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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: theatre, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Secrets and trivia from the Broadway stage

Why do some great Broadway shows fail, and mediocre ones thrive? How does the cast onstage manage to keep tabs on the audience without missing a beat or a line? Ken Bloom, author of Show and Tell: The New Book of Broadway Audiences, delves into the inner workings of the Broadway stage and the culture surrounding Broadway hips and flops.

The post Secrets and trivia from the Broadway stage appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Shakespeare and performance: the 16th century to today [infographic]

In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Shakespeare's plays were performed at professional playhouses such as the Globe and the Rose, as well as at the Inns of Court, the houses of noblemen, and at the Queen's palace. In fact, the playing company The Queen's Men was formed at the express command of Elizabeth I to [...]

The post Shakespeare and performance: the 16th century to today [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England

It is a commonplace to say that, in Renaissance England, music was everywhere. Yet, however true the statement is, it obscures the fact that music existed in many different forms, with very different functions and very different meanings.

The post Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England

It is a commonplace to say that, in Renaissance England, music was everywhere. Yet, however true the statement is, it obscures the fact that music existed in many different forms, with very different functions and very different meanings.

The post Musical literacy in Shakespeare’s England appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Reality Affects


Bonnie Nadzam's recent essay at Literary Hub, "What Should Fiction Do?", is well worth reading, despite the title. (The only accurate answer to the question in the title [which may not be Nadzam's] is: "Lots of stuff, including what it hasn't done yet...") What resonates for me in the essay is Nadzam's attention to the ways reality effects intersect with questions of identity — indeed, with the ways that fictional texts produce ideas about identity and reality. I especially loved Nadzam's discussion of how she teaches writing with such ideas in mind.

Nadzam starts right off with a bang:
An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice. I’m not talking about rejecting memoir or characters “based on me.” What I mean is I don’t have the stomach for art that purports to “hold up a mirror to nature,” or for what this implies, philosophically, about selfhood and the world in which we live.
This is a statement that avant-gardes have been making since at least the beginning of the 20th century — it is the anti-mimetic school of art, a school at which I have long been a happy pupil. Ronald Sukenick, whose purposes are somewhat different to Nadzam's, wrote in Narralogues that "fiction is a matter of argument rather than of dramatic representation" and "it is the mutability of consciousness through time rather than representation that is the essential element of fiction." Sukenick proposes that all fiction, whether opaquely innovative or blockbuster entertainment, "raises issues, examines situations, meditates solutions, reflects on outcomes" and so is a sort of reasoning and reflection. "The question," he writes, "is only whether a story reflects thoughtfully, or robotically reflects the status quo with no illuminating angle of vision of its own."

Magritte, "The Human Condition", 1933

Sukenick, too, disparages the "mirror to reality" or "mirror to nature" idea: "Once the 'mirror of reality' argument for fiction crumbles, possibilities long submerged in our tradition open up, and in fact a new rationale for fiction becomes necessary."

Nadzam's essay provides some possibilities for remembering what has been submerged in the tradition of fiction and for creating new rationales for fiction's necessity:
I want fiction to bend, for its structure not to mirror the reality I think I see, but for its form and structure to help me peel back and question the way reality seems. The way I seem. I love working with the English language precisely because it fails. Even the most perfect word or phrase or narrative can at best shadow and haunt the phenomena of the world. Words and stories offer a way of experiencing being that is in their most perfect articulation a beat removed from direct experience. And so have I long mistrusted those works in which representation and words function without a hiccup, creating a story that is meant to be utterly believed.
Again, not at all new, but necessary because these ideas so push against dominant assumptions about fiction (and reality) today.

An example of one strain of dominant assumptions: Some readers struggle to separate characters from writers. On Twitter recently, my friend Andrew Mitchell, a writer and editor, expressed frustration with this tendency, saying: "EVERYTHING a character says/does in a story reflects EXACTLY what the writer believes, right? Based on the comments I just read: YES!" As I said to Andrew in reply, this way of thinking results from certain popular types of literary analysis and pedagogy, ones that seek Message from art, ones that want literature to be a paragon of Self Expression, with the Self either a fragile, wounded bird or an allegorical representative of All Such Selfs. It's "write what you know" taken to its logical conclusion: write only what you know about what and who you are. (Good luck writing a story about a serial killer if you're not one.) Such assumptions are anti-imagination and, ultimately, anti-art.

These dominant assumptions aren't limited to classrooms and naive readers. Consider this, from Achy Obejas's foreword to The Art of Friction (ed. Charles Blackstone & Jill Talbot):
When my first book, We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like  This?, was released in 1994, my publishers were ecstatic at the starred review it received in Publishers Weekly.

