Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Quickies

The Wrecking Ball takes on arts cuts in a big way. And London is taking on Edinburgh Fringe mano-a-mano.

Meanwhile: What is really going on inside the actor's brain.

The whys and wherefores of walking out of a play.

Some thoughts on the building conversation around Precious. Ta Nehisi Coates has some fabulous comments in this post. Well worth reading for the 2009 shadism insights.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Step Afrika

Just for the sheer, unmitigated joy it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Quickie

It's a bit of a weighted UK entry tonight.

First off: The Regional Theatre Revival, How Cutbacks may save the Arts {I'm not sure I'm buying this yet. I need some more thought on the matter} and an Old Age R+J.
That might be a very cool play to get a hold of.

Last week there was a link to try and get people to suss out who was to get either the bouquets or brickbats for a production. Over a Parabasis comes one helpful hint.

Now this is not about theatre per se but typography. After some of the brittle discussions in the office regarding what font to use where I thought this might be of interest.

Finally Theatre B in OZ has a new artistic Director. I just love the idea that it is a designer. Head over to One Big Umbrella to get all the links.

h/t MK Piatkowski

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Quickie

Theatre can be such a huge varied experience. I mean it's all about making some sort of connection with our fellow humans, right?

So the scale of what constitutes theatre is all over the map. From the entertainment extravaganza of Spiderman to Dream Girls to the potential healing of Theatre of War to how the world has changed with Slam Theatre.

How did our local anchors do this season? Stratford & Shaw. I was down in Stratford the other week and I went to the Book Vault. I can usually tell how the season was just by how the staff is holding up up. They all looked pretty beat.

Some thoughts on the whole theatrical experience goes from the ongoing complaints about playwright's support to the state of theatre to who actually did what for the production to how about that curtain call anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stop BC Arts Cuts

A quick bump for this website http://stopbcartscuts.wordpress.com/

Some great stuff on the goings on in B.C.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Judicial Review

From the Mirror up to Nature blog a post on the Judicial Theatre Review. Their first review is of The Overwhelming by J. T. Rogers. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Presented by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston

Although as is mentioned in the comments this is may be just a slight twist on an idea that has been going around for awhile. The Critic-O-Meter or Rottentomatoes.com to mention two.

I seem to recall there was a Critique the Critic website that took a long look at Toronto critics and then it vanished over night. I always wondered what kind of chill got it pulled.

It is still an interesting idea though. Reviews can be so disparate that it really trips the "who you gonna believe button" Case in point would be the Yellowman reviews.
Case 1 Case 2 Case 3

Who you gonna believe? It would be nice to get a bit of dialog going to fully understand where things came from.

And on a final note regarding reviews and online news. What the heck is going on with these websites. I mean trying to get browser {Opera} compatibility with most of them is a lost cause. And even when that kind of works it is like trying to do the dance of the Minotaur to try and find anything. Heck if information on the Obsidian website was as hard to get at I would be inundated with phone calls. It is always a struggle to find a review and then never in a timely manner. You would think that making information easy to find might be the only thing left to save the media.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Not So Quickie

Kelly Nestruck of the Globe and Mail has a couple of interesting articles up. One from the pulp edition and one from the blog.

I have been in discussion with Mike Wheeler {Praxis Theatre} about my segregation blues post.

Mike says: Also, Kelly Nestruck has an interesting post today on his interview with Tracy Letts that tackles segregation in American theatre and how Steppenwolf is handling it. They're treating it like a bad thing that can be dealt with by race-blind casting. Thoughts?

I say: Whoa! Thats a big subject. The dream in the US has been about integration. Well at least from the liberal and black communities. Do a Google search with the key words "segregation 21st century" and you will get a very different point of view. Well, you will get a reality that usually doesn't get discussed. The point is that for many {read minorities} integration is not working that well. It works better for the majority since the minorities get to change to become like the majority but they still don't get to hang out in the same places or get the same funding levels.

Steppenwolf is in a bit of a bind I think. They are an ensemble company and like ensembles here they started with a group of like minded people. As is often the case like minded is also like raced. And that's where the real difficulties begin. For Steppenwolf I daresay segregation is bad and they are doing what they can to approach that in a way that make sense for their ensemble.

Tangent alert: We often talk about succession plans for artistic directors and boards but very, very rarely for the ensemble itself. And perhaps that's the biggest issue of all. How does an ensemble continue when the founders move on and you are left with a different racial climate than the one you started in.

