CMU School of Drama

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pedagogy Notebook: Latin@ Theatre for Social Action in the Time of Donald Trump

HowlRound: “Through theatre, people are brought to life. Their hearts are exposed and the audience has access to their hearts, souls, and minds. It is as if these plays unveil the truths behind all the subjugated forces, which have prevented oppressed people to rise higher. Theatre gives voiceless people a place for social reflection and it can create a place for them to finally feel welcomed and acknowledged.”

The above quote is from an undergraduate student in my Latina/o Theater for Social Action course, a new course I taught at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Convocation Sets Stage for a New Beginning Carnegie Mellon University faculty, administrators and upperclassmen welcomed the Class of 2020 at Convocation, and speakers encouraged each one of the first-year students to be themselves and to live with a purpose.

Vaasavi Unnava, CMU's student body president, told students they have arrived at a playground of inspiration and were now part of the same institution that was home to Olympian Nada Arakji, the late Nobel Laureate John Nash and the late Kevlar inventor Stephanie Kwolek.

Unnava asked the Class of 2020 if they want to witness change or choose to create it.

Così Fan Tutte: racial and sexual abuse should shock audiences, not the titillation The new production of Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte’s classic opera Così Fan Tutte has attracted no shortage of controversy. After its premiere in Aix-en-Provence in France in July, the organisers of the Edinburgh International Festival wrote to all ticket holders offering a refund “due to the adult nature of some of the scenes” and its unsuitability for younger audiences.

In a Perfect World: Part Two

Dimmer Beach: Last week I left off talking about how you may have rolled off one gig and headed straight on to another gig. Let’s pick it up right there, shall we?

You are coming home from one gig and your next one is prepping.

Guess what? You should be in the shop to prep.

Kanye West's new tour features an incredible flying stage

Business Insider: Kanye West surprised his fans at the kickoff show of his new "Saint Pablo" tour in Indianapolis on Thursday night by performing on a small stage that was raised 15 feet in the air and swaying above the crowd, according to Rolling Stone.

Fans in attendence were initially shocked to find the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena lacking a stage before the show was scheduled to start.

Manufacturing Ramshackle and Distressing “Fences”

Rosco Spectrum: For Fences at Arizona Theatre Company, Scenic Designer Vicki Smith and Charge Scenic Artist Brigitte Bechtel presented to us an opportunity to help create a set that needed to look grungy, worn and real, with rusting metal, peeling paint on wood, tattered pavers and aged brick.

Why Broadway Needs More Non-Musicals

OnStage: On September 4th, Broadway will undergo a brief period of time, in which there will be only one non-musical that is still running on Broadway. Following the closings of An Act of God and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Humans – the recent winner of the Tony Award for Best Play – will be the only show left on Broadway that is not a musical.

It should be noted that this period will be very brief, as the closings that I refer to will be followed by quite a few other shows opening that same month. So this isn’t to say that this is something we can expect to last for a lengthy amount of time.

A Light in the Dark: Mental Illness & the Arts

OnStage: In recent history, Broadway has accumulated its fair share of shows that deal in the theme of mental illness. From “Next to Normal” to “Dear Evan Hansen”. From “Spring Awakening” to “The Light in the Piazza, the theatre community of late has made mental health a deservedly important priority in their storytelling. Whether it’s Diana Goodman’s struggle with schizophrenic bi-polar depression or the uphill battle with dementia depicted in “The Father”, the theatre community has unquestionably aided in the exploration and normalization the plight of mental illness. In placing characters struggling with these afflictions at the forefront of their storytelling these works have played an indispensable role in humanizing a population and de-stigmatizing their conditions.

Quickly, Tell Me About The Rules For Non-Profits

Arts Hacker: It can be difficult to communicate the different legal regulations that non-profits operate under in order to help people understand what your organization can and can’t do.

Non Profit Law blogger and attorney, Gene Takagi created a Non Profit Law 101 for Journalists which provides a quick summary of the basic regulations under which 501 (c) (3) organizations need to operate.

‘Fargo’ Makeup Artist Keeps Cast Looking Just Right in Cold Climate

Variety: Kennedy is a native of Calgary, the shooting location for both seasons of FX’s episodic spinoff from Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 cult classic film. That might be what allows her to keep smiling while she helps the actors, most from south of the border, try to control their chattering teeth.

“We all do our best to keep people warm,” says Kennedy, whose work on “Fargo” is up for an Emmy for outstanding makeup for a miniseries or movie.

