May 29, 2010

Avenue Gary

What does it say about me that the first thing I thought of when I heard Gary Coleman died was, "What will Avenue Q do?" Obviously I'm not the only one.

May 28, 2010

Quote for the Day

Ah, but are they happy?
You'd be surprised
Between the bed and the booze and shoes
They suffer least who suffer what they choose
David Ackles, "American Gothic"

StageGrade's first Tony poll

A reader suggested it; we did it. I was gratified at how many of our regular critics chose to vote, and surprised by how clear the consensus seems to be: Basically, this is the year of Red, Fences, Memphis, and La Cage aux Folles. That's not the whole story, of course--you'll just have to RTWT.

May 26, 2010

Back With a Dynamic Post

Albeit one I'm lifting wholesale from yesterday's Thomas Cott. It's 2 AM Theatre's Rebecca Mead on "dynamic pricing" and how it worked to raise the earned income and ticket prices at her theater--while still serving bargain hunters and less affluent theatergoers. The key:
Choose an audience you want to be “accessible” to, and make them an offer they can’t refuse if they buy their tickets early. This helps get your houses looking full early in the game.

“But,” you say, “If I sell a bunch of tickets at a deep discount early on, aren’t I leaving money on the table? Wouldn’t some of those people have paid more?”

Possibly, yes.’ve just rewarded the people who are willing to commit early- before reviews, before rumors of sellouts, and most DEFINITELY before closing weekend. This is a pretty self-selecting bunch of deal hunters. So don’t worry about that.

How you’ll make your money is on the next round of patrons. The ones who call once a show starts to get good buzz or get full...And that perpetually sold out closing weekend full of people who waited till the last minute? That becomes your most profitable weekend. The people who complain? They get told that the earlier they buy the cheaper their tickets would be. The next show, some of them won’t wait.


May 18, 2010

Talent News

Three releases that landed in my inbox today and intrigued:
I'm off grid for about a week...Catch you on the flip side.

May 14, 2010

Friday Lifehacks

Apropos of nothing, a few things that have improved my life:

Ring a Ding

The L.A. Opera is having some problems with its current $32 Million Ring cycle--like two of its star singers dissing it on the record in today's LA Times, calling the conception of German director Achim Freyer unsafe and dubious. This is probably not the best defense I've heard, from an L.A. Opera spokesperson:
"The psychological dimension is outsourced to other forms of expression, like the lighting."
The singing and acting are apparently handling the "music" and "motion" requirements.

May 13, 2010

The Story Is His Audience

I've got a post on TCG's blog today about Native American artist Bill Yellow Robe.

May 12, 2010

Doug Wright on Critics

Just stumbled upon this excellent speech from a few years back. It's Doug Wright at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and he has some great, pithy advice for his fellow playwrights (don't write what you know, for instance). I especially like the way he supports the common and hard-to-follow advice to not read criticism (it's about halfway through the un-embeddable video):
Remember, [the critic] is paid is keep abreast of your work; you are not paid to keep abreast of his. The playwright who turns to the critic for affirmation is trapped in a deeply dysfunctional relationship, like the tortured lover who demands affection from a sociopath.

Scott Walters Bait

Today's American Theatre Facebook topic is what city theater artists should start out in. So far I see lots of respondents saying Chicago and New York, but there are also a lot of well-taken points about D.C., Philly, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Dallas, etc. And don't, worry, Prof, a few speak up for going off the grid. I liked Jeanmarie Simpson Hall's response:
Wherever they are is a great departure point. Hold your own city in the palm of your hand. Make art, produce it, promote it. Put your city on the map. THEN move, if your ambitions drive you to do so.
And Laurie McCants:
Why a city? Find a small town! Band together with some likeminded artists and citizens and start your own theatre! See Network of Ensemble Theaters for pointers!

May 11, 2010

Frontline Documentary

My TCG colleague Jason Tseng kicks off a new series of interviews called "In the Trenches: Stories From the Theatre's Frontlines," with this mission statement:
In my opinion, the best barometer for a community’s health is the well-being and happiness not of those at the top, but the people out on the frontline. It’s the people who love theatre so much they’re willing to take the pay cut and the bare bones employee benefits, just so that they can be an integral part in creating something deeply important to them.
He kicks it off with a personable chat with Maria Goyanes of the Public Theatre.

May 10, 2010

OK, an Even Hotter Topic

While the debate below still rages, Isaac's post at Parabasis today (about Newsweek's ridiculously homophobic recent editorial and La Chenoweth's righteous response) inspired me to ask the question on AT's Facebook page, "Of course gay actors can play straight. Can't they?" So far my favorite response is from Manda Martin:
I think a far more interesting use of Newsweek's journalistic prowess would have been an article about all of the gay Republican congressmen who've successfully "played straight" while launching horribly discriminatory campaigns and legislation against gay men and women. That's pretty good acting, no?

Today's Hot Topic

Should actors be off-book on the first day of rehearsal? American Theatre's Facebook commenters mostly say "no" or "it depends," but there's quite a diversity of opinion on the matter.

Quote for the Week

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."
—St. Augustine

May 8, 2010

Thoroughly Modern Sherie

How the Roundabout's surprisingly successful season ender, Everyday Rapture, began with an album-liner note favor.

May 5, 2010

If Heaven Were a Small Nonprofit

Comedy gold.

If Your Wednesday Wasn't Weird Enough Already

Please to enjoy this iconic sequence from Glen or Glenda?, which I've been queasily imbibing as part of my work on a new musical about Ed Wood.

May 3, 2010

Theater as Therapy

RoseMarie DeWitt; photo by Carol Rosegg

My first piece for the Los Angeles Times in a while is about Beth Henley's play Family Week, directed by Jonathan Demme for MCC Theatre. The buzz hasn't been great, admittedly, but these two were a joy to talk to:
"I just thought, 'what if a terrible thing happens in a family that's already had terrible things to deal with?' " Henley says during a break in rehearsal. "'How annihilated can you be and still crawl on the earth and want to survive?"

Director Jonathan Demme, sitting across the table in the rehearsal room, lets out a guffaw. "Wow, I can't wait to see that!" he says with good-natured sarcasm.

Star Wars Loteria

I collected the original bubblegum cards back in the late '70s, but these may be even better. (h/t Boing Boing)

May 2, 2010

Beckett for PM

I haven't been following the British election except by browsing past Andrew Sullivan's endless posts on it, but this is a real find: that Lib-Dem Nick Clegg's hero is a man whose endorsement, were he alive, would surely not be forthcoming:
Every time I go back to Beckett he seems more subversive, not less; his works make me feel more uncomfortable than they did before. The unsettling idea, most explicit in Godot, that life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning – never gets any easier.

It's that willingness to question the things the rest of us take for granted that I admire most about Beckett; the courage to ask questions that are dangerous because, if the traditions and meanings we hold so dear turn out to be false, what do we do then?

One thing I can say: Clegg has got the theater critic vote sewed up.