Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello Everyone, this is Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, and I'm here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what's being discussed in the national and international theatre community. I'm still recovering from being a playwright in this year's 24 Hour Theatre Project, so this is going to be a short edition.

Death Panels for Arts Organizations

"Some organizations are going to die," she stated. "I want to incentivize them to die quicker." - Devon Smith

This may seem like an odd thing for me to link, considering our community has lost four theatres in the past three years, but I beg you to listen to Smith's words in the video. I've talked before about theatre hospice -- if we acknowledge that organizations will close -- what can we do to make this as painless as possible? Can organizations that are serving similar audiences merge? How can we make our own organizations vital to our communities? And is what we put on our stages reflecting our actual community? And if not, how do we make the changes to make that happen? And can we create theatre hospice?

Latina/o Theatre Commons

HowlRound is hosting a summit on Latina/o Theatre -- with a satellite conversation happening in Miami at Theatro Prometeo. Here's how you can take part and there will be translation services on Saturday. You can also watch the stream on HowlRoundTV.

More on Innovation

Todd London, one of my favorite speakers on the state of American theatre, has a piece in HowlRound on funders and their love of innovation for innovation's sake:
Since when is it the job of funders to dictate what every nonprofit should do? What is the Foundation’s “core competency” that entitles them to tell museums, symphonies, dance and theater companies what is essential to fulfilling their separate, varied, and sometimes vital missions? Evans then suggests that arts organizations might create capital funds for organizational innovation equal to 20 percent of their operating budgets. Have you ever met a company who actually wants more earmarked capital? For years theaters struggled to build endowments to support the long-life of their most essential creative work, to escape the whims of restricted funding. Why in the world would we want a fifth of our budget for mandated newness?

Karina Mangu-Ward, EmcArts’s Director of Activating Innovation seconded Evans’ call on HowlRound last week, “We believe that innovation should be considered a core discipline of organization life, along with marketing, administration, fundraising, etc.” I’d argue the opposite. Instead of adding another department to our bloated institutions, I’d suggest shrinking those existing departments and bringing more artists in.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mondays are Dark

This Monday, it may be more accurate to say Mondays are long; today is Naked Stage’s 24 Hour Theatre Festival.  Late yesterday, playwrights received the titles of the plays to write.  This morning, the directors received the scripts, and the actors came in to start reading lines.  And tonight, you can see the results at Palm Beach DramaWorks.  
 
Next weekend is the Great Coconut Grove Bedrace; on Sunday, the South Florida Theatre League will make its race debut with their Get in Bed with the Arts entry.  Come out and cheer them along.
 
Here’s your Monday reading list:

24 Hours
As noted above, today is the The Naked Stage's 24 Hour Theatre Festival. The Sun-Sentinel fills us in on it, while  The Drama Queen is observing the event as it unfolds.  You can also follow it on Twitter.  And tonight, you can see the results at Palm Beach DramaWorks

Speaking of The Drama Queen
Christine Dolen is one of the recipients  of this year’s Silver Palm Awards .  You can read about it on The Miami Herald, or in Florida Theater On Stage,

Beyond Menopause
Palm Beach ArtsPaper reports on the next project from the woman who brought us Menopause, the Musical.  It’s called The D Word – A Musical.  Can we start a petition to stop appending “the Musical” or “a Musical” to all new musicals for the next five years?

Jupiter Rejuvenated
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opens its new season with a newly renovated venue, and Florida Theater On Stage tells us about it.
Construction began in late spring as soon as the regular season closed. Crews ripped out the downstairs lobby walls to the studs. The staff moved into the Reynolds Center office building next door. The youth programs performed off campus at the Jupiter Community High School and Lighthouse ArtCenter.
One Step Closer
Florida Theater On Stage and The Palm Beach Daily news both report that the National Arts Institute has signed a lease with Sterling Palm Beach for the Royal Poinciana Playhouse.  From the former:
NAI inked a 22-year-lease with a 20-year-option this week with Sterling Palm Beach LLC, the developer of the commercial shopping center hugging the east side of the Intracoastal, said NAI spokesman Marty Rogol.
Teen Ambassadors
Sun-Sentinel’s Teen Link fills us in on the Teen Ambassador program at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts:
The Teen Ambassadors are required to view and promote at least one show per month, each from a different category. The categories include Broadway, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, classical, jazz and Family Fun.

“We try to expose the kids to all of the genres we can,” Teen Ambassador Adult Mentor Jill Kratish said.

Students promote on social media sites and later write or film personal reviews of what they watched.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

AAPACT: Fences (reviews)

fencesThe African American Performing Arts Community Theatre opened its production of August Wilson’s Fences at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center on October 18, 2013.
In the powerful, stunning dramatic work that won August Wilson his first Pulitzer Prize, Troy Maxson has gone through life in a country where to be proud and black was to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950's are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960's. It's a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.
Theodore “Teddy” Harrell Jr. directed a cast that included Larry Robinson, Andre’ L. Gainey, Carolyn Johnson, Darryl Vaughn, Shawn Burgess, Charles Bonamy and Lara Storm.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre’s production directed by founder Teddy Harrell Jr. is a respectable rendering that depicts backyard banter erupting into interpersonal clashes

If the production is missing the volcanic performances and therefore the tragic downfall oft compared to King Lear, AAPACT’s cast is remarkably adept at delivering both Wilson’s relaxed syntax of genial chatting, as well as the tougher challenge of making his flights of heightened near-poetic language sound like natural verbiage.

Every production hangs on the performance of the actor portraying Troy and the choices that the actor makes with the director. Larry Robinson creates a different Troy than we’ve seen before. Physically a good fit, Robinson is tall and lanky with muscled arms. The persona his Troy exudes is of an amiable grinning fella you’d see on the street rather than an iconic figure with dreams and flaws too large for his life. While that irises down the size of the play and the depth of his fall, it also makes Troy more recognizable and relatable to the audience.

Carolyn Johnson is one of the region’s finest actresses; we will never forget her aging drug-addicted grandmother in Fabulation at the old Public Theatre.  Here, she invisibly dons Rose’s skin so completely that she erases any perception of a performance.

