Thursday, May 27, 2010

What I wanna see

Sorry I've been dormant for a while, but I imagine if you read this page regularly you must be used to it by now.

I was out of town for a long weekend to celebrate my grandmother's 100th birthday. She is still going strong and will not put up with your foolishness.

So just to get things up to date, here's a short list of things on the boards I'm curious about. If I get to even a couple of these shows I'll be impressed with myself.

3 Truths, by Naomi Iizuka

The Arsonists, by Max Frisch at the Odyssey

The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl, also at the Odyssey

boom, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb at Furious Theatre in Pasadena

Chasing Monsters, by Gabriel Rivas Gomez, a Company of Angels show going up at Son of Semele

King Lear at Antaeus

Small Craft Warnings, by Tennessee Williams, somewhere in West Hollywood

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Benefit for Blood Red Lost Head Dead Falcon: The Nibelungen

Go check this event out at Bootleg Theater on Saturday, May 22. It's in support of the new play, Blood Red Lost Head Dead Falcon:The Nibelungen, written by friend of FWL, Aaron Henne.

collision/theory PRESENTS A BENEFIT FOR

2220 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057
**Park at the Praise Christian Church across the street**



DOORS @ 10:30 PM
BANDS @ 11:00 PM

EL- Haru Kuroi 11PM

Distorted Pony 11:45 PM

Totimoshi 12:30 AM

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Make sure and get to

The Twentieth Century Way at Boston Court. It's well worth it. Read more about it here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not that anyone else

really needs to talk about the whole Ramin Setoodeh Newsweek gays-playing-straights article. But....

Aaron Sorkin's Huffington Post column about the whole dust-up is a new take. I like this paragraph the best:
An actor, no matter which sex they're attracted to, can't "play" gay or "play" straight. Gay and straight aren't actable things. You can act effeminate and you can act macho (though macho usually ends up reading as gay), but an actor can't play gay or straight anymore than they can play Catholic. The most disturbing thing to me about this episode is that the theater critic for Newsweek didn't know that. Of COURSE gay actors can play straight characters -- it's impossible to believe that Mr. Setoodeh would prefer if Ian McKellen would stop doing King Lear.
Playgoer points out that this guy isn't really even a theater critic, but more like a pop culture writer or something to that extent. Setoodeh's defenses don't really make any sense, either. It'd be nice if he'd just say, "Sorry folks, I wrote a dumb article. I should've made it clearer that I was talking more about public personas getting in the way of performances," but we can't really expect a critic to apologize for writing something dumb, can we?

The only thing I have to add is that I knew just by seeing him in Taking Woodstock that Jonathan Groff is a serious actor and deserves to be treated with all the seriousness as his straight co-star in that film, Liev Schreiber, or his straight co-star in Glee, Matthew Morrison. I think he's darling in Glee; my only wish is that they give him more to do on the show. I hope he sticks around, and I hope he has a long career and I get to see as much of it as possible.

And if it means anything, Katie Baker wrote for a Newsweek blog last August that "he's among the most memorable and electrifying ingénues in the theater today." I suppose we'll have to forgive the oddly feminizing description of him as an "ingénue" -- I doubt Liev Schreiber was ever described as such -- but the rest of her article is genuinely admiring. Read it here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A friend of

Frank's Wild Lunch, Johnna Adams, gets the Adam Szymkowicz treatment, with a very nice interview. Check it out here. She's a recent transplant from Orange County to NYC, and has some thoughtful insights into the difference between west coast and east coast writers (in the professional sense).

There are a couple

of good conversations going on in the comments of Bitter Lemons. They both revolve around this guy who writes at LA Theatre Review and calls himself Addison DeWitt. Lemons has banned him until he comes out from behind his campy cloak of anonymity, which gets folks going about the nature of anonymous posting on the net. Check that out here.

Sidenote, I'm using male pronouns since DeWitt's chosen a male name for his persona; for all we know the writer could be female, which makes a nice segue into....

The other convo appears to have wrapped up, but it's the one I find the most interesting. It's based on a previous Addison DeWitt column, about how he is sick of your gender blind bullshit. Here's Lemons' post.

DeWitt's column is precious and irritating (much like his namesake), driven largely by a suspicion that a sort of guilty liberal anxiety about equitable casting is driving the decision-making. DeWitt also suggests that he finds the thematic exploration of gender to be academic, more appropriate for a "doctoral thesis." To that assertion I'd reply, "ask any young person in middle-America who doesn't easily conform to gender norms if he or she finds his or her experiences to be academic and get back to me." If I'm taking this a little personally, it's because I'm contemplating going gender-bent with one or two characters in a family play I've been working on, and with very specific, hopefully visceral, emotional (even a little comic) intention. I can't help but bristle at his line of thinking here.