But though I appreciated the applause, I was a bit dismayed.  The review referred to the seven pieces that comprise the book as “autobiographical essays.” I found this particularly alarming, since six of the seven stories were first-person narrations, mostly Puerto Rican and Mexican voices, while I am Cuban, and one was from the point of view of a white gay man named Tommy who is dying of AIDS.

I’d have thought that the reviewer might have noticed that nationality, race, and gender seemed to shift from story to story—and that is what they were, stories, not essays; fiction, not memoir—but perhaps that reviewer, like many others who followed, felt more comforted in believing that the stories were not products of the imagination but lived experiences.
Imagination is incomprehensible and terrifying. In the classroom, I see this all the time when students read anything even slightly weird — at least one will insist the writer must have been on drugs. When a person reads a work of fiction and their first impulse is to either seek out the autobiographical elements or declare the writer to be a drug addict, then we know that that reader has no experience with or understanding of imagination. For such readers, based on a true story are the five most comforting words to read.

I come back again and again to a brief passage from one of my favorites of Gayatri Spivak's books, Readings:
I am insisting that all teachers, including literary criticism teachers, are activists of the imagination. It is not a question of just producing correct descriptions, which should of course be produced, but which can always be disproved; otherwise nobody can write dissertations. There must be, at the same time, the sense of how to train the imagination, so that it can become something other than Narcissus waiting to see his own powerful image in the eyes of the other. (54)
There must be the sense of how to train the imagination so that it can become something other than Narcissus waiting to see his own powerful image in the eyes of the other.

To return to Bonnie Nadzam's essay: Another dominant force that keeps fiction from becoming too interesting, keeps readers from reading carefully, and prevents the education of literary imagination is mass media (which these days basically means visual/cinematic media). I love mass media and visual media for all sorts of reasons, but if we ignore pernicious effects then we can't adjust for them. Nadzam writes:
...I’ve noticed that with much contemporary fiction, when we read, we’re often not asked to imagine we’re reading a history, biography, diary or anything at all. Often the text doesn’t even ask the reader to be aware of the text as text. With much fiction, we seem to pretend we are watching a movie. And it is supposed to be a good thing if a novel is “cinematic.”
Much fiction today, especially fiction that achieves any level of popularity, seems to me to draw not just structurally but emotionally from television. At its best, it's The Wire (perhaps the great melodrama of our era -- and I mean that as high praise); more commonly, it's a Lifetime movie-of-the-week. TV, like pop songs, knows the emotional moves it needs to pull off to make its audience feel what the audience desires to feel -- make your audience feel something they don't desire to feel, and most of them will turn on you with hate and scorn.

The giveaway, I think, is the narrowness of the prose aesthetic in all fiction that pulls its effects from common wells of emotion, because a complex, unfamiliar prose structure will get in the way of readers drinking up the emotions they desire. Such writing may not itself be inherently rich with emotion; all it needs to do is transmit signs that signal feelings already within the reader's repertoire. Keep the prose structure and style familiar, keep the emotions within the expected range, and the writer only needs to point toward those emotions for the reader to feel them. The reader becomes Pavlov's dog, salivating not over real food, but over the expectation of it. If an identity group exists, then that identity group can train its members toward particular structures of feeling. If the structures are even minimally in place, then members in good standing of an identity group will receive the emotional payoff they desire. Fiction then becomes a confirmation of identity and emotion, not a challenge to it.

(Tangentially: The radical potential of melodrama is to trick audiences into feeling emotions they would not otherwise feel and to complicate expected emotions. This was, for instance, the great achievement of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that is terribly written in all sorts of ways, but which mobilized -- even weaponized -- sentiment to an extraordinary degree. The same could be said for The Wire, though with significantly less social effect [Linda Williams has some thoughts on this, if I'm remembering her book correctly].)

Anyone who's taught creative writing will tell you that lots of students don't aspire to write for the sake of writing so much as they aspire to write movies on paper. Which is fine, in and of itself, but if students want to write movies, they should take screenwriting and film production courses. And if I want to watch a movie, I'll watch a movie, not read a book.

Movies, TV, and video games are the dominant narrative forms of our time, so it should be no surprise that fiction often resembles those dominant forms. Even the most blockbustery of bestselling novels can't compete for dominance (and almost every bestselling novel these days is a movie-in-a-book, anyway, so they're just contributing to the dominance). Look how excited people get when they find out their favorite book will be turned into a movie. It's like Pinocchio being turned into a real boy!