Roderick Randle is just passable as Cory, not really communicating the melding of banked fires of respect and resentment that the son is struggling with as he leaves adolescence. The one exception is when Randle’s Cory faces down his father. Suddenly, Randle fully inhabits Cory as if he was breathing life into a previously deflated shell.

André L. Gainey, a veteran of AAPACT and M Ensemble productions, brings a tireless smile and sparkle in the eyes to Troy’s loyal sidekick, Bono. Charles Bonamy makes a solid impression as Troy’s mentally ill brother who roams the streets thinking he is the Archangel Gabriel calling out to St. Peter with a gravelly hoarse voice. Darryl Vaughn is convincing as the older son Lyons who hides his wastrel ways behind a passion for playing jazz in local clubs.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
It does not…  take a Broadway budget or cast to make Fences connect with an audience. That’s clear from theatergoers’ responses to the new African American Performing Arts Community Theatre production of the play at Miami’s African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.
 
Staged by Theodore “Teddy” Harrell Jr., AAPACT’s Fences competently, sometimes movingly, fits together the puzzle pieces of Wilson’s plot. However, the sound within the theater and the actors’ articulation make certain lines muddy or unclear, and in a Wilson play, every word counts.
 
Robinson’s powerful, physically imposing Troy achieves an easy camaraderie with Gainey’s Jim, and the actor conveys a real connection with Johnson’s Rose. He doesn’t stint on the behavior that makes an audience recoil from a complicated man.
 
Just as Rose is the sensible rock of the Maxon family, Johnson is the artful heart of this Fences. Her Rose is attentive, nurturing and pragmatic. And when her beloved husband reveals a secret that torpedoes years of trust, Rose’s furious response is masterfully delivered by Johnson.
A masterful storyteller whose language flows like music, Wilson left a grand legacy for the artists and audiences. If AAPACT’s Fences doesn’t hit every note, it still allows its audience entry into a deeply resonant world.
John Thomason reviewed for The Miami New Times:
The 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences is receiving a revival from the always-solid, occasionally dazzling African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (which, despite its name, is a professional playhouse).

Robinson has the most difficult role — his character, Troy, has the most lines, the most movement, and the most complexity. He needs a little more polish. From the opening scene, his strenuous efforts pour down from his shaved head in glistening beads of sweat — the toil of his craft and of Troy's hardscrabble job. He is animated and gripping when recounting Troy's exhausting monologues about wrestling with Death or cutting deals with white devils.

Carolyn Johnson… is never less than marvelous — fully formed and rich in gesture, as convincing as a long-suffering but loving wife as she is a jilted, unforgiving victim.  …She has a subtle command of both her husband and the stage that is mesmerizing to watch, and she's the best reason to see this production.

The supporting players turn in fine, unassuming performances, with the genial Gainey helping to bring the larger-than-life Robinson down to earth and Vaughn capturing Lyons' big-city smoothness.

Dudley Pinder built the appropriately shabby but stable back porch using wood that's seen better days, along with fences on both sides and a makeshift ball of string dangling from a tree that characters whack with a baseball bat.

The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre  presents August Wilson’s Fences at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center through November 3, 2013.


Friday, October 25, 2013

The Scene for October 25, 2013

 Finally, a break in the weather!  Which left us with a bit of a sinus thing which put us down for most of the last two days, hence the tardy post.

But there's lots of theater playing across South Florida!

The 24 Hour Theatre Festival is this Monday, October 28: contact The Naked  Stage if you’re interested in volunteering some support.  This year, Palm Beach Dramaworks is hosting the event, in which several one-act plays will be conceived, written, cast, and staged within a 24 hour period. 

Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.

opening...

Island City Stage opens The Timekeepers at Empire Stage, through November 24.

Sophisticated Ladies opens at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, through November 24.


you still haven't missed...

Slow Burn Theatre Company's production of Next To Normal plays at the West Boca Performing Arts.  It moves to the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center on November 7.  

The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre opens August Wilson’s Fences at the Wendell Narcisse Theater in the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.
 
Actors’ Playhouse presents its hit production of Ruthless! The Musical at the Miracle Theater through November 3, 2013. 
 
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 10, 2013. 

 
The Stage Door Theatre production of Moon Over Buffalo has moved  to the Byron Carlyle  Theater, where it will play through November 3rd.  

Down in Front Theatre Company preset Social Security through October 27.
 

last chance to see...
The Plaza Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs plays through October 27. 

 The Adrienne Arsht Center and the UM Department of Theater Arts presents Metamorphoses at the Arsht Center through October 27. 
 
The University of Miami/Arsht Center production of Metamorphoses plays at the Arsht Center through October 27, 2013. 
 
The Twilight of the Golds plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through October 27.
 
 

community/conservatory
Entr’Acte Theatrix opens The Who’s Tommy at the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, through October 27.
 
The Last of the Red Hot Lovers graces the Delray Beach Playhouse through October 20. 
 
Florida Atlantic University's theater department offers The Cherry Orchard through October 17. 
 
Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Zombie Prom through October 31. 
 
All Shook Up shakes up the Lake Worth Playhouse through October 27.

for kids...
Shrek the Musical plays at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre through November 16. 
 
Storycrafter Studio presents The Romance of Belisa and Don Perloba in the Moonlit Garden & When I Was Alive, through November 8.

Sol Children's Theater presents New Clothes for the Emperor, through November 10.
 
Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre presents Starlight Express at the Galleria Studio, through November 3.
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, it's Andie Arthur, Executive Director of the South Florida Theatre League and I'm here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what's being discussed in the national and international theatre community.

Looking at the Deeper Implications

Sarah Bellamy wrote a piece for TCG responding to the controversy over a production of Miss Saigon in Minneapolis. There's a lot to unpack here, but she makes the point that as theatre producers we need to examine how the art and stories we create reinforce imperialistic values.
What Miss Saigon raises so powerfully is our need to overwrite atrocity with palliative stories that position defining moments of American history as mere footnotes to a larger narrative of helplessness and benevolent cultural exchange. Rather than look frankly at who we are, where we’ve been, and use that to imagine a better future, we keep remodeling the past, as though it’s a beautiful but decrepit mansion we are desperate to inhabit.
As we're in the most diverse area in the country, we (as theatre practitioners) need to be more mindful of how stories we might assume are for everyone are actually coded for white people.

