Hello, everyone. I’m back with this Wednesday’s update on the national and international arts coverage. I still haven’t decided on a title that I love for this column, but we’re keeping with Continuing the Conversation for now. If you have a brilliant idea for a title or an article you think I missed, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELECTION SEASON AND THE ARTS
We’re only a few weeks out from the election. The voter registration deadline has passed, but if you are registered – please take a moment to educate yourselves where candidates stand on the arts. Philantropy.com has a run down, which includes Arts and Culture in the pull down and Americans for the Arts has their Congressional Report Card, where you can see where incumbents stand.
One vital arts related issue that isn’t going to come up in any debate is that there’s been discussion on ending 501c3 status as a way of closing tax loopholes. As the executive director of a non-profit organization who works with over 45 other non-profit organizations, this is a scary proposition.
Yesterday, I read this letter from playwright Bruce Norris and was flabbergasted. A theatre company in Germany was going to do Clybourne Park in blackface. It was a moment of sputtering shock – and luckily there’s a call out for this practice to change. There’s already a petition and hopefully, some good will come from outing the practice internationally.
However, before we begin to think that this is only a problem in Germany, remember the outrage from TheatreWorks’ whitewashing of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ production of The Motherfucker with the Hat.
It’s bad enough that talented actors of color are shut out by the automatic assumption that every role is white unless otherwise specified. (I remember the Goodman’s production of Proof with an all-black cast. There are plenty of plays that could work just fine with actors of color.) But this is just… depressingly racist.
In cheerier news, HowlRound has a great piece on concrete steps people can take to work for gender parity by Laura Shamas of the LA Femaple Playwrights Initiative.
I would love to see some activism on this locally. I’ve said it before on 2amtheatre, but we’re a highly masculine theatre community. The Women’s Theatre Project is great, but they’re a producing theatre, not an activist group.
MISSION AND BUILDINGS
The Washington Post recently posted an in-depth article about how Arena Stage has failed in its mission for one of its new spaces: the Cradle. The space was built and named with the idea of being a place for new work, and yet it isn’t being used for new work and The Center for the Theatre Commons (which was the outgrowth of the NEA’s New Play Initative) has moved from DC to Boston.
In the closings of the Caldwell and Florida Stage, we’ve had a lot of discussion about venues and their downsides. But I would love to see a discussion on how mission relates to venue, particularly when the Coconut Grove Playhouse situation is settled. I respect the Washington Post for holding Arena Stage to its vision on new play development.
HOW TO PRODUCE A PLAY BY 13P
In my last post, I discussed 13P and their production model. 13P has since put all of their materials online, which is a really great how to for new companies and playwrights who are looking to replicate the model.
The Guardian asks what’s the point of a program? Audiences have a curious relationship with their programs, and many read them at home after the performance. There’s a lot of discussion on moving programs online and into smart phone apps – it’ll be interesting to see where that goes in the future. And I'd love to have some studies on why audience members keep their programs -- what makes keeping a program worthwhile?
My favorite non-program program is still the House Theatre of Chicago’s trading cards, which is a part of the House experience that is sadly missing when they’re in residence at the Arsht. The only programs I have from my years in Chicago are my trading cards. I know Thinking Cap Theatre has talked about bookmarks (which would probably join my trading cards), and I’m interested to see what changes happen for the format in the next decade.