From the Blogroll XIII: Theater in 2034, Critics vs. Artists, NEA Ninnies, Times Square Toilets



At A Poor Player, Tom Loughlin gets his 25th anniversary copy of American Theatre and starts thinking: What will theatre be like 25 years from now? Will there even be a theatre 25 years from now? Using this timely and cautionary existentialism, he catapults himself into the future, which will undoubtedly be a glorious and as horrible as both the present and the past.

Story continues below.

At Adaumbelle’s Quest, Adam Rothenberg promotes Ken Davenport’s upcoming Theatre Bloggers Social. Where on earth did he get that information from?

At Americans for the Arts’ Artsblog, Adam Thurman disabuses anyone of thinking that marketing isn’t about selling people something they don’t want — it’s about selling someone something so they do want it. (He titles the blog post “Don’t Hate” in a bit of post-modern irony.) Also, there’s some great Arts Advocacy Day video. There’s also video of Wynton Marsalis, who delivered the 22nd annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy.

At Butts in the Seats, Joe talks about The Pricing Institute, which seems to focus “mostly on optimizing the pricing structure of arts organizations.” He writes this:

Story continues below.

My initial thought was that price does not develop relationships. If I am going to have a consultant come in to help me improve my organization, pricing, while important, isn’t going to solve my organizational problems over the long term. But what isn’t valuable to me as theatre manager has worth to blogger me because I know it may be of interest to my readers.

….Taking a look at the case studies, it is clear that they don’t just emphasize retail price points. One of the problems they saw with Huntington Theatre Company’s approach was that the “marketing messaging was focused on pricing vs. value.” For Philadelphia Live Arts, one step they took was creating a separate identity for the Live Arts performances versus Fringe performances.

Joe also writes about Artists as the New Entrepreneur, inspired by an interview with Jim Collins, author of Built to Last. Bottom line: If you’re in a horribly risky business like the arts, what’s another horrible risk in starting your own business?

At the Lark Theatre’s Community Perspectives: Riffing with John Clinton Eisner, playwright Chisa Hutchinson surveys her childhood and childhood education, and then lays out the reasons, all compelling, for why she became a playwright. It’s a great read.

Story continues below.

At Createquity, Ian Davis Moss pens a long and probing look at compensation of support employees in the nonprofit sector. Er, they’re compensated?

At the Critical Condition, Mark Blankenship gives of the revival of Hair some weaves, gets sassy about Shirley Bassey (girl, where you been?) and offers seven reasons to love Friday Night Lights, which is eight more than I expected. (Or as Cleveland would say on Family Guy, “Nah, I’m just kiddin’.)

At CultureBot, Andy asks Alec Duffy of Hoi Polloi five questions (very Passover-plus, that) and Rachel offers a plug for John Jesurun’s Red House.

At Curbed: Architecture, there’s a sneak peek and analysis of the Cooper Square Hotel.

At Curbed: Manhattan: Lower East Side, Lockhart reports on the artist who threw a banner over the side of the New Museum demanding that his or her work be shown there. And, of course, the artist remains unidentified. Banksy Wanksy, if you ask me.

At Curbed: Manhattan: Midtown West/Times Square, you too can look at a toilet at the condo complex at 1600 Broadway. So much for that Times Square cleanup, yo.

At Curbed: Queens: Astoria & Beyond, there’s a report on a surf shop in Rockaway. Naturally, the title of the blogpost contains the word “brah.” Isn’t it “bruh,” brah?

At Curbed: Queens: Long Island City, joeynyc discloses that the View condos, at something scary like 15% sold (which means New York State Attorney General Cuomo may be breathing down their necks pretty soon), are going at such low rates that even obscenely wealthy people can buy them. Gotta love the recession.

At Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals, Chris Caggiano surveys all the cast recordings of Hair. The punishment for listening to all of them is to be set before Vikings and stoned. Take that any way you want.

At Fragments: I Can Have Oodles of Charm When I Want To, Monica rages against incompetent editors and read Hilton Als’ review of Hair and concludes: Dude didn’t like the shit!

At Gratuitous Violins, Esther reports on the Huntington Theatre Company’s next season. (Esther: Don’t miss Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw, that’s all I’ll say.) She also offers a visual lesson in Passover cuisine. (We don’t do schmaltz either, but oh, if only!)

At the Hub Review, my favorite iconoclastic critic, Thomas Garvey, takes down the awards of the Independent Reviews of New England. Smartly, he does not bite any of them on their ear.

Story continues below.

At Jamespeak, James Comtois writes a love letter to Crystal Skillman’s Birthday, a Rising Phoenix Rep production at the Seventh Street Small Stage, a.k.a. the back of Jimmy’s No. 43. I caught the final performance and I told Daniel Talbott, who directed with, as James put it, a light touch, and Skillman that they must bring the play back this fall. I mean, I need some more of that Brooklyn Stout. (He looks at his waist. He frowns.) Well, all right, I’d see it even if I didn’t consume the stout. (And read James’ take on the play, peeps. Totally perceptive.)

At the Producer’s Perspective, Ken Davenport announces the first-ever Theatre Bloggers Social. Free food, I’m so there.

At Lou Harry’s A&E, Lou Harry reports on the effort by the Indianapolis Consortium of Arts Administrators to stage a huge rally and to scream at local government until they understand the fiscal impact of the arts in central Indiana. People, this is a purple state now. They’ve got to make their case. And loudly. But Harry, quite rightly, is fretting a bit about the downside potential of the event.

