CMU School of Drama

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Niagara Falls Lighting Episode

The Podcast at Delphi.org: The decision to upgrade the lighting that illuminates Niagara Falls seems as though it should be the main story but, it’s not. The part of the project we are interested in is the one where the Niagara Falls Illumination Board (NFI) added a requirement to build a more flexible color illumination scheme to replace the old guillotine color-changing scheme that had been in place since 1974. The guillotine color-changing synchro-server mechanical system was to be replaced by a digital color control system and the twenty-one 4000w Xenon lights were to be replaced by 1400 digital-friendly nine-light LED modules in which the LED’s would be multi-color rather than having to place a filter in front of the white light of the Xenons. The LED system of lights would be software controlled from a 22-inch touch screen from over a 2000 foot distance from the falls.

Fueled by Fury: Finding the Language to Fix Us

HowlRound: The notion that I would write a play in which someone discovers the solution to climate change was never the point of Two Degrees (though I believe that climate change is a fixable, solvable problem). After all, there is no silver bullet, no singular, magical solution for this issue.

More to the point, how to fix climate change wasn’t really the question. To fix climate change, we have to move people from inaction to action, from doubt to conviction. Finding the language and the arguments to do this is clearly important, but in order to do that we have to ask the more important question: How do we fix us?

"Untangled": Gender-focused Comedy Brings Realities of Egyptian Youth to Stage

The Theatre Times: The play Untangled (Hal El-Dafayer) was staged at Cairo’s Hosapeer Theatre last week, where a full house roared continuously with laughter at a comedy tackling social issues among youth.

The play is directed by Mohamed Fouad Abdeen, who co-wrote it with Sally Zohney, and performed by Wojood theatre troupe. The 8 and 9 April stagings came five months after the play’s premiere at Hosapeer in November 2016.

How to Use PivotTables to Analyze Your Excel Data

business.tutsplus.com: The problem we all face is that we have mountains of data and need a way to digest it. We're all looking for a way to make sense out of large sets of data and find out what the data indicates about the situation at hand.

Excel's PivotTable feature is a drag and drop analysis tool. Point Excel to tables of data in your spreadsheet, and slice your data until you find an answer to your question. Most importantly, it's an easy-to-use tool right inside of Excel where your data might already live.

"Consent": A New Play About a Rape Case That Makes Audiences the Jury

The Theatre Times: In the airy sitting room of a nice house, a group of friends are catching up over a glass of wine. “So what have you been up to lately?” says one. “Me? Oh I’ve been raping pensioners,” replies another.

This is Consent, a white-hot new play by Nina Raine, which opened to critics at the National Theatre on Tuesday 4 April. Its subjects are not, as the above conversation might suggest, psychopathically hardened criminals, but barristers. Raine discovered their peculiarly offhand way of speaking over the course of a research lunch in an “unglamorous, threadbare” courthouse canteen.

Pittsburgh CLO festival fosters next generation of small musicals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh CLO held a sneak peek of a new music festival that will bloom in Pittsburgh next spring, with the emphasis on small-scale shows and nurturing the next generation of writers.

The festival is part of a $10 million capital campaign that is 95 percent complete, with 35 percent coming from board members. The campaign includes $5 million for new works development, with $3 million specifically for the festival. More than 100 local and national artists will converge here March 26-April 8, 2018, providing an attraction for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, which will hold its 2018 spring conference April 4-6 in Pittsburgh.

Award-winning play 'Absence' delves into dementia

TribLIVE: Alzheimer's disease or dementia affects a patient's loved ones and makes it harder to assess what's going on inside the patient.

Newhaven Court at Lindwood in Hempfield will explore that heartbreaking issue by presenting the play “Absence” on April 26 at Greensburg's Palace Theatre.

Creating Cinema in the Round

fxguide: All special venue films have their own challenges, requiring filmmakers to not only be technically inventive but often at times reinvent their very language of film for a new storytelling environment. While one can research such projects extensively, these one off specialist theatres pose a real challenge and a need to remain focused on providing an engaging story in the midst of complex one off technology. One such highly successful project just opened in Sydney.

