Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Quote from Suzan-Lori Parks "Elements of Style"

Don't ask playwrights what their plays mean; rather, tell them what you think and have an exchange of ideas.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Shout Out to Juilliard's Evening Division

For years, I've walked by The Juilliard School on the Lincoln Center campus. Some time back, I looked up whether the prestigious conservatory provided classes to the general public and was elated to see that they did indeed provide a series of classes through their Evening Division. Course offerings include dance, drama, and music history, music theory, ear training, composition, and conducting, as well as performance classes in voice and piano.

Being a theater enthusiast, I was most interested in their drama classes, more specifically theater history and appreciation. Every so often I skimmed the catalog for the upcoming semester but could never work a course into my schedule. Then miraculously a few terms ago, I was able to do so and immediately registered for my first 10 week course - Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Theater. This offering was right up my alley!

After attending a few classes, when family and friends asked whether I was enjoying the class. My reply was always something like...

I read a great play each week! 
I discuss the play with a small group of like minded adults!
All the while the discussion is facilitated and play contextualized by an expert and dramaturg!
I absolutely love it!!

I highly recommend the Evening Division at The Juilliard School. If you love reading plays (like me) and delving into them, the Evening Division may be for you.  

Recent Theater Related Classes Offered Through Juilliard's Evening Division

Exploring American Theater
Shana Komitee
In this course, we delve into some of the greatest American plays of the last 75 years, including those by Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, and Suzan-Lori Parks, among others. What are the human questions at the heart of these plays? Why do we consider them works that changed the course of theater history? And why did these writers decide that theater was best medium for exploring their deepest concerns? In addition to examining the texts on the page, we view videos from stage productions or filmed versions of the plays (both in class and online). Students gain a deeper knowledge of these American theatrical pioneers, and understand how they became the giants on whose shoulders today’s playwrights stand.

Race, Gender, and American Theater
Shana Komitee
Over the last hundred years, radical changes have occurred in the subject material tackled on American stages. For instance, Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 Raisin in the Sun was the first Broadway show to portray black Americans' lives, but in the nearly 60 years since, stories of African-Americans and other racial minorities have proliferated in our dramatic canon. Likewise, the number and scope of plays about women's lives and concerns (and female actors hired to perform them) has dramatically increased since the gender revolutions of the 1960s. And while the issue of homosexuality was so taboo in 1947 that Tennessee Williams was forced to censor allusions to it in A Streetcar Named Desire, in the decades since the impact of plays exploring sexuality has grown considerably. In this course, we study some of these game-changing plays to see how the American stage has both mirrored and advanced American conversations about race, gender, and sexuality. Works to be considered include The Normal Heart (Larry Kramer), Clybourne Park (Bruce Norris), Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell), and Ruined (Lynn Nottage), among others.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I've Started a Theater Bucket List

I have many lists - a list of restaurants to dine at, a list of places to visit, a list of things to do before I die, etc. 

And now, I have started a Theater Bucket ListIn no particular order, here it is:

  1. Bing on theater in London for a few days
  2. Check out the Humana Festival
  3. Attend the Tony Awards
  4. Volunteer for one day as a theater usher
  5. Read a playwright's body of work
  6. Observe the rehearsal process
  7. Do a August Wilson walking tour of the Hill District in Pittsburg

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tonya Pinkins Rap Roast (Diss) Challenge

I love to laugh at myself; I think it’s the best healer. ~ Tonya Pinkins

Last year after Tonya Pinkins publicly left CSC's production of Mother Courage and Her Children, I wondered what would become of her stage career and if her fans would ever see her grace the New York City Stage. Well, fans are still waiting and may have to wait a while since according to the New York Time article - Insult Tonya Pinkins? She Got There First - she is in Asia in search of teaching opportunities. 

Before she left though, she participated in a Roast Yourself challenge. She created a video and included all the terrible things people have said about her, her voice, her career, and her family and placed it all on youtube for all to witness. 

Here it is. 

The lyrics are sometimes cringe worthy. 

