Theatre Bay Area Chatterbox

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time Out Critiques the NY Theatre Scene

Time Out New York's theatre editor, David Cote, just published his 9 wishes for the New York theatre scene in the upcoming season. Now, I realize we are in San Francisco, with the entire country separating us from that theatre mecca, but let's face it: what happens in New York disseminates all the way out here--and pretty quickly at that.

In his article, Cote tells theatres everything from "you need to expand" to "you need a new, young artistic director." I really can't comment on most of this stuff, not being a New York resident. That said, there are some things that I had a very strong reaction to. My breakdown:

-Cote recommends that the Public Theater expand, putting up more productions more consistently and including events like art exhibitions and parties to attract a younger audience. Translation: Spend money you don't have to do what every theatre in the country is trying to do. Why is it only the Public Theater he recommends this for, and where does he expect anyone to find the money for it in the recession?

-Cote issues a call to arms to the blogosphere, telling it to get more angry and more exciting. He wants to "generate heat." What I find interesting is that he nowhere mentions traditional media. What about asking the few remaining theatre critics to imbue their words with more passion? In Chicago at least, Chris Jones, the Chicago Tribune's theatre critic, is still a force to be reckoned with. In a recent issue of Theatre Bay Area, associate editor Sam Hurwitt wrote about blogs as a niche medium, having less of an ability to attract wide audiences than the general interest newspapers. The niches are already passionate enough; it's the mass populace that should be reading diatribes and "noise." I refuse to believe that traditional media is dead--not yet.

-What has proven (thus far) to be the most controversial of his points on the article's comment thread is his #7: Architects should build new theatres to replace the "musty...antique jewel boxes." Those musty antique jewel boxes have so much character, though. Broadway theatres, at least, are big. Big modern spaces have a tendency to appear cold and austere. While that may suit big business just fine, it will only detract from the vibrant performing arts. And there is so much history in those theatres. Theatre as an art is ephemeral; the spaces in which it is performed should not be. It is all we have to remember the great productions of yesteryear--at least in the absence of archival video.

-Finally, Cote bemoans the sorry state of new pop-infused musical scores. He longs for lush orchestration and complexity. There is a whole school of composers producing invigorating and challenging work today, like Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, and Jason Robert Brown. It's not the music that's the problem, here, I think. It's the lack of originality in new musical books. Everything these days is an adaptation, a cash cow meant to capitalize on a franchise. We certainly do need more Next to Normals and fewer Legally Blondes, to use Cote's example, but the music is not the primary offender. Often, these big-budget knockoffs are written by very talented composers, but there's only so much you can do with something that's so blatantly profit-driven and pandering.

Take a look at the article and let me know what you think. What would you recommend for Bay Area theatre? Let's chat.

Image from blogwaybaby.com/mt/mt-search.cgi?tag=Writing.

Labels: ,

26 Comments:

At July 27, 2009 at 5:20 PM , Blogger Christian Cagigal said...

1) Stop trying to chase the young with parties and start getting them to show up for shows that actually have something to do with them and their lives...(this applies to the 15 to 40 set. And, in SF that means producing more playwrights writing about their lives in the Bay Area. We could use more local pride.)

2)Yes even here we could use more support of the independent theatre scene from AEA. Not saying that actors should be protected from independent producers too, but who protects the indy artist trying to make art?

3)yeah I guess sounds good

4)THAT'S NOT WHAT A FRINGE IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!! If you want THAT get another festival!!! (although I thought NY Fringe WAS curated...)

5)yeah sounds fun

6)yes

7)He didn't say tear down the jewel boxes, he just said make new spaces. One's that can adapt and change to new forms an ideas that probably haven't been developed enough because there's only so far certain ideas can go in a tradtional big proscenium house. No harm in giving 21 Century ideas a better home to flourish in.

8)sure

9)No, the music is still bad. Pretty contrived. But yes, the books aren't much better either (although I actually think "Blonde" is rather clever and smart in it's musical form.)

Big commercial theatre could use a pair of .... (ya know) when it comes down to not only it's music, books but also staging (more than just special effects) and oh a decent try and non-homogenous casting. But, that's always very commercial is it....

But, hey we got West Side, Heights and Lion King, that's enough right...............?

 
At July 28, 2009 at 4:41 PM , Blogger PianoFight said...

"Spend money you don't have to do what every theatre in the country is trying to do."

It doesn't cost any money to invite performers and audience to hang in the space after a show and mingle. And to go along with Christian's comment above, he is dead on - producing work by and for a younger audience will bring that audience, not another gala for a Shakespeare opening.

