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Theaterlover - where am I?

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message 1: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:22AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments I just joined a couple of minutes ago. I see that there are only eight members, but has no-one posted a message yet? Why?

I am retired from the US Navy, was an actor on and off-Broadway and on TV for several years in the 80's in NYC.

Love the theater and miss it a lot (I'm presently a volunteer English teacher in Laos).

My favorite theater book: The Season by William Goldman . . . and lots of others.

Anybody out there?


message 2: by Robin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Robin | 1 comments I hear you. Just joined, myself, and 12 days later, yours is still the only comment.

I'm in Texas. I work for the Strand Theatre in Galveston. It's a great little community theatre. If you're ever in the area, stop by and see us. :-)

strandtheatregalveston.org


message 3: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments I just joined today. I have done theatre (regional and community) for over thirty years. I love the whole process (performances less than the collaborative essential to getting there. My husband is a lighting/sound designer and the email list serves he belongs to are very active. I'm hoping to interact with folks who are always reading scripts and seeing (or doing) theatre.


message 4: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Ali Well, I'm also new, but definatly not going to complain about why there is no message here. I'll start with some topics, instead.
Theatre, wow .., that's a huge wide world / area; reading drama, seeing performances, and being involved in the process,...
classics? tragedies? comedies? modern?, etc. etc.
hi Ralph, I haven't read Season by William Goldman, ... will put it in my to-read ...
hi Robin, I'm going to see the site, definatly ..
and Amy, hi, I've been involved in theatre since I was a young boy, both reading, seeing, doing, directing, acting, writing ...
and would love to hear about your (all) experinces .. this makes me excited, always ..


message 5: by Tenaciousleigh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Tenaciousleigh | 7 comments Hello everyone!

I'm a director from nyc. I'll be assistant directing as part of the Fringe Festival and am planning my directorial debut for the spring of 08. In the meantime, I love to read interviews with directors, and see as much live theatre as a I can.

My favorite theatre book is Anne Bogart's, "A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art in Theatre."


message 6: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hi everyone -

I also liked very much Harold Clurman's book, I think it's called "On Directing." Very well done and easy to comprehend.

So what has everyone been doing? Seeing any shows? Doing any shows? What?

What are some of your favorite memories of the theater (performances/productions/plays, etc.)?

One of my most memorable moments while attending the theater was a production of "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" at Harvard University - starring the wonderful Eileen Heckart. I remember that after the curtain fell, their was just a stunned moment of silence and then the audience just roared - goose bumps galore. Paul Zindel, the author, had a wonderful way with words - I later played Mel in a production of "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" in Manila - a lovely role for an actor.

Most fun I ever had on a stage? Playing Hysterium in several productions of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." A really fun show for audiences and cast alike.

So tell me something about what you've seen or been in or directed and really enjoyed, o.k.?

Ralph


message 7: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:30AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Oh, I forgot -

Ali, I envy you reading "The Season" for the first time - if that first chapter doesn't capture your attention immediately, I'll eat my words. It's for everyone who loves theater: actors, directors, producers, writers, or just anyone who loves attending. I have a copy with me here in Laos and can still pick it up and start reading at random anywhere in the book - never boring and always fun to read.

Ralph


message 8: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Ali Hi, sorry I was away for a while. good to see there are more messages. It's amazing, you all have interesting connections to theatre. Harold Clurman! Is it him who stablished Group Theatre together with Lee Strasburg and Cheryl Carawford? For 18 years ago I've translated two plays of Odets to Persian with a long chapter on Odets and Agitprop theatr, have used some of Clurman's statements on Odets...
by the way, I need some help / comments, if any of you guys have read Howard Barker's plays, or know his theatre. Would very like to hear some ideas about him. I appreciate that. You can also mail me to: ali-ohadi@get2net.dk
Ralph, I've ordered "the season" looking forward to ...
just my 2 cents!


message 9: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:31AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments I just finished up a season in which I directed The Laramie Project and was onstage for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The latter was quite an unusual experience for me -- not the being onstage part, but that my ten-year-old daughter played the part of Lucy (youngest of the four children) and I played the White Witch. I have not ever actually been onstage for any length of time with my daughter. Two seasons she was one of the "no-neck monsters" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, when I played Big Mama, but her part was so small that I don't actually count it. I was so proud of her on this one though....