Curtains go up in the yard of August Wilson’s boyhood home

New Pittsburgh Courier: Neither the cool, crisp evening air, the song of 1000 cicadas nor the flittering about of the occasional night flyer diminished the tension outside 1727 Bedford Ave., the childhood home of August Wilson, where the Pittsburgh Playwright Company made history by raising “Seven Guitars.”

By the play start time, the yard became a theatrical house and it was packed. In true August Wilson form, it was a lengthy play that no one seemed to mind as the magic spell created by perfect performances, a live chicken sitting under the fence, and the intermittent wail of a rooster kept the audience wrapped up and tucked in for the night.

Pinewood Studios employs resident therapist to work with cast and crew

Celebrity News | Showbiz | London Evening Standard: A BAFTA award-winning director and writer has opened the first on-set counselling service at Pinewood Studios, where some of Britain’s biggest movies were filmed.

Actors, writers and crew members in need of help will be able to access Paul Henry’s services whether they are there for just weeks working on big projects like Star Wars and other blockbusters or are permanent members of staff.

Friday, August 26, 2016

“Seven Guitars” at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

The Pittsburgh Tatler: Only in Pittsburgh.

Only here could a small, scrappy theater company stage a production of August Wilson’s Seven Guitars in the very setting he had in mind when he wrote the play: the backyard of his childhood home on Bedford Ave. in the Hill district.

That home has sat tragically abandoned and decaying for decades. But rather recently, a local group, spearheaded by Wilson’s nephew Paul Ellis, began rehabilitating it and transforming it into the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, a center for artists and performers.

And, for just one more weekend, it plays a starring role in Mark Clayton Southers’s surehanded interpretation of the play.

What every summer stock theater (and every theater actually) should do.

The Producer's Perspective: There are hundreds of summer theaters across this country if not thousands. They all put up similar fare: Oklahoma!, Hairspray, and a mix of the old classics and the newer fare from the past few Broadway seasons. Their job is not to do new musicals, because, as much as we might like them to, it wouldn’t be good for their business model.

Hands-On the Shaper Origin: A Tool That Changes How We Build

Hackaday: I bet the hand saw really changed some things. One day you’re hacking away at a log with an ax. It’s sweaty, awful work, and the results are never what you’d expect. The next day the clever new apprentice down at the blacksmith’s shop is demoing his beta of his new Saw invention and looking for testers, investors, and a girlfriend. From that day onward the work is never the same again. It’s not an incremental change, it’s a change. Pure and simple.

This is one of those moments. The world of tools is seeing a new change, and I think this is the first of many tools that will change the way we build.

A Behind-the-Scenes Timelapse Captures the Extraordinary Physical Labor for the New Stop Motion Film ‘Kubo and the Two Strings'

Colossal: This fantastic timelapse gives a stunning behind-the-scenes glimpse of animators working on the set of the new stop-motion film Kubo and the Two Strings. The film is the latest movie from animation studio Laika, who previously made Coraline, The Boxtrolls, and ParaNorman, and is the directorial debut of Travis Knight who worked as an animator on all of their previous films. You can watch an even longer version here, and the studio made a similar timelapse for the Boxtrolls.

Timely Theater Recommendation: Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson

Hit & Run : Given the prominence of nationalist populism in this presidential election, the rock opera Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson is an appropriate artistic rendition of that notion. As it happens, my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing the American Shakespeare Center's high-energy production of the musical recently at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia. The show runs through November. We were quite amused by the fact that during the pre-show festivities the actors issued frequent warnings to the audience that the show is filled with f-bombs and other salty language. They weren't lying.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

This Is What Happened When 7 Animators Tried to Make a Video for the Same Song

The Creators Project: Seven different worlds dance to one tune in the 30 Seconds of Sound, a case study documenting the different ways humans think about music. Composer Simon Pyke charged seven young animators to visualize a short composition designed to be an "engaging piece with a feeling of narrative for people to respond to." Each animation is just 30 seconds long, but Pyke—well-practiced at crafting animation-friendly compositions for MTV, his own company Freefarm, and his brother Matt Pyke's group, Universal Everything—weaves a tapestries of moods and tempos for the artists to work with. "I intentionally tried to use sounds which weren't overly prescriptive to leave things open to interpretation," Pyke tells The Creators Project.

A Museum Dedicated to Miniature Architectural Models Opens in Tokyo

Colossal: Earlier this summer, Archi-Depot opened within Tokyo’s Shinagawa district, a warehouse museum dedicated to the storage and display of Japanese architectural models. Created by the company Warehouse TERRADA (previously), the cavernous space houses rows and rows of dramatically-lit miniature designs, many of which serve as the tiny precursors to some of the city’s top attractions such as the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo International Airport, and the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center.

