From the Blogroll XVIII: “And the Plane and the Bus Maybe Yesterday” Edition



At 99 Seats, the topic is the resurfacing of playwright Theresa Rebeck, who has become a lightning rod for the righteous idea of playwrights being righteous about playwriting as well as the equally righteous idea of folks that write about playwrights being righteous about about playwrights who are righteous about playwriting.

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At the African-American Playwrights Exchange, the playwright OyamO is declaring black theater dying or dead — if you look at the post, it’s designed in the form of an obituary, and the headline reads as follows:

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“Black theatre” is not at all vital to the wellbeing of the black community, has no crucial purpose within that community and is irrelevant to the existence of that community.

Discuss. Also discuss the back-and-forth between Verticus Erectus and the venerable Gary Garrison, who is executive director for creative affairs at the Dramatists Guild, and has some pretty interesting things to say about people who complain about the high cost of doing theater on Broadway and the high cost of chewing gum.

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At Adaumbelle’s Quest, Adam Rothenberg’s quest to interview every Broadway baby of note continues unbounded — and thrillingly so. The latest? The delectable Orfeh. One quibble: He doesn’t ask if her brother’s name is Eitherweh.

At Adventures in the Endless Pursuit of Entertainment, Sarah B. reviews Michael Rudez’s On the Way Down and poached an egg, inspired by a certain Meryl Streep film. Let’s see, which one could it be?

At An Angry White Guy in Chicago, Don Hall takes those brown-shirted birthers and says what needs to be said under the rubric of “I believe”…:

…that anyone who, at this point, gives anything other than derision and disgust to a self-proclaimed “birther” needs to reach up, pull his head out of his tightly squeezed pucker hole and smell some reality. Dumbasses.

…that anything that causes you fear, should. That said, facing your fears with an absolute resolve to overcome that which frightens you is the sign of character we all strive to have etched on our tombstones. Unless what you fear is a black president and then you should just give up and drool your way to premature dementia, you unibrow dipshit.

…that, if the news cats had pursued the erroneous claims about WMDs in 2002/2003 with the same fervor they’re pounding on the “birther” movement and the death of Michael Jackson, maybe we wouldn’t have invaded a nonthreatening country six years ago. What happened to mainstream media? The decision that making money was more important than reporting substantive investigative NEWS.

At Americans for the Arts Artsblog, there coverage of the confirmation votes for Rocco Landesman and Jim Leach as chairs of the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities, respectively. Gotta love this statement from American for the Arts poobah Robert L. Lynch:

Today’s Senate confirmation of Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair marks a moment of great opportunity for our nation’s cultural agencies. Landesman embarks as Chair of the nation’s arts agency with a robust agenda, an upward trajectory of funding, broad Congressional approval, and a White House committed to attracting national attention to the value of the arts and integrating them into broader domestic policies.

Through his service in Congress, Jim Leach proved himself to be a strong leader and strategist on behalf of both the arts and the humanities. I am certain he will lead the NEH to support the innovative and critical work of the nation’s humanities groups.

At Artsy Schmartsy, the Milwaukee-based mover and shaker Jonathan West reminds his rational colleagues that just because Eric Dillner did the right thing and stepped down at Skylight Opera Theatre doesn’t mean that the venue’s multiplicity of issues are done with. In some ways, he reminds, they are just beginning.

At Community Perspectives: Riffing with John Clinton Eisner, John Clinton Eisner introduces the aforementioned Theresa Rebeck as the Lark Theatre Company guest columnist for August. So while the folks at 99 Seats have 99 luftballoons about it, Rebeck kicks things off with this essay:

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Can Craft & Creativity Life on the Same Stage?
Recently, John Eisner asked me how, as a playwright, I reconciled my passion for structure and historically more traditional elements of craft with fidelity to the inchoate and poetic essence of the creative impulse.

I was honestly startled by the question. John is smart and reasonable and he spends a lot of time thinking about theater and theater artists and questions of how theater can remain a lively and important element of the American culture. So when he wondered how I reconciled craft and creativity I had to take it seriously even though the question kind of made my head want to explode. It has always seemed to me that the instigating impulse is something messy and internal and that a playwright’s job is to take that messy internal moment and build it into a stronger and more complex and dynamic version of itself so that it can sustain itself, on a stage, with actors, in the light of day. It’s like being a gardener: You have a seed; you add water and dirt and light, and you have a plant. You have an idea, you add structure, and you have a play. That’s not reconciling a conflict, that’s art.

Not so much maybe. Last summer I was talking to Rajiv Joseph about the overt disdain I sometimes hear come out of people’s mouths around the whole notion of structure. He agreed, noting that “people are really down” on anything that seems like it might be “conventional.” The suspicion is what John’s question suggests it might be-that craft somehow presents a compromise to some essential voice, and that purity of expression actually needs to detonate tradition for it to be authentic.

I do understand that artists of integrity can disagree around this question of aesthetics. I recently served on a panel with the exceptional Constance Congdon and Mac Wellman. Connie and Mac spoke passionately for the need for originality and the exploding of expectations that can prove the groundwork for provocative writing. I spoke passionately on behalf of story and character and forward motion. I think at one point we got a little annoyed with each other, but that really was only once during a workshop that took place over four days. Mostly we shrugged and agreed that sometimes it’s hard to know what to tell a young playwright who’s got a kind of interesting mess on his or her hands and theater is a weird business no matter how you slice it and we’re all in this together. They’d we go off and have cocktails….

