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Sunday, March 01, 2015

NFTRW Weekly Top Five

Here are the top five comment generating posts of the past week:

A Peek Inside Warner Bros' Prop Vault

Tested: If you can forgive the campy presentation, CNN's tour of the Warner Bros. prop archive is pretty neat. I've seen plenty of videos of the props and costumes on display at the Warner Bros. studio tour in Hollywood, but this warehouse of wardrobe and vehicles from films like Gravity, The Dark Knight, and Harry Potter is like the propmaker's version of Raiders of the Lost Ark's Hanger 51.
 

Let the Right One In: Can Horror Work Onstage?

Flavorwire: Throughout the National Theatre of Scotland’s Let the Right One In, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and Tomas Alfredson‘s film, audiences are subjected to a parade of lyrically gruesome images: a man tied upside-down to a tree, his throat perfunctorily slit and drained into a bucket; another man literally self-effacing with acid; a diminutive teenage girl in a candy-pink sweater whose mouth brims with vomit when she actually tries to eat candy, and whose face cascades with blood every time she enters a home uninvited. All of this stirs a reverent, rapt silence in the audience. This is not the type of play where spectators listlessly turn to their programs mid-show, pretending that looking up the catering credits will somehow enhance their experience.

The Future Of Zoos Is Being Nice To The Animals--Not Making It Easy To Watch Them

Co.Exist | ideas + impact: For a decade, Winky and Wanda were the Detroit Zoo’s only Asian elephants. In the summer months they would kick around in the dirt of their limited outdoor enclosure. During Detroit’s long winters, they were confined indoors, their soft feet rarely leaving the hard concrete.
 

How to Create the Sound of Murder Without Actually Killing Anyone

SoundGirls: I love working as a sound designer in fringe theatre. It’s underfunded, often underpaid and over-looked, and it can also reveal unexpected and rewarding creative challenges.

When I say “fringe theatre”, I’m talking about London (UK) fringe theatre, as that’s where I’m based. I know not all cities, or countries, have permanent off-West End (or off-Broadway, in an American context) venues that regularly produce professional theatrical work outside of a festival, which makes me all the more grateful that I live and work in a city where you don’t have to have arts bodies funding to make great theatre, although that definitely helps.

Watch Actresses Read Ridiculously Sexist Casting Calls Out Loud

Flavorwire: This fall, we wrote about Some Lady Parts, a new Tumblr that was devoted to airing and posting many of the most absurdly sexist casting calls to be found in the acting world.

Since then, the site has become even more popular. Recently, its creators collaborated with Upworthy on a video in which aspiring thespians talked honestly about how these damaging casting calls hurt their self-esteem and their sense of themselves in the industry. “We just want to play human beings, rather than bodies,” one said.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who Benefits from the 99-Seat Plan?

Parabasis: Last week, my old friend and editor Rob Weinert-Kendt asked me to be a guest on TCG's "Offstage" podcast to talk about the upcoming fight over LA's 99-seat plan. You can listen to the full episode here. The episode uses as a jumping off point Rob's excellent meditation contrasting the abundance of riches of 99-seat plan theater in LA with the knowledge that the system isn't sustainable in its current form, as it relies on grossly underpaying union labor.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre stages 'Beauty and the Beast' for sensory-sensitive audience

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: For many, just walking into a theater before an anticipated performance can be exciting. For people with sensory sensitivities, such as those on the autism spectrum, the excitement of a theater outing can be overwhelming, even daunting.

“People with autism are often on guard about their condition,” said Lucianna Randall, executive director of the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania. “They often walk into a theater with anxiety. When you add to that uncertainties like darkness when the lights go down, loud music, flashes of light and special effects, their anxiety level increases.”

'Blurred Lines' Trial: Motown Exec Wanted to Make Robin Thicke-Marvin Gaye Mashup

The Hollywood Reporter: The focus turned from the musicians behind the hit single, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I., in Los Angeles federal court on Monday. The three sued the family of Marvin Gaye in 2013 to get a declaration they didn't copy the soul singer's "Got To Give It Up" to create their multiplatinum song. The singer's children Frankie and Nona Gaye responded with counterclaims in which they allege not only was “Blurred Lines” improperly derived from their late father’s work, but Thicke’s song “Love After War” was copied from Gaye’s “After The Dance.”

