 14 St./8 Ave. or the 1, 2, 3 trains to 14 St.

 © by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.  Production photos: Stan Barouh.

Press: David Gibbs, DARR Publicity

The cast for HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT includes David Barlow (PTP: No End of Blame, Victory, The Castle), Emily Kron (PTP: The Europeans, Sweet Tooth at Cherry Lane), Michael Laurence (Broadway: Talk Radio, Desire Under the Elms, NBC’s “Shades of Blue”), Christopher Marshall (PTP: The Possibilities, The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History), Danielle Skraastad (Broadway: All My Sons, Hurricane Diane with Women’s Project & NYTW, The Architecture of Becoming with Women’s Project), Emily Ballou and Madeline Ciocci (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke).

The production team for HAVEL: THE PASSION OF THOUGHT includes Mark Evancho (Set Design), Hallie Zieselman (Lighting Design), Glenna Ryer (Costume Design), Sam Tompkins Martin (Props Design), Peter B. Schmitz and Adam Milano (Movement) and Devin Wein (Production Stage Manager).

The cast for DOGG’S HAMLET, CAHOOT’S MACBETH includes Matthew Ball (PTP: Pity In History, Pentecost), Denise Cormier (Broadway national tour The Graduate, Showtime’s “The Affair”), Tara Giordano (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Vinegar Tom, Serious Money), Christo Grabowski (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History, No End of Blame), Christopher Marshall (PTP: The Possibilities, The After-Dinner Joke, Pity In History), Peter B. Schmitz (PTP: Lovesong of the Electric Bear, Therese Raquin), Lucy Van Atta (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, Serious Money, Spatter Pattern), Olivia Christie (PTP: Brecht on Brecht), Will Koch, Emily Ma, Katie Marshall, Madeleine Russell (PTP: The After-Dinner Joke, The Possibilities), Lior Selve, Zach Varicchione and Connor Wright (PTP: Pity In History).

The production team for DOGG’S HAMLET, CAHOOT’S MACBETH includes Mark Evancho (Set Design), Hallie Zieselman (Lighting Design), Chris Romagnoli (Costume Design Dogg’s Hamlet), Rebecca LaFon (Costume Design Cahoot’s Macbeth), Sam Tompkins Martin (Props Design), Peter B. Schmitz and Adam Milano (Movement) and Alex Williamson (Production Stage Manager).

THEATER RESOURCES UNLIMITED ANNOUNCES FREE INTRODUCTION TO TRU’S PRODUCER PROGRAM ·

FREE INTRODUCTION TO TRU’S PRODUCER PROGRAM

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Polaris North Theatre

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) announces a Free Introduction to TRU’s Producer Program on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 from 6:30pm-8:30pm at Polaris North Studio, 245 W. 29th St, 4th floor, NYC. Tickets are free but space is limited! RSVP at https://truonline.org/events/intro-to-pdmp-2019-20/.

TRU will host a free meet-and-greet info session about their Producer Development and Mentorship Program (PDMP). Prospective applicants will have the opportunity to learn from and network with TRU’s commercial producer instructors: R. Erin Craig of La Vie Productions (Himself and NoraStalking the BogeymanMr. Rickey Calls a MeetingAusten’s Pride, Academy) who runs the Foundations Class; and Jane Dubin (The Prom, Farinelli and the King, An American in Paris) and Rachel Weinstein (Tony Award winner for The Ferryman and Dear Evan Hansen), who run the Master Class which is open to graduates of Basic Class, and a limited number of producers with a high level of experience. Participants will also meet and hear from successful program graduates.

PDMP’s purpose is to give members the knowledge and resources to become commercial theater producers, non-profit theater producers and/or self-producing artists. (There may come a time in every theater artist’s life when you need to self-produce a show and create your own opportunities, and PDMP aims to provide the tools for that occasion.) TRU’s program teaches necessary skills such as developing a business plan, raising money, budgeting, marketing and putting together creative production teams. For more information, below is the link to the full program description and application.

PDMP is the only theater production program to offer such in-depth instruction from accomplished and active commercial producers at such an affordable price. TRU’s Foundations Class meets one evening of each month for 9 or 10 months, and the cost is $295 ($29.50/class). There will be limited discount “scholarships” for college students and recent grads. Master Class costs $425 for nine sessions and has a highly competitive submission process. Email TRUMentor@gmail.com for more details. The informational session on August 20th is completely free. Reserve using the red ticketing box at https://truonline.org/events/intro-to-pdmp-2019-20/.

