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Showing posts with label article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label article. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2017

Happy World Theater Day ~ March 27

World Theatre Day Message 2017 by Isabelle Huppert
So, here we are once more. Gathered again in Spring, 55 years since our inaugural meeting, to celebrate World Theatre Day. Just one day, 24 hours, is dedicated to celebrating theatre around the world. And here we are in Paris, the premier city in the world for attracting international theatre groups, to venerate the art of theatre. 

Paris is a world city, fit to contain the globes theatre traditions in a day of celebration; from here in France’s capital we can transport ourselves to Japan by experiencing Noh and Bunraku theatre, trace a line from here to thoughts and expressions as diverse as Peking Opera and Kathakali; the stage allows us to linger between Greece and Scandinavia as we envelope ourselves in Aeschylus and Ibsen, Sophocles and Strindberg; it allows us to flit between Britain and Italy as we reverberate between Sarah Kane and Prinadello. Within these twenty-four hours we may be taken from France to Russia, from Racine and Moliere to Chekhov; we can even cross the Atlantic as a bolt of inspiration to serve on a Campus in California, enticing a young student there to reinvent and make their name in theatre.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Beatrice Terry Fellowship

The Drama League and Tony® Award winning-director and Drama League Alumnus, Michael Mayer are thrilled to announce the establishment of the new Drama League Beatrice Terry Fellowship, named in honor of the late director Beatrice Terry, an alumna of The Drama League Directors Project.

The new Fellowship, the first of its kind in the nation, will fund the development of a new work by an emerging female writer-director, culminating in a writing residency, living stipend and a professional reading of the new work at The Drama League Theater Center in Tribeca.  Following the establishment of the Terry Fellowship this spring, members of The Drama League staff and an all-star advisory board will select the first recipient later this year.  Currently, the Terry Fellowship Advisory Board includes actors Jonathan Groff, David Hyde Pierce, Philip Lehl, Judith Light and Annie Potts; directors Lear deBessonet and Michael Mayer; New Georges Artistic Director Susan Bernfield; Dana Harrel, producing director of La Jolla Playhouse; Lisa McNulty, Artistic Line Producer at Manhattan Theatre Club; and playwright Gretchen M. Michelfeld, who is also the widow of Beatrice Terry.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NYCPlaywrights Statistics

Curious about who is currently visiting the NYCPlaywrights site, from where they are visiting, and how many people visit the web site on a given day or month? You can find out that and more by checking out the NYCPlaywrights Sitemeter page which is open to the public.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

They also wrote plays

Playwright Catherine the Great
THE FIFTH COLUMN by Ernest Hemingway
NIGHT OF JANUARY 16th by Ayn Rand

IS HE DEAD? by Mark Twain
FRESHWATER by Virginia Woolf

THE SIBERIAN SHAMAN by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russian

Read two comedies by Catherine the Great online.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Her life as Lady Gaga

Friend of NYCPlaywrights Renee Cole writes about her adventures as the foremost Lady Gaga impersonator:
The Littlest Gay 
...When I sift through my years of kids party memories, there is one that will forever stick with me.  
I had been booked for a little girl's 6th birthday and just finished my performance. As I walked around the room for photos, I noticed a little boy, about 3 years old who kept following my every move. Whenever I turned around he would be right behind me, staring up adoringly. 
I knelt down to his eye level to say hello and he put his little hand in my hair, and said the last thing I ever expected to come out of his mouth... "FIERCE!" 
I had all I could do not to double over laughing, and asked what his name was.  
He told me his name was Henry, that he knew that my favorite designer was Alexander McQueen and that he liked him too. He also told me he knew all the words to Bad Romance, and liked my dress with the bubbles. 
Then my littlest gay checked out all of my rings, accessories and even tried on my hat.  
His super straight Dad came over after a few minutes, and we took a few photos with the little guy in my lap. 
As I got up to say goodbye to Henry, I had a flash forward of his life in my head. How many obstacles he would have to face in the future just because of his sexuality, which was so strongly present already. 
All I could think to say to him as I left was "Remember to always be yourself." 
He hugged me and with a giant smile said, "I love you Gaga!". 
From that day on the song Born This Way took on new meaning for me. 
Read more at My Life As Lady Gaga.