"What about asking the few remaining theatre critics to imbue their words with more passion?"

I don't believe this is his point - that critics should use a more vital vocabulary. I think what he's talking about is an idea that's been kicked around on Chatterbox and the PianoFight blog that the conversation needs to extend past criticism/promotion of specific shows/festivals/companies and take a more long form look at the industry as a whole. Outside of this blog, Arts Journal, and Chloe Veltman's occasionally, theater blogging has almost entirely followed traditional media's model - critique a show - and hasn't shown much innovation in terms of broadening the discussion, calling out bonehead moves/shows/standards, or providing insight into theater that is unavailable in newspapers. Ultimately, I agree with you in that the responsibility to innovate theatrical criticism lies both with trad media and bloggers.

It's an interesting article and thanks for pointing it out Sabrina - all I can really say is that theater is in dire need or more articles like this.

 
At July 29, 2009 at 10:35 AM , Blogger Sabrina Lazarus said...

Hi, all. Thanks for your comments.

In terms of the way to attract younger audiences, I think new programming that is relevant is excellent and necessary, of course. But I also don't think it's enough. Speaking as a young person myself, the people my age who enjoy theatre already go (thanks in large part to generous student discounts). But if you're trying to attract the person without a social support group for theatre attendance, who has never sat through a live performance willingly in their lives, they're not even going to find out about that innovative, relevant programming without some sort of universally-attractive event to market it BEFORE it starts. Parties get young people, at least if they're well-advertised, to a theatre without it FEELING like the theatre. Once there, they can see just how exciting and relevant the theatre can be in their lives. Programming and special events like parties need to work in conjunction to universalize theatre's appeal. And they can't just happen after a production with the audience that already came. Parties like that cost money, though--less than a production, but some nonetheless. You need food and drinks, and people are usually willing to pay only so much, and you probably would need to pay your staff overtime to attend the event and schmooze with everyone. That's why many theatres wait until they get grant money to develop this kind of aggressive outreach programming. And it's also why the events I believe Cote is discussing in his article are not very tenable right now, at least not if they will be effective in growing the audience.

In terms of the "jewel boxes," Cote may not be saying tear them down, but he is criticizing their relevance, and I think, were a shift to modern theatres happen on a wide enough scale, tearing down those historic theatres would be unavoidable. If we need to update these old theatres to make 21st-century theatrical design work inside them, we can renovate. But I think their preservation is important. If we didn't tear down those old theatres, where do you think the new theatres Cote advocates would go? In New York, at least, there's not really room to build--at least not in the theatre district. We barely fill the theatres we have around Times Square, so I don't think adding more would help the theatre industry's economic situation. Thus, not tearing down jewel boxes and buildng out modern space would just mean more dark theatres in what should be the most vital theatre landscape in the country. And that's not what the public should see.

Finally, with regard to trad media vs. blogs, my point is that traditional media is where the theatrical critique, both of production and of the industry, needs to happen, not the blogosphere. It won't have enough impact without the credibility of an institutional name and the wider reach of traditional media. Blogs in theory are accessible by anyone, but they need to be actively looked for. We would end up preaching to the choir instead of to those who need to hear it. I applaud TimeOut NY for starting that conversation on a traditional media stage, but I think the encouragement to get more vocal is misdirected. Theatre critics know the industry, they have voices the people trust, and thus they need to be the ones writing articles like Cote's.

Thanks again for your comments and feel free to respond.

 
At July 31, 2009 at 9:11 AM , Blogger Carl Benson said...

Some quick thoughts/suggestions:

1) Parties

Before PianoFight's first show, "Roommate Wanted," we threw a party at a pub in North Beach which had agreed to allow our cast to tend bar and the tips would go to a charity of our choosing (we didn't get a cut of bar revenue, but the tips came out to a few hundred dollars). Two great things happened - first, we made money that night (the charity of our choosing was our show) and second, basically everyone who came to the bar, ended up coming to the show. It was pretty easy to convince people to come to a bar, then, once they'd had a blast there, also convince them to come have a blast at the show.

Also, "You probably would need to pay your staff overtime to attend the event and schmooze with everyone." If you need to pay your people to go to a party, it must be a pretty shitty party.

