Monday, June 29, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
For a little more on Theater and Race check out the latest Cliché Watch. Also Check out Jack's upcoming show at the Neo-Futurists and his work with The Plagiarists.
Color-blind casting is something Court Theatre has been exploring (and for which we were recently lauded by AEA). We have yet to (in my memory) cast a parent-child relationship without regard to race, but it's easily conceivable that we will at some point--sometimes the best actor for the role just makes a strong enough case for casting him/her in that kind of vacuum. After all, we don't spend a lot of time considering hair color or body type when casting related characters (we do consider it, but it's not a reason to cast an otherwise not-quite-right actor).
Personally, I think colorblind casting should be a mandate at any Equity theater. Most plays produced at that scale (especially at classics-based companies) are written by white men. If we want our productions to speak to modern audiences, shouldn't we make some effort to reflect that audience onstage?
I'm not saying "black audiences will only respond to plays with black actors in" or any other version of that silly canard. What I mean is, our world (the world of American cities, at least) is more diverse than ever, and it is the responsibility of theater artists to reflect and engage with that reality. That doesn't always mean "race-blind" casting so much as it means "race-conscious" casting--being aware of the valances and tensions you are injecting into your play when you cast across "traditional" racial expectations.
Interestingly, it is much harder to race-blind-cast plays that the playwright wrote with racial subtext or tension in mind, or that are set in a realistic period world (although the all-black Cat On A Hot Tin Roof worked marvelously due to the quality of the acting and actually added a fascinating layer of stakes for the family, when I expected going in that it would somehow feel preposterous in Williams's crumbling Southern aristocracy). Whereas a Latino Torvald or a South Asian Viola (with or without matching Sebastian) doesn't disrupt the dramaturgy of the play even a little bit.
The celebrity-casting issue is a whole nother thing. It is insidious and has basically destroyed Broadway as a place where interesting or surprising acting can be seen.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I am offended that Phylicia Rashad is playing a white woman’s role in “August: Osage County.” It doesn’t make sense that she would have white siblings and children.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
A period piece is a play, performance, or film with an historical setting (typically other than the present) that derives part of its attraction from its faithful and thorough recreation of that setting.
Hobbes: Daddy, can I have some soup?Benno: Some what?Hobbes: When water meets meat?Benno: Yes, Hobbes. I love you.Hobbes: And I have a desire for your presence whilst in your presence.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Every person who has ever examined art closely, apart from those led astray by a defective theory of rhythm as an organizational tool, understands this question. A crooked, laborious poetic speech, which makes the poet tongue-tied, or a strange, unusual vocabulary, an unusual arrangement of words - what's behind all this?
Why does King Lear fail to recognize Kent? Why do both Kent and Lear fail to recognize Edward? So asked Tolstoi in utter astonishment about the underlying laws of Shakespearean drama. This comes from a man who knew greatly how to see things and how to be surprised by them.
Why does the recognition scene in the plays of Menander, Plautus and Terence take place in the last act, when the spectators have already had a presentiment by then of the blood relationship binding the antagonists, and when the author himself often notifies us of it in advace in the prologue?
Why is it that, in fashioning an Art of Love out of love, Ovid counsels us not to rush into the arms of pleasure?
A crooked road, a road in which the foot fells acutely the stones beneath it, a road that turns back on itself - this is the road of art.
What Shklovsky is getting at in this passage is the essential otherness, the necessary difficulty of art as opposed to what Peter Brook calls "any-old-how," that is, real life. For art to work, you sort of have to know it's art. A teacher gave me a great example once. If you're sitting in your apartment and you look across the street into the window there, and you see a man smothering his wife with a pillow, you will not call your friends and say "Hey, you gotta come over, I'm watching this great tragedy." But if Othello is playing somewhere nearby, you might make that call.