CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 30, 2011

Emotional cleanup on aisle 5 in The Rep's 'Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods'

Post Gazette: Wanting and trying to do the right thing don't always mesh with the reality of complex situations, a fact at the heart of "Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods." It's a play from the heart of Tammy Ryan, who, like Christine in the play, tried to connect with a group of the so-called "Lost Boys" of the Sudan, who were resettled here in 2001 after surviving a remarkable 800-mile exodus.

REP production looks at finding more than a 'lost boy'

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: The relationship between mother and child often is a subject for exploration in Shadyside playwright Tammy Ryan's works. In her most recent play, "Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods," Ryan widens her scope to give it a global perspective, says Sheila McKenna, who is directing the production that begins performances tonight at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland as a part of the 2011-12 season of The REP, Point Park University's professional theater company,.

Personality Test: Playwright Tammy Ryan

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Playwright Tammy Ryan lives in Shadyside with her husband and two daughters, where is she is a Dramatists Guild representative for the Pittsburgh region. But her plays turn up in theaters across the country and around the world. She's had her work produced by companies that include Florida Stage, The Marin Theater Co. in California and Playwrights Theater of New Jersey. In November, her play "Lindsey's Oyster," which was commissioned by International Culture Lab, will be presented at "The Honour Games" Festival at Garagistanbul in Istanbul.

I know what it’s like to have failed, baby

2AMt: Over nearly twenty years of striving, struggling and occasionally thriving in the theatre, I have honed my strategic approach to rejection. If it’s a biggie, I give myself 48 hours to pout, weep, question my fundamental decency as a human being and eat raw cookie dough with a large spoon, but then I have to get on with it.

How can we get people to see a show a second time?

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: One of the economic challenges of a long-running musical or play is that because it's pretty much the same experience, it's hard to get an audience to come back a second time (which is one of the more subtle reasons why it has to be higher priced). It's not like a sporting event, where each and every event is totally unique. Nope, for traditional plays and musicals, we actually endeavor to make every event exactly the same night after night.

The Phantom at 25: Director Harold Prince Reflects on Creating the World of "The Music of the Night"

Playbill.com: The 25th anniversary of the first performance of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera quietly came and went Sept. 27 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Since its unmasking in London in 1986, the romantic Victorian-set show about a deformed musical genius and his soprano obsession has been seen across the globe and will, in January 2012, enjoy its 24th anniversary at Broadway's Majestic Theatre.

ETC Debuts Online Video Contest for Schools


Stage Directions: Enthusiasm, talent, and creativity — that’s the ‘ETC’ in ETC’s “Show Us Your ETC” contest. ETC® (Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.) is challenging students to demonstrate their ‘ETC’ in an original video. The three top videos will each win an ETC lighting control console for their U.S. high school, college, or university.

Visualizing Sound

Visualising Sound: Volume from Megan James on Vimeo.


stvo33.com: A collaboration with Megan James, this project was created purely to create interaction and engagement from the audience. The initial focus when you walk into the exhibition space would be the large grid of speakers however we are not trying to make 'sound' the focus of the exhibition. We are presenting sound in a new way, while at the exhibition it rely's on the user making sound to create the visual reaction from the speakers the focus is on the interaction and visual reaction.

Historic Lincoln Theatre may close

The Washington Post: The historic Lincoln Theatre is on the verge of closing, unless it is offered a $500,000 bailout by the D.C. Council. The theater has been on the brink of closing before. Officials were set to announce it was closing this summer, but the city provided $250,000 in last-minute funding. It was the second close call in recent years; Lincoln nearly closed in 2007, but was given a $200,000 grant by the D.C. government to keep the doors open. The theater’s annual budget is about $1.2 million.

The Playwright's Dilemma

WSJ.com: Tony Kushner can't make a living writing for the stage. America's most prominent playwright confessed in an interview published in Time Out New York earlier this year that "Angels in America" doesn't pay the rent: "I make my living now as a screenwriter! Which I'm surprised and horrified to find myself saying, but I don't think I can support myself as a playwright at this point. I don't think anybody does." So far as I know, Mr. Kushner is right. I don't know of any American playwrights who earn the bulk of their living writing plays. Many of the older ones teach, while a growing number of younger ones write for series television. Itamar Moses, for instance, has written for "Boardwalk Empire" and "Men of a Certain Age," which isn't stopping him from turning out stage plays (his latest effort, "Completeness," just closed Off Broadway).

