CMU School of Drama

Friday, April 30, 2010

Seton Hill students uncover the meaning in 'Macbeth'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: College students usually remember their first encounter with William Shakespeare from a literature class -- they tend to either love or hate him.
For some theater majors at Seton Hill University, the spring production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is their first exposure to the Bard and his distinct writing style filled with flowery metaphors and complex sentence inversions.

'Jerry's Girls' have musical scores to settle

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Jerry Herman's scores have graced many award-winning Broadway musicals, including "Mame," "La Cage aux Folles" and "Hello, Dolly!"
Trafford's Theatre Factory pays tribute to the American composer and lyricist from Jersey City, N.J., in its production of "Jerry's Girls," a 1985 Broadway show that was created by Herman and Larry Alford as an evening of cabaret.

Director hopes to impart understanding with 'Cabaret'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: A Broadway musical with a story close to the heart of its director concludes Greensburg Civic Theatre's 58th season.
Katya Ramsey of Jeannette, who was born and raised in Berlin, says she always wanted to direct "Cabaret," which takes place in her birth city just before World War II. The story focuses on the relationship between British cabaret performer Sally Bowles (Monica Filippone) and American writer Cliff Bradshaw (Rob MacIntyre).

‘Carmina Burana Africana’ adds percussion, dance to classic

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Thomas Wesley Douglas says he likes to give listeners a "musical experience they have never had before."
His look at "Carmina Burana" probably will do that.
The artistic director of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh is taking a work written in the 1930s by German composer Carl Orff. To song versions of poems written in Latin and medieval German, he is adding African percussion and dance, and calling it "Carmina Burana Africana." It will be performed this weekend at the New Hazlett Theater, North Side.

Addams Family Will Hit the Road in 2011; Tour Will Launch in New Orleans

Playbill.com: A national tour of The Addams Family, the new Broadway musical about the macabre family based on the cartoons of Charles Addams, will premiere in September 2011 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in New Orleans, the producers announced on April 30.

Living Rooms - Onstage Spaces to Lust For

NYTimes.com: WATCHING the new Broadway production of “Collected Stories,” Bethany Millard felt transported back to a free-wheeling, happy time in her life, when she lived on Horatio Street in Greenwich Village in the early 1990s. A wistful sort of envy came over her, she said, as she saw the main character, Ruth Steiner, at home in a Village apartment of 12-foot-high bookshelves, cozy furniture and tasteful curios.

Idiot heaven: opening night on Broadway

Berkeley Rep Blog: Ah, the hum and beat of New York. Taxicab blurs and Times Square’s over-sized phantasmagoria of molten corporate psychedelia splatters across skyscraper. It’s the ‘hood where musical theatre still lives large. And it’s an ironically glamorous, frenetic, yet apt setting for American Idiot, a tale of an underbelly youth’s false start in the metropolis of his (broken) dreams. After all, the youth does belt out “One nation controlled by the media/Information age of hysteria” in the opening number.

Hug a Arbor, It’s Arbor Day!

iSquint.net: Today is the last Friday in April, that means it is Arbor Day! It is the day were we stop and hug our arbors, thank them for their hard work. Just kidding, that would be kinda funny though if it were true. Personally, I love Arbors! They hold all the weight to keep pipes flying in and bonking me on the head! JR Clancy wants to spread a little history safety about theatrical arbors even though today is suppose to be about trees.

How to make a breakaway telephone

Props: One of the trick props we needed for The Book of Grace was a phone which John Doman smashed during every performance. We decided that the phone receiver would remain real, but the part it hung on would be cast from plaster. It would all hang on a wooden base, and a collection of “phone innards” will be held inside the plaster part, so when it broke, an assortment of metal bells, chip-boards, and other electronic components would be left hanging on the wall.

News: Showdown on Grad Unions

Inside Higher Ed: ew York University is once again center stage in the legal and policy debate over whether graduate teaching assistants at private universities can form unions.
On Tuesday, the United Auto Workers announced that it was formally asking the university to recognize a union of graduate research and teaching assistants, and that -- if the recognition is not offered -- the union will ask the National Labor Relations Board to order an election. The union said that more than half of the university's 1,800 teaching and research assistants have signed authorization cards requesting a union and that those cards have been certified by the American Arbitration Association.

Entertainment in Production Books Available as e-Books

iSquint.net: I just heard from my good friend and fellow console connoisseur, Rob Halliday that his books, Entertainment In Production, Volume 1 & 2 have been made available as e-books through Amazon.

In The Wings - House Manager - April, 2010

American Theatre Wing: House Manager Brian Gaynair handles the day-to-day operations of the Shubert Theatre, is the primary liasion between the production and the theatre owner, and coordinates between all the front of house departments. His career path started in security and brought him to the Shubert Theatre where he has been house manager since March 1995 during the run of Crazy For You. Over the years he has handled challenging situations such as emergency evacuations and the First Family's recent visit to Memphis. Gaynair shares how audiences evolve over the run of a show, and the most interesting part about being a Broadway house manager.

Walken, Zeta-Jones, Washington Top Tony Must-See List

Bloomberg.com: The last show of the Broadway season has opened, with Sherie Rene Scott’s autobiographical entertainment, “Everday Rapture,” in which she makes the Band’s “The Weight” all her own.

AFTRA and Musicians Back Composers' Union Bid

Backstage: The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians are the latest organizations to voice support for film and television composers and lyricists looking to unionize.

Japan's Kabuki-za theater closes

Variety: The Kabuki-za theater, a landmark in Tokyo's Ginza district for nearly six decades, closed its doors for the last time on April 30.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quantum's 'Task' is worth the work

Post Gazette: Quantum Theatre's latest, "The Task" by the German Heiner Muller (1929-95), is an epic, poetic, highly theatrical provocation in the fullest Quantum manner. That means it takes a text rich in cranky ideas and turns it into an intellectual circus on the run.

'Broken Chords' snaps usual dance mold

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Dance theater is the natural language for Charlotte Vincent, whose company makes its local debut this weekend. It will perform a piece she says is "entertainment in the true sense but it pulls the rug out from under you, keeps changing, and makes you be alert. It makes the audience laugh but also makes them cry."

Personality Test: Performer Lenora Nemetz

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Lenora Nemetz has been performing for almost all of her life. A protege of legendary Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse, she has performed on Broadway and national tours as well as locally with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, Pittsburgh Musical Theater and The Rep, Point Park University's professional theater company.

Theater That Shakes, Rattles and Rolls On

NYTimes.com: “From a Jack to a King,” by the Olivier Award-winning British director and writer Bob Carlton, had its premiere as a late night show at the Bubble Theatre in London in 1982, and a successful run in the West End in 1992. Now the rock ’n’ roll musical loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth is getting a second wind in Asia with a new touring production directed by Matt Devitt.

With ‘Enron,’ Financial Misdeeds Hit Broadway

NYTimes.com: Even with all the financial drama going on these days, including this week’s performance of “Goldman Sachs: The Senate Hearing,” the action is not limited to Wall Street. Just look at Broadway, where “Enron,” a theatrical tale of greed and manipulation, opened on Tuesday night.

'Chicago' creative team sues Miramax for profits

hollywood reporter: The creatives behind the original Broadway musical "Chicago" are accusing Miramax of some accounting theatrics in connection with the hit 2002 film.

Augmented-Reality Floor Tiling

Technology Review: Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada have developed floor tiles that can simulate the look, sound and feel of snow, grass or pebbles underfoot. Such a tool could perhaps be used for augmented reality applications, tele-presence, training, rehabilitation or even as virtual foot controllers.

Concert Lighting Techniques – Know The Rig or The Show?

On Stage Lighting: In the run up to the season of outdoor concerts and music festivals here in the UK, On Stage Lighting looks at a reality in concert lighting, the benefits of having different information and asks you “Which is more important to you? Knowing the music or knowing the rig?”.

