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Androboros Review. America’s First Play: Political, Satirical, Scatological

Androboros: Benjamin Strate, Caiti Lattimer, Roy Koshy, Hank Lin

Nearly everything about “Androboros” makes it sound like a must-see show.

It was America’s first published play, printed in 1714, yet there is no record it has ever been publicly performed until this production by the Peculiar Works Project.

The playwright, Robert Hunter, ruled as Governor of New York, and his play is reportedly rooted in stories that are true, bizarre and occasionally scatological.

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Christopher Columbus on Stage: from Satirical to Savage

Even on Columbus Day, Christopher Columbus has largely gone out of favor – in America, and on stage. The closest recent nod to Columbus on a New York stage was a character named Before Columbus in the recent revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World”

If that’s not the way it always was – the first play about Columbus goes back to the 1500’s (“El Nuevo de Mundo” by Lope de Vega); the first to be staged in America itself was in 1794 (“Columbus, or The Discovery of America. A Historical Play” by Thomas Morton) – yet even as far back as 1858, the theatrical treatment was far less than worshipful of the Italian explorer of the New World.

That’s the year that John Brougham is said to have toured a show (starting at the Boston Theatre) whose satirical intent is evident in its lengthy title: “Columbus el Filibustero!! A New and Audaciously Original Historica-Plagiaristic, Ante-National, Pre-Patriotic, and Omni-Local Confusion of Circumstances, Running Through Two Acts and Four Centuries”

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Google Celebrates West Side Story

“West Side Story” opened on Broadway on September 26, 1957. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture is presenting a virtual exhibition that explains its history, profiles its makers, assesses its impact, and showers us with imagery  (some of it digitized for the first time).The online collection was created in partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Below is a glimpse (Click on any photograph to read the captions supplied by Google.). Check out Google Arts and Culture’s whole West Side Story exhibition.

 

A 360-video of “Cool”, one of the most popular songs of the musical, performed at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY as part of Carnegie Hall’s, The Somewhere Project.

From Sarah Bernhardt to Meryl Streep: the new BAM Archives

Performances by Sarah Bernhardt, Martha Graham, and Meryl Streep; meetings about equal rights with Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass  in 1869; a lecture by Helen Keller in 1913.  These are among the  people and events chronicled in some 70,000 items now available in an online archives of The Brooklyn Academy of Music, starting with the cultural institution’s grand opening in 1861 attended by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

If BAM is now known primarily as a venue for avant-garde performance, its long history demonstrates the huge variety of uses over the years for its buildings in Brooklyn. Some 40,000 artists are searchable in the archives.

Check out the newly launched Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive

Click on any image below to see it enlarged and read the caption.

 

Happy World Theatre Day 2017 #WTD17

Today is World Theatre Day!  How will you be celebrating?

This year’s World Theatre Day  messages are from actress Isabelle Huppert and director Kwame Kwei-Armah

10 Facts about Theater

(via the Daily Express) 

1. Theatre as we know it began in ancient Greece with a religious ceremony called ‘dithyramb’ in which a chorus of men dressed in goat skins.

2. The word ‘tragedy’ comes from a Greek expression meaning ‘goat song’…

3. …and ‘theatre’ comes from a Greek verb meaning ‘to behold’.

4. Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet rather than clapping their hands to applaud.

5. World Theatre Day has been held on March 27 every year since 1962 when it was the opening day of the “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris.

6. The longest continuous dramatic performance was 23 hours 33 minutes 54 seconds, achieved by the 27 O’Clock Players in New Jersey, USA, on July 27, 2010.

7. They performed The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionescu, a play written in a continuous loop and said to be totally pointless and plotless.

8. According to Aristotle, the plot is the most important feature of a dramatic performance.

9. Walt Disney World, Florida, has a record 1.2 million costumes in its theatrical wardrobes.

10. The oldest play still in existence is The Persians by Aeschylus, written in 472 BC.

The World’s Most Beautiful Theaters

Take a look at some of the photographs in my Pinterest collection of the world’s most beautiful theaters.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

Broadway Originals of This Season’s Revivals

Below are scenes from the original productions of the 11 Broadway plays and musicals that are being revived, for the second, fifth, or 16th time, this season on Broadway.

Click on any photograph below to learn details of each show, organized more or less chronologically by the opening date of the original production.

For details on the revivals, check out Broadway 2016-2017 Preview Guide

Presidents, and #NotMyPresident, on Stage

Below is a photo essay of a century’s worth of stage depictions of American presidents.

One thing seems certain about the most uncertain presidency in U.S. history — Donald Trump will be depicted on stage. It’s already been happening. If the best-known caricature of him is on television, both Mike Daisey and Karen Finley  created theater pieces that revolved around Trump the candidate, and even Meryl Streep dressed up as him for a skit at last year’s Public Theater gala.

Today alone, Presidents Day has become #NotMyPresident Day, not just online but on stage, with anti-Trump performances in theaters throughout the nation, such as He’s Our President/He’s Our Problem at La MaMa. Surely some of these will include at least crude caricatures of the 45th president.

We soon will surely see more considered stage portrayals, likely to be satires akin to MacBird rather than “All The Way” (to pick two plays about 36th president LBJ, nearly 50 years apart.) — or “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” about the 7th president,  rather than, say, “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” the best-known of some dozen biographical dramas about the 16th president that have been on Broadway alone, starting with Benjamin Chapin’s Lincoln in 1906. Lincoln has been the subject of more Broadway plays than any other president by far, with George Washington a distant second — although Washington is among the three U.S. presidents (along with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) currently on the Great White Way in “Hamilton.”

But nearly every one of the 44 presidents has been portrayed on Broadway at one time or another. In 2010, James Monroe (the fifth president) was a character in three separate shows, none of them kind representations: He was an ineffectual character in A Free Man of Color,John Guare’s look at New Orleans in the early 1800’s; the butt of a semi-racy joke in Colin Quinn’s solo showng Story Short: A History of The World in 75 Minutes; and a lascivious fop in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. (In the latter, a rock musical about Jackson’s rise to power, Monroe at least fares better than Martin Van Buren, who is depicted as a two-faced conniver eating a Twinkie.)

Even more obscure presidents such as Rutherford B. Hayes have gotten their moments in the spotlight. Hayes and two other presidents were portrayed by Gene Wilder in “The White House,” a short-lived 1964 play by A. E. Hotchner that crammed in 24 of the presidents between John Adams and Woodrow Wilson.

In honor of Presidents Day, here is a collection of photographs of past presidents of the United States depicted on stage — all but two on Broadway — through the years. Click on any to see it enlarged and read the (sometimes extensive) captions.

 

 

In

In “Five Presidents,” a new play by Richard Cleveland not (yet?) on Broadway, five presidents pay their respects to Richard Nixon at his 1994 funeral. From left, Brit Whittle (Bill Clinton), Mark Jacoby (George H. W. Bush), Steve Sheridan (Ronald Reagan), Martin L’Herault (Jimmy Carter) and John Bolger (Gerald Ford).