At The Nation: Altercation, Eric Alterman shameless plugs a piece he wrote for, of all crazy things, The Nation — you know, the publication that refuses to hire a regular theater critic? Anyway, Alterman thinks that newspaper, in order to survive, had better ditch the idea of being a for-profit enterprise and go not-for-profit all the way. He writes:

Since direct government subsidies remain anathema to both the likely subsidized and the subsidizers, the obvious answer would be for newspaper owners to spin off their properties and turn them into nonprofit institutions. This would be a body blow to the self-image of newspaper owners and editors, as nonprofit status would deprive them of one their favorite activities: editorial endorsements. Nothing makes the juices inside a newspaper flow like a meeting in its boardroom with a presidential or senatorial candidate paying tribute to their collective wisdom and power. And nothing exercises an editorial staff like a good fight over who, or what, is going to get its endorsement.

Thing is, nobody cares. Once upon a time, when newspapers were the sole source of detailed information about almost everything and really could be said to represent the communities they served, this particular kabuki dance may have made some sense. Today, however, with so few people subscribing to their local papers and so many sources of information available, the editorial endorsement has become a near total anachronism.

At Nickell’s Bag, Joe Nickell discloses that he has a friend who works at the National Endowment for the Arts and that all kinds of wacky, weird, strange, bizarre, crazy, loony, dopamine-challenged arts-oriented projects get pitched to the agency, such as “money to purchase Joe’s Drum Shop on Main Street” in Beverly, Mass.; a Texas prisoner who wants to write a “collection of recipes made with ingredients purchased at his prison store”; and another prisoner, also from Texas, wishing to complete a novel called Thug Love.

At Parabasis, Isaac Butler discusses what constitutes “theatricality.” Like pretending certain bloggers don’t exist. Mmm, that’s pretty theatrical.

At the Playwrights Foundation Blog, Jonathan Spector interviews playwright (and new Guggenheim Fellow and professional audience assault-monster) Thomas Bradshaw. Typical sample:

Story continues below.

JONATHAN SPECTOR: You’ve garnered a reputation over the past few years as a “provocateur” playwright, with characters who behave in shocking, outrageous ways. For instance in PROPHET a character gets a message from God telling him to enslave women, and he attempts to follow through, or in PURITY, two professors travel to Ecuador and “rent” a 9 year-old girl. Yet no matter how terrible the actions of characters in your plays, you never seem to pass judgment on them. How do you approach creating characters with such extreme moral stances?

THOMAS BRADSHAW: First of all the issues that I’m dealing with are part of the landscape of our world. We had a president for eight years that claimed that god told him to do things, including going into Iraq, then on the flip side, we have people who want to blow up the western world in the name of god.

So yes, one might say that my characters behave in shocking, outrageous ways, but I would say that they’re frighteningly real.The involuntary prostitution of young girls, teenagers, and women is our modern form of slavery. It wouldn’t be a problem if there weren’t a high demand for it. Look at the show “To Catch A Predator.” It shows men trying to have sex with young girls and boys by the drove – and the people who were caught engaging in this behavior were rabbis, policeman, priests, doctors, lawyers and teachers. My plays deal forthrightly with serious issues that many people don’t care to face. I categorize my plays as hyperrealism. They are like reality on crack – reality with out the boring parts.

Most plays make characters fit neatly into clear moral categories. This is pure artifice. No person is pure good or evil. Everyone fits somewhere in between. To stuff a character into a clear moral category is to make that character inhuman. I try to show the human side of characters that people might rather call monsters.

At the Silicon Alley Insider, Dan Colarusso reports on the Daily Beast’s first big advertising deal — with Bottega Veneta. That’s what I call … yeah!

Story continues below.

At Splattworks, Steve Patterson says that he has one simple wish for theatre:

I wish that each season, every artistic director would take a deep breath and program at least one play that truly scares the Holy Fucking Shit out of them. Not some “safe” dangerous play that’s a little controversial or has a bit of nudity or a naughty word or two. Something brand new, raw and newly hatched, or seldom produced, obscure and bizarre–something so far out on the edge, so utterly dangerous and subversive and deep into the ozone that they wake up in cold sweats night after night, thinking: This could be it. This one could lose my theatre.

At Stage: Theatre Blog, Alexis Soloski declares that critics shouldn’t befriend artists. Oh, she means Facebook-friend artists. Still, the discussion is a little, well, sincere but unfounded. The critic-as-cloister argument only begets critic-as-cloister criticism. Walls do not help make better art. Period.

At Theatre Ideas, Scott Walters eviscerates Broadway again, treating it like Terri Schiavo with the parents having been victorious in the courts, not her husband. Sigh. However, writing about where theater may go in the next 25 years (yes, Walters writes about Tom Loughlin’s A Poor Player post):

[W]hat I believe will happen, once smallness is embraced and magic reclaimed, is that the theatre will rediscover the fact that its lifeblood is not drawn from the mass culture, but from the local culture. Instead of taking its business model from commerce, it will look to local churches as an inspiration for a new relationship to the audience. Back in October 2005, I wrote about this idea. As Tom notes, theatre education will have to change in recognition of the different skills needed to work within such a model. Saying “education” and “change” in the same sentence does funny things to my mouth, but it will happen eventually. Young people will have to be taught to see themselves as facilitators, community members, builders, rememberers, celebrators, healers, and as people who help the community to reclaim its higher angels, embrace its own imaginations, and live up to its potential.