Anyone else have any thoughts on doing theatre with family members, or is that too small-town?


message 10: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:32AM) (new)

Ali Hi Amy, No, I haven't done theatre with my family members, but once for years ago, I did work with my (at the time) girlfriend. Sure it's not the same experience or feeling ...
But before coming to this conclusion, I had to check The Laramie Project,(is it a play or what? who's the auther? Moises Kaufman or Declan Baldwin?) and also The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe! (theatres? where? In The USA? West or East?)
Sorry, I'm aware of different taste of theatre, literature, art etc. on two sides of The Pacific, but I'm not that much involved in theatre now, ... that's why I had to find out what is this all about...


message 11: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:32AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hi Ali - Yes, it's the same Harold Clurman - excellent director and member of the Group Theater.

I don't think I've ever heard of Howard Barker - maybe I have but just don't remember.

Where are you, Ali? Are you in the US or Europe? The mid-east? I'm hre in Laos and don't have access to scripts; I know I've heard of The Laramie Project more than once, but have no idea what it is about.

Amy - what's it about? It's not about that gay incident in Wyoming, is it?

I am aware of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - but as a book, not a play. Where is your theater located?

I've done The Odd Couple twice with my brother (I played Felix, he played Oscar) and one time my sister played one of the Pidgeon sisters. Then, this same sister and I once did a production of Prisoner of Second Avenue. It's fun to work with family and I'd love to work with my grown children, but I'm too far away and they'd think I was nuts if I even mentioned it.

Now, everyone - what do those numbers of books beneath your pictures mean (books 35, books 198, etc.). Is this the number of books you've read in your lifetime, last month, or what?

So what's next, Amy? And why aren't you involved in the theater right now, Ali? Too busy with other things?

Robin, what's happening at the Strand?

Tenaciousleigh, I watch (from a distance) the ups and downs at the Fringe Festival every year. What will you be doing? A short play? By whom?

Are you going to see Ms. Lupone in Gypsy? That's the big happening in NYC this week, I guess.

Take care, everyone. Have fun.

Ralph


message 12: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:32AM) (new)

Ali Hi Ralph, I live in Denmark, Scandinavia.
You know, this is a small country of 5 mill., not very much theatre activities, not very many serious theatres, lots of theatre pro. guys are jobless here! I would love working onstage, and I've done some, but I'm a sociologist, and at the end of the day, I have to have bread on my table!!
I just add Barker's "Arguments for a theatre" which is about his theories on theatre and his group "Wrestling group" in UK.


message 13: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments Hi Ali, Ralph and All:

The Laramie Project is indeed about the Matthew Shepard hate crime which occurred in Laramie, Wyoming in 1997. The script is by Moises Kaufman and other members of Tectonic Theatre Project. They traveled to Laramie from NYC to interview people there, both with and without connection to the incident. The play has approximately 65 characters and is divided into about 50 "moments" (this terminology is used by Kaufman, rather than scenes). We cast 12 actors and it was very difficult to assign parts to the actors in each of those scenes and not end up having them talking to themselves, etc.

There are several versions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The one we did is probably the most true to the CS Lewis book(s). It was really great fun - I got to be terribly evil (the White Witch is actually a stand-in for Satan) and I also got to learn to sword fight.

We are a very small community theatre in the Midwest (rural Ohio), but we have many members who are or have been theatre professionals. We also have an entry under "Theare Arts" in the recently published Encyclopedia of Appalachia. If you want to check out what we're doing next, go to www.zct.org.

Sorry to go on for so long, but I wanted to answer specific questions. (BTW, Ralph, a couple of years ago I played Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and had a ball).

Later!


message 14: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Jessica Hi, all! I just joined today, and am very excited by the whole community.

I trained and worked as a dramaturg and director before heading in a different direction -- now I'm a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and advertising.

Haven't really started adding drama books to my list, though I made a shelf for them. So far only a little Mamet sitting there, though The Water Engine made it, which I worked on, oh dear, nearly 20 years ago.

