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...

The Frightened Arrogance Behind “It’s Called Acting”

August 2nd, 2016 § 11 comments § permalink

  It is quite possible that, when the English stage was officially opened up to allow women to perform alongside men, most likely in 1660 when Margaret Hughes played Desdemona, some argued against it, on the grounds that young boys had been successfully been playing women for years, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. After all, only 30 years earlier, a French touring troupe met with disdain for daring to employ women, and even once English women were permitted to act, men did not Continue reading...

What Are Those Geishas Doing In Penzance?

December 23rd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Oh, New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, what are we going to do with you? It was surprising to many that you thought you could do a “classic” yellowface Mikado in New York in 2015. But you also responded pretty quickly once there was an outcry against the practice, with the first blog posts of dismay (from Leah Nanako Winkler, Erin Quill, Ming Peiffer and me) posted on Tuesday and Wednesday and the production canceled by midnight on Friday morning. You’ve promised to bring your Mikado Continue reading...

Of Race, Ethics, Education and Rights: My Top Posts of 2015

December 22nd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

I honestly wish I could figure out what makes one blog post a roaring success, and another a blip on the radar. Certainly the topic under discussion has some impact, but readership seems just as likely to be affected by the title, a photo, the Facebook algorithm, the timing of a tweet, what else is happening in the world, and so on. In short, I have no idea. In looking over my most-read posts of 2015, I do know which ones took a great deal of research and time, and which were dashed off in Continue reading...

Yellowface Bait-And-Switch With ‘Madama Butterfly’ In Fargo

October 30th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

As I write, if you visit the website of the Fargo Moorhead Opera, you’ll find an evocative image of a beautiful young Asian woman used in conjunction with the company’s production of Madama Butterfly, playing this weekend in North Dakota. However, upon reading a feature story in yesterday’s Fargo Inforum about the production, you’ll learn that the lead actress in the show itself isn’t the woman who appears in the ads, and isn’t Asian at all, but rather a Caucasian of German extraction. Continue reading...

Putting On Yellowface For The Holidays With Gilbert & Sullivan & NYU

September 15th, 2015 § 13 comments § permalink

Please consider the following two statements. In a description of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado: “The location is a fictitious Japanese town.” “There are no ethnically specific roles in Gilbert and Sullivan.” The conflict between these two statements seems fairly obvious since even in a fictitious Japanese village, the residents are presumably Japanese, and that is indeed ethnically specific, even if they are endowed with nonsensical names that may have once sounded vaguely Continue reading...

Not All Great Works Stay Great, In Text Or Performance

October 16th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

As headlines go, “A challenge for the arts: Stop sanitizing and show the great works as they were created” embodies what many of us were taught in school about the well-made essay: tell people what you’re going to tell them, offer support for your thesis, then tell them what you’ve told them. Unlike many instances where newspaper headlines misrepresent the content of the article that follows, I would say that Philip Kennicott’s article in The Washington Post on October 4th was accurately Continue reading...