Keynote: School Theatre Can Be More

October 18th, 2017 § Comments Off on Keynote: School Theatre Can Be More § permalink

The Florida Association for Theatre Education invited me to be the keynote speaker at their annual conference, held in Orlando October 12-14, 2017. The text below represents an edited version of that address, which was written to be spoken, not read, so please forgive oratorical repetitions, some of which will have been minimized already. There were various ad libs during the course of the speech which, I'm afraid, have now escaped me. *    *    * At the risk of telling you things you know Continue reading...

David Mamet Doesn’t Feel Well

July 24th, 2017 § Comments Off on David Mamet Doesn’t Feel Well § permalink

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published an essay by the playwright and screenwriter David Mamet, entitled “Charles Dickens Makes Me Want To Throw Up.” As it turns out, the essay was just one chapter in the forthcoming book, “David Mamet’s Physiological Responses To Classic Literature.” While we must wait for publication to fully understand precisely why Mr. Mamet takes issue with so many well known writers, a small selection of leaked chapter headings provide some sense of his thinking.   Elizabeth Continue reading...

In Hell, Damning That Accursed Howard Sherman

March 29th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

I cannot claim that I was completely surprised. By the same token, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. A press release first made me aware of Diva: Live From Hell, and I lingered on it longer than most I receive. The plot synopsis, of a high school drama kid doomed to Hell for his thespian transgressions while alive, ticked off some of the boxes that usually interest me, school theatre in particular. But thinking about the already heavy theatergoing schedule I keep in late March and April, Continue reading...

Zeros and Ones Don’t Add Up To Live Action

February 27th, 2017 § Comments Off on Zeros and Ones Don’t Add Up To Live Action § permalink

For those who work in the theatre, the idea of defending the term “live action” would seem an unnecessary task. But as movie marketers, abetted uncritically by the entertainment press, seem determined to diminish the concept, it appears that a brief primer is warranted. Live-action has, for many years, been a term reserved for that which actually occurs in real life, that is to say the activities of humans (and other animals). Whether performed on stage or captured on a camera, real Continue reading...

Supposition Is No Support As NEA Is Threatened

February 20th, 2017 § Comments Off on Supposition Is No Support As NEA Is Threatened § permalink

Let’s start with the positive, though I’m afraid that won’t last long. In her New York Times article, “Might Ivanka Trump Speak Up If Her Father Guts The Arts?,” Robin Pogrebin makes a series of suppositions rooted in an aspect of arts education that is rarely discussed. That element is the reality that the vast majority of students – elementary, secondary, university – who study or participate in the arts won’t probably go on to careers in the arts. However, their exposure Continue reading...

Long Before “Ragtime,” Musical Lessons From Lynn Ahrens

February 6th, 2017 § Comments Off on Long Before “Ragtime,” Musical Lessons From Lynn Ahrens § permalink

Two weeks ago, the musical Ragtime came under fire at a high school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for its deployment of racial slurs in telling a anti-racism story that is intended to evoke the evolving nature of what it means to be American, blending the stories of white, black, and Jewish characters according to the template set by E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novel from 1975. Following efforts to censor its language, which would have resulted in the rights to the show being withdrawn due to unauthorized Continue reading...

Times Square Weirdness: 2016 In Review

December 26th, 2016 § Comments Off on Times Square Weirdness: 2016 In Review § permalink

Given that it was merely a stray amusement that became a popular offshoot of my photography hobby, "Times Square Weirdness" went worldwide this year with my discovery of Mike Hot-Pence (aka Glen Pannell), who used his resemblance to the Vice-President-elect to raise funds for progressive causes. Profiles everywhere from the Washington Post to People magazine to BuzzFeed all got their start on this site, and while the inspired idea was 100% Glen's, it was my photos and blog post that caught the Continue reading...

Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016

December 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016 § permalink

In some ways, it might make more sense if I wrote this post about some of my least-read pieces of 2016, because I value almost everything I write equally and never quite know why some get widely read and others just seem to be of only marginal interest to others. I of course prefer to blame social media and its vagaries, but in some cases it might be the photos I chose, the headline I drafted or the relative idiosyncrasy of the subject. Because this year was the first during which I was writing Continue reading...

Considering An Unsweetened “Charity” Review  

December 7th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Last week was not the first time I’ve been puzzled by Hilton Als’s writing on theatre. I didn’t understand the rather cruel rationale by which he described the late playwright Wendy Wasserstein as follows, in a capsule review of Julie Salomon’s biography of Wasserstein: Wendy Wasserstein was the kind of woman many women didn’t feel comfortable befriending, especially since she was what they feared being themselves: overweight, single, and a fag hag. I was stumped when Als, wrote Continue reading...

The Incredibly True Origins of Mike Hot-Pence, Times Square Icon

December 4th, 2016 § 6 comments § permalink

For those unfamiliar with “Times Square Weirdness,” my series of photos of the odder denizens of Times Square, shared frequently on my Facebook page, you may be surprised to learn of my familiarity with the Elmos and Spider-Men that people The Crossroads of the World. One by-product of this frivolous pastime is that whenever a new “character” appears, I note it almost immediately and, whenever possible, record it for posterity. Today I was surprised to encounter a nattily attired, Continue reading...