Looking forward to this group.


message 15: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Ali Hi Amy, now I got the whole story, you may realised that I’m an old stuff, haven’t been very much around new waves of today theatre in the world for the last 10 years or so. What you described about Laramie Project and Kaufman, reminds me Peter Wiess (German-Check-Swiss-playwright!) and his famous works such as Investigation (1965) based on Naurenberg trials after II World War, and Discourse on Vietnam (1968) … a mixture of interview, documentary performing based on the event!
I checked the entry, saw the pictures as well. Thanks a lot Amy.
Welcome to the club, Jessica


message 16: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Hello everyone. Very interesting group we have here. I am a director's wife, and most of my in-laws are either directors or actors, so I am involved in theatre mostly by association, but I also think it holds the potential as one of the most powerful means of reaching people that exists in this current society. I love film, as well, but think that theatre is a different art form that can do things that film cannot.

Me, personally, I am involved in international studies, am a writer, and have been involved in theatre mostly through stage management. Lately I have been doing all the sound design for my husband's shows.

As far as working with family members on shows, which Amy asked about, I think it can be a very rewarding experience, providing parameters and clear expectations are set up in advance. The first show my husband and I did together was a disaster because I thought he would want one thing from me, and that was not what he had in mind. After that we hammered out our working relationship, and founded Logos Theatre Company together, which is in Kansas City, MO. Then he decided to go to grad school in Jersey. We're taking a quick sabbatical in Seattle right now, another great theatre town. That's an introduction to me. I'll keep abreast of the discussion now, and post more later.


message 17: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments I once helped build a set for "The Laramie Project" specifically the fence. Knowing what I was building and what it meant had a strong effect on me. Great theatre does that.

I now write plays, direct, design and act. Other than my own scripts (which you haven't heard of) favorite directing has been "Macbeth" (or should I say The Scottish Play?), "The Exonerated" and "Betrayal."

And someone mentioned Anne Bogart. Yes, brilliant!


message 18: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hello everyone -

Gee, it's nice to see this site growing and more and more people interacting, isn't it?

Amy, I can't help but wonder how The Laramie Project went over in rural Ohio (I'm originally from rural Michigan and just the subject matter would have the population up in arms).

Isn't Domina a wonderful and fun role? I will never forget her "And carry my bust with pride!" After which, her husband Senex turns to the audience and says, "A lesson to you all; never fall in love during a total exlipse." Oh, that was a fun show to do (and I just loved groveling at Domina's feet whenever she appeared).

Leticia, is The Logo Theater still up and running? Will you be going back to KC soon? What shows have you seen in Seattle (a great theater town, right)?

I love to hear about what everyone is doing and what they have done. And keep it up, Marc; someday we'll all be familiar with your plays. All those heavy plays you have directed - where are you - in a large city?

Well, it's a lovely afternoon in Laos and I hope everyone is happy and prospering - and doing some fun/interesting/satisfying work.

Ralph


message 19: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Ali I was just looking around for some inspiration, ... but there are not very many darama / plays / teatre stuff among your guys reading materials! Does it mean you use to work onstage, practicing theatre rather than reading? or what?


message 20: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments Happy Monday All:

Ralph, our company was a little worried about community reaction when we did Laramie, but we had absolutely no negative reaction whatsoever. There were several detailed articles on the project in our local newspaper (still available on our website - www.zct.org), and we expected protests, letters to the editor, loss of patrons, etc, but none of that ever happened. We played to fairly large houses (for us) and the comment most of us heard at the end of each performance was "Thank you for doing this play". So maybe we underestimated our audiences' tolerance.

As for Forum, I'm no singer, but a friend was directing and talked me into it. I had a ball! The guy who played Hysterium was about 6'4 and 400 lb (and I'm not a particularly large person). I sang Domina's solo while dragging this huge guy around the stage in a headlock. I guess it was fairly amusing, because most didn't notice my lack of musical talent.

I do feel that the immediacy and humanity of live theatre has the potential to effect social change. I've been looking at doing a production of Wit with another friend as director. I'm also reading The Vagina Monologues, but right now all I have is a book of the essays, rather than an actual script.

I'd be interested in hearing what others are reading or contemplating for production....

Amy


message 21: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Ali,
You inspired me. I just added a lot of scripts that I've read (many that I've also performed in, directed, or designed sets for). All of them are powerful, amazingly-written, and highly recommended. Give them a look (on my Drama shelf).