Billington to Receive First Mentor Award

sightlines.usitt.org: Lighting Designer Ken Billington will receive the first Wally Russell Mentor Award at the Cincinnati 2015 Conference & Stage Expo.

Several people nominated Mr. Billington for the award, established last year by USITT and the Wally Russell Foundation. It recognizes generous mentorship by an entertainment industry professional.

Started In 1999 – The Tour That Never Ends … STYX!

Pollstar: Styx became a year-round touring act in 1999 and in the intervening years has created a well-oiled machine and learned the fine art of balancing personalities, crew schedules and creating opportunities to keep the performances and music fresh. It’s a model that could be unique in the concert business.

Cover to Cover…‘Black Broadway’

New Pittsburgh Courier: A remote control and five hundred channels.

That’s what you’ve got for entertainment, and there’s still nothing on TV. That doesn’t keep you from looking, though, and wishing for something different.

Finding entertainment shouldn’t be such a big production—but in decades past, that’s exactly what it took for African Americans, in more ways than one. In the new book “Black Broadway” by Stewart F. Lane, you’ll find out why.

Fog Machine In Art Exhibit Prompts False Fire Alarms In Market Square

CBS Pittsburgh: Where there’s smoke there’s fire. But fog signals art, as Pittsburgh firefighters are quickly learning.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says firefighters have been called to Market Square downtown at least twice – including once Thursday morning – by people who reported smoke when they saw machine-generated fog that’s part of a new art installation.

Spreading the fire safety message... to college students

National Fire Protection Association Blog: We all know the importance of fire prevention; it's something fire safety educators and fire officials think about daily. But what about today's youth? What are their thoughts on fire safety? Are we doing enough to raise awareness of the dangers, and have we provided them with enough tools and resources to get involved and share information with their friends?

How to Create the Sound of Murder Without Actually Killing Anyone

SoundGirls: I love working as a sound designer in fringe theatre. It’s underfunded, often underpaid and over-looked, and it can also reveal unexpected and rewarding creative challenges.

When I say “fringe theatre”, I’m talking about London (UK) fringe theatre, as that’s where I’m based. I know not all cities, or countries, have permanent off-West End (or off-Broadway, in an American context) venues that regularly produce professional theatrical work outside of a festival, which makes me all the more grateful that I live and work in a city where you don’t have to have arts bodies funding to make great theatre, although that definitely helps.

Let the Right One In: Can Horror Work Onstage?

Flavorwire: Throughout the National Theatre of Scotland’s Let the Right One In, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and Tomas Alfredson‘s film, audiences are subjected to a parade of lyrically gruesome images: a man tied upside-down to a tree, his throat perfunctorily slit and drained into a bucket; another man literally self-effacing with acid; a diminutive teenage girl in a candy-pink sweater whose mouth brims with vomit when she actually tries to eat candy, and whose face cascades with blood every time she enters a home uninvited. All of this stirs a reverent, rapt silence in the audience. This is not the type of play where spectators listlessly turn to their programs mid-show, pretending that looking up the catering credits will somehow enhance their experience.

L.A. Actors Divided Over Minimum Wage Plan

Backstage: Film and television actors are lining up with intimate theater producers against Equity’s minimum wage proposal for L.A. performers.

Tim Robbins, Noah Wyle, Frances Fisher and Alfred Molina are just some of the prominent actors calling for local members of Actors’ Equity Association to vote no in the union’s upcoming 99-seat plan referendum.