George Tsypin’s Scenic Design For Spider-Man

Live Design: This is the second Broadway musical for George Tsypin, the sculptor, architect, and opera designer, following Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and his first impulse was to send the show airborne. “We had to find a theatrical language to capture the world of comic books,” Tsypin says. “I desperately wanted to bring that illustrative world into space, which led me to the idea of pop-up books, which brilliantly do both. And I felt that everything had to move, and fly, like Spider-Man, and enlarge the experience.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Doing Good in a Bad World — Carnegie Mellon School of Drama’s Production of “Good Person of Setzuan”

Carnegie Mellon University: The School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University will present “Good Person of Setzuan” by Bertolt Brecht Oct. 6-15 in the Philip Chosky Theater in the Purnell Center for the Arts on the CMU campus. Adapted by Tony Kushner from a translation by Carnegie Mellon’s own Wendy Arons, the performances will be directed by internationally renowned German director Peter Kleinert, with musical direction by Jürgen Beyer. Arons is an associate professor of dramatic literature in the School of Drama. “Good Person of Setzuan” explores the notion of good and evil when three gods arrive on earth in search of one “good” person.

From the 'Basement' to the Big Apple

The Tartan Online: Over in the Purnell Center for the Arts, an innovative brand of theater has been brewing, thanks to a student-formed theater company, In The Basement Theater. While the company first grew out of the School of Drama’s annual Playground in 2009, Sophia Schrank, a senior drama student, and her team members quickly realized that the company was something they wanted to continue long after Playground ended.

Public Theater returns to drama's ancient roots with 'Electra'

Post Gazette: Around 500 to 400 B.C., give or take a few years, Sophocles and his playwriting contemporaries were treating Greek civilization to this new invention we now know as the drama. Their surviving works are revived today not just as historical artifacts, but because they knew something about a good yarn: unforgettable characters, crackling language and family dynamics could mean a hit at Epidaurus, the ancient equivalent of Broadway.

An epic 'Electra' takes the O'Reilly stage

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: When Ted Pappas returned to Greece last summer he took "Electra" with him. "I studied it in Greek under an olive tree on my property," says Pappas, who is directing the Pittsburgh Public Theater production of "Electra" that begins performances Thursday at the O'Reilly Theater, Downtown. "Speaking the lines out loud on the hillside gave me a new understanding of the reach of the story and its language."

Tune's tale isn't same old song, dance

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Tommy Tune could have marked the 50th anniversary of his show business career by taking a well-deserved vacation or writing a book. Instead, the nine-time Tony Award-winner and internationally acclaimed singer, dancer, director and choreographer celebrated the milestone by creating a new stage show and taking it on the road. With 300 performances scheduled into 2012, including one at the Palace Theatre on Friday, Tune says his golden anniversary year will be more like his "golden decade."

Ghost The Musical Will Play Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Playbill.com: The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, which currently hosts the undead Addams Family clan, will be haunted anew this spring when Ghost The Musical, the London stage production based on the Academy Award-winning film, opens on Broadway April 23, 2012.

Julie Taymor's Claim of Unpaid Spider-Man Royalties Will Be Heard in Arbitration

Playbill.com: An arbitration hearing between fired Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark director Julie Taymor and the Broadway show's producers will begin the week of Oct. 3, the New York Times has reported.

Artios Awards Honor Top Casting Directors in New York, L.A.

Backstage: The casting directors of Broadway's "The Book of Mormon" and "The Normal Heart" were among the honorees at the Casting Society of America's 27th annual Artios Awards, which were presented Sept. 26 at District 36 in New York City and the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Bard Goes Global With 37 Plays in 37 Languages

Backstage: All the world's onstage — a single stage — as theater troupes from around the globe perform all of Shakespeare's plays in three dozen languages in the Bard's symbolic London home.
Shakespeare's Globe theater announced details Tuesday of a festival that will see all 37 of William Shakespeare's plays performed in 37 languages, from Urdu to Swahili, over six weeks in 2012.

At Moscow’s Alternative Hair Show, hairstyles you would never be able to pull off

Boing Boing: models at the Alternative Hair Show in Moscow's Kremlin, September 28, 2011.

Nemetschek Releases Vectorworks 2012

iSquint.net: Wow, I am just a bit behind. PLASA took a whole lot out of me! Almost two weeks later and I am still recovering! While over in London, Nemetschek announced their latest version of Vectorworks, version 2012. Side note, I love the version numbering as of late guys!

Public Comments Next Step in Table Saw Safety Rules

Popular Woodworking Magazine: The Consumer Products Safety Commission will meet on October 5, 2011 to decide whether or not to continue with an "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" to address table saw blade contact injuries. If the commission decides to proceed, the next step will be to accept comments from the public on this issue. Comments will be accepted online or by mail.