--Marc


message 22: by Tenaciousleigh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

Tenaciousleigh | 7 comments Ralph,

I'm working on a new play, Burn, by Creighton James. It's the first in a trilogy that takes place in the Appalachian mountains. We produced the second installment, Feud, two years ago about the infamous Hatfield-McCoy Feud. Burn is a ghost/horror story that ultimately reveals that no fiction is as frightening as our own history. Our first rehearsal was last night, and I'm really excited to watch the project progress.

Sadly, I haven't been able to see much theatre recently. I've been taking for granted the fact that I live in one of the best theatre cities.


message 23: by Tenaciousleigh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

Tenaciousleigh | 7 comments Letitia,

How'd you like your stop in New Jersey? Was he at Mason Gross? Jersey's home for me so I'm always interested in people's impressions. :)

Leigh


message 24: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Hi Tenacious. Yes, my husband is at Mason Gross School of the Arts. I have to admit I am not a fan. Of Jersey or the school. Most of his faculty is certifiably insane and should never be allowed near an academic institution! Living in Jersey has been hard because I'm just dreadfully lonely most of the time. The unfortunate fact is that everyone we know is in theatre, and they think that I am not a "theatre person" so the pretty much disregard my opinions so I'm left out of a lot of discussions and relationships. I like about this group that it specifies people INTERESTED in theatre, because it is a major part of my life. Just because I am not making it a career does not mean I don't have a vested interest. And also, I bring a unique perspective to the table which a lot of artists tend to forget: the audience.


message 25: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Without the audience, there is no theatre. Those yoyo's over at Mason Gross better shape up! The person in the house is creating the experience just as much as the one one the stage. ... Hrumph!


message 26: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Thanks Marc :-)

Ralph, I just noticed your question about Logos Theatre. It is on hiatus right now, while my husband gets his MFA at Rutgers in Jersey. We hope to go back someday (both our families are there) and really hit KC hard this time around. Most of the theatre in KC is in the north, but the city is growing exponentially in the south, and I feel like there's really a need for the arts down there. Right now all it is is strip malls :-( We'd love to have a dinner theatre to make money, and a black box theatre for newer, more experimental works. That's the dream anyway.


message 27: by Tenaciousleigh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new)

Tenaciousleigh | 7 comments Letitia,

The dinner theatre/ black box combo sounds like a great idea. One of my dreams for the future is to create an arts center (outside of the nyc as I can't imagine settling here forever) that would be a black box, coffee shop, art studio, space for teens, etc. I'd love to have a space that is a general community arts center that could respond to both the needs for entertainment and experimentation.

I wish you were having a better time in Jersey. Have you seen anything at George Street Playhouse, or McCarter? I contemplated doing my undergrad at Rutgers until I realized they didn't have a BFA in directing, and am glad to have some honest feedback about the grad program.

Also agree with Marc. The audience makes theatre possible.

Hope you're well!
Leigh


message 28: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hello again -

I've never seen "The Vagina Monologues," but once upon a time every actress in the world seemed to be doing it. I wonder what the male equivalent/answer to "The Vagina Monologues" would be. I see they're doing something now in New York called "The First Time" - that should draw a crowd.

I wish I had more books available to me; it's difficult to find anything on the theater (or scripts) over here. I brought "The Season" (William Goldman) and "All About All About Eve" (Joe Mankiewicz) with me when I came here, and that's about the extent of my present theater-related books. When I lived in the States, I think I had just about everything in existence - and gave them all to the local library when I came to Laos.

I love to read scripts and was a regular patron of Drama Book Shop when I lived in NYC. Nothing like that here!

Ralph


message 29: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Tenacious,

I actually have a hook-up who gets me free tickets to George Street Playhouse :-) We saw "Souvenir" and "Falsettos." "Souvenir" was decent, if a bit underwhelming, "Falsettos" was just dreadful! I don't know who directed that particular production, but they need to be redirected into a new career path!!! Also, Nathan's instructors require him to see a show every two weeks in NYC, so we skip dinner for a week to afford to go into the city, and have seen some amazing stuff there. Actually saw the first two Coast of Utopia installments, and The Journey's End, which is the best war-themed work I have ever seen. I believe it won a Tony for best revival. At curtain call, the actors did not even bow: the stood at attention onstage while the names of WWII men who died in combat scrolled behind them. It was heartbreaking.