What gets lost is the literary. Not in some high-falutin' sense of the Great Books, but in the technical sense of what written texts can do that other media either can't or don't do as well. Conversely, other media have things they do that written texts don't do as well, or at all — this is what bugs me when people write about films as if they're novels, for instance, because it loses all sense of what is distinctly cinematic. But that's a topic for another time...

Nadzam discusses how she teaches fiction, and I hope at some point she writes a longer essay about this:
When I do “teach” creative writing, I point out that a work of formal realism (which I neither condemn nor condone) usually adheres to a particular formula: Exposition informs a person’s Psychology, from which arises their Character, out of which certain Motives emerge, based upon which the character takes Action, from which Plot results (EPiC MAP). And what formal realism achieved thereby was answering some of the metaphysical questions raised by Enlightenment thinkers about what the self, or character, might be—a person is a noun. A changing noun, perhaps, but a noun nonetheless—somehow separate from the flux of the world they inhabit. The students I’ve had who want to “be writers” hear about EPiC MAP and diligently set to work. The artists in the class, however—the kindred spirits with the mortal wound—they look at me skeptically. Something about that doesn’t feel right, they say. I don’t want to do it that way, they say. Can we break those rules? And each of their “stories” is a terrible, fascinating mess. Are the stories messes because these writers are breaking with habit, forcing readers to break with expectation, or is the EPiC MAP really an effective mirror? I grant that this is an impossible question to answer, but an essential question to raise. By my lights these students are trying, literally, to re-make the world.
This reminded me of Mac Wellman's longstanding practice of encouraging his playwrighting students to write "bad" plays. The New York Times describes this amusingly:
He asks students to write bad plays, to write plays with their nondominant hands, to write a play that takes five hours to perform and covers a period of seven years. Ms. Satter recalled an exercise in which she had to write a play in a language she barely knew.

“I wrote mine in extremely limited Russian,” she wrote in an email. “Then we translated them back into English and read them aloud. The results were these oddly clarified, quiveringly bizarre mini-gems.”

Mr. Wellman explained: “I’m not trying to teach them how to write a play. I’m trying to teach them to think about what kind of play they want to write.”
Further, from a 1992 interview:
Inevitably, if you start mismatching pronouns, getting your tenses wrong, writing sentences that are too long or too short, you will begin to say things that suggest a subversive political reality.
One of the most effective exercises I do with students (of all levels) is to have them make a list of "writing rules" — the things they have been told or believe to be key to "good writing". I present this to them seriously. I want them to write down what they really believe, which is often what teachers past have taught them. Then, for the next assignment, I tell them to write something in which they break all those rules. Every single one. Some students are thrilled (breaking rules is fun!), some are terrified (we're not supposed to break rules!), but again and again it leads to some fascinating insights for them. It can be liberating, because they discover the freedom of choice in writing, and do things with words that they would never have given themselves permission to do on their own. It's also educative, because they discover that some of the rules, at least for some situations, make sense to them. Then, though, they don't apply those rules ignorantly and unreflectively: when they follow those rules in the future, they do so because the rules make sense to them.

(I make them read Gertrude Stein, too. I make them try to write like Gertrude Stein, especially at her most abstract. [Tender Buttons works well.] It's harder than it looks. They scoff at Stein at first, but once they try to imitate her, they struggle, usually, and discover how wedded their minds are to a particular way of writing and particular assumptions about sense and purpose.)

(I show them Carole Maso's book Break Every Rule. I tell them it's a good motto for a writer.)

To learn new ways to write, to educate our imaginations, we need not only to think about new possibilities but to look at old models, especially the strange and somewhat forgotten ones. Writers who only read what is near at hand are starving themselves, starving their imaginations.

Nadzam returns to 18th century writers, a trove of possibilities:
Fielding thought a crucial and often overlooked aspect of the theatrum mundi metaphor was the emphasis the metaphor puts on the role of the audience, and the audience’s tendency to hastily judge the character of his fellow men. We are not supposed to assume, Fielding’s narrator tells us in Tom Jones, that just because the brilliant 18th-century actor David Garrick plays the fool, Garrick himself is a fool. Nor should we assume that the fool we meet in life is actually—or always—a fool. How then is Fielding’s audience to determine the character of Fielding’s contemporary who plays the part of an actor playing the part of a ghost puppet who represents a real-life individual whose eccentric and condemnable behavior Fielding satirizes? For Fielding, there is no such thing as an un-interpreted experience; an instance of mimetic simulation cannot be considered “truth” (a clear image in a well-polished mirror) because truth itself is the very act of mimetic simulation.
Seeking out writers from before fiction's conventions were conventional helps us see new possibilities. (This is one of the values of Steven Moore's two-volume "alternative history" of the novel, which upends so many received ideas about what novels are and aren't, and when they were what they are or aren't. Also Margaret Anne Doody's The True Story of the Novel. Also so much else.)