Interns File Suit Against ‘Black Swan’ Producer

NYTimes.com: Two men who worked on the hit movie “Black Swan” have mounted an unusual challenge to the film industry’s widely accepted practice of unpaid internships by filing a lawsuit on Wednesday asserting that the production company had violated minimum wage and overtime laws by hiring dozens of such interns.

Art Directors Guild makes designs on 'previs' workers

latimes.com: The Art Directors Guild is stepping up its efforts to extend union benefits to the men and women who create computerized images that enable film and TV directors to previsualize their movies before production starts.

Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better?

The New Yorker: I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.
During the first two or three years in practice, your skills seem to improve almost daily. It’s not about hand-eye coördination—you have that down halfway through your residency. As one of my professors once explained, doing surgery is no more physically difficult than writing in cursive. Surgical mastery is about familiarity and judgment. You learn the problems that can occur during a particular procedure or with a particular condition, and you learn how to either prevent or respond to those problems.

Is Cirque sucking up Broadway sales?

Ken Davenport - Opinions from a Broadway Producer: Patti LuPone should play Annie Oakley some day, because the woman is the 'straightest shooter' I've ever seen.
When something's buggin' her, whether it's a photographer in a theater, or a circus in Broadway's backyard, she's going to tell you, and everyone around you, exactly what she thinks.

PTI Battles Potential Government-enforced SawStop Monopoly

Professional tool reviews for the average Joe: We've been very aware of an issue that is holding captive the table saw industry as it plays out, in our time, before our very eyes. The government, aided by largely ignorant news coverage, is considering a petition by patent attorney Stephen Gass - inventor of SawStop technology, an admittedly impressive system to reduce table saw injuries due to blade contact. The problem, however, is that Gass's petition could mandate a specific design standard that has the potential to all but eliminate portable benchtop saws from the market due to the cost of compliance.

Making a Fake Newspaper

Props: I found myself making a few fake newspapers this past year. One was for this summer’s All’s Well That Ends Well at Shakespeare in the Park. The director, Dan Sullivan, wanted Lafew to read a newspaper with the headline “King Lives” emblazoned on the front. The production was set in and around World War I.

Mike Daisey Discusses ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’

NYTimes.com: MIKE DAISEY, one of the great solo storytellers of contemporary theater, has traveled the world performing sharp, polemical and extemporaneous monologues about Amazon.com, national security, James Frey and a host of other subjects. He brings his latest piece, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” to the Public Theater from Oct. 11 through Nov. 13.

‘Freud’s Last Session’ Prepares to Move Closer to Broadway

NYTimes.com: AFTER most performances of the Off Broadway drama “Freud’s Last Session” the actor Martin Rayner, who portrays Sigmund Freud, stands by the exit to conduct a behavioral study of his own. After thanking theatergoers for attending, he asks them how they heard about the production, which has been playing since July 2010 at a theater at a Y.M.C.A on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: a relatively long and financially promising run at a location off the beaten track.

Influences: Patti LuPone

latimes.com: Broadway stars don't come much bigger or more combative than Patti LuPone, the Tony-winning force of nature who has left her indelible imprint on numerous musicals including "Evita," "Anything Goes," "Sweeney Todd" and "Gypsy." Equally loved (by critics, the gay community) and feared (by cellphone abusers everywhere), she is an actress whose ferocious stage presence knows no compromise.

Video: Spidey’s Automation

Live Design: Here is PRG’s latest “webisode,” on the show’s automation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carnegie Mellon, Disney work to improve eye blink animation

The Tartan Online: A group of Carnegie Mellon researchers, in association with Disney Research of Pittsburgh, are bringing animations closer to reality by modeling accurate eye blinks.
Conventional systems that model eye blinks have always assumed them to be symmetric. In other words, during an eye blink, a person’s eyelids move down at the same rate that they move back up. While this may be a rational assumption to make, researchers’ high speed cameras a slightly different story: real human eyelids go down quickly during an eye blink, followed by a more gradual opening back up.

Randy Pausch's Childhood Room

Carnegie Mellon University: Take a video tour of Randy's room — guided by his sister Tammy Pausch Mason and complete with annotations about the artwork from Randy's book and lecture.
Also, check out the Gigapan panaroma and the accompanying snapshots below to explore his room in amazing detail. For more information about each snapshot, view the panaroma on the Gigapan site.

Kyle Cooper’s Projection Design For Spider-Man

Live Design: Unlike his colleagues, Kyle Cooper, an Emmy winner, has Spider-Man experience, having designed the acclaimed title sequences for all three movies, and for many others besides. But this is his first Broadway show, and it came to him via his work with Julie Taymor on her films Titus (1999), Across the Universe (2007), and, as production ramped up, The Tempest (2010).