Now I'm rambling.

Ralph, I had wanted to ask you what you are doing in Laos? My best friend and I are trying to find a place to teach English next summer, just to get a break from the states.


message 30: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:37AM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Ralph,
Just noticed that you directed some comments to me a while back. Thanks for your vote of confidence on my playwriting. As far as doing heavy plays - one would think I must be in a big city, but I have done most of my work in lil' old Saginaw, Michigan. We have a non-profit progressive theatre group that puts on shows I've been very proud of. I'm taking a little break from it these days and am in Montana working on some non-theatre writing projects.

Hope you're well in Laos. I taught in southern Mexico for a while and loved it.


message 31: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hi everyone -

Tenaciousleigh - The Appalachian region has always fascinated me. I had the good fortune to see "Foxfire" with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn shortly after it opened on Broadway; it deserved all the success it achieved. Are you familiar with Sharon McCrumb, who writes extensively of that area in a series of books. Excellent books and very atmospheric.

And I keep up with the goings-on at The Fringe Theater at Talkinbroadway.com (All That Chat). I'll be looking for your project.

Letitia - why am I in Laos? Well, I was enroute to the Philippines where I had been stationed at the US Embassy in Manila when I was in the Navy. Stopped in Thailand, took a side-trip to Laos, and haven't left (that was nine years ago). Never did get back to Manila.

You can find a teaching job here very easily and housing/living expenses are very cheap. Unfortunately, you won't make any money teaching ($4 or $5 dollars an hour). I volunteer, so I don't make anything (I live off my Navy retirement pay). I like it here and the people are great - very simple, friendly and welcoming. No crime, mostly out of touch with the rest of the world, quite a novelty after living in NYC for eight years. Fortunately, I have cable and CNN/BBC to keep me informed of the sad state of our sorry old planet.

And, you are just as much a "theater person" as those crazies over at Mason Gross (and probably have a lot more to bring to the table than most of them). This irritates me to no end - excluding someone or minimizing their contributions because they are not a member of the "in-group." Did you see "Elaine Stritch At Liberty?" She makes a comment about theater and the people in it; not the nicest (or healthiest) people on the planet.

Anyway, things will be better when you get back in Kansas (think of Dorothy and Toto).

Theater without an audience is masturbation; a solo act performed for your own pleasure. There's nothing wrong with that; just don't call it theater.

Incidentally, I owned and operated a dinner theater in Englewood, Florida for three years - and didn't make a penny. Unfortunately, I am not independently wealthy and had to make a living - so I got out of that venture (a little older and a lot wiser).

Marc - small world, isn't it? I'm from Michigan and have two brothers who live in Saginaw (I graduated from Lapeer High School and went on to UofM in Ann Arbor. I did "The Odd Couple" at the Saginaw Civic Center, have done shows in Frankenmuth and Bay City. Also owned the movie theater in Vassar for several years.


message 32: by Marc (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Marc (marcbeaudin) | 21 comments Ralph,
Small world indeed. I grew up in Bay City, but didn't do shows there, although we probably know some of the same folks at Players: Leeds Bird, Joann Berry? I wonder if I know your brothers in Saginaw. Do you by any chance know Dave Asher from Vasser? He's a good friend.


message 33: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Ali Have you ever seen a theatre group as silent as we are? no talk, no discussion, no news, nothing .. where is our moderator? Looks like Beckett ... sitting, looking, waiting for godot! ...


message 34: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hello again -

Yes, Marc, I knew Leeds Bird, years ago. Quite a force in The Bay City Players.

The name Asher does not ring a bell - but I really didn't know many people in Vassar - I lived in Millington and came into Vassar every day to open the theater, then right back home. I do remember a Russ Smith, but I think he died some years ago. Incidentally, the guy who bought the Vassar Theater from me took out all the seats and just disappeared - leaving the city to take over the theater. I hear it has re-opened, but am not sure.

