Broadway at the Emmys. #Stageworthy News of the Week

Father-daughter Ron Cephas Jones and Jasmine Cephas Jones were among the several Broadway veterans to win trophies at the 72nd annual (and first socially distanced) Emmys, including Uzo Aduba, Laurence Fishburne, Eugene Levy, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Strong, and Tony winners Billy Crudup, Cicely Tyson, and Cherry Jones. Complete list of Emmy 2020 nominees and winners. See videos of Mark Ruffalo and Cherry Jones’ acceptance speeches below — as well as a commercial aired during the Emmys featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Billy Porter among others calling for more inclusion: “We are more than a splash of color on your white canvas,” Porter says.

The Week in Reviews and Previews

Miscast

Bulrusher

if Bulrusher the foundling has a mystical ability to foretell the future, “Bulrusher” the play is rooted in the past. Set in 1955, Eisa Davis’s play is threaded through with the racism, sexism, homophobia, economic decline and violence of the period, and the shame and self-hate that they produce…It was not inevitable that I would enjoy watching a two and a half hour Zoom play. But I did enjoy it.

The Black Emperor of Broadway (film)

In 1920, Eugene O’Neill turned a Black actor into a star by casting him as the lead in his play “The Emperor Jones” — and then fired him for having changed the script during performances to avoid repeating the racial slur that the playwright favored.

 

This Is Not My Memoir (book)

The Dada title fits. If the stories in the book about André Gregory’s parents feel improbable, like a child’s fantasy,   there are plenty of moments in his subsequent account of his adult life as an avant-garde director and occasional actor where the reader may be tempted to stop and ask: Is he putting us on?…“This Is Not My Memoir,” however, is more than just a collection of remarkable stories. It also chronicles Gregory’s theatrical career in such a way that we get a clear description of some landmark experimental theater – and not just his own — without the impenetrable jargon that often accompanies such accounts.

The Week in News

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Loved The Arts. Artists Respond to Her Death With Love, Fear, Anger and Action

Actors Equity partners with some 250 theaters in a letter to Congress
requesting an additional $9 billion in emergency funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)

Fall Season Announcements

The uncertainty facing theater in New York has made for some complicated, and sometimes confusing, announcements about Fall seasons. A few this past week:

Vineyard Theater’s 2020-2021 Season “will take place digitally, in person outside, and eventually, back in our theatre.” It will include Lessons in Survival,”mini-commissions,” and the return of Dana H. Keen Company has announced a season of audio theater. New York City Encores season will consist of “live productions when it’s safe to go live”  including The Life, adapted and directed by  Billy Porter;The Tap Dance Kid, directed Kenny Leon, adapted by Lydia Diamond; and
An Annual Celebration of Iconic American Musicals:a new tradition at City Center exploring the ways musical theater connects us across generations. In the meantime, a digital series talking about the shows will launch October 14.

New York Theatre Workshop announces seven of its “artistic instigator” projects in its 2020-21 season. First up is What the Hell is a Republic Anyway? written and performed by Denis O’Hare & Lisa Peterson in four parts, on September 22, October 6, October 20, and November 2. A new song cycle by Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby is set during the pandemic summers of 1920 and 2020. Also, “Trump Is Just the Name of His Story,” a new solo work from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced.Ayad Akhtar, although the dates are uncertain. (hopefully, before the election.)

Stage manager Cody Renard Richard has launched a  scholarship program for “the next generation of Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and People of Color theatre makers.”

West End theaters are restarting, even as UK Coronavirus Cases Rise:  “Six” will start an 11-week run at the Lyric Theater on the West End on Nov. 14.  Other British shows are already running.

British bloggers react to socially distanced theater: “It was wonderful and strange and made me realise how the pandemic has changed the experience,”

Looking to Past Pandemics to Determine the Future of Theater

Little is documented historically about the ways our earliest thespians navigated the pandemics that afflicted their societies, from the Plague of Athens in Ancient Greece, which surfaced in 430 B.C., with subsequent spikes in 428 and 426, to the Plague of Justinian during the Roman Empire, which began in 541 A.D. and lasted some 200 years. But in the relationship between ancient theater architecture and nature, one can discern in the Greco-Roman school of thought a particular interest in creating the conditions for a salubrious experience of drama, even though the concept of physical distancing was not recognized then, as it is now, as the most surefire means of preventing disease transmission. Instead, open-air theaters were meant to foster a connection between drama and the natural world…..As an extant example of a remote, outdoor theater flushed with fresh air, Epidaurus has become something of a touch point for theater producers, designers and historians looking to the past to find a way forward.

Rest in Peace

Tony Tanner, 88, Tony-nominated director and choreographer

 

Steve Carter, 90, one of many playwrights to emerge from the renowned Negro Ensemble Company in New York City, wrote  dramas and satires about the Black and Caribbean-American experiences.

The Week in Videos

Ben Brantley

Author: New York Theaterh

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

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