Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get LIT on May 4th

Here's a quick post about the upcoming GET LIT event on Monday, May 4th:

The League of Independent Theaters (LITNY)'s next Get Lit with LIT! event is happening on Monday May 4th at 7pm,. It's free for LITNY members, $5 for non-members. It's at the Red Room, 85 E. 4th Street. This month's guest is Phillip Matthews, Director of Audience Programs with Theatre Communications Group.

Get Lit with LIT! is a monthly Cocktail Salon hosted by LITNY board member Leonard Jacobs. Each month the League will invite an important VIP from our sector to join our membership for cocktails and intimate question and answers.

Learn more about LITNY here: http://www.litny.org

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program

We just learned a few months ago about The Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program (DUCS). This is a great organization! What they do is collect books from nonprofit publishing houses, package them up, and donate them to underserved libraries in inner cities, schools, alternative reading centers, etc. They do this at no cost to the recipients.

We just donated a carton of Plays and Playwrights 2001 (which is going to be out of print by the end of the year). DUCS picked up the shipping charges. NYTE has been able to provide needed materials to underserved groups. Our mission to get our plays out to a wide, broad, and diverse audience is served. And of course the people who will get to read our book and countless others provided to them thanks to DUCS will hopefully be enriched and rewarded by the experience. So it's a win-win-win situation!

Check out the DUCS website to learn more about what they do. We'll certainly make another donation to them in 2010.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Indie Theater Firebrand: Dr. Larry Myers

I'm afraid that not enough people in the indie theater world know about Dr. Larry Myers. A playwright, director, teacher, innovator, and a longtime supporter of NYTE and other indie theater advocacy/service groups (he's lending us space for a panel discussion on Immersive Theater that I am organizing on May 23rd -- more on that coming soon), Larry is a theatre practitioner and enthusiast whose energy is infectious.

He currently is on the faculty of St. John's University's Manhattan Campus, where he teaches courses in Speech and Playwriting. This summer, he is teaching a unique playwriting workshop, which I'll let him describe for you himself:


[It's] a nuts and bolts interactive lab of acting, directing, playwriting and producing...students will act and direct plays generated within the course. The class will make ample use of the state-of-the-art auditorium and stage located in the Murray Street building. The workshop is viable for any student. The skills of role playing, conflict management, creative decision making, and improvisation can be used in one’s ‘life script.’ Anyone can discover their ‘inner playwright’ by re-examining moral codes, values, principles and attitudes and encoding them into script form.
Even more innovative is his planned follow-up. He told me about this "service theater" class: a new class creating theater in which there is a component involving volunteerism--serving in hospices, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, etc. Larry knows of what he speaks: he spent a lot of time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (and incorporated some of his experiences there in the play Limericks from Undisclosed Locations, which you can read more about here).

Larry has also just written a play called Twitter Theater, which is about what it sounds like it's about--he's very interested in how new technologies and aspects of pop culture intersect with art and theater. He's also working on strategies to bring plays to "market" more quickly; he told me "theater must be faster, mounted cheaper, and shorter. Paula Vogel, a friend, agrees with my 'finding inner playwright' theory for life. Too many plays are dramaturged to death, take too long; they're too processed, like old quarts of milk left out."

His bio is just as remarkable, and mercurial. Larry worked closely with Tennessee Williams, was Shubert Playwright with David Rabe for two years, appeared as Count Dount Dorante in Sarah Caldwell's production of Ariadne auf Noxos at New York City Opera, worked with Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner both, was called by The Manhattan Mirror "Downtown's most produced playwright" and by the San Francisco Press "a walking encyclopedia of theater."

He's not resting on any laurels. He says: "Am currently writing books on Edward Albee (authorized), Tennessee (wait till I retire), and the Piscators. Recently lost two playwriting teachers -- Milan Stitt & Ron Tavel. And I love Maria Irene Fornes! Will tour in my own play Car Sleepers & Tent City Folk by Greyhound cross country..."

His plans for the Playwriting Center at St. Johns, which take in the current workshop plus so much more outlined here (and still more that's not!), are ambitious and exciting, and I am eager to see what comes of them.

Here's an article from the St. Johns website where you can learn still more about Dr. Larry Myers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Long Overdue Recognition for Some Indie Theater Mainstays

Today's announcement of the Drama Desk Award nominations made me smile quite broadly several times.

In the category of Outstanding Solo Performance are two actors who have been working diligently and persuasively in the indie world for quite some time: Frank Blocker of Southern Gothic Novel and Michael Laurence of Krapp, 39. The former debuted several years ago at the New York International Fringe Festival and has been running for most of 2009 at Stage Left Studio. The latter was in FringeNYC this past summer and then moved to Soho Playhouse, where it is still running. Krapp,39 is also published in my anthology Plays and Playwrights 2009, which makes it the first of our plays to achieve recognition from the Drama Desk.

And in the Unique Theatrical Experience category, the remarkable immersive physical theater piece Surrender, by Josh Fox & International WOW, is a nominee. (Josh's play The Expense of Spirit is published in Plays and Playwrights 2006.)

And while we're talking about awards, I want to publicly congratulate Susan Louise O'Connor for her Outer Critics Circle nod for her Broadway debut in Blithe Spirit. Susan has been trodding the boards of indie theaters for more than a decade with enormous success; I am thrilled to see her getting the attention she deserves. (NYTE named Susan one of its People of the Year back in 2005. I'm just saying.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Pinter Tribute at CUNY

You may already have heard about this, but just in case... CUNY Graduate Center (right across from the Empire State Building) is hosting this free tribute to the late Harold Pinter:

The PEN World Voices Festival
A Tribute to Harold Pinter
Saturday May 2nd 2009 11am – 10pm

CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave., between 34th and 35th St, NYC
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Participants include Harry Burton, Salman Rushdie, John Guare, Emily Mann, Brian O’Byrne, Todd Haimes, Jason Isaacs, Charles Grimes, Alistair Macaulay, and many others

Join us for a day-long celebration of the life of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter, curated by British actor-director Harry Burton, whose close friendship with Pinter spanned 25 years and many collaborations. The tribute will feature live readings, discussions, rare audio and video recordings of the author acting in his own plays, screenings of Pinter’s plays and feature films, and the U.S. premiere of an intimate documentary portrait, Working with Pinter.