“Wild With Happy” at City Theatre

The Pittsburgh Tatler: Wild With Happy is a seriously funny play. I mean that quite literally: what else could it be, given that it’s a comedy about a man grieving the death of his mother?

For the most part, that counterintuitive combination of the serious and the funny works quite well, thanks mainly to the work’s playful structure and its ostentatious and outrageous characters.

Lower Stage Volumes Mean Better Shows

UE Tips and Tricks: Lower stage volumes equal better shows for everyone. And lower volumes mean happier ears for you in the long-run. In this day and age There is no reason that any musician should suffer from hearing damage because of loud stage monitor volumes. I have worked with many legacy artists that just can’t do what they used to because of hearing loss from high stage volume.

Turning the NFL draft into grand theater, with Philadelphia as the stage

www.philly.com: "Standing on those steps and seeing that this is such a heroic moment, this is a culmination for these [draft picks], we set out on, 'Could we create a theater? Could we build a theater here?' " said Peter O'Reilly, the NFL's senior vice president of events.

"We know it's going to be complicated. We know it's going to be audacious. But this is what we have to do, and the Parkway itself was natural. It's a home to so many iconic events over the years."

Why Decolonization Means The Possible End Of Shakespeare In South Africa's Schools

The Theatre Times: South Africa’s education authorities are reviewing the school curriculum. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has confirmed that the review will feature a focus on “decolonization,” reflecting the need to move towards the use of more African and South African novels, drama, and poetry. This might spell the end of William Shakespeare in the country’s classrooms. The Conversation Africa’s education editor Natasha Joseph asked Professor Chris Thurman about the implications of the proposed review.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

NFTRW Weekly Top Five

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

Down With 8 A.M. Classes: Undergrads Learn Better Later In The Day, Study Finds

NPR Ed : NPR: Mariah Evans, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, began to notice a trend in her morning classes: Her students were falling asleep.

While this would make most feel discouraged in their teaching abilities or agitated over their students' idleness, Evans instead was curious. Was there more to this than just laziness?

This Makeup Artist Can Transform Her Face Into a Glitch in the Matrix

TwistedSifter: Mimi Choi (@mimles) is a makeup and visual artist from Vancouver, Canada that has built a huge following online for her incredible makeup transformations.

When You’re a Stage Hand and It Snows 2-4 Inches Onstage Every Night

Playbill: John Snow has been working as a stage hand at Lincoln Center Theater for five years, during which he’s taken on a variety of roles backstage, above the stage, and even under the stage—he helped push the gigantic boat in the recent Broadway revival of The King and I. He’s now on staff at the Mitzi E. Newhouse theatre, where he took some time to chat to Playbill about his latest gig: Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, a play about monogamy, middle age, and the breadth of our desires.

Unseen workers make stage magic happen

www.postcrescent.com: There is a world in entertainment many never get a chance to see. Behind the performers and scenery are hardworking people that are integral to providing us with a quality show, often invisible to those in the audience. Everything from makeup, costumes, hair, sound, sets and lights, stagehands make the magic happen.

‘Hamilton’: Hype or $100,000 value?

Storia.me: It’s no secret that “Hamilton: The Musical” has taken the country by storm. With its catchy, upbeat anthems and vivid scenes portraying the struggles of one of our founding fathers, the play resembles a history book that comes to life and takes a contemporary, urban approaches to Alexander Hamilton’s character.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Unseen workers make stage magic happen

www.postcrescent.com: There is a world in entertainment many never get a chance to see. Behind the performers and scenery are hardworking people that are integral to providing us with a quality show, often invisible to those in the audience. Everything from makeup, costumes, hair, sound, sets and lights, stagehands make the magic happen.

The Journey Towards Becoming A Professional

ProSoundWeb: Here we go again. One more attempt to make life easier for the younger crowd moving into the world of audio production.

