CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Theater Jobs Skew White and Male, Study Finds

The New York Times: Women and minority actors and stage managers are getting fewer jobs and often wind up in lower-paying shows than white male theater artists, according to a new study by Actors’ Equity.

The study, released as the union is increasing its focus on diversity issues, is based on an examination of employment data for shows that opened between 2013 and 2015.

SAG-AFTRA Moves Toward Strike as Negotiations With Studios Fail

Backstage: Leaders of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing onscreen performers, unanimously voted on June 25 to send strike authorization ballots to its members unless a new deal is reached by Friday, June 30, when the current contract expires.

The decision follows a month of unsuccessful negotiations with studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, in response to what the union’s national board has called “outrageous rollbacks that cut to the core of our basic terms and conditions.”

The Kilroys Launch 4th Annual THE LIST Featuring Female and Trans Writers of Color

Breaking Character: Continuing the fight to achieve gender parity in the American Theater, LA-based playwright/producer collective The Kilroys has facilitated its fourth annual List of industry-recommended new plays.

The List 2017 features the most recommended un- and under-produced plays written by female and trans writers of color, following a survey of hundreds of professional artistic directors, literary managers, professors, producers, directors, and dramaturgs.

The Creator of Westworld Explained Why She's Proud to Have Been a Diversity Hire Lisa Joy created the HBO hit Westworld, an entrancing series that has inspired a thousand Jezebel inquiries into how close we are to real-life robot sex. In a recent roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Joy expounded on the importance of creating opportunities for people with out a safety net.

Broadway Production Of 1984 Is Causing Audience Members to Faint, Vomit And Get in Fights Well-heeled audiences are really having a hard time stomaching the new Broadway adaptation of 1984, with reports that viewers are fainting, vomiting and...getting in fights with each other as a result of its more alarming scenes. Finally, a theatrical production befitting of the times!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fail of the Week: Museum Buttons

Hackaday: Museum exhibits are difficult to make, and they’re always breaking down; especially the interactive ones. This is a combination of budget, building a one-off, and the incredibly harsh abuse they take from children. My first exhibit is an interactive laser show that turns waveforms from music into laser patterns, and different types of music have very different patterns. I knew from talking to the museum staff that industrial buttons were a necessity, but it turns out that industrial buttons are made under the assumption that tiny creatures won’t be constantly mashing, twisting, and (ew ew ew) licking the buttons. After a while, the buttons (and poor knob) were trashed.

A Collective Call Against Critical Bias

HowlRound: Much ado has been made of the fact that Paula Vogel and Lynn Nottage, two Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatists, finally cracked the glass ceiling this season. These theatre veterans made their long awaited Broadway debuts, with Indecent and Sweat, which both garnered Tony Award nominations for Best Play. Surprisingly little attention was paid, however, to the announcement that these productions—the only new works by women on the Great White Way this year—would close early, in large part because they were doomed by the male critical establishment.

Actor Mark Rylance celebrates the Battle of Homestead

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mark Rylance is coming back to pursue a passion. The award-winning actor, director and activist will help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Homestead here with a performance — “Mark Rylance & Friends: Shakespeare & the Battle of Homestead” — on July 6, after an advance party for patrons on Friday.

A Comic Book Color Artist Explains the Psychology of Pigments

Creators: When readers think of the people behind the scenes of a comic book, they often think of the writer and the artist. But there's a whole world of people in different positions working to make a comic look great, feel right, and tell the perfect story—from inkers who define the depth of the comic, to editors who manage an entire comic slate, to the color artist who brings the world into bright, saturated life.

Sir Mark Rylance: From London to Broadway and Hollywood to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mark Rylance was born in England in 1960 and brought up in the U.S. (primarily Wisconsin), 1962-78. He returned to England to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

His early work was with the Royal Shakespeare Company, with success as Hamlet, a role he reprised in the U.S. in a 1991 production by the Pittsburgh Public Theater and American Repertory Theater. He played Peer Gynt in Minneapolis and scored in London in modern plays by Sam Shepard and Yasmina Reza.

