CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A revamped 'Dreamgirls' hits Heinz Hall

Post Gazette: "Broadway moved uptown a few weeks ago when the national tour of 'Dreamgirls' launched from the Apollo as a feature of the famed Harlem theater's 75th anniversary."

Producers of ‘Addams Family’ Call for Significant Changes

NYTimes.com: "The producers of “The Addams Family,” one of the major new musicals scheduled for Broadway this spring, announced on Monday that they have hired the Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks to take over the $16.5 million production and supervise significant changes."

Sprixi Helps You Find Relevant and Free Images

Lifehacker: "One of the frustrations of searching for anything on the internet, let alone images, is imprecise search results. If you've ever searched for something and found something completely different—usually because the file name or the associated keywords were strangely or inappropriately applied—then you know what we're talking about."

Who owns a play that’s partly improvised?

The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark: "Last week, a colleague asked me the following question:
If an actor improvises lines in a play, and the “author”/director of the play later wishes to write a screenplay which incorporates the actor’s improvised dialogue, does he have to obtain rights to that dialogue? What is the written (or unwritten) rule regarding the incorporation of improvised dialogue … in this case, a large part of the character’s dialogue in the work?
This is an interesting and common issue in the theatre business. It’s actually pretty well established law in favor of the playwright."

Can Afrobeat Musical 'Fela!' Move The Masses?

NPR: "In 2008, the off-Broadway musical Fela! became one of the most talked-about shows in New York. Telling the life story of Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti, the show made the move to Broadway last month and opened to ecstatic reviews. But will this unconventional theater piece speak to a larger audience?
Ben Brantley, chief drama critic for The New York Times, says he was worried about the transition.
'When I heard Fela! was moving to Broadway, I thought, 'That's a mistake.' '"

Zaks Is New Patriarch of 'Addams Family'; Previews Will Now Begin March 8

Yahoo! News: "The producers of the new musical The Addams Family confirmed on Dec. 29 that director Jerry Zaks will join the show as a creative consultant and work with the entire creative team over the next three months as they prepare for an April 8 opening at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre."

Broadway.com Is Being Sold to Key Brand Entertainment

Yahoo! News: "Hollywood Media Corp. is cutting loose its New York City-based Broadway Ticketing Division, which includes the website Broadway.com, in a sale to privately held Key Brand Entertainment, Inc.
The definitive agreement of the sale of all outstanding capital stock of Theatre Direct NY, Inc., a subsidiary of Hollywood Media, was announced Dec. 29."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stage: Tough acts to follow: Recalling fine theater

Post Gazette: "Whatever we call the decade that comes to an end Thursday, the duty it poses is clear: picking 10 memorable stage productions. It's hard enough to do the yearly lists, but the difficulty ratchets up at the end of a decade. Definition is all, so I'll say what I have before: This is frankly a personal list of what's most memorable, the shows that have stayed with me most vividly out of the more than 1,700 reviewed in Western Pennsylvania in the decade."

Costumes bring 'Dreamgirls' back to life

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "For Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long, the fun doesn't start until the work is completed.
'It's only fun when it's done,' says Long, the five-time Tony Award recipient who created the costumes for the national touring production of 'Dreamgirls' that begins a six-day run Tuesday night at Heinz Hall, Downtown."

Arts & Culture in Pennsylvania's FY2010 Budget

Philaculture.org: "State governments, like all sectors of the economy, have been hit hard by the national recession, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Declining revenues and a difficult economy forced the state to create a leaner FY2010 budget, down $500 million from FY2009’s total of $28.3 billion. This has led to cuts in many areas, including arts and culture. This article outlines the status of arts and cultural funding in the recently-adopted FY2010 budget."

Playbill.com Picks the Top Theatre Stories of 2009

Playbill.com: "The editors and writers of Playbill.com put their heads together this month and looked back at the events of 2009 to choose significant news stories that made headlines and touched the industry uniquely."

Winter 2010 Writing Internships at Playbill.com

Playbill.com: "We are looking for students with a journalism background who have been previously published (for example, in a school publication) with a strong interest in theatre and entertainment reporting. Duties will include writing blog items for Playblog, Playbill.com's new theatre/Broadway blog; composing press-release-initiated items; and transcribing interviews."

San Francisco Mime Troupe Hits the Streets Again

NYTimes.com: "As part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, the San Francisco Mime Troupe recently led its first “Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Consumption” street-theater workshop. That afternoon-long event culminated in a performance outside the flagship Old Navy store on Market Street in downtown San Francisco."

Screen and Stage Experiences in ‘Nine’ and ‘Little Night Music’

NYTimes.com: "IN Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 film “Smiles of a Summer Night,” a romantic crisis is sparked by a trip to the theater and, in particular, a moment of eye contact that takes place there. Fredrik Egerman, a middle-aged lawyer, and his much younger wife, Anne, are attending a performance of a sophisticated comedy about French aristocrats starring the well-known actress Desirée Armfeldt. Early in the play, as Desirée delivers a witty, somewhat risqué speech about relations between men and women, she looks up at Fredrik, who was her lover some years before. The glance that passes between them is noticed by Anne, who intuits something not only about her husband’s past but also, more disturbingly if less concretely, about the present state of his desire."

At the Public Theater, Stories About Coming Out in Ireland

NYTimes.com: "A MIDDLE-AGED man says he always knew there was something different about him, even as a child. Another man describes falling in love with a friend — and realizing for the first time that he was gay. A man sings a torch song to his lover who died of AIDS, while the members of the male chorus behind him slowly pair off and dance to the dark melodies performed on two cellos, a keyboard and light percussion."

From Edinburgh to New York, Via Carol Tambor’s Award

NYTimes.com: "SHE’S no David Merrick, but Carol Tambor has a significant effect on some theatrical careers. Merrick, the notorious Broadway producer, was known for his powerful hand and outright disdain for many colleagues. Ms. Tambor, the chairwoman of the Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation, takes a more maternal approach. A New York philanthropist, portrait painter and theater lover, Ms. Tambor chooses one entry from nearly 2,000 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland each year and presents it with the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. The prize is a fully mounted production in New York, with travel, hotel and other expenses included."

Radcliffe, Hyde Pierce, Opel, Urie and More Sing 'How to Succeed' in NYC Presentation

Yahoo! News: "A new revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying would seem to be a step closer to Broadway with a recent private Manhattan reading that featured Daniel Radcliffe as J.P. Finch."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Taking Art to the Moon

Carnegie Mellon University: "Think of it as one small step for artists, one giant leap for Carnegie Mellon. The university — known for its interdisciplinary strengths in art and technology — will take a series of interactive art projects to the moon in December 2011."

3 theater productions from Western Pennsylvania to compete in national festival

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Three area college or university theater productions are among those chosen to compete in the Region II semi-finals of the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival."

50th anniversary: Second City thrives on satire

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "As Second City celebrates 50 years of creating comedy, its influence appears to be as widespread as it is enduring.
A printed list of prominent alumni fills five sheets with two columns of single-spaced names.
Included performers span eras and attitudes as divergent as the dependable traditional actor Alan Alda and unpredictable counterculture comedian Andy Dick."

James "Mac" McCammond, Chicago Equity Actor Who Joined IATSE, Dies at 50

Playbill.com: "Known as 'Mac' to his friends and loved ones, he was an avid athlete, having competed in the Lake Geneva Half Iron Man & HyVee triathlons. Friends say he was a gifted furniture designer and carpenter and indulged in home renovation."

Decade of change on Great White Way

Variety: "The 1980s brought the rise of the imported Brit mega-musical -- think 'Cats' and 'The Phantom of the Opera.'
The 1990s ushered in a family-friendly vibe, both to the formerly sleazy, now refurbished Times Square and to the Main Stem lineup -- think 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Lion King.'
So how will legiters remember Broadway in the '00s?"

Christmas Foolery, With Henry Winkler in British Pantomimes

NYTimes.com: "Yes, it is the Fonz. Yes, he is wearing a Puss ’n Boots hat and a frock coat that Louis XIV would have been proud to call his own. Yes, he is glaring at the audience and hissing, “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to come down and poison your ice cream.”"

