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#Stageworthy News: Divas and Feminists. Race and Gender of Broadway Audiences And Theater Authors.

Currently on New York stages are several shows starring beloved actresses that offer decidedly different takes on the role of women in society (see reviews below):
Two reports released this past week also offered a glimpse into women’s role in the theater: as part of the Broadway audience (still the vast majority), and behind-the-scenes (still under-represented.)

Test run: I’m renaming this weekly summary of New York theater news #Stageworthy. Have news that belongs here? Tweet it using that hashtag.

Week in NY Theater Reviews and Previews

Mother of the Maid

Genghis Khan had a mother; so did Amelia Earhart and Dwight Eisenhower. Perhaps Mother of the Maid, starring Glenn Close as the woman whom Joan of Arc called Ma, will start a trend of offering the maternal perspective on historical figures. It should: Jane Anderson’s play, in a wonderfully acted production at the Public Theater, is amusing, moving, incongruous, just plain odd and riveting. What may be most fascinating about it is that, as improbable as many of the scenes may appear, the play is rooted in the historical record.

Gloria A Life

Gloria Steinem herself came out in the last twenty minutes of Gloria: A Lifeto lead the “talking circle,” an unscripted conversation with the audience. This was the officially designated Act II of a moving, enlightening and inspiring show whose 100-minute Act I starred Christine Lahti in Emily Mann’s script about the life and work of the famous feminist, journalist, activist, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and one-time Playboy Bunny.

The presence of this Act II helps drive home how beside the point it would be to assess Gloria as if it were a conventional bio-drama. It isn’t. It’s half storytelling, half consciousness-raising — a support group in trying times. “Social justice movements start with people sitting in a circle, like this,” Lahti says at the outset, indicating the in-the-round stadium seating.

Apologia

In this well-acted, finely directed Off-Broadway production of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s 2009 play,  Stockard Channing portrays Kristin Miller, a long-time activist,  American expatriate and noted art historian who has entitled her recently published memoir Apologia.

But her two sons (both impressively portrayed by Hugh Dancy)  feel she owes them an apology. They see her as having abandoned them when they were children…Some breathtaking monologues compensate for the antiquated insinuation that political or professional commitment may be incompatible with motherhood.

There Has Possibly Been An Incident

A man stands in front of the army tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests. A woman helps topple a dictator, with surprising results. A man tries to rescue a child in a plane crash. Another man shoots and kills a group of children, in what he considers – just as much as the other actions — an act of  heroism.

These are the stories that three actors tell, in an unorthodox and largely self-defeating way, in “There Has Possibly Been An Incident,” an experimental theater piece written by Chris Thorpe presented as part of the New York Fringe Festival

Fireflies

The Rev. Charles Emmanuel Grace, a hero of the Civil Rights Movement, and his pregnant wife Olivia, who writes his stirring sermons for him, seem to find great joy in one another when he lifts her up in the air for an embrace near the beginning of “Fireflies.” In this play by Donja R. Love, the two characters actually have little reason to be happy…But for all the pile-up of sorrows for the characters, audiences themselves can find some joy in the production of “Fireflies” at Atlantic Theater directed by Saheem Ali,  thanks to the lyrical design and especially to the splendid performances by Khris Davis as Charles and DeWanda Wise as Olivia.

Renascence

Can good poets make good musicals? A preview of “Renascence,” a musical in which composer Carmel Dean sets to music the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The Week in New York Theater News

Who makes up the Broadway audience?

The majority of the 13.8 million admissions in the 2017-2018 season were female, white, tourists, and rich, according to the Broadway League’s newly released survey on the demographics of the Broadway audience.

Several reactions:

Theater critic and statistician Russell Warnes points out that the Broadway audiences are aren’t quite as rich as the Broadway League has reported.


The Count 2, a report from the Dramatists Guild and the Lilly Awards, looks at changes in the last three years (since The Count 1 ) in the demographics of the playwrights getting produced in non-profit theaters throughout the United States, including New York

Date for 73rd Annual Tony Awards: Sunday, June 9th. (8 to 11 pm) broadcast by CBS live from Radio City Music Hall

Administration committee of the Tony Awards met for the first time. Most significant ruling: Head Over Heels projection designer Andrew Lazarow will be jointly eligible with its set designer Julian Crouch for Best Scenic Design for a Musical. (There’s no projection design Tony–yet)

Smokey Joes Care will close Sunday, November 4, 2018, having played 20 previews and 121 performances

 

Jerome Robbins, dancer, choreographer, director, producer — seminal figure in American theater — was born on October 11, 1918. (He died in 1998.) Watch selected television broadcasts of Robbins at Paley Center, November 4, 11, and 18, free and open to the public.

In keeping with the newly found respect in the theater community for the Roma people, the Gypsy of the Year’ competition, an annual event over the past three decades that raises funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS,  will be renamed ‘Red Bucket Follies’

 

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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