Sutton Foster Sets Sail for Broadway Revival of ‘Anything Goes’

Bloomberg.com: If the stars align on Broadway next season, Sutton Foster will be the top: the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum, a melody from a symphony by Strauss.

Catch Me If You Can't

Backstage: Sometimes what appears at first to be an isolated incident can turn out to have national implications. For example, earlier this month the New York state inspector general published a 127-page report alleging that the artistic director of the New York State Theatre Institute, a 36-year-old not-for-profit children's theater located in Troy, N.Y., committed such misdoings as nepotism and personal enrichment.

A chat with Patrick Stewart, Patrick Stewart interview, Macbeth, Hamlet, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Bullz-eye.com: Allow me to begin the introduction to this interview with an unabashed boast: it is a testament to my burgeoning ability to separate my work as a journalist from my sideline as an unabashed fanboy that I was able to sit down with Patrick Stewart for an interview about his work for PBS’s “Great Performances” – first as Claudius in “Hamlet,” then as the title character in “Macbeth – and not fully acknowledge my love of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” until just as I was standing up to leave.

Wake me up when the circuit bends: Inside American Idiot on Broadway

CrunchGear: Last week I walked through the set of American Idiot, a new broadway musical featuring the songs of the skiffle band, Green Day. I’m not big on musical theatre – I was never given even a chorus part in high school and ended up doing crew, which was much more fun, so maybe it’s sour grapes – but this musical has 44 different video screens on stage, each doing something different, making it one of the most technically impressive productions on Broadway. I was there to find out how they did it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: CMU's 'Richard III' thoughtfully conceived

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Carnegie Mellon School of Drama's production of "Richard III" would fit easily into the season of almost any regional professional theater in the U.S.
Thoughtfully conceived and stylishly attractive, it's a very up-to-date, yet timeless retelling of Shakespeare's drama.

Apple Hill opens season in 'Trailer Park'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: A play new to the local community-theater circuit, "The Great American Trailer Park Musical," parks itself at Apple Hill Playhouse for a three-week run.
If any show seems a good choice to kick off Orchard Performing Arts Company's "2010 Feel Good Season," this is the one.

Westmoreland students stretch talents in 'Sweeney Todd'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: You can almost feel their energy in their voices -- some of the nearly 90 teens with a passion for acting and singing from 18 Westmoreland County school districts and home-school and cyber-school students.
They are enthusiastic about all things theater and even more excited about their roles in Stage Right's 4th annual All-County Musical, "Sweeney Todd" School Edition. Some plan to major in musical theater in college; others' career plans include Broadway.

Review: Even with flaws, 'Figaro' delights

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Even in a problematic performance, the allure of "The Marriage of Figaro" is so abundant that audiences will cheer. That's what happened Saturday night when Pittsburgh Opera offered a partially successful performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's hilarious and sublime masterpiece.

Review: Quantum Theatre debuts a thought-provoking 'Task'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Engrossing, bewildering, provocative, vivid and unrelenting -- that's just a few of the reactions generated by Quantum Theatre's production of "The Task."
Written in 1980 by maverick, avant-garde playwright Heiner Muller, "The Task" had its opening night performance Friday at the Gage Building in the Strip District.

Denzel Washington offers a nuanced Troy in Wilson's 'Fences'

Post Gazette: He's back on Broadway, and by that I don't mean charismatic actor Denzel Washington, who's been here before, so much as the iconic role he plays. That's Troy Maxson, the flawed hero, aptly named (mythic warrior, big), of August Wilson's "Fences."

Stars come out for 'Fences' party

Post Gazette: The cause of the excitement was less the revival of Mr. Wilson's most popular play than the presence of Denzel Washington, a Hollywood star who can actually act on stage. He plays Troy Maxson, the towering role linked so indelibly to James Earl Jones in the play's premiere, 23 years ago.

Vincent Dance Theatre deals with raw emotions

Post Gazette: The Pittsburgh Dance Council will close its 2009-10 season on an international note when British company Vincent Dance Theatre makes its Pittsburgh debut Saturday in the Byham Theater, Downtown.

Busy skater Lysacek has feet planted in 2 worlds

Post Gazette: If it's Thursday, it must be Pittsburgh, but one can forgive Evan Lysacek if he can't tell the Ohio River from the Grand.
Tonight he is in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he'll likely leave the ice to a roar of applause, and then, after an overnight bus trip, he'll figure skate in Smucker's Stars on Ice at Mellon Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Sound in Rehearsal

Theater For The Future: Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a discussion with a number of – I’m gonna say it – legendary designers and engineers (Rob Milburn, Andre Pluess, Toy DeIorio and Goodman sound head David Naunton) and equally heavyweight Chicago-area Equity stage managers to talk about a common challenge that we now face as technology rapidly evolves: when, whether, and how to use rehearsal and placeholder sound effects in the rehearsal room.

Marketing Internship - The Producing Office

The Producer's Perspective Classifieds: The Producing Office seeks a full-time Summer Intern who is interested in working on the team of multiple Tony Award-winning productions. The internship will include sales reporting, research, group sales, advertising, special events, and promotional appearances. Candidates should have a strong interest in marketing/advertising and be passionate about Broadway. The position requires someone that will be trustworthy and judicious about handling proprietary information.

The making of Busch Gardens' 'Europe in the Air'

Theme Park Insider: Busch Gardens Williamsburg has released a 90-second "behind the scenes" short on the making of its new motion simulator travelogue, Europe in the Air.

Make room Austin, Pittsburgh gaming companies are gaining momentum

PopCity: A cottage industry of nearly a dozen gaming companies is flourishing in the region.
While Schell Games on the South Side has quietly grown to 60 employees since 2002, another 10 gaming companies are plugging away: SlateXP, eGenesis, Electric Owl Studios, Evil Genius Designs, SilverTree Media, Left Right Studios, Sim Ops Studios, Bossa Nova, Interbots and MechAnimal. And rumor has it another group is moving here from Florida.

Ridgid 12-Volt Lithium-Ion JobMax Combo Kits

ToolSnob.com: By far the most interesting tool we've seen this year is the Ridgid JobMax. The principal here is pretty simple: create a universal power handle, stoked by a 12-volt drill, and then create any number of interchangeable heads that can click on to it. The end result is an entire JoBox worth of tools that's capable of fitting into a ShuBox.

Skilling Smooches Raptors as Lay Prays in “Enron”

Bloomberg.com: Two bright stars, Norbert Leo Butz as Jeffrey Skilling and Marin Mazzie as his fictional nemesis, Claudia Roe, illuminate the Broadway production of the London hit, “Enron.”

A night at the theatre and the star is — you

Times Online: If you’ve ever been to a panto and shouted “oh no it isn’t” at a minor TV star, or been dragged grudgingly on stage midway through a magic show, you may find the following claim hard to credit. But audience participation is the hippest thing in theatre today. What used to mean bellowing “Look behind you” in chorus with a crowd of infants now means taking centre stage in plays that are all about you.

Enron on Broadway: Tale of Risk Is Itself Risky

Backstage: A play opening on Broadway next week examines fraud and deception on Wall Street, exotic trading instruments that led to financial ruin, and the consequences of extreme risk combined with insatiable greed.
The Enron scandal, upon which the show is based, occurred nine years ago. But the sins -- such as discarding trusted trading principles to reap profits that are too good to be true -- continue to be committed today.

Warner Bros., DC Comics Developing 'Batman Live' Stage Show

Backstage: A Batman stage show soon might be swooping to a town near you.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics are in the early stages of developing a Caped Crusader tour, tentatively titled "Batman Live."
The show is neither a musical nor a Broadway-bound theatrical production but rather an elaborate arena production aimed at kids and families.

NYC Seeks $300 Levy On Once-Free Film Permits

Backstage: For the first time ever, television and film productions that come from all over the world to shoot in the city will have to pay for the City Hall permits that have always been free, a major change in policy that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration blames on budget woes.