Finally, one of the central concerns of Nadzam's essay is the way that assumptions about fiction reproduce and reify assumptions about identity:
...what is now generally accepted as “fiction” emerged out of an essentialism that is oddly consoling in its reduction of each individual to a particular set of characteristics, and the reality they inhabit a background distinct from this self. At worst, behind this form are assumptions about identity and reality that may prevent us from really knowing or loving ourselves or each other, and certainly shield us from mystery.
So much fiction seems to see people as little more than roleplaying game character sheets written in stone. Great mysteries of motivation, great changes in conviction or belief, all these too often get relegated to the realms of the "unrealistic" — and yet the true realism is the one that knows our movement from one day to the next is mostly luck and magic.

Relevant here also is a marvelous essay by Stephen Burt for Los Angeles Review of Books, partly a review of poetry by Andrew Maxwell and Kay Ryan, partly a meditation on how lyric poetry works. More fiction writers ought to learn from poetry. (More fiction reviewers ought to learn from the specificity and attention to language and form in Burt's essay, and in many essays on poetry.) Consider:
A clever resistance to semantic function, an insistence that we just don’t know, that words can turn opaque, pops up every few lines and yet never takes over a reader’s experience: that’s what you get when you try to merge aphorism (general truth) and lyric (personal truth) and Maxwell’s particular line of the North American and European avant-garde (what is truth?). It haunts, it teases, it invites me to return. By the end of the first chapbook, “Quotation or Paternity,” Maxwell has asked whether lyric identification is also escapism: “Trying to identify, it means / Trying to be mistaken / About something else.” Poetic language is, perhaps, the record of a mistake: in somebody else’s terms, we misrecognize ourselves.
And:
We can never be certain how much of our experience resembles other people’s, just as we can’t know if they see our “blue”.... Nor can we know how much of what we believe will fall apart on us next year. ... His poems understand how tough understanding yourself, or understanding anyone else, or predicting their behavior, or putting reflection into words can be, and then forgive us for doing it anyway...
We need more fiction like Stephen Burt's description of Andrew Maxwell's poems: More fiction that understands how tough understanding yourself, or understanding anyone else, or predicting their behavior, or putting reflection into words can be, and then forgives us for doing it anyway.

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6. Theatre and race in Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs

Many playwrights have explored race relations, particularly in America. The growth of the Civil Rights Movement gave rise to a range of plays protesting racism and exploring the African American experience. Lorraine Hansberry made history as the first black woman to have a play on Broadway: A Raisin in the Sun, also the first play on Broadway to be directed by a black director.

The post Theatre and race in Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Local opera houses through the ages

Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns--when there was much less competition for our collective attention.

The post Local opera houses through the ages appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Decisions...decisions...and hope for a brighter future

Once again as has been the case on too many occasions, a rejection slip slipped in my email 'in' box. Somehow, in spite of nice, genteel words of apology by the theatre or whoever is in charge of the rejection notices, it doesn't get easier.

Really, given my former position as a freelance newspaper columnist/writer for many years, rejection slips aren't an unusual occurrence, but receiving playwriting-related rejections is a downer.

This time the recipient of the rebuff was one of my favorite short plays, "The Lemon." A short comedy, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of a woman attempting to contact a towing company in order to get her car removed, while trying to convince a public phone user to make the call.  In spite of the usual assurances that the theatre will keep the play for possible future use, it was a disheartening notice. Dejection, as any writer will attest, never gets easier.

Looking back, none of my plays have yet to be produced in spite of witty dialogue, interesting plots and good spelling and punctuation. Look - gotta look for positive points where I can find them! Had high hopes for "The Shrubs", which didn't materialize and my short plays came back home without a successful showing.

Today while skimming through potential submission opportunities, came across a notification that the deadline for the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition is coming up at the end of January 2016. In the past on two occasions, attempts to convert a play and a short story into radio format met with rejection. I'm toying with the idea - that's as far as it's progressed - of trying to convert "The Lemon" into a radio play. Given the fast approaching deadline, starting a new play isn't practical and it would be a personal challenge to see what can be accomplished in a month. Who knows...

Meanwhile, old soldier Joe McKenna and his vet pals are still meeting at the neighborhood bar, waiting for a new direction from the playwright. This play keeps calling me back in spite of self-declarations to let it die in peace. But it won't. There is something about the characters and the story line that is compelling and begging to be told.