A Faint Hearted Feminist

Julia Jordan has adapted her amazing speech on gender parity from the Dramatists Guild National Conference into an article. It's both heartfelt and full of data.
Arguing about bias or merit is silly. Artistic directors don’t pick plays based on merit; they pick them with biases their minds, history, and culture have created. As the human mind develops, it learns from what it sees and hears. It does not learn what it does not see or hear. No one is immune to bias. Not even artistic directors.
I recently got into an argument about meritocracy with a local producer. Julia Jordan responds to this claim with a lot more eloquence than I did. However, if you need more convincing and have time to read a book, I highly recommend Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites, which looks at the failure of the meritocracy in our political and educational systems.

How Television is Influencing Theatre

Jonathan Mandell writes on eight ways tv is influencing theatre for HowlRound. (Also... has anyone seen Mr. Burns? Is it as delightful as it sounds?)

Post Show Discussions

John Walton writes for the Guardian on how to make post show discussions fun and avoid the dreaded "How did you learn all those lines?"

Facebook's Effectiveness

Ron Evans writes for ARTSblog on how facebook has gone from an effective social media outlet to reach people to one that is much less effective... unless you're paying.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Scene for October 18, 2013

We caught the Actors’ Playhouse production of Ruthless! this week.  We conclude that Julia Dale may bring in the crowds, but Amy Miller Brennan will bring them to their feet.  Kudos!

District Stage Company is so new they don’t have a website yet, but they’re staging Viva Broadway at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center this weekend, featuring Jon Secada, Janet Dacal, Henry Gainza, Alex Lacamoire, and Nina Lafarga, to name but a few.

Monday and Tuesday, catch The Plaza Theatre’s Tribute to James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt & Friends, featuring Irene Adjan and Barry Tarallo.

Other odds 'n' ends; the Theatre League is still looking for a few runners to participate in the Coconut Grove Bed Race; contact Andie Arthur if you're interested. 

The 24 Hour Theatre Festival is coming up on October 28: contact The Naked  Stage if you’re interested in volunteering some support.  This year, Palm Beach Dramaworks is hosting the event, in which several one-act plays will be conceived, written, cast, and staged within a 24 hour period.

Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.


opening...

Slow Burn Theatre Company opens its production of Next To Normal at the West Boca Performing Arts Center this weekend.  It moves to the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center on November 7.  This extension makes it eligible for the Carbonell Awards for the first time, and from what we heard at their rehearsals, look out!

The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre opens August Wilson’s Fences at the Wendell Narcisse Theater in the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.


you still haven't missed...

Actors’ Playhouse presents its hit production of Ruthless! The Musical at the Miracle Theater through November 3, 2013.

The Plaza Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs plays through October 27.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 10, 2013.

The Adrienne Arsht Center and the UM Department of Theater Arts presents Metamorphoses at the Arsht Center through October 27.

The University of Miami/Arsht Center production of Metamorphoses plays at the Arsht Center through October 27, 2013.

The Twilight of the Golds plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through October 27.

The Stage Door Theatre production of Moon Over Buffalo has moved  to the Byron Carlyle  Theater, where it will play through November 3rd. 


passing through...

District Stage Company presents Viva Broadway at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center  on Saturday, October 19, 2013.  It’s a cornucopia of Miami’s Broadway stars. 

Miss Margarida’s Way stops in at Actors’ Workshop and Repertory Company this weekend, featuring Marisa Palazzotto.


last chance to see...

The critically acclaimed national tour of Chicago winds up its run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday..

The Wick Theatre  freshman production of The Sound Of Music winds up its run on Sunday, October 20.

GableStage’s critically acclaimed production of Sons of the Prophet at the Biltmore Hotel ends this Sunday, October 20.

The Playgroup‘s production of The Monster Project winds up its run at Empire Stage on October 20.


community/conservatory
Entr’Acte Theatrix opens The Who’s Tommy at the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, through October 27.

The Last of the Red Hot Lovers graces the Delray Beach Playhouse through October 20.

Florida Atlantic University's theater department offers The Cherry Orchard through October 17.

Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Zombie Prom through October 31.

All Shook Up shakes up the Lake Worth Playhouse through October 27.


for kids...

Shrek the Musical plays at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre through November 16.

Jack and the Beanstalk plays at the J’s Cultural Arts Center through October 20.

Actors’ Playhouse presents Miss Nelson is Missing through November 15.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Palm Beach Dramaworks: Of Mice And Men (reviews)

poster_show65Palm Beach Dramaworks opened its production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men on October 11, 2013.

Of Mice and Men is the story of George and Lennie, two drifters who dream of a better life. George takes care of and protects sweet but simple-minded Lennie, who is unaware of his own brute strength. After Lennie unintentionally commits a terrible act, George must determine his friend’s fate. The play is inspired by Steinbeck’s days as a manual laborer; Lennie is based on a real person.

J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that included W. Paul Bodie, Cliff Burgess, Frank Converse, Dennis Creaghan, Betsy Graver, Christopher Halladay, Wayne Steadman, John Leonard Thompson, Brendan Titley and Ricky Waugh.

 

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:

John Steinbeck, chronicler of the Depression-era common man, has created many indelible characters, but few resonate with us with the impact of those odd couple drifters, George Milton and Lennie Small, in Of Mice and Men.

Finding two towering actors for these central roles is crucial to the success of bringing the literary classic alive, and Palm Beach Dramaworks has a pair of remarkable performers in John Leonard Thompson and Brendan Titley. But almost as crucial is the rest of the company, filling out the migrant farm community, and in that, director J. Barry Lewis has cast well and knit them into a worthy ensemble.

Returning to Dramaworks as George is Thompson… wiry and slight, at least in contrast to Titley’s Lennie. We instinctively see why Lennie is dependent on George, but Thompson makes us see that the need for each other is reciprocal, that George relies on Lennie’s utter belief in their dream to sustain him.