For this little foray, I need to focus on a few concepts that separate the true professional from the lowly amateur.

On my desktop is a quote: “There are no rules, except accuracy.” It’s taken from a copywriting training guide I found several years ago and refers to the most important aspect of reporting and writing.

Creative industries as vital as oil and gas, says arts pressure group

News | The Stage: The government should recognise that the creative industries are as important to the economy as cars, oil and gas, the Creative Industries Federation has demanded.

It is one of several recommendations in the pressure group's Blueprint for UK Economic Growth, which has been submitted to the government as part of a green paper consultation for a new industrial strategy.

A Pioneering Pilot, a Broadway Show and a Life-Changing Bond

The New York Times: She was a girl who dreamed of flying. A woman who broke barriers in commercial aviation. And then a pilot ordered to divert a trans-Atlantic jet to Gander, Newfoundland, during the unfolding terror of Sept. 11, 2001.

Beverley Bass had an unusual story to tell when a pair of dramatists started researching the encounter between stranded air travelers and small-town Canadians in those days after the attacks. And now she has another unusual story, as she stares over and over again into a heart-tugging piece of musical theater, and sees her own life mirrored back.

When You’re a Stage Hand and It Snows 2-4 Inches Onstage Every Night

Playbill: John Snow has been working as a stage hand at Lincoln Center Theater for five years, during which he’s taken on a variety of roles backstage, above the stage, and even under the stage—he helped push the gigantic boat in the recent Broadway revival of The King and I. He’s now on staff at the Mitzi E. Newhouse theatre, where he took some time to chat to Playbill about his latest gig: Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, a play about monogamy, middle age, and the breadth of our desires.

Injured but Determined, Andy Karl Opens ‘Groundhog Day’

The New York Times: He wore a large black brace around his left knee. He limped a bit through the second act, and he skipped a few moves.

But on Monday night, the actor Andy Karl triumphantly pulled off the kind of performance Broadway loves to celebrate: In a poignant demonstration of the show-must-go-on ethic, he led the opening night production of “Groundhog Day” just 72 hours after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in full view of the audience at a Friday night preview.

Stage preview: 'Good Wife's' Zach Grenier tackles Willy Loman for Pittsburgh Public Theater

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Zach Grenier is so eager to share how he wound up in Pittsburgh, he begins to answer with the word “How ...” barely hanging in the air. The star of “The Good Wife,” who played divorce lawyer David Lee for seven seasons, is sitting in a conference room — his usual habitat on the CBS series, now in the O’Reilly Theater — and talking about playing Willy Loman for Pittsburgh Public Theater’s “Death of a Salesman.”

How Six Degrees Became a Forever Meme

The New York Times: “Six Degrees of Separation” — John Guare’s play about a wealthy Manhattan couple whose lives are upended by a con artist claiming to be Sidney Poitier’s son — was the toast of the town when it had its premiere in 1990. A mere six months later, Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times that “its title has passed into the language.”

Chromolume Design | Sunday In The Park With George Broadway Revival

www.livedesignonline.com: A week before Christmas, we were contacted to see if we could join the production of Sunday In The Park With George, which was scheduled to begin previews in less than two months. The opportunity to work on such a brilliant show with a great creative team at the opening of the newly restored Hudson Theatre was too good to pass up. Recent productions have been known to feature masterful projection designs. So it was clear that our challenge was to “bring order to the whole” and create a unique approach to both the world of 19th-century George Seurat and his contemporary—well, 1980s—grandson George: the inventor of the Chromolume.

Top 5 Love Languages For Church Techs

ChurchProduction.com: If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you have no doubt heard about Love Languages. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book about these five ways we express love for each other back in the ‘80s I think. In case you are unfamiliar, the love languages are; Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. The idea is that we all have a primary love language by which we most effectively receive love. For example, a husband may receive love when he is given a gift; his wife may receive love through spending quality time with her husband.