The Louisiana Model

Below the Line: From King Kong on the Empire State Building to Marilyn Monroe on the subway grate, New York will always attract filmmakers. From the green Pontiac Steve McQueen chased off the 19th floor of Marina Towers in The Hunter, to the baby carriage Brian DePalma pushed down the steps of Union Station in The Untouchables, filmmakers will always gravitate to Chicago.
But Louisiana?
When Louisiana became the first state to pass entertainment industry tax incentives in 2002, no one could have known that in less than a decade the state would be the third most popular film and television location in the U.S. Indeed, Louisiana has a chance to log a record 150 filming applications this year and to see local film and TV in-state spending for the first time top $1 billion.

How Total Recall saved Toronto’s film industry

thestar.com: On an isolated soundstage in Toronto’s Port Lands, designers have created a dark, futuristic vision.
The bones of New Asia are being created out of brick, steel and Styrofoam in one of the most elaborate set designs ever constructed in the city.
In fact, Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 sci-fi action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is set to be the most expensive movie in Toronto history. With a budget estimated at anywhere from $130 million to as much as $200 million, once marketing costs are added, the production is a behemoth.

The Prop Master: Ross Macdonald, Forger for Screens Big and Small

The Atlantic: Ross Macdonald is a forger. And many of his most exquite forgeries -- or, more prescisely, replicas -- are currently seen, if you look closely enough, on the new season of HBO"s Boardwalk Empire. Macdonald is an editorial and book illustrator and typographer who makes props for motion pictures. And he gets "a real rush" from the props he gets for making them.

Jobs are "Job One" at Oregon AFL-CIO Conference

Public News Service: At the Oregon AFL-CIO's annual conference that began on Sunday, one of the liveliest events is expected to be Tuesday's debate featuring candidates for the First Congressional District, the seat vacated by Rep. David Wu. Three Democrats - current state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici and state Rep. Brad Witt - will face off and answer audience questions.

Breaking into the film biz

Vancouver Sun: How do you break into British Columbia’s billion dollar film industry?
That’s a good question. So we set out to find out, focusing on what the editors call the “sexy” parts of the biz — makeup, special effects, and pyrotechnics.
The short answer is you have to get the proper training, then get into the proper union, which will then help you to get gigs.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

chicagotribune.com: Chicago Shakespeare Theater said Monday that it will be the only U.S. theater company among the 37 international troupes invited to be part of the “Globe to Globe” festival for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

A Sound Union: Then And Now

Live Design: Back in 1984, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts (IATSE) came to fellow sound designer Jack Shearing and me to establish representation for sound designers working on Broadway and nationally. The problem from there was establishing collective bargaining agreements with various producers, and it took us a couple of years to even begin negotiations with The Broadway League. We eventually established a simple collective bargaining agreement that covered minimum fees, additional weekly compensation, and certain benefits plans. It wasn’t the greatest agreement, but it was better than nothing and gave us the validity of being represented by a collective bargaining unit. We were never strong enough to implement additional terms on that agreement.

A Coming of Age for ICG's Emerging Cinematographer Awards

SHOOTonline: Drawing its largest turnout ever at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles this past Sunday (9/25), the International Cinematographers Guild's Emerging Cinematographer Awards (ECA) has come of age, an achievement that goes well beyond its having marked its 15th year. Adding to its relevance for aspiring DPs was a related prior day's annual event which is only three years old--a discussion roundtable where ECA honorees get the chance to learn from, listen to and ask questions of cinematographer agents.

Off The Record

Off the Record Flyer

L.A. Opera's makeover, from 'Cosi' to 'Onegin' in 4 1/2 hours

latimes.com: Opera audiences are used to seeing performances awash in spectacle. But they rarely get to glimpse the magic that occurs between shows -- namely, “the changeover,” when one production is taken down and another takes its place. “It’s like working a huge jigsaw puzzle,” says Rupert Hemmings, director of production at Los Angeles Opera. “It may seem haphazard, but everything’s done in order.”

Drama Staffers Ari Blackford and David Randolph Nominated for Andy Awards

Nominees - Andy Awards - Carnegie Mellon University: Senior Academic Advisor Ari Blackford and Facilities Coordinator David Randolph, both from the School of Drama, have been nominated for Andy Awards in the category of "Outstanding Dedication." The Andy Awards recognize staff members for their outstanding performance and commitment to excellence in six categories: dedication, commitment to students, innovation, culture, university citizenship and community contributions. You can cheer them on at the awards ceremony on Friday, October 7th at noon in McConomy Auditorium.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NFTRW Weekly Top Five

