Sunday, November 9, 2014

Robert Anderson ~ "You can make a killing in the theater but not a living"

"...the top five or so...earners - ...have...a fabulous portfolio of revivable plays that sit there like sushi revolving in a restaurant. They go around being constantly staged somewhere. The writer gets money every time the play is performed. You go on getting paid without having to write any more. But they are great artists. For most playwrights without that portfolio, it's very, very difficult." ~ quote from playwright Nicholas Wright in Robert Gore-Langton's article "the real cost of artistic immortality" published in The Telegraph in August 2002.

During the TV show Open House  that aired earlier today on NBC, director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell of Kinky Boots looks for a home on Fire Island. Due to the success of Kinky Boots, he is now in a position to buy a home. In the Open House segment, he brings up the old theater adage - You can't make a living but you can make a killing on Broadway... 

Hmmmm...I wonder - where did this saying come from? Who said it first? 

After drooling over the Fire Island beach houses featured on the show, I quickly searched for the quote and stumbled on several interesting articles about the financial difficulty of making a living as a playwright. Just a few days ago, this was the topic of discussion in a NY Times article by Patrick Healy - Offering Playwrights a Better Deal. Playwrights do not usually get paid during the development and rehearsals of their work and are on their own when it comes to health insurance (a hot topic everywhere I go these days). The good thing though is that Playwright Horizon has introduced a model where they are going to begin helping their writers with these costs. And hopefully, other theaters will follow. 

So who can the quote be attributed to? American playwright Robert Anderson, who in 1988 also said - It's never been more difficult to get a play done where a playwright can earn enough money to write the next play.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Carnaval" - A Companion Piece to "Roadkill"

Last year, Cora Bissett's Roadkill, an immersive play about sex trafficking was one of my favorite productions of the year. I was so moved by the St. Ann's Warehouse production that I later attended a forum sponsored by the British Council and NYU Law School just so that I could participate in a conversation about this topic about the victimization of young girls and women. 

This year, Nikkole Salter continues the conversation by exploring sex tourism and the demand for this sort of sex in her play Carnaval, now playing at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. The play takes place in the 1990s. Three young men from Brooklyn head to Rio to live large and partake in the sex tourism industry there. Eventually, things falls apart in Rio for the men and their friendship is forever tested. 

If you have an interest in this topic, Ms. Salter's play is a must see. It is an interesting perspective. I can't say that I understand the demand to exploit poor young girls and women any better after seeing her play, but I definitely appreciate that this topic has returned to the New York City stage. Carnaval opens tomorrow and runs through November 16th.       

Other Posts
The "Roadkill" Forum: Stop the Demand to Purchase the Bodies of Victims

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Shout Out for "Open House at Random House"

Now this is what I call workmanship. There is nothing on earth more exquisite than a bonny book, with well-placed columns of rich black writing in beautiful borders, and illuminated pictures cunningly inset. But nowadays, instead of looking at books, people read them. A book might as well be one of those orders for bacon and bran that you are scribbling. ~ The Nobleman in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan
Tucked in Parliament Hill in Ottawa is one of the most exquisite libraries I've ever seen. A must see if you are ever in Ottawa!! Unfortunately though, you won't  get a chance to touch the books, inhale the paper, finger the trims, and best of all browse through them. No, you won't. But if you are a book lover - physical books, ebooks, any kind of books - you can check out Random House's Open House. A few times each year, Random House opens its doors, invites book lovers in, and gives them an opportunity to hang out with other book lovers and chat with authors and editors. The event costs $60 and the next one takes place on November 14th in Midtown.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sleep No More @ "Inferno: A Celebration of Sin"

Hmmmm...I wonder how one of my favorite shows - Sleep No More - is holding up these days. I do like how the folks over at the The McKittrick Hotel keep things fresh with their festivals around holidays such as New Year's, Valentine's and of course Halloween. If you would like to contribute to the $7 billion that Americans spend on Halloween, check out Inferno on October 30 & 31.  Update: See Inferno photos at this link

Other Posts
When You Durst Do "Sleep No More" Then You Are a Theatergoer
The Herb Festival at Gallow Green
The McKittrick Hotel Hosts New Year's Eve Royal Huntsman's Ball
Valentine's Day at The McKittrick Hotel
It's Here -- New Year's Eve at The McKittrick Hotel!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quote from A. R. Gurney's "Love Letters"