Obscura Digital Projection Mapping | Empire State Building

www.livedesignonline.com: If you are in New York City, tonight—April 19, 2017—this is the night to find a place with a great view of the Empire State Building. Much as they did in projecting images of animals threatened with extinction in August of 2015, Obscura Digital will once again create skyscraper-size images, in the neighborhood of 500’ tall x 186’ wide, draping over 42 floors of this iconic New York City landmark from 8:30pm to midnight. The images are created using 66 Christie Digital HD20k J Series 20,000 lumen projectors, with three backups (69 total), projecting from the rooftop of a nearby garage, at an extreme angle of51º angle (going beyond 40º is considered challenging).

Illinois Worship Stage Pops With High-Impact Visual Effects

Church Designer Magazine: The high-impact visual effect that a dozen or so ACL 360 Bars can make in a stage design can sometimes take you by surprise, reports Justin Litterio, lighting designer. That eye-opening effect was exemplified when Litterio turned to Elation’s popular rotating LED color-changing batten for Calvary Church’s recent NXT Breakaway events.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Playwright Interview: Helen Richardson on Ubu in 2017

Breaking Character: 2017 has left many Americans stunned by our nation’s politics, and artistic communities around the country are finding ways to get politically involved on a local level. Today we chat with playwright, professor, and theatre historian Helen Richardson. Richardson is an authority on most things theatrical, and she joins us today to talk about her adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s seminal play, Ubu. For those unfamiliar with this title, Ubu is a political play that heralded the avant-garde movement in theatre. The play has been used as a tool to critique those in power for over a century, and is more topical today than many Americans would like it to be. Whether you have seen a production of Ubu, are looking to stage a piece of political theatre, or just want to brush up on your theatre history, Richardson’s insights (not to mention her play) make for some worthwhile reading.

This Makeup Artist Can Transform Her Face Into a Glitch in the Matrix

TwistedSifter: Mimi Choi (@mimles) is a makeup and visual artist from Vancouver, Canada that has built a huge following online for her incredible makeup transformations.

No fines issued after OSHA investigation into Cirque du Soleil performer’s fall

www.cirquefascination.com: The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found no major safety violations after an investigation into a Cirque du Soleil performer’s fall last year.

Karina Silva Poirier, an aerial silk performer with Cirque at Disney Springs, was seriously injured after falling about 45 feet during a practice session Oct. 20.

'Collaborators' at Pittsburgh's Quantum Theatre

Program Notes: By turns hilarious and sinister, and sometimes both at once, Collaborators is an exceptionally engaging evening of theater. Playwright John Hodge’s satiric drama imagines an almost-plausible 1930s collusion between famed writer Mikhail Bulgakov and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

As history and biography, the play takes us only so far. But it’s a fascinating — and highly entertaining — rumination on the relationship between politics and art and a terrifying exploration of the price of moral compromise.

Paying Attention to Miller's Masterwork at PPT

Pittsburgh in the Round: When Zach Grenier wrapped up his long-running role as David Lee on “The Good Wife,” he pondered what character he’d most like to have a chance to play on stage. Grenier admits that he didn’t think he’d have a shot at Willy Loman, the titular character of Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer and Tony winning Death of a Salesman. After all, how often is that great American tragedy produced?

Potential Writers Strike Increases as Contract Tensions Grow

The Mary Sue: Something very important is happening in Hollywood right now, something that could have huge ramifications for the television and movies you love, and you probably didn’t even know it. No, it’s not the Ant-Man versus Batman Marvel-DC crossover of our dreams, but it does involve some little guys versus some billionaires: it’s the contract talks between the Writers Guild of America and The Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers. Yes, the time has come again for the studios and the creators we all love to renegotiate their contract, and things are going … well, let’s say that the Ant-Man vs Batman fight would look easy compared to this.

‘Hamilton’: Hype or $100,000 value?

Storia.me: It’s no secret that “Hamilton: The Musical” has taken the country by storm. With its catchy, upbeat anthems and vivid scenes portraying the struggles of one of our founding fathers, the play resembles a history book that comes to life and takes a contemporary, urban approaches to Alexander Hamilton’s character.