"We ain't gettin' any younger," they all keep reminding me.

Neither are any of us, guys. Neither are any of us... Read the rest of this post

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9. Waiting and waiting.... Been there, experienced that, etc.

Hate to see a straight line indicating nobody has dropped by my playwriting blog, as is the case presently. Actually, this is applicable to all my blogs. As writers, the purpose of sharing our thoughts via a blog is to reach the public in the hope that something we have written strike their fancy or that they see and read as interesting. A straight line means nobody finds the blog worthwhile enough to drop by. Don't like straight lines but it goes as it goes. Anyway...

Still sending out my plays and short play-ettes here, there and everywhere and hoping to hit pay-dirt. Wish I could report some progress but alas and alack, it's still a waiting game. I've to confess that I've been hesitant to enter my ten-minute plays in competitions where a submission fee is required - reading fee as it is called - and no financial compensation is offered. Any feedback on this? It's nice to think that our time writing the play, be it a short one, is worth a token payment.

Came across a theatre recently that was holding a competition for full 2-act plays but they would only accept snail-mail-in submissions. There is a part of me that understands their rationale since having to print up potentially usable plays costs money and most theatres are short of funds these days. If this is the case and at least in my mind, it would be easier then to read plays submitted electronically, no? At least in my case, my plays have been edited so many times that printing each copy would cost a fortune, and then there's the postage...

Amazing how easy it is to come up with complaints about the unfair system. I mean, who else you gonna blame? Oneself? Neh...

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10. 3 Actors to Star in the Sherlock Holmes Theatrical Show

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11. GEORGE – 2015, Diversity Reading Challenge

I am back with my Diversity Reading Challenge on Mondays and hope to introduce you to a range of texts that you might not automatically select, but which I hope you will read and pass on. Title: George Written by: Alex Gino … Continue reading

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12. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE. At the coffee shop

POST PLAY DISCUSSION
 
SCENE: Coffee shop
AT RISE: Two friends discuss a theatre performance they have just seen
 
 FRIEND 1
(perusing menu)
Decisions…decisions… I just started seeing a dietician but I absolutely adore their chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake… One more time couldn’t hurt.
 
 FRIEND 2
Given that it’s past eight o’clock and the worst time for weight gain, I, on the other hand, will stick to my usual expresso
 
FRIEND 1
You’re so holy-holy, perfect, human being
 
FRIEND 2
Jealousy is futile. It’s my genes. Everyone in my family is thin, going back generations
You do realize I could eat whatever I wanted without guilt but I don’t, because I respect my body
 
 FRIEND 1
Hey! Me too! My body tells me regularly, “feed me chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake’ and I’ll make you feel real good!”
 
FRIEND 2
Anywaaay…So what did you think of the show?
 
FRIEND 1
Well…it had its moments
 
FRIEND 2
You didn’t like it, I take it?
 
 FRIEND 1
I never said that
 
 FRIEND 2
What are you saying?
 
 
FRIEND 1
It had its moments

 
FRIEND 2
Which means?
 
 
FRIEND 1
 
Kind of dragged in parts
 
 
FRIEND 2
I dunno. Made me laugh – a lot
 
 
FRIEND 1
That’s ‘cause you’re easily amused
 
FRIEND 2
Is it necessary to insult me, just because you consider yourself (makes quotation marks with her fingers) “a playwright”?
 
FRIEND 1
It’s the words and how they’re put together that interest me
 
FRIEND 2
Seemed like one great show, overall, in my eyes
 
 
FRIEND 1
You didn’t find that the first act seemed to never end?
 
FRIEND 2
I go to the theatre to be entertained. Period. I don’t agonize over whether the first act is better than the second because really, I don’t care! If the actors can provide a couple of hours of escapism, then they’ve done their job
 
 
FRIEND 1
We obviously view the entertainment through different eyes. I’m interested in the flow of the dialogue…the inter-action of the performers…things of interest to a person who writes plays -
 
 
FRIEND 2
- remind me how many of your plays have been produced –
 
 
FRIEND 1
So? What does that have to do with anything? It’s not for lack of trying. Have you any idea how many playwrights are out there all over the planet, hoping that someone will share them with the world? Gazillions I can tell you – including me! I mean, well known one’s, too! One day – one sweet day – someone, somewhere will read one of my plays and say, “this is the winner we’ve been waiting for!” One day, you and I, will sit here as we do after a night at the theatre, and discuss the merits of one of my plays. You’ll tell me how witty the dialogue was and how it made you laugh and how lucky that our friendship has maintained over the years…
 
 
FRIEND 2
So, are we ordering or what?
 
