Tag Archives: theatre

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

Ubu film

17 May

Here’s an amazing online archive of avant-garde film and sound.
Thanks to papertheatre.org for pointing me towards this.

Post on Trojan Barbie

12 May

A blog review from Bam’s Brambles on Trojan Barbie that considers the question of the relative value we place on Western vs. “other” lives.

And another review in the Harvard Crimson:
The Harvard Crimson :: Arts :: ‘Barbie’ Revives, Revises Tragedy.

On Boston

7 May

“And as we know, the pilgrims who founded our country hated the theater, because they hated sex and the irrational. (Have you ever wondered why Boston is not a theater town?)”

I have to say, this made me laugh out loud. I’m quoting Sarah Ruhl, from a longer essay she posted on the fabulous website and writing engine papertheatre.org

I’m quoting without doing justice to the context here; it’s well worth reading Sarah’s full essay, which advises, among other things, not to send your characters to reform school (in the guise of making them “learn something” during their incarceration in your play).

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities

6 May

Projects — UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

So, this is what I’ll be up to for the next month or so as one of the writers of the Virtual Performance Factory.  I’m fascinated to be learning about these new modes of writing/ designing.

I’ve been thinking lately about the need to find other paths through my life as a playwright.  The regional model is timid and broken; it’s about product and (as Morgan Jeness puts it) serving the oligarchy.  And frankly, my plays are not going to function well as “product” in those contexts.  In one of the most thoughtful reviews of Trojan Barbie, the writer said “The playwright is not interested in our comfort, though there are many entertaining moments in her writing. Instead, she asks that we consider the suffering of people we do not know in lands we may never visit. ”

And that is true, but it doesn’t mean I want to insult or alienate an audience.  I want them to come with me in looking at something painful, but in a form that’s beautiful and compelling so that we can bear to do it.  I think a feeling of truth in art, and moments of beauty (formal or thematic) are rare joys and the pathways to these experiences for audiences are systematically blocked through lack of arts education, a frantically materialist culture, and the deeply patronizing view that audiences aren’t up to–nor up for– complex, intense, problem-posing art.

However, as Spencer Golub has said repeatedly, it’s all in the frame.  Perhaps it’s just that they(we) are not up for being sat in rows and made to look at the same thing together any more.  The blackboard, the stage, the monument… there’s something about those forms that seems to recede into the 20th century already.

The question, then: what IS the relationship (or array of possible relationships) between work made for performance and its audience?  Maybe it’s fractal rather than perspectival now.  The relationship of a physically unified audience to a singular spectacle on a proscenium stage dates to Renaissance discoveries in painting, and is organized around the God-king’s eye.  Now we are all tiny gods with our insect-eye computers and iPhones, and perspective is multiple and dispersed, although still very much formed in and by a field of power relations.   This new connectivity is both too intimate and too fractal for the stage.  Yet there’s something about bodily presence that I still believe we crave–it’s telling that isolation is the least bearable of stresses in captivity.

So that’s what I want to figure out. How to write supple, intimate, fractal performance texts that have form and shape but function as strands in a web of dialogue with an audience.   Preferably by June.  Any clues, post ’em here!  And I’ll write more about the VPF as it unfolds.

Mark Bernstein on Trojan Barbie

28 Apr

Mark Bernstein: Trojan Barbie.

Nice blog posting on Trojan Barbie at the ART.  I appreciated the Chuck Mee and Seneca references!

The Commonplace Blog of Jeffrey M. Jones: October 2007

20 Apr

The Commonplace Blog of Jeffrey M. Jones: October 2007.

This article by Jeff Jones, first published in American Theatre in 2005, deserves wider consideration.  He considers the difference between art criticism and theatre criticism, and makes a compelling case that a concerted effort in the visual arts to bring audiences along has succeeded, whereas the professional theatre has failed dismally to introduce audiences to the kinds of critical concepts that would allow them access to (and enjoyment of) structurally experimental work.

Jones then goes on to suggest some curatorial strategies from the visual arts that might serve the theatre to reverse its shrinking audience base and overcome some of the problems that face new work.

My only quibble is with the off-hand characterization of the hoi-polloi as “little old ladies” and “grey-haired ladies”–the implication being that if even
these people can risk adventure, anyone can. Butheatre audiences have more women in them than men. And some of these women at the theatre or art gallery might be brain surgeons or literary critics or artists on a day out.

However, it’s a great piece with a provocative and smart thesis. Well worth reading!

Talkin’ Broadway Regional News & Reviews – “Trojan Barbie” – 4/15/09

15 Apr

Talkin’ Broadway Regional News & Reviews – “Trojan Barbie” – 4/15/09.

Familiar Themes Acted Out Uncharacteristically WBUR

11 Apr

Nice radio review of Trojan Barbie– I did something weird linking it, so you have to click on the post heading (Familiar Themes Acted Out Uncharacteristically) to get to the article.

GB – Center Stage Archive

4 Apr

GB – Center Stage Archive.

Trojan Barbie on telly!