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Showing posts from March 15, 2009

Celebrating American Theatre's 25th Anniversary

So I just got an email from TCG inviting me to "Gather 'round American Theatre's celebrity piano bar," with performances by the following line-up:

Laura Osnes Johnson, currently Nelly Forbush in South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theatre, winner of the role of "Sandy" on the televised Grease: You're the One that I Want! competition and Sandy in the 2007 Broadway run of Grease.Michael John LaChiusa, Tony Award-nominated American musical theatre composer, lyricist, and librettist best known for complex, musically challenging shows such as Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party, and See What I Wanna See. Marc Kudisch, seen this spring in the Joe Mantello-directed Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5w/ Allison Janney, Stephanie J. Block & Megan Hilty as Franklin Hart, Jr.Mary Testa, two-time Tony Award nominee, for performances in revivals of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town and 42nd Street.
Excuse me? Could somebody explain to me what in the world is in thi…

Samuel Mockbee: Educating Artists

I was listening to an old edition of NPR’s Speaking of Faith this evening on the way home. It was a wonderful episode called “An Architecture of Decency,” about the famous Rural Studio in Western Alabama. Included in the website for the program was an essay by Samuel Mockbee, the founder of the Rural Studio. IThis brings me to Auburn University’s Rural Studio. It had become clear to me that if architectural education was going to play any socially-engaged role, it would be necessary to work with the segment of the profession that would one day be in a position to make decisions: the student. The main purpose of the Rural Studio is to enable each student to step across the threshold of misconceived opinions and to design/build with a ‘moral sense’ of service to a community. It is my hope that the experience will help the student of architecture to be more sensitive to the power and promise of what they do, to be more concerned with the good effects of architecture than with ‘good inten…

Intriguing "All Things Considered" Story: Kutiman

When I was driving home from work Tuesday, I caught the All Things Considered story on the music producer Kutiman and his mash-ups created by layering together multiple YouTube videos. Here is a sample:


Now, I am aware that there is nothing new about mash-ups and sampling, but what interests me about this is that in all of the videos (and if you want to see more, go to his website: http://thru-you.com/) mash together the work of amateur artists, rather than sampling and manipulating the work of professionals. It is an example of an professional artist (Kutiman) using his skills to bring together and enhance the disparate talents of "normal folk."

I continue to be interested in a new role for the artist, one that is not only about self-expression or the creation of products to be sold to a passive consumer, but also is about facilitating the creativity of others, of using artistic talents to help magnify and amplify the creative talents of people who are not highly-trained spe…

The Wal-Marting of the American Theatre (Part 3): Taking the Stage

On the heels of Tom Loughlin's "The Ides of Theatre," which discusses the appalling high school musical competition in New Jersey, built to propogate the Myth of the Broadway Eden, comes this trailer from HBO, forwarded to me by Brian Santana, for a new show called Taking the Stage. As you watch this trailer, listen to the Wal-Mart rhetoric the promotes, without blinking, the idea that it just isn't good enough to be anywhere else except New York:

MTV Shows
This is just the kind of propaganda that must be fought. It isn't that these dreams should be squashed, but rather the idea that it is a sign of triumph to take your talents from your home town and pedal it in New York or Los Angeles. That to be an artist in Cincinnatti is somehow a failure, a sign of a lack of talent. And arts teachers in places like Cincinnatti School of Creative and Performing Arts, as well as arts schools across America, use this propaganda as an excuse to abuse students and turn them into u…

The Wal-Marting of American Theatre (Part 2)

I was a little puzzled by Leonard Jacobs' rejoinder ("From the Blogroll XI," scroll to the bottom) to my previous post "The Wal-Marting of American Theatre" (see below). Jacobs takes issue with the following line, which end my post: "And like the business leaders and legislators who promote Wal-Mart as an economic engine bringing jobs to depressed ares despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, theatre artists and educators who continue to promote this system are promoting a lie." Characterizing this sentence as a "sucker punch" and "facile anti-New York hogwash," he asserts that the "primacy...of Mew York theatre isn't a lie."

Jacobs is arguing against a point I wasn't making. Only a fool would assert that New York City isn't currently the dominant city of the American theatre, in the same way that Wal-Mart is the dominant retailer in America. What I am saying is that neither situation is good for American…