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Public and Roundabout Change Policy in Playwrights’ Favor – NYTimes.com

25 Mar

Public and Roundabout Change Policy in Playwrights’ Favor – NYTimes.com.

This is really good news, and in no small part due to the activism and advocacy of Richard Nelson, Todd London and Ben Pesner, Craig Lucas and others. Todd and Ben put out in public (Outrageous Fortune) the stark facts of how little most playwrights make, and now there’s a response.

Notes towards a political theater

10 Mar

In “Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction” poet Wallace Stevens lists such a fiction’s essential qualities. His list:
1. It must be abstract
2. It must change
3. It must give pleasure.
Late in life, he remarked elsewhere that he would add a fourth quality: “It must be human”.
I think these qualities give some useful clues in the struggle to create theater against political atrocity. I’ll just focus on the first two here, since they’re less self-evident in their applicability.

To take the first: “It must be abstract.” One of the recurring features of the path towards genocide is its crushing literality. The gap between word and deed, word and person (which abstract thought and imagination enable) is systematically narrowed, and then closed. Continue reading

Facebook | NoPassport theatre conference: UTOPIA

3 Feb

Looking forward to this– Utopia in Performance at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. 
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If you’re in New York and are interested in transnational perspectives in theatre making, do come.  Here’s a little about this gathering, which is more artist-based than academic in tone:

Join Migdalia Cruz, Teresa Eyring (TCG), Jeff Janisheski (O’Neill Theater Institute), Catherine Filloux, Karen Hartman, Melanie Joseph, Oliver Mayer, Chiori Miyagawa, Jeff McMahon, J.T. Rogers, Ian Rowlands, Alberto Sandoval, Octavio Solis, Saviana Stanescu, and a distinguished roster of for the 4th annual NoPassport “Dreaming the Americas” Conference held this coming year at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City with pre-conference event at New Dramatists. This coming year the two-day conference will focus on a wide range of contemporary works for theatre & performance, viewing utopian spaces from a variety of formal perspectives. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Erik Ehn and Henry Godinez. There will also be a book launch for the release of four new volumes from NoPassport Press from Migdalia Cruz, Karen Hartman, Chiori Miyagawa, Octavio Solis amd Saviana Stanescu.

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Interview with Mac Rogers

15 Jan

Mac Rogers is a Brooklyn-based playwright (there are other locale-based playwrights, but they do seem to be particularly thick on the ground in Brooklyn.) I particularly like his observation on the weirdness of theatre blogging, and the advice for new playwrights: the interview is here on Adam Szymkowicz’s website. It’s part of Adam’s regular series of interviews with playwrights– well worth a visit!

Study Focuses on the Care and Feeding of Playwrights – NYTimes.com

14 Jan

There’s some great discussion in the blogosphere regarding this:

Study Focuses on the Care and Feeding of Playwrights – NYTimes.com.

Curious: That NY Times headline could just as well substitute “Giant Pandas” for “Playwrights”… and the playwright-in-residence solution parallels the zoo or conservation park.

The same logic pertains: the problem for both endangered species (playwrights and pandas) is that the environment to which they’re adapted has changed and no longer supports them. Pandas can’t do much about it but maybe playwrights can. Form companies. Self-publish.

Or maybe it’s time to find the other door in the wall.  Maybe I”ll write fantasy novels or work for a video game company designing games for teenage girls where they don’t have to blow up the world in a muscle suit to have an absorbing adventure.  Any other suggestions?


Playwrights on Writing – latimes.com

7 Jan

An interesting series of interviews with a wide range of contemporary playwrights, published in the LA times.
Playwrights on Writing – latimes.com.

I discovered this through The Loop Online, a free playwrights’ networking and information resource which is curated by the indefatigable Gary Garrison–Well worth joining for playwrights!

Landscape of the theater

2 Aug

I finally read John Guare’s play, Landscape of the Body. I loved it–a dream of flesh and song made of “what if . . .” and grounded in a gritty time in his city. (I was curious because someone told me that my writing reminded them of his… Ah, I said sagely—then decided I’d better catch up!)

However I note the following about this play, to measure the distance between 1977 and 2009’s production landscape:
1. It has a cast of 11
2. In the preface, the author wrote this:
“I finished the play. I wrote the title page. I wrote a page dedicating it to Adele. I was exhausted. I was thirsty. I put the phone back on the hook. Bill finished reading the play a few pages after I finished typing. He said, “I’ll produce it.” “When?” “It’s May. Let’s do it in July.”

Guardian piece on female playwrights

17 Jul

Finally–from Max Stafford-Clark, writing in the Guardian– an intelligent and thoughtful piece about gender and playwriting. 
Looking for the next bright young female playwright? | Max Stafford-Clark | Stage | guardian.co.uk.
Notable in this piece and absent from recent American articles is a sense of history–he points out the many excellent female writers (in the UK) who have been breathlessly sensationalized as “the next hot young thing” and then discarded and forgotten.

I’m so glad to read this. The breathy American valorization of the “hot new thing” which infects every level of the theatre, not just the media, is another obstacle on the formidably difficult path of building a body of work and a career in the theatre. It’s product oriented, not art-oriented, and certainly not artist-oriented. If everyone constantly demands world premieres from 22 year olds (for “workshops” or perhaps one world premiere, then the scrap heap) the theatre will look like, well— what it does. Callow, shallow and undercooked in the “development” fringes, and hoary, old and conservative in the regional dinosaurs.

Homeland Guantanamo

7 Jun

Homeland Guantanamo.

This is an amazing site. It’s set up as an interactive memorial and activism site to honor the memories of those who’ve died in US immigration detention. It’s counter-writing in that it writes back in what’s been erased or stone-walled by the official record.

Connects to what I’ve been thinking about ways to stretch theatre to interact with audiences in new ways– and my long-standing concern with detention and refugee rights (Slow Falling Bird and other plays).

What is a memorial? The word suggests materiality, place, mossy overgrown stones.  An internet memorial?  Maybe the internet is the perfect non-place, space to honor ghosts. inter

Opening the door

19 May

I’ve been thinking for a while of how to find and walk through the other door. The door to doing the creative work on my own terms, actively finding collaborators, writing what comes and what excites me rather than starting with “product” and “market” and the hope that my work will be “picked up”. Continue reading