Connections - Grandish Wordplay - E. Y. Harburg’s Ish List

NYTimes.com: "In Avatar Studios in Manhattan recently, something sort of goofish came over me, manifested by a persistent grin as I listened to Christopher Fitzgerald and Kate Baldwin sing. The cast of this season’s Broadway production of “Finian’s Rainbow” was making a recording for February release, and in this case, the musical’s leprechaun (Mr. Fitzgerald), slowly turning mortal, was discovering a new kind of feeling whenever he was near Sharon (Ms. Baldwin)."

Collaborating, With Melissa James Gibson and Daniel Aukin

NYTimes.com: "“I’m not the only director working with Melissa, by the way,” Daniel Aukin made a point of saying early in a sit-down this week with a reporter and the playwright Melissa James Gibson."

Bobby Steggert of ‘Ragtime’ Battles Internet Rumor Mill

NYTimes.com: "When Bobby Steggert exits the stage door at the Neil Simon Theater after a performance of “Ragtime,” autograph-seeking fans don’t simply praise his work as the character Mother’s Younger Brother, the budding anarchist in this musical revival. Some also say, in sympathetic tones, how sorry they are that “Ragtime” is closing."

How to Ensure Your LinkedIn Profile Is Effective

Web Worker Daily: "Is your LinkedIn profile as effective as it could be? While you can see your “profile completeness” score on your profile page, it doesn’t measure profile effectiveness — how good your profile is at attracting contacts, generating leads and showing off your skills. Use this checklist to ensure your profile is thorough, effective and updated."

West End translates for foreign theatre goers

Times Online: "What if you were told that the chanteuse here isn’t a Left Bank beauty dragging on her umpteenth Gitane, but one Tracy Turnblad, a swinging teen in the 1960s: happily overweight, hair sprayed up to the heavens and, crucially, resident in Baltimore, Maryland, USA?
It’s true, and a miracle as only the West End can provide. Because, thanks to a new device, Tracy — the heroine of Hairspray, the super-successful, candy-coloured, John Waters-inspired musical — is available in the language of Molière eight times a week. And in German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin... even English, for the hard of hearing."

Money, Talent Pours into Made-for-Web Shows

Backstage: "Web sites that buy original video clips often pay so little that 'The Bannen Way,' a flashy crime thriller debuting online, looked destined to be made poorly if it could be made at all."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tuition Tax Will Not Be Pursued

Carnegie Mellon University: "The Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) welcomes today's announcement by Mayor Ravenstahl that a tuition tax on students will no longer be pursued by the city as a revenue solution for the legacy challenges presented by its historically underfunded pension plans. PCHE has long acknowledged the seriousness of those challenges for the city and for city taxpayers, including many of our own students and employees. PCHE has recommended a broad-based coalition that will secure a long-term structural solution to these challenges. Based on today's announcement, PCHE welcomes the opportunity to partner with the city and others in such a collaborative endeavor."

My response to the demise of the Oleanna Take-A-Side talkbacks.

PRODUCER'S PERSPECTIVE: Everyone who I spoke to felt like the talkbacks made the experience of going to the theater even better.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mamet disagreed. As Michael Riedel reported back in November . . .

Alas, Mamet hated them [talkbacks]. He never attended one, but he's against them on principle, believing that his play should stand on its own and not be picked apart by "experts" on the law, feminism and campus sexual harassment policies.

It's always tough to hear that your author doesn't like something you want to do, especially when that something is helping market your show.

James Cameron and Peter Jackson on making films in the age of technology.

Slate Magazine: "James Cameron and Peter Jackson are the kings of the CGI world. Cameron, of course, directed Titanic, the highest-grossing movie of all time—which he says he'd make with no ship if he were filming today. Jackson was the guy behind bringing Middle-earth to the big screen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now they are back with Avatar and The Lovely Bones, two of the most-hyped films of the holiday season. Newsweek asked them about their new films and how technology is changing Hollywood."

Foote’s Lone Star Lovers Meet, Marry in ‘Orphans’

Bloomberg.com: "The middle-part of “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” written by Horton Foote and based on his father’s life, is now on view at Signature Theatre’s Peter Norton Space. The three acts follow Texan Horace Robedaux from 1912 to 1917, from being too young and poor to marry the widow Claire to his happy marriage to Elizabeth Vaughn, now pregnant with their first child."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

George Lucas loses court appeal over Star Wars costume copyright

Times Online: "Andrew Ainsworth recently began selling replicas of helmets and armour made from his original mould, prompting a $20million (£12million) lawsuit from Lucasfilm. But the Court of Appeal agreed that even though Mr Ainsworth did not own the design, he had not broken any British law because his creations were not art."

Five Best Collaboration Tools

Lifehacker: "The internet has ushered in a level of collaboration unimaginable to workers of decades past. Today we're taking a look at five popular tools for collaborating with your team to get things done.
Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite collaboration tool, and now we're back with the five most popular tools for the job."

Amid the many bloated musicals, originality sneaks in

latimes.com: "Millennial anxieties ushered in the new decade with Y2K panic, 9/11 made it seem as if the paranoid were on to something, two quagmire wars were launched and the Great Recession left everyone wondering about the prognosis of the American economy as it enters its 21st century teens on life support. Yet if the theater, perpetually on the brink of extinction, taught us anything during this unenviable era, it's that apocalyptic fantasies are just that -- the wishful fears that somehow the chaotic slate will be wiped clean."

Drum roll! The Footlight Awards for excellence in local theater

Seattle Times Newspaper: "Long ago, during another global recession, a seasoned London theater hand told me, 'We always do our best work when our backs are against the wall.'
That phrase befits Seattle's 2009 theater season. There were duds and hits, miracles and missteps. But many local companies made more with less, defying the prevailing financial odds and fears to move and delight us with remarkable tales well-told."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cultural District to Host 15th 'First Night'

WDUQNews: "In many cities, a ball is dropped during the last ten seconds of New Year’s Eve to celebrate the coming of the New Year.
In Pittsburgh, the ball moves the other way.
“Representing the future of Pittsburgh looking up,” says First Night Director Kathryn Heidemann."

Breaking Up

Pittsburgh City Paper: "Having seen every play ever written, I confess to a certain uneasiness when a local theater company presents the Pittsburgh premiere of a 20-year-old work. If something takes that long to reach my bloodshot eyes, there's probably a reason ... and usually the reason is that the play sucks."

Mackintosh makes 'Private' public

Variety: "Cameron Mackintosh will produce a new stage musical based on the 1984 British screen comedy, 'A Private Function,' originally scripted by Alan Bennett."

Montego Glover and Chad Kimball’s Six Years in ‘Memphis’

NYTimes.com: "WHEN the musical “Memphis” had its world premiere in 2003, at the North Shore Music Theater in Massachusetts, the central character, Huey Calhoun, was a white, pill-popping alcoholic who limped through Act II after being beaten for dating a black woman. During the show’s six-year journey to Broadway, where it opened in October, the character was repeatedly reconfigured (Huey even died at one point), given new songs and went through “something like 900 drafts of his final scene,” said the director of “Memphis,” Christopher Ashley."

In New York, a Record Set for Grover’s Corners

NYTimes.com: "In the past decade alone, there have been more than 4,000 productions of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” On Wednesday night, the one that has been playing at the Barrow Street Theater in the West Village broke the record that the original Broadway production from 1938 set for its longest run: 337 performances, and counting."

From ‘Vibrator’ to ‘Cougar Town,’ Sex Is Still a Man’s World

NYTimes.com: "To a 21st-century audience, bombarded 24/7 with graphic sexual images and language, such prim naïveté is hard to imagine. American culture so openly embraces sexuality that you practically expect souvenir vibrators to be sold in the lobby of the Lyceum Theater, just as umbrellas with parrot heads are for sale nearby at “Mary Poppins.”"

New Jersey Theaters Hit by Freeze in State Financing

NYTimes.com: "The audience may not recognize them, but the signs of deep recession are scattered about the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey in Madison."

‘Our Town,’ ‘Becky Shaw’ Among Year’s Best

NYTimes.com: "FOR the New York theater the year just past could be called the year of the underdog. In putting together my annual list of highlights, I noticed that most of them — actually, all of them — were productions that arrived with little or no fanfare and nary a big-name celebrity, yet somehow beat the odds to become the little shows that could."