Stage review: 'For the Tree to Drop' looks at brutality physical and otherwise

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: On the one hand, this new play by Lissa Brennan is an artful reworking of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” the classic rebellion of the individual against state power. On the other, it’s close to a melodrama of American slavery, with a sadistic plantation owner (complete with oppressed, neurotic wife), in conflict with heroic black resistance.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Exhibit and shows are bringing Elvis back to the former Hilton

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Proclaiming “Elvis is as much a part of this building as these walls are,” Westgate Resorts chief executive David Siegel on Thursday launched a partnership with the keepers of Graceland to bring an Elvis Presley exhibit and themed shows to Westgate Las Vegas.

The first permanent exhibit outside of Presley’s Memphis homestead will occupy 28,000 square feet of exhibit space in the convention area of the former Las Vegas Hilton, where Presley performed from 1969 through 1976.

What Is the Future for Modern-Dance Companies?

The New Yorker: For six decades, the Paul Taylor Dance Company has been just that—a company devoted to the creative outpourings of one man. And that was enough, both for Mr. Taylor and for the dancers. He’s prolific and disciplined. To date, he has made a hundred and forty-two dances, usually at a pace of two per year. Some are better than others, but he never runs out of ideas or the desire to get out of bed and head to the studio. (This, at the age of eighty-four.) And the company has achieved a high level of success; since 2012, it has presented yearly seasons at Lincoln Center, an anomaly in the cash-strapped world of modern dance. Only Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre can say the same.

Donyale Werle to Present at USITT 2015

Stage Directions: Brooklyn-based scene designer Donyale Werle, a pioneer and driving force in "green" design practices, will present a session on sustainable set design and give the inaugural College Green Captain Prize from the Broadway Green

Louisiana Tax Incentives at Risk?

Backstage: Hollywood South might be losing some of its luster. Louisiana lawmakers are considering pulling back on the state’s tax credit incentives that have encouraged television shows like “True Detective,” “The Walking Dead,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” and Oscar-winning movies “Dallas Buyers Club,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “Django Unchained” to film everywhere from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Synetic's 50's biker musical Much Ado About Nothing

DC Theatre Scene: Remember Eisenstaedt’s iconic victory photo, “The Kiss”? Taken in 1945, a sailor in white cap kisses a girl in white, a nurse, as she bends over backwards like a hairpin. You see the image in a flash as staged by two actors in the midst of Synetic’s frenetic opening scene. It’s a brilliant bit because it places us in a celebratory era– post WWII.

Unidentified: Lingering mysteries in the Theater Collection

mcnyblog: Since fall of 2013, the City Museum has been involved in a large scale digitization project to digitally capture and describe over 30,000 images of theatrical production. It gives me great pleasure and supreme pride to announce we now have over 15,000 images freely available to view on the Museum’s Collections Portal. Cue streamers, balloons, fireworks, and all other celebratory ephemera.

How Your Failed Project Made You a Better Maker

Make:: Projects that fail are rarely published — but they teach valuable lessons that often lead to success. If you’ve spent much time designing and building projects, you know this well. I certainly do. Some of my failed projects made a major impact on my career in electronics and science.

Madonna Falls at Brit Awards: Watch Video

Variety: Madonna took a nasty spill during her performance at the Brit Awards on Wednesday night.

The 56 year-old pop star fell nearly 10 feet off the stage after one of her dancers pulled her cape from behind, but it failed to unbutton off her neck, sending her plummeting to the ground.

Watch Actresses Read Ridiculously Sexist Casting Calls Out Loud

Flavorwire: This fall, we wrote about Some Lady Parts, a new Tumblr that was devoted to airing and posting many of the most absurdly sexist casting calls to be found in the acting world.

Since then, the site has become even more popular. Recently, its creators collaborated with Upworthy on a video in which aspiring thespians talked honestly about how these damaging casting calls hurt their self-esteem and their sense of themselves in the industry. “We just want to play human beings, rather than bodies,” one said.

A Peek Inside Warner Bros' Prop Vault

Tested: If you can forgive the campy presentation, CNN's tour of the Warner Bros. prop archive is pretty neat. I've seen plenty of videos of the props and costumes on display at the Warner Bros. studio tour in Hollywood, but this warehouse of wardrobe and vehicles from films like Gravity, The Dark Knight, and Harry Potter is like the propmaker's version of Raiders of the Lost Ark's Hanger 51.

