Going, Going… Gone!

Celebrity casting is so September: vanity casting is where it’s at! Per today’s New York Times, the spunky Randi Zuckerberg (brother of the Facebook guy) has her sights on the Main Stem:

“Thanks to all of those Facebook stock options, [Zuckerberg] would also consider investing in a Broadway show–but only if she were given a small part.”

Well this should be interesting.

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Lessons from the Book Review

Mr. Anton Ego Himself! ("Ratatouille"/Pixar)

Last week I wrote about what I called the “review monoculture headlined by the New York Times.” (The full post is here.) That piece ended on a largely open note. But as I leafed through yesterday’s paper, something of a solution emerged: the Book Review — a Sunday favorite — models a pluralistic alternative to the theater desk’s gladiatorial, yes/no mindset.

In the Book Review, writers are reviewed by fellow practitioners. Novelists review other novelists, zoologists review other zoologists, law scholars review other law scholars, etc. This makes for informative, engaging reviews from people who profoundly understand what their subjects are writing about. They’ve been in the trenches and know what it takes to make it out successfully. Add to this the sheer size of the Book Review’s enormous pool of writers — one that mostly works on a freelance basis — and you’ve got a truly wise collective voice, one more informed, more representative, and more empathetic than any single, professional critic.

[Read more...]

“Arcadia” and the Grid

Todd Heisler/ nytimes.com

A recent Times article commemorated the 200th birthday of “The Grid:” that hard-knuckled, 90-degree matrix that set New York’s streets in unsurprising, rectangulinear order. Excepting some of downtown’s eccentricities, the feature tells us, the grid “gave developers and, later, tourists order, access and predictability.”

How very Newtonian, Tom Stoppard might say. His “Arcadia,” a revival of which just opened on Broadway, explores similar ideas of order and chaos, predictability and chance by alternating between two periods, ultimately tracking physics’ and philosophy’s journey from optimism (in 1809) to a more complicated, less organized universe (in 2011).

The New York Grid could be said to represent classicism, or 1809 “Arcadia:” It’s reasoned, clear, and lucid. It’s the ordered cosmos Thomasina, “Arcadia’s” brilliant, young heroine, is taught to see. Whether it’s Fermat’s last theorem, advanced algebra, or any of the other brain-cramping topics her tutor brings up, order is the final, reachable goal. Surprise is tamed by logic and structure.

New York’s city commissioners, working a mere two years after the fictional Thomasina, operated under similarly classically based, optimistic principles. Sam Roberts (author of the Times article) writes, “The urban grid goes back beyond Hippodamus of Miletus, the Greek urban planner, who, like the street commissioners, viewed the matrix as a manifestation of ‘the rationality of civilized life.’” City structure could manufacture personal integrity, officials believed.

[Read more...]

Vanessa Redgrave Waxes Poetic

Broadway’s silver fox Vanessa Redgrave got a little confused in yesterday’s New York Times, mixing up “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” with another, delightfully invented title:

“Let the Light Come in From the Dark, Superman.”

Give that woman (another) Tony!!

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