Thompson is the cornerstone of the production, in the less commanding role. Perhaps it is inevitable that Titley draws our attention and wins our affection as feeble-minded, but content Lennie. Making his Dramaworks debut, Titley displays the character’s mental struggles in his facial expressions and draws us inside his head as Lennie grasps for understanding.

...what gives the play a richness and period significance is the way the rest of the characters reflect those hard-scrabble times. Long before there was a social safety net, an aged, mangled character like Candy (another fine performance from Dennis Creaghan) knows he has outlived his usefulness and is expendable…  Then there’s Crooks, a black man in a racially unenlightened time, relegated to the barn instead of the bunkhouse. But W. Paul Bodie… takes him beyond a symbol, investing the character with unexpected dignity.

Betsy Graver is convincing as trouble from her first cat-like entrance, but she too becomes fully dimensional in a second-act scene sharing her hopes with Lennie. In addition, Lewis draws fine work from Cliff Burgess as foreman Slim, and Frank Converse is a stern presence as The Boss.

Of Mice and Men is another stage classic that Dramaworks could never have done justice to in its smaller theater. Certainly, it could not have had the visual impact it has here, thanks to Michael Amico’s versatile unit set of rough-hewn wood and corrugated metal. In a nice touch, he includes two trap doors for a babbling brook and a campfire. The scenic design works well with John Hall’s lighting, particularly the searing shafts of sun and shadow in the barn.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:

In Palm Beach Dramaworks’ rendition of the 1937 play adapted from the classic novella, John Leonard Thompson’s and Brendan Titley’s performances are the blazing campfire around which everything warms its hands.

Thompson’s natural intensity is ideally suited for the tightly wound George.  Titley quickly commands equal measures of sympathy and dread for the child-like Lennie, whose limited intellect is unable to govern his frightening physical strength.

Director J. Barry Lewis’ poetic approach lends dignity to the undernourished lives Steinbeck portrays, without sacrificing the tension that leads to the story’s tragic conclusion. His use of scene-setting descriptive passages from the book is especially effective.

Michael Amico’s set, combining weathered wood and a hint of mountainous landscape, deftly suggests the ranch where George and Lennie have come to work and the verdant Salinas valley that cradles it. John Hall’s lighting design rises from subtle backdrop to visual feast in the devastating climax, when a wash of golden light through gaping boards caresses Lennie’s violent outburst.

Dramaworks’ touching production makes it easy to understand why George and Lennie remain two of the most iconic characters in American literature.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 10, 2013.

Arsht Center: Metamorphoses (reviews)

Metamorph_170X100The University of Miami/Arsht Center production of Metamorphoses opened October 16 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

In the simple beauty of a four-foot rippling pool of water, American playwright and original director Mary Zimmerman conjures Ovid's classic myths – Eros and Psyche, Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice, Narcissus and more – into 11 vignettes boasting gorgeous imagery, provocative moments and breathtaking storytelling.  Miami's hottest regional theater actors join UM's talented student actors to create more than 50 characters, bringing the Greek myths to life.

Henry Fonte directed a cast that included Ethan Henry, Peter Galman, Maha McCain, Isabel Moreno, Timothy Bell, Javier Del Riego, Mary Hadsell, Annette Hammond, Emily Madden, Adam Maggio, Timothy Manion, Alanna Saunders, Taylor Stutz and Maggie Weston.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

The University of Miami/Arsht Center production of Metamorphoses is akin to a daring young gymnast attempting a difficult advanced maneuver: admirably brave, visually arresting, but not quite landing as solidly on his feet as you’d hope.

The entire evening is visually and intellectually intriguing, but strangely emotionally distant for the most part. You’re fascinated, but you don’t care about the characters except for a couple of moments.

This edition is directed by Henry Fonte, producing artistic director of the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre at UM. He never saw Zimmerman’s production and he courageously avoided every YouTube video and every word about what Zimmerman had done. While he gave his cast the script, which has minimal stage directions, he ignored most of Zimmerman’s notations other than the pool.

The result is a unique interpretation of the work, but one unquestionably just as valid. I did not see Zimmerman’s version live but I did watch it on video at the Lincoln Center library, which robbed it of much of its reported vitality. Fonte’s take seems far more accessible and humanistic.

Despite the unassailable work of professionals like Ethan Henry, several of the students are not yet up to the challenge. The dialogue cobbles together the heightened language of classical poetry and the prosaic ring of street vernacular… Ricocheting between those two modes of speech, let alone melding them into a coherent whole, is difficult for veteran actors let alone those still studying their craft. The young actors often try to compensate by overacting with overblown proclamations of their lines.

Fonte’s vision has galvanized his production team. Set designer K. April Soroko and projection/lighting designer Eric Haugen have created an infinitely malleable setting that can by a sylvan glade, a gold-lined mansion or Hades itself. Matt Corey has created yet another stunning soundscape that morphs with every scene and relies heavily on music to create varying tones. Ellis Tillman has provided a vast array of diaphanous togas and gowns.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

UM theater chair Henry Fonte has staged the production in and around the shallow swimming pool that is the centerpiece of K. April Soroko’s set... It’s a place in which sheer white curtains and sail-shaped fabric transform into gardens, palaces, star-strewn skies and more, thanks to Eric Haugen’s lighting and projections.

Sound designer Matt Corey contributes to the magic of the piece with everything from birdsong to thunderous storms. And designer Ellis Tillman mixes it up, creating some elaborately detailed costumes with vivid pops of color but largely clothing the student bodies (and grown-up ones) in off-white fabric that drapes provocatively, turning nearly sheer as the actors frolic and tumble in the water.

…the production offers moments of tragedy, joy, sorrow, eroticism, grief, horror and humor. The four adult actors deliver like the professionals they are, though Isabel Moreno, Maha McCain and Peter Galman don’t have either the focal stage time or dramatic impact of Ethan Henry, who is — by miles — the most compelling reason for theater lovers to check out this Metamorphoses. 