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ Among Year’s Top 10

NYTimes.com: "THIS was the year that Broadway asked itself the question “What’s in a name?” and answered, “Everything.” Three above-the-title Adonises — Jude Law (in 'Hamlet') and Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman (in 'A Steady Rain') became the season’s biggest newsmakers by stepping from screen to stage and drawing around-the-block lines in talky plays, sans songs or elaborate scenery."

Friday, December 18, 2009

City's 'Kodachrome' the picture of sweetness, but with an edge

Post Gazette: "Frankly, I almost didn't go, world premiere or not. 'A Kodachrome Christmas' sounded just too sweet -- too obviously fabricated to hit us in the comic/emotional solar plexus at this time of year.
It is. But I had a good time."

American musicals' comeback

Variety: "If the '00s have not been a golden age of American musicals, they most certainly represent a comeback.
The Broadway musical had always been synonymous with the American musical. But those tuner tracks diverged in the 1980s when Andrew Lloyd Webber followed 'Evita' with the double whammy of 'Cats' and 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Added to this British mix of sung-through tuners were Cameron Mackintosh's productions of Schonberg and Boublil's 'Les Miserables' and 'Miss Saigon.'"

Decade of change on Great White Way

Variety: "The 1980s brought the rise of the imported Brit mega-musical -- think 'Cats' and 'The Phantom of the Opera.'
The 1990s ushered in a family-friendly vibe, both to the formerly sleazy, now refurbished Times Square and to the Main Stem lineup -- think 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The Lion King.'
So how will legiters remember Broadway in the '00s?"

Pasadena Playhouse Will Strip Camelot Down to Its Love Triangle; Cast of Eight Planned

Playbill.com: "Based on T.H. White's 'The Once and Future King,' the musical about romance, sexual betrayal and budding democracy — all within King Arthur's mythical realm — is by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music). Opening night will be Jan. 15."

Montego Glover and Chad Kimball’s Six Years in ‘Memphis’

NYTimes.com: "WHEN the musical “Memphis” had its world premiere in 2003, at the North Shore Music Theater in Massachusetts, the central character, Huey Calhoun, was a white, pill-popping alcoholic who limped through Act II after being beaten for dating a black woman. During the show’s six-year journey to Broadway, where it opened in October, the character was repeatedly reconfigured (Huey even died at one point), given new songs and went through “something like 900 drafts of his final scene,” said the director of “Memphis,” Christopher Ashley."

Disneyland's Mr. Lincoln debuts Disney's next generation of animatronic storytelling

Themepark Insider: "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln returns tomorrow to Disneyland's Main Street Opera House, as Disney replaces the world's first audio-animatronic human character with the first of its next generation of animatronic figures."

In The Wings - Fight Director - December, 2009

American Theatre Wing: "Fight director Rick Sordelet creates the action in Superior Donuts that is an integral part of the storytelling; demonstrates the visual and audible illusions of onstage fighting; breaks down the sword fighting staging in The Royal Family; and explains the purpose of a fight-call and the importance of safety."

AVATAR was AWESOME!!!

Between the Lines: "James Cameron used cutting edge 3D motion capture technology from Autodesk such as Autodesk MotionBuilder to enable real actors to control digital characters in a virtual set in real-time. Jon Landau said “We could not have made this movie without Autodesk”."

Choice and Agency

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Blog: "Hi blog readers. I’m David Perez. I am the Artistic Director of Pavement Group, and will be directing our production of punkplay this February as part of Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep. We are a three year-old company formed out of Steppenwolf’s Apprenticeship program, so needless to say we’re REALLY REALLY EXCITED."

The Week In Tools: Toolmonger Top 5

Toolmonger: "It’s been a busy week here at Toolmonger. If you’ve been spending time in the shop — you should! — and you haven’t had a chance to keep up with Toolmonger this week, we suggest you start with these posts, which our readers helped to select"

Actor Tim Robbins On New Theater Economics

NPR: "Nearly 30 years ago, actor Tim Robbins started a theater in the Los Angeles area called The Actors Gang. They enjoyed success with their interpretation of classics like Ibsen and Chekhov, and with more contemporary performers like Danny Hoch and Eric Bogosian. But in the midst of the current economic recession, the board of directors suggested they stop productions. Robbins' response was to do just the opposite: he launched a series of performances to raise money and bring new audiences to the theater. The WTF Festival has been a huge success and has taught Robbins much about the developing new business models for live theater."

Theater Cleaners Reach Deal for New Contract

Backstage: "The union that covers Broadway theater cleaners, porters and matrons, 32BJ SEIU, announced that it had reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the Broadway League, the industry association representing theater owners and producers at more than 30 New York theaters."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CLO's 'Christmas Carol' carries familiar tune

Post Gazette: "One way to relieve holiday stress brought on by baking, shopping and decorating is to take a break and see an old Christmas chestnut. Not one 'roasting on an open fire' but on stage."

Best Plays of 2009

Post Gazette: "The Fabulous Invalid, as they call theater with its cyclical highs and lows, stayed vigorous hereabouts in 2009. That's remarkable given the meltdown started by greedy Big Finance. Pittsburgh's generous arts funders haven't completely abandoned the pro theater companies, which have been weathering the storm."

Best Dance Performances of 2009

Post Gazette: "Local dance organizations came up with a creative response to the economic downturn in 2009. Several were big ticket items such as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's comprehensive 'Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project,' the Kelly Strayhorn's dance festival and Conservatory Dance Company's warm-hearted 'The Bench.' Others, such as Attack Theatre, found low-cost solutions by sharing space with Pittsburgh Opera (and art galleries in 2010). By stepping out on a limb, PBT came out on top with a pair of contemporary ballets that paid huge artistic dividends -- the aforementioned 'Light' and the pick of the year, 'Romeo et Juliette.'"

'Cinemaniacs' examine 'House on Haunted Hill' at Geyer arts center

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Local writer Mark Hofmann has come up with yet another zany way to entertain audiences at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
On Friday and Saturday night, individuals will have the opportunity to enjoy the live show 'Dr. Castle and his Cinemaniacs Examine: House on Haunted Hill' in a format inspired by the television show 'Mystery Science Theater 3000.'"

Feedback: Just hire a drama critic

Post Gazette: "The Post-Gazette needs a drama critic. The current melange of reviewers leaves this theater lover heartsick and confused. In a city with a wealth of rich dramatic productions, the Post-Gazette's lack of a drama critic is unforgivable."

Who came to Broadway this year?

PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE: "Just in time for the holidays, it's the Demographics of the Broadway Audience Report for 2008-2009! As I did last year, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version of the document here, but try and get your hands on a copy of the complete report if you can. Because despite what we all thought in high school, the Cliff's Notes version ain't as educational as the real thing."

Lincoln Center opens discount B.O.

Variety: "Lincoln Center today opens a new atrium incorporating a box office that will sell day-of, discounted tickets to performances presented at all venues of the Gotham performing arts complex."

Unions and Guilds - September, 1992

American Theatre Wing: "The panel of union and guild representatives - Jean Dalrymple, member of the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM); Alan Eisenberg, Executive Secretary of Actors' Equity Association; actress Caroline Lagerfelt, former Equity Council member (Actors' Equity Association); David S. Rosenak, Executive Director of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers; and Peter Stone, President of the Dramatists Guild - talk about when and why their organizations were founded, their purposes and the services they provide; the need for contracts, salary minimums, and safety regulations; and the agreement between producers and all unions and guilds for the Broadway Alliance."

Process of a Script Reader

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Blog: "A few weeks ago, talking to a friend about my work reading scripts for Steppenwolf, I was asked probably the most common question I hear about the job: “Has anything you’ve read ended up in their season?” The short answer is “no,” or at least “not unless they finally take my advice to produce Fran Guinan in The Belle of Amherst this year,” but it struck me that it’s worth exploring how exactly the process works, and hopefully to articulate what I’ve been up to the past five years (give or take) as a reader."

Focus On The Family: The Women Of Fela! - Fela!

Jezebel: "Several weeks ago, I went to see Fela!, the Broadway show based on the life of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Today, a smattering of stories about Fela — and the women in his life — have hit the web. While there's no doubt that Fela is the star of the show, there would be no story without the women surrounding him in life - and onstage."