Henry Woolf, a lifelong friend of Pinter’s who is featured in the documentary, is participating in the celebration, along with Burton. Other participants include PEN president Salman Rushdie; movie directors Paul Schrader and Patricia Rozema, who have worked with Pinter; playwrights John Guare and Emily Mann; Tony Award-winning actor Brian O’Byrne; Todd Haimes, artistic director of the Roundabout Theatre; actor Jason Isaacs; Charles Grimes, author of Harold Pinter’s Politics; Susan Hollis Merritt, editor of The Pinter Review; and Alistair Macaulay, dance critic of The New York Times and former theater critic of The Financial Times.

Four sessions will take place in Proshansky Auditorium, beginning at 11 a.m. with “The Early Days,” followed by “Man of the Theatre,” “Pinter at the Movies,” and “Pinter and Politics.” Performances in the evening, beginning at 7 p.m., will include a staged reading of The Dumb Waiter and Henry Woolf performing Monologue. Films will run consecutively throughout the day in the Segal Theatre Center screening room, beginning at 11 a.m. with The Birthday Party, and continuing with The Comfort of Strangers, Krapp’s Last Tape, One for the Road, Voices, and Party Time.

For more information, and a complete schedule of the day's events, please visit: http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3239/prmID/1831

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Talkback at What Happens to Women Here

Stone Soup Theatre Arts has scheduled a talkback discussion following the May 3rd performance of What Happens to Women Here. I saw this new play by Ben Trawick-Smith and was quite impressed with it.

Here's the official info, passed on to me by Leigh Goldenberg, the company's managing director:

Best Selling Author Joins Stone Soup Theatre Arts for Post Performance Salon following Stone Soup Theatre Arts performance of Ben Trawick-Smith's world premiere What Happens to Women Here

May 3, 2009, 3pm
Richmond Shepard Theatre
309 E. 26th Street, NYC

World renowned physician and author Sherwin Nuland will join Stone Soup Theatre Arts for a post performance Salon focused on his book The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever and the Strange Story of Ignaz Semmelweis, the subject of Stone Soup's newest original play.

Nuland is Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. He is also the author of twelve books including How We Die, which was on the New York Times best-seller list for 34 weeks, and has been translated into 21 languages. It won that year's National Book Award, and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize and the Book Critics Circle Award. He has written for The New Yorker, Time, Life, National Geographic, Discover, The New Republic, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and several other
periodicals.

What Happens to Woman Here follows the story of two tragic lives in Vienna during the industrial revolution. Ignaz Semmelweis, an obstetrician, discovers germs years before Pasteur and Lister, only to be undone by his own madness before the world can learn of his breakthrough. Theresa, a young girl from the streets of Vienna, copes with an unplanned pregnancy and a society that silences her cries for help. Exploring the conflicts surrounding class, sex and identity, the play dissects the political forces that fail human health.

What Happens to Women Here is the debut play from Trawick-Smith, founding member of Stone Soup Theatre Arts and an actor who has worked with such companies and venues as Aisling Arts, The Brick Theatre, Nosedive Productions, Manhattan Rep and Emerging Artists. The play is directed by Amy Kaissar.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gargoyle Magazine Supports Plays and Playwrights

Today's Good News item consists of a tip of the hat to Gargoyle Magazine, now in its 54th issue and a longtime supporter of NYTE's Plays and Playwrights anthologies in particular and cutting-edge culture in general. Gargoyle is a journal of poetry, short fiction, and prose--the work of some NYC-based playwrights has been published within its covers from time to time. 45% of the writers they've published over the years have been women, which strikes me as a pretty good track record.

I hope you'll take a moment to learn more about this great literary journal. Here's their website. And here's the link to amazon.com's page for the current edition, Gargoyle 54. (There's a beautiful ad for Plays and Playwrights 2009 in the back.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

nytheatremike's Advice to the Players (Interview with Michael Criscuolo Part 2)

In the concluding segment of my cyberinterview with Michael Criscuolo, we talk about his blog and the current theatre scene. He also shares some wisdom with upcoming actors:

Me: You’ve been working hard to foster community within the world of Indie Theater here in NYC. Tell us about your blog (nytheatre mike 2.0) and your vision for it?

Michael: I’m a naturally curious person, and I love reading interviews with people and finding out about people. So, I thought I’d start using my blog as a forum for interviewing my friends and colleagues in the Indie Theater sector. I figured that’d be a good way to help them out, publicity-wise, since most of them don’t get any kind of coverage by the so-called “mainstream media.” I could write a long, impassioned treatise on the disgracefully apathetic attitude of New York arts journalists toward Indie Theater, but I don’t want to completely eat up all of your blog space. Instead, let me just say that I think Indie Theater deserves copious amounts of coverage and media attention because they make up the vast majority of theater that happens in New York every year; because that’s where the next wave of theater artists is coming from; and because that’s where most of the interesting work in New York happens. Just my opinion, mind you, but I’ll defend it to the death. Anyway, my blog aims to give Indie Theater a little bit of that copious media coverage.

On a more practical level, I like doing the interviews because they’re easy to do. I know that a few bloggers like to use their blogs to write theoretical think pieces (and a few bloggers also like to complain about theater bloggers who don’t use their blogs for that purpose), and I think that’s great. I love reading those, and wish I had the diligence to do them myself. But, it feels a little too much like writing a term paper for school. Don’t get me wrong: I would happily write a nice critical think piece if I were getting paid for it. But I’m not going to do it for free just to fulfill someone else’s idea of what a theater blog should be. Besides, all of the people I interview have far more interesting things to say than I do.

Me: What advice do you have for folks who are trying to begin acting careers in theatre in NYC right now?