I was living in NYC when I bought the Vassar Theater - and the week I returned to Michigan to open the theater, we had the big flood - Vassar was completely under water - remember? Anyway, after I dug out the letters from the flooded basement, I put on the marquee, "We ain't down yet!" This made lots of newspapers (even the Detroit News), so you may remember this. Took me six months to get the theater up and running, and by this time I was sick of the whole mess. Took me three years to show a profit and sell (and went to Florida and opened a dinner theater).

Ali, I've been wondering the same thing. I've never seen a post by the moderator - maybe he/she doesn't exist.

Ralph


message 35: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:47AM) (new)

Ali Ralph, we should do something to provoke our group to talk / discuss about theatre, drama... God, we're 41 now! Seems lots of our friends are sitting on audience podium, watching ... what?
Marc, can you hear me? You have lots of interesting subjects to talk about, Amy, Jessica, Tenaciousleigh, Letitia, ... anybody home?
looks like "Long Day's Journey into Night"!


message 36: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments You're right, Ali - not much happening on these boards. And theater people are naturally talkative, aren't they? Maybe we're just boring them to death (me, not you).

Anyway, I can sit and argue all day about commercial/academic/artsy-fartsy theater. I truly believe that, if you want a functioning, long lasting and we-have-to-pay-the-rent theater, no matter where you are located, you must give the audience what they want - after all, you have to get them to buy the tickets and get their rear-ends into the seats. And in a new theater venture, you must show your audiences that whatever you do, whether they agree with your choices or not, that you will give them the best production of that play they have ever seen. Or, if something they are not familiar with, an interesting and provocative show that makes them think.

I remember once upon a time, in Manila, I wanted to do a production of The Glass Menagerie - until some old lady on the Board of Directors piped up with, "Who wants to see somebody dragging their lame leg around the stage all night?" So, first I game them The Odd Couple, then Same Time, Next Year, and finally Menagerie. That was fine - and well attended - but don't do it too often. People, largely, like to be entertained. It would be wonderful if we could do Brecht and O'Neill and Ibsen on a regular basis, but sometimes you just have to sneak a really fine script into the mix - as long as they know that the next one will be a laugh-riot or a toe-tapping musical. And I, as a audience member, have seen enough bad productions of The Importance of Being Ernest or Juno and the Peacock or Arms and the Man to last me a lifetime - and I'm a theater-lover.

I took my two sons and one daughter to the Angela Lansbury/Len Carriou production of Sweeney Todd (years ago). They were in their early teens and bored to tears (I loved it). Can you imagine if I had taken them to Waiting for Godot? So, another time, I took them to see Deathtrap and they sat their on the edges of their seats - enthralled.

Different strokes for different folks. But I sincerely believe that if you give the audiences what they know and want, you can slip in an occasional "serious, thought provoking" play. Just don't do it too often or you'll find yourself playing to fifteen people and that won't keep you in business for very long.

Enough! I wonder if Marc agrees with any of this. Or does anyone else?

And Tenaciousleigh, what is happening with you and the Fringe Festival? Do you read All That Chat on Talkinbroadway.com? There's a bunch of wise-asses/cynics overe there, but it keeps me up to date on what if happening in the theater around the world.

Have a nice day, everyone - and write once in a while.

Ralph


message 37: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments I'm back! Sorry but real life intervened there for a while.

I think the discussion on giving the audience what they want is very interesting. I can share both perspectives. The theatre I work in most often is a not-for-profit which supports itself by selling patron memberships and program advertising, and by asking for donations to specific projects. Of course, we worry all the time that we will not choose pieces that our audiences want to see and in the end we won't be able to pay the gas bill. We have been very lucky to be able to do some pieces which we love and keep our audiences happy as well with the "tried and true".

That said, I also work (my day job) in a university library, so I hear the academic side of the debate almost daily as well. I just wish that each side could be a little more open to the other side's point of view. But if it were that easy, I could probably work out world peace as well.

Sorry, I'm rambling so I'll quit for now. Glad to be back.


message 38: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments Hello,

I'm new to the group and want to introduce myself. My name is Joseph Lavy, and I am Co-Artistic Director of Akropolis Performance Lab in Seattle, WA USA. Major influences on my work include Peter Brook, and Jerzy Grotowski. If you're curious, you can Google us and you'll get a sense of what we do, and where my perspective is coming from in future discussions.