Guest Post: How to Hire a Woman Director

Women and Hollywood: At the Oscars on Sunday night, Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette used her moment in the spotlight to speak out on the issue of gender inequity. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!” she said. Though she was not speaking directly about wage equality and equal rights for women directors of film and television, Ms. Arquette’s points are as applicable to the entertainment industry itself as they are to broader American labor issues.

Three plays to make their Pittsburgh debuts at City Theatre next season

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: City Theatre has announced three Pittsburgh-premiere works for its upcoming 41st season, plus an Easter edition of Maripat Donovan’s Sister series. The remaining three shows for 2015-16 will be announced in April.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” clusterf***: A very brief history

Salon.com: 2013’s catchy song of summer “Blurred Lines” has been at the center of a fraught legal battle in recent months, with Marvin Gaye’s children alleging that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams plagiarized the song from Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up.” The trial finally kicked off yesterday, with Thicke and Williams arriving in an L.A. federal courtroom to defend their creation. Here’s a look at some of the major developments that brought us to where we are today

The Phantom of the Opera at PNC Broadway Across America

Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh City Paper: And so The Phantom of the Opera has had a facelift. The show is only 26 years old — still running on Broadway, basically unaltered since 1988 — but producer Cameron Macintosh decided to restage and reconceive the touring blockbuster, determined to make it "bigger and better."

Bigger? Not really.

Better? Some might agree.

The Future Of Zoos Is Being Nice To The Animals--Not Making It Easy To Watch Them

Co.Exist | ideas + impact: For a decade, Winky and Wanda were the Detroit Zoo’s only Asian elephants. In the summer months they would kick around in the dirt of their limited outdoor enclosure. During Detroit’s long winters, they were confined indoors, their soft feet rarely leaving the hard concrete.

A Red Face in the Crowd: Identities of a Native American Two-Spirit Writer

HowlRound: I often hear: Where are the NDN (a slang word used by Native American/First Nations/Indigenous people as a way to identify themselves) actors and writers? Where are the Trans* and gender queer actors and writers? In doing your equity, diversity, and inclusion work, you will find that there is both a strong pool of Native American/First Nations/NDN people who are theatremakers on Turtle Island, as well as a significant source of Trans* gender/gender variant theatre artists. Hey folks, here I am.

Broadway's 'Beautiful' and 'Gentleman's Guide' are headed to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: A packed Byham Theater got a glittery peek at the award-winning new musicals and revamped revivals announced Wednesday night as part of the 2015-16 PNC Broadway Across America - Pittsburgh season.

The season opens with two of Broadway’s best and brightest -- arriving Oct. 27 is “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical,” about the life and loves of the great singer-songwriter. Next up, on Nov. 17, is the Tony-winning best musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” adapted from the 1949 crime comedy “Kind Hearts and Coronets.”

ArcAttack will rock you, just not literally shock you

TribLIVE: With the drama and intensity of a rock concert taking place in the middle of an electrical storm, the ArcAttack: Tesla Coil Music show will feature live rock music and flashing bolts of electricity that shoot from two giant Tesla coils to strike a guitarist wearing a chainmail suit.

The all-ages show is slated for Feb. 28 at the Hillman Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel.

'Ghosts' an anomaly for Off the Wall productions

TribLIVE: Since it began in 2007, Off The Wall Productions has staged dozens of contemporary plays. But the Carnegie-based theater company has never done a classic.

True, last December it produced “Or,” about Restoration-era London poet, spy and professional playwright Aphra Behn.

'Beautiful,' 'Gentleman's Guide' to lead Pittsburgh Broadway series

TribLIVE: With a fistful of current or recent Broadway titles and a pair of family-friendly classics on the schedule, Paul Organisak says the 2015-16 PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh series offers the best of what's available on or beyond Broadway.

Glass, Monica Bill Barnes Company combine for unlikely show at Byham

TribLIVE: There's nothing predictable about bringing opposites together.

Ira Glass, the longtime radio host of “This American Life,” says dance and radio “have no business being together.” One is visual without talk, the other — talk without visuals.