The same advice that my father – who is also an actor – has always given me: hang in there. Be diligent. Don’t give up. My dad has given me a lot of great advice over the years that has kept me in good stead. He has always reminded me that, no matter what, good work rises to the top. People will ultimately recognize you if you do good work, so you always have to try and do your best because you never know who’s watching you. More recently, Pop has been good about reminding me that everyone who hangs in there eventually gets their shot, which I’m discovering more and more, as time goes by, is true. I’m guessing that at least seven out of every ten actors eventually quit the business altogether, so if you just outlast them your chances at getting ahead become exponentially better.

I find that setting annual goals for myself is a good way to keep me on track, kind of like New Year’s resolutions. Last year, my goal was to land one paid acting gig. Well, I did seven shows last year – Indie Theater shows, mind you – and got paid for four of them. Mission accomplished. This year, my goal was to land a paid off-Broadway gig, and here I am working at The Pearl. Mission accomplished. Every year, the goal involves a higher degree of difficulty but I make sure to keep it do-able in relation to where I think my career is (or where I want it to be).

I also take a longer-term view of my career by targeting specific people and theater companies I want to work with, people who do the kind of stuff I like and want to do. I only started doing this within the last couple of years, but it has worked out beautifully so far. I contacted a bunch of different Indie Theater companies I wanted to work with and asked them to keep in mind for future auditions. Many of them did, called me in, and then hired me. Some of them I’m still trying to get in with. But, I’ve created great relationships with all of them. They all know who I am, and I’m very grateful that many of them keep calling me back in to work with them. Now, I’m trying the same strategy with several larger off-Broadway companies, which I’m not expecting immediate results with. But, we’ll see how far along I am with this by next spring.

All of which leads me back to my dad’s advice: hang in there. Be diligent. Don’t give up.

Me: Finally, we see your reviews on nytheatre.com from time to time, but I still have to ask…what have you seen lately that you’ve loved? And what are you looking forward to?

I haven’t been able to see a lot of stuff since the beginning of this year, but the couple of things I have seen have been really super.

Top of the list is the new Off-Broadway revival of Our Town, playing at The Barrow Street Theatre. Unbelievably good. Just a tremendous production. Maybe the best Our Town I’ve ever seen because director David Cromer and the cast treat it with zero reverence. They don’t get hung up on being “respectful” to the play’s reputation. Instead, they treat it like a new experimental play, which is exactly what it was when it first debuted. A great choice that pays off beautifully.

I also have to recommend Tartuffe, the show I’m working on. I’ve seen it nearly fifteen times now, and it’s amazing to see how it’s grown and changed over the run. The cast is excellent – they really know how to handle the comedy and the rhyming couplets – and they never fail to find something new, even when they’re having an off night. It’s a production that holds up to repeated viewings, and is very funny. We run until April 26th, so hie thee hither over to The Pearl.

I’ve made plans to go see the new Broadway revivals of Desire Under the Elms and Accent on Youth, and Ashlin Halfnight’s new play, Artifacts of Consequence, over the next couple of weeks, and I’m excited about all of them. Especially Ashlin’s play. He is such a talented and gifted writer, and I love seeing new stuff by him. He’s a versatile writer – no two plays of his resemble each other – and he’s very funny. As for the other two, I think Brian Dennehy is one of our best theater actors, and I love going to see him. And I’ve never seen David Hyde-Pierce live in person, so I’m looking forward to that, as well.

There are many other things on the horizon, further into the summer, that I’m excited about seeing, but I think you get the point. I will now stop hogging your blog.

Thanks to Michael for taking time to answer my questions! Michael blogs at http://nytheatremike.wordpress.com/.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

nytheatremike Battles the Recession (Interview with Michael Criscuolo, Part 1)

Michael Criscuolo (who blogs as "nytheatremike") is not letting a bad economy keep him down. I've been staying in touch with him about his various enterprises, which are making a big difference for his career even during this downturn. I asked him if he would be willing to share some of his strategies and ideas with the good readers of the Good News Theatre Blog. Here's the first part of our cyberinterview:

Me: Michael, you’ve been very proactive recently about coping with the tough economic times. I know you’ve been doing some freelance work, and you’ve also started a business as an acting coach. Tell us more about these endeavors.

Michael: Well, after many years spent slaving away at various “survival jobs,” I decided to dedicate this year to making the transition into full-time actorhood. I figure at this point, with the economy being what it is, my chances of landing a paid acting gig are as good as landing any other gig. And I’ve had good results so far: I’m currently working as an understudy for The Pearl Theatre Company’s new revival of Tartuffe, which has been a blast. Great people, great production, and just a great all-around experience on many levels. The Pearl is a classy organization and I’m very happy to be working with them. I encourage everyone to do the same if they can.

In addition to that, I’ve finally succumbed to the typical New York actor routine of trying to score auditions and get seen by people. Good results on that front, as well: I’ve recently been seen for a number of really good acting gigs both in and out of town – a gratifying development, especially since I don’t have an agent and am doing everything on my own. I feel like all my diligence is finally beginning to pay off, which just motivates me further.

As for the actor coaching...well, auditioning has been on my mind a lot in the last year or two. For a long time it was the obstacle I couldn’t overcome: I was afraid of it, I hated doing it, and I didn’t feel like I was any good at it. But, eventually I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless I got over all that, so I decided to tackle my fear head on and wrestle it to the ground. Just as an experiment, I tried changing my whole attitude towards auditioning and looking at it as something that might be fun. Many of my friends had told me they always liked auditioning because, in their eyes, it was an opportunity to act and a chance to always be working on something new. All of which I thought was a lot of bunk...until I tried it, that is. Turns out that my change in attitude worked like a charm. I also adopted a whole new batch of preparation and rehearsal techniques that really helped focus and ground me. Now, I actually look forward to auditions and am not afraid of them anymore, because I’m confident in what I’m doing and not worried about shooting myself in the foot.