 
FRIEND 1
I’m thinking here perhaps it is too late for something heavy like the chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake
 
 
FRIEND 2
Good idea - think healthy
 
(waitress approaches to take order)
 (cont’d.)We’ll have two expresso coffees, please…
 
 FRIEND 1
…hang on…
 FRIEND 2
I thought you decided against the cake
 
 
FRIEND 1
The cake is on the heavy side but a small butter pecan muffin wouldn’t even register on the scale.  Now about the play…the acting was adequate but then they didn't have much to work with...


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13. SCENES FROM LIFE: A SHORT PLAYETTE At the theatre

INTERMISSION
 
 
SCENE: WOMEN'S WASHROOM IN THEATRE
 
AT RISE:  FEMALES LINE UP TO USE BATHROOM
 
 
FEMALE 1
Line is really long...hope we have enough time
 
FEMALE 2
(turning around)
Sorry?
 
FEMALE 1
I was just commenting that there's a lot of women waiting to get in and only a 15 minute intermission
 
FEMALE 2
When 'ya gotta go - 'ya gotta go, right?
 
FEMALE 1
(moving anxiously from foot to foot)
Don't I know it - and I really have to! Go, I mean
 
FEMALE 2
It usually picks up and moves faster when they near the end of the intermission
 
FEMALE 1
Hope so... Do you notice how the guys seem to be able to do what they have to do in three minutes?
 
FEMALE 2
That's cause they don't have as much clothing to remove and don't stare at the mirror or fix their makeup
 
FEMALE 1
Once in dire desperation, I used the men's washroom. I had to. I pushed the door open, screamed 'is anybody there 'cause I'm coming in!'
 
FEMALE 2
What happened?
 
FEMALE 1
I held my head down and didn't dare glance at the urinals. Went in a cubicle, slammed the door and never urinated so fast in my life! Thank goodness there was nobody in there, as far as I knowThe line is moving but barely. C'mon people - move quicker!
 
FEMALE 3
(behind both of them)
Don't mean to interrupt but there's another bathroom located downstairs. Everyone seems to gravitate to this one for one reason or another
 
FEMALE 1
Thanks for the suggestion but if I'll lose my place if I check it out and I don't know if it's an improvement on this.
 
(ASIDE TO FEMALE 2) Perhaps if you would hold my place...?
 
FEMALE 2
Don't think that's a good idea. If you end up returning, they'll attack me figuring you're trying to cut in the line. You have to decide which is the better option
 
FEMALE 1
All I know is that I really gotta pee!
 
FEMALE 2
Even if I let you in front of me, it's not much of an improvement
 
FEMALE 1
It's better than nothing and I would be most appreciative. Things are really getting desperate!
 
FEMALE 2
I suppose I could...I mean, I've been where you have....
 
FEMALE 1
Oh thank you, thank you!
 
(FEMALE 1 moves in front of FEMALE 2)
 
(CONT'D. FEMALE 1) Almost there...just a few more to go...
 
(moving back and forth from foot-to-foot)
 
FEMALE 1
(to female in front of her)
'...such a long line up...oh dear and intermission is almost over... Really, really, have to go...you would do that for me? You're too kind...thank you...'
 
(FEMALE 1 moves up the line)
 
FEMALE 1
(to herself)
A person has'ta do what a person has'ta do...the flush of victory is at hand...
 
 


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14. The School for Scandal on the Georgian stage

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comic masterpiece 'The School for Scandal' premiered at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in May 1777. The play was an immediate success earning Drury Lane, which Sheridan owned and managed an enormous amount of money. 'The School for Scandal' explores a fashionable society at once addicted to gossip and yet fearful of exposure. Jokes are had at the expense of aging husbands, the socially inexpert, and, most of all, the falsely sentimental.

The post The School for Scandal on the Georgian stage appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Empowering Teens Through Theater

I can take no credit in the creation of my library's longest-running teen-led program (teen programming guideline 3), and only a little for it's continued existence since I took it over in 2007. Project Playbill is an intense, 5-week summer theater program. Teens meet together at the library three days a week to write, produce and perform an original short play. Besides the inherent value in their participation, we also entice them with volunteer service credit.

In 2008, My then-supervisor told me that I could cancel Playbill if more teens didn't participate, because it sucks up a tremendous amount of time. In fact, because Playbill depends on teen leadership and labor to run, the fewer teens who show up, the more work I end up doing. That's one of the reasons why no teen is ever turned away: you can't host a teen-led program without teen participation. For the first couple of years I ran it, attendance hovered around five teens. I seriously considered putting Playbill out of its misery.