Outer Critics weigh in

Variety: The nominations list of the Outer Critics Circle Awards is always a little iffy as an indicator of what productions will emerge as frontrunners in the annual round of spring legit kudos, but the 2010 roster -- topped by tuner "Memphis" and play revival "The Royal Family," with seven noms each -- nonetheless has a few notable elements.

The Secret Key to Building a Franchise's Enduring Fandom

io9: But what makes the fan choose one show over another? What is it about this that earns their love as opposed to that? Why is there a far more robust following for any and all things Firefly, which ran just the one season, than for The X-Files, which ran for nine years, won a bunch of Emmys, and all but founded a network? Why will Lost — despite the fervent viewership devoted to unraveling conspiracy theories and watching sweaty beautiful people — disappear from the fan landscape once the show goes off the air?
One word: Uniforms.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NFTRW Weekly Top 5

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

13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity

Stepcase Lifehack: Looking to increase your productivity? You’ve come to the right article. I don’t claim to be a productivity master (I always think there’s room for improvement), but I am very passionate about increasing productivity. I’m always looking for different ways to be more productive – stealing pockets of time where I can, deprioritizing the unimportant, getting system overhauls, etc. And I love it when I see my efforts pay off in the form of increased outputs at the end of the day.
<-- Comments Here

Richard III

Pittsburgh City Paper: I've rarely seen a Shakespeare play in Pittsburgh so superbly realized: Richard III, produced by the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, stuns and stirs. Director Matt Gray's remarkable conception surges with disturbing vitality. In every role, even small ones, the students do remarkable justice to the text. Clearly they have been excellently prepared by voice coach Janet Madele Feindel; their words come across with clarity and depth.
<-- Comments Here

‘Glee’ series fuels interest in high school show choirs

The Boston Globe: "Could this have anything to do with “Glee,’’ the Fox television series about an Ohio high school glee club full of losers? A club that bears a striking resemblance to Music Unlimited? Lopez prefers to think the change of heart occurs when his classmates see how good his show choir is. Still, he says “Glee’’ has made a huge difference in his life. The series “brought more of my personality out,’’ said Lopez, who had never danced before. “I used to be really shy. I used to have stage fright. I used to be scared, a lot. Now I’m not scared of going up on stage anymore.’’" Via ArtsJournal
<-- Comments Here

Shakespeare, Sans Rehearsal

Backstage: Born out of a desire to take on ambitious plays that require large casts—and, typically, ample rehearsal time and some serious cash—a group of classically trained actors has devised a Shakespeare-on-a-shoestring approach.
A show is chosen and a cast is recruited. They have about six weeks to learn their lines, which they're allowed to practice with each other as long as no blocking is worked out in advance. They come up with their own costumes. In the case of "Titus," perhaps the Bard's most extravagantly violent play, they get together once or twice to work out basic fight-scene staging, so that no one loses an eye.
Not until the day of the performance do they all gather for the first time, to work out entrances and exits only.
<-- Comments Here

Cirque du Soleil Developing Shows Inspired by the Music and Style of Michael Jackson

Playbill.com: Cirque du Soleil and the estate of late singer-songwriter Michael Jackson are teaming up to create new shows that will give Jackson fans a theatrical concert experience like never before, the partners announced on April 20.
<-- Comments Here

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sherie Rene Scott’s Bumpy Road to Broadway

NYTimes.com: "THE last few days of March were the most nerve-racking of Sherie Rene Scott’s acting career. After trying unsuccessfully through the fall and winter to move her critically acclaimed Off Broadway musical, “Everyday Rapture,” to Broadway, she was emotionally raw and awash in self-doubt when, out of the blue, she learned that Roundabout Theater Company was considering her show as a last-minute replacement for its scuttled Broadway production of “Lips Together, Teeth Apart.”"

May 3rd – Michael Merritt Awards & Designer Showcase

Theater For The Future: "One of the things that’s cooking is coming up quick – on May 3rd 5pm at the Goodman, there’s a big ol’ exposition and awards ceremony of the work done by theatrical designers in Chicago. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: The Michael Merritt Awards."

Peter Marks imagines a White House that encourages playwrights

Washington Post: "The significance of the Obamas embracing aspects of the American theater, of course, would be largely symbolic, given the laughably negligible financial support this nation gives its artists. But inviting more of them to Pennsylvania Avenue, in whatever way the White House accommodates performance (I wouldn't know; I've never been), would be both a psychological shot in the arm for a form perennially struggling to assert itself and a motivational act for people all over the country looking for signs that their leaders have a stake in our creative well-being."

And theatre for all…

2am: "In today’s Washington Post, Peter Marks imagines a new hope for theatre with a touch of audacity. (Go ahead and read it. We’ll wait.)
The short version is, he considers a world in which the White House could support more live theatre–dramatic work in particular–perhaps coordinated by Rocco Landesman and the NEA. After all, “[i]t’s embarrassing that many embassies in Washington are more aggressive about showcasing their nations’ plays and players than is the hometown administration.” His proposal is intriguing, but it really only scratches the surface…
He suggests enlisting Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights to craft one-act plays that could be performed at the White House itself, maybe with all star casts volunteering their time to perform. Perhaps their work could revolve around a theme, perhaps not. He then suggests expanding the roster to include “prize worthy” playwrights as well. And he suggests that Landesman might be ideally suited to coordinate such a project.
It’s a good idea. As a playwright, I could get behind that idea. But then I got to thinking."

The Biggest Marketing Challenge of the Next 10 Years (Part 4)

Arts Marketing: "The final response in this series of posts belongs to Julie Peeler, a close friend and expert arts marketer. Prior to her current position at Americans for the Arts, Julie headed the National Arts Marketing Project, which was where I met her in 2004. She is a wealth of knowledge, and someone that I look to for advice when I am navigating particularly difficult marketing decisions. I hope you enjoy her insight"

British class warfare is dead? Not on the stage

The Globe and Mail: "A Conservative Party campaign billboard in London featuring the image of its leader, David Cameron, has been defaced with the spray-painted slogan “F--- off back to Eton.” Is it Cameron’s fault that he has an unfortunately smug countenance, which an Italian friend of mine calls “a face of slaps,” or that his parents sent him to Eton College, that fertile plot where the future tsars of Britain are carefully watered and weeded?" Via ArtsJournal

‘Glee’ series fuels interest in high school show choirs

The Boston Globe: "Could this have anything to do with “Glee,’’ the Fox television series about an Ohio high school glee club full of losers? A club that bears a striking resemblance to Music Unlimited? Lopez prefers to think the change of heart occurs when his classmates see how good his show choir is. Still, he says “Glee’’ has made a huge difference in his life. The series “brought more of my personality out,’’ said Lopez, who had never danced before. “I used to be really shy. I used to have stage fright. I used to be scared, a lot. Now I’m not scared of going up on stage anymore.’’" Via ArtsJournal

Seamstress needed

Craigslist: "Talented seamstress wanted for one project only"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Week's Best iPhone Apps

Gizmodo:This one made its debut on the iPad, where it is indispensable. It's a simple vector-based sketching app, with line normalization, layers, a larger-than-screen canvas, and PDF export. It's free.

'Time of My Life' gives a taste of Broadway

Post Gazette: "Time of My Life," which opened Thursday at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, is two hours of charmingly comic professional theater, with 30 minutes of pathos for the finale.

Will Tony put coin in jukebox?

Variety: History could be made when the Tony Award nominations are announced May 4. It's just possible that in the best musical category, all four nominated tuners will be what's affectionately or disparagingly called a jukeboxer -- that is, a show built around pre-existing songs.

Leslie Jordan Adds Gaiety to His ‘Trip Down the Pink Carpet’

NYTimes.com: How at ease is Leslie Jordan with himself these days? Comfortable enough that when he was hired to perform on a recent Alaska-bound cruise, he invited his mother to take the extra stateroom he was offered.