At Createquity, Ian David Moss takes a look at Fox News — which is grossly misreporting facts about the NEA stimulus money in order to stir up the culture wars (and which this blogger predicted back in January, people!) — and sets the record straight. Moss’ coverage of Rocco Landesman’s confirmation as the head of the National Endowment for the Arts is also notable for a number of subsidiary and provocative points of view.

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At Creating Theater, Bill Brown confesses that he doesn’t like reading plays — and admits why.

At Doric Wilson, the legendary Doric Wilson gives a rave to Daniel Talbott’s new play Slipping. I saw it, too. He’s right. (Full disclosure 1: Doric Wilson’s TOSOS II helped Talbott develop the play. Full disclosure 2: Talbott’s a dear friend. Full disclosure 3: I don’t give a crap about full disclosure. See the damn play.)

At Everything I Know I Learned from Musicals, Chris Caggiano treats us to the most overrated musicals ever. Those I agree with include:

Big River
Forever Plaid
Grand Hotel
Jekyll & Hyde
Mamma Mia
Miss Saigon

At Fragments (I Can Have Oodles of Charm When I Want To), Monica asks a great question: Why do people not like community theater?

At Gratuitous Violins, Esther joins the chorus of bloggers saying “Rocco Landesman good good good,” but then says, “Hey, why did you have to pick on Peoria?” What is this guy, some kind of urban snob? Yes, Esther. That’s what he is. But better, I suppose, than some Republican bumpkin who hates the arts and wants them shot by the John McCain death squads….

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At Ken Davenport’s The Producer’s Perspective, a paean to the late John Hughes turns into a paean to Ferris Bueller. Yes, of course it does. He also asks if a New York Times review guarantees a longer run. I guess it depends on what you consider theater.

At Life Upon the Sacred Stage, Retta Blaney reviews Burn the Floor. Always good to rumba with the Lord. :-)

At Me2ism, Donald visits that time-honored phrase “just close already!,” as it is usually applied to pointless theater schlock like Cats, Phantom, Mamma Mia! and various Off-Broadway tuners that make the heads of certain producers explode from colossal ego. But hey, why do it? Shouldn’t shows run forever? Read the post to gain his thoughts.

At Moxie the Maven, Moxie the Maven talks about Spiderman: The Musical and how it may very well not be opening in New York on time or ever, and how the $45,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 price tag could gently ease the national debt. (I’d like my .00001% please. Thanks.)

At the Nonprofit Law Blog, George Takagi directs readers to a recent article he co-wrote for

the American Bar Association’s Business Law Today on Alternatives to Forming a Charitable Nonprofit here


In connection with the Business Law Today issue focusing on nonprofit organizations, Lisa Runquist, Alice Anderson and I will be speaking on a Teleconference and Live Audio Webcast on August 12, 2009 at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Pacific Time. The topic: Responsibilities and Duties of Directors of Nonprofits: How to Limit Your Liability. You can register for the teleconference here.

At On Chicago Theatre, Zev N. Valancy reviews a production of James Comtois’ The Adventures of Nervous-Boy. Of course, I know James and know how wonderfully odd he is. Give it time, Zev. Stuff grows on ya. Also, Valancy writes a review of Spring Awakening.

At On Theatre and Politics, Matt Freeman gives readers a sneak peek at the dialogue of his new play. Picture it! Well, actually, read it, then picture it.

At Painting Air, Kat asks a great question about the announcement that the Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of La Cage aux Folles is going to skip merrily across the Atlantic and open on Broadway next season: Does it have to be a show whose last Broadway revival was five years ago? (Answer: Yes, alas. And your Gypsy analogy is quite right. But this ain’t Patti LuPone. This is “The Best of Times.”)

At Parabasis, Mr. Excitement talks about the problem and/or challenge of blogger ethics. Of course, given that the usual blogger at Parabasis rarely exhibits much in that department — certainly not with me, given his comportment — it’s all a bit ironic, isn’t it? I guess those who are sustained by trust funds need not observe ethics. That’s the rich, for ya.

At Ryan J. Davis Blogs, not only does Ryan J. Davis take CNN’s Lou Dobbs out to the woodshed to verbally slap the living daylights out of him, he does so via the Huffington Post.

At, Byrne Harrison offers coverage of Michael Roderick’s “throwdown” at Michael Rudez’s On the Way Down, which The Clyde Fitch Group also promoted. (Harrison also talked about it here.)

At Steve on Broadway, Steve reviews Burn the Floor. No, there are no Deney Terrio Dance Fever jokes. But I do remember Motion.

At The Fortress of Jason Grote, Jason Grote looks at what the Republican extremists are perpetuating, what with violence at town hall meetings, and asks “What the fuck?” It’s called right-wing brownshirt tactics, Jason. And the left had better respond with some spine or else it’s over.

At The Playgoer, Garrett Eisler asks the $64,000 question: Is Broadway afraid of blogs? Specifically, is the Broadway League afraid of blogs? I mean, just because Charlotte St. Martin is buying duct tape and pining for Dick Cheney does not mean she’s afraid.

At Theatre Aficionado at Large, Kevin Daly leaves the universe gobsmacked by linking this amazing video of a certain Broadway legend on a legendary game show:

At Usher Nonsense, Tulis McCall reviews Vanities. Darling, I’m so sorry. Next time, cocktails on the universe.

At Visible Soul, Zack Calhoon decided that publicist and producer Lanie Zipoy is Someone You Should Know. And you know what? He’s right! (She rocks, people. Hire her. Now.)