I look forward to new friends and interesting conversations.

peace.


message 39: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Amy | 32 comments Hi Joseph

Welcome. Your web site and the company look very impressive. Many ties for me here -- not with Seattle or the company, but I'm currently reading reading Shaw's Saint Joan. I have played Lady MacDuff in the Scottish play.

From my quick glance at your web site, Akropolis almost looks like a dance company rather than a theatre. This excites me, as movement onstage is one of my passions.

Anyway, welcome to the group!
Amy


message 40: by Ralph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Ralph (ralphinlaos) | 22 comments Hello everyone -

Yes, Amy, life has a way of doing that, doesn't it?

I usually tend to overstate my case, and not-for-profit vs commercial is another hot topic - always good for a heated discussion.

Hi Joseph - and another warm welcome. I've never been to Seattle (the closest I ever got was to Portland, Oregon) but I hear it is a great city for theater - is that true? Lots of pre-Broadway tryouts and a thriving local community - at least, that's what we hear.

Good to have you with us. What is your group working on now? Are you a not-for profit? And why the "Akropolis" with at "K?"

Ralph


message 41: by Letitia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Letitia | 24 comments Hello Joseph! I am actually in Seattle myself at the moment. I may have to drop by your theatre :-) My husband is currently the assistant director and teaching summer camps at Taproot Theatre, in Greenwood.

Seattle is a great theatre city, Ralph. My mother-in-law, who is also a director, just informed me that they have the second largest theatre going audience per capita (after New York), and I actually wonder if those numbers are based on the actual number of people who live in New York or if they consider all the tourists.

Joseph, if you don't mind my being nosy, can you give me a brief description of your job? My husband will be looking to do something similar as soon as he finishes grad school, and I am always curious what the full-time professional life is going to look like.

As far as the academic/commercial debate, I have no problem with those two theatre avenues being different. But I have a problem with hypocrisy concerning that fact. For instance, at Mason Gross School of the Arts, in NJ, they preach "marketable." They even kicked one of our friends out of the program last year. It had nothing to do with her skill, her likeability, her work ethic (all of which are exceptional)...she wasn't pretty enough. But at the same time, Mason Gross persists in doing avant garde and obscure works that their audience has rapidly lost interest in. I know a season ticket holder who was so offended by the work last year that she's never renewing her membership again. If they are preaching that you have to learn how to survive in a commercial world, why on earth aren't they showing the students what commercial theatre actually looks like?

That said, perhaps academic theatre really needs a balance. Students should be aware of the responses that their work can elicit. They should know that this tough, raw material exists and be able to do it well and discuss it intelligently, but should they not also have an understanding of how to relate to and please and audience?

This goes back to my husband's and my dream of a dinner theatre/black box theatre combo. The dinner theatre would of course be more highly attended, would be popular works and musicals, but would hopefully fund, and ultimately fuel interest in the newer works and more difficult works that would be taking place in the black box. I really believe that theatre does important things in a way that no other art form does; BUT PEOPLE HAVE TO WANT TO SEE IT!


message 42: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments Thank you Amy and Ralph for the warm welcome to the group.

The main reason for the K in Akropolis is that our name is in part an homage to Grotowski's Laboratory Theatre. We trained under 2 of Grot's main collaborators (Slowiak and Cuesta, authors of the new book from Routledge: Grotowski)and participated in the final work session of Grotowski's Objective Drama Reasearch Program in 1992.
One of Grotowski's first internationally recognized productions was a play called Akropolis (with a k). Also, we are originally from Akron (with a k) Ohio. Thanks for asking.

We are a not-for-profit, but to be frank, I believe conversations about commercial/non-profit/state subsidized/academic more appropriate to Arts Management discussions. From an artisitic pespective, "Give the audience what they want" may be true, but it's a dangerous game to play, because it can be easy to pander. First, a definition of "the audience" is necessary. If by audience we just mean "as many people as possible" that's one thing. But that's awfully broad. We have defined our audience much more narrowly. We deliberately restrict our audience to 40 people max. We have also not allowed our audience to define us. We do what we do and our audience has found us. If we suddenly put on "Noises Off" in order to put butts-in-seats and put a bunch of money in the bank for the "real" shows, we would be hypocites and offend our audience profoundly.
But as I said, those are (to me) Arts Management/Business Manager issues that don't really relate to the art and craft if theatre. Define what the art is that you intend to create and build your business model to support that.


