Results tagged “theatre” from ARTicles

ShrewThumbCST.jpgShakespeare's Katherina of Padua is outrageous, hostile and terribly funny, and "The Taming of the Shrew" is a great game of wits as long as the game seems fair. But there's the rub for modern audiences. Never mind that the shrew was a stock character with a stock remedy. You can feel the squirming begin as Kate is systematically humiliated, muddied, starved and sleep-deprived.

Faced with the prospect of half an audience pleading, "Say it ain't so!" as Kate kneels for peace, her hand below her husband's foot, what's a producer to do?

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has tried something new with Neil LaBute, a playwright who knows a thing or two about sexual politics in the modern era.

May 17, 2010 6:54 AM |
ComeFlyAway1.jpgOnce more there is a conversation in the NYtimes.com ArtsBeat blog between critics of different disciplines, in this case Charles Isherwood and Alastair Macaulay, on the subject of the Broadway dance musical "Come Fly Away," choreographed by Twyla Tharp to music of Frank Sinatra. I have been lapping it up.

Isherwood has called "Come Fly Away" a "major new work" of theater, and Macaulay has decried its dance as "intimacy perverted into exhibitionism." I am interested in the discussion that is developing over the nature of Tharp's work, for what it is and what it isn't, breakthrough or compromise, as judged from the perspective of these critics who write about related but different genres. Here's the link to the conversation, best read from the bottom up.

For the record, I saw "Come Fly Away" in one of its last previews. I found it exhilarating, and I would have been happy to tell you why over a bottle of wine after the show. But because I was a 

March 30, 2010 10:52 AM |
Theatre in the Bay Area took another hit this week, as the renowned Magic Theatre announced it is on the verge of closing.

This follows the closure of American Musical Theatre of San Jose earlier this month.  Shakespeare Santa Cruz also threatened to close in December, but managed to stay open after a successful drive to raise $300,000.

The Magic says it needs to raise $350,000 by January 9 to continue its 43rd season.  The staff there is now working without pay, and managing director David Jobin has left.  Artistic director Loretta Greco told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company has a $600,000 accumulated debt, some of which "we didn't realize we had." 

In its 42 years, the Magic has nurtured the work of four Pulitzer Prize winners, including Sam Shepard and Nilo Cruz, as well as local actors and marquis stars like Sean Penn and Ed Harris.  If the second largest theatre in San Francisco were to shutter its doors, it would be devastating for the arts community and the 200 artists it employs annually.   

That includes yours truly, whose next acting contract is at the Magic.  Luckily, it looks like this west coast premiere of Tough Titty will occur.  Written by the late actor/playwright Oni Faida Lampley, Tough Titty is a smart, funny inspiring play that chronicles a woman's battle with breast cancer.  

Now we can only hope that the Magic will be able to continue presenting the rest of its season and the groundbreaking new work for which it's become known. 

It's a desperate time for the arts, as manifested in the Facebook group "One Percent for the Arts Campaign!"  The group is asking people to sign a petition to ask Congress to assign a mere 1% of the federal stimulus package to the arts.  The group's tagline is "because artists and writers are also part of the economy," a fact people seem to have forgotten. 

One can only hope they start remembering.  Here's to 2009!

To help save the Magic Theatre, donate here.
December 31, 2008 12:00 AM |
The film 21 opens today.  If you've missed the barrage of advertising Sony Pictures has assailed upon us, here's a description from Fandango:

Director Robert Luketic adapts Ben Mezrich's best-seller Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions to tell the true-life tale of six genius students who used their brains to beat considerable odds.

True to life?  True that the main character goes to Vegas to count cards with his classmates so that he can make tuition money.  Not true that the protagonist is Caucasian.

The real people profiled in Bringing Down the House are actually Asian American, and when Asian-American actors learned that the story was being made into a movie, they rejoiced.  Finally, they would have the opportunity to play three-dimensional characters and branch out from their fine portrayals of nerds, waiters, kung fu artists, and refugees.  

Studio executives dashed those hopes.  They felt that Caucasian actors would make the film more marketable, despite the fact that the characters' ethnicity was essential to the story.  The book states that the card-counting scheme was successful partly because the students used their ethnicity to their advantage; in the casinos, a young Asian man betting large amounts of money is less conspicuous than a young white man.

And come on, we all know that gambling and M.I.T. have become indispensable parts of Asian-American culture.  Every Asian parent dreams of his or her children going to M.I.T. and takes the $25 bus from Chinatown to Reno to win enough money to send them there.

If you don't believe me, just ask writer/performer Prince Gomolvilas who confesses in the  touring theatre production Jukebox Stories that his college education was financed when his "mother hit the jackpot on a nickel slot machine at the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Vegas."  The quip is part of his biting and hilarious monologue "21 Reasons Why This Movie Already Sucks," in which he lists 21 reasons one should NOT see the film 21.   

Here are a few:

#7: This is not the kind of movie [Jim Sturgess, who is white] should be in. He actually should've been cast as Ray Charles in Ray or as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland or as Frank Lucas, you know, the Denzel Washington character in American Gangster.

#14: People say that I should be happy because the producers, out of an apparent act of charity, did cast two Asian Americans in smaller roles: the Korean dude from Disturbia and some random token hot Asian chick.  But I ask you: Why the hell should I be happy? That's like somebody jerking you off halfway and then leaving.

We shouldn't be surprised by a film studio's lack of cultural sensitivity.  It's not the first time that Hollywood has changed a character's race to make a film more "marketable."  In 1999, George Clooney played the African-American protagonist in Three Kings, and Gomolvilas has plenty of his own experiences:

Remember the time when a certain talent agent wanted to take a look at my script about a little Asian-American boy only if I would consider rewriting the part so that Dakota Fanning could star in it?  

How about that time I was developing a script called Chocolate Buddha at a film studio? The story was about a black guy who hides out in a Buddhist monastery.  And I was shocked that... executives could still look me in the eye and tell me it would be much better if the star of the movie were Caucasian, essentially changing my film into White Chocolate Buddha.

The moral of this story is that if you're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles this weekend, take that $10 you would have spent seeing 21 to catch Gomolvilas with singer/songwriter Brandon Patton in Jukebox Stories: The Case of the Creamy Foam at Genghis Cohen.  (They're also in Boston June 15.)  A mixture of contemporary storytelling, original songs, audience prizes and a different setlist each night, Gomolvilas and Patton present a clever, decidedly non-theatrical theatre piece that combines personal anecdotes with brilliant observations of life's randomness.  

This second installment of Jukebox Stories lets the audience virtually pick out of a hat the pieces the duo will present, like Gomolvilas' true yet bizarre story about how his satirical review of High School Musical garnered thousands of angry letters and death threats from tween girls.  And if you solve the show's murder mystery or demonstrate your prowess at movie score trivia, you win cheesy prizes.  It's a load of fun that will leave you thinking about life and humming Patton's songs on your way home, "We're alive and we chuckle when we fart/Try to be inspired but this is life, not art."

March 28, 2008 12:22 PM |


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