13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity

Stepcase Lifehack: Looking to increase your productivity? You’ve come to the right article. I don’t claim to be a productivity master (I always think there’s room for improvement), but I am very passionate about increasing productivity. I’m always looking for different ways to be more productive – stealing pockets of time where I can, deprioritizing the unimportant, getting system overhauls, etc. And I love it when I see my efforts pay off in the form of increased outputs at the end of the day.

A Recipe for a Successful Project

Behind the Scenes at Taylor Studios, Inc: A successful project is one with delighted clients and engaged visitors. One of our recent successes is the Puget Sound Navy Museum. We started with a great story to tell, which is the first key to success. Taylor Studios was brought on board (no pun intended) to design, build, and install a new exhibition interpreting life aboard the USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class Aircraft Carrier that docks in the navy shipyard near the museum.

Sondheim Dishes Foxy Mama, Barbara Cook Steals Show

Bloomberg.com: “Sondheim on Sondheim,” the revue put together by James Lapine from Stephen Sondheim’s songs, confirms enchantingly what we already know but can gladly bear such eloquent repeating of: that Sondheim is the best composer- lyricist we’ve got.

Enron on Broadway: tale of risk is itself risky

Yahoo! News: A play opening on Broadway next week examines fraud and deception on Wall Street, exotic trading instruments that led to financial ruin, and the consequences of extreme risk combined with insatiable greed.
The Enron scandal, upon which the show is based, occurred nine years ago. But the sins -- such as discarding trusted trading principles to reap profits that are too good to be true -- continue to be committed today.

Shakespeare, Sans Rehearsal

Backstage: Born out of a desire to take on ambitious plays that require large casts—and, typically, ample rehearsal time and some serious cash—a group of classically trained actors has devised a Shakespeare-on-a-shoestring approach.
A show is chosen and a cast is recruited. They have about six weeks to learn their lines, which they're allowed to practice with each other as long as no blocking is worked out in advance. They come up with their own costumes. In the case of "Titus," perhaps the Bard's most extravagantly violent play, they get together once or twice to work out basic fight-scene staging, so that no one loses an eye.
Not until the day of the performance do they all gather for the first time, to work out entrances and exits only.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bricolage walks the 'Talk'

Post Gazette: With "Speech & Debate," a contemporary play about what it's like to be a gay adolescent, Bricolage introduces the program "Walk the Talk," a partnership between the production company and high schools within walking distance of its Cultural District space.

Review: 'Dreamers' has its moments, but sadly not enough of them

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: There are moments when "Beautiful Dreamers" sparkles with lyricism and wit.
When Stephanie Riso lends her lovely voice to delivering a Stephen Foster song with a proper blend of style and sympathy or when Martin Giles' script injects sly and subversive wit into the dialogue, the show comes alive.
Unfortunately, those moments are rare.

CLO inks former 'N Sync member Joey Fatone for 'Producers'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera recently signed some additional prominent performers for its 2010 summer season

M. Edgar Rosenblum, Who Grew the Long Wharf Theater, Dies at 78

NYTimes.com: M. Edgar Rosenblum, an arts executive who helped steer the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven to prominence in the American theater landscape, developing work that traveled to Broadway and elsewhere and that won Pulitzer Prizes and Tony Awards along the way, died on Sunday in Woodstock, N.Y. He was 78.

What is an Arts Organization’s “Online Voice”?

Technology in the Arts: On April 29th, Technology in the Arts will present the webinar “Finding Your Online Voice” featuring renown arts consultant Maryann Devine from smArts & Culture. We caught up with Maryann to talk about the idea of an arts organization’s “online voice” and why it matters.

Broadway has a new play about Enron. Where's the one about Madoff?

Slate Magazine: The plot of an engaging play debuting on Broadway this week is ripped straight from the Wall Street Journal. In the opening scene, high-living finance types celebrate an accounting technique that promises to make their business a fortune. There are off-balance-sheets, conflicts of interest, credulous Wall Street analysts, a hands-off CEO, and a dorky, greasy-haired finance jockey who becomes a buff stud before crashing. When they're not screwing each other, the venal, vain executives are screwing over shareholders.

Denzel, ‘Tosca,’ Lunatics, Charlotte Gainsbourg: N.Y. Weekend

Bloomberg.com: Denzel Washington, last seen on Broadway as Shakespeare’s Brutus, plays Troy Maxson, the domineering patriarch of a slum-dwelling family in a revival of August Wilson’s great 1987 drama, “Fences.’

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Richard III

Pittsburgh City Paper: I've rarely seen a Shakespeare play in Pittsburgh so superbly realized: Richard III, produced by the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, stuns and stirs. Director Matt Gray's remarkable conception surges with disturbing vitality. In every role, even small ones, the students do remarkable justice to the text. Clearly they have been excellently prepared by voice coach Janet Madele Feindel; their words come across with clarity and depth.

CMU theater trio earns Kennedy Center honors

Post Gazette: A Carnegie-Mellon University trio earned honors today at the 42nd annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Quantum wants to make 'The Task' tick

Post Gazette: "The Task" represents another notch in the belt of Quantum Theatre's mission, now in its 19th year.
The theater's online history includes such phrases as "an incubator for the amazing" and an introduction to "artists forging new theatrical ground." Found spaces that suit the work are part and parcel of the Quantum experience.

Symphony, circus share Heinz Hall stage

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Some performers are keen to break the so-called fourth wall, the imaginary one at the front of the stage that separates audiences from performers. But when Cirque de la Symphonie performs, it shatters that wall.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, led by Jack Everly, will present Cirque de la Symphonie at concerts Thursday through Sunday at Heinz Hall, Downtown.

Quantum Theatre's 'Task' should move audience — literally

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: When the scenes shift location in "The Task," it's the audience that will move, not the scenery.
Unlike a traditional theater performance where the audience remains seated throughout, Quantum Theatre's production of Heiner Muller's "The Task" will progress through a series of installation-like visions and experiences inside a large, post-industrial space in the Gage Building.
"I think the process lends itself to the play," says Quantum Theatre artistic director Karla Boos. "When the audience gets up and moves, they (will be) very aware they are an audience in the theater."

'Time of My Life' full of fun back-and-forth

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Director John Tillinger believes that playwright Alan Ayckbourn should get more respect.
"Everybody feels that because he's writing about the English middle class, his plays are not substantive," Tillinger says. "I think he is (substantive) and he's very clever about building a play, and he's got a gift for creating a funny line or two."
Tillinger is in a position to know.

Looking For Costume Designer

Craigslist: I am a Pittsburgh based professional photographer that is looking to collaborate with a costume designer (experience on all levels) on a number of portfolio based shoots

Broadway Shows Raising Funds For BC/EFA in Unique Ways

Playbill.com: A benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the annual Easter Bonnet Competition — scheduled for April 26 and 27 at the Minskoff Theatre — ends a six-week period of intensive fundraising by the assorted Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Curtain speeches, autographed posters and program sales, auctions and cabaret performances are all part of the fundraising effort, which brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Good Thing Going: Sondheim on Sondheim, a Docu-Musical, Opens on Broadway

Playbill.com: Sondheim on Sondheim, a unique musical that is part video documentary and part starry Broadway revue, opens at Studio 54 on April 22, offering the life story of Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

Screenwriting guru tells all

Salon.com: Earlier this week, Big Think sat down with legendary screenwriting guru Robert McKee, to talk about the state of storytelling in an age where television is regaining our respect and any group of friends with a computer and a YouTube account between them can release their homemade movie to a worldwide audience. If you aren't familiar with McKee and his message, you must never have harbored any ambitions to become a screenwriter, since he's the most famous teacher of the craft in the business. You may, however, remember a foulmouthed Brian Cox portraying him in Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's "Adaptation."