So, armed with all that new knowledge – and thinking once again about the current economy – I thought I’d give actor coaching a try. No reason I should keep all that info to myself, right? If it can work for me, I figure it can work for others, as well. Having directed before, I feel comfortable coaching actors because the way I work is very similar to the way an actor and a director work together in rehearsal. Plus, on a practical level, I wanted to try coaching because I liked the idea of being my own boss and making my own hours. Why get up early in the morning if you don’t have to, right? I’m still just starting out so there’s still a lot of room for growth, but the coaching has been going pretty well so far. All of my clients have been pleased with their results, whether or not they booked the gig, because they now feel more comfortable and prepared going into their auditions – which is the whole point of this enterprise, as far as I’m concerned.

Me: Tell us about the monthly e-newsletter you recently launched. What’s the special vision/mission of this project? Why do theatre folk need another newsletter about theatre—what’s unique and special about what you are doing?

Michael: The newsletter was started as a way to promote my coaching services, but I wanted it to have more content than just that. I wanted it to have a little something extra that would make it stand out. So, I asked a few friends who also coach for their opinions, and my former audition coach suggested also using the newsletter to plug other people’s shows. Her opinion was that it would be good karma to do so: if I scratch their backs a little bit, maybe eventually they’ll scratch mine. I’m all about the good karma, so I decided to give it a try. Soon thereafter, I accidentally stumbled upon the monthly newsletter of monologue coach Karen Kohlhaas, and discovered that she does exactly the same thing. Her newsletter is absolutely brilliant, and it was a great inspiration for me.

I wouldn’t say that theater folk need another newsletter about theater. Instead, I would say that theater folks need every forum they can find to hawk their wares. So, I offer my newsletter as another form of publicity to friends, colleagues, and coaching clients who have something to plug. It can be anything they want, really: a show they’re in, a service they provide, a class they teach, etc. The only stipulation is that anyone who wants to post something has to provide their own content, tailored to specific submission guidelines I give them. By writing their own content, they get to decide which information gets posted, instead of leaving that to me.

I also like to think that the newsletter provides a tacit endorsement of everyone who posts in it: if you trust me and my opinion, then you might very well like these shows, or this vocal coach, or this digital video editor. That sort of thing.


If you want more information about Michael's actors' coaching services, or to be put on his email newsletter list, email nytheatremike.

Part 2 of the interview will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Rush Tickets at Fourth Arts Block Ticket Booth

The Fourth Arts Block Ticket Booth is finally here! They're launching with a great idea, FAB FRIDAYS, that will offer low-priced rush tickets to performances in the East Village. Here's the full scoop, straight from our friends at FAB:

FAB FRIDAYS, a project of the East 4th Street Cultural District begins Friday, April 24th with rush ticket service available to venues including La MaMa E.T.C., Millennium Film Workshop, New York Theatre Workshop, WOW Café Theatre, Teatro Circulo, Teatro IATI, and others in the East Village.

"The East 4th Street Cultural District is the focal point of the vibrant artistic community in the East Village and the Lower East Side,” says Tamara Greenfield, executive director of the Fourth Arts Block (FAB), “and the opening of our Ticket Booth and Rush Ticket Service is just another reason for audiences to visit and enjoy our performances. It’s a win-win situation - the artists get full houses, and the audience gets to see more of the work they love."

“Similar to the TKTS Booth uptown, the weekend’s offerings will be posted when the booth is open on Fridays from 5 – 7pm,” says Lauren Parrish, Special Project Coordinator, “adding an element of surprise to an already incredible line-up of theater, dance, film and other live performances and events.”

FAB FRIDAYS Fast Facts
What – Rush tickets to weekend performances in the East Fourth Street Cultural District and the East Village for as low as $ 5.00
Where – FAB Ticket Booth – 61 East 4th Street, between Bowery and Second Avenues
When – Every Friday, from 5– 7pm
Special Promotion - Every week, the first 25 customers will receive a free gift, compliments of FAB members
For more information – visit http://www.fabnyc.org/

Monday, April 20, 2009

Get to Know Spacebuster

Today's Good News item comes from Jeffrey Essmann, who you may know for his excellent work as a performer and writer at venues like La MaMa. This piece is a bit off our regularly beaten track, but it's fascinating:

The Goethe-Institut New York, in collaboration with the Storefront for Art and Architecture, is pleased to present the next event in its Reinventing Goethe series, an evening examining—and experiencing—the intriguing work of raumlabor berlin at its satellite venue, the Wyoming Building.

raumlabor, a collective of architects in Berlin, has been working on issues of contemporary architecture and urbanism since 1999. At the center of their work lie questions about public space, both its use and misuse, and their projects constitute an ongoing investigation of the potential for urban space to generate viable communities. Their free-ranging engagement breaks through traditional architectural concerns to include art, urbanism, and intervention.

On Tuesday, April 21, at 7:00pm (sharp!) raumlabor will introduce themselves to the New York public with Spacebuster, an inflatable, bubble-like dome that organically adjusts itself to its surroundings, whether it be a field, bridge underpass—or a New York street. In past installations, the Spacebuster has been a site for communal dinners, dances, live music, and lectures. For this event, it will be the stage for a presentation of raumlabor’s working philosophy and exemplary projects.

PLEASE NOTE: The evening will begin at the Wyoming Building—5 East 3rd Street (at Bowery) at 7:00 pm, but will then move to the (unannounced) location of the Spacebuster, a walk of fifteen minutes or so, for the evening to really get underway. So this is no time to be fashionably late. No reservation is necessary, and the evening will be capped by a reception celebrating the New York space newly busted by raumlabor. Please join us for a uniquely New York experience.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jersey Boys Launches Ticket Lottery by Mobile Phone

Today's posting is from the world of Broadway, but it's a wonderful example of how contemporary technology can aid in building audience. This story came to me from Heath Schwartz at Boneau/Bryan-Brown:
Beginning Tuesday, March 31st, the Broadway production of Jersey Boys will launch a day-of performance mobile student lottery. Jersey Boys is the only currently running Broadway production to employ a mobile lottery at this time.

