Last week, while a fallow Friday here, was filled with plays opening and closing, plus the big final weekend of the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville. You can hear more about the Festival from this story on NPR’s All Things Considered. (I was lucky enough to get into the last performance of The Method Gun by the Rude Mechs, which was great fun…)
So this week, a supersized Follow Friday post, just because. Sound like a plan? All right. Here are some of the stories we’ve been following for the last two weeks here at 2amt.
David Simon on David Mills
No, this isn’t about theatre per se. But it does concern the loss of one of the best writers of television in the last twenty years, eulogized by another. David Mills passed away suddenly on the set of Treme, the new series from David Simon for HBO. He was an executive producer on the show and so much more. Simon eulogizes his friend and colleague. So does critic Alan Sepinwall. And here is an interview with Emily Nussbaum for New York magazine. Finally, a link to Mills’ blog, which is where we met briefly over the years; in this post, he talks about the question of theme. We’ve been talking about story vs. plot vs. theme over on the #2amt thread on Twitter this week. Mills nailed it here, and the last line’s a kick. He will be missed.
Sabrina Evertt on tuning out.
A spirited discussion popped up earlier this week after Sabrina posted her thoughts on boring theatre, inspired by her reading of David Mamet’s memo on dramatic writing. The comments veered a little off topic, but eventually helped clarify and illustrate Sabrina’s point. Where do you stand?
Chris Ashworth on joining the club.
One of the wonderful ideas we’ve been talking about here for weeks is the idea of a membership structure instead of (or in addition to) your normal subscription program. ACT in Seattle has been leading the way, and now the Public Theatre in New York is trying something similar, if not quite as revolutionary. We like to call this “theatre on demand,” just as available in its way as streaming a movie from Netflix or finding a show on Hulu. Yes, the audience still has to come to your building, but your building becomes a regular part of their lives much more than if they’ve got a subscription and visit every six weeks or so.
Monica Reida on understanding the critic.
This week, Chicago theatre critic Chris Jones changed his tune about the Goodman’s production of A True Story of the Johnstown Flood. But in so doing, he seems to imply that if you didn’t like the show, you just didn’t understand it. The question is, in being lukewarm to begin with, what does it say to the audience when the critic reevaluates a play late in its run? Does this help the play or confuse the public as to the critic’s judgment?
Steven Leigh Morris on why theatre matters, even in Los Angeles.
An impassioned plea for the importance of theatre, Steven highlights several reasons why theatre is worthwhile in a world of constant, easy, downloadable media. He also reminds us to leave room for the impulsive alongside the guaranteed hit, because you never know where the next hit play or the next great playwright may come from. Shock of shocks, it may not be one of the hip twenty playwrights from the hip Masters programs. It might just come from left field…
Tony Adams on pie.
I like pie. I just do. (Wait, what?) Sorry. Distracted by the photo on Tony’s post. He’s not talking about actual pie here. (Dang it.) But he is talking cooperation, using one’s resources wisely and finding ways to grow the audience pie. (What is this, Sweeney Todd? Audience pie?) In a similar frame of mind, and also inspired by World Theatre Day, Monica Reida also talks about community and why this can be a good thing. (But she doesn’t talk about pie.) And tying in with the idea of spending wisely, check out Patrick Healy on doing Broadway on a budget.
Ciara Pressler on choosing your targets.
Just who is your target audience? Do you have one? Is there one you might aim at that you haven’t considered yet? Ciara Pressler offers some good advice on keeping your focus and finding your core audience. More to the point, she notes that the target may shift from show to show. Find the sweet spot–say, teachers for a production of “No Child,” for example–and build from there. With luck, you’ll hold on to those people and they’ll become part of your general audience in the future.
Karen Greco on the people in your neighborhood.
Coming back to the idea of building your community–or becoming a central pillar of your community–Karen advises us to think hyperlocal. It works for restaurants, it’s working in the slow-food movement, and it can work for theatre as well. She also mentions a certain storytelling idea near and dear to our hearts…
Patrick Healy on righting the wrongs of rights.
Since the Outrageous Fortune study came out, we and others have been discussing and dissecting the findings. Some companies are trying to do something about the findings. The Public and the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York have both changed their policies regarding subsidiary rights to plays in the hopes of supporting playwrights more effectively. Take a look at what they’ve done and why.
Scott Walters on moments of Transcendence
At the new Cradle blog, Scott posts about his visit from the Transcendence Theatre company on their Project Knowledge tour of the country. If you haven’t heard about them, you should check this out. Full disclosure: they’ll be coming my way next week…
And I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my mentors, director Tom Evans, who reminded me just last night that “Film is a medium. Theatre is an extra-large.”