Fading Palace

Brian Stokes Mitchell has written,

A theatre is a living thing.
It is born, it breathes, it eats, it communicates.
It grows old
And like all things in our universe,
It eventually dies.*

To prove this point, here are three gorgeous theaters I recently encountered on the West Coast. Each is at a different stage in its march toward death, and each sits caught between faded past and hopeful future.

1. It was the “crossroads of the world,” and now it’s a hangout for the vagrants of San Francisco’s Tenderloin area. The “Key Klub” seems to decay before one’s very eyes — and that’s part of its haunting appeal. [Read more…]


Alison Bechdel: The Musical

The happy family of "Fun Home," by Alison Bechdel

Flipping through the 92nd Street Y catalogue (I’m a cool person, right? Right?!) I stumbled on a class brilliant playwright Lisa Kron will be leading in October. Anyone who’s seen Kron’s work knows how awesome she is, but her 92Y bio amped up the awesomeness to a new level: “Lisa Kron has been writing and performing since … blah blah blah… Upcoming projects include a musical based on Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” with composer Jeanine Tesori.”

Hold the phone. Let it hereby be proclaimed the This Is A Brilliant Idea: “Fun Home,” a memoir in graphic-novel form, is a groundbreaking, moving, mammoth piece. (I’m not the only one who thought so — in a bold move TIME Magazine named it book of the year.) The idea that it might makes its way onstage as a musical seems so appropriate, so exciting, so perfect. “Fun Home’s” larger than life quality is grounded in haunting real-life drama and love, and it wants to sing.

“Fun Home” was apparently workshopped in 2009, so cross those fingers, people, let’s hope this one happens!

Sad Summer Shakespeare

We’ve all seen what I like to call Sad Summer Shakespeares, limp little salads of productions wilted by their naïve enthusiasm and self-important claims of universalism. Mix your fork around in one of these creations too intently, sniff a little too hard, and the dramaturgy, acting, and storytelling reveal themselves as pallid cauliflower, rubbery carrots, and decaying lettuce. Waiter, thanks but no thanks!

The scene of the Sad Summer Shakespeare crime is usually a public park, a civics center, or a geriatric watering hole. “Accessible Shakespeare!” or “Shakespeare for everyone!” is the rallying call of their half-baked director-chefs. Throw together one of those old Bardic standards for The People, they seem to believe, and you’re golden.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea – on paper it sounds pretty ideal. (Sometimes it is: the Public’s free Shakespeare in the Park is often a heart-quickening confluence of space, audience, and thought—a Wolfgang Puck of a summer salad, as it were.)

[Read more…]

So Not True

Slightly off-topic, yes, but STILL…

“The Magazine the Stars Trust”? Sure…

Gertrude Stein Sees This

If one had flown to California to Los Angeles as I did and one were seeing a play one might be seeing this play This. If one wrote This one might be Melissa James Gibson and if one directed This one might be Daniel Aukin. But what of this? As I said one can see This in LA, and what is This? This is this:

This was about this and that but mostly this: There was this man and this woman and there was this baby and there was this odd door with these funny hinges and this jazz singer with this sparkly frock.

As you see I can and will go on and on about This. This is about these sad people these sad people in their 40’s these sad people who are sad because they are in their 40’s and really would wouldn’t be sad to be in their 40’s but mostly This is about this one particularly sad lady in her 40’s. One feels that this particularly sad lady in her 40’s has a frightful sadness in her.

[Read more…]

Found in Times Square

Imagine it:

“White Teenager to the deck, White Teenager to the deck.”
“I have a paycheck here for White Teenager.”
“I feel like I’ve really excavated the inner life of White Teenager.”

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