The lottery is valid for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday performances only. Tickets are $27 each and a maximum of two (2) tickets are available per Lottery winner. Students can enter either by texting to the mobile number or filling out the online form. A message is then sent to confirm if the person won the lottery. For more full details on how to enter the mobile lottery, click this link: www.JerseyBoysInfo.com/studentlottery.

* * * * *

Do you know that ALL of the special virtual coupon discounts offered by shows on nytheatre.com are also featured on our mobile version, mobile.nytheatre.com? Visit the ticket discount section on your smartphone, iPhone, PDA, Blackbery, etc.

Is your show offering a discount on nytheatre.com and mobile.nytheatre.com? If not, find out how.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Movement Theatre Company Goes Green

This is another story for our Green Theatre Good News file:

The Movement Theatre Company [TMTC] would like to officially invite you to our GO GREEN event Wednesday April 29, 2008 at Dixon Place @ 7:30 to celebrate Earth Week. This will be a night of new short plays written by 10 emerging playwrights answering the Question: What does it mean to Go Green? To help bring a fun twist to this event GO GREEN will not use any paper. This means all advertisement will be either done electronically, though street theatre and all the scripts, and programs for the reading will be projected on the wall. The slogan for this event is No RULES, No TRASH, No PAPER. So we hope you are able to join us as we break the confines of what a reading can be and try to image it in a greener, Eco-friendlier way.

Learn more about this event (paperlessly) by clicking here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

FringeNYC Builds Community: A True Life Example

I got this wonderful email from Elena K. Holy, producing artistic director of the New York International Fringe Festival. It's about the new production from Flux Theatre Ensemble, Pretty Theft. The play's director is Angela Astle.

Here's what Elena wrote:
Angela, first met this company when she was their FringeNYC Venue Director and that's a great story. Also, it's a FringeNYC Award winning company, the playwright's last FringeNYC play was written for FringeNYC alumni Susan Louise O'Connor (currently appearing on Broadway in Blithe Spirit) and it's just a big ol' FringeNYC Family Affair. As the Producing Artistic Director of a company that strives to "Incite Art, Cultivate Community, and Create New American Theatre" the whole thing has me beaming...

I love it when connections like this are made and fostered. We've actually jumped in with some connecting of our own surrounding this play -- we just released a podcast featuring a conversation between playwright Matthew Freeman and Pretty Theft's author Adam Szymkowicz. Check it out at the nytheatrecast website. And learn more about Pretty Theft here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gingold Theatrical Group Needs Help Choosing a Name

This Good News item comes from David Staller of the Gingold Theatrical Group, producers of the long-running Project Shaw, a series of staged readings of every play by G.B. Shaw:

Well, coming up with the name 'Project Shaw' wasn't particularly original back in 2006. It certainly wasn't the first NY theatre project and they just keep coming. In fact, one is hard-pressed to find anything that isn't a project around NY these days. The 52nd Street Project, The Actors' Shakespeare Project, The American Musicals Project, The Bridge Project, The Broadway Theatre Project, The Cape Cod Theatre Project, The Cello Project, The Culture Project, The Hell's Kitchen's, 52nd Street Project, The Kurt Weill Project, The Mancini Project, The Mentor Project, The Potomac Theatre Project, The Proust Project, The Rapture Project, The Ryan Scott Oliver Project, The Songwriters Project, The Trevor Project, The Village Theatre Project, The Wild Project, The Women's Project, The Yeats Project, and on and on... Perhaps it's time to bring back the always popular 'Festival.' Or the 70's 'Connection.' Or the 60's 'Happening' or even the 'Shaw-In.'

Gingold Theatreical Group will take a step ahead with the 'Project Shaw' concert reading series and move on... We will be initiating the first ongoing series of fully-mounted SHAW plays in New York City.

Help Us Pick A Name!

Currently there's the 'Shaw Festival' in Ontario and 'Shaw Chicago' in, well, Chicago, of course. What would you like New York's to be? We've had suggested: Shaw Festival New York; Shaw New York; SHAW NY; New York Shaw Festival; The 'your name' Festival; That Shaw Thing...or what? We look forward to hearing from you.
Learn more about Project Shaw and the great work that the Gingold Theatrical Group does at their website. And if you have an idea for the name of their new Shaw Series, you can email it to them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theresa Rebeck Reads at Playwrights Horizons

It's feeling like Book Week here at the Good News Theatre Blog, what with the BARDISMS post a few days ago, and now this (courtesy of our friends at Playwrights Horizons):

Theresa Rebeck will read from her book, Three Girls and Their Brother, the paperback edition of which will be released by Three Rivers Press on Tuesday, April 21st. Ms. Rebeck will sign copies of her books and plays following the reading.

When: Monday evening, April 20th at 8:00pm

Where: Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater, 416 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Aves.)

How: To make reservations for the reading, call Rob Ribar at Playwrights Horizons at (212) 564-1235 ext. 3152 or e-mail marketing@playwrightshorizons.org. Subject line “Rebeck reading.” Be sure to include your full name, number of reservations, and a daytime phone number where you can be reached day-of in case of cancellation.

Cost: FREE

Here's info about the book on amazon.com. Theresa Rebeck's new play Our House premieres at Playwrights Horizons next month.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blake Lawrence Talks About Keen Teens

Today on the Good News Theatre Blog, I talk with director Blake Lawrence about a subject that is very dear to her -- Keen Teens, which is an education program of Keen Company (where Blake is Associate Artistic Director). Keen Teens is a great example of the important educational outreach that nonprofit companies do all over NYC, helping people in their communities in ways that aren't evident when we see them put on shows in theatres.

I asked Blake a few questions via email about Keen Teens. Here's our cyberinterview:

Me: Can you give us a quick description of the Keen Teens program: who it benefits and who participates in it?

BLAKE: KEEN TEENS is a unique educational theatre program with two primary goals. The first is to improve the quality of plays being written for high school students. To that end, we commission 30-minute plays from professional writers whose work we regard highly. Keen Teens makes it financially viable for them to write these plays, and our program partner, Playscripts, Inc., guarantees publication of their scripts.