FACULTY

R. ERIN CRAIG/La Vie Productions LLC – Since 1997, Erin and her company, La Vie Productions, have worked with artists and new projects in theatre, film and music through their work as a General Manager, Production Manager, Grassroot Marketing / Branding Consultant, Executive Producer and Producer. Current projects include: Austen’s Pride: A New Musical of Pride and PrejudiceMr. Rickey Calls A MeetingAcademyNonsense and BeautyChick Flick, The Musical Recent projects include: Easter Mysteries (live film), Himself and NoraFor Heaven’s SakeLiberty: A Monumental MusicalStalking the BogeymanVelocity of AutumnIn The HeightsHigh FidelityIrena’s Vow,  How We Got Away With It (film), and with Houses On The Moon Theatre Company, The Assignment and gUN COUNTRY. Erin is a member of The Broadway League, The Off-Broadway League, The League of Professional Theatre Women, Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) and NY Women in Film and Television.

JANE DUBIN is a TONY Award-winning producer and the President of Double Play Connections, a theatrical production and management company committed to supporting emerging artists and playwrights in the creation and development of new works. Jane is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-week (NYC) and O’Neill Center Intensive (CT) Producing Workshops and past Director of Theater Resources Unlimited’s Producer Development Program, and current Director of the program’s Master Class. Current Broadway: The Prom.  Previously:  Farinelli and the King (5 Tony nominations), starring Mark Rylance, BandstandAn American in Paris on Broadway (4 TONY Awards), National Tour and in London, Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey(Off Broadway and on Tour). Upcoming: Fingersmith. Previously: Peter and the Starcatcher(Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tour), winner of 5 TONY Awards; Ann, starring Holland Taylor (Lincoln Center); The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (London); The 39 Steps (OB, Tour); The Norman Conquests (TONY Award, Best Play Revival), Groundswell (the New Group), Beebo Brinker Chronicles (2008 GLAAD Media Award for Theatre). Other: OPA! at TBG Theatre (Best Commercial Production, MITF 2008), Take Me America (Best Musical, MITF 2007), Count Down, (Bank Street Theatre) and the one-woman show that started it all, MentalPause by Margaret Liston. Ms. Dubin is a full voting member of the Broadway League. She is President of the Board of Directors of Houses on the Moon Theater Company and a prior Board member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. For two years she was co-curator of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center New Play Reading Series. She co-produced Hudson River Rising, presenting events for One Billion Rising (V-Day) 2013 and 2014. She has been a member of the Grand Jury for NYMF from 2015 through the current 2019 season.

RACHEL WEINSTEIN is a Broadway producer with over two decades of experience in professional performing arts management.  She is currently represented on Broadway with the Tony winner The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth. Rachel began her career in the not-for-profit sector holding leadership positions at theatre companies around the globe including: Roundabout Theatre Company (New York), Donmar Warehouse (London), Writers’ Theatre (Chicago) and The Old Vic (London/New York). In 2012, Rachel segued to the commercial side of the business producing for Broadway.  Her producing credits include: The Heiress (starring Jessica Chastain), the Pulitzer-prize winning Disgraced, Hughie (starring Forest Whitaker), the world premiere musical of An American in Paris and Farinelli and the King (starring Mark Rylance). Rachel is also an Associate Producer of the Tony Award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen, which is currently playing on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre.  Rachel’s upcoming projects include: the new Broadway-bound musical, Jagged Little Pill, developed from Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning album.  Rachel is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-week Intensive (New York) and a former member of TCG’s National Council for the American Theatre.

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) is the leading network for developing theater professionals, a twenty-five year old 501c3 nonprofit organization created to help producers produce, emerging theater to emerge healthily and all theater professionals to understand and navigate the business of the arts. Membership includes self-producing artists as well as career producers and theater companies.

TRU publishes an email community newsletter of services, goods and productions; presents the TRU VOICES Annual New Play Reading Series and Annual New Musicals Reading Series, two new works series in which TRU underwrites developmental readings to nurture new shows as well as new producers for theater; offers a Producer Development & Mentorship Program whose mentors are among the most prominent producers and general managers in New York theater, and also presents Producer Boot Camp workshops to help aspirants develop the business skills they need. TRU serves writers through a Writer-Producer Speed Date, a Practical Playwriting Workshop, How to Write a Musical That Works and a Director-Writer Communications Lab; programs for actors include the Annual Combined Audition, Resource Nights and “Speed Dating” as well as actor workshops.