Andy in A. R. Gurmey's Love Letters:
...I feel most alive when I'm holed up in some corner, writing things down. I pick up a pen, and almost immediately everything seems to take shape around me. I love to write. I love writing my parents because then I become the ideal son. I love writing essays for English, because then I am for a short while a true scholar. I love writing letters to the newspaper, notes to friends, Christmas cards, anything where I have to put down words. I love writing you. You most of all. I always have. I feel like a true lover when I'm writing you. This letter, which I'm writing with my own hand, with my own pen, in my own penmanship, comes from me and no one else, and is a present of myself to you. It's not typewritten, though I've learned how to type. There's no copy of it, though I suppose I could use a carbon. And it's not a telephone call, which is dead as soon as it is over. No, this is just me, me the way I write, the way my writing is, the way I want to be to you, giving myself to you across a distance, not keeping or retaining any part of it for myself, giving this piece of myself to you totally, and you can tear me up and throw me out, or keep me, and read me today, tomorrow, any time you want until you die. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quote from Lee Blessing's "A Walk in the Woods"

Botvinnik in Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods:
Work without hope is a dry thing. It is better, more realistic. But it is very dry.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Music Icon Aretha Franklin Occupies Kaufmann Concert Hall at 92Y Talk

The audience tonight at the 92Y did not get a vocal master class from 72 year old "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin. We were however treated to quite a listening party of tracks from the Queen's upcoming album - Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. And you know was pretty special watching the Queen bounce to her covers of some very popular diva tunes. 

Check out the track list...
1. At Last
2. Rolling In The Deep
3. Midnight Train To Georgia
4. I Will Survive
5. People
6. No One
7. I’m Every Woman
8. Teach Me Tonight
9. You Keep Me Hangin’ On
10. Nothing Compares 2 U

And thanks to Clive Davis, I raced home from the UES, opened youtube and watched her memorable Clinton inauguration performance of I Dreamed a Dream.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I am Staying Home to Watch an Off Broadway Play

Today, I am marking my calendar as a reminder to check out PBS' Theater Close-Up, a weekly show hosted by Sigourney Weaver, featuring amazing Off Broadway plays. Plays air on Thursday evenings at 10PM with the exception of the premiere which airs at 9PM. Here is the line up.

October 2nd
Mint Theater - John Van Druten’s London Wall

A 1931 workplace drama that follows four single women working as typists at a law firm and navigating the rocky road of romance...

October 9th
Abingdon Theatre - Brian Richard Mori’s Hellman v. McCarthy

The greatest literary feud in modern American history began on January 25, 1980 when literary critic Mary McCarthy appeared as a guest on "The Dick Cavett Show" and declared that "every word [playwright Lillian Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'" Hellman went ballistic and sued McCarthy for libel, sparking a law suit that spanned more than four years. HELLMAN v. McCARTHY is a roller coaster ride filled with comedy and pathos.

October 16th
Public Theater - Richard Nelson's The Hopey Changey Thing (part of the The Apple Family Plays)

The Apple Family plays is a politically anchored four-play series about a liberal American family. In The Hopey Changey Thing, the Apples reflect on the state of their family and discuss memory, manners and politics as polls close on mid-term election night 2010 and a groundswell of conservative sentiment flips Congress on its head. 

October 23rd
Public Theater - Richard Nelson's Sweet and Sad (part of the The Apple Family Plays)

The Apple Family plays is a politically anchored four-play series about a liberal American family. In Sweet and Sada family brunch on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 stirs up discussions of loss, remembrance and a decade of change.

October 30th
Public Theater - Richard Nelson's Sorry (part of the The Apple Family Plays)

The Apple Family plays is a politically anchored four-play series about a liberal American family. In Sorry, the family sorts through personal and political feelings of loss and confusion on the morning of the day the country will choose the next President.

November 6th
Public Theater - Richard Nelson's Regular Singing (part of the The Apple Family Plays)

The Apple Family plays is a politically anchored four-play series about a liberal American family. In Regular Singingthe family gathers around the dining table to discuss, among other things, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

November 13th
Flea Theater - Hamish Linklater's The Vandal

Set on a freezing night in Kingston, NY, a woman meets a boy at a bus stop. This dark comedy deals with how we live and the stories we tell ourselves when we're haunted by the people we've loved and lost.

November 20th 
New York Theater Workshop - An Illiad 

One-man-show adaptation of Homer's epic poem about the Trojan War, the actor on stage plays both narrator — here called the Poet — and everyone else in the sprawling war story...

November 27th 
Flea Theater - Steven Bank's Looking at Christmas

Christmas Eve. New York City. A failed writer and a struggling actress meet while looking at the famous holiday windows and the windows come to life and look back at them! Including a lecherous elf with eyes for Mrs. Claus, an alien Scrooge arguing with an android Tiny Tim about reinterpreting classic Christmas stories, a pissed off Little Match Girl, Jim from The Gift of The Magi enjoying the fact that his newly shorn wife resembles a boy, a vapid Russian model trying to hook up with a snowman and a jealous Joseph The Carpenter, step-father of you-know-who … The Bats star in this sweet, smart and slightly twisted romantic comedy.