Renee performed in last summer's Play of the Week project:

Renee and Larissa Adamczyk perform in A LESSON by Emily Cutler.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Black History Month - theater edition

Kenneth Branagh and Laurence Fishburne in OTHELLO

Paul Robeson on OTHELLO

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

50/50 Applause Award Winners - multimedia

  • A scene from Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker, produced by ICWP award winner Playwrights Horizon.

Learn more about the 50/50 Applause Award and the International Centre for Women Playwrights.

Related article:
Women Attend More Theatre Than Men: Why Not More Roles?

It appears that in many major theaters across the country, men’s roles out number women’s by half. One out of every three roles go to women. (An informal survey of 10 theatrical seasons from across the country that I did put women in only 35% of the total roles). This means that men’s stories out number women’s by the same amount. 
Those of us noticing this could be considered big old whiners if it weren’t for some solid business-y sounding facts: 
  • Women buy 70% of theater tickets sold
  • Women make up 60%-70% of its audience (see here and here)
  • On Broadway, shows written by women (who statistically write more female roles than men) actually pull in more at the box office than plays by men
In any other market the majority of consumers would significantly define the product or experience. Why not theater?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The winners of the 2012 International Centre for Women Playwrights "50/50 Applause Award"

NYCPlaywrights salutes the theater companies awarded the first "50/50 Applause Awards" by the ICWP. The winners were recognized for producing seasons in which half (or more) of the plays were written by women. 

If you are located near these theaters we urge you to give them your support.
ICWP started in 1988 with a mission is to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work. The creation of the 50/50 Applause Award coincides with the organisation’s 25th birthday celebration. President of ICWP, Dr Jennifer Munday, has stated that “these companies need special thanks for the integrity of their decision-making.” 
In recent years, discussions within the global theatre community and the media have prompted both academic research and discussions to explain why the work of women playwrights is underrepresented in staged theatrical productions. In 2009, Emily Glassberg Sands released a study called “Opening the Curtain on Playwright Gender” which showed that only 18% of the productions done in the United States in 2008 were by female playwrights. She also found that “only 11% of shows on Broadway over the past decade [1999-2009] were written exclusively by women”. 
Other research from countries with developed economies has demonstrated similar imbalances. Last year, Lyn Gardner of the UK’s The Guardian stated “...of the 57 productions in the West End and the fringe that might be considered plays (rather than musicals or physical work), only six are written by women”. In Canada, Rebecca Burton and Reina Green reported that 30-35% of the nation’s artistic directors were female in 2006. 
Aside from the imbalance of theatrical expressions of women’s experience, there is a clear economic trajectory that starts with a production. A professional production is typically followed by script publication, book sales, further productions, royalty revenue for the playwright and other financial rewards like commissions, residences and travel opportunities.
To that end, ICWP’s qualifications for the 50/50 Applause Award were that theater companies produced women playwrights in both 50% of productions and 50% of total performances in their 2011-2012 season. Theaters that included producing women playwrights in their mission were not eligible. Five theatre companies have been recognised with the 50/50 Applause award, through a strict nomination process.
To learn more about the award and the criteria, visit www.womenplaywrights.org/award

Monday, October 22, 2012

Playwright Deanna Jent responds to questions...

As promised here are the responses from FALLING author Deanna Jent to some of the questions submitted from NYCPlaywrights web site visitors and mailing list members:

Q. As I believe you have first hand experience as resource to draw on for your play, what was one or two of the more surprising elements that sprung up or developed unexpectedly in the life of its progression, either in character or storyline?
~ Michael E.

JENT: I was surprised by how important the idea of the "dreams we have of/for our children" became.  In my life, the grief for "lost dreams" and the creation of new dreams has happening and is ongoing; I was surprised when I realized that Tami (the Mom character) had not yet dealt with that.  That character discovery showed me the way to the ending of the play, when she realizes that she has to "let go" of many things she's holding onto in order for their lives to move forward.

Q. How do you know what's best for your play when you're writing from an experience so personal? How do you separate yourself from the play so that you know you're crafting a work with compelling growth and conflict that works as a piece of theatre?
~  Michael P.

