Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Quickie

Critics Best Before Dates

The whole "What is Black Theatre" with a side Mixed Race Stuff. The mixed race stuff comes from a link to a Facebook discussion mentioned in the links. 

The whole issue is a bit of a tricky one and I think I would like to take a stab at the whole debate in my next post.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Participation Rights

I was talking to a friend today and we chatted for a bit about the PGC & PACT negotiations that are ongoing. One of the issues she said was in regards to Participation Rights.

Here is a short extract from a much better and definitive article.

In recent years, a growing number of theatre companies have sought to obtain “participation rights” from playwrights who have been commissioned to write an original work or where the theatre is mounting the premiere production of a work.

So the deal basically is that if you produce a premiere production then you get a piece of the playwrights royalties for any subsequent productions for an agreed upon term. Just to be clear ...this is money that the playwright would have to give the original company out of their royalties. It is not paid for by the subsequent producing company.

I have heard this referred to a "tip of the hat" to the original company. Now this amount is somewhere in the range of 2% -5% of the playwrights royalties. If a basic guaranteed royalty is $2500 we are talking in the range of $50 - $125. If of course you have backed a show like The Drowsy Chaperone it could add up to huge dollars. But really so what.The vast majority of plays in this country don't even get a second production and the playwrights full financial return on several years work is $2500. In my mind if they are blessed with a second or third production they still haven't recovered anywhere near the effort and work they have invested. Also consider the fact that of all the salaries in a production the playwright is in the bottom third. Well into the bottom third. On most indie shows I know that the actors make way more than the playwright. 

For example in an F house the actors would be in the $700 range. $700 x 8 weeks = $5600. About 125% more than the playwright. So I say that arguing for participation rights is like spending time complaining that your change at Starbucks is a penny short.

If and when we can at least pay playwrights the equivalent to an actor and above then perhaps we can start to worry about getting another $100 from them down the road.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debates Akimbo

Actors denounce Tory arts rhetoric

There have been a ton of articles written on Steven Harpers comments regarding artists as not ordinary working people. I don't even know where to begin with that so I won't.

In response to all of this Bravo has set up a Townhall evening on October 2nd.  Alas it is on the same day as the 1st Leaders Debate and the 1st Vice Presidential Debate.  So I expect that there will be a split focus which is quite unfortunate.

I must say that I am quite heartened that the arts has made it to this profile level. Usually nobody much cares unless you want someone to sing at an event. I strongly urge people to get out and be vocal and to take advantage of the numerous opportunities to ask the arts questions to the candidates in their riding.

Check out the PACT website for more opportunities and if you want to submit a question to the leaders debate then go here.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sweet Sweet

 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award                                                                                                   

Congratulations to Tony Kushner on this award. It led me to wonder about his and other awards. I know that Lynn Nottage is one of the current recipients of the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award" which is valued at $500,000 over 5 years.

What wonderful support for playwrights.   The Siminovitch Prize  is our most valuable and prestigious prize and that is shared among several disciplines. And yet we hear constant questions questioning the value of the arts. I mean some people get it. They get the necessity of why beauty and joy and challenges are necessary for the imagination of everyone. Why work that provokes and questions can lead to new ways of thinking and open the avenues to different ways of seeing.

But mostly what we hear is from people who think that if they don't "get it" then it is useless. If I hear again how easy it would be to create some piece of abstract art and sell it for a million. And what a waste of money that is I will send that person a paint set and say show me. I'll say that I am from Missouri and if it is so easy then do it. Make the money. Gloat your way down to Florida. And if you can't then please try to understand that art is never as easy as it looks. The execution may be easy but the inspiration and desire and thought comes from a place that was encouraged and enriched by many others over years. And for all art there is an audience for which that work hits deep and hard. And wouldn't that be better? To be big enough to have art enough of any and all kinds so that everyone who chooses can have something that speaks to them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sunday Quickie

The Necessity of Theater; The Art of Watching and Being Watched       


True and False

Theatre & Waste

Theatre Pollution Threat        

So this was the headline that got my attention. It links to The Stage and talks about the pollution that is on the rise at UK theatres. There is also a link to Glyndebourne gaining approval to build a wind turbine to power their theatre.

Ok so there is no way that we will be seeing wind turbines powering theatres in the Distillery District any time soon but it got me to thinking how much waste is generated everytime we do a show.  

The set of The Monument was a beautiful raised disc set on two by four's and covered with a canvas. Since we were downstairs at Berkeley they could just open the load in doors, drop the disposal bin and have at the set with skilsaws and within 30 mintes the whole thing was cut up and gone.  I hated to see that but what else could we do. There is no place to store sets anymore and no one wants the wood.  

With our current shows we are in a slightly better position since 3 of the 4 set pieces for Late are already spoken for and the metal panels can be re-cycled yet we still have the most expensive piece, a kitchen island, that unless we can find a home for it will either have to be stored or have the hardware stripped off it and then throw it out. 

Obsidian has a storage locker full to the brim of props, costumes and old set pieces. I always thought that they were worth keeping since they might be used for future shows but that really doesn't seem to happen. Everything gets built or bought and the old stock just becomes fodder for moths. I am not sure what to do. Yes we can hold sales and see if we can move some of the stuff out but that is a big undertaking if we do it ourselves. I wonder how many other theatres are in the same position and if there are a few then perhaps a group sale might be the way to go. At least it would help amortize the costs of the whole thing and maybe these items could get a new lease on life.

I wish that there was a way to not feel like an ecological Genghis Khan every time we do a show. I would welcome any suggestions. Oh and if you are looking for a kitchen island, yellow formica table with four chairs or a 10 x 8 used only once light grey carpet let me know.