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

Ultrinsic Sponsors Gambling On Grades At 36 Colleges

Huffington Post: Think you're going to ace freshman year? Want to put money on that? A website called Ultrinsic is taking wagers on grades from students at 36 colleges nationwide starting this month. Just as Las Vegas sports books set odds on football games, Ultrinsic will pay you top dollar for A's, a little less for the more likely outcome of a B average or better, and so on. You can also wager you'll fail a class by buying what Ultrinsic calls "grade insurance."
<-- Comments here

Broadway Shows to Play in Movie Theaters

Backstage: NYC and London-based Supervision Media and New York's Broadway Worldwide have signed an exclusive multi-year licensing arrangement to bring four hit Broadway musicals to cinema screens across the globe. The deal covers the 2010 Tony Award winning Best Musical "Memphis," currently playing on Broadway, the recorded live-in-performance Direct From Broadway, "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical" starring David Hasselhoff.

Event Safety Planning applies to the little shows, too.

TheatreFace: You might think that after all of the tragic outdoor festival events of this summer that show organizers might be even a little concerned about how the show goes on, but apparently you would be wrong. It’s business as usual. Nary a forethought towards safety. Oh yes, there are police to keep the peace, and . . . well, that's it. Nothing else.

Teaching Avant-Garde Theater: Should We?

TheatreFace: In a comment on my recent post in which I solicited topics to blog about, Richard T. Young posed the following question: When we in the academy do weird avant-garde theatre, as wonderful as it might be, are we really preparing our students for the real world of trying to make a living as a theatre artist? I read about a University production of Measure for Measure that had been so "modernized" that they even changed the title to "Tit for Tat." The production included Idi Amin and a host of Tele-evangelist. Fun stuff. But what part of the real world of theatre, especially commercial theatre are those students being prepared for? Can you steep a student in Artaud and then send her out into the real world to do Weber?

Machine Knitting a Cosby Sweater


@Craftzine.com blog: Andrew Salomone uses a hacked knitting machine from the 80s to "print" digital images into knitted garments. At World Maker Faire New York 2011, Andrew demonstrates the knitting machine and shows off its creations including a sweater with Bill Cosby's face.
<-- Comments here

Monday, September 26, 2011

Producing Awareness

Carnegie Mellon University: Immigration. Deportation. Detention. Hiawatha Project — a new Pittsburgh-based theatre company founded by two Carnegie Mellon University alumnae — took these issues head-on in its debut production, Camino. Camino tells the tale of two young Latino immigrants struggling with the multi-billion dollar system of for-profit immigrant detention. Founded by Anya Martin (A'03) and Michelle Carello (A'07), Hiawatha Project has a purpose beyond mere entertainment.

Projection Images, Characters

Live Design: Projections Designer Kyle Cooper provided us with a veritable comic universe of images for Spider-Man.

Camino - It's like sticking an Anderson Cooper segment in the middle of "Watership Down."

Pittsburgh City Paper: In the near future, people wear wristbands that trace their movements. Police are private contractors, smartphones contain all a citizen's data and convicts are detained in for-profit prisons. The world of Camino is closer to ours than Minority Report. Any day, we could fall headlong into this lifestyle. Just wait.

Wicked's an entertainment-industry juggernaut -- but it's also a good show

Pittsburgh City Paper: An interesting aspect of the 2003 Broadway musical Wicked is how it has been transformed over the years from an entertainment into an industry. This re-imagining of L. Frank Baum's Wonderful Wizard of Oz (via Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel) features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a script by Winnie Holzman. The concept is that the Wicked Witch is the only "non-wicked" person in Oz, vilified because of her skin color and liberal views. The show received mixed-to-good reviews when it opened, losing the Tony that year to Avenue Q. But since then …

Bootleggin' and Bathtub Gin

Pittsburgh City Paper: The 9 p.m. "curtain" is a bit deceptive when Bricolage Production Co. cranks up a Midnight Radio production. Yes, an original radio play -- in this case, Bootleggin' and Bathtub Gin -- starts at 9, but the full theatrical experience begins as soon as audience members arrive. The lobby, tricked out not only to resemble a 1920s speakeasy but also to offer its rudimentary amenities, is a participatory first act. However much you want to get into it, go for it.

Audiences see theater in the making with Attack's 'What?'

Post Gazette: Risk is an accepted part of the dance business. Most people think about the physical part of it, although artistic risk can ultimately be the most satisfying. But how about the next step -- to expose the artistic process, warts and all, to an audience?