So what to do? Race blind casting works for a bit. Maybe do nothing and hope that it all goes away. Put up a Potemkin village of artistic accessibility and keep going to the funding trough. Or maybe, just maybe admit that you haven't a clue how to change and that we should be...ta daaaaa...moving on to my original premise....change the system so that the diverse companies can get the funding they need to grow into becoming powerhouses themselves.

I think Mike, that one of the things we don't discuss in all of this is what is the goal, the desire, the dream of the smaller companies. I don't mean anything pejorative here but if the goal is to be the equivalent of Junior B or Junior A hockey teams then fine. If it's to have a company for a few years and then move on, excellent. I can get behind that. But what if the goal is to become one of the big guys. If that is the "prize" we are keeping our eye on then lets not get bogged down by the tangents and the small pieces of fruit that are tossed at us. If Nightwood or Necessary Angel say, had the latter for their goal 20 years ago how different would our theatre ecology be today.
I want us all to define our prize and to then go for it with the same tenacity and dedication that got the Four Seasons theatre built.

The targeted browning of our stages that we are currently seeing is not the answer. It's a small piece of fruit. Good enough for a snack but not enough to make a pie.
We can continue to be mice getting by on the crumbs of grain or we can own the farm. I know which one I want. How about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shows This Week

So this is a big week for shows. It always feels like there are way more shows that I am supposed to get to than I actually can. This week is looking like a 3-fer.

Wednesday is the opening of Yellowman

Thursday is the opening of Gas Girls

Friday is the Abby Singer of The Turn of the Screw.

Good shows all so go out and enjoy

Ongoing Updates

I wanted to do a bit of a re-cap on what has happened since I posted the segregation blues post. You can find it 2 posts downstream. I sent a cover email and a link to the post to all of the PACT Region 5 membership and the Obsidian theatre officers at all the councils. The next day I sent the same information to the Ontario Stand Firm members since we are in the midst of planning a meeting along with the Stand Tall participants regarding the resignation of Native Earth Performing Arts and Cahoots Theatre Projects from PACT. I thought that the post might be a way to bring ideas to the table instead of the usual bitching.

To date I have heard back from one person. It's a bit disappointing but hey, one person at a time is probably the way to go. It may be the only way to go.

Sidebar: I have always wondered where the heck they came up with the names Stand Firm and Stand Tall for these programs. They didn't seem to relate to anything diverse that I could think of but when in doubt Google is your friend. Perhaps someone up there in Ottawa has a bit of a Bible Belt streak to them.
After reading those lyrics I am once again reminded how much I hate the idea of waiting for glory on that great getting up morning.

I thought that I was going to be able to report on a bit of success today but on further examination it looks like nothing has actually changed. In the latest issue of the Equity newsletter it stated that "Executive Editor’s note: Beginning mid-October, Equity will institute improvements to e-drive, our online subscription mailing list. In answer to Marcia’s comments on diversity, any theatre with an ethno-cultural mandate, or production to be cast with a specific ethno-cultural group, will now be able to identify these artistic decisions in their e-drive posting." {I would link but it is pw protected}. However the Equity website still says: Direct references to ethnicity, age and body type may be edited at Equity's sole discretion.
So we are still at the do-si-do stage of things.

Sunday Quickies

A very varied assortment of topics this week. First up, hot on the heels of e-book readers, an idea that I like to call The Theatrical Kindle: Why would you download plays?

Can an e-performance get you in that partying mood like a good after opening party? Well maybe they aren't as happening as they used to be. Opening nights shed their opulence
Frankly, I have never been to a party like the one's mentioned in this article. Mostly the food is gone by time the actors get to the lobby and all that is left for you is a couple of crumpled drink tickets. Opa!
Back in my theatre school days the Globe and Mail used to review our performances. Thank you Herbert Whittaker. And the great opening night tradition was to drink like crazy, go to Frans on College Str to eat and sober up, and then grab the 2AM edition of the Globe to read the reviews. Things have been downhill party wise ever since.

So now they say that Reality TV shows ‘encourage theatre-going’ and while sitting during a performance you might hear Whispers Offstage? Could Be Actor’s Next Line all the while fuming over Booking fees: the great theatre ticket rip-off.

Meanwhile the Executive Director is sitting in their office humming {apologies to Paul Simon} Six Ways to Know If It's Time to Leave .

Finally, the ongoing controversy of the "Miracle Worker" casting.