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Follow Friday: 22 October 2010

10.22.10 | 3 Comments


CATEGORIES actors, audiences, conversation starter, follow friday, ideas, playwrights, rabble rousing, social media, the process, theatrical ecosystem

Looks like everyone’s wrestling this week, whether it’s playwrights & critics, casts & audiences, critics & artistic directors, journalists & editors… We’ve also been thinking, arguing and questioning what we do and why we do it. We even get a little political, but only a little. And there’s no intermission. (Unless you want one.)

This is what 2amt’s been following this week.

Charles Isherwood on talking amongst yourselves
Round one. In this post at the New York Times “Theater Talkback” blog, critic Isherwood takes playwrights to task for the use–or overuse–of what he perceives as, at times, a cover for lazy writing, specifically “direct address,” characters turning to the audience and breaking the fourth wall…

Kristoffer Diaz tears down that wall.
Round two. One play Isherwood criticizes is Diaz’ The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Diaz responds not by defending the play itself but by presenting a well-reasoned defense of the practice of direct address.

Joshua Conkel talks back, too
Round three. MilkMilkLemonade playwright Joshua Conkel throws a folding chair into the ring, adding another perspective on the use of direct address. And the smackdown continues…

Peter Marks misses the wall
Speaking of breaking the fourth wall, how do you feel about being pulled into the show, interacting more directly with the cast? Peter Marks of the Washington Post doesn’t much like it. How much interactivity is too much? What do you look for when you go to a show? For a thoughtful rebuttal, Travis Bedard tells us what he found at the current Rubber Rep show in Austin.

Wendy Rosenfield on speaking freely
Another artistic director has spoken out against criticism, this time lashing out at actual critics instead of voluntary bloggers. Wendy Rosenfield, who was one of the critics in question, takes a critical and measured look at the fallout.



Ben Bryant on a different theatrical language

What makes a national theatre? Ben Bryant takes a look at the young and thriving National Theatre Wales, noting their focus on English-language works as opposed to a bilingual approach. This is their mission, but can it truly claim to represent Wales without highlighting the native language as well?


Brandon Moore on the ArtsVote across Ontario

Municipal elections are this Monday in Ontario. Across the province, artists, arts workers, and arts supporters have come together to evaluate incumbents, survey candidates, and inform voters under the “ArtsVote” brand. Might this be an effective idea for your region?


Toni Rae Brotons on why we do what we do

Or, more to the point, why do we do what we do? How many times have you quit theatre, only to come back? How do you adjust your dream? And is the work you do enough to sustain that dream and/or help make it a reality? Join the conversation at her blog and share your thoughts, experiences and dreams.


Howard Sherman on taking breaks

Do you light up when you hear that a show is 90 minutes long with no intermission? Why? Howard Sherman wonders the lengths we’ve gone to in streamlining productions and asks if this is a good thing. There should be room for shows of all shapes, sizes, lengths, breaks…


Scott Walters is thinking, arguing and questioning.

Coming back around to why we do what we do, Scott Walters posts a lecture given to one of his classes, reacting to and elaborating on a theme by playwright Tony Kushner, questioning how we train undergraduates, wondering why we and they don’t engage. They both urge us to think, argue and question, not necessarily in that order.

9 Circles by Bill Cain

Lauren Gunderson has a reckoning.
What do we define as “political theatre” these days? One comment popped up on Twitter this week asking if all theatre wasn’t in some way political. Lauren Gunderson looks at two plays currently playing in the San Francisco area that refine and redefine what we might think when we think “political play.” One is The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy and the other is 9 Circles by Bill Cain.


Adam Spreadbury-Maher on why size shouldn’t matter

Opera doesn’t have to be produced on a grand stage to make an impact. In a post Eric Ziegenhagen should love, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artistic director of OperaUpClose, talks about his experiences producing opera in a pub. Seems like there’d be a combination of intimacy and interaction in a setting like that.

Gwydion Suilebhan on theater vs religion
Unlike some congressional candidates, Gwydion has a clear sense of the separation between church and state, or at least the state of theatre. The comments are lively and developing as well. For an interesting counterpoint of sorts, check out the book Performing the Sacred: Theology and Theatre in Dialogue, here reviewed by Dave Reinhardt. Are these parallel roads, do they intersect, should they? (I think I know Gwydion’s answer, what about yours?)

David J. Loehr

David J. Loehr

Writer / Producer, The Incomparable Radio Theater :: Artist-in-Residence / Producer, Riverrun Theatre Company, Madison, Indiana :: Artistic Director / Editor, 2amt :: Panelist, The Incomparable podcast :: Husband, father, cat owner, cat bed.
David J. Loehr

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  • Diaz’s rebuttal to Isherwood’s argument was both felicitous and persuasive. I agreed with nearly all his points. I’m SO glad some one spoke up articulately in response to his indictment of breaking the fourth wall. Maintaining the fourth wall is an entirely valid choice, but we should all remember that it’s just that – a choice, not a rule. Heaven help theater (or any art form) when it starts misunderstanding one narrow philosophy as the only available technique.

  • Monica

    It’s CHARLES Isherwood. Christopher Isherwood is a deceased author.

    • Clearly had “Kristoffer” on the brain while typing. (I am well aware of both Isherwoods.)

      Fixed.


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