Nominal Lumber Sizes Land Home Depot And Menards In Hot Water

Hackaday: Hard times indeed must have fallen upon the lawyers of the American mid-west, for news reaches us of a possible class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago that stretches the bounds of what people in more gainful employment might consider actionable. It seems our legal eagles have a concern over the insufficient dimensions of their wood, and this in turn has caused them to apply for a class action against Home Depot and Menards with respect to their use of so-called nominal sizing in the sale of lumber.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Teacher's Dedication: Creating A Thespian Troupe, Making Theatre Happen & More

Breaking Character: Jasmine Ammons Bucher educates dozens of young artists a year as the director of Palmyra Area High School’s annual musical. This year, she started a new Thespian troupe (through the Educational Theatre Association) to honor the students and their work in the theatre. She holds a BA in English, an MBA from Lebanon Valley College, and an MA in humanities from The Pennsylvania State University, and specializes in publicity, theatre board governance, and educational programming. She also happens to be my mother! We talked about her journey to theatre education, finding new ways to recognize her students through the International Thespian Society, and how her students inspire her to develop their curriculum.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Decade Later, Judge Says 'Jersey Boys' Use Of Unpublished Autobiography Is Fair Use

Techdirt: We've seen some nice fair use wins lately, and here's another good one (though, I'd still argue it shouldn't have even needed fair use... but we'll get there), first written up by Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter. This is actually a lawsuit that's gone on for nearly a decade (and a dispute that's gone on for longer than that), and we first wrote about this case asking the simple question can you copyright the story of a band?

'How my work as a death row investigator was turned into a play' Most authors have day jobs, but mine is quite unusual: I work with men and women facing execution as a death penalty investigator. Sometimes my job is to see if they are innocent - we've now exonerated over 250 innocent people off death rows in the United States, so this is not a light question. When they are guilty my job turns to finding out why they did it. It's a fascinating job, one where I get to learn the answers to what creates violence and how we can prevent it. Being able to help others has been a form of redemption for me too.

Friday, June 23, 2017

'Wilderness,' then farewell: The Goodman's Steve Scott is retiring

Chicago Tribune: In Chicago theater circles, the joke about Steve Scott, producer at the Goodman Theatre, is that he does whatever his boss, artistic director Robert Falls, does not want to do.

Robot Draws Using Robust CNC

Hackaday: While initially developed for use in large factory processes, computer numeric control (CNC) machines have slowly made their way out of the factory and into the hands of virtually anyone who wants one. The versatility that these machines have in automating and manipulating a wide range of tools while at the same time maintaining a high degree of accuracy and repeatability is invaluable in any setting. As an illustration of how accessible CNC has become, [Arnab]’s drawing robot uses widely available tools and a CNC implementation virtually anyone could build on their own.

New CAA study says diverse casting increases box office potential across all budgets

LA Times: There’s been little debate over the moral arguments behind increasing diversity on- and off-screen in Hollywood, but the economic arguments haven’t always been so clear.

While women, people of color, LGBTQ folk and other historically marginalized communities in Hollywood continue to insist “diversity pays,” the box office success of films with diverse casts such as “Hidden Figures” ($230.1 million worldwide) and “Get Out” ($251.2 million worldwide) is inevitably deemed a “surprise.”

Home Depot, Menards Customers Cry False Advertising When They Learn “4x4s” Aren’t Actually 4×4

Consumerist: Talk to any contractor or carpenter — or most people who are reasonably familiar with home construction and repair — and they’ll tell you that a “4×4” piece of lumber is not actually four inches by four inches, and that it hasn’t been that way in any of our lifetimes. Yet some Home Depot and Menards customers are — literally — making a federal case out of this discrepancy, accusing the retailers of false advertising.

the de-butching of alison bechdel

sinister woman: something odd is going on with the fun home national tour. at first i thought only i had picked up on it, and that maybe i was being too critical out of love for the show, until i made a post about it on tumblr and received hundreds of responses agreeing with my concern. a lot of us are wondering, fun home, why isn’t alison bechdel being portrayed as butch anymore?

10 Top Rated Multi Tools Review & Guide In the days of yore there was basically one multi tool and everyone knew exactly what it was: the Swiss Army Knife. Renowned for having more attachments than Henry VIII, the venerable Swiss Army Knife ruled the multi tool universe for decades until some enterprising companies and individuals decided it was time for some competition. As a result variations on the single tool capable of multiple functions began to flood the market and today, multi tools are more exciting and more versatile than ever before.

Why Going To Live Shows Is An Act of Resistance

NYLON: Our safe spaces are under attack. The places we turn to for escape and entertainment have become targets for violence, intimidation, and terror. The bombing outside Ariana Grande’s Manchester concert that killed 22 people and injured 119 is the latest in a steady stream of terror attacks. Last year, Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, became the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in American history with 49 mostly LGBTQIA-identified people’s lives taken. In November 2015, a terror attack in Paris killed 139 people, 89 of whom were inside the Bataclan, a concert venue in the city’s 11th arrondissement. The spaces we’ve come to believe are safe, are not so—no matter how beefed-up security may be. But in spite of all that, there is safety to be found in the crowds of revelers, concert-goers, and clubbers. There is resilience to be found in the resistance of fear.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An Open Letter To LA Theatre Community

Footlights: Last week New Musicals Inc. filed a charge against Actors Equity Association through the National Labor Relations Board. The charge centers upon unfair business practices, accusing AEA of placing New Musicals Inc. on a “Do Not Work” list without cause.

Actors Equity Association is demanding that its members do not engage with NMI, threatening union members with penalties, sanctions and possible expulsion from the union. By including NMI on a ‘Do Not Work’ list, we feel that AEA is attempting to cause NMI to discriminate against union members, encouraging them to refuse to perform any services for NMI, and requiring its members to cease doing business with NMI.

From the Ground Up: Jeff Jones of Wenger

Wenger | J.R. Clancy: To launch its Performing Arts Specialist Group earlier this year, Wenger selected industry veterans with diverse backgrounds, complementary skills and technical expertise. This week we’ll meet Jeff Jones, whose career path started after high school when he began working part-time for SECOA, a manufacturer of rigging equipment, acoustical shells, orchestra pit fillers and stage lifts. His family was neighbors with Jim Kunz, who owned SECOA. After several years, Jones became a full-time SECOA employee.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pittsburgh in the Round: Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a darker version than the Disney classic that will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions. The musical featured an outstanding addition of a thirty-person choir above the stage, and seventeen-piece orchestra in the pit.

Stacey Battat on the Antique Look of 'The Beguiled'

The Mary Sue: Stacey Battat has worked with Sofia Coppola on The Bling Ring and Somewhere, and her outfits in collaboration with the work of production designer Anne Ross and cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd create an atmosphere that feels distinctly Coppola-n in The Beguiled.

Casting Director and Broadway League Rift Deepens Over Unionizing Efforts

Backstage: The dispute between the Broadway League and Broadway casting directors appears to be escalating.

Amidst casting directors’ efforts to unionize in order to receive benefits including health care plans and pensions, the Broadway League has made clear its willingness take legal action, not just against casting directors, but against unions supporting them, as well.

Should Critics Be Restricted Due to Non-PC Reviews? Some Say Yes

OnStage Blog: There's the old saying, "No one likes a critic". But some Chicago theatres are looking to deny a particular critic access to their productions over her provocative reviews. The other day when I received an email with "Chicago critic issue", in the subject line, I immediately had a guess of who the email was about. As predicted, it was about Hedy Weiss.