Then, in 2009, it took off. Three teens who I'd pulled in the previous year (a pair of sisters and one of their guy pals) were not only passionate about theater, but supremely talented and driven. They recruited new members on their own before summer even began. They set up a facebook page and cajoled their like-minded friends into joining. As their friends pulled in more friends, the program spread by word of mouth.  Attendance grew to the point where there wasn't a lot of work for me to do other than the occasional odd job that no one else could (to purchase spray paint in my town, for instance, you need to be over 18).

PLaybill 2014 Cast and CrewThe teens do it all: write and edit the script, lead rehearsals, throw costumes together, paint the set, play sound effects, run the lights, and even decide on casting  -- with my okay, but I've never had to say "no" to their choices. Attendance at every rehearsal is not mandatory, but the teens understand that the success of their play depends on their active participation. The skills they learn go beyond the obvious writing and acting to sticking to a schedule, working as a team, problem-solving and decision-making.

One thing I've learned is that, for the most part, teens are good at self-selecting the right roles for them. Some teens know right away that they only want to be on crew, and others are ready to do a little of everything. The younger actors are sometimes disappointed when bigger parts go to older, more experienced actors; but are usually satisfied with their smaller assignments. As they come back year after year, the teens gradually take on more responsibility. It's gratifying to watch a goofy, misfit kid grow into a funny, talented writer who gets along with everyone.

Playbill Cast and Crew 2012Attendance does go up and down a bit from year to year, as teens graduate high school and move on. Some teens have gone on to study theater or related fields in college, and I've heard that those three key members from 2009 have started their own nonprofit to help other young actors.

Last year we had 18 participate, and I'm not sure how many to expect this year. Promoting the program and recruiting new members from schools and other organizations is one area where I could do better -- the truth is that I haven't needed to promote it much over the last few years. I'm determined that as long as the teens keep showing up, however, I'll keep Project Playbill going.

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16. Which Shakespeare performance shocked you the most?

Inspired by Stanley Wells' recent book on Great Shakespeare Actors, we asked OUP staff members to remember a time when a theatrical production of a Shakespeare play shocked them. We discovered that some Shakespeare plays have the ability to surprise even the hardiest of Oxford University Press employees. Grab an ice-cream on your way in, take a seat, and enjoy the descriptions of shocking Shakespeare productions.

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17. Who are the forgotten Shakespearean actors?

Stanley Wells’ latest book, Great Shakespeare Actors, offers a series of beautifully written, illuminating, and entertaining accounts of many of the most famous stage performers of Shakespeare from his time to ours. In a video interview, Wells revealed some of the ‘lesser’ remembered actors of the past he would have loved to have seen perform live on stage. The edited transcript below offers an insight into three of these great Shakespeare actors.

The post Who are the forgotten Shakespearean actors? appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Still waiting - what does that mean, she who pens plays ponders...

As mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog, patience isn't one of my strong points. This usually doesn't work in my favor especially when it comes to waiting for updates/news regarding the fate of my plays. Many of them took cyber trips to numerous geographical locations around the globe in the hope that they would see a stage but so far, no response one way or the other.

According to the various playwriting related sites where this topic is discussed and digested, this is not a good sign but perhaps no definitive decision has been made as to their stage-a-bility. At least that's what I tell myself.

There is a pattern as to my follow up process, which includes avowing to myself that I will wait to receive "the word."

"Gotta give it time," I tell myself. "People don't respond because you want them to. Your plays are among hundreds, maybe thousands, that are submitted with dreams of production."

Patience today, patience tomorrow, inevitably, and when experiencing a particularly discouraging "why do I bother" or "maybe my plays suck" period, a follow-up e-mail is sent out. Usually, the end result is no response followed by a period of "why didn't I wait."

Upon reflection, perhaps a follow-up questionnaire to the submitted theatres would facilitate the process. Something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah (insert theatre name/producer/to whom it may concern),

Recently, (insert date that play was submitted), you were the lucky recipient of my play, blah-blah (insert name of play).

It has been (number of days/weeks/months/years/who remembers) since there has been any updates as to whether said play strikes your fancy. Perhaps the lack of communication on your part is a result of (pick one) a) stunning dialogue requiring further thought b) seeking a period of time in which to program the play to optimize audience participation  c) unable to open file.

When could a decision on its fate one way or the other be expected: a) days b) months c)years d) never (please circle one)

Yours forever in hope,

A. Playwright

It's worth a shot. Am I right?