JENT: It is indeed very difficult to separate real life from dramatic life.  My process was to start with a few real-life scenes and then take those characters into new conflicts and conversations.  Through that I was able to differentiate between the characters and the people in my life.  Much of my focus in writing the play was on how I could theatricalize, or show, the truth of this family.  For example, the "feather box" that Josh uses in the play doesn't exist in my house -- it's a theatrical "device" to give the audience important information about Josh and this family.  The final thing is that I had many colleagues read my word (privately and aloud) and really listened to their questions and critiques.

Q. How close is the play to your actual experiences? Obviously you've had to fashion a dramatic work to hold an audience's attention. Was much lost in that transition, or, perhaps, was something gained in telling your story? 
~ Ken J.

JENT: The play is very close to my life as it was several years ago; thankfully my son is rarely aggressive now, but we still do face the very real problem of finding appropriate housing/living arrangements for him as he gets older (he's 18 now).  I gained many things in writing this story -- it allowed me to explore and experience the events of the play from each character's point of view, which gave me some insight into relationships in my life.  I was also able to have the characters say out loud some things that I'd never had the courage to say!

Q. When you write a play, do you start with an outline or do you just start at the beginning and keep writing until you come to the end?~ Elizabeth C.

JENT: Thanks for your question, Elizabeth.  I have done both things -- I think it depends on the play and on the way in which your are most comfortable writing.  For FALLING, I started with ideas for a few scenes and had an idea of a final image, but I wasn't sure how any of it connected.  So I just dove in and wrote many scenes exploring the life of these characters and eventually the dramatic shape of the story came together.

Thanks to everybody who participated in this project - Mike, Mike, Ken, Elizabeth and Deanna Jent and Jessica Ferreira.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Theatre Facts from the Theatre Communications Group

From the 2011 Report:

We estimate that in 2011, 1,876 Theatres in the U.S. not-for-profit professional Theatre Field:

  • Attracted 34 million audience members to 177,000 performances of 14,600 productions. In total, 1.5 million Americans subscribed to a theatre season.
  • Contributed nearly $1.94 billion to the U.S. economy in payments for goods and services, and hired 130,000 artists, administrators and technical production staff in 2011. The real  economic impact is far greater than $1.94 billion because theatre-goers frequently dine at restaurants, pay for parking, hire babysitters, etc. Theatres’ employees live in their communities, pay rent or buy homes, make regular purchases and contribute to the overall tax base.
  • Engaged the majority of their employees in artistic pursuits. We estimate that the theatre workforce (i.e., all paid full-time, part-time, jobbed-in or fee-based employees) is 60% artistic, 28% production/technical and 12% administrative. It is worth noting that these percentages shift based on theatre size. For example, theatres with total expenses of $500,000 or less (i.e., 68% of Universe Theatres) employ 66% of their workforce in artistic positions, 26% in production and 8% as administrators. Theatres with total expenses greater than $500,000 employ 57% in artistic positions, 28% in production and 15% in administration.
  • Received 51% of their income from earned sources and 49% from contributions. Theatres with total expenses of $500,000 or less received 39% from earned sources and 61% from contributions, whereas, theatres with total  expenses above $500,000 received 53% from earned and 47% from contributed sources.

More theater facts here

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kudos, Red-Handed Otter

Congratulations to the Playwrights Realm for the good review in the NYTimes for their production of RED-HANDED OTTER. You can jump right to the show web site by clicking the RED-HANDED OTTER ad on the right-hand side of this page.

Charles Isherwood writes in his review:

If your favorite time killers include overindulging in cute kitty videos on the Web — you know who you are, and you are legion — you will surely lend a sympathetic ear to the befuddled and bereaved hero of “Red-Handed Otter,” a modest but nicely observed comedy by Ethan Lipton that opened on Thursday night at the Cherry Lane Theater, in a production from the Playwrights Realm. 
Paul (Matthew Maher, of Annie Baker’s “Uncle Vanya”), who works as a security guard, has just lost his beloved cat, Jennifer, who was a youthful 17. Sitting zombie-eyed before a bank of monitors as the hours crawl by, poor Paul cannot help brooding on the world’s cruelty, responding to all attempts at cheering him up with bitter gusts of self-pity. 
“I mean, I’ve had other cats,” he says with exacting clarity. “As a kid we had cats, they were great cats, but compared to Jennifer? If you just look at it objectively? We’re talking about one of the best cats in history!”