Students Addicted to Social Media

University Communications Newsdesk, University of Maryland: A new study out today from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, concludes that most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world. "I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening," said one person in the study. "I feel like most people these days are in a similar situation, for between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin." via Inside Higher Ed

1st Global Conference – Performance: Visual Aspects of Performance Practice

Scenography: Theatre is an inter-disciplinary form of art in itself, drawing ideas and symbolisms from the fields of humanities, making historical references and links, presenting social relations, putting forward great ideas and dilemmas of the mind, highlighting aspects of the human personality and employing all existing art-forms in order to create a performance as a whole.

Enron Prosecutor Praises Show, Misses Whistleblower

Bloomberg.com: Former Enron Corp. prosecutor Andrew Weissmann settled into his seat at a recent preview of Broadway’s “Enron” at the Broadhurst Theatre.
“When I heard they were making a musical, I thought, what a joke,” Weissmann, 52, said. “It will be like ‘Springtime for Hitler.’”

Living a play in an unintentional way

Philadelphia Inquirer | 04/18/2010: When life began imitating art at Theatre Horizon, the scrappy professional stage company in Norristown, it took the company utterly by surprise.
Here they were, starting work on a play that audaciously examines the way people who are not overweight perceive people who are, and the way overweight people see themselves - and they ended up facing the same perceptions, for real. via ArtsJournal

Broadway is sweet on David Babani of the Menier Chocolate Factory

latimes.com: A photographer is trying to figure out how best to shoot David Babani when the 32-year-old British producer of the Broadway revivals of "La Cage Aux Folles" and "A Little Night Music" puckishly offers a suggestion.
"Can't you strap me into a harness and suspend me between the two theaters?" he says, sitting in the lobby of the Longacre Theatre — where "La Cage" opened Sunday to strong reviews — directly opposite the Walter Kerr, home of "A Little Night Music." "You could Photoshop it out later. Very Cagelle." via ArtsJournal

Marian Seldes, Alan Ayckbourn to receive lifetime achievement Tony awards

Los Angeles Times: At 81, Marian Seldes is considered a living legend of the American stage, having made her Broadway debut in 1947. It's hard to believe that Seldes, who has long been the muse of Edward Albee, has won only one Tony Award in her career -- as a featured actress in Albee's "A Delicate Balance" in 1967. via ArtsJournal

Yearning for originality on the musical stage

thestar.com: Look around. If you want to go to a big musical over the next few months, you’ve basically got four choices: the Mirvish productions of Rock of Ages and Mamma Mia!, the Dancap production of Jersey Boys and the Stage West version of The Wedding Singer.
I’ve seen all of these shows — either here or in their original incarnations — and they’re a highly entertaining quartet of musicals. Each one seems determined to give audiences a good time.
But what kind of a good time? Ah, that’s where there’s a little bit of a rub. The Wedding Singer is the odd man out, mixing an original score with an adaptation of the much-loved Adam Sandler film. And even though the songs are ostensibly brand new, they try their darndest to sound like they were written in the 1980s. Still, the final result is an engaging entertainment. via ArtsJournal

Airbent Out of Shape

Backstage: Shyamalan told reporters that he believes the film will be "one of the most incredibly diverse movies of all time" and claimed that his only concern was casting the best actor for each role, regardless of race. When, in a follow-up conversation with UGO.com, a writer pointed out that the film will feature a villainous nation of Asians attacking nations led by three white heroes, Shyamalan replied, "It's called irony."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At City Theatre, 'Shooting Star' sparkles, then fizzles

Post gazette: With airplane travel now grounded by an Icelandic volcano -- obviously the invention of an absurdist playwright -- "Shooting Star" feels like a slice of current life.
That's what you expect from Steven Dietz, the fluent playwright whose work we've seen five times at City Theatre and a couple of times at other Pittsburgh companies. He's smart and contemporary to the extent that a theater critic wants to jot down his literate, snap crackling turns of phrase to dress up his review, except that while jotting one, another comes flying by, then another and another.

'Beautiful Dreamers' paints picture of nation's hope

Post Gazette: Thirty years ago, when I was breaking in as a theater critic, Martin Giles was settling in as house dramatist for a scruffy, determined theatrical collective, the New Group Theater. A decade or so later, I reckoned I'd reviewed more plays by Mr. Giles than anyone except Mr. Shakespeare.

FX specialists and artists for zombie opera (film and stage)

Craigslist: Due to an unexpected change in fx crew people I am looking for a few good artists to add to my zombie squad.
Do you have what it takes? The guts, the determination, the understanding of silicone gel-filled appliances?

Cirque du Soleil Developing Shows Inspired by the Music and Style of Michael Jackson

Playbill.com: Cirque du Soleil and the estate of late singer-songwriter Michael Jackson are teaming up to create new shows that will give Jackson fans a theatrical concert experience like never before, the partners announced on April 20.

Despite Cancer, Maura Tierney Tries ‘North Atlantic’

NYTimes.com: Eager for a rigorous acting experience after nine years on that fast-paced melodrama, Ms. Tierney arranged to visit the Wooster Group, the New York theater troupe known for experimenting with language, movement and multimedia. She ended up spending two days watching the company’s actors improvise with a Tennessee Williams play, “Vieux CarrĂ©,” and left hoping to work with them someday.

Funhouse of the future looks oddly like a biotech company, Iminin Technologies

PopCity: News flash. An explosion at one of the region's newest biotech companies rocked the region this weekend, nearly contaminating thousands of visitors with nanobots. Fortunately, the molecular critters were exterminated and all the visitors survived.
This totally fictional, highly immersive experience comes to you courtesy of The ImininTech Project, part art installation, part funhouse and part Disney experience, all rolled into one. The project showcases some of the coolest innovations from Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.

Robust Post-Show Conversations

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Blog: Steppenwolf’s patrons will often ask me after a post show discussion, “How often do you do these?” The answer is “every show.” Yes, with a few small exceptions, you can find myself or another member of the post-show gang sitting down to a lively discussion with our audiences just about every night of the week.

The money pit: Feds approve another box office futures exchange

Los Angeles Times: For the second time in a week, federal regulators gave preliminary approval to a company that wants to create a market for betting on the future box office receipts of Hollywood movies – but don’t rush to place your wager.

Go All Night with Art!

Pop Filter Event of the Week: From Ale to Art: In Lawrenceville, late April is synonymous with Art All Night. So rev up your art engine at at 6p.m. on Saturday and if you can hang, don't stop until 2p.m. the next day.
For its 13th installment, the staunchly grassroots happening is upping the ante by staging its 20-hour art antics inside the legendary Iron City Brewing Company. Where lagers and ales were once processed and bottled, now painting, performance, music and video will spring forth.

Stage-hands’ Union, 1923

Props: The following article was published over 85 years ago. It’s an interesting look into not only what the stagehands union (now known as IATSE) did back then, but how it was viewed by some people. It’s also an interesting look at how the union was viewed back then. It’s important to note that the union – in fact, no union – is as strong as it was back in the 1920s. It would also be fascinating to look at how this article thought the union was destroying theatre, and compare it to what the state of theatre – and the union – is today. So please don’t think this article reflects any of my personal views or agenda, other than historical curiosity.

Struggling with Time-Debt

Get Rich Slowly: I recently found myself, late one night, staring at my computer screen with a sinking, hard feeling in my stomach and a bad taste in my mouth. A familiar bad taste. The taste of debt. But I wasn’t looking at my bank statement — I was looking at my calendar.
I’d borrowed a few hours from my normal work routine to do something special with my kids, and then cancelled a date with my husband to make up the work hours, and then tried to reschedule with him but ran into a doctor’s appointment I’d forgotten about.
Time-management coach Thekla Richter says I’m not alone. “Everybody has that problem,” she says. “No matter how good we are at time managment. We want to do more things than we have time to do. It just means that we have lots of desire and lots of imagination.”
Once I’d had that rock-bottom moment of insight, the pattern that led to it was clear. Via Lifehacker

Green Day on Broadway insist they are still punk

Reuters: U.S. punk rock band "Green Day" may be debuting their new musical on mainstream Broadway this week, but the trio says they aren't turning soft but following a natural progression from their 2004 album "American Idiot."

