Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hey Ladies!

Thomas Cott's "You've Cott Mail" for today boasts a bulk of articles about the lack of women on Broadway (and in film) in major creative roles.  This isn't a new conversation, but it makes me crazy.  The ubermajority of Broadway ticket buyers are in fact WOMEN, so why is it so difficult for a female playwright to get her work produced?

We know there's a problem, so what are we going to do about it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Revivals Killing Theatre?

cover bands are far less exciting than the real thing
I recently had a conversation with my boyfriend,who is decidedly not a theater fan, about what makes the experience of going to see a band better than going to a show.  I was surprised to hear his answer.  I fully expected something along the lines of, the atmosphere at a live music performance is different, or they serve beer and let you talk to your friends, but that was not the case.

He said (loosely quoted), "When you go to see a musician or a band play, you're seeing the artist perform something they wrote, something that's original and creative.  A play is just a bunch of performers rehashing something some dead guy wrote fifty years ago, or something that's based on a movie."

Ouch.  I argued that there were lots of new plays and musicals, and there's really exciting work that happens off-Broadway and around the country.  Unfortunately however, the majority of non-theater fans only know theater through Broadway, and Broadway's churned out a lot of revivals, and a lot of derivative works in the past decade.  Add to that the fact that it's often easier to get a star on board for a proven show title as opposed to a risky new project, and we're sending a message that revivals are king.  To add insult to injury, many of our regional theaters around the country stopped producing original works, or drastically cut back, in exchange for big Broadway tours that fill houses.  Most people just aren't seeing new theater, because we haven't made it a priority.

I'm not knocking revivals, it's important to pay tribute to great works of our past from time to time, but, when old material is getting in the way of new works, we're choking our art form to death.  If we don't provide more opportunities for living writers, composers and lyricists to put their work on stage, there won't be any living theater artists for long.  They will find other careers where they can get their work produced.  Additionally, what's cooler for an audience than being able to see the artist in person?  We can't provide that opportunity for many of the shows that are produced today.  One of the "wow" factors of live performance is lost.

We're failing our artists and our audiences.  What are we going to do about it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

What is Spiderman, Turn off the Dark?

I had the opportunity to see Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark last week.  I fully expected it to be awful, and in some ways, I wasn't disappointed; however, I don't think its quite the train wreck the media would have us believe.  The truth is, it's not exactly a musical.  It's something else.

If The Book of Mormon is a five star restuarant, then Spiderman is Dave and Busters.  The food's not great, the service is meh, but it's still pretty cool.  You don't go there for an exquisite restuarant (or musical) experience, you go because it's a whole lot of fun.  It's flashy and cheesy and totally indulgent.  Because of this, I think this show just might have a chance. 

The show opens on Tuesday... do you think you'll go to see it?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Year One: Check!

So I just finished my first year of grad school (MFA: Performing Arts Management), and while I could never communicate everything I've learned this year, I'd like to mention a few lessons that have become invaluable to me.

Plan early and evaluate often.  The best way to guarantee success in any endeavor is to carefully plan and strategize, what you are going to do, when you're going to do it, and how you are going to evaluate the efficacy of your efforts.  Most importantly, planning forces you to ask WHY you're taking a specific action or following a specific model and gives you room to adjust before you take action.

2. ASK
You are not an expert at everything.  Never be afraid to ask questions, to ask for advice, or to ask for help.  Two minds are almost always better than one, and lifelong bonds can be built through teamwork.  Know who to ask, because there is such a thing as bad advice, but always ask.

Possibly the most important thing my mother ever taught me was to say thank you, to write thank you notes, and to always be grateful.  This, above everything else, has been invaluable in building my career and pursuing my education.  It truly does matter. 

All the best!