Recalling Lanford Wilson, Five Years Gone

March 24th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

Exiting the subway at Christopher Street, turning south on Seventh Avenue, my eyes always turn to the brick building on my left, with the word “Garage” inlaid near the peak of its low-rise roof. The site of restaurants for the past two decades, currently plastered with a “For Lease” sign, this building always triggers the same series of thoughts, in more or less the same order: What a shame. Circle Rep. Balm in Gilead. Lanford Wilson. I most recently walked by this location seven days Continue reading...

Springtime For Swastikas In High School Musicals?

March 14th, 2016 § 5 comments § permalink

Let’s get the story straight. When Tappan Zee High School’s production of Mel Brooks’s The Producers was performed this weekend, there were swastikas on stage. This shouldn’t be any surprise to those who know the musical, the story of two producers who set out to make a mint by foisting a musical called Springtime for Hitler on Broadway audiences. With a song-and-dance Hitler – embodied at times by two different actors – and a chorus line of male and female stormtroopers in the Continue reading...

Are Any Voices Being Silenced in the Chat Room Wars of 2016?

March 14th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The recent flurry of conversations surrounding theatre chat rooms, prompted in large part by a blog post from Patti Murin in the wake of the premature shutdown of the musical Nerds, have been fierce. The uproar was deemed sufficiently important to rate coverage in The New York Times and there has been a flood of commentary on Twitter, on Facebook, and yes, in chat rooms themselves since the impassioned dialogue began. In the wake of Murin’s essay, BroadwayWorld.com has announced some new Continue reading...

30 Years Before “Hamilton,” US Politics Were Rapped on NYC Stage

March 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The achievements of Lin-Manuel’s Hamilton are significant and expansive, so much so that I need not add to the proliferation of reviews, essays, parodies, think pieces and so on engendered by his landmark work. However, I feel that, in light of my increasingly senior status and the years of theatre history stashed in my head, I must point out that Lin was not the first to merge rap and American politics on the New York stage. Travel back with me over 30 years, to an Off-Broadway venue in Greenwich Continue reading...

Why A White Christmas (Eve) Is Nothing To Celebrate On “Avenue Q”

March 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

“In America, where we have diverse populations, even if you’re in a community theatre, I think it’s better to not do the show rather than do it in yellowface or blackface.” “The show” in question is Avenue Q, the 2004 Tony Award winning send-up of Sesame Street. The speaker is Robert Lopez, the co-conceiver, co-composer and co-lyricist (with Jeff Marx) of the musical; Lopez is also an award recipient for his work on Broadway’s The Book of Mormon and Disney’s film Frozen. Continue reading...

Dancing Towards Censorship in Oklahoma State University’s Theatre

March 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

When a student-devised piece of theatre begins as The Politics of Dancing, an examination of relationships springing from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and is ultimately produced as This Title Has Been Censored, something is amiss. When a student production scheduled for multiple performances in a college theatre department’s mainstage season ends up as a single workshop performance with rudimentary tech given during a final exam period, something is strange. When an original work of theatre Continue reading...

Questionable Effort To Roll Back Time On “Vagina Monologues” in Florida

February 26th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Hearing the word ‘vagina' aloud before 1996, outside of a medical setting, was a bit startling. Encountering it in an article was likely to cause many readers more than a bit of surprise. Seeing it in newspaper ads, on posters or even on the sides of buses was seen as downright shocking. I remember it well. Thanks to Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking The Vagina Monologues in 1996, the perfectly accurate, non-slang term for women's genitalia became part of widely accepted conversation. The play Continue reading...

Silencing Theatrical Debate Over Israelis & Palestinians In North Miami

February 24th, 2016 § 1 comment § permalink

If you’re not familiar with Julia Pascal’s 2003 play Crossing Jerusalem, that's because the play has only had two productions in the U.S. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that it has had one and a half productions, because the play’s second U.S. run, by J-CAT, the Cultural Arts Theatre at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami, a community theatre, was shut down by the JCC after giving only half of its scheduled performances. *   *   * The play takes place Continue reading...

Is a Play Of Plays Making Fair Use Of Other Playwrights’ Words?

February 6th, 2016 § 6 comments § permalink

There’s nothing quite like getting a cease and desist letter. It may be commonplace if you’re an attorney and you’re receiving a cease and desist claim on behalf of clients, but for artists and arts administrators, at least, there’s a particular chill that accompanies opening a letter (or e-mail) that informs you that if you plan to present, or are currently presenting, a work that the sender feels is in violation of their rights and you don’t stop right away, you’re going to Continue reading...

Peeking Inside The Wooster Group’s Off-Limits “Room”

February 3rd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Let’s start with the basics: no one can possibly prevent critics from reviewing shows if they want to do. Whether it’s requested or even imposed by theatre company, a venue, a rights holder, or an author, members of the press – just like the public – can always buy a ticket to a theatrical production and express what they think. To actively prevent members of the press from entering a theatre is at least foolhardy if not potentially discriminatory; to prevent anyone from writing or broadcasting Continue reading...