Shaper Origin CNC Machine DIY lovers rejoice, meet the remarkable Shaper Origin, the worlds first handheld CNC, a fusion of a computer with a power tool. The high-tech device gives you the precision of a computer combined with the flexibility of the human hand, allowing you to work with a variety of materials at any scale.

IATSE International Donates $10,000 to Support Louisiana Flood Relief Efforts

IATSE Labor Union, representing the technicians, artisans and craftpersons in the entertainment industry: In the wake of the devastation from the flooding in Louisiana, the IATSE International will donate $10,000 to Louisiana-based studio mechanics IATSE Local 478 to support their flood relief efforts.

The members of IATSE Local 478 have volunteered time, money, and resources to assist with flooded areas of southwest Louisiana. The money donated to Local 478 will be used to purchase supplies to aid in relief, recovery, and rebuild efforts.

7 More Women of Theatre History You Should Know

THE INTERVAL: In March I wrote the feature 7 Women of Theatre History You Should Know, but as I researched those women I knew I would need to write another installment. The more I read about one woman in the theatre, another interesting, little-known woman would reveal herself. As in the first feature, these seven women represent a range of talents and areas of theatre. They have written, directed, and/or started theatre companies. They have worked in New York and across the country. Their work reflects their individual experiences and has influenced the theatre as we know it today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Close Your Eyes to Experience the Sound of a Digital Swamp

The Creators Project: A system of sound modules and flashlights replicates the natural chorus of insects, amphibians, birds and other swamp creatures in Belgrade-based artist Bojana Petkovic's Swamp Orchestra. Petkovic creates a “sound ecosystem” in which the exhibition’s visitors can explore “the realm of natural and artificial”—except, interactively, with 16 light sensitive sound modules, each reacting to a flashlight’s quantity of light.

End of Q1 Results for Broadway's 2016-17 Season.

The Producer's Perspective: The first sign that summer is sliding into the sunset is when the books close on the first quarter of the Broadway season. And they did just that this past Sunday.

Hard to believe that 13 weeks have flown by as fast as they did. Seems like just yesterday we were wondering who was going to win Best Musical at the Tony Awards.

Core Realty reaches agreement to acquire 31st Street Studios in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Business Times: Core Realty, the Philadelphia-based company that is redeveloping the Macy’s building in downtown Pittsburgh, has reached an agreement to buy 31st Street Studios, the repurposed steel mill property in the Strip District that has operated as a key hub for Pittsburgh’s film and TV production industry.

Frozen Stage Musical Costumes

Fashionista: From the Queen Elsa costume that's been ubiquitous for the past three Halloweens (and counting), to grown-up cosplay, to the ear-worm "Let It Go" still haunting your every move, to even the Bridal Week runway, Disney's animated hit "Frozen" is still nearly as celebrated as it was in 2013 when it set box-office records. So it's no surprise that the highest grossing animated movie of all time would turn into a staged musical production — three, in fact — including one extravaganza at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

Origin Story: A Smart Router That Turns Virtually Anyone Into a Maker

Dwell: As the maker movement continues to take root, the personal technologies driving it are not only becoming more sophisticated, but also more practical and attainable. Case in point: Origin, a handheld CNC router that uses augmented reality to act as an “autocorrect for your hands.” From chicken coops to derby cars to drones—projects that have already been completed with Origin—the tool has proven itself to be versatile and intuitive to use. I visited the headquarters of Shaper, the San Francisco startup behind it all, to see it in action.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

With Elections Looming, FringeNYC Pitches the Political

Clyde Fitch Report: You’d think that during this crucial and excruciating election year, the 20th New York International Fringe Festival would be rife with entries reflecting the discombobulated mood of the country. You’d think that, and you’d be right to a degree. Of the 200 productions offered, roughly one-eighth — 26, to be exact — concern political and/or social issues.

The Perks of Student Health Centers You May Not Know About Depending on where you go to college, there’s a good chance you shell out good money every semester for student health services. Those services and on-campus clinics include more than just quick visits with a nurse or doctor. You usually get loads of other benefits you’ll want to take advantage of.

A Dancer and an Illustrator Compare Creative Energies

The Creators Project: The daily life of an urban artist is an exercise in maintaining inspiration and balance. Jules Bakshi is a modern dancer, choreographer, and wellness professional who encourages empowerment and body positivity through her dance and fitness classes. Bakshi’s work is movement and vitality. Alelli Tanghal is a painter, illustrator, and art director at Doubleday & Cartwright, a creative agency with several clients in the world of professional sports. Tanghal’s work is to interpret movement and athleticism. The two New York-based artists met on the Vice rooftop to discuss creative movement, finding equilibrium between the personal and the professional, and the genesis of collaboration.