Yet, that's what he and two dancers have done in a show that has been winning rave reviews.

The 25 Best Companies For Interns

Fast Company | Business + Innovation: You won’t see interns at any of these 25 companies fetching coffee, doing data entry, or providing mind-numbing support work. The top internship programs in America in 2015 instead provide eager students and recent graduates real-world experience alongside talented coworkers and superiors.

Arduino v. Arduino

Hackaday: Arduino LLC is suing Arduino Srl (the Italian version of an LLC). Sounds confusing? It gets juicier. What follows is a summary of the situation as we learned it from this article at MakeMagazin.de (google translatrix)

Attack Theatre co-founders Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope return to the stage

Dance + Live Performance | Pittsburgh City Paper: For most people, turning 20 is a minor milestone. But for dance companies, whose ages are measured in something more like dog years, it's a pretty big deal. Attack Theatre's co-founders, Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope, say their company's 20th anniversary was the perfect excuse to get the old gang back together on stage. That's something de la Reza, Kope and music director Dave Eggar haven't done in more than two years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bob Barnhart On Lighting The Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show

Super Bowl XLIX 2015 Halftime Show content from Live Design: “We start long before the artist is picked, as the NFL wants information about lighting positions, which we deal with in the summer, and the artist is usually picked in the fall,” explains Bob Barnhart, lighting designer from Full Flood in Los Angeles, who lit the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show on February 1, 2015.

Q+A: Baz Halpin On The Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show

Super Bowl XLIX 2015 Halftime Show content from Live Design: We caught up with Baz Halpin, creative director for Katy Perry, after the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show, to discuss the process for the 12-minute extravaganza with Katy Perry. Also, check out our interviews with production designer Bruce Rodgers and lighting designer Bob Barnhart.

Q+A: Bruce Rodgers On The Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show

Super Bowl XLIX 2015 Halftime Show content from Live Design: We caught up with Bruce Rodgers of Tribe Inc., production designer for the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show, the week after the game to hear all about the process for designing the 12-minute extravaganza with Katy Perry. Also, check out Rodgers' renderings.

The Wiz at Carnegie Mellon Drama

Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh City Paper: With that in mind, Cousin has cast knock-out performers who fling these numbers into the rafters. Dorothy is double-cast and, on the night I saw it, Annie Yokom sang with a powerfully rich and expressive voice. Philippe Arroyo, Harron Atkins and Jean G. Floradin get individual chances to shine as Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion, and land their numbers like consummate professionals. Veladya Chapman and Joell Weil, as bad and good witch respectively, are terrific singers and play their comedy scenes with tremendous humor. And Erron Crawford, as The Wiz, is huge fun when he's "preachifying" to his subjects.

If Zero's the Goal, Does How We Get There Matter?

Occupational Health & Safety: While we all want the result of zero injuries, the approaches we take to get there, including our stated and measured goals and supporting initiatives, sometimes end up making our efforts more confusing and problematic. Zero injury goals are often more fodder for company posters and financial and vision statements than real, meaningful direction for an organization.

New Off Broadway Plays From Melissa James Gibson and Joshua Harmon

NYTimes.com: The British are coming! The British are coming! Yawn.

Season in and season out, a steady tide of London imports swamps Broadway, and the haul is as heavy as ever this spring. It’s Off Broadway where new American playwriting flourishes. And no, while that’s not breaking news either, I can confirm that this spring’s lineup boasts an unusually promising slate of shows from writers whose work I’ve admired in the past. For theatergoers more interested in new currents than the trials of British royals, here’s my version of a cheat sheet suggesting where your dollars might be profitably spent.

Battle Tested

Stage Directions: In June of 2013, during the climatic battle scene of KÁ at the MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas—where performers are suspended on wires far above the ground in front of a vertical wall representing a bird’s eye view of the battle—Cirque acrobat/aerialist Sarah Guillot-Guyard suddenly plunged 94 feet to the ground. She died from injuries sustained in the fall.