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19. Theaters Are (Finally?) Recovering From The Recession, Says Report

Family_Album_final

“Earned income was up an impressive 40.8 percent (adjusted for inflation), although total attendance was up only 0.4 percent.”

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20. Bradley Cooper Plays A Man Who’s Haunted Him For Decades

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Starring in The Elephant Man on Broadway “is serious business for the actor: a scoop of earth following his gradual but precipitous soar into the showbiz stratosphere, with its thinner, giddy-making air.” It’s also a role he’s been fixated on since age 12.

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21. A New York Theatre Offers A Better Deal For Playwrights

PLAYWRIGHTS-articleLarge

The company, Playwrights Horizons, announced on Tuesday that it has started covering roughly 50 percent of the health care premiums for its writers during the season in which their works are produced. The theater is also paying the writers for “preproduction activities,” like rehearsals and meetings with the directors, designers and producers.

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22. “Macbeth” Yanked From Turkish State Theater After Gov’t Officials Actually See The Play

macbeth

A group of officials from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism attended the production in Ankara last Tuesday and reportedly stalked out without applauding; the play was promptly replaced on the schedule. Last month the now-former director of Turkey’s State Theaters resigned, complaining of censorship by the Culture Ministry.

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23. Why art matters - Lily Hyde


They can’t put on plays in the evening in Donetsk, because of the curfew. They have had to hang a sign on the theatre entrance saying ‘Please don’t bring weapons with you’ – but not everyone obeys. The stage is not just their calling anymore; it is literally home. The actors are living in the playhouse, because their houses have been destroyed by shelling or are on the frontline. 

One recent Sunday afternoon they performed Chekhov. The sound of shelling roared from the suburbs, but inside the theatre a string quartet played Bach to the pre-performance crowd. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me down to lie in green pastures A frock-coated actor shepherded his flock into the darkened auditorium, leaving behind all the troubles and dread for two brief hours, two magical hours made of lighting and costume and make-believe – and words, words, Chekhov’s wry, witty, warmly humane war of words. That, to set against the real war outside.

Afterwards in the dressing rooms, where actors live now with their children in a world of mirrors and make-up, where jars of home-made gherkins jostle with tubes of facepaint, we drank to peace. And to art, to theatre and literature and music, all those hopelessly fragile, endlessly enduring things. 

         
 www.lilyhyde.com

 

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24. Show Books

It’s holiday time so some shows based on outstanding children’s books are currently being performed in Sydney and surrounds, as well as in other cities around Australia. A highlight is The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Penguin), a production created around four books by Eric Carle: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, of course, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse – […]

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25. Playwright's ruminations - the fix is in

Sitting down in front of the computer, chin in hand and thinking about playwriting. Again. Note the word, "thinking" but not the actual act of taking fingers to keyboard and producing some worthwhile dialogue. Still further delayed the process by going over finished plays and assessing whether they need fixing or editing, something I'm prone to do in both my writing and painting. Frequently, the end result is ruining any progress on whatever project I'm "fixing."

I'm an inordinate "fixer" of all my artistic undertakings, which really don't require further adjusting. Recently, I applied what I swore were the absolute final strokes to a black and white painting first started three years ago, which has been "fixed" over the years. Perhaps this will be the reality and then again, who knows.

In as far as my plays are concerned, some have been altered to the point where all objectivity has been  lost as to the strongest version. Most often, the changes are relegated to small dialogue adjustments or altering what appears to me to be a weak a scene. In the end, a decision has to be made which version is the best version to submit, followed by a period of self-doubt and whether my plays are actually produce-able. Perhaps this is a common pattern with writers in general in that the selection of the right words is paramount to the whole story line. In as far as dialogue is concerned, the character has to utter words and phrases that suit her/his mannerisms, personality and mien and therein lies the challenge.

Although the actual act of submitting plays is a positive move, there is also the self-doubt that creeps in  waiting for updates on their fate. Negative thoughts like:

- perhaps the wrong version was sent - whatever that is
- maybe I don't have what it takes to be a "real" playwright
- given the volume of experienced and produced playwrights, many of whom are familiar names to   
  the public and within the theatre community, do my literary gems stand a chance?

And so the uncertainty continues but something drives me to persevere. The possibility, whatever the odds that  there  is a theatre "out there" somewhere that will see something special in my plays is enough to keep me going and press on. Meanwhile, some fine tuning of the dialogue and changes to the story arc is required to Dead Writes. Really.

P.S.: just read that Larry David's new play, "Fish In the Dark" is a big hit on Broadway. It should only happen to me!  Mazel-tov, Larry...or Mr. David. Good to note that good comedy will always draw a crowd.

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