Actors' Equity Launches New Website

Footlights: Actors’ Equity has launched a new website, I wondered why a new website? After all, Equity already has a website and anyone in IT will tell you that maintaining a single website is easier and more efficient than two. The domain name was registered on May 18, 2015 – two days before voting ended in Equity’s national election. In other words, the domain was registered by Equity before Kate Shindle was elected as new President of Equity and Mary-Pat Green and Jeff Marlow were elected as new Western Region Principals. These wins were perceived as election upsets created, in part, by L.A.’s ballot box reaction to Equity terminating the 99-Seat Plan.

Giving Back Through ASCAP

Stage Directions: The man who composed the music and lyrics for the iconic Broadway shows Wicked, Pippin and Godspell, not to mention the forthcoming stage adaptation of the animated film Prince of Egypt with Alan Menken, has made quite a name for himself. Stephen Schwartz has won three Grammy Awards, three Academy Awards, and been nominated for six Tony Awards. He also loves to pass along his knowledge to those who could follow in his footsteps.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Comic Book The Backstagers About High School Stage Crew

Playbill: American comic book and graphic novel publisher Boom! Studios has released a new series called The Backstagers, about the adventures of a high school stage crew.

According to Boom! Studios, the new series is billed as “an incredible yet earnest story” about a group of outcasts who find a place to fit in. The story’s central character, Jory, joins the stage crew at his new high school, and discovers an entire world backstage.

Broadway’s Dirty Secret: How an Artisan Turns Costumes From Riches to Rags

The New York Times: The nicest thing you can say to Hochi Asiatico is that his work looks like hell.

That’s because Mr. Asiatico is one of a small number of Broadway distressors, artisans who make costumes look beautifully bad. In the play “Eclipsed,” he turned a “Rugrats” T-shirt, worn by Lupita Nyong’o, into a sweaty rag that looked as if it had spent weeks forsaken in Liberia, where the play is set. Clint Ramos, who won a Tony Award for his “Eclipsed” costume design, said that Mr. Asiatico created “a history for a garment” that came across onstage as “organic and inherent.”

‘In the Heights’ casting controversy comes to Phoenix Every revolutionary work of art has its first draft. And in the case of “Hamilton,” the runaway Broadway hit about America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, that first draft is “In the Heights.”

Created by the New York-born Puerto Rican Renaissance man Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” tells the story of the Founding Fathers through the musical vernacular of hip-hop and with a cast made up almost entirely by people of color. This year it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the New York production is sold out months in advance.

Jonah Hill Says He Snorted Too Much Fake Cocaine on 'Wolf of Wall Street' Set, Had to Be Hospitalized Even fake drugs can have real consequences!

Jonah Hill appeared on this week's Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons, where the War Dogs star opened up about his time filming the 2013 movie, Wolf of Wall Street -- specifically, the toll all the fake drugs he had to take had on his system.

Look Back at the Very First Playbill Bios of 11 Broadway Stars

Playbill: Before they were luminaries of the theatre, they were young guns making their Broadway debuts. Take a look at some of the biggest Broadway stars first appearance in a Playbill, which include little tidbits about their lives before achieving Broadway stardom—the kind of information that they’d never include later in their accomplished careers. Who spent time in the Texas pageant scene? Who was a radio DJ in Canada? Take a look at these Broadway stars’ first Playbill bios to find out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lionsgate Gets Judge to Revive Trademark Claim Over 'Dirty Dancing' Ad Spoof

Hollywood Reporter: Lionsgate is back on its feet in a lawsuit contending that TD Ameritrade ripped off a famous Patrick Swayze line from the film Dirty Dancing for use in one of the brokerage giant's advertisements. The film studio claims to own common-law trademark rights in "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner," and objects to a TD Ameritrade commercial showing a cartoon image of a man holding a piggy bank above his head with the tagline, "Nobody puts your old 401(k) in the corner."

Oregon Shakespeare Festival out to 'change the narrative' on race: Editorial Citizenship is not the first modifier that pops to mind when considering a theater company. Entertainment, yes. Teaching, sure. But a stated social purpose that, among other things, amounts to zero tolerance for racism on and off its campus? It's happening now in Ashland, at the Oregon Shakespeare theater.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Little Lake Theatre

Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City PaperWith a new school year just around the corner, there might not be a more apt show to see than The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, now playing at Little Lake Theatre. Based on the 1961 novel by Muriel Spark, this adaptation by Jay Presson Allen is itself a venerable classic, though the tale is arguably best remembered as the 1969 Oscar-winning film starring Dame Maggie Smith.

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