…the Carbonell Award-nominated actor seems to be giving a master class in how to play a variety of mythic roles filtered through a contemporary sensibility. His rich, deep voice effortlessly and clearly delivers every word of his dialogue. He mines the greed and self-delusion of King Midas as well as the addictive lust of Cinyras, whose daughter Myrrha (Alanna Saunders) is cursed with an unnatural desire for him. And when Henry plays Midas’ horror or Cinyras’ revulsion, the emotions seem utterly genuine.

The work by the UM student actors is of varying quality. Some of the breakdowns and histrionics are nothing more than over-the-top shouting, devoid of any connection to real emotion. Vocally, some of the young women sound better suited to pitching teen products on TV than playing complex roles onstage.

Still, each student achieves a memorable moment or two in Metamorphoses: Taylor Stutz as Sleep; Tim Bell as Orpheus and Annette Hammond as Eurydice; Saunders as the miserable Myrrha; Javier Del Riego as unlucky-in-love but funny Vertumnus; Tim Manion as the ravenous Erysichthon, a tyrant beset by Mary Hadsell’s unrelenting Hunger; Bell again as the amusingly spoiled Phaeton, son of Adam Maggio’s regal Apollo; Stutz and Maggie Weston as the beautiful Eros and Psyche; Emily Madden as the generous Baucis.

Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:

It’s an impressive production, this Metamorphoses playing now in the Carnival Studio Theatre at the Arsht Center and that’s what’s wrong with the show.  It’s all production and little art.

The actors thrash around in the pool to great effect (the ushers hand out large towels to front row patrons) but the inexperience of the college students and generally tepid performances from the professionals in the cast drag the long one act show to a crawl. 

But here’s the actor who made Metamorphoses worth watching: Ethan Henry with another consummate performance.   His stature, his voice, his humor, his command of the stage/pool are a delight.  None exited during his scenes, I assure you.

John Thomason reviewed for The Miami New Times:

In director Henry Fonte's treatment here, the most literal usage of the water resonates — the ravaging sea batters the ship of Ceyx (Adam Maggio), sending the god and his seamen splashing about in chaos. Then there's the slow drift of Phaeton (Tim Bell), the son of the Sun, as he relates familial angst to a therapist from a creative pool float in the shape of his father's bright-orange sphere.

But far too often, the water becomes tangential to the action, a novelty to work around.

That said, there is a lot to admire in this Metamorphoses, which correctly channels the Brechtian anti-naturalism of Zimmerman's script and the moral anchors of Ovid's original tales, with their shades of deviance, envy, avarice, inevitable comeuppance, and occasional redemption.  The myth of Orpheus (Bell) and Eurydice (Annette Hammond) is as spellbinding as ever, with or without the agua.

The rendering of Ceyx (Adam Maggio) and his wife, Alcyone (Emily Madden), is also effective, powered by the theater of mind, as we're prompted to imagine, without the aid of so much as an oar, a maritime voyage and terrifying shipwreck.

…another bravura moment from Henry, the production's most recognizable actor and a Carbonell nominee for last year's M Ensemble production of King Hedley II. Paced to perfection, as raw sexuality yields to unspeakable shame, he believably conveys abject agony in a moment that alone is worthy of award consideration.

The casting, otherwise, is a mixed bag. For the UM students, Metamorphoses is clearly an expert training ground, with its more than 50 characters and its vast spectrum of emotion and action. Not all of the actors live up to the show's dramatic exigencies, but some — notably Bell, Saunders, and Del Riego — will have no problem finding professional work when they graduate.

The University of Miami/Arsht Center production of Metamorphoses plays at the Arsht Center through October 27, 2013.

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, it's Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League and I'm here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at interesting articles and discussions from the national and international theatre communities.

Stop Complaining that Young People Don't Like Shakespeare

There's so much I agree with in this Melissa Hillman post about the accessibility of Shakespeare that I'm unsure where to start. But in her straight talk style, she hits on so many misconceptions that we build around Shakespeare. This is one of my favorite bits:
A stiff, formal production that doesn’t know what it’s about and privileges poetry over storytelling is not going to be compelling just because you used a hip hop soundtrack or “multimedia” or let people tweet during the show.
This is true of ALL theatre, not just Shakespeare.

Failures of Arts Journalism?

Bruce Ridge has a piece on the way the recent union disagreements at the Minnesota Orchestra and the closure of the New York City Opera were portrayed in the news. He specifically points out that no one focuses on the good and that musicians are being treated as greedy. While I do agree with a lot of what's being said here, I think that Ridge is missing where these attitudes intersect with the larger world. I think that the portrayal of musicians being greedy also fits into the larger distrust of unions narrative that is huge in today's media climate and it also misses that we expect people following what they love or who work for non-profits to not be well paid. I wish Ridge would have looked at why arts journalism are tapping into these narratives.

Engagement vs. Self-Promotion

Gwydion Suilebhan has a piece on the difference between engagement and self-promotion. It's aimed at playwrights, but it's good advice for everyone.

Innovation for Innovation's Sake?

Parabasis wonders if our drive for innovation is actually harmful to the long term health of theatrical organizations.

Artists and the Affordable Care Act

A resource for artists on navigating the new health insurance exchange. (For those who are able to log in, which would not include me at this point in time.)

Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress has a thoughtful article on why the Affordable Care Act is important for artists. You've probably heard or lived through some of these horror stories before, but it's a good piece for those who might not have envisioned life with a preexisting condition.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Actors’ Playhouse: Ruthless! The Musical (reviews)

logo_2013ruthlessActors’ Playhouse opened its production of Ruthless! The Musical at the Miracle Theater on October 9, 2013.

Winner of a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award, Ruthless! The Musical is a gem of a satirical musical about the consuming drive for stardom. Move over Honey Boo Boo, this outrageous and hysterically funny runaway hit garnered rave reviews during its Off-Broadway run in the early 90s, and is ripe for a revival in today's celebrity driven world.

David Arisco directed  a cast that included Julia Dale, Amy Miller Brennan, Gabriel Zenon, Sally Bondi, Leigh Bennet, and Jeni Hacker.  Musical direction by Eric Alsford, with choreography by Nikkie Allred.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

Everything about Ruthless! The Musical from dripping furs to the Ethel Merman voices, everything is over the top. Way over the top. Thank goodness. Well, actually, don’t thank goodness. As Mae West advised, “Goodness has nothing to do with it.” Ruthless is a gleefully uninhibited celebration of greed, venality, ambition and ego. In other words, show business.

