Oct 24, 2012

Ringside Seats for "Golden Boy"

From the sleep-deprived depths of daddy leave, I come to you with a ticket giveaway offer: two tickets to Lincoln Center's revival of Clifford Odets' boxing drama Golden Boy, which will start previews on Nov. 8 in the same theater it debuted in 75 years ago, the Belasco. The revival, directed by Bart Sher, stars Danny Burstein (South Pacific, Follies, "Boardwalk Empire"), Danny Mastrogiorgio, Seth Numrich (War Horse), Tony Shalhoub (Lend Me A Tenor, "Monk") and Yvonne Strahovski ("Chuck," "Dexter").

It's the first of a pair of Odets revivals slated for the Main Stem this year; Bobby Canavale will star in a revival of Odets' Hollywood morality tale The Big Knife in the spring. I happened to see both of these vintage plays in fine 99-seat productions in Los Angeles back in the 1990s: The Big Knife at the Victory Theater and Golden Boy at Pacific Resident Theater.

To pick up two free tickets to Broadway's new Golden Boy, go to Lincoln Center's Facebook page, click "Like," then post on that page using the phrase "Wicked Stage giveaway." The first reader to do so will receive a pair of ringside seats.

Oct 17, 2012

Punk-Rock Chekhov

C Lavrov and Sasha K Tuzova in an illustration from TEATP
Writing a feature on CSC's new production of Ivanov gave me the enviable homework of reading this lesser-known, infrequently seen Chekhov play, his first full-length. (Wish I'd seen Bart DeLorenzo's in L.A. earlier this year.) I'm not sure how it will play onstage, but it's a huge joy to read; it comes off almost like a latter-day playwright's angry, funny riff on Chekhovian themes, where subtext is made text and characters just come out and say the hateful, craven things that tend to creep out more artfully, ruefully, or indirectly in his later masterpieces. Even the fact that the central character's depressive paralysis remains relentlessly centerstage and stubbornly undiagnosed has a self-parodic but deadly serious edge to it—what actor Ethan Hawke calls, I think aptly, "something punk rock about the play."

The feature for Time Out NY is here.

Oct 6, 2012

Here Comes the Son (Again)

This past week my little family grew by one, so I'll be on official daddy leave for the next month or so, not only from American Theatre but from this blog (more or less).

I leave you in the meantime with a pair of shortish pieces I recently put together, one for TCG's in-house blog re: the gratifying inclusion of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun on this year's most-produced-plays list. This is a clear byproduct of Bruce Norris' Raisin-inspired Clybourne Park (#2 on the list), and it makes Hansberry the only non-living playwright represented (Shakespeare and holiday shows aren't tallied). As I point out in the post, nearly all the upcoming productions of Raisin have some kind of link to a nearby production of Clybourne, with two sets of productions actually offered in rep (by Playmakers and Milwaukee Rep). The rundown is here.

The other is a program preview for BAM's import of Théâtre de la Ville's Rhinoceros, which afforded me the pleasure of revisiting Ionesco's masterpiece on the page and on a French-language DVD of the original production, though not, thanks to the busy home life of the moment, the production in the flesh (it closes this weekend). While Ionesco's play is clearly rooted in his experiences resisting fascism and Stalinism, I was struck by an important point from the director of the new production:
[Emmanuel] Demarcy-Mota is...quick to point out that while the piece’s antitotalitarian, anticonformist implications have kept it all too relevant (a stage adaptation with Iranian film stars was reportedly the hottest ticket in Tehran in 2009) the analogy between “rhinoceritis” and authoritarianism is imprecise.
“It can be heard as a denunciation of fanaticism, of the lackeys and henchmen that are the faithful surrounders of the dictators against whom the people rise,” Demarty-Mota concedes. “But it is interesting to underline that in the play it is a voluntary servitude with no specific tyrant; everyone becomes a rhinoceros, just like that, by cowardice, convenience, sometimes even laziness, without being specifically asked. As Ionesco said, fashion also has its tyranny.”
Writing the piece also gave me the excuse to reread the definitive essay about 20th-century spirituality, about God in the shadow of the bomb: Thomas Merton's "The Rain and the Rhinoceros." If you've never read it, I can't recommend it highly enough. And that, I think, is a fittingly meditative note to close on for now, as I return to the clarifying demands of the nursery and the rich complicity of the hearth.

Oct 1, 2012

A (Social) Media Empire

Playwright Katori Hall on the cover of the October issue

This blog is still an indispensable platform for some of my thoughts about the theater and related arts, but it's hardly the only, and many times not the main, one. Over at my day job, there's not just my in-depth look at Boston's hard-to-define but very promising Center for the Theater Commons, which you may know best as the folks who bring the world HowlRound (but there's oh, so much to it than that).

An essential part of my day job has become running the American Theatre Facebook page, and as of today, we've joined that other social medium, Twitter, and at an opportune time: Not only is our October season preview issue out today, but along with it the much-hashed-over "Top Ten" list of most-produced plays for the coming season (it's actually 11 this year, due to a tie; and it should not be confused with a previously released, and equally conversation-worthy, list of most-produced playwrights).

Over at TCG's blog, I'll have more on one of that Top-11-plays list's happiest surprises soon (you might be able to guess what it is).