2) Venues

One thing I would like to see are more theaters going up in non-traditional venues ... for example, our space, Off-Market, is on the second floor of an office building. Shotgun Players started in a pizza parlor. The Next Stage is in a church. What works, I think, about venues like these, is a certain sense of informality which ultimately lowers the access point of the art. The art is just as good as any big ole "jewel box," but much less stuffy and hoighty toighty (sp?).

3) Bloggos

If you look at news media, over the last few years the blogs have really begun dictating the hot topic of the day. Some story catches fire on HuffPo, Politico and DailyKos and suddenly the NY Times and NBC Nightly News are picking up that story. You're absolutely right that traditional media needs to step up it's theater criticism, and how we get them to do that is by blogging like hell, getting the word out, and providing a service that the papers have neglected, or, more basically, by doing exactly what you do here on Chatterbox. The more posts like this that you and others write, the more people that read those posts and get involved in the discussion, the sooner those traditional media outlets will stop neglecting this vibrant and vital slice of culture.

 
At February 14, 2018 at 11:13 PM , Blogger britanta said...

NY's theatres are very impressively designed and well maintained. Whenever a new movie releases then all NY's theatres becomes house full. I also would like to watch a movie in NY. Please inform me whenever a new movie is going to release.

Zohomail Customer Service

 
At April 30, 2018 at 6:04 AM , Blogger Richard Majece said...

I used to do a lot of homework in college. I must tell that https://domyhomework.guru/blog/how-to-focus-on-homework helped me a lot when I couldn't focus on it.

 
At May 31, 2018 at 8:55 PM , Blogger Xinda 1987 said...

2、
coach outlet

christian louboutin

nike outlet

cheap jordans

fitflops sale clearance

reebok outlet store

golden goose

fitflops clearance

birkenstock outlet

golden goose sneakers

 
At June 13, 2018 at 2:48 AM , Blogger Sophia Lawrence said...

The theater is everything! It really is! At the point when Shakespeare stated, "every one of the universes a phase" he couldn't have been more exact! For me theater is home! It is me in my most natural and normal state! I feel quieter, more joyful, and more excellent in front of an audience! Put me there and nothing can contact me. I can't clarify it... there is something supernatural about theater. It has the ability to truly take a group of people of individuals into whenever or put on the planet. That is unfathomable.

Regards: Cheap Essay Writers UK

 
At June 28, 2018 at 4:08 AM , Blogger jaastark said...

great post thanks for sharing this wonderful post
tutuapp apk
tutuapp latest version
tutuapp for ios
tutuapp alternative
tutuapp for mac
tutuapp download
tutuapp for iphone
tutu helper
tutuapp
tutuapp for android
tutuapp web
tutuapp for blackberry
tutuapp for pc
tutuapp mod apk
tutuapp windows
tutu helper free
best tutuapp alternative
tutuapp apk download
tutuapp for pc
tutuapp for ios
tutuapp for ios 11
tutuapp for android
tutuapp alternative
tutuapp vip
tutu helper
tutu helper vip

 
At August 29, 2018 at 5:33 AM , Blogger Alex daina said...

Starting today, just a couple of banks are putting forth online check getting the money for administrations to general clients. The equipment required for online check liquidating exchanges is likewise very costly. aaa1autotitleloans.com/chicago

 
At September 8, 2018 at 10:40 AM , Blogger Alishia Sergi said...

Much obliged to you for some other instructive site. The spot else might just I get that sort of data written in such a flawless strategy? I have an endeavor that I am basically now running on, and I’ve been at the look out for such information.

wedding anniversary wishes for son and daughter in law

 
At December 28, 2018 at 2:00 AM , Blogger Emma Roe said...

Are you looking for the best school for your kids? Take a look at one of this https://essaydragon.com/blog/unique-schools. They are truly deserve your attention!

 
At December 31, 2018 at 6:50 AM , Blogger kinemasterpc said...

KineMaster apk download
KineMaster for pc
KineMaster for mac
KineMaster for ios
KineMaster pro apk
Free fire for pc
Free fire for ios
Free fire for mac

 
At February 25, 2019 at 11:17 PM , Blogger dymocksbuilding said...

Visit most unique and Wedding Rings Sydney. At The Dymocks Building, we have 120 outstanding stores including hairdresser, wedding stores, health & beauty. Contact for further info: 02 9224 0444

 
At February 25, 2019 at 11:20 PM , Blogger Hashems said...

Looking for best online Middle Eastern Spices for quality products? Hashems Roastery & Market are a well known Arabic food store which fulfill your finest grocery needs. It is one of the famous and foremost sellers of mixed spices, falafel, baklava, coffee and kebbah. Browse us to know more!