Green Day’s Whiny `American Idiot' Rocks on Broadway

Bloomberg.com: Fans of Green Day may well find bliss in “American Idiot,” the latest rock concert to pose as a Broadway show. There are six of them, if you’re counting.

When Broadway Revivals Are 'Revisals'

WSJ.com: Something wasn't clicking at rehearsals for the Broadway revival of "Promises, Promises."
"We felt Fran was missing a beat at the start of the first act," said the musical's director-choreographer, Rob Ashford, referring to the character played by Kristin Chenoweth, a woman in love with a married cad. "We wanted to give her an optimistic song to show the beginning of her emotional journey."
The solution was to insert "I Say a Little Prayer," the durable hit pop tune by the "Promises, Promises" songwriting team, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Via ArtsJournal

Playwright Adapts French Play 'The Liar'

NPR: Robert Siegel talks to David Ives about his English adaptation of the French play The Liar. The play is about a man who can never tell the truth. Ives has not only translated it, but has added modern concepts. Via ArtsJournal

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

'Richard III' at CMU challenges and entertains

Post Gazette: Shakespeare's Richard III is a monster without peer in Western drama, deformed physically and psychologically into pure ambition. The character dominates the sprawling play, with more than a third of the lines, making the role among the most demanding in theater.

Four different PBT casts all do justice to 'Swan Lake'

Post Gazette: For all of its origins in Russian myth more than a century ago, "Swan Lake" has never seemed more relevant than in today's politically charged world, where the struggle between good and evil is often translated into black and white.
It's all told in the highly popular tale of broken promises, manipulation and disguise, but the strength of "Swan Lake" takes it to a personal level, where the heroine Odette struggles to overcome a ruthless sorcerer and cause of her Swan Queen predicament, Von Rothbart. She engages a wayward Prince Siegfried to aid her cause, setting up a dysfunctional love triangle of epic proportions.

CAPA students sweep August Wilson Monologue Contest

Post Gazette: The August Wilson Monologue Contest brought 23 Pittsburgh high school students to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture Sunday night to perform passionate speeches from the 10 plays of Mr. Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle.

'Shooting Star' is a sometimes funny look at life's unfinished business

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Anyone who has done a fair amount of living no doubt has a couple of past relationships dangling out there with unfinished business.
Whether they're romances gone awry or simply friendships that have unraveled, it's only natural to wonder if time, maturity or the opportunity to express the words left unspoken could allow us to set things right.
Playwright Steven Dietz offers Reed McAllister and Elena Carson that opportunity in "Shooting Star," which opened Friday at City Theatre on the South Side.

BJM Danse Montreal delivers

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The tug of war between accessibility and personal artistic vision has bedeviled dance companies back to the days of Diaghilev. Do you pay the bills or stay true to the muse?

Mountain Playhouse to offer reduced 2010 season

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Despite its financial woes, and a late start, Mountain Playhouse will perform a reduced 2010 season.
In March, the Jennerstown professional theater company confirmed that its board of directors had voted to suspend operations to concentrate on paying down the $250,000 debt accumulated during its 2008 season.
The board's decision to resume operations came after it hired Kevin Vaughn to serve as the theater company's managing director. Vaughn has a reputation for helping companies recover from economic problems.

Drama League Nominees Include Addams Family, American Idiot, Enron, Next Fall, Night Music and More

Playbill.com: The awards recognize excellence in the Broadway and Off-Broadway communities for the 2009-10 season. There is no set number of nominees from year to year, and multiple performer-nominees are seated on a dais. From that performer group, one artist is honored.

Support Behind The Scenes – #ByDesignDay2010

iSquint.net: This Saturday is a very important Saturday, it is the ESTA Foundations By Design Day. Why is it so important? It is a day where professional designers have committed to donating their royalties for the day to ESTA Foundations, Behind the Scenes. Top lighting designers around the world have already committed their royalties to help our fallen or ill brothers and sisters in the industry.

Kelsey Grammer Is Big Draw, Drawback in Smart ‘La Cage’ Revival

Bloomberg.com: The chorus of six long-limbed drag queens in the latest Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s “La Cage aux Folles” is half that of two earlier outings.

National theater group urges high court to allow smoking in performances

The Denver Post: New York's Theatre Communications Group, a national service group representing 700 theater companies and 13,000 individuals, has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to rule in favor of three Colorado theater companies arguing that smoking within the context of a theatrical production is a First Amendment right of free expression. via ArtsJournal

RSC actor injured by prop firearm

BBC News The Royal Shakespeare Company has delayed its new production of Antony and Cleopatra after the lead actor was "seriously" injured by a prop firearm.
Darrell D'Silva sustained the injury to his hand during technical rehearsals. via ArtsJournal

Monday, April 19, 2010

NFTRW Weekly Top 5

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

Noises off: Theatre of the exploited

guardian.co.uk: Should theatres be allowed to employ people without paying them? Given the fact that unpaid internships are virtually endemic across the theatre industry, this might seem a futile question. Indeed, it's an issue that Lyn Gardner examined only a couple of months ago. Yet the ethics of employment are being hotly debated on the blogs once again after, as Isaac Butler points out, the New York Times published this piece questioning whether unpaid internships are even legal. Via ArtsJournal
<-- Comments here

Why theatre was the most important class I ever took.

The Blog of Brendan Pickering: "The most important class I have ever taken, I took only last semester. It was not economics, nor was it history. The most important class I have ever taken was Intro to Theatre, 101.
Every day we spent at least 15 minutes looking into another student’s eyes, no facial expressions or body movements allowed, just feeling the other’s presence and projecting our own.
“How lame,” I thought, “How artsy.”
Then something strange happened. I first noticed it during my walk back to my dorm after the fourth or fifth class, as I met the gaze of other students in transit.
I didn’t look away. Even more strange, I had no intention of doing so. I just wanted to look, to feel their presence and gauge their strength. It was exhilarating." Via Lifehacker
<-- Comments here

Why games will take over our lives

CNN.com: "If you think an electric toothbrush is high-tech, wait until you hear about the Internet-enabled version.
Jesse Schell, a game designer and Carnegie Mellon University professor, says toothbrushes will be hooked-up with Wi-Fi Internet connections within five years."
<-- Comments here

April, National Stress Month!

HealthNewsDigest.com: "April may bring showers to mind, but now it has also been declared 'National Stress Month' (Hopefully, April won't be as rainy as March, but we will de-stress with May flowers!) Stress has been associated with many things from the common cold to more serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease to cancer. Both, short term stress and long term chronic stress have consequences. But, this week let's take a look at how to manage our stress, because most of us experience some form of it year- round. First, here's a study that reports the direct relationship of stress to the common cold!"
<-- Comments here

Los Angeles mayor vows to curb film production exodus

xinhuanet.com: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed on Tuesday to take every step necessary to stop the flight of filmmaking from the city.
'The entertainment industry is the bedrock of Los Angeles and we are taking the necessary steps to keep our signature industry here where it belongs,' Villaraigosa said.
The measures include providing a more convenient power source for filmmaking equipment and letting production crews park free in certain city-owned garages, according to the mayor."
<-- Comments here

Sunday, April 18, 2010

'Marriage of Figaro' still dazzles even its performers

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Labels are never adequate when dealing with masterpieces. Knowing something is great is nothing compared with experiencing its greatness.
Most of the cast for Pittsburgh Opera's upcoming production of "The Marriage of Figaro" has performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's masterpiece at least several times before. Yet, they say working on it again has been so refreshing and inspiring that scheduled breaks, such as for lunch, have been unwelcome interruptions.