Variety’s Women’s Impact Report - 2011

Women and Hollywood: Variety had a luncheon last week where they honored over 30 women for their impact on the business and included two pieces on how Sweden and Norway are working on getting more women directors (they implemented a mandate) and a report on the great work that Geena Davis does through Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Tyne Daly, Ben Vereen, Daniel Sullivan Among Theater Hall of Fame Inductees

Playbill.com: Playbill.com has learned that the 2011 Theater Hall of Fame inductees will include actors Tyne Daly and Ben Vereen; costume designer Ann Roth; director Daniel Sullivan; producers George White, Elliot Martin and Woodie King Jr.; and, posthumously, director Paul Sills.

Getting to Know Daniel Lurie

Art Works: Earlier this month we welcomed Daniel Lurie to the NEA as our new Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Partnerships. As you’ll learn in the interview below, Dan comes from a family that firmly believes in the interrelationship of arts and community. Seems to me he won’t have any trouble at all fitting in around here!

IRIS Premieres Tonight!

Fascination Newsletter: Cirque du Soleil and CIM Group present tonight the world premiere of IRIS, a new major, resident production created exclusively for the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center, home of the Academy Awards®, on September 25. Proudly presented by Sun Life Financial, IRIS is written and directed by French stage and film director, artistic director, dancer and choreographer Philippe Decouflé.

'Angels In America,' 20 Years Later

NPR: Two decades ago, in 1991, the first part of an ambitious work of theater by playwright Tony Kushner took the stage in San Francisco. It was called Angels in America, and its two parts — Millennium Approaches and Perestroika — clocked in at an epic seven hours.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ultrinsic Sponsors Gambling On Grades At 36 Colleges

Huffington Post: Think you're going to ace freshman year? Want to put money on that? A website called Ultrinsic is taking wagers on grades from students at 36 colleges nationwide starting this month. Just as Las Vegas sports books set odds on football games, Ultrinsic will pay you top dollar for A's, a little less for the more likely outcome of a B average or better, and so on. You can also wager you'll fail a class by buying what Ultrinsic calls "grade insurance."

U.K. Chess, With a Cast of Actor-Musicians, Makes a Move to Toronto Sept. 24

Playbill.com: A U.K. touring production of the rock musical Chess — featuring a company of actor-musicians playing their own accompaniment — plays Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre Sept. 24-Oct. 30 prior to a run in London's West End.

Actors still connected to 'Rent' through their joint musical project

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Fifteen years after they first appeared as Roger and Mark in "Rent," Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp still enjoy spending time together on stage and off. For the past two years, the friends have been doing just that with "Adam & Anthony," a joint concert tour that has taken them to venues across the country and to Japan. "It's been on and off for about a year. We meet up and do shows," Pascal says. "These are times we get to see each other. It's part of our social life."

Machine Knitting a Cosby Sweater


@Craftzine.com blog: Andrew Salomone uses a hacked knitting machine from the 80s to "print" digital images into knitted garments. At World Maker Faire New York 2011, Andrew demonstrates the knitting machine and shows off its creations including a sweater with Bill Cosby's face.

Event Safety Planning applies to the little shows, too.

TheatreFace: You might think that after all of the tragic outdoor festival events of this summer that show organizers might be even a little concerned about how the show goes on, but apparently you would be wrong. It’s business as usual. Nary a forethought towards safety. Oh yes, there are police to keep the peace, and . . . well, that's it. Nothing else.

Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. On Racism in Hollywood

ThinkProgress: At an event the Congressional Black Caucus put together to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and to promote George Lucas’s new movie about them, Red Tails, the movie’s stars, Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr., had some pointed things to say about the way Hollywood approaches black actors and directors. Howard said that Lucas had put together the movie with his own money, and that it would be a critical litmus test for a system that systematically devalues black actors and black stories.

IrfanView

Cool Tools: IrfanView is a Windows-only swiss army knife for images. It's lightning fast, opens just about any format known to man, and runs off a portable or network drive. Oh, and it's free as in beer. I've used IrfanView for more than a decade, and the developer has been cautious to add features but not interface bloat. It's never gotten slower. It gets really powerful when you start using shortcut keys.

At Burning Man

Berkeley Rep Blog: As master carpenter of Berkeley Rep, I am constantly confronted with new challenges and get to work with new materials and techniques. It’s my favorite part about my job. Recently I built the rolling fire escape and stoop unit you saw on stage in Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup. The stoop unit was tricky. It had to be wheeled out and placed on its spike mark and stay there as Rita Moreno recounted her early years in New York. To accomplish my given task, I drew upon past Berkeley Rep experience, with some help from my wife Stephanie Shipman, who built two rolling desks for The People’s Temple back when she was the scene-shop intern during the 2004/05 season. I was able to base the engineering of my stoop on what she did with the desks, but augmented her design with some techniques I recently employed on an outside project. I devised a lever-and-pulley system in the stoop that engages the wheels in much the same way that I made the rudder turn with the front wheels of the 25-foot-long submarine my friends and I made from scratch this summer.

