Politically, the October surprises have been piling up in a way that seems to crowd out everything else. But at such a time, the arts are not irrelevant; they are a necessity.
That helps explain why theater has been returning live and in person, “cautiously, with six-inch cotton swabs and four-gallon drums of hand sanitizer… — on the side of a cliff in Cornwall, England; on stoops in Montreal; even, in a few cases, in New York.” The New York cases include Billie Holiday Theater’s “12 Angry Men … and Women: The Weight of the Wait,” Invisible Dog’s avant-garde “Static Apnea,” and the odd hybrid “Broadway at the Drive-In” at Radial Park, a drive-in theater in Astoria, Queens that is presenting the movie of “Phantom of the Opera” accompanied by live musical numbers with an orchestra and Broadway veterans Derrick Davis and Ali Ewoldt.
It also includes Food for Thought’s matinees, presented once a month since July. I attended the one this month at Theatre 80 entitled “Different Shades of Comedy,” — and if it didn’t make me as ecstatic as other deprived critics have been after their first in-person performance in more than six months, as I write in my review, it did momentarily relieve my Zoom and room and especially doom fatigue.
There is more coming up, in a month admittedly dominated by the new normal of theater — which is to say online.
This Friday, October 9 is the last day to register to vote in New York. To register, or learn more, visit \ I Will Vote
Theater artists have stepped up their political activity. After the president told the violent, right-wing group Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by” at the debate, George Takei was one of many to respond:
Brad and I are #ProudBoys, legally married for 12 years now. And we’re proud of all of the gay folks who have stepped up to reclaim our pride in this campaign. Our community and allies answered hate with love, and what could be better than that. pic.twitter.com/GRtSH1ijQ8
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 4, 2020
Week in Reviews
Week in Theater News
The House voted Thursday to approve the revised Heroes Act, which contains a provision to help the Broadway industry. The Senate, however, is unlikely to pass the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.
A look back at two exemplary college productions on Zoom– The Method Gun from Wesleyan students and Caryl Churchill’s Mad Forest from Bard
“Plays that explore broken institutions, social unrest, and isolation may be uniquely suited to the Zoom platform with its fractured screen of boxes and its disruptive glitches, hiccups, and delays.” (I thought this too about Mad Forest. My review )
“The Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn will spearhead The Black Seed, a strategic plan that will offer grants to up to 50 Black-led theaters across the country….backed by a $5 million lead gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ”
Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC) released its latest Visibility report on racial representation in New York theater. Among its findings for the 2017-2018 season.
Most Diverse non-profit theaters
Ars Nova Theatre
New York Theatre Workshop
The Public Theater
Least Diverse non-profit theaters
Irish Repertory Theatre
Roundabout Theatre Company
The New Group
At 61.5 % of available roles across the industry, White actors continue to be the only race to overrepresent by almost double their respective population size in NYC. Black actors represented at 23.2%, Asian American actors 6.9%, Latinx actors 6.1%, MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) actors 2% and Indigenous Actors 0.2%.
White actors occupied almost 2/3rds or 66.4% of available roles on Broadway.At 60.1%, the non-profit stages were only marginally more diverse.
Only 20% of all available roles in the industry were inclusively cast (cast without regard to race or where race was not germane to the role). Asian American actors were the group least likely to be cast without regard to race.
This sounds so fabulous. Why do we have to wait til December!https://t.co/mlFZujPH0O
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 2, 2020
Rest in Peace
Murray Schisgal, 93, Tony-nominated playwright (“Luv”) and screenwriter (“Tootsie”) with a comic touch.
Armelia McQueen, 68, Broadway veteran of Ain’t Misbehavin’
Thomas Jefferson Byrd, 70, a favored Spike Lee screen actor who was also nominated for a Tony in his Broadway debut in the 2003 revival of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” starring Whoopi Goldberg. Atlanta police found him today shot to death.
Egon sketched this drawing of his dying Edith Schiele as he lay dying himself – both from the pandemic of 1918
Week in Videos
First Debate – Saturday Night Live
Voting—A Special Dispatch from Oz | WICKED
Hear Our Voices: Viva Broadway! (expired 10/5)
The Party Hop
How I Miss Broadway
Hillary Clinton, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Danielle Brooks and Jessie Mueller
Is it okay to be thinking about and talking about art now? @HillaryClinton : It’s more than okay. I think it’s necessary. Art is not a luxury. It is a necessity to feed the human spirit, and mind, pic.twitter.com/BcB9f1yPTZ
— New York Theater (@NewYorkTheater) October 1, 2020