For more information about TRU membership and programs, visit www.truonline.org or call 212 714-7628.

(via Michelle Tabnick)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our work needs funding.

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

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

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

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

Always Shakespeare?

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

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

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

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

What was your first outdoor production, as an actor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I give actors a lot of freedom.

And I try to listen.

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

Treat actors like movie stars, not puppets.

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

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

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

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

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

Your favorite role as an actor?

Hamlet

Why?

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

Other than that, no reason.

Must good stage work be political? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be too disappointed by nonacceptance.

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

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

The Ferryman. Hands down.

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

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

The hopelessness of it all.

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

Why would you train to do something that is hopeless?

I don’t know, but we do.

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

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

The Norwegians.

168 performances.

We could still be running that play.

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

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

Magic!

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

Visit Shakespeare in the Parking Lot 

Visit the Drilling Company 

Clancy bio:  The State of Shakespeare

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

Press: Jonathan Slaff

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

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

HOW DO I GO TO SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT? 

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

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

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

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

Thought-provoking theatre where the audience is just you

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

THEATRE FOR ONE

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

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

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

(Read more)

Photos: Irish Times

BIBI ANDERSSON, SWEDISH ACTRESS AND MUSE OF INGMAR BERGMAN, DIES AT 83 ·

(Harrison Smith’s article appeared in the Washington Post, 4/14.)

Bibi Andersson, a Swedish actress whose portrayals of chaste schoolgirls, beguiling young women and tortured wives made her a muse and frequent collaborator of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, most notably in “The Seventh Seal,” “Wild Strawberries” and “Persona,” died April 14 in Stockholm. She was 83.

Her death was confirmed by Jan Goransson, head of media at the Swedish Film Institute, who said she had been receiving medical treatment since suffering a stroke in 2009. Additional details were not immediately available.

Easily recognizable by her short blonde hair, button nose, slim figure and wide smile, Ms. Andersson appeared in more than 100 film and television productions through the years, often playing luminous characters whose warm demeanor masked past traumas or intense self-doubt.

Although she starred in Hollywood movies such as “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” in the 1970s, working with American directors such as John Huston (“The Kremlin Letter”) and Robert Altman (“Quintet”), she never attained the spectacular success she found in Sweden, where Goransson called her “one of the greatest stars we ever had.”

(Read more)

 

TOM STOPPARD: ‘ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD’ (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 4) ·

Listen

Mathew Baynton, Andrew Buchan and Toby Jones star in an energetic new production of the play that made Tom Stoppard’s reputation overnight in 1967. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Hamlet’s ill-fated attendant lords, condemned to an existence in the wings, with no control over their own destinies.

Directed by Emma Harding

Rosencrantz…..Mathew Baynton
Guildenstern…..Andrew Buchan
The Player…..Toby Jones
Tragedian…..Sam Dale
Alfred…..Ronny Jhutti
Ophelia…..Sarah Ovens
Polonius…..Michael Bertenshaw
Hamlet…..Parth Thakerar
Claudius…..Don Gilet
Gertrude…..Clare Corbett

Music arranged and performed by Clare Salaman, Philip Hopkins and Amelia Shakespeare from The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments

HIGH SCHOOL ‘ALIEN’ PRODUCTION WINS INTERNET RAVES ·

(Dave Itzkoff’s article appeared in The New York Times, 3/25.)

There are those perennial stage works that are perfectly suited to be performed in high schools across the country every year: say, “Our Town,” “The Crucible,” “Annie” or “The Wizard of Oz.”

And now, to this canon, you might add “Alien.”

A New Jersey high school has found itself the unexpected recipient of online acclaim and viral attention for its recent stage production of “Alien,” the 1979 science-fiction thriller.

“Alien: The Play,” presented last weekend by the drama club of North Bergen High School, starred a cast of eight students in the film roles originally played by Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt and Ian Holm.

Whereas the movie had a budget in the range of about $10 million, “Alien: The Play” had costumes, props and set designs made mostly from donated and recycled materials.

(Read more)

Photo: Daily Mail