You've been warned...

tonya pinkins, all my life I been thinkin
you’re like the titanic,
cuz you’re big and you’re sinkin
you really stink
and you bring me to the brink
and so I’mma do to you
what booth did to lincoln
I’m not throwing away my shot
To letcha know your whole business of show has gone to pot
You’ve grown cold, the polar opposite of hot, 
You know your has-been fat black ass has gone to rot,
there’s no producer left who will use you. you’re deranged
from csc and tv and george c…you’re estranged
they say you are crazy and hateful and very strange
you outta your mind caroline. it’s time to change 
you quit mother courage? were you smoking crack?
you finally booked a good show
and left cuz brecht wasn’t black?
well now your traction is slack and your actin’s so whack
the american theater wing is gonna have to take your tony back
it’s clear your whole career is a sham
you’re an overgrown ham on a spit singin flimflam…
how could any fan stand you, god damn? 
go home! show’s over, bitch. It’s jelly’s last jam

tonya pinkins, all my life I been thinkin
you’re like the titanic,
cuz you’re big and you’re sinkin
you really stink
and you bring me to the brink
and so I’mma do to you
what booth did to lincoln
i’mma put you on blast. Teach you a thing or two. 
sit your ass in my class.
you casting stones at plays and the ways I was cast?
well look out bitch, you livin in a house made of glass
no wonder you are lookin so tired and out of sorts
ya spent your whole life fightin in the family courts
you can afford makeup to cover your warts
but where’s the money for your child supports?
i’m getting a sense of your style of childcare
it’s no wonder all your husbands got the fuck outta there
you once were plush. now you’re just thread bare
you’re the only Tony winner best known for being on welfare
you shitty ass, deadbeat excuse for a mom
you shoulda had their daddy pull out and splooge in his palm
that’d be better than your kids knowin that they come from the narcissist star of

you’re just made at me cuz your career has slid
screamin “Holla if ya hear me,”  but whoops, no one did!
well, you’ve been married three times. 
my god, Tonya, Are there any men left who have not gotten up on ya?
your singin voice is gravelly, grainy and coarse
i’d rather listen to your waterboard torture a horse
well you’re the one we know was always destined to fail
dumb enough to turn down a full ride to yale

at least I’m not a dopey old phony bologna
left sittin alone on her sofa who mopes
goin’ “No one remembers me. How could it be
that I really was only well known for the soaps?”
at least I’m not desperately seeking attention
pathetic old wretch on a bender who’s clearly
only intent on expressing aggression
to get in the press with a conspiracy theories
half the time I hear you sing, you’re in the wrong key
you say you’re pro black, but you married a honky
you’re a has been, a hack, a floozy, a slut
your initials are tp so wipe my butt…

Other Posts
Another NYT Critic Pick - Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children" by CSC

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Hamilton Mixtape

The Hamilton Mixtape has dropped. I haven't picked up a copy yet (egad!), but that is not stopping this Hamilfan from enjoying a few tracks this Sunday morning. 

Track List
No John Trumbull (Intro) by The Roots
My Shot [Rise Up Remix] by The Roots (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess)
Wrote My Way Out by Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
Wait For It by Usher
An Open Letter [Interlude] by Watsky (feat. Shockwave)
Satisfied by Sia (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah)
Dear Theodosia by Regina Spektor (feat. Ben Folds)
Valley Forge (Demo) by Lin-Manuel Miranda
It's Quiet Uptown by Kelly Clarkson
That Would Be Enough by Alicia Keys
Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente
You'll Be Back by Jimmy Fallon & The Roots
Helpless by Ashanti  (feat. Ja Rule)
Take A Break (Interlude) by !llmind
Say Yes To This by Jill Scott
Congratulations by Dessa
Burn by Andra Day
Stay Alive (Interlude) by J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot
Cabinet Battle 3 (Demo) by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Washingtons By Your Side by Wiz Khalifa
History Has Its Eyes On You by John Legend
Who Tells Your Story by The Roots (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson)
Dear Theodosia (Reprise) by Chance The Rapper & Francis and The Lights

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monologue ~ James Earl Jones "Othello"

Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
My very noble and approved good masters,
That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace:
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
And therefore little shall I grace my cause
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration and what mighty magic,
For such proceeding I am charged withal.

Her father loved me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it;
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field
Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my travels' history:
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
It was my hint to speak,--such was the process;
And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. This to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline:
But still the house-affairs would draw her thence:
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'ld come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively: I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story.
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spoke:
She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Barbra Streisand's "Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway"

After a harrowing week, I am going to brew a cup of tea and finally listen to Barbra Streisand's Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. 

Song List

At The Ballet - Barbra with Anne Hathaway and Daisy Ridley

Loving You - Barbra with Patrick Wilson

Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) -  Barbra with Anthony Newley

The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened - Barbra with Alec Baldwin

Any Moment Now - Barbra with Hugh Jackman

Anything You Can Do - Barbra with Melissa McCarthy

Pure Imagination - Barbra with Seth MacFarlane

Take Me To The World - Barbra with Antonio Banderas

I'll Be Seeing You / I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face - Barbra with Chris Pine

Climb Ev'ry Mountain - Barbra with Jamie Foxx