Last Chance for Soulful ‘Brother/Sister Plays’

Bloomberg.com: "Suffused with the mystery and the menace of the Louisiana bayou, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brothers Size” is the hypnotic centerpiece of “The Brother/Sister Plays” at New York’s Public Theater."

Broadway hopes for Kushner play on hold

StarTribune.com: "In the theater world, a lot can change in six months.
Guthrie director Joe Dowling told the Star Tribune in late May that the new Tony Kushner play that premiered at the Minneapolis theater had a producer and would open on Broadway in spring of 2010."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, An Epilogue Premiers at the School of Drama

CMU Drama School Blog - post-gazette.com: "Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama joined with over 150 theatres selected from each of the 50 states and from 14 countries around the world for a simultaneous reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later An Epilogue on October 12, 2009."

Loving the Camera, The Drama School Celebrates Another Successful T.V. Project

CMU Drama School Blog - post-gazette.com: "Graduate director Marya Spring Cordes described her experience, saying, “The rehearsal and filming process was as dynamic as theatre performance. The difference was that the exchange of energy was not between the performance collective and audience, it was now an 'in the moment' engagement of all collaborators on the project moving toward one creative, immediate goal of filming right now. The work environment of ‘process’ was electrifying in the hope that the end product turns out the same.”"

Carnegie Mellon alumni have high hopes for original musical

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "An original winter-themed family musical that Carnegie Mellon University alumni helped create is making is debut in Pittsburgh.
The two-act 'Snowed In,' which shows on Friday in Oakland, tells the story of Hill Top Prep, a K-12 school that gets walloped with a snowstorm the day before students leave for Christmas break."

Ravenstahl sees 'progress,' seeks another delay in tuition tax vote

Post Gazette: "Claiming 'progress in our discussions with Pittsburgh's nonprofit community,' Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today called for another postponement of a scheduled vote on his proposed tuition tax. Council followed up with an early afternoon vote that pushes the tax vote back to Monday."

Strike solidarity

Variety: "Members of SEIU 32BJ -- the union that reps the porters, cleaners and matrons at Broadway theaters -- voted Tuesday to authorize a strike should the org's bargaining committee initiate one."

Pittsburgh actor takes over Broadway lead

Post Gazette: "You've heard it before on stage and screen - the star goes down with an injury, the understudy is rushed into action without rehearsal, and a star is born.
It's gone much like that for Matthew Hydzik, who yesterday took over as leading man Tony in the Broadway revival of 'West Side Story.'"

Review: 'Nutcracker' remains a holiday treat

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "The many delights of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's production of 'The Nutcracker' are fresh as ever in this year's presentation.
Artistic director Terrence S. Orr's production, which debuted in 2002, uses Pittsburgh scenes to make it 'our' story. Year to year, he tweaks details to maintain a boldly fun-filled atmosphere."

Personality Test: Artistic director Jeffrey Carpenter

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Since 2002, Jeffrey Carpenter has been creating quirky, interesting contemporary theater pieces as the artistic director of Bricolage Production Company."

Jazz mindset works well for 'Beggar's Holiday' planners

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Despite lack of knowledge, arrangements and scripts, the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Opera Theater will attempt a revival of a show that has had short lives in the past."

Second City thrives on satire

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "As Second City celebrates 50 years of creating comedy, its influence appears to be as widespread as it is enduring.
A printed list of prominent alumni fills five sheets with two columns of single-spaced names."

On Broadway, Actresses Find Depth in Fela’s Women

NYTimes.com: "This is the short list of how the women of “Fela!,” the Broadway musical about the Nigerian Afrobeat musician and political agitator, do not see their characters: victims, go-go dancers, sex objects."

Projects: A Powerful Project Management Tool for the iPhone

WebWorkerDaily: "I’m not entirely sure project management is something you should do on your iPhone, or any portable device for that matter, but if you’re stuck and you need something to help keep track of things while you’re on the go, you could do much worse than using Projects for the iPhone"

5 Tips For Making a Good First Impression

WebWorkerDaily: "Freelancers often don’t have much time to make a good first impression on potential clients, so you need to make sure that everything you do leaves your prospect seeing you as a professional who can be trusted with their business."

To smoke or not to smoke, that is the question

Los Angeles Times: "The Jersey Boys do it. Estelle Parsons does it regularly in 'August: Osage County.' Practically every actor who's been in a Noel Coward play has done it too."

Is 60 seconds too short for a play?

guardian.co.uk: "Eh? What? Oh, right. Clearly I'm the best qualified person to write about a – hang on, popping out for a fag … That's better, where was I? Oh yes, 60-second plays. Perfect theatre for those with a short attention span, or just another nail in the coffin marked 'culture'?"

Theater Cleaners Open Door to Possible Strike

Backstage: "More than 260 members of 32BJ SEIU, the union that includes theater cleaners, porters and matrons, voted Dec. 15 to empower their negotiating committee to declare a strike at the more than 30 Broadway League theaters."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pittsburgh holiday tradition continues PBT carries on 'Nutcracker' tradition

Post Gazette: "Now into its seventh season, Terrence Orr's version of 'The Nutcracker' has become a Pittsburgh tradition about Pittsburgh tradition. In other words, Orr created a pictorial rendering of iconic people and places back in 2002 and it has since maintained its position as must-see holiday entertainment in the city."

McKeesport Little Theater tackles musical 'Seussical'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "A wacky and whimsical blend of 13 well-known Dr. Seuss classics will come alive onstage at McKeesport Little Theater, which is putting on an all-kid production of the Broadway musical 'Seussical.'"

Review: 'Musical Christmas Carol' still fresh and entertaining

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "At 18 years and counting, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's 'A Musical Christmas Carol' remains as fresh, entertaining and carefully produced as it was when it debuted in 1992."

'Kodachrome Christmas' takes light-hearted look at small town

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "The promise of 'A Kodachrome Christmas' is enormous.
In his earlier one-performer show 'The Wonder Bread Years,' playwright Pat Hazell warmed audience hearts and stirred their memories of times gone by. The highlight was a slide show of those goofy snapshots that every family has tucked away in photo albums, slide trays and carousels."

Ravenstahl pushes vote on tuition tax

Post gazette: "With a tenuous City Council majority willing to vote for a proposed tuition tax, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl wants to see the levy tentatively approved tomorrow, despite the pledges of university leaders yesterday to work with the city on its finances if the tax is dropped."

Behind the scenes at Second City's 50th

Chicago Tribune: "I didn't come here to look at a screen," the "A Serious Man" co-star and former cast member scoffed while mingling in the crowded "alumni lounge" hallway. "I don't even want to see them perform. All I want to do is sit, drink and talk and 'how are you' and talk about old times."

'Addams' faces Chicago critics

Variety: "Gotham legiters generally agree that new tuner 'The Addams Family' has the potential to become the large-scale, brand-name crowdpleaser of the Broadway season, especially now that 'Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark' has been postponed."

Steppenwolf Avoids Stars, Making Its Own Instead

NYTimes.com: "When “Superior Donuts” opened on Broadway this fall, it did so without the box office benefit of a famous cast member. Instead, it arrived in New York with something almost as valuable: a Steppenwolf pedigree."

Open Colour Standard: free/open alternative to Pantone

Boing Boing: "Ginger coons writes in about the Open Colour Standard, 'an effort to create a new colour standard to help free/open source graphics programs bridge the gap between screen and print.'"

Is Your Education Useless?

Men With Pens: "Many freelancers have university degrees. Many freelancers don’t have to send their resumes to people anymore, so those degrees don’t see a lot of action, but they’re there, collecting dust on our walls."

Project Management Tools: Beyond Gantt Charts

WebWorkerDaily: "In my career as a contract technical writer, a project management pain point I’ve seen time and time again is in the communications of project schedules and status. The venerable Gantt chart is a project management staple, but stakeholders without formal project management training may find them difficult to understand."

Hello, Kitty! Celebrating two decades in the costume shop

Berkeley Rep Blog: "When she left her native Bay Area in the early ’80s, Kitty Muntzel was an artist and a teacher, with students ranging in age from Kindergarten to the golden years. She landed in St. Paul, and while touring the Minnesota Opera, she heard the costume shop was looking for stitchers to help build costumes for Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel."