'Wicked' flies with digital

Variety: As the lone West End survivor of the dozen tuners that opened in 2006, "Wicked," celebrating its fifth anniversary Sept. 27, looks to be chugging along as strongly as its Broadway counterpart, which after eight years, shows no sign of slowing.But in the U.K., where "The Wizard of Oz" is far less of a cultural icon than in the U.S., much of the London success of the Emerald City redux comes down to the West End production's groundbreaking use of online and digital marketing.

Musical Theater Festival Composers Name Dream Songs

NYPost: His 70th birthday. This weekend a passel of would-be Sondheims (and Larsons, and Porters) will unveil their work as part of the New York Musical Theater Festival, which runs through Oct. 16. In the spirit of the Sondheim list (published in The New York Times in 2000), we asked composers in this year’s festival: What song do you wish you had written? Which song in your show expresses your voice? And why?

Jesse Eisenberg and Zoe Kazan Discuss Their Plays

NYTimes.com: AT the end of a 90-minute conversation Jesse Eisenberg announced that what he really would like to do is write a musical. To which Zoe Kazan responded, “That’s the most impressive thing you’ve said this whole time.” Mr. Eisenberg answered back by listing other comments he had made. “Musical theater totally trumps that,” she retorted.

Richard Nelson and Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s Takes on 9/11

NYTimes.com: Whether plain or fancy, all words are destined to fail on occasion. That’s why so many of us freeze up when we try to write a condolence letter to someone who has just lost a partner or family member. Whatever phrases spill out look so vain, so entirely not up to the occasion. Death, with its conferral of permanent emptiness, swallows up and spits back anything we might say to put it in its place.

Making Spider-Man’s Projections


Live Design: Media designer Howard Werner, associate media designer/video technician Jason Lindahl, media programmer Phil Gilbert, and PRG video project manager Jeff Kaye discuss the making of the technical system for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Union investigated in Indiana State Fair collapse

13 WTHR: There's new information on the State Fair Tragedy, and who was responsible for assembling the rigging which fell and killed seven people. 13 Investigates takes a look at the contract, and tries to get answers from the union which was hired to do the job. Randy Byrd wants answers.

Impassioned 'Camino' tells painful immigration stories

Post Gazette: In theater, "Camino" mainly recalls a play by Tennessee Williams, ironically titled "Camino Real" (royal road), in reference to the more or less royal roads of Hispanic history in California, Mexico and further south. This ambitious new play by Anya Martin of the Hiawatha Project doubtless makes the same ironic reference. But her "Camino" refers more specifically to a series of interwoven roadways or journeys and is also, in a poignant metaphor, the name given by a prisoner to a small bird, now caged, now free.

'Rent' friends, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, enjoy chance to join for concerts

Post Gazette: Anthony Rapp is based in New York and Adam Pascal lives in Los Angeles. So coming together for a series of concerts, like the one at the Byham Theater Thursday, has been one enjoyable mini-reunion after the other for the "Rent" co-stars. The tour has come with long breaks and bursts as other projects demand. For example, Mr. Rapp was in Pittsburgh this summer to play the role of Andy Warhol for a reading of the new musical "Pop!" at City Theatre's Momentum festival. He said last week, and City confirmed, that he will play the role again when the work has its world premiere at City in May 2012.

Fall Arts Preview: Stage is set for comedy, drama, musicals

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Get ready for an eclectic mix of theater options this season. Between the current run of "Wicked" (through Oct. 2) and Pittsburgh Public Theater's "Private Lives" (May 24 to June 24), theatergoers will have a wealth of shows to choose from.

Fall Arts Preview: Dance performances balance new, traditional works

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Creativity in the local dance scene is bubbling over, fed by the heat of local, national and international perspectives, and serving a devoted audience that loves both tradition and the newest thing.The two big pillars of the dance scene are Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Dance Council. The ballet presents fully staged productions, sometimes with live music, of romantic ballets, classics of modern dance and new works. Dance Council, part of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, presents often cutting-edge modern-dance companies from around the world.

Fall Arts Preview: Verdi, Puccini among opera offerings

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Opera has been the most expensive of the performing arts since it was invented more than 400 years ago in Italy. But the payoff when opera's elements -- the lavish sets, pricey singers, full orchestra and chorus --come together can be a uniquely exhilarating and emotional experience.