“New York-caliber actors”: How NYC-centrism hurts regional theater

phindie: I see a lot of theater – my average is 150 shows per year. Many of those shows are in New York, and many are in Philadelphia. In 2016, I also saw professional productions in New Jersey, Delaware, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Williamstown, Mass., to name just a few places. The caliber of acting I found throughout the United States was consistently jaw-dropping, and I can say without reservation that many of the actors who have chosen to make their careers in places like Philly or D.C. or Chicago are every bit the equal of those who work consistently in New York.

Yale School of Drama dean James Bundy

Harvard Magazine: While John Wilkes Booth looks on with something like fatherly pride, Lee Harvey Oswald kneels in the Texas Book Depository and sights the scope of a rifle, right at James Bundy ’81, artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre and dean of the Yale School of Drama (YSD). Bundy’s default expression—genial, watchful—doesn’t change. He’s directing a rehearsal of Assassins, the springproduction of the Yale Rep’s fiftieth anniversary season.

Philadelphia Theatre Company goes semi-dark for 2017-18 season

www.philly.com: The Philadelphia Theatre Company, one of the anchors of the Avenue of the Arts, is going on creative hiatus to reinvent itself.

On Wednesday afternoon, PTC announced it will offer no new self-produced plays for the 2017-18 season, concentrating instead on a series of special events and a thorough revamping, rebooting, and reorganization.

Berlin Startup Holoplot Tests Steerable Sound in German Train Stations

IEEE Spectrum: A Berlin startup named Holoplot has built a premium audio system that it says can send one song or announcement to one corner of a room, and an entirely different message or tune to another area of the same room—without any interference between the two.

This Is a Journey Into Sound: Simon McBurney on ‘The Encounter’

AMERICAN THEATRE: Should you be in a position to ask writer/director/performer Simon McBurney a question, you should be prepared less for the answer than for a tour of the thought process behind it. That’s only fitting, given that McBurney’s work with Complicite, the company he cofounded in 1983, so often uses a mixture of technology and old-fashioned stagecraft to explore the nature of time, consciousness, and memory.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wild With Happy

Pittsburgh in the Round: The situation playwright Colman Domingo presents us with in WILD WITH HAPPY is rather straightforward. Gil, a struggling black actor, has left New York City to deal with the death of his eccentric mother Adelaide.

The show opens with Gil reflecting on being raised by a struggling single mother and the time she took him to church when he was ten to hear Elder Bovane and “Get some Jesus”. He hasn’t been to church since!

DP Sherry McCracken on Cinematography vs Photography, Pre-Visualization and the Growing Ease of Equipment for Female Crew Members

Filmmaker Magazine: In part two of this interview, DP of American Gothic Sherry McCracken discusses moving from photography to cinematography, what she’d do differently, and how lighter cameras make it possible for more women to work as cinematographers.

'Groundhog Day' Is Now A Musical, And Here Are The Songs

NPR: Would you believe this time, Ned Ryerson gets a big ballad about the meaning of life?

The 1993 film Groundhog Day made Ryerson, played by Stephen Tobolowsky, only one of many annoyances that crossed the path of Phil Connors, a dyspeptic weatherman forced to live the same day over and over. Specifically, Phil lives and relives Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Penn., home of the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Now, the movie has been transformed into a Broadway musical of the same name, and yes: Ned gets a story to tell, an emotional arc, and a big, soaring ballad called "Night Will Come." It's ... well, it's about death.

The Three Musketeers at Carnegie Mellon Drama

Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper: I always enjoy seeing that a play has a fight choreographer listed in the credits, especially when the fights involve swordplay. If you do, too, you’ll love Carnegie Mellon School of Drama’s The Three Musketeers, adapted by Megan Monaghan Rivas from the novel by Alexandre Dumas.

This is the final production of CMU’s main-stage season, and it feels like the graduating seniors throw everything they have into it. If you’re gonna go out big, this is the show to do it with.