More at the NYTimes

Monday, September 17, 2012

Theresa Rebeck on directing your own work

A friend of mine, a gifted playwright who's been in the business for thirty years, was recently told by his much younger director "Oh, sorry, I'm just not used to actually having to talk to a living playwright." And then he laughed. I've heard that line before. It's a variation on a joke that theater directors trade among themselves: Playwrights are so much easier to deal with when they're dead. 
If a living playwright is in the room, who is the author of the production? The playwright or the director? For some directors, this question is simply too threatening to approach. And as the enthusiasm for new plays has shrunk among producers, someone who can give a really swanky new spin on a classic becomes a hot commodity. Star directors are born in such a climate, and the power balance between writer and director is often unclear. Even with new plays, where the voice of the playwright has been traditionally protected both contractually and by the weight of history, the director's authority often carries the day with producers and actors.  
But within this environment, writers still have no reason to suspect their own authenticity. We know that we know how to tell stories because we create them out of whole cloth every day. That aspect of our psyche is unusually (in this business) secure. We know how to tell stories, and a lot of directors, some of whom are wildly overhyped, really don't know how to tell a story, at least not from scratch. So in the face of all the bad logic out there, and in the face of my own personal disinterest in the job, I say, go ahead and direct. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Writers as Directors

NYCPlaywrights asked playwright Jeffrey Sweet to comment on the issue of playwrights directing. He writes:
We've all heard the basic theatrical truisms: Write from your own experience. Actors and directors should ignore the stage directions. Writers should never direct their own plays.

I won't argue here about the first two (though I can't resist saying that if Shakespeare had felt constrained by the first, he wouldn't have written most of his plays as he wasn't alive when any of them were set and he never visited most of the countries where they take place).

Regarding the third: "never" is a pretty strong word.  I know the argument. Writers don't have sufficient objectivity about their own stuff to be able to see clearly where revisions are necessary. They are so in love with their own words that they can't bear to part with any of them. Is this true of some writers? Yes. Is this true of all writers? Nah.

I wonder why it is that this principle is constantly invoked when discussing writers for the stage, but most don't turn a hair at the idea of filmmakers directing from their own scripts. Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Paul Mazursky, Elaine May, John Cassavetes, Nora Ephron, Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut -- not to mention Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles -- all managed to turn out some fine movies from their own screenplays, and some even managed to also star in some of their own productions.  If anything, directing a movie is usually a longer and more demanding job than directing for the stage, and it almost always requires exercising authority over a larger number of people.

Some playwrights have succeeded nicely directing their own work. My favorite production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was the one Edward Albee directed with Ben Gazzara and Colleen Dewhurst.  Mary Zimmerman won the Tony award as best director staging her adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphosis.  Frank Galati won the Tony for best play and best director for his adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.  (And I will modestly add that the production of my With and Without that I directed was received well, too.)

The truth is some people are generalists and some are specialists.  Orson Welles, of course, was a legendary generalist. He wasn't shy about his conviction that he could do just about anything as well or better than anyone else. Harold Pinter, too, was a generalist. Aside from writing plays, he acted both in his own work and that of others, and he directed successful productions of not only his own plays but those of David Mamet, Simon Gray and others.

Yes, there are specialists who are at a loss when they leave home territory.  I once worked with an Academy Award-winning actor who attempted to direct one of my pieces. He had no sense of shape. He was so intent on mining the truth and emotion of every moment that there was no modulation, and any sense of tempo went out the window. The production was 15 minutes longer than it had any reason to be.  He was a brilliant actor, and that's what he should have stuck to doing.

Also it mustn't be forgotten that some people write in rehearsal as they direct.  Their writing process is to direct.  This is the working method of Britain's Mike Leigh, when he creates his plays and films, and this was how the legendary Paul Sills built his groundbreaking Broadway production of Story Theatre.

Some people are directors and some people aren't.  Writers who are also directors may indeed face the problem of objectivity as they stage their own stuff, but many others have the discipline and professionalism to know how to adjust for this. That's what you have other collaborators for – the actors, the designers, the producer, and the rest of the people in the room who are presumably there because they know something about how to make theatre.  Directors with any sense will pay attention to and solicit advice from colleagues.

The challenge for the producer is to somehow discern who can wear multiple caps and who can't.  But, regarding this issue anyway, the word "never" should be tossed.

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