Our second goal is to give students the opportunity to work with professional artists and perform in a world premiere production off-Broadway. We don't work within one specific school; we open our program up to students all over the metropolitan area, focusing specifically on schools and districts with no performing arts programming. Over the course of three months, students who are cast in the shows work with professional directors and learn how to rehearse a play, develop a new script, find their own voice, connect to a character, and be truthful onstage. There is no fee for students to participate in Keen Teens.

Me: How did you first get involved with Keen Teens? What are some of the specific activities you do to mange this program?

BLAKE: I have been involved with Keen Teens since its pilot season in 2007 and essentially act as the Artistic Director of the program. Each year, I work with Playscripts, Inc. and reach out to a select group of writers to solicit play proposals, then select the writers to commission each season. I oversee the development process for each script and am responsible for fundraising, hiring the staff, overseeing the casting process, marketing the program and the production, establishing and maintaining relationships with schools and personnel, and am the producer for all Keen Teens productions. I also direct one show each season.

Me: What’s been most rewarding to you as a theatre artist about working with Keen Teens? Can you give us a success story of a key accomplishment that has made you particularly proud?

BLAKE: There are so many aspects of Keen Teens that make it rewarding. It is truly the most fulfilling projects I have ever worked on in the theatre. The number of licensed productions of our six published plays is a huge success to me. But two specific examples jump to mind about our work with the students.

The first was a high school freshman who was asked to portray a gay character. He had never met a homosexual and only had stereotypical notions available to him. Through the 12 weeks of rehearsal, we watched him become more comfortable with himself, his character and his scene partner and finally be able to honestly create a complete human being onstage. His scene was one of the most complimented by our audiences. it was inspiring to see his transformation and to know that the understanding that he gained will stay with him for the rest of his life.

The second is how the students come together as an ensemble. It is a vital aspect of the program to bring together students from diverse economical, educational and geographic backgrounds; bringing students together who would otherwise never get to meet each other in high school. At the first few rehearsals, the students sit with students that look like them, sound like them, and are familiar to them. But the end of our three months together, they have all become incredibly close. They are crying, hugging, taking photos together, making plans to keep in touch, it's amazing. The final performance always feels like the last day of camp.


Unfortunately, Keen Teens is facing some financial difficulties at the moment. Blake says, "As is the case with almost every not-for-profit organization, our funding has been cut severely. I just got unexpected news last week that three foundations which gave us grants last season, and on which we were relying heavily for this season, are unable to offer us funding this year."

If you're interested in helping out with an online donation, click here: https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=113586346

You can learn more about Keen Teens at: www.keencompany.org/teens.html. On their wesbite, there are links on the lefthand sidebar to more info about Keen Company.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Submit Videos Re: Artifacts of Consequence

Our friends at Electric Pear Productions and Performance Lab 115, who are co-producing the new play Artifacts of Consequnce by Ashlin Halfnight, have come up with an interesting way to engage potential audience members in the themes of their show.

What they've done is set up a place on Facebook where folks can post videos for public viewing. The videos are supposed to address this question: What are the 10 things you would decide to save if you knew the world was about to fall apart?

This topic, of course, ties in with the ideas in Ashlin's play, which riffs on the classic myth about Theseus and the Minotaur to explore what happens when it looks like a society and its legacy may be about to crumble and disappear irrevocably. Artifacts of Consequences begins performances on April 16 at Wild Project; if Ashlin's past work is a guidepost, then expect something funny, incisive, smart, and provocative.

(Disclaimer: NYTE published Ashlin's play Diving Normal in Plays and Playwrights 2007.)

Anyway, I think this idea of getting folks to think (and be creative) about the themes of their upcoming play is a terrific idea--kudos to the folks at Electric Pear and PL115. The question once again is: What are the 10 things you would decide to save if you knew the world was about to fall apart? If you've got strong ideas about what's worth saving, make a video recording of your 10 things and send it to electricpear@gmail.com. Videos will be compiled and presented at The Wild Project during the production, April 16th - May 2nd.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Barry Edelstein's New Book, BARDISMS

Barry Edelstein, a terrific director and longtime friend to NYTE, has just written a new book. It's called BARDISMS: Shakespeare for All Occasions. According to the official blurb:
Barry Edelstein, a noted scholar and director of Shakespeare, gathers together Shakespearean gems for life's momentous events as well as the more personal, trying, or intimate moments. Organized by occasion and presented with lively and accessible background material, BARDISMS shows how to weave the Bard's musings into any simple and elegant speech.

Barry heads up the Shakespeare Lab at the Public Theater. He'll be talking about the new book and about his work at the Public in an upcoming event at Drama Book Shop. It's on Tuesday, April 14 at 6pm. Details are available here. The event is free!

Here's more information about the book.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Free Conversation with Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage, whose new play Ruined is running at Manhattan Theatre Club, and cast members from the production will be participating in the upcoming free event “A Conversation with Lynn Nottage” Monday, April 13 at 7 PM at Brooklyn’s Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (85 South Oxford Street).

Nottage and cast members will be joined by WBAI personality Esther Armah (“Wake Up Call,” “Off The Page”), for a question and answer session that will be moderated by educator, author, and artist Mo Beasley.

“A Conversation with Lynn Nottage” is presented with the support of African Voices, Akila Worksongs, Our Time Press, and Tribal Truths, in cooperation with Manhattan Theatre Club. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Reservations are suggested. To reserve seats, please call 646.467.7393 or email wtgintern@aol.com.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Puppetry of the Penis Stimulus Package

This qualifies more as Shameless Publicity than Good News, but hey, what the heck.

As the unemployment numbers rise to an all-time high, the producers of the internationally acclaimed show Puppetry of the Penis, the Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami, will hold open auditions for its upcoming Res-Erection Tour and Private Parties. This audition is open to any member of the financial service community who has been laid off or anyone else in need of a stimulus package. Puppetry of the Penis is a bailout package that puts your financial future back into your own hands. Become a member of an elite group of performers and travel the world “dicking around.”