Plot twists, intentionally transparent secrets, witty nods to shows like Gypsy and the infectious belt-a-thon of a score give director David Arisco, his cast and designers the proverbial field day.

The media attention prior to opening night has focused on Julia Dale, the 12-year-old Broward girl who brings beauty pageant charisma and Cat 5 vocal power to Tina. When she makes her big tap dance entrance and sings “I was born to entertain,” the audience is bought and paid for. It’s like when Andrea McArdle came center stage with a mangy cur and sang about the sun coming out tomorrow.

But the linchpin is someone else. It’s embarrassing to once again express surprise at rediscovering the talent and skill of Amy Miller Brennan. As Tina’s cookie-baking, pearl-bedecked shrinking violet of a mother and (major spoiler alert) as the transmogrified Broadway star with an unbridled ego and arrogance, Brennan is jaw-droppingly excellent from her buttermilk and bourbon voice to her deft handling of broad comedy.

Gabriel Zenone is clearly having a hoot playing the pragmatic Sylvia, a part traditionally played by a man in drag. Commendably, other than once dropping into his natural baritone for one verse, Zenone and Arisco never even wink at the fact that the character is being played as a man – which makes it all the funnier.

Leigh Bennett steals every scene she’s in with her deliciously vicious portrayal of a theater critic who loathes the art form but loves pouring toxic venom all over a production.

Ellis Tillman’s costume design is absolutely fabulous, maybe marking a personal best. With a show set amorphously around the 1950s or 1960s, he has let himself go wild…  Each outfit is an extension of character, but all of them formed as wicked a satire as anything else in the show.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

Despite its scary little leading lady… Ruthless! is played strictly for laughs, in this case as many as director David Arisco and his talented cast can wring from a script packed with puns, sardonic lines and rapid-fire allusions to the likes of Gypsy and All About Eve.

Dale is making her professional theater debut in Ruthless!, but within minutes it’s clear that this show will be the first of many for the extraordinarily talented Davie seventh grader. Arisco and musical director Eric Alsford bring out the best in a young performer who seems destined for great things.

As Judy and Ginger, Amy Miller Brennan gets to demonstrate her versatility in two different-as-can-be roles. Her Judy is a touch too square and spacy… But Miller Brennan is a wonderfully witchy Ginger, a glamorous narcissist without a maternal bone in her body.

Gabriel Zenone… turns his first drag role into an ode to all those wisecracking movie dames who were quicker and more clever than everyone around them.

Leigh Bennett gets her Ethel Merman on as Lita Encore, a vicious critic (a stereotype irresistible to wounded show folk) whose family ties mean nothing when it’s time to break out the poison pen. Jeni Hacker chews most of the second act scenery, as well she should, playing Ginger’s nutty personal assistant Eve. And Sally Bondi gets to play two crazy dames, Tina’s less-than-ethical third grade teacher and a journalist with a bit too much personal interest in Ginger.

Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:

So it’s fun you want and a terrific evening of musical theatre?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Just scoot on over to Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre and grab a seat to Ruthless! The Musical.

It’s a comic’s delight and director David Arisco and his cast hammer every gag and song to the ultimate.

Amy Miller Brennan is the kid’s mother and she turns in one of the funniest performances of the season.  I can’t decide what gave me the greatest pleasure, her acting or her singing.

Tina, the prodigy, is played by a real life whiz bang singer/actor/dancer, twelve year old Julia Dale.  Normally I’d rather deflea the dogs than watch kids on stage, but Miss Dale has not only terrific talent but also that rare quality that makes you like her, scene after scene after scene.  Quick, give me more.

Gabriel Zenone is in drag, making talent agent Sylvia St Croix the epitome of sleaze, cheap glamour and banal secrets.  

Leigh Bennett as theatre critic Lita Encore stopped the show with “I Hate Musicals”. Jeni Hacker is hilarious as both school kid Louise Lerman and Eve, personal assistant to the star and Sally Bondi does well with the dual roles of school teacher Miss Thorn and reporter Miss Block. 

Jack Gardner reviewed for Edge Miami:

The Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, Florida opens their 2013-2014 season with "Ruthless! The Musical," which features a cast of six very strong performers.

The highlights of this production are the performances. At the top of the list is Amy Miller Brennan who delivers a tour de force performance as the multiple personality mother, Judy Denmark…  If hers were the only strong performance, the production would still be worth seeing...

Gabriel Zenone takes on the drag role of Ruth St. Croix and delivers to the audience a mix of Bette Davis coupled with an Elaine Stritch-like voice. He is campy and funny, and he looks good in a dress.

Julia Dale portrays Tina Denmark, the troubled child with a star obsession. Dale can sing, there is no doubt about it, and at her young age she is showing signs of quickly becoming a theatrical professional. She doesn’t manage to steal the show from the adults, but she is more than capable of holding her own.

In her role as Lita Encore, Leigh Bennett is spot on in her characterization of this very Ethel Merman-like character. The mannerisms and voice were so realistic that someone needs to revive both Call Me Madam and Gypsy for her as soon as humanly possible.

Seeing Brennan on stage alone is well worth the ticket price. But when you couple her with the other five members of the cast, the audience is getting a lot of talent for very little money.

Actors’ Playhouse presents its production of Ruthless! The Musical at the Miracle Theater through November 3, 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mondays are Dark

Sorry for the delay – theatre season is in full swing, and working in theatre sometimes gets in the way of reporting on the goings on of theatre.
 
The 24 Hour Theatre Festival is coming up on October 28: contact The Naked  Stage if you’re interested in volunteering some support.  This year, Palm Beach Dramaworks is hosting the event, in which several one-act plays will be conceived, written, cast, and staged within a 24 hour period.