In December of 2014, Calum Pearson, vice president of the resident shows division of Cirque du Soleil, held a press conference giving a full accounting of what happened technically to lead to the incident, and announced that the show would be re-integrating the battle sequence. Shortly after that conference he sat down with SD to discuss what happened, emotionally and technically, to lead to that decision.

Cupid’s Arrows Wound in ‘Wolf Hall,’ ‘Skylight,’ ‘An Octoroon’ and ‘Big Love’

NYTimes.com: The lyricist Lorenz Hart, a star-struck cynic on the subject of human coupling, regularly itemized the painful symptoms that accompany affairs of the heart, like “the sleepless nights, the daily fights/The quick toboggan when you reach the heights.” And as most of us can testify, love isn’t easy under the best of circumstances.

Math & Humanity

Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University: Manil Suri (S'80, '83) and Michele Osherow (DC'88) didn't expect that their academic careers would lead to them performing around the country.

Suri, a math professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Osherow, an associate professor of English at UMBC, co-wrote "The Mathematics of Being Human," a play that embodies the experience they had co-teaching a course on math and literature.

High-Spirited Comedies Rush the Stage

NYTimes.com: To get the gist of the comedy in the coming Broadway musical “Something Rotten!,” about a playwright competing against Shakespeare in 1595 London, consider this exchange between two characters who happen to be named Shylock and Nostradamus about the most avid theatergoers of the Elizabethan era.

“These are salt-of-the-earth people, they’ve worked hard all week, they don’t want metaphors,” Shylock says. “They want good old-fashioned frivolous entertainment.”

Actors Equity Proposal to Pay Actors Roils Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Producers

The Hollywood Reporter: A proposal by Actors Equity that actors in 99 seat theatre productions in Los Angeles be paid for their work is stirring controversy among producers – and even among Equity members. The seemingly modest requirement – that actors be paid at least the legal minimum wage for rehearsals and performances – generated almost uniform expressions of rage and contempt at an overflow meeting of producers Saturday.

‘Kaboom!'

NYTimes.com: This Op-Doc video takes a look at Rich and Dee Gibson, a quirky couple who have built a career out of doing what they love: playing with fire.

As the owners of Rich’s Incredible Pyro, the couple spent more than 30 years traveling around the world planning explosions for air shows, before they semiretired in 2013.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bring Your Own

Butts In the Seats: I wasn’t aware until recently that airlines have started to strip all the video equipment from their planes and have begun requiring people to bring their own personal devices and headphones in order to enjoy some form of entertainment during a flight.

Passengers on United can tap into the Wifi for a price if they want to go online or into the onboard entertainment system signal for free.

Building Better Buildings for the Arts

The Clyde Fitch Report: In 2007, some very bright people at the University of Chicago decided to examine the recent cultural building boom, looking at the motivations, extent and impacts of the recent and massive wave of performing arts center, theater and museum building projects. The goal of the study was to establish a research base for anyone considering the development (or redevelopment) of cultural facilities. The effort came to be known by the name of its final report: Set in Stone: Building America’s New Generation of Arts Facilities, 1994-2008.

Snowy day can't stop 'Beautiful — The Carole King Musical' tryouts

TribLIVE: The theatrical rule that the show must go on also applies to auditions.

On Feb. 21, despite snow-covered sidewalks and icy highways, more than 70 hopeful performers and one determined casting director turned up at the Benedum Center rehearsal studios where auditions were scheduled for “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical.”

Check Out How One Of Birdman's Ridiculously Long Shots Was Made

Co.Design | business + design: Director Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman deserves the high praise it has received from critics, and not just for its brilliant writing; hyper-meta deconstruction of fame and self-perception; and excellent acting by its stars. Famously, Birdman was filmed to look like one continuous shot.

Building the Future with Gaming and Participatory Theater

Extended Play: Ian Daniel, Editor of Extended Play, recently attended César Alvarez’s new participatory musical set in outer space, “The Universe is a Small Hat,” at Babycastles Gallery in NYC. The show is set in the year 2114, when artificial intelligence, humanoid robots and Martian colonies are all real things. In this futuristic world, a group of humans leaves Earth to establish an entirely new society in space. The audience plays the colonists, and their choices shape the development of the new world.

