Results tagged “Sleep No More” from ARTicles

James Rainey's Los Angeles Times article on tepid press reception of Gustavo Dudamel's first U.S. tour as LA Philharmonic music director reminds me of a scene I'm watching unfold in Cambridge, Mass., where Diane Paulus is completing her first year as artistic director of American Repertory Theater. Both media and popular support of Paulus have been strong, but there's a less documented story on the street. Is she turning A.R.T. into an out-of-town stage for New York actors and other theater workers? Is her work serious or is it, as has been suggested of Dudamel's, a "publicity and fund-raising machine"? 

During her first year, Paulus has produced the biggest ticket-seller of any season at A.R.T. -- "Sleep No More" by England's Punchdrunk theater -- and her revival of "Donkey Show" that has been running nearly a year at A.R.T.'s smaller black-box space has a minor cult status locally. People love the work, or they don't. Critics love the work, or they don't. But the work keeps trucking, just as it does with the other theaters in the Boston area. Paulus' "Best of Both Worlds," a musical adaptation of "A Winter's Tale" staged in an inner-city vernacular, featured outstanding performances by an all-black cast -- a rarity at A.R.T. -- but the show didn't find the same kind of following as "Sleep No More," and the writing didn't cast the same spell for many who did attend. Same for another import, "Paradise Lost," Daniel Fish's update of Clifford Odets' play. Time will tell how Paulus assesses these two productions.

Paulus' newest work, "Johnny Baseball," is a musical about the Red Sox. The show opens June 2, and the local theater community is already noting that the cast is imported from New York -- even as the story is written by Massachusetts native Richard Dresser, stars Boston Conservatory graduate Stephanie Umoh, and features young Erik March, pitcher and infielder for the Newburyport Pioneer League. In previews, theatergoers wore Red Sox outfits and caps, and drank beer during the show. Can Fenway fans be far behind?

May 27, 2010 5:32 AM |

OUR TOWN CAST.jpg"It's a two-hour version with no intermission, and it's very action-packed," said Mr. Burdman, who's directing the play. Audiences will be able to get in on the action to some extent by following the show as it moves around the center. "Wear comfortable shoes," Mr. Burdman said. "We've got seven flights of stairs." NYT 3/5/2010

This New York Times excerpt is from a story about a New York Classical Theater production of "Hamlet" directed by the company's artistic director Stephen Burdman. The show is in rehearsal for its opening in April at the World Financial Center, a sprawling space in Lower Manhattan. But the excerpt also tells us a little something about the increasing power of audience participation in live theater - in its process and performance. It's the age of the video games and reality TV, after all, and we want live theater to be engaging not only of our minds but of our bodies, too. We want to be stakeholders in the narrative. Theatergoers and even passersby who witness a sword fight between two Danes downtown should not be alarmed. It's just art. And on the night of the show, you can fully expect to use those comfortable shoes to "get in on the action."

Live theater is now a performance event for everyone!

In Cambridge, Mass., where I live, American Repertory Theater's artistic director Diane Paulus has put muscle into audience participation. Last year, she re-staged her crowd-inclusive "Donkey Show"; it's now running indefinitely in the theater's annex space where nearly nightly crowds turn out to dance alongside the "Midsummer Night's Dream"-cum-Studio 54 disco cast. One addict apparently has seen the show 30 times. (I've been three times.)

March 11, 2010 7:22 PM |


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