SAG Re-elects Howard, Aquino, Hodge

Backstage: Ken Howard won re-election as president of the Screen Actors Guild on Thursday in a contest that was never expected to be close and never was. Howard easily defeated three challengers with little to no experience in the guild’s elected leadership, earning 17,492 votes. His opponents combined received 5,583 votes.Howard’s political ally Amy Aquino—who ran unopposed for re-election as secretary-treasurer—interpreted the victory as a reaffirmation by members of their support for a merger between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Howard and Aquino were elected to their posts in 2009 on a pro-merger platform.

Broadway Shows to Play in Movie Theaters

Backstage: NYC and London-based Supervision Media and New York's Broadway Worldwide have signed an exclusive multi-year licensing arrangement to bring four hit Broadway musicals to cinema screens across the globe. The deal covers the 2010 Tony Award winning Best Musical "Memphis," currently playing on Broadway, the recorded live-in-performance Direct From Broadway, "Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical" starring David Hasselhoff.

First American Dancer Joins Famed Bolshoi Ballet

Backstage: Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West in 1961 and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1974 — both great dancers who fled the Soviet Union for freedom and better opportunities. The world has changed much since then, of course. And now, in another major milestone for dance, a young American ballet star is making the reverse trip — heading for Moscow, to become a "premier" dancer with the famed Bolshoi Ballet.

Shaw Festival Releases Smartphone App

Stage Directions: Apps aren’t just for Angry Birds anymore. (Though they might help with the zeppelins in Heartbreak House.) But the Shaw Fest is hoping you’ll use their brand-new app for purchasing tickets (although it sounds as if the app will call to make the purchase) and organizing your trip to the Fest. Their Shaw Fest app is available in the iTunes store now, with plans to release a Droid and Blackberry version by early October. Early adopters will also receive a discount for tix to next season’s The Admirable Crichton, by Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie and Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House.

Teaching Avant-Garde Theater: Should We?

TheatreFace: In a comment on my recent post in which I solicited topics to blog about, Richard T. Young posed the following question: When we in the academy do weird avant-garde theatre, as wonderful as it might be, are we really preparing our students for the real world of trying to make a living as a theatre artist? I read about a University production of Measure for Measure that had been so "modernized" that they even changed the title to "Tit for Tat." The production included Idi Amin and a host of Tele-evangelist. Fun stuff. But what part of the real world of theatre, especially commercial theatre are those students being prepared for? Can you steep a student in Artaud and then send her out into the real world to do Weber?

SketchUp Classes at Woodworking in America

Popular Woodworking Magazine: The Woodworking in America conference is an opportunity to indulge in sensory overload, and for the third year in a row, I'll be doing my part to keep your head spinning by teaching two different sessions on using our favorite design and planning tool, Google SketchUp. On Friday morning at 9:30 and Sunday morning at 9:00 the topic will be SketchUp Essentials. Saturday morning at 9:30 and Sunday morning at 11:00 the topic will be The SketchUp Gold Mine. Both of these classes are aimed at using SketchUp as a tool for woodworking.

A Culture of Trust by Taylor Mac

HowlRound: If a playwright or producer is looking for a director, they do their research. They see the director’s work, seek out references, and/or sit down and have tea with a number of directors to find one their vision can commingle with. They do not ask the director to direct two minutes of the play to prove she knows what she’s doing. Nor should they. They respect and, better yet, trust the director. The same cannot be said for the actor.I believe actors (and all theater practitioners) should be treated with the same respect and trust we tender the director.

Visual Effects Society issues bill of rights for the industry

latimes.com: Visual effects artists and technicians still don't have a union, but they can at least claim their own bill of rights. The Visual Effects Society, a trage group representing visual artists and practitioners, on Wednesday took the unsual step of issuing an "Industry Bill of Rights" to "recognize and address numerous industry wide issues affecting its membership."

Always a Good Time to Update Your Resume

CollegeSurfing Insider: Apparently, we’re nearing the end of Update Your Resume Month – as designated by Career Directors International – but you don’t have to rush around to meet a fall deadline. While back-to-school season is an ideal time to start fresh with a clean, crisp resume, it’s never too late to get this all-important document up to snuff. Review these tips (and more here) for your resume revamp.

Pa. school pulls 'Kismet' after 9/11 complaints

CBS News: A Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after community members complained about the timing so soon after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Richland School District in Johnstown had planned to stage "Kismet" in February, but Superintendent Thomas Fleming said Tuesday that it was scrapped to avoid controversy.

The Projection Technical Setup For Spider-Man

Live Design: Media designer Howard Werner and associate media designer/video technician Jason Lindahl shared some of the technical aspects of the projection elements for Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. - The projection system setup control is via a PRG v676 console. This system controls the moving lights and the video. During programming, the team worked from three facepanels, one for the moving light programmer, one for video programming, and one as a master. For the run of the production, there is one facepanel and one backup server.