National theater lobby throws weight behind Curious' Supreme Court fight

www.denverpost.com:New York's Theatre Communications Group filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday asking it to rule in favor of a consortium of three Colorado theater companies that smoking within the context of a theatrical production is a First Amendment right of free expression
Curious Theater, Paragon Theatre and the now defunct Theatre 13 have engaged in an ongoing, four-year legal battle to win an exemption from Colorado's statewide indoor smoking ban that would allow smoking during theatrical performances.
The theater companies have lost in every step of the legal process to date. So on Dec. 31, Curious Theatre producing artistic director Chip Walton announced he would petition the U.S. Supreme Court for the right to smoke non-tobacco products in theatrical productions. Via Stage Directions

‘La Cage’ Imports Douglas Hodge, a Pinter Regular

NYTimes.com: AT a rehearsal of the Broadway musical “La Cage aux Folles” this month the British actor Douglas Hodge paused during the number “The Best of Times” to hash out a detail with the director, Terry Johnson. Mr. Hodge asked if he could improvise where to sit on the lip of the stage as he banters with the audience midway through the song. “There will be people who are too embarrassed to talk back to me,” Mr. Hodge explained. Mr. Johnson said he trusted the actor to choose his spot; nodding, Mr. Hodge began silently conversing with invisible theatergoers, feigning delight at their imagined responses.

‘Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play’ at a Brooklyn Church

NYTimes.com TWO years ago, at the urging of its pastor, David Dyson, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church welcomed a resident theater company into the largely unused interior of what was once its Sunday school. Named the Irondale Center after its new tenant, the Irondale Ensemble Project, the soaring space now serves as a home to a wide array of performances and community events in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Noises off: Theatre of the exploited

guardian.co.uk: Should theatres be allowed to employ people without paying them? Given the fact that unpaid internships are virtually endemic across the theatre industry, this might seem a futile question. Indeed, it's an issue that Lyn Gardner examined only a couple of months ago. Yet the ethics of employment are being hotly debated on the blogs once again after, as Isaac Butler points out, the New York Times published this piece questioning whether unpaid internships are even legal. Via ArtsJournal

Brits flock to the West End for entertainment

Yahoo! News: If all the world's a stage, then it never has been more true than in the British capital right now. The nation's economy is in dire straits, but that hasn't stopped theatergoers from flocking to the West End, where attendance last year topped 14 million and box office revenue hit a record 500 million pounds ($775 million).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Film technicians get rigging refresher at EUE/Screen Gems

StarNewsOnline.com: "Kent Jorgensen, I.A.T.S.E. Local 80 safety coordinator, held up a metal cable made of three woven strands. He separated the strands, bent them into an oval and rewove them into a seamless loop.
To the men and women sitting in the class, though, this “trick” was everyday work. And a back-and-forth discussion about the loop’s strength and its safety began."

NYC film industry second in nation

Crain's New York Business: "New York’s film and television production industry employed around 63,000 workers and paid as much as $5 billion in wages in 2008, making it the second-largest film industry in the nation after California, according to a report released Tuesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli."

Los Angeles mayor vows to curb film production exodus

xinhuanet.com: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vowed on Tuesday to take every step necessary to stop the flight of filmmaking from the city.
'The entertainment industry is the bedrock of Los Angeles and we are taking the necessary steps to keep our signature industry here where it belongs,' Villaraigosa said.
The measures include providing a more convenient power source for filmmaking equipment and letting production crews park free in certain city-owned garages, according to the mayor."

NEA chairman Landesman encounters the arts on Skid Row

Los Angeles Times: "Landesman was beginning a day in L.A. whose itinerary would later encompass tonier precincts of the local arts scene, including the Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art. It's part of his ongoing 'Art Works' tour, named after the new catch-phrase he coined in hopes of crystallizing for a nation the idea that the arts are intrinsic to its spiritual well being and socioeconomic fate and not just an accessory. Having checked out developments in Peoria, Ill., St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., Miami and Philadelphia since November, Landesman has made it to California for a swing that began over the weekend in San Diego and also includes San Francisco and Oakland."

Why theatre was the most important class I ever took.

The Blog of Brendan Pickering: "The most important class I have ever taken, I took only last semester. It was not economics, nor was it history. The most important class I have ever taken was Intro to Theatre, 101.
Every day we spent at least 15 minutes looking into another student’s eyes, no facial expressions or body movements allowed, just feeling the other’s presence and projecting our own.
“How lame,” I thought, “How artsy.”
Then something strange happened. I first noticed it during my walk back to my dorm after the fourth or fifth class, as I met the gaze of other students in transit.
I didn’t look away. Even more strange, I had no intention of doing so. I just wanted to look, to feel their presence and gauge their strength. It was exhilarating." Via Lifehacker

Pittsburgh, colleges seek $14 million for more security cameras

Post Gazette: "The city of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon Unviersity, and Community College of Allegheny County this morning announced that they're jointly seeking about $14 million in federal stimulus money to install 220 additional video cameras throughout the city."

The fat lady must learn to be a little thinner

Times Online: "Can we just bypass the “is it art?” debate? It’s a giant, misshapen rollercoaster- type thingy, with a sort of sub-Eiffel Towery feel. It may or may not symbolise the twisted dreams of our country’s financial capital or Man’s doomed striving for the sky on his meandering path towards the grave. Or something. But let’s just call it art and be done."

Artists are doing it for themselves

guardian.co.uk: "Too often arts grants lead to artistic failure as the raised financial stakes send experimentation out of the window. Can artist-led communities offer an alternative future – and be supported by a new funding model?"

Branding Deals Come Early in the Filmmaking Process

NYTimes.com: "Jordan Yospe had some notes on the script for “The 28th Amendment,” a thriller about a president and a rogue Special Forces agent on the run. Some of the White House scenes were not detailed enough, Mr. Yospe thought. And, he suggested, the heroes should stop for a snack while they were on the lam."

Why games will take over our lives

CNN.com: "If you think an electric toothbrush is high-tech, wait until you hear about the Internet-enabled version.
Jesse Schell, a game designer and Carnegie Mellon University professor, says toothbrushes will be hooked-up with Wi-Fi Internet connections within five years."

April, National Stress Month!

HealthNewsDigest.com: "April may bring showers to mind, but now it has also been declared 'National Stress Month' (Hopefully, April won't be as rainy as March, but we will de-stress with May flowers!) Stress has been associated with many things from the common cold to more serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease to cancer. Both, short term stress and long term chronic stress have consequences. But, this week let's take a look at how to manage our stress, because most of us experience some form of it year- round. First, here's a study that reports the direct relationship of stress to the common cold!"

A Year in Review

A Year in Review: "The membership, Executive Board and officers of Local 784 were faced with challenges and set some very high goals for 2009. The contracts with our three largest employers were up for renegotiation. Also, our rate sheet – the Green Sheet – expired at the end of 2008, and with stricter legal restrictions on benefit funds as well as the desire for real agreements with real protection for workers and the union, we sent our standard agreement to our long term non‐signatory employers and opened negotiations for term agreements. We were faced with obstacles on all fronts. The economic downturn made our current employers reluctant to make improvements to our contracts – some even wanted rollbacks. And many of our non‐signatory employers didn’t want to open negotiations for what some of them considered to be just a few days of employment per year. The leadership of Local 784 worked with our counterparts at other locals in the Bay Area as well as officers from other wardrobe and motion picture locals across the country, representatives in the New York and Los Angeles offices of the IATSE and various International Representatives. We set out to do the work and succeeded to various degrees."

SHOW REVIEW: Barry Manilow

ReviewJournal.com: "Manilow didn't sustain a 35-year career by doing things small or subtle, except maybe that one piano ballad per show. The rest of it's as big as the Silly Putty stretch of the last note on 'Even Now' or the butt-off-the-piano bench 'Weekend in New England.'"