Things open up in the comments, though; it seems the bulk of the conversation veers more towards taking issue with directors messing around with plays by using non-traditional casting (particularly from the playwrights chiming in). What really strikes me is the idea that gender blind casting should be seen as an affront to the play and/or the playwright. That seems a bit reactionary, but then I also don't go into a play with gender-blind casting and automatically wonder why the hell they had to go and screw everything up by doing something like that. I usually just go with it, marveling at the ones who do a good job of passing and getting crabby about those who don't, but doing my best to suspend disbelief in order to engage with the play.

And as for my writing, I can't say I'd be thrilled with gender blind casting of all my plays, but I've had some experiences where I would gladly take an actor of ANY gender, age, race, etc., who actually said the lines I wrote rather than piss-poor paraphrases and/or waited to get high until after the rehearsal was over.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

No more theatre at UCLA Live

For the time being, anyway. So says Steven Leigh Morris at Stage Raw. See below:
After more than a decade of the region's premier international theater programming, that has brought to UCLA's stages choral theater from Poland to the Royal Shakespeare Company and Sir Ian McKellen to Russian clowns, the Chancellor's office is eliminating all theater from upcoming UCLA Live programming.

UCLA Live's Director, David Sefton, blamed the cuts on "the climate here given everything that's going on with the State of California. They're basically eliminating anything that looks like risk. We had reduced the content of the festival to make it a cheaper year, but they want no risk - when the performing arts is a risk-laden business."

"Theater is the most expensive form [of the arts presented by UCLA Live]," Sefton added.

Dance, music and the lectures series remain intact. "What they've done is cut everything related to theater," Sefton explained.
That's too bad, even if I haven't seen a UCLA Live show in a couple of years. Still, I'm glad they're not cutting everything. I mean, you can never get too much of David Sedaris, right?

The whole article is here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Theatre Talk

with James Taylor is no more, according to KCRW and the LATimes. I was rarely a fan of the segment, and wrote about it here, but I wouldn't have minded him sticking around and striving for more immediacy and greater relevance. Instead it looks like they gave him the boot in favor of someone they think will bring that to the party. See below:
Exit another theater critic, enter a theater insider. Those are the stage directions coming from KCRW-FM (89.9). The Santa Monica-based public radio outlet announced Friday that the curtain has closed on James C. Taylor's seven-year run of four-minute weekly reviews and commentaries in the Thursday afternoon "Theatre Talk" spot. Opening Tuesday at 4:44 p.m. is a new take on the stage, "Opening the Curtain on L.A. Theatre," with Anthony Byrnes.

The idea is to keep the focus strictly on the Los Angeles stage, rather than the wider view "Theatre Talk" would sometimes take, said Matt Holzman, a longtime KCRW staff member who recently became director of program development after Jennifer Ferro succeeded Ruth Seymour as general manager in February.

Byrnes certainly has been in the belly of the L.A. theater beast: He's a producer of "Live at the Sahara," the L.A.-spawned musical about Louis Prima and Keely Smith that has Broadway ambitions, and from 1999 to 2005 he was associate producer for new play development for Center Theatre Group, the biggest stage company in town.


All of which raises the question: Will a fully immersed fellow like Byrnes pull punches that an arm's-length observer like Taylor (a regular freelance contributor to the Los Angeles Times since 2003) would not hesitate to land?


"Somebody who is part of the L.A. theater community...might be a little more of a booster or promoter of L.A. theater," Taylor said Friday, allowing that being on the inside can also lend a useful perspective. Given how "spread out" the L.A. theater scene is, Taylor said, the job of commenting on it weekly is "hard to do. I wish anyone who comes next luck."
The whole LATimes article is here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

I got

the nicest rejection letter today. It's going to be up on the fridge for a good long while.

I recommend

SICK at LATC. It's a brisk and funny 90 minutes at the theater with a very good cast. Plus it's written by friend and former blogger Erik Patterson. As I told Erik -- or Tweeted to him -- I accidentally spat across the lap of the poor guy sitting next to me at one of the more surprising laugh lines. And if you've ever been with me to a play you know that spitting is not something I tend to do on a regular basis. Of course I do think about it from time to time, but then it wouldn't be an accident, and anyway I rarely follow through.

You've got two weekends left. Incidentally, whoever is doing LATC's graphic designs kicks ass.


in crap that entertained me online--

AND this is definitely news. But I'm not sure why this is.

AND how come no one told me Charlaine Harris lives in Magnolia? Bless her heart!

AND finally, I saw this on Joe.My.God (who saw on Queerty) and had to share: