CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

High Ticket Prices Are Fueling a Broadway Boom

The New York Times: Musicals about the aftermaths of a teenage suicide and a terror attack proved unlikely sensations. Star turns by Bette Midler, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal and Glenn Close added sizzle. And, led by “Hamilton” and “Hello, Dolly!,” the hottest shows started charging once unthinkably high prices for the best seats.

The Broadway season that ended on Sunday was one for the record books. Box-office grosses, which have been climbing since 2013, rose 5.5 percent, to $1.449 billion, a new high, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Broadway League, an industry trade group.

Trump’s Latest Budget Proposes Eliminating the NEA (Again)

www.artsy.net: The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is once again slated for elimination under President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, released on Tuesday. As part of a $3.6 trillion slash to federal spending over 10 years—including major cuts to Medicaid and other social safety net programs—the arts agency would see both direct grantmaking and funding to states zeroed out. To ensure an orderly shutdown, the NEA would receive $29 million for salary and administrative costs through fiscal year 2018.

'Midnight Rider' Producer Loses Lawsuit Against Insurer

Hollywood Reporter: A judge rules that New York Marine didn't breach its contract when it settled with the family of camera assistant Sarah Jones and then refused to provide further coverage.

A California federal judge has dealt a blow to the producer of the abandoned Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, handing a summary judgment victory to New York Marine and General Insurance Company and shrugging off news of an FBI investigation.

Rosco Silks Save A Rooftop Night Shoot

Rosco Spectrum: We all know the feeling of packing every piece of gear you anticipate needing for a shoot after discussing the plans with your client. We also know the feeling when inspiration hits, the shot changes, and you aren’t sure you have what you need to pull it off. This happened to me during a recent rooftop shoot – and the Rosco Silk® LED Soft Lights empowered me to pull it off.

A Black Actor in ‘Virginia Woolf’? Not Happening, Albee Estate Says

The New York Times: A decision by the estate of Edward Albee not to allow a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” to cast a black actor as a blond character is reigniting decades-long debates in the theater world over race, casting and authorial control.

A theater producer in Portland, Ore., said last week that Albee’s agent, representing his estate, refused to grant him the rights to present the play with a black actor, Damien Geter, playing the supporting role of Nick, a young biologist at a small New England college. The Albee office, through a spokesman, said the producer had mischaracterized the status of his application for rights to the production, but confirmed that it objected to a black actor in that role.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Violet by Front Porch Theatricals

Pittsburgh in the Round: Front Porch Theatricals’ heavenly production of Violet has a lot of baggage.

Johnmichael Bohach’s rustic, minimalist scenic design is primarily comprised of suitcases, chests, and duffel bags that the actors sit, sleep, and sing on. This concept is not only incredibly creative and whimsical, but it also artfully realizes the themes of travel and identity that are central to the musical.

Trees Instead of Super Models: Pemberton Bankruptcy Might Be Worse Than Fyre Fest

Amplify: A second indie music festival has imploded and left consumers footing the bill. Just weeks after the Instagram-tastic collapse of Fyre Festival, a second destination event has gone full meltdown, with several major music players working to contain the damage.

Pemberton Music Festival is officially bust, leaving in its wake an uncertainty for independently-promoted festivals just as the summer season is getting underway.

Q&A w/Mike Newnum – Luzia’s Technical Director

www.cirquefascination.com: Cirque du Soleil puts on a good show. Flowers blossom from elaborate costumes; performers plummet from fifty feet up in the air. Even the show’s technical director, Mike Newnum, says he catches his breathe when he watches what the team does.

The troupe’s latest performance, Luzia, a Mexico-inspired dreamscape, has had a challenging run. While the performances are carefully orchestrated, with each piece of equipment tested and routines practiced daily, mistakes happen. And sometimes they’re fatal.

In 2017, Casting A Black Actor Derailed A Staging Of This Famous Play

HuffPost: “I am furious and dumbfounded,” Oregon-based theater producer Michael Streeter wrote on Facebook last week. “The Edward Albee Estate needs to join the 21st Century.”

The short statement ― totaling just over 50 words ― claimed that the estate of the late Pulitzer-winning playwright had withdrawn the rights to his play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” disallowing Streeter from staging the well-known production in Portland. Its reason, according to the post? Streeter had cast a black actor in the supporting role of Nick.

“Ironbound” at City Theatre

The Pittsburgh Tatler: Anne Mundell’s set for City Theatre’s production of Ironbound (a new play by Martyna Majok) consists of a tall rusting steel bridge support set atop a graffiti-covered concrete base that is surrounded by mounds of detritus and trash. This monumental girder, which looms over the desolate New Jersey bus stop where all of the action of the play takes place, writes the economic and infrastructural woes of the Rust Belt in visual shorthand, creating both a fitting metaphor and a suitably bleak setting for its protagonist Darja’s own disintegrating social and economic situation.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Who's Afraid Of A Diverse Cast?

NPR: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a brilliant, scalding and essential play that is often revived. But the Complete Works Project in Oregon won't present the play this fall because the estate of the playwright, Edward Albee, won't give permission for them to cast an African-American actor in the featured role of Nick, a young professor.

The play's director, Michael Streeter, refuses to fire an actor for the color of his skin.

How to Kill a Great Theatre: The Tragedy of the Volksbühne

dispositio: Almost two years ago, the Berlin government announced that Frank Castorf’s contract as the artistic director of the Volksbühne would not be renewed after the end of his current term in the summer of 2017, and that his successor would be Chris Dercon, at that point Director of the Tate Modern in London. But if you care at all about European theatre, you’ve probably heard about that, and if not – well, you can read more here, here, and here; and also have a look at this nicely in-depth report on how the news was received by employees of the Volksbühne workshops. If you read German, Nachtkritik has compiled a near-complete chronology, with tons of links, of the debate.

Is Creativity Overrated?

The Creativity Post: I must be honest with you. While I don't mind a good passionate discussion well just about any topic, I don't really like to argue with articles, or more accurately with their authors. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I like to see and hear whoever it is I talk with. But there are times when I can't just read an article and leave it as is. I find myself arguing with it inside my head. And sometimes, when that happens, I feel I have to respond. In a sense, Eliot Gattegno's article "Creativity is Overrated" is an excellent article, not because I agree with the author's opinions, but simply because it has driven me to respond.

Break It Down: Byham Theater

The 412 - May 2017: When you walk into the Sixth Street entryway of the Byham Theater, Downtown, you will see patches of green and black tile on the walls: These are originals from the early 20th century, says John Mumper, facilities manager at the Byham. The grand theater has plenty of history to go with its 100-plus years; let’s break it down.

The Kilroys Make Another List of Plays by Women You Should Know

AMERICAN THEATRE: Sequels typically promise to be, though they seldom are, bigger and better than the original. In the case of the second iteration of the Kilroys’ “List”—a nationally juried selection of unproduced or little-produced works by female playwrights—both benchmarks have been met, with more nominators involved and consequently more selections along a wider range of plays, aesthetically, culturally, and geographically. This year’s list features 53 plays, recommended by 321 nominators, up from last year’s 47 and 127, respectively—and, as Kilroy playwright member and listed playwright Sarah Gubbins helpfully pointed out, this year’s list reflects just the top 7 percent of nominators’ choices, while last year reflected the top 12 percent.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Asian Americans In Hollywood Still Waiting For The Spotlight

Code Switch : NPR: Ask some actors about their dream role, and they're likely to offer range of answers: a character from Shakespeare, a superhero, the lead in Phantom of the Opera. As for Daniel Dae Kim, a Korean-American actor who's had roles in Lost, Crash, and most recently Hawaii Five-0, his dream is to play a romantic lead. Any romantic lead.

In Memoriam: Corky Boyd, 50

Stage Directions: John “Corky” Boyd passed away suddenly on Sunday, May 7 at the age of 50. Boyd was a co-owner in Hudson Scenic Studios along with Neil O’Connor and Neil Mazzella. He had been with the Hudson for over 24 years and has been instrumental in developing the Hudson Motion Control system that powers many shows on Broadway.

The Five Types Of Impostor Syndrome And How To Beat Them

www.fastcompany.com: Many high achievers share a dirty little secret: Deep down they feel like complete frauds–their accomplishments the result of serendipitous luck.

This psychological phenomenon, known as impostor syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

The Circus Leaves Town

BBC News: The air inside of a 25 foot cannon is hot and smells like metal. It’s dark and loud, and the moments before a launch - even for an experienced human cannonball like 32-year-old “Nitro” Nicole Sanders - are filled with real fear.

“There’s no feeling comfortable with it,” she says.

The cannonball act is deceptively simple: a cannon large enough to fit a human inside its bore “shoots” an acrobat high into the air, and she lands in a net or an airbag.

Feedback is not an option.

Dear Design Student: This is a tardigrade. It can survive in the vacuum of space. The design process cannot. Still, many designers try to isolate themselves, using the label “creative” (as a noun) and their “creative process” as defenses against other people’s feedback. Some designers will go so far as to work for free to avoid input from others.

But design is by its nature collaborative. It’s about solving problems. Unless you’re solving problems for yourself, it requires at least two people: a designer and a person with a problem.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Collaborator Party Returns for its Third Year

Stage Directions: The Collaborator Party began in 2015 as a response to removal of the Tony Awards for sound design, and quickly grew into a nationwide grassroots community that was founded in mutual celebration of everyone working in professional theatre. As word spread across social media about the original event, “satellite parties” became commonplace in various cities, and the entire event has been livestreamed around the world to thousands of online attendees.

Dubai Festival City’s IMAGINE Using Panasonic Projection Earns Guinness Record as World’s Largest Permanent Projection Mapping

InPark Magazine: Guinness World Records has recognized IMAGINE, the latest multimedia attraction in Dubai, as the World’s Largest Permanent Projection Mapping after a three-month successful run, using over 60 Panasonic projectors covering approximately 4,857 square meter of projection area on the facade of InterContinental Dubai Festival City.

Twin Cities theaters of color worry about survival as Guthrie gets more diverse

StarTribune.com: Theaters that focus on the works of playwrights and audiences of color will become critically endangered if current funding patterns continue, artistic directors of five Twin Cities companies said this week.

That alarm was raised Monday during a spirited panel discussion at Penumbra Theatre titled “Sustaining Theatres of Color,” featuring the leaders of Penumbra and four other important small-to-medium troupes

Want To Live And Work Overseas? Take This Two-Week Trip First

www.fastcompany.com: You can only get so far by thinking about stuff. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Maybe “going for it” for you means landing a full-time job someplace abroad, or maybe it’s becoming a digital nomad–traveling around the world continuously and working for yourself. But whichever path you’ve got your eye on, you’ll eventually get to a point where you’ve done a ton of research, lots of mulling it over, and now feel both really inspired and completely hopeless.

Universal Studios Hollywood to introduce 'bone-chilling' Harry Potter light show this summer

LA Times: Windswept trees, chirping frogs, scurrying critters and squawking crows echoed throughout the room only to be drowned out by the sweeping overture of orchestral music.

The sights and sounds being manipulated in the studio on this day weren’t for a summer blockbuster or drama series. Instead, the work was part of an ambitious light show that Universal Studios Hollywood will debut at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Anything Goes

Pittsburgh in the Round: Are you are looking for a lighthearted break from reality with quirky characters, great songs, and dance routines? The classic Cole Porter musical comedy Anything Goes is Delightful, Delicious, and De-Lovely.

There are several versions of Anything Goes available to theater companies, with each offering a slightly different song list, running order and book (script) variations.

Why Metro Phoenix's Alternative Theater Scene Is Flourishing

Phoenix New Times: In the first scene of this three-act play — call it Who’s Afraid of Alternative Theater? or maybe Revenge of Master Ronald and the Boys — we find thespian game-changer Ron May standing in the dusty courtyard of a big, shiny, downtown playhouse. Circled by a small group of well-wishers, he is smoking a cigarette and rocking gently from side to side. May is not wearing a suit; he is not holding court on this opening night of the latest play he has directed. In blue jeans and shirtsleeves, he appears to be just another youngish theatergoer, chumming with friends at intermission. He does not look like someone who may have done something once thought impossible: elevating alternative theater in Phoenix.

Judge to Decide Vexing Question in Entertainment: License Needed to Show Body Tattoos?

Hollywood Reporter: If a film, television show or video game incidentally shows a copyrighted tattoo, is that infringement? The question has provoked several law journal articles and quite a bit of media coverage over the years without any firm judicial opinion. However, some guidance may be forthcoming thanks to a decision on Tuesday from a New York federal judge.

How the Syrian refugee crisis is playing out on the German stage

Salon.com: Since 2015, over one million refugees have entered Germany. As a political event, the so-called refugee crisis continues to color public policy and political rhetoric in Germany and around the world. The Conversation

Less well-known, however, is Germany’s artistic response to this crisis, especially on the stage.

“Falstaff” at Resonance Works

The Pittsburgh Tatler: Resonance Works artistic director Maria Sensi Sellner writes that the mission of the small company she founded here in Pittsburgh four years ago is to “showcase outstanding professional artists from Pittsburgh and beyond.” That’s a mission well-fulfilled this past weekend, which brought together an ensemble of world-class vocal and instrumental musicians to perform Verdi’s Falstaff at the Charity Randall Theater in the Cathedral of Learning.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Immersive Artists and Architects Share the Secrets of Their Practices

Creators: Their art practice conflates structural interventions with immersive installations, so it isn't surprising that Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe partnered with Turner Prize-winning British architecture collective Assemble for a panel discussion this past Frieze Week. Moderated by Karen Wong, Deputy Director of the New Museum and co-founder of NEW INC, and held at A/D/O, a creative space in Greenpoint that's an architectural wonder in its own right. TACTICS. MATERIALS. RESULTS was centered on the intersection of art and architecture and the radically different approaches that can be taken when combining the two.

Print Isn’t Dead: Students Prefer It Over Digital for Academic Reading, Study Finds

www.cmu.edu: Millennials grew up using technology at an early age, but when it comes to academic reading they prefer print materials over digital formats.

The finding comes from a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar Reference & Instruction Librarian A. M. Salaz, alongside researchers from Qatar University and Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia. The work builds on prior research showing that in many cases students perform better academically after working with print materials.

ABC Is Staging a Bizarre Little Mermaid Musical Spectacular This Fall

io9.gizmodo.com: Live action musicals on network TV are all the rage these days, and now ABC is entering the genre with its own weird mishmash version of The Little Mermaid. But this version will be a two-hour special event that somehow promises to meld scenes from the animated Disney classic with live musical performances by an as-yet-unrevealed cast of “celebrity artists.” The hell?

Lowe’s Robotic Exosuit Will Help Workers Lift Heavy Stuff, Possibly Fend Off Aliens

Consumerist: If you’ve ever wanted to strap on a robotic exoskeleton to tussle with a xenomorph like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, you might want to consider working at Lowe’s. No, the home improvement chain isn’t getting into the business of defeating extraterrestrial terrors, but it is working on a wearable robotic suit to help workers lift and move heavy things.

Makita Sub-Compact Drill and Impact Driver - 18v Goes Ninja

Home Fixated: Tool brands take their colors seriously, and when one of them deviates from the color everyone recognizes them by, it means one of two things: 1) They are making a statement to differentiate a particular tool, or, 2) their brand manager is getting fired. Makita has recently made a chroma-curious move and released a new line of 18v Cordless tools in, wait for it, black!

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