Best Seats in the House

In Character, A Journal of Everyday Virtues by the John Templeton Foundation: "When Julie Andrews was on Broadway a little more than a decade ago in the stage version of Victor/Victoria, she invited me backstage to follow along behind her through a performance. I was the New York Times’s theater reporter at the time, and so the prospect of getting a star’s-eye view of the life of a musical was not only personally thrilling, it was also a chance to see a show from a vantage point I’d never be able to replicate."

How to get more college financial aid

Abilene Reporter News: "Cutting a better deal on college financial aid can be more than a parents’ fantasy.
Increasingly, private schools are quietly using the practice to help attract the students they want in a challenging economy.
The practice of increasing aid on request has emerged relatively recently as college tuition has soared almost out of reach for ordinary families, according to Bruce Hammond, an independent college counselor based in Charlottesville, Va."

Crew transforms events center overnight

BillingsGazette: "As time expires, quarterback Ronnie Simpson finds an open receiver in the end zone.
About 1,700 Wyoming Cavalry fans stop cheering. The game, which moments ago appeared all but over, heads into overtime.
The Wenatchee Valley Venom have temporarily snatched victory away from the home team. They’ve also stolen precious time from a crew of workers waiting to transform the Casper Events Center from a football field into a bull riding arena."

The real intern scandal: working without pay privileges the privileged

The Christian Science Monitor - CSMonitor.com: "During this great recession, more and more students and young people are accepting unpaid internships because there simply aren’t paying gigs available.
Some employers are taking advantage of this, deceiving young people and offering shallow experiences that won’t actually help them develop professional skills.
Now the Obama administration wants to crack down on these abusive practices."

USITT Attendees Support Behind the Scenes

Lighting&Sound America Online - News: "The Long Reach Long Riders and The ESTA Foundation have announced the results of their joint raffle to benefit the Behind the Scenes program at the USITT conference in Kansas City. A total of $6,677 was raised from raffle ticket sales during the three-day conference, over $1,500 above last year's total."

FAMOUS FLOPS, FORGETTABLE FAILURES: Las Vegas shows that turned out to be disappointments

ReviewJournal.com: "What bombs in Vegas stays in Vegas -- often for a year or more.
And that makes a bomb more difficult to sniff out here than it is on Broadway, where ticket-buyers rule after producers raise enough money just to get a show through previews."

Broadway League Reveals 2010 "League Educator Apple Awards"

Stage Directions: "The Broadway League, the national trade organization for the commercial theatre industry, announced the 2010 “League Educator Apple Awards” recipients. The awards acknowledge the efforts of local schools and community groups that support programs relating to Broadway or touring Broadway shows, promoting further development of theatre education. The 2010 recipients are: Mr. Gregg Coats, Visual Art and Theater Coordinator for Memphis City Schools; Ms. Anna-Marie Davis, Social Studies Teacher at Orangewood Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz.; Ms. Ruth Ann Gaines, Drama Teacher at East High School in Des Moines, Iowa; and Mr. Matthew Rund, Performing Arts Department Chair of Fishers High School in Fishers, Ind."

Review: 'Addams Family' packs light humor in a dark setting

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "How well you enjoy 'The Addams Family' depends a lot on your expectations.
If you're hoping to duplicate your experiences with Charles Addams' original cartoon drawings, either of the two television series of the pair of recent films, you may be disappointed."

Review: 'Come Fly Away' is stylish, likeable dance

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "There could hardly be a more unlikely creative team than Twyla Tharp and Frank Sinatra.
Tharp is a dynamic, very contemporary choreographer and Sinatra has been dead since 1998.
Yet, their combined talents create a brand new musical filled with some of the most familiar love songs of the past eight decades."

Shoe designs get to the pointe of 'Swan Lake'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "In honor of its 40th-anniversary presentation of 'Swan Lake' this weekend, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invited local artists to turn pointe shoes into works of art."

Civic Light Opera produces 2 shows on Broadway

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera executive producer Van Kaplan is standing on West 46th Street amidst the bustle of Manhattan's Broadway theater district.
'This has been five years in the making,' says Kaplan as he watches ticket holders from 'The Addams Family' cluster around the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre stage door, hoping to get cast members to autograph show posters and programs. A real coup for fans would be connecting with stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth."

New Casts Enliven ‘God of Carnage’ and ‘39 Steps’

NYTimes.com: "As that great cultural arbiter “American Idol” likes to remind us, there’s more than one way to sing a song. Two charming new quartets of performers have joined shows that might be regarded as Broadway equivalents of pop-chart toppers: “God of Carnage” and “Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps,” accessible comedies with nigh-irresistible hooks. And with these latest casts, interpretations that might have been merely dutiful or imitative have instead a sprightly freshness that makes you smile both at what’s familiar and what’s new."

Video games can never be art

Roger Ebert's Journal: "Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool's errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say 'never,' because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form."

Movie Futures Exchange Can Open but Not Trade

NYTimes.com: "The commission that oversees futures markets approved on Friday a proposal by Veriana Networks to open a futures exchange, but expressed concerns about the company’s plans to trade contracts on that market tied to the box-office receipts of forthcoming films."

Green Day's American Idiot hits Great White Way

Reuters: "Onstage, faded rock posters and multiple TV screens provide the backdrop for 95 minutes of singing, dancing and Green Day songs. The plot centers on three young men trying to escape dead-end suburban lives. Will fails to get in gear even when his girlfriend falls pregnant; the other two 'succeed,' in a manner of speaking. Tunny winds up being seduced by a flashy military recruiter, goes to war and promptly loses a leg and gains a nurse to love. The other, the Jesus of Suburbia on 2004's 'American Idiot' album, renamed Johnny, picks up a dope habit and girlfriend, loses the latter because of the former and winds up right back where he started. He comes home, along with his friends, emboldened with a new sense of personal responsibility."

Boston Critics Announce Norton Award Nominations

Backstage: "Elevator Repair Service received five nominations for its visiting production of 'Gatz' at American Repertory Theater, including Outstanding Director (John Collins,) Design, and Ensemble. Huntington Theatre Company and SpeakEasy Stage Company received 11 and 8 nominations, respectively."

Friday, April 16, 2010

BJM Danse seeks joy in the world of modern performance

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The arts often explore themes that are dark, but that's not the path Louis Robitaille wants to follow as artistic director of BJM Danse.
"I think people have enough of darkness in their lives. We should bring them light. If we can do this, small though it is, we've done something. BJM is joy," he says.

Children's Theater spins saga of 'Charlotte's Web'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The classic children's tale "Charlotte's Web" will come to life Friday, performed by members of the Valley Players of Ligonier Footlights Children's Theater.
With a cast of 15 children and one adult, the famous story of Wilbur the pig and his friends is told on a stage transformed into a farm setting by students of Holy Trinity School, who built the web and painted the scenes.

The Bard's gifts keep on giving

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: If you're looking for a renewable resource, William Shakespeare's plays are hard to beat.
More than 400 years after he began penning his three dozen comedies, tragedies and histories, they continue to turn up on stages here and elsewhere.
Entire companies such as the Stratford Festival in Canada, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Shakespeare Company in England focus their seasons around the playwright's works.
Closer to home, it's rare for a season to not contain one or more of his plays.

BJM Danse brings 'feel good' vibe to stage for Dance Council

Post Gazette: Looking for an uplifting evening of dance? BJM Danse, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal hopes to rise to the occasion when it performs Saturday in the Byham Theater, Downtown, as part of the Pittsburgh Dance Council's 2009-10 season. The performance marks the contemporary company's return to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2004.

A kinder, gentler touch

Variety: As a Texas-based right-wing corporate monolith, Clear Channel was never a great fit with Broadway. So when the company sold off its entertainment division in 2005 to focus on radio and billboards, Gotham's legit community didn't exactly crumble in tears at the loss of its investment money.