 
At February 25, 2019 at 11:28 PM , Blogger Outdoor Limited said...

Outdoor Limited brought largest inventory collection of cheap ammo for Rifle, Pistol, handgun and Shotguns. Shop 9mm Ammo manufactured by top branded manufacturers such as Winchester, Tula, Aguila and many more others.Visit us now!

 
At February 26, 2019 at 1:44 AM , Blogger Hashems said...

High Quality Sumac For Sale:-
Buy the highest quality organic Sumac Berries from Hashem's. Hashems Roastery & Market is a Middle Eastern food store serving the finest quality speciality foods, authentic Arabic foods, fresh roasted nuts and coffee on daily basis since 1959. We provide you best mixed spices such as seven spice, kebbeh and falafel and many more.

 
At February 26, 2019 at 9:06 PM , Blogger countrywidesports said...

Shop for best quality wholesale Shooter Supplies? Countrywide Sports the shooting store is one of the best store for wholesale ammunition.We stock top brand supply of ammunition for wholesale. We offer great deals on wholesale ammo for rifle, handgun, shotgun & rimfire ammo to satisfy all your customer needs.

 
At March 1, 2019 at 3:10 AM , Blogger Hashems said...

Discover the best Baklava and all Turkish Coffee & Desserts. Browse Hashems Roastery & Market, we specialize in Baklava, Spices and fresh roasted nuts and coffee from around the world. We always committed to our customers for giving top quality products and services. Our goal is customer satisfaction. We also offer you free shipping on orders over $59.

 
At May 5, 2019 at 10:34 PM , Blogger Cheapamos said...

Get best deals on 9mm. Browse cheapammos and get huge collection of top branded ammunition. We are leading online ammo store to provide calibers at affordable price. Top branded ammo available for handguns ammo, rifles ammo, shotgun ammo & Rimfire ammo.

We are also registered as ammo Retailers listed on Bulk Cheap Ammo. Compare our deals on all ammunition and cheap ammo deals. Here you get top branded ammo such as: 223 ammo, 300 Blackout ammo, 45-70 ammo, 22 hornet, 5.56 ammo and more from top retailers. Get best offers and fast shipping visit our website now!

 
At May 6, 2019 at 10:52 PM , Blogger Cheapamos said...

Looking for top branded 10mm ammo at best price. Browse Cheapammos, we have an amazingly deals on popular caliber including; 308 ammo, 380 Ammo, 458 socom ammo, 9mm ammo, 223 ammo, and many more.

 
At May 11, 2019 at 2:07 AM , Blogger Gclub-Royal1688 said...

Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, thanks.
โปรโมชั่นGclub ของทางทีมงานตอนนี้แจกฟรีโบนัส 50%
เพียงแค่คุณสมัคร Gclub กับทางทีมงานของเราเพียงเท่านั้น
ร่วมมาเป็นส่วนหนึ่งกับเว็บไซต์คาสิโนออนไลน์ของเราได้เลยค่ะ
สมัครสล็อตออนไลน์ >>> goldenslot
สนใจร่วมลงทุนกับเรา สมัครเอเย่น Gclub คลิ๊กได้เลย

 
At May 11, 2019 at 2:34 AM , Blogger Gclub45 said...


Here is a good Weblog You might Come across Fascinating that we Encourage Youเว็บไซต์คาสิโนออนไลน์ที่ได้คุณภาพอับดับ 1 ของประเทศ
เป็นเว็บไซต์การพนันออนไลน์ที่มีคนมา สมัคร Gclub Royal1688
และยังมีหวยให้คุณได้เล่น สมัครหวยออนไลน์ ได้เลย
สมัครสมาชิกที่นี่ >>> Gclub Royal1688
ร่วมลงทุนสมัครเอเย่นคาสิโนกับทีมงานของเราได้เลย

 
At June 17, 2019 at 12:30 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

https://www.gergstore.com
Gergstore
Gergstore - Online Shopping India

https://www.goldenerasoftware.com
Golden Era Software Solutions

https://uthhan.gergstore.com
Buy handicrafts online in India

 
At September 3, 2019 at 6:38 PM , Blogger hana said...

The information you have provided us is very valuable. fnaf sister location

 
At November 8, 2019 at 5:07 AM , Blogger jacklinemelda said...

Rather than risking failure, you should consider hiring Custom Paper Writing Services and Online Term Papers Writing help provider that will save you a lot of time to complete Custom Research Papers.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home