ASCAP Now Demanding License From Venues That Let People Play Guitar Hero

Techdirt: "In the latest overreach, sent in by reader faceless, ASCAP is demanding a licensing fee from a venue that has the video game Guitar Hero for people to play. While the venue does sometimes have live musicians, it has purposely chosen to only allow original music (no covers) from artists and songwriters not covered by ASCAP, to avoid having to pay the fee."

Actors' techniques draw from rival sources

Reuters: "Sarsgaard studied at the Actors Studio, where he learned about method acting, a technique were actors immerse themselves in the thoughts and emotions of their characters.
Today, he acknowledges a far broader range of influences. As a supporting actor in 'An Education,' the low-budget British film about a young girl's relationship with an older man, he says he drew on a host of other sources to create his morally ambivalent character."

‘Rain’ Pays 65% Profit as Broadway Shows Fizzle

Bloomberg.com: "If you were lucky or smart enough to invest $100,000 in “A Steady Rain,” the $3 million drama starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman that ended its limited Broadway run on Dec. 6, your 12-week gamble would have returned $165,000 in time for Christmas shopping."

A tough act for biggest nonprofit theater

Crain's New York Business: "As it struggles through the recession, New York's renowned Roundabout Theatre Company must rewrite its own script for success.
The company expanded during the boom, creating an empire of five theaters and overtaking Lincoln Center Theater as the largest nonprofit theater in the country. But the past year has seen drops in fundraising and membership subscriptions. The fall season's box office sales were a disappointment. And now the renewal of Roundabout's biggest corporate sponsorship is in doubt."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Bench' family: 'Something to be said for DNA'

Post Gazette: "There's no place like home for the holidays, full of family and food, memories and merriment ... and more food. But when the Conservatory Dance Company's 'The Bench' hits the stage, it will already have a built-in family connection because three members of the Lalama family will form the artistic core of the production."

'Nutcracker' opens with new characters

Post Gazette: "For the 40th year, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will delight audiences with 'The Nutcracker,' which opens Friday at the Benedum Center, Downtown. As in recent years, this holiday classic will have a local twist."

Playhouse company premieres family-themed 'The Bench'

Post Gazette: "At first it looks like any other rehearsal. Some of the dancers are stretching at the barre. Others are going over steps in the pseudo-privacy of their iPods. A piano tuner happens to be working on the Steinway."

City Theatre's 'A Kodachrome Christmas' takes a trip down memory lane

Post Gazette: "When the leading lady in Pat Hazell's 'A Kodachrome Christmas' quotes Charles Dickens, she's referring, of course, to the holidays and all the fun, feuds and fond memories that accompany them."

McKeesport Little Theater tackles musical 'Seussical'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "A wacky and whimsical blend of 13 well-known Dr. Seuss classics will come alive onstage at McKeesport Little Theater, which is putting on an all-kid production of the Broadway musical 'Seussical.'"

WDUQNews: Chatham Students Protest Electronically

WDUQNews: "Chatham University students took to their cameras today to protest Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s proposed tax on college tuition.
More than 100 of the school’s on-campus population of about 600 wrote personalized messages on white boards and sent photos of themselves to the mayor’s office."

Schools say 'no' to city on $5 million

Post Gazette: "Pittsburgh's universities told Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday they won't agree to his call for them to contribute $5 million to city coffers to avoid a tax on tuition paid by students."

Mayor gives universities deadline on tuition tax

Post Gazette: "Show us the money by Monday, or we'll pull the trigger on Wednesday.
That was Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's message to the city's universities yesterday, as he asked for a $5 million-per-year promise from the city's tax-exempt entities in return for the shelving of the proposed 1 percent tuition levy that he calls the Fair Share Tax."

Mayor makes public demand of universities

Post Gazette: "Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that if the city's universities can't identify $5 million in contributions to his government's operations by Monday, he will urge city council to vote for a 1 percent tuition tax on Wednesday."

Long Reach Long Riders Saddle Up For 2010

iSquint: "With this past summers ride down and gone in the east, the Long Reach Long Riders are planning their 6th annual ride on the west coast. I was sad to have to miss this years ride as it went straight through my back door."

Kyra Siegel to Understudy Helen Keller Role on Broadway

NYTimes.com: "After a nationwide search, the producers of the coming Broadway revival of “The Miracle Worker” have cast a vision-impaired 10-year-old as the understudy for the role of Helen Keller, to the delight of advocates for disabled actors who were concerned about the choice of a seeing, hearing actress to play Helen."

Put Your Clothes Back On, Santa

NYTimes.com: "In the East Village Rudolph is decapitated, and in Midtown the Wise Men are wearing castoff drapes and lampshades. Scrooge is a model capitalist on the Lower East Side and a nude woman in TriBeCa, and in Brooklyn Tiny Tim ends up as a dog."

So A Lawyer, A Comedian And An Economist Walk Into A Bar... Copyright, Reputation And Comedy

Techdirt: "A couple of times in the past we've looked at the question of copyright on jokes, noting that there generally isn't 'copyright' on jokes, but that copying jokes can potentially hurt someone's reputation if called on it. In other words, even without making use of protectionist laws, creative types figure out social norms for punishing those who just 'copy.' Yes, some of the copying still occurs, but it can seriously hurt someone's reputation. At the same time, for those who do copy, it pushes them to actually do much more with a joke to actually stand out."

The Week In Tools: Toolmonger Top 5

Toolmonger: "It’s been a busy week here at Toolmonger. If you’ve been spending time in the shop — you should! — and you haven’t had a chance to keep up with Toolmonger this week, we suggest you start with these posts, which our readers helped to select"

Frugal ‘Show Boat’ at Signature Theater in Arlington, Va.

NYTimes.com: "The landmark 1927 musical “Show Boat” has traveled a journey as winding as the Mississippi River, and its newest scaled-down incarnation at the Signature Theater here is an experiment — more pedal boat than paddle wheel. What is being fondly called “No Boat” (no two-tiered riverboat is recreated onstage) may or may not be the future of this lavish, rarely performed show."

Equity warns of regional production 'collapse'

The Stage: "Equity has raised concerns about the state of regional theatre, claiming that the scale of in-house production in repertory houses across the UK has fallen, despite increased public investment.
According to the union, data obtained from the theatres reveals a drop in the total number of employment weeks for actors in subsidised repertory venues. This could indicate fewer in-house productions, shorter runs or venues programming shows with smaller casts."

League Announces Broadway Demographics for 2008-09 Season

Yahoo! News: "The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 42.2 years old, slightly older than last season, while those aged 25-34 accounted for 16 percent of all tickets sold, the highest for that age group since the 1999-2000 season. Theatregoers were also an affluent bunch, with an average reported income of $195,700. Seventy-three percent had also earned a college degree, with 36 percent going on to earn a graduate degree."

Paige Price Leads Equity Following Zimmerman Resignation

Yahoo! News: "Actors' Equity Association announced Dec. 11 that Mark S. Zimmerman has resigned as president, effective immediately. Equity's first vice president Paige Price will carry out the duties of the president until a new president is elected."

Equity President Steps Down

Backstage: "Mark S. Zimmerman, president of Actors' Equity Association, has resigned from position, according to the union, effective immediately."

Second City at 50: Still Cranking Out Laughs

Backstage: "On a blustery fall afternoon, Andy St. Clair slips into an empty club, with rows of tables, wooden chairs and a bare stage awaiting its next bit of comedy magic.
It doesn't look like much, but the stage is something of a shrine."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

University chiefs, mayor discuss tuition tax plan

Post Gazette: "A game of chicken got more complicated yesterday as Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and university presidents talked about how to avoid a tuition tax collision, even as legislation was introduced in Harrisburg to pre-empt the proposed levy."

Broadway down but not out

Variety: "Four straight plays said goodbye to Broadway in a frame that predictably saw B.O. dip following the Thanksgiving sales spike -- but nonetheless remained generally robust."

A case made for late curtains ... and a question of service

The Theater Loop: "On this blog, I typically focus on which shows I think you should go and see. But the chaos at the opening of “South Pacific” at the Rosemont Theatre last week was a reminder that where and how you see a show can be just as important as the show itself."