message 43: by Ali (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Ali Good, fresh blood, fresh discussion, with so much happening in our group.
Welcome Joseph, this is amazing. Reading your short introduction I got excited, I just had a 5-6 min. look at your book list, with so many familiar names: Barker, Genet, Bech, Meyerhols, Artaud, Wedekingd … and the site, Akropolis Lab (is that the same company Grotowski stablished in US?). I must tell you that I know Brook and Grotowski from Tehran, back to early 1970’s, when Brook did Orgast and Grotowski with Calderon's The Constant Prince. Later on in 1980’s I met Richard Chishlac during his short visit of Oden Theatre and Eugenio Barba, just a few months before his tragic death, … well, seeing you around, looks like as I’ve met an old friend, …


message 44: by Joseph (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:50AM) (new)

Joseph | 12 comments Ali, old friend, it's a pleasure to meet you again for the first time.
I had the great fortune to be invited to work with Brook while he was in Seattle presenting his Hamlet. I would have loved to experience Orghast at Persepolis and have only seen the film of the Constant Prince. My direct experience with Grotowski was limited to his participation in the Objective Drama Program in '92. His health was already not good at the time.
Our company was formed in 2000 and is in homage to the Polish Lab Theatre, but was not established by Grotowski.
Peace.


message 45: by Daniel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:03PM) (new)

Daniel (danm) | 12 comments I've just joined goodreads and the first thing I did was look for a theatre group. Glad to find you all here!

I currently live in a small, rural, Midwestern town, but I've lived on both coasts and have worked in theatre everywhere I've been, including Broadway and Off-Broadway. I moved to rural America to bring up my children in the same kind of setting in which I grew up. But I've found that even here I can find good, strong, theatre. I'm currently the production manager at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN, and on a community theatre board of directors in my small town.


message 46: by Mojgan (last edited Jan 11, 2008 09:31AM) (new)

Mojgan Ghafari Shirvan (mshirvan) | 5 comments Mod
Hi Everyone:)

And, This is the lost moderator!!!!!
I'm sorry for my long long absence(from the day of establishing this group)!!!
But after all, Godot came back ....;)
I'm really sorry, but I was very busy by my M.A. thesis on Theatre Directing.
I am Mojgan Ghaffari Shirvan. I live in Iran/Tehran and I'm going to immigrate to England.
I studied B.A. of Theatre directing in Tehran University (Fine Arts) and then M.A. in Tarbiat Modarres university (both in Tehran).
before those, I was studying Electrical engineering in Tehran university but I dismissed it and I opened a new season in my life ...

after all, my M.A. thesis was about Tadeusz Kantor (The polish director) and Theatre of Death and for my practical thesis I performed Hamlet just with 2 actors (plus 7 Masks and a napkin which was shaped as a little doll!).
Now, I have graduated and I have some little works ...
for the Fadjr Theatre Festival of this year in Tehran, a short play of Tennessee Williams which is named "this property is condemned" with my Translation, will be performed and I'll be the director's assistant in it.

This was some about me, and again I'm sorry for the absence.


message 47: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 51 comments Oooooh, looky! A thread full of introductions! How'd I miss this before? Oy.

Name's Amanda.
Live in North Carolina (on the southeast coast of the USA for the information of those who aren't familiar with the geography).
I was a professional stage manager at several thatres in the US before "retiring" but am not ready to get back in the game.
My play-reading repertoire is sooooo short! I need to get on it.


Anyway, thought I'd do the "quick and dirty" intro even though I've been interacting with you peeps for months now!


message 48: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Hisey (dani12) | 6 comments So I haven't been incredibly vocal in this group as of yet, due to life just being so demanding. I live in Ohio, which can be a challenging place to engage in theatre, however Cleveland, Ohio is a thriving theatre city and I am currently involved in several shows there. I am looking for my next play to direct about an hour south of Cleveland in North Canton. This gets a little tricky because North Canton doesn't have a very large theatre loving population. My challenge is to find a play that would be suitable for a mid-size town rural Ohio as well as a theatre with a small handful of talented actors. Any suggestions?


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