“For the Tree to Drop” at PICT Classic Theatre

The Pittsburgh Tatler: Henry (Justin Lonesome), a slave who has attempted to escape to freedom one too many times, is dead, hanged from a tree by Edgar (David Whalen), the plantation owner who claims him as his property. Henry’s sister, Estella (Siovhan Christensen), keeps vigil under that tree, doing what she can to provide his body dignity in death. Upon this Antigone-inspired premise, Lissa Brennan’s new play For the Tree to Drop builds an existentialist drama that explores the webs of power in which antebellum slaves (and their owners) were caught.

Can Theater Save the Planet?

Extended Play: In 2010, theater artist Cynthia Hopkins joined an arctic expedition as a project of Cape Farewell, a UK-based international not-for-profit program that brings together artists and scientists to stimulate cultural dialogue around climate change. From her experiences sailing through frigid seas around the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, Hopkins created “This Clement World,” a musical performance piece that layers tropes of investigative theater with invented time travelers, ghosts, and choral folk opera. “This Clement World” premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2013.

Heavy-Hitting ‘Hammer Trilogy’ Envisioned as an American King Arthur Myth

AMERICAN THEATRE: For those who grew up on a steady diet of The Lord of the Rings, King Arthur and Superman, The Hammer Trilogy—currently playing at the House Theatre through May 3—may be treading familiar territory. Boy grows up poor. Boy discovers that he is the son of a king. Boy must lift a hammer that can be held high only by the true king.

Okay, so there may be some Thor in there, too, though director and cowriter Nathan Allen doesn’t see much difference between classical theatre and superheroes. “It’s just Greek theatre with capes instead of togas,” Allen figures.

Fleet Angle: What’s That?

Your Performance Partners: If you work with rigging regularly but you’re not an installer, you may not know exactly what the fleet angle is, or why it’s important.

It’s a good piece of information to have in your back pocket when you are adjusting or inspecting your rigging, or if you have the opportunity to buy a new rigging system. If you notice an excessive fleet angle, it could be a clue that something is wrong with your mounting or machinery.

Projection Mapping Revives the Greek God Apollo

The Creators Project: He'll always be the ancient god of music, poetry, and prophesy, but that doesn't mean Apollo couldn't use a 21st century update. While only a select few still worship the classical pantheon, Greek deities still rear their heads from time to time in new artworks, not the least of which is this sculpture, brought to uncanny life with Omote-like facial projection mapping.

The Murder of the Creative Class

The Clyde Fitch Report: I just finished reading Scott Timberg’s new book Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class. You should read it, too, but only if you are ready to use it as a starting point for your own thoughts and experiments in devising a new arts ecosystem; on the other hand, if you are deeply committed to the Cinderella myth of the arts, this book will likely send you into a funk of epic proportions. Reality will do that.

A 'SWARM' of LEDs Immerses a Dancer in Light

The Creators Project: Over 2,000 delicate LEDs fill the Olympus Photography Playground in artist collective Neon Golden’s SWARM, the lights' soft, electric emissions buzzing through the 850-cubed-foot space in Vienna. Engineered with a combination of Arduino, Cinema 4D, Raspberry Pi, and Processing, the audiovisual installation reacts to movement, placing its visitors inside a colorful, carefully coded 3D environment.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Belles of Broadway

OnStage: It’s been twenty-one years since Beauty & the Beast opened on Broadway thus creating the mammoth that is Disney Theatrical Group. If you doubt their impact on Broadway, then you weren’t walking around Times Square and 8th Ave before they came along. Since 1994, three of their productions are ranked in the top ten highest grossing musicals of all time, won ten Tony Awards and have been performed by schools all over the world, every school year.