Sound of Music debut confirms Paris as rival to London’s West End

Times Online: "First came Thierry Henry’s “Hand of Gaul” and World Cup heartache for Ireland. Then President Sarkozy criticised the City and recession-hit Britain as a Frenchman took charge of EU financial reform.
Now London’s West End is the latest British institution to be caught in the firing line as Gallic theatre directors vow to make Paris a capital of musical theatre."

Actors Fund in housing play

Crain's New York Business: "The Actors Fund, a human services organization that helps people who work in the performing arts and entertainment industries, is planning to build hundreds of low-income housing units in urban centers across the country over the next few years."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dance Alloy unveils a compelling piece

Post Gazette: "When a company makes a transition, as was the case when Dance Alloy Theater artistic director Greer Reed-Jones replaced Beth Corning last summer, it may take a year or more to fully realize the impact."

Irish & Classical presents beautiful condensation of 'Jane Eyre'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Bringing 'Jane Eyre' to life onstage is no small task.
Like Dickens' works, Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel was written when the Victorian reading audience had more time and patience to savor multiple characters, locations, plot twists and revelations."

The original Producer of Finian's Rainbow speaks from beyond the rainbow.

PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE: "Lee wrote an article on the last page which he titled, 'So You Want To Be A Producer.'
Lee passed away in 1991, but his legacy lives on, with the production of Finian's currently on Broadway, and with this witty and still relevant article on Producing, which we've transcribed for you below."

How to Never Be Late For Work or Anything Again

WebWorkerDaily: "I hate to be late. If I’m driving to a business meeting and get stuck in traffic, I whip myself into a frenzy, imagining the person on the other end checking their watch every two minutes and cursing me for having such little regard for their time."

Curtain up on new Old Globe

SignOnSanDiego.com: "Tomorrow, the Old Globe Theatre will open the $22 million Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, which boasts a technologically advanced performance space and an eye-popping array of facilities. Among them is an education center designed to inspire young people the way that drama did for Prebys when he was a teenager."

Broadway strikes up the band

Variety: "Broadway saw bustling traffic over Thanksgiving, with close to 253,000 patrons crammed into 34 playhouses. But the most crowded seating was in the orchestra pits of the St. James, the Palace, the Neil Simon and the Vivian Beaumont."

Second City celebrates 50 years of funny

chicagotribune.com: "It was born of University of Chicago nerds at the end of McCarthyism, back when cutting-edge comedy meant jokes about your mother-in-law. It fed on the slow Chicago burn of 1960s counterculture, even though the demons of drugs and alcohol took down more than a few of its brilliant, misfit stars. It gave a tough Midwestern city its own colorfully indigenous, endlessly malleable art form -- satirical sketch-comedy, created through improvisation. After some 35 years in the business, it deftly transformed itself into a self-aware farm team for 'Saturday Night Live' and the newly expansive world of television comedy, a market that The Second City itself helped create."

The New York Drama Critics’ Circle reloads

Time Out New York: "Four years ago, when I was elected President of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, there were several changes I hoped to make to that venerable organization, which gives out the second-oldest theater award in America."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ditch the guilt and feast on seasonal offerings

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Talk about channeling your inner Grinch.
'Are the holidays ruining theater?' Denver Post theater critic John Moore asked earlier this month as he surveyed his town's seasonal theater offerings.
Moore was reacting to the plethora of Denver-area theater companies performing shows such as 'A Christmas Carol,' 'The SantaLand Diaries' and something called 'A Christmas Cactus.'"

'Likeness' looks at the evolution of the portrait

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "The fine art of portraiture can be traced as far back as Roman times, where sitters demanded realistic portraits in stone, even unflattering ones.
By the time of the Renaissance, because of the advent of oil paint, portraiture was elevated to become the highest of the plastic arts. Indeed, some are still revered to this day — such as Leonardo da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' (1503-05); and especially Jan van Eyck's 'Man in a Red Turban' (1433). The latter artist, of course, was credited with inventing and perfecting the oil paint medium as we know it today."

Smaller musicals shine in New York

Post Gazette: "Musicals usually are the heavyweights of Broadway, the big attractions that define a season. This fall, though, the new musicals I've seen aren't blockbusters in the Disney/Andrew Lloyd Webber sense, but smaller, with the two best proving special indeed."

Emma Rice Brings ‘Brief Encounter’ to St. Ann’s Warehouse

NYTimes.com: "“BRIEF ENCOUNTER,” David Lean’s classic 1946 film about a doomed love affair between two married, middle-class Britons who meet by chance in a train station coffee shop, was based on a 1938 play, “Still Life,” by Noël Coward. A new version of the tale, called “Brief Encounter,” is the mischievous child of both its ancestors."

Pittsburgh Colleges launch anti-tax assault

Post Gazette: "Doctoral student Daniel Jimenez is rehabbing his West Oakland home and paid $704 in property taxes this year. A campus peer, Candi Wills, volunteers for the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and supports Pittsburgh's arts and its sports teams.
Their earnest-looking faces and civic-minded stories are featured in newspaper ads that end with a jab: 'But the city says I don't contribute.'"

Careers a factor in dealing with college debts

Post Gazette: "The average college senior who graduated last year left campus with student loan debt of $23,200, according to The Project on Student Debt. The debt burden has grown about 6 percent annually for each graduating class since 2004, according to the Berkeley, Calif. group, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

High costs drive major trade show out of Chicago

WBBM 780: "Two months ago, McCormick Place quietly fired two-thirds of its electricians, promising to bring back only the best, and only when they're needed; trying to change the work rules and work ethic that's already cost Chicago tens of millions of dollars."

Tuition tax talks 'productive,' but no resolution reached

Post Gazette: "A closed-door meeting on a proposed tuition tax, involving two university presidents and four Pittsburgh City Council members, ended today with claims that the gathering 'was productive,' but participants offered no details."

Client Delays Cost Money

Behind the Scenes at Taylor Studios: "We estimate that 85% of our projects are delayed by the client. This means our clients do not meet the original contractual dates."

Slippery Rock University plans new performance building

Post Gazette: "Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania plans to build a performance and classroom laboratory facility, to open in about three years.
The university trustees yestrday authorized President Robert Smith to seek financing for its construction. Financing will be shared by the state, the State System of Higher Education and private funding."

James Earl Jones Moves From Darth Vader to Big Daddy

Bloomberg.com: "London’s stages have always extended a warm welcome to Hollywood stars who want to tread their boards. If they can act, that is."

Pretentious Blather, Wordplay Mix in Gibson’s ‘This’: Review

Bloomberg.com: "Worse than a play that is merely poor is one that is also annoying. Such a play was Melissa James Gibson’s “[sic]” and such now at Playwrights Horizons is her new one, “This.” You may find the title suspect, but what else can you call a play that is about nothing?"

Director Moscone Is Winner of First Fichandler Award

Yahoo! News: "Jonathan Moscone of the California Shakespeare Theater is the first recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is 'transforming the regional arts landscape through his singular creativity and artistry in theatre.'"

Friday, December 04, 2009

ART BY ROBOTS FOR ROBOTS: A Taste of Metal Tonight at CMU

Pittsburgh Art + Technology: "The Taste of Metal is the first public presentation of The New Artist, a project to develop purely robotic art: art that is made by robots for other robots."

Theatre Factory's 'Tuna Christmas' keeps two-man cast jumping

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Joe Warik directs 22 characters in Theatre Factory's production of 'A Tuna Christmas' — but only two actors.
That's because Kevin Bass of North Huntingdon and Robert O'Toole of Pittsburgh play 11 roles each — men, women and children — in the holiday production about Christmas in the quirky town of Tuna, Texas."

'Banana Shpeel' slips up

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "Delete the clowns (or pare them back to the barest minimum of stage time). Begin the show with a big song-and-dance number. Hold onto the handful of eye-popping circus specialty acts. And compress everything else into a 90-minute show with no intermission."

Man falls 25 feet to his death at Kravis Center

PalmBeachPost: "A man assembling lights on a truss at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts fell 25 feet from a catwalk and was killed, police and the center confirmed Thursday."

Drabinsky plans stage comeback

Variety: "Despite being convicted of fraud and forgery in a Canadian court this summer and sentenced to seven years in prison, legit producer Garth Drabinsky is attempting a theatrical comeback with a trio of shows planned for Toronto and the West End."