The auditions will be rigorous, but this time, they can keep their bonuses!! This is a stimulus that the everyday man can feel right away – there will be no trickle down effect here. Penis puppeteers should come with a flexible working attitude and be prepared to leave your pants and shame at the door.

Beginning at noon, auditioners will get a brief Masters Class in the Ancient Australian Art of Genital Origami by the original Penis Puppeteer Simon Morley and should be ready to demonstrate their newly acquired skills. Puppetry of the Penis is an equal opportunity employer and will audition both circumcised and uncircumcised genital origami hopefuls. PARTICIPANTS MUST HAVE OWN EQUIPMENT.

To reserve you place in the audition and to receive your information kit please email puppetryauditions@gmail.com.

Auditions are at Comix (353 West 14 Street) on Tuesday, April 14.


This Good News is courtesy of publicist Joe Trentacosta. Puppetry of the Penis plays at Comix on April 22 at 7:30pm. More info is here: www.puppetryofthepenis.com.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Musical BRUNCH Offers Free Tix to Restaurant Workers

This Good News Theatre Item comes to us from our friends Sam Rudy and Dale Heller:
The producers and creative team behind the new Off-Broadway musical BRUNCH - The Musical - currently playing at the Chernuchin Theatre (314 West 54th Street) - have decided to give back to those who inspired the creation of their show; the waiters, chefs, managers, and bartenders of New York. Therefore, on Sunday, April 12th the 8:00pm performance will be free to anyone currently working in the restaurant industry…and who brings an apron.

Tickets are $18 and are available at the door or in advance on-line at www.brunchthemusical.com.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Talkback Discussion at The Good Negro

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will host a post-show discussion immediately following the Saturday, April 11 2 p.m. matinee of The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson. Directed by Liesl Tommy and presented in association with Dallas Theater Center, The Good Negro opened to critical acclaim last month and will continue its extended run through Sunday, April 19. [Note: one of the critics who acclaimed the show is yours truly; read my review of this excellent play here.]

Dr. Gates, one of the world’s most respected public intellectuals and the Director of Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research, will moderate a discussion between The Good Negro’s playwright Tracey Scott Wilson and director Liesl Tommy, and Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home. The discussion will be open to all ticket holders for the April 11 matinee performance; no additional admission is required.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Theatre HAN Takes the Idea of a Melting Pot Seriously

I recently saw The Bus Stop, a play by Nobel laureate and Chinese dissident Gao Xingjian, in its NYC premiere. The company responsible is Theatre HAN, a brand new troupe with some great ideas that I want to share with you here on the Good News Theatre Blog.

Alice Oh, the company's artistic director, describes the company's genesis and mission in their program for The Bus Stop:

Theatre HAN started with a question, "Who is theatre for?" One may say, "Theatre is for everyone, of course--more so because America is such a cultural and racial melting pot." But is it a reality we see in American theatre world, physically and figuratively? Theatres are dominated by Western plays, and too often done by all-white cast. There are foreign plays done from time to time, but often they are just exotic and hard to understand to American audience.

Theatre, in its true sense, is accessible and should be accessible to every human mind. And it is time for American theatre to change--with its increasingly diverse cultural force brewing inside. We need a theatre to bring back the primal energy of theatre that everyone can relate to, and to reflect diverse cultures of America and of the world and honor their cultural heritages.

It is the primary mission of Theatre HAN to be that bridge that connects diverse cultures on the stage. HAN means in Korean--One; Wide and all-encompassing; and Sorrow. Stage is the place where strangers meet and commiserate.
Bravo to Ms. Oh for her great valuable ideas.

Learn more about Theatre HAN at their website: http://www.theatrehan.com/

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Life for Funny as a Crutch

Today's Good News comes to us from playwright Rich Orloff:

Columbia University will present a 45-minute version of my comedy Funny as a Crutch at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, in conjunction with their "Disability and Humor" seminar.

Originally a hit evening of nine sketches exploring the concept of disability, the Foolish Theatre Company has now created a five-sketch "easy to travel" version, featuring the five wonderful actors who received rave reviews when we produced the play last fall.

If you know of any organizations in the New York area which would be interested in presenting the show for one or more performances, we're open to suggestion. If you have any connections to companies that book shows like this, we're open to suggestions about that, too! (This is all rather new for us.)


I love Rich's innovative approach to getting indie theater in front of more and more people. I reviewed Funny as a Crutch when it opened last fall in its full-length version and it's a terrific piece that provides great opportunities for actors with disabilities and challenges the assumptions of the rest of us.

Incidentally, I ran into Rich tonight at Crystal Skillman's lovely new play Birthday -- I mention this because it's indicative of how community-minded Rich is.

Learn more about this and other Orloff work at his official website: www.richorloff.com.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fight Fest Coming to Brick Theater in December

The Brick Theater in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) will be hosting a festival of Fight Theater this December.

I love this idea. The "fightsical" (as Tim Haskell has dubbed the form) is one of the most popular and inventive contributions to American theatre in the past decade or so. It deserves a festival of its own!

Tim Haskell will be one of the curators of Fight Fest, along with Qui Nguyen and Abby Marcus of Vampire Cowboys and the Brick staff.

The application deadline is May 1. Get info about being part of this festival here: http://bricktheater.com/fightfest.

You can bet we'll talking more about Fight Fest in upcoming months.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Free Rehearsal Space at Where Eagles Dare

This Good News Item is from John Chatterton:

Hi,

You may have heard about the New York dry-cleaner (First Professional Cleaners' Carlos Vasquez) who is offering free dry-cleaning for unemployed people going on interviews. What a generous gesture! I had a thought -- most actors are unemployed, even at the best of times; how can I help them out and promote my own business at the same time? Then it came to me -- offer a free hour of rehearsal for actors about to go on an audition!