Down With 8 A.M. Classes: Undergrads Learn Better Later In The Day, Study Finds

NPR Ed : NPR: Mariah Evans, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, began to notice a trend in her morning classes: Her students were falling asleep.

While this would make most feel discouraged in their teaching abilities or agitated over their students' idleness, Evans instead was curious. Was there more to this than just laziness?

Sam Gold Goes Gross With ‘The Glass Menagerie’

Observer: No, they are not blasting for a new subway under the Belasco Theater. The noise you hear is the sound of a mortified Tennessee Williams, turning over in his grave over what pretentious hack director Sam Gold has done to his great memory play, The Glass Menagerie.

The Public Theater Celebrates 60 Years of its Mobile Unit

Stage Directions: From schools to homeless shelters, prisons to community centers, the Public Theater’s Mobile Unit brings Shakespeare to the people, and the people to Shakespeare. The Mobile Unit celebrates the 60th anniversary of its inaugural mobile tour in 1957 which began with a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Joseph Papp with Bryarly Lee and Stephen Joyce in the titular roles. This season, the Mobile Unit celebrates its six decades of igniting dialogue and fostering new connections with a free three-week tour to the five boroughs bringing Shakespeare to audiences who have limited or no access to the arts before the sit-down run at The Public Theater.

6 Regional Theaters Every Nerd Should Visit

Theatre Nerds: Pack your bags and get that road trip playlist ready! Venturing to America’s most acclaimed regional theaters is something every thespian should put on their bucket list — right after belting a showtune next to Patti LuPone, of course. While plenty of states boast renowned performing arts centers, these six pit stops are known for being cultural landmarks within their respective cities

Could Immersive Theater be Merging with With Theme Parks in Disney's Star Wars Land

Theme Park University: I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I think we are on the cusp of it finally happening. Immersive theater, which I believe is the most exciting form of entertainment out there today, may finally have some elements mixed in with Disney’s new Star Wars Land when it opens in 2019. I’ve got a couple of sources to back this up, but let’s start with a video that was released during Star Wars Celebration 2017 in Orlando.

Out Front Theatre faces protests over “Most Fabulous Story”

artsatl.com: As Paul Conroy was piecing together programming for the inaugural season of his Out Front Theatre Company — the company he founded and that is dedicated to telling stories of the LGBT experience — the addition of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, opening April 27, seemed like a no-brainer for his lineup. Written by Paul Rudnick, it’s a celebrated comedy retelling of much of the Old Testament, with Adam and Steve in the Garden of Eden, eventually joined by two lesbian characters, Jane and Mabel.

The History of Broadway Play ‘Indecent’ and Its 20 Year Journey

Variety: Once you get involved in “Indecent,” “Indecent” doesn’t let you go. Just ask its cast and creative team.

The production’s complete ensemble of seven actors (along with two composer-musicians, who also perform) have appeared in four productions over the course of two years. Playwright Paula Vogel has been developing the project for seven. And director Rebecca Taichman has been working on it for two decades.

Hey You, Prestige Television Fan: Here's Why You Should See A New Play

Monkey See : NPR: For a long time, most people's day-to-day exposure to comedy and drama came largely in the form of television. (Film, too, but not for nearly as many hours.) And even the best television was made for broadcast, with the limitations that brings with it. It was designed to appeal to a large, moderately engaged audience that needed to be able to miss an episode or two without completely losing track of the show. That's perhaps why the best words we have to describe good and interesting television are borrowed from other forms. We describe it as "cinematic" or even "literary," because those are the words we have often used to connote art that doesn't need to be for everyone at times when television needed to be.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Adam Savage's Maker Tour: Carnegie Mellon's IDeATe Lab

Tested: In his last Pittsburgh stop, Adam visits Carnegie Mellon University, which offers a minor in making and whose IDeATe network exposes students to multiple approaches to problem solving and cross-campus collaboration.

Pics from CMU Drama