Aviary Expansion Shrinks

WDUQNews: "The National Aviary on the North Side says it is shrinking its expansion plans. Aviary Executive Director Patrick Mangus says the overall size of the project will shrink and the theater will fall from 200 seats to 125."

Dialect Coach - December, 2009

American Theatre Wing: "Theatrical dialect coach Stephen Gabis talks about his craft and how he started by listening to his Irish-Lithuanian family and early television; why he describes The 39 Steps as 'an aerobic dialect event'; Gabis works with actor Eric Hissom on multiple characters; and how a knowledge of phonetics provides a basis for individual styles of speech."

Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions: The Next 3 Things

WebWorkerDaily: "I sometimes struggle with staying focused on the most important tasks, and this is particularly important during the stressful holiday times. My love of fun side projects is a big part of the problem for me — I always have to be careful not to let those projects take too much time away from the client work that actually pays the bills. I’ve been doing a pretty good job of managing my time and staying focused using some of the techniques that I’ve described in previous posts: working in chunks, scheduling my time and maximizing productivity without burning out. However, I’m always looking for other ways to increase my productivity and manage my time more efficiently."

The Week In Tools: Toolmonger Top 5

Toolmonger: "It’s been a busy week here at Toolmonger. If you’ve been spending time in the shop — you should! — and you haven’t had a chance to keep up with Toolmonger this week, we suggest you start with these posts, which our readers helped to select"

Ten “Little” Things That Can Keep You from Getting Your Dream Gig

FreelanceFolder: "You know that you’re qualified for this project. You excel at every single requirement that the prospective client has listed in their job posting. In fact, this is your dream project."

High drama as M. Butterfly is closed down by police

Telegraph Blogs: "Zuloo Theatre Production’s M. Butterfly – a play centred around homosexuality and the Cultural Revolution, both taboo subjects in China – was closed down by police."

Old Globe Theatre shows off new additions

Los Angeles Times: "San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre this morning unveiled a $22-million theater and education center on its 3-acre campus in Balboa Park.
The new complex, which also includes an outdoor restaurant and a plaza, came in “on time and on budget,” said Globe board President Donald Cohn during a tour of the four-story facility with Louis G. Spisto, Globe's executive producer."

The 2009 BVW Show

Building Virtual Worlds: "If you are not able to join us in Pittsburgh, please join us live on the web at 6pm December 2nd through our webcast:"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Man falls 30 feet to his death at Kravis Center

PalmBeachPost: "Fenton 'Andy' Hollingsworth, 27, of Palm Beach Gardens, a theater operations technician, slipped and fell around 2 p.m. at the 300-seat Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. Playhouse, a side venue to the main Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall, Kravis spokeswoman Loretta Grantham said."

PICT does its homework for 'Jane Eyre'

Post Gazette: "Even if you've never read Charlotte Bronte's 19th-century romance, 'Jane Eyre,' or seen one of the many filmed versions of the novel, you probably know something of the story, so embedded is it in our literary and cultural psyche."

Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Elects Officers, Ratifies Contracts

Playbill.com: "The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) announced that it ratified several contracts at the union's annual membership meeting in November."

Tips from the Trenches: Learning from Mistakes

Web Worker Daily: "Most business experts believe that if you don’t fail, it means you’re not pushing yourself hard enough or taking enough risks. Thomas Edison said this about failure: “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” He saw mistakes as a step toward to a solution."

AU Bite #6: The Long Cord

CAD Insider: "I wasn't poking at Autodesk's CEO, Carl Bass, when I asked him about the future of software licensing in the wake of Autodesk losing the Vernor case (See Software Resale on eBay: Court Sided with Reseller by Kenneth Wong). I basically don't understand software licensing as Autodesk is trying to define it. I was hoping the Vernor case would lead back to a simpler time - when software was yours forever, even to sell."

Procrastination – NOT a Problem!

Stepcase Lifehack: "“I’m feeling guilty because I procrastinate too much”
A quick search on Twitter confirmed my hunch. There are a lot of people talking about procrastination, and the tweets I surveyed are filled with feelings of guilt, regret and remorse.
The word “procrastinate” is a heavy one, and I believe that people are trying to solve the problem the wrong way, leaving them with baggage that just won’t seem to go away no matter what they do."

Gravesend Inn

City Theatrical: "I had a lot of fun attending the New York City College of Technology's Gravesend Inn installation this year at the Voorhees Theatre on Jay Street in Brooklyn. Each Halloween, the students put on what might be described as a cross between a haunted house and a Disney theme park. To get an idea of that it's like, click here for a short video from NY1 Television."

Blanchett, Ullmann Bring Jolting ‘Desire’ to Brooklyn

Bloomberg.com: "Two fairly recent, unworthy stagings of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” have not dimmed our mental image of it as a modern classic."

Bush Theatre to host all received scripts online

The Stage: "West London’s Bush Theatre has this week launched a pioneering social networking website which allows playwrights to post their work online for producers and directors to read and commission."

Women act up over directionless careers

The Australian: "WHEN artistic director Neil Armfield revealed that his 2010 season for Company B Belvoir included only one female director, he generated an outcry, and a topic for this Sunday's Philip Parsons Lecture."

Contract standoff threatens opening night of Lyric's 'Merry Widow'

chicagotribune.com: "The Chicago Federation of Musicians and the committee representing the 76 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra said Wednesday they will strike the opening performance of Lehar's 'The Merry Widow' if a new labor agreement is not reached by curtain time Saturday night."

Dance's Twyla Tharp gives lessons in collaboration

Yahoo! News: "Collaboration is critical in the workplace, choreographer Twyla Tharp writes in a new book that contends that although most workers do not team up with artistic greats as she does, the secrets to success are universal.
Tharp, who has worked with such luminaries as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jerome Robbins, writes in 'The Collaborative Habit' that her experience revolves around dance but applies to the broader world of work."

Hong Kong strives to revive Cantonese Opera's heyday

Yahoo! News: "Hong Kong artist Christie To is only 16, but her aspirations to stardom are rooted in a centuries-old artform fighting extinction: Cantonese opera.
In frenetic, capitalist Hong Kong, where Cantopop and film stars hold most sway over teenagers, To is a rarity."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dance Alloy searches near, far for unique voices

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Greer Reed Jones says her goal for Dance Alloy Theater is pretty simple.
'I want to open the door so the Dance Alloy can once again be an ultimate destination for unique voices to be heard and, in doing so, to be open to the freshest ideas nationally and internationally,' she says."

He's dark, moody and can't communicate. I think I'm in love!

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Peer into the soul of any dark, moody and silent romantic hero, and you'll find a tortured man possessed of a dark secret.
Whether it's Mr. Rochester in the Victorian classic 'Jane Eyre,' for which Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre begins performances today, or Don Draper in the AMC television series 'Mad Men,' we tend to yearn for the guys who tread the darker path."

'Kodachrome Christmas' yearns for a more colorful time

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "What playwright Pat Hazell loves most about photographs and slides is that they capture and preserve a moment in time on paper.
'You wonder what made them choose those clothes or that haircut,' he says.
Hazell first paid homage to those goofy vintage snapshots that once filled photo albums and slide trays when he created his one-man show 'The Wonder Bread Years,' which played at City Theatre in 2008."

Seton Hill performance is 'EleMental'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Art and science join forces in 'EleMental R/Evolution: The World in Motion,' an original dance-theater production that director Terry Brino-Dean says is unlike anything produced by the Seton Hill University theater program in recent years."

Personality Test: Choreographer Pearlann Porter

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Pearlann Porter is the founding artistic director and principle choreographer of the Pillow Project, a dance company in Point Breeze committed to creating visual poetry with an intrinsic physical language. In the past, she has choreographed and taught for Dance Alloy, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Point Park University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company, LABCO Dance, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh and H2O Contemporary Dance Company."

Review: Intriguing 'Queens' weaves a fantastic fictional fable

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "It's difficult to know just what to make of 'The Queens.'
Normand Chaurette's fantasy drama, which plays through Dec. 13 in the Studio Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, is as elusive as it is absorbing."

From ‘Chicago’ Author - Diva to Take Bow After 80-Year Wait

NYTimes.com: "Dramatists have long understood the visceral appeal, and box office draw, of stories about powerful people behaving badly."

Full Houses on Broadway for Shows With Biggest Stars

NYTimes.com: "It’s starting to look like a season of haves and have-nots on Broadway. During Thanksgiving week, theatergoers favored the big-brand musicals over newer, celebrity-free fare, according to box-office data released on Monday."

Beyond Broadway: International Theatre - October, 2009

American Theatre Wing: "The expansion of the Broadway brand to Asian markets was among the topics discussed by our panel: Simone Genatt, Chairman of Broadway Asia, Robert Nederlander, Jr, President and CEO of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment and Alan Wasser, General Manager of Alan Wasser Associates. The wide ranging discussion also looked at what particular shows work best in the international market; the challenges of taking Broadway productions overseas to China and Korea and what's entailed in bringing a show from China to the US; navigating the cultural differences, labor rules and legalities of foreign countries; the emphasis in both China and Korea for more cultural programming; the preponderance of small theatres and small productions throughout Asia; the costs involved and the issues of marketing shows outside the US; and the next international markets to welcome Broadway."

Project Is Offering Five Endings to Shaw’s Last Play

NYTimes.com: "When George Bernard Shaw died after falling off a ladder while pruning an apple tree at age 94 in 1950, he had finished five of six scenes of what would be his last play."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Must-See Event

Carnegie Mellon University: "For those of you who haven’t seen a Building Virtual Worlds (BVW) show, here’s your chance to witness an unforgettable experience.
On Dec. 2, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Pittsburgh presents the most impressive student work from this semester’s BVW class."

Council gets earful on tuition tax

Post Gazette: "Students can't afford to fill Pittsburgh's budget gap, many of them told City Council yesterday at a public hearing that started with a request for a college president's salary and turned into something of a contest for the title of poorest scholar."

College students jam council meeting to protest tuition tax

Post Gazette: "Some 150 students, bearing petitions that they said bore 10,150 signatures in opposition to the proposed 1 percent tuition tax, filled Pittsburgh Council Chamber this morning, forming a ring around a council that is expected to vote on the levy next month."

'Wicked' tops $2 million

Variety: "'Wicked' hit a Main Stem milestone this weekend, becoming the first Broadway production to report sales of more than $2 million for a single frame on the boards."

Production Assistant/AC Needed

Craigslist: "I am looking for a Production Assistant/Assistant Camera for Wednesday Dec 2nd."

Max Eisen, Broadway Press Agent, Is Dead at 91

NYTimes.com: "Max Eisen, a Broadway press agent from the days when feeding tidbits of gossip to columnists like Walter Winchell and staging stunts were standard practice for stirring up a bit more box-office appeal, died on Nov. 23 at his home in Manhattan. He was 91."

Freelance Overload: How To Deal With Too Much Work

FreelanceFolder: "As freelancers we often face the dilemma of “feast and famine,” alternating between having too little work and too much. Here at Freelance Folder we’ve even written articles on how to avoid the cycle as well as help with avoiding the famine completely, but there will also be times when you are overwhelmed with work and more projects just keep falling into your lap."

Lumens in the Air with LumenRadio

iSquint: "One of the newer products that I got a chance to play with at LDI this year that wasn’t an LED fixture was the LumenRadio system. LumenRadio made it’s debut into the entertainment lighting industry at the PLASA show this year and took home PLASA’s 2009 Award for Innovation."

Anna Deavere Smith - November, 2009

American Theatre Wing: "America's leading practitioner of 'documentary theatre,' Anna Deavere Smith, discusses her newest work, Let Me Down Easy, and how it developed from its original commission by the Yale Medical School, through productions at Long Wharf Theater and American Repertory Theater, to its current Off-Broadway run at Second Stage. She also talks about making a career choice between being a social activist or theatre artist while in graduate school; how she began to create her unique works under the banner of On The Road in the early 80s and the process she has used to develop her plays; how she came to the decision to play all the roles in her multi-character works; whether she feels other performers can or should endeavor to mimic the original voices in her plays; why after tackling the Crown Heights riots in her breakthrough work Fires in the Mirror she next took up a thematically similar topic in Twilight: Los Angeles; what her role has been as an artist within think-tanks including Harvard's Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue and Washington DC's Center for American Progress; why she felt compelled to write the book Letters to a Young Artist: Straight Up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts; and the reason she considers being called a 'clown' the highest form of compliment."

Critics under fire for slating play after long lunch

The Guardian: "It would make a decent play. On a single day you have allegedly worse-for-wear critics trashing a play they should not be reviewing. You have a boozy lunch where one of the main topics of conversation is a schoolboy spat between reviewers. And you have a West End show where an irate actor screams threats at a member of the audience. All good drama – except, this week, it was reality."

Costume Design for American Buffalo

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Blog: "When the director, Amy Morton, and I first met to discuss the costumes for American Buffalo, we talked about keeping the play within the period that it was written (the late 1970s). Technology has changed our world so much with cell phones and computers that plays like American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross can’t realistically be updated to contemporary dress. This is not to say the plays don’t speak to their audiences today… they do! The themes are universal and powerful even if the costumes the actors are wearing represent the world 20-30 years ago."

6 Considerations When Moving to a Web-based Project Management Tool

WebWorkerDaily: "Like many web workers, I cut my project management teeth on applications like Microsoft Project and OmniGroup OmniPlan — I respect the role of the Gantt chart. However, project management is no longer just the domain of the project manager — it should involve everyone on the team."

Sugru is like consumer-ready modeling clay for physical hacks

Core77: "Launching tomorrow: Something like Play-Doh for industrial designers, Sugru is a modeling-clay-like silicone that can be used for everything from molding ergonomic grips to repairing leaky sneakers."

Updated Macy's (Wanamaker's) Holiday Light Show in Philly

- John's Blog Main Page -: "I stopped by last year and checked out the Macy's holiday light show in Philadelphia, and ended up eventually meeting Larry Kerecman, the control systems designer for the show"

Where is the Industry Heading: An Interview with James Bedell

iSquint: "This month, I interviewed James Bedell, a lighting designer that got his start in the theatre world and has since found a wide variety of work in the architectural and corporate lighting markets. Not to long ago, James got involved in design high end residential, commercial and retails spaces all around the world. More recently, he is a lighting designer for Abercrombie and Fitch working with head of lighting design Andrew Thompson. He continues freelance work, recently designing pop-up stores for Diet Coke in NYC and Boston."

College debt a growing problem, new study says

Post Gazette: "The Project on Student Debt, an independent non-profit organization based in Berkeley, Calif., bases its analysis on data from the federal government as well as institutional data provided voluntarily by colleges. The project says the loan amount is particularly daunting for students, given the sour economy and difficult job market."

Autodesk University 2009

Between the Lines: "The fist day of Autodesk University was Monday and a whirlwind of activity as the ADN developers conference was held along with many other events like the Design Computation Symposium. The Bloggers Social was a great event which seen over 150 attendees including many Autodesk product managers and executives meeting with bloggers to socialize in a relaxed social environment.."

A grown-up attitude to children's theatre - and not a fairytale in sight

guardian.co.uk: "There are rumblings in the landscape of performance for children, and they're getting stronger. Despite the brilliant work done over the last few years by a handful of genuinely cutting-edge companies, this is a field that is still tarnished by ideas about its triviality, its failure to take risks, and its bright and synthetic disregard for grown-up performance aesthetics. But looking at some of the work that's on offer in London this Christmas, it seems that there's definitely change afoot."

Coconut Grove Playhouse drama may have a happy ending after all

MiamiHerald.com: "Three years after it abruptly shut down with more than $4 million in debt, Miami's historic Coconut Grove Playhouse has a new operator -- the award-winning GableStage and its producing artistic director, Joseph Adler -- and plans to build a new theater."

Connolly, Equity Director, Steps Down

Backstage: "John Connolly has stepped down as executive director of Actors Equity, the union announced Nov. 30. Carol Waaser has taken over as acting director."

Broadway Shows Returning to New Orleans

Backstage: "Broadway shows are finally back in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina four years ago, and at least one — 'The Color Purple' — is giving something back to the recovering city."