With luck, these actors will come back later to rehearse other things, or they'll tell other theatre people about Where Eagles Dare rehearsal spaces and theatre. Of course, there are ground rules:

  • Rehearsal must take place between 10 am and 5 pm weekdays.
  • You must make an appointment (212/279-2504).
  • We'll put you in whatever studio is convenient, for an hour. More hours will cost, at our regular non-profit (cheap) rates.
  • We ask you to bring some documentation -- a letter or E-mail -- to the effect that you are being asked to audition.
  • These auditions are for commercial theatre -- jobs that pay real money. Not showcases, community theatre, or gigs that don't pay. We want to help you beat the recession!

So that's it. Call us at 212-279-2504. Let's see if we can shake this thing! Pass the word....

Thanks,

John Chatterton

Friday, April 3, 2009

Theatre Tours in the East Village

This announcement comes from our friends at Fourth Arts Block, which is the leadership organization for the East 4th Street Cultural District, building a permanent home for the arts and preserving the neighborhood’s creative character.

Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and the East Village History Project (EVHP) have co-produced two distinct tours of Manhattan’s only cultural district, and source of artistic voices, past, present and future. This is a neighborhood in transition – on its way to becoming a permanent home for the arts while preserving the block’s unique creative and architectural environment.

EAST 4th ST CULTURAL DISTRICT: East Village Avant-Garde
Many of the world's most famous avant-garde artists who called the East Village home were making and presenting their work on East 4th Street. Explore La Mama E.T.C. and New York Theatre Workshop, birthplace to groundbreaking theater from Sam Shepard and Harvey Fierstein, to Blue Man Group and RENT, and discover the artistic genius of the East Village as it is and was.
Schedule: 1st Tuesday each month at 3:00pm
Fee: $15 donation suggested
Reservations: Not required
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours
Meet: Cuppa Cuppa, 75 E.4th St (btw Bowery & 2nd Ave)
Directions: F, or V train to 2nd Avenue/Lower East Side

EAST 4th ST CULTURAL DISTRICT: Theater and Activism
Before Broadway was "Broadway," the Theater District was on the Lower East Side. Straddling the Vaudeville and Yiddish theaters of 2nd Avenue and the dance halls and saloons of the Bowery, E. 4th has literally been at the center of New York City arts and culture since the early 19th century. From German societies, Jewish performance venues and Ukrainian labor unions to prohibition-era speakeasies, drag cabaret, and experimental theaters, E. 4th Street has been the epicenter of social life on the Lower East Side for over 150 years.
Schedule: 1st Saturday each month at 3:00pm
Fee: $15 donation suggested
Reservations: Not required
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours
Meet: Cuppa Cuppa, 75 E.4th St (btw Bowery & 2nd Ave)
Directions: F, or V train to 2nd Avenue/Lower East Side

**Starting in May, tours will meet in front of the New FAB Ticket Booth at 61 East 4th Street **

For more information, visit www.fabnyc.org.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Breedingground Crawls for Art

This one gets filed under "innovative ways to raise money":

As the economy declines, artists are willing to get down on their hands and knees to ask for funding at the 4th Crawl For Art on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at 11am, at the Astor Place Cube at Astor Place & Lafayette Street.

As New York artists, Breedingground’s members have learned that it’s hard to raise money in any economic climate – but this year, faced with an economy in crisis, they’re willing to go the extra mile on their hands and knees. Literally. Walking has been done, running has been done, biking has been done, but as far as they know, no one but Breedingground has ever raised money by crawling. In 2004, Breedingground Productions broke the pledge drive mold with their inaugural Crawl for Art, and this April they’re bringing it to Greenwich Village with the Fourth Crawl For Art. Members of the 8-year old production company will crawl three feet on their hands and knees to earn every dollar pledged, subjecting themselves not only to the physical demands of the challenge, but also to the shame and humiliation of the stares and giggles from community members as they travel 7,920 feet (1.5 miles) through the streets of Greenwich Village.

On Saturday, April 18st, 2009 at 11am, Breedinground will start crawling from the Astor Place Cube at Astor Place and Lafayette Street in Manhattan. Members and volunteers will crawl down 8th Street to 6th Avenue, turning down 6th and traveling to West 4th Street, where they will continue to crawl through the park up to Waverly Place, then back east to Broadway, south to West 4th Street, and finally turning up Lafayette for the last stretch back to the Cube where they started. The end time is expected to be no later than 5:00pm and volunteers will be stationed along the route to cheer members on, plead for pledges and drum up excitement. The scheduled rain date is April 25th, 2009.

All proceeds of the 2009 Crawl for Art will go towards the production costs of Breedingground's Spring Fever Festival opening May 20, 2009 and running for 3 weeks at 440 Studios on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, just south of the Cube. To make a pledge online, visit www.breedingground.com/sff/crawl.htm. See much more about the festival at www.breedingground.com/sff. Spring Fever Festival 2009.

(SFF09) is a three-week multi-arts festival for independent artists. SFF is produced every two years by Breedingground Productions, and projects include Music, Dance, Theater, Art Installation, and Groundwork (readings of new plays). Breedingground
Productions
(founded August 2000) is a collective of independent artists who collaborate on projects in a variety of creative disciplines. We choose our projects and collaborators on the basis of passion, intelligence, commitment, and the desire for an evolving dialogue with our audience. Our mission is to create an artists’ breedingground that transcends financial limitation and provides exceptional minds with opportunities to take creative risks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Actors Fund Performances

There will be a special performance of Exit the King on Sunday, April 26, benefitting The Actors Fund. I just saw this show last night and it's terrific (watch for my review!) -- Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, and Andrea Martin head the cast.

The Actors Fund has select seats on sale, donated by the producers, for two new plays: Impressionism, starring Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, on Thursday, April 30 and Sunday, May 3; and 33 Variations, starring Jane Fonda, on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16.

To purchase tickets for these benefits or any Actors Fund event call 212.221.7300 ext. 133 or email tickets@actorsfund.org. For more information visit www.actorsfund.org.

The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund, which helps actors and performers and everyone behind the scenes who works in theatre, film, TV, music, dance, radio and opera, is a safety net, providing social services and emergency assistance, health services, employment and training programs and housing support for those who are in need, crisis or transition.