Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Little Matter of a Conjunctive

At the end of her otherwise sympathetic review of Stopping Traffic, NYT critic Anita Gates writes:

"This is a show with a message (the need for openness about mental illness), but it's an entertaining, endearing one as well."

Is anyone else bothered by that three-letter conjunctive and all that it implies?

Friday, June 09, 2006

On Neil Labute

Ben Brantley, in his review of Neil Labute's latest play Some Girl(s), beautifully distills what I find so distasteful about Neil Labute:

"As both dramatist ("Fat Pig") and filmmaker ("In the Company of Men"), Mr. LaBute has built a prolific career on vivisecting the unfair sex, with clinically contemptuous works that put the human male under a microscope and watch the little sucker squirm. Both moralistic and voyeuristic, his plays and movies seem always to be writhing in some ecstasy of self-flagellation, whispering all the while, "Oh, guys, we're bad, bad, bad — jerks, lowlife, pond scum." If there is masochism in the implicit litany, there is self-stroking smugness as well."

Labute is deeply dishonest -- as Brantley says, moralistic AND voyeuristic, masochistic AND smug. His is the glee of the elementary school thug who gleefully shouts at the girls, "Wanna see something gross?" Pathetic.

Eduardo Machado

Over at Parabasis (see bloglist), Isaac has published Eduardo Machado's impassioned speech at ART/NY a couple nights ago. George Hunka, who undoubtedly will respond more fully, has published his initial response that the speech is "much heat and little ligh" and after an initial reading, I see his point. It is a speech filled with angry questions and frustration. I guess there are times, though, when heat is more important than light. We need people to thrash around, to cause a stink, to shake things up within the theatre. We seem to have lost our sense of passion, and of fight -- the kind of passion that Harold Clurman had when night after night he exhorted the members of the Group Theatre to create a truly American theatre.

As I say, I've only read it through once, and quickly. I know that there are things in it that I disagree with, and I will probably quibble with him later. But they will be quibbles. My support will be for his willingness to get riled up.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Personal Relationships, One At a Time

An intriguing article from Minnesota Public Radio called Making Arts Accessible to the Poor: Involve the Neighborhood (which is also linked at ArtsJournal.com). An interesting approach to audience development, as well as connecting to a younger audience. The Pillsbury House Theatre, which "traces its roots to Minneapolis' Bethel Settlement, one of 400 settlement houses established across the nation around the turn of the 20th century to improve living conditions in city slums," teams up a professional actor with a neighborhood kid to do a skit, which is then performed in front of -- well, everybody! "Noel Raymond, the project's co-artistic managing director, says once neighborhood kids have seen theater or been involved in theater, they want to do it again and again. After working for years in the same neighborhood, Raymond says she's learned that the best way to get people to see a show is by building personal relationships, one at a time." [emphasis mine]

Personal relationships with the audience, one at a time -- this is the way theatre will grow in the future. Not more newspaper advertising -- personal relationships, one at a time.

There are other interesting articles focused on making arts accessible to the poor:
Remove the Obstacles and Respect the Audience -- all three of these articles together offer an intriguing way of thinking about theatre and its relationship to audiences that might not be the usual focus...