Projecting A City’s History With Rosco Image Spot

Rosco Spectrum: Bet She’an, located in the Northern District of Israel, is one of the country’s oldest cities. First settled in the Chalcolithic era, circa 4500 BCE, the city has been almost continuously inhabited since then. Thanks to its strategic location at the junction of the Jordan and Jezreel valleys, the city came to be ruled by countless different rulers including the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans. The ancient ruins of the city’s past are now contained inside the vast Bet She’an National Park, which not only sheds light on its fascinating history with traditional displays of archaeological artifacts, but it also literally lights up the ruins each night

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Free Theaters Threatened In Fallout From ‘Julius Caesar’; Rally Plans

Deadline: Raphael Parry, the executive & artistic of Shakespeare Dallas told me that in the wake of Julius Caesar coverage on Fox News and National Public Radio, the company began receiving threatening telephone calls and emails. “It began about two days ago,” Parry said. “Some were just telling us ‘I will write to your sponsors to pull your funding,’ or to go to hell. But others said they hoped we’d all be sent to ISIS and killed with real knives.” Parry confirmed the rape threat and said that a board member of the veteran company has been sending the most explicit and threatening emails to the FBI.

Julius Caesar Director Responds to Criticism

The Mary Sue: Earlier this week, the Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar came under fire for depicting the eventually-assassinated Caesar as a Trump-like figure. People not familiar with the play, who didn’t see this production, and who thought Shakespeare (and therefore also the Public) was in any way promoting the idea of murdering political figures, were really upset. Some went so far as to say the production played some role in yesterday’s horrific shooting of a GOP congressional baseball practice.

Success of ‘Wonder Woman’ May Pave Way for More Female Directors

Variety: The critical and commercial success of “Wonder Woman,” the first female superhero movie directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, could be the catalyst that turns the tide for female directors angling to helm major studio films. Keeping the momentum going, however, will be a big challenge.

Forming New Adaptations

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama: From April 13-29, The Three Musketeers adapted by Megan Monaghan Rivas and directed by Andrew William Smith, exhilarated audiences in the Philip Chosky Theater and inspired the Carnegie Mellon community with its bold storytelling.

Megan Monaghan Rivas, a Dramaturg and associate professor of Dramaturgy in the School of Drama, spoke about writing her adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ epic novel, a process that took the story into a new territory.

Fine Art with Basic School Supplies

Uncrate: Art supplies are expensive. But do you really need a $400 pencil to draw an awesome picture? Of course not. Peter Draws got a composition book, some No. 2 pencils, a sharpener and erasers from a fan — and set about proving you don't have go broke to be an artist.

In its defense of a theater critic, the Tribune sidesteps the real issues

Chicago Tribune: I am disappointed by your misleading, glib editorial on the Chicago theater community's response to Hedy Weiss' pattern of, at best, racially tone-deaf criticism.

You cite the length of Weiss' tenure at the Sun-Times and describe the critic-artist relationship in lieu of offering a substantive defense of the specific critique of racial animus that the community has raised.

InfoComm 2017 Summary and Findings

Projection Mapping Central: Probably one of the coolest things at InfoComm this year was found at the Panasonic’s booth. They showcased interesting innovations and “next-generation tech”, amongst them their high speed real-time tracking and projection mapping system caught our eye. In their own words “it will enable high resolution (1920 x 1080) images at 10,000 lumens ANSI brightness to be mapped onto fast-moving objects, such as performers on stage, with masking and trimming applied over video and fed to the projector in real time.”

Should There Be All-White Productions of "Hairspray"?

OnStage Blog: Imagine that Hairspray is being produced in a local theatre near you. And after the auditions were completed, you notice that the show has an all-white cast. How would you react? Would you be angered? Insulted? Confused?

While it might be questionable that Hairspray would be cast this way, it's something that happens fairly regularly and the reason is that in large part, it's actually endorsed by the creators of the show.

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