Speaking of the 24 Hour Theatre Project
The Palm Beach Daily News publishes its first story on The 24 Hour Theatre Festival , because it’s the first time it’s been held at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

Bringing it Home
Broadway World fills tells us that the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center has partnered with the newly established District Stage Company to produce Viva Broadway, with special guest star Jon Secada.  But he’s not the only native South Floridian starring in the show. It’s directed by Heidi Miami Marshall (The Addams Family), with musical direction by Alex Lacamoire (Tony and Grammy award winner for his work on In the Heights.  The cast includes: Janet Dacal, Henry Gainza (Co-Founder of District Stage Company), Nina Lafarga, Jose Luis Lopez, Karen Olivo, Eliseo Roman, and Andy Señor.

Family Affair
The Shiny Sheet reports that Plaza Theatre’s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs stars Noah Jacobson, the son of the company’s producer, Alan Jacobson.
The senior Jacobson left the casting of the roles of Stanley and Eugene, for which his son auditioned, to director Andy Rogow.
“I wanted Noah to get or not get the role on his own merits,” he said.
Ground Control to Stage Left
The Washington Post reports that since the government shutdown has closed NASA, they’ve been filling the time rehearsing Into The Woods.  I guess they know more about stages than just the ones in rockets.

Speaking of Stages
The Stage Door Theatre is set to open Sophisticated Ladies, according to Broadway World.

Speaking of The Stage
The Stage reports that the United Kingdom celebrates Stage Management Day on October 10th.
For this year’s Stage Management Day, theatres are planning their own events  – including inviting stage managers to join a show’s curtain call, putting slips into programmes to highlight crew working behind the scenes and allowing stage managers to take control of a show’s social media site for the day.
Mark your calendars for next year!  Because I assure you, every stage manager already has….

Meanwhile…
…In Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  But the Palm Beach Daily News reports that a lease should be signed within two weeks.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Broward Center: Chicago (Reviews)

BAA_Chicago_2Broadway Across America brought the national tour of Chicago to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on October 9, 2013.
Broadway's razzle-dazzle smash Chicago returns to Fort Lauderdale. The triumphant hit musical is the recipient of six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards, a Grammy and thousands of standing ovations. A sensational tale of murder, sin, corruption, greed and "all that jazz," Chicago is filled with knockout dancing, an edge-of-your-seat story and one showstopper after another.
Walter Bobbie directed a cast that included John O’Hurley, Ann Horak, Terra C. McCleod, Carol Woods, D. Micciche, Todd Buonopane, and Ian Compayno.   David Bushman staged Ann Reinking’s recreation of the original choreography by Bob Fosse.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
There are reasons, loads of them, for the longevity of this version of Chicago, a show that didn’t enjoy the same level of success when it first hit Broadway in 1975. All of the revival’s slick charm is on display in the production launching the 2013-2014 touring Broadway season at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this week.
The joys of Chicago flow from its artful, sardonic musical numbers... The challenging choreography, which Fosse dancer and muse Ann Reinking created in his style for the revival (here, it’s re-created by David Bushman), celebrates so many of the master’s signature touches: shoulders thrown back with dangling arms artfully swaying, hands dropped from the wrist with fingers splayed just so, prop bowler hats and drooping cigarettes. Permeating everything is that secret Fosse ingredient, smoldering sensuality.
The touring performers deliver the goods in this Chicago. MacLeod is the better dancer as the desperate Velma, Horak the better singer as the fame-famished yet beguiling Roxie, yet the two leads are a complementary pair. O’Hurley, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld and hosted Family Feud, is one of the better singers to play Billy, and though his rich baritone gets a workout, you wish some of his proven Dancing With the Stars skills could get a little more stage time. As the manipulative jail matron Mama Morton, powerhouse vocalist Carol Woods turns When You’re Good to Mama into a mightily entertaining argument for quid pro quo.
As for the provocatively dressed dancer-singer-actors who give Chicago its arresting moves and vocal richness, they’re terrific. And they probably have the lowest percentage of body fat of any Broadway touring company that will play South Florida this season.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
As reliable as a recording, this 17-year-old revival on what is likely its eleventh national tour remains as entertaining as ever thanks to the knife-sharp crispness in execution by a cast that never coasts.
This crew on the second week of an 11-city tour is almost all veterans of New York and touring productions of Chicago, and their comfort with material shows as they drop back into what is essentially a very well-constructed and well-maintained machine.
Hear Terra C. MacLeod as the jaded Velma Kelly put a sizzling sibilance into the z’s when she sings the opening “All That Jazz.” Hear Carol Woods deliver “When You’re Good to Mama” with the kind of topspin that a Marlins pitcher would envy. Vicariously enjoy Anne Horak’s ebullient daydreams of vaudeville stardom in “Roxie.”
…last but not least, headliner John O’Hurley slips on Billy Flynn’s elan as comfortably as he does the lawyer’s tuxedo. O’Hurley, known for everything from Seinfeld to Dancing With The Stars, has done the role more than 1,000 times, he says. As a result, a vermouth-smooth grace imbues his every movement and that famous deep baritone that puts across his songs with the gusto of an Irish tenor.
As always, the ensemble are breathtakingly hard-bodied singer-dancers who exude pure lust. They effortlessly contort their bodies into the endlessly inventive choreography that Reinking created in the style of Fosse’s kinetic vocabulary of angular, hip-snapping impudence. The muscle-tearing extensions, the kicks seemingly above the heads will make your body ache the next day just remembering their sleek, slinky and sinuous moves.
The national tour of Chicago plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through October 20, 2013.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Scene for October 11, 2013

Yes, the theatre season is really here.  We have both local professional productions and national Broadway tours opening across South Florida this weekend

The Broward Center’s construction crew rallied and had the front entrance cleared for the opening of Chicago – even for the valet parking!  Kudos to a smooth opening.  We’ll post reviews as they come up, but we can safely say that it’s “all that.”  After all, not many national tours bring along the Broadway stars.
 
Other odds 'n' ends; the Theatre League is still looking for a few runners to participate in the Coconut Grove Bed Race; contact Andie Arthur if you're interested. 
 
The 24 Hour Theatre Festival is coming up on October 28: contact The Naked  Stage if you’re interested in volunteering some support.  This year, Palm Beach Dramaworks is hosting the event, in which several one-act plays will be conceived, written, cast, and staged within a 24 hour period.
 
Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend.

opening...
 
Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opens its production of Ruthless! The Musical.  Through November 3.
 
Of Mice and Men opens at Palm Beach Dramaworks, through November 10.
 
The Plaza Theatre opens Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, through October 27.
 

you still haven't missed...

The Wick Theatre makes its entrance onto the theatre scene with The Sound Of Music. Through October 20.
 
GableStage offers a strong production of Sons of the Prophet at the Biltmore Hotel.  Through October 20.
 
The Twilight of the Golds plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through October 27.

The Stage Door Theatre production of  Moon Over Buffalo moves to the Byron Carlyle  Theater, where it will play through November 3rd. 

The Playgroup presents The Monster Project at Empire Stage, through October 20.

 passing through...
 
As we mentioned above, the national tour of Chicago is playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this week and next.
 
The Adrienne Arsht Center and the UM Department of Theater Arts presents Metamorphoses at the Arsht Center through October 27.
 
Also at the Arsht Center, the apparently obligatory yearly visit of Mama Mia blows through town this weekend.
 

community/conservatory

Main Street Players present The Marvelous Wondrettes through October 13.

The Last of the Red Hot Lovers graces the Delray Beach Playhouse through October 20.
 
Florida Atlantic University's theater department offers The Cherry Orchard through October 17.
 
Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Zombie Prom through October 31.
 
All Shook Up shakes up the Lake Worth Playhouse through October 27.


for kids...

Shrek the Musical plays at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre through November 16.

Jack and the Beanstalk plays at the J’s Cultural Arts Center through October 20.

Stage Door Theatre: Twighlight of the Golds (reviews)

twlight-godsThe Stage Door Theatre opened its production of Twilight of the Golds on September 20, 2013.
If your parents knew everything about you before you were born, would you be here? That is the question posed in this entertaining drama.  An intriguing play that asks what a couple would do if science could tell them that their child would be born gay.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that included James Hesse, Larry Kent Bramble, Phyllis Spear, Jeffrey Scott Leshansky and Sarah Miller.
 
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Tolins’ thought-provoking script is uneven and Stage Door’s production has strengths and weaknesses. But under Michael Leeds’ direction, Twilight emerges as a moving tragedy spiked with surprising amounts of comedy as well as compassion.
Other than Hesse’s winning performance, which is supposed to be a bit theatrical, there’s something unreal and stagy about the entire production. Spear, Bramble and even Miller have trouble making their characters seem more than stock characters for much of the play. But in those monologues, suddenly every actor shines, especially Spear and Bramble. Spear, in particular, reveals a depth of rueful emotion at a world with “too much information.” Her Phyllis may be deeply upset by modern life, but she deals with it by silent acquiescence and, in that moment, Spear makes that choice plausible.

Leshansky’s work is perfectly serviceable as a husband admirably supportive of whatever his wife wants, but who would be happy to have this cup pass by. Miller is weaker than the rest of the cast, passable in the part but not as vibrant as the others. Her nasally voice doesn’t carry the same dramatic heft as the rest, although it was stereotypical Jewish American princess.
On the plus side, once again, Stage Door’s team keeps delivering better and better production values. Co-founder David Torres has designed a lovely Ikea-inspired apartment... The set has been deftly lit by Ardean Landhuis... Torres has skillfully woven in passages of opera that underscore the familial strife on stage.

Stage Door’s production of Twilight is reliable enough to give patrons something to talk about on the ride home. It also extends the string of steadily improving work worth seeing that has included A Shayna Maidel and Brighton Beach Memoirs.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
In director Michael Leeds’ well-staged new production at Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, neither the play’s focal family nor its driving crisis is any more tolerable than they were in 1996 when the late producer Brian C. Smith presented Twilight of the Golds… It’s tough to root for or empathize with anyone in the play, except for gay brother David Gold (James Hesse), a Metropolitan Opera scenic
Understand, Stage Door’s production is well executed, with good scenic design and sound by David Torres, lighting by Ardean Landhis and costumes by Peter Lovello. The actors fully commit to their characters, warts and all, and the charismatic Hesse persuasively delivers the playwright’s point of view.

But Twilight of the Golds is no Normal Heart or Angels in America. Yes, it’s true that hatred and homophobia still exist, despite so much progress in the two decades since Tolins’ play debuted. But this is one play that cries out to be buried, not revived.
Twilight of the Golds plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through October 27, 2013.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, this is Andie Arthur, Executive Director of the South Florida Theatre League. I'm here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what's being talked about in the national and international theatre community.

The Essence of Theatre

Tony Kushner gives an interview where he talks about the difference between playwriting and screenwriting. For Kushner, playwriting isn't about storytelling, but about the argument of the play.

Melissa Hillman also takes a look at the mission of theatre and comes up with a different answer:
And this is what I think theatre is for: gathering a group of people to enter into a world wherein a story can be created, shared, and fully experienced in real, physical space and time by both creators and audience. Our stories contain all the mysteries of our existence, all the secrets of our hearts, all our hopes and fears and dreams and longing and joy and pain and everything that makes us who we are, who we were, who we fear becoming, who we want to be, what we dream we can be, at the deepest, most meaningful level our brains can comprehend.
Part of what is interesting to me is that I wanted to title this "why we create theatre," but I think why we create theatre is a different question than what is theatre for -- and I wish we looked at the differences more often instead of conflating the two.

The Dreaded Artist Statement

And an artist statement is supposed to answer both of those questions. Theatrespeak talks to a bunch of theatre artists about one of the most dreaded parts of a grant application.

The Importance of Community

David Byrne writes for the Guardian on how New York City is no longer a functioning community for artists as income inequality is slowly squeezing out a vibrant artistic community.

Becoming Commercial

The Chicago Reader has a piece on the new Chicago Commercial Collective, which plans to take bring back popular shows that had limited runs at non-profit theatres and turn those productions into commercial theatre.

Better Donor Connections

Philly.com talks about the new generation of Philadelphia donors and what arts organizations need to do to connect with them.

And Michael Kaiser writes for the Huffington Post on the importance of keeping elevator speeches current -- focusing on recent achievements and needs -- as opposed to a static mission speech.