20 Online and App Resources to Help You Boost and Improve Productivity

www.lifehack.org: You probably have a smartphone in your hand, or really close by, and somewhere near, your email client is open. You are constantly on the lookout for the newest email, tweet, like, invite or any other kind of notification that can give you the latest info on your current project. Being this busy comes with its own drawbacks, as it can be pretty tiresome which all can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

CGSociety: The Grand Budapest Hotel is the fifth film LOOK Effects has worked on with acclaimed Director, Wes Anderson and the first produced principally out of their recently established Stuttgart facility.



Featuring Ralph Fiennes as the concierge of an opulent European hotel involved in the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, The Grand Budapest Hotel also stars Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton. Fox Searchlight Pictures released the film in the US on March 7th 2014 and it will screen in European theatres from February through March. Principal photography took place in Germany.

For Oscars 2015, Dolby Theatre gets a tech upgrade

CBS News: When viewers tune into the Academy Awards Sunday, they can be forgiven for thinking the swelling music is coming from an orchestra hidden somewhere inside the 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre. The truth is a little less glamorous - they are a mile away, playing live at Capitol Records.

The sound is then piped through fiber optic cables back to the theater - in only 2.7 milliseconds.

Pivotal Moments in Broadway's Black History

Playbill.com: In honor of Black History Month, Playbill.com offers a look at important moments and works with regard to African Americans in the history of theatre.

INTERSTELLAR Produces Its First Scientific Paper

Nerdist: Late last year, Interstellar blew our minds with stunning visuals and the latest entry in the McConaissance. It also promised that much of the science in the film would be based firmly in reality. Today, Christopher Nolan and science adviser Kip Thorne have made good on that promise.

Rebates, Local Support Build Northland's Budding Film Scene

WDIO.com: Far from any Hollywood studio or Oscar night red carpet, local film enthusiasts are trying to put the Northland on the map.

A Oscar-viewing party Sunday night in Duluth brought together those who appreciate cinema and those who create it locally.

"The film community in Duluth is sort of budding right now, " local film maker Caitlin Nielson said. "I think we're going to see it growing a lot especially in the next few years."

Equity Vs. L.A. 99-Seat Theatre, the Final Showdown

AMERICAN THEATRE: I feel like I’m witnessing a divorce between two old friends—one of whom I know all too well, as I’ve spent many days and especially late nights in his company, the other of whom I respect and am glad to know, even at arm’s length. Oh, sure, I’ve heard the first party complain about his persnickety partner over the years—about how she just doesn’t get what he does and resents his perennially empty pockets. And much as I love him, I’ve always had the sense that she has her reasons for discontent, too; my homeboy has his share of flaws, as even he would admit in his clearer-headed moments.

Cosmic Zooms and The Theory of Everything

Cosmic Zoom by Eva Szasz, National Film Board of Canada

Cinefex Blog: So said the renowned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Mine – a presentation he delivered via video at the University of Cambridge in 2012 during a symposium held to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Hawking’s remarkable story is dramatised in the Working Title production of The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh. Visual effects for the BAFTA-nominated biopic were provided by Union VFX, including a two-minute end title sequence that imagines a trip not only through deep space and a black hole, but also into the depths of the human nervous system.

Olympic Feat

Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University: The International Olympic Committee recently launched a new "invitation phase" to work with potential 2024 contenders ahead of the Sept. 15 deadline for formal submission of bids.

Boston, Paris and Rome have already thrown their hats into the ring to serve as host cities. More are expected to follow.

Rodeo helps Birdman soar with invisible fx

fxguide: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) playing a Hollywood actor past his prime - once famous for the superhero Birdman but now trying to kickstart his career as a Broadway producer and thespian. The film is presented in one seemingly long continuous take, thanks to the efforts of Gravity cinematographer Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki, who also helps illuminate Riggan’s complex relationship with his alter ego during several hallucinatory events.

The Game of Life

Carnegie Mellon News - Carnegie Mellon University: Rachel Franklin (S'91) merged lifelong loves of math and film in her job at Electronic Arts (EA).

Franklin produces video games as the executive producer of "The Sims 4." She weaves big data into improving players' experiences, capturing real-time feedback to improve on these virtual worlds.

Pics from CMU Drama