Flying Time

I recently saw PETER PAN by the BEDLAM theater company.  While the show is difficult to follow, there are many elements of the production that provide texture, movement, and ultimately feeling.  Unfortunately, the story is confusing unless you know it already.  Who doesn’t know the story of PETER PAN?  — I must confess:  me.  I saw the animated movie, the film and production FINDING NEVERLAND, but I missed PETER AND THE STARCATCHER.  The main plot, I think, is about a dog, Nana, who captures a shadow who is Peter Pan.  Peter takes Wendy and her brothers through an adventure through a window, but that’s where I get lost.  There’s a lot of stuff I then proceed to miss.  I better read the original book!

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Content in Context

2016-12-31 – 1 pm matinee

First post of 2017!  I saw THE FRONT PAGE yesterday and have a lot of different thoughts about it.  The play debuted on Broadway in 1928  — over 88 years ago.  It’s hard to appreciate this when you’re watching after rushing in to see one of the last theater performances of 2016.  In order to understand the significance of the play, please see the following videos:

“Newspaper Story” – Directed by Thomas G. Smith, an accomplished film professional (IMDB). This is a must-see to understand and appreciate the environment and culture of the newsroom. It’s an outstanding educational film produced 44 years ago:

2nd Edition – 1973

https://archive.org/details/NewspaperStory2ndEd

“Newspaper Story” — produced by Encyclopedia Britannica. This is the original film 23 years previous to the second edition and 57 years previous to today!  I believe seeing this movie would provide a great set-up for seeing THE FRONT PAGE, you will appreciate what the word “press” really means:

1st Edition – 1950

https://youtu.be/mwgyhiMLD84

In regards to the role of women in journalism:  Sally Quinn is a former Washington Post reporter who debuted on a morning program on  TV for CBS News.  Here are some very news excerpts as an example of the portrayal of women in news:  https://youtu.be/89TwxJg5wKY

She is an established host of society gatherings in Washington DC.  Here are some articles about her:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1997/09/29/party-protocol

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/12/sally-quinn-washington-society-trump.html

Sally Quinn on Fox with BIll O’Reilly:  https://youtu.be/IWAWByyk-fQ

Sally Quinn on her experience of sexual assault:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIB0mO8smfQ

Finally, here’s my review of the show:

I saw “THE FRONT PAGE” yesterday and enjoyed noteworthy performances by Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and Robert Morse.  There are a lot of actors onstage and I’m glad they’re gainfully employed onstage.  That said, Nathan Lane is the lead star, carrying the show to the stratosphere. Unfortunately, the treatment of women in the play, though perhaps historically accurate, is glaring and severely dated for 2017.  It’s painful to watch, making it difficult for me to enjoy, while it makes me appreciate that good roles for women were lacking in 1928 and are still lacking today, and if shows like this are remounted, it’s important put them in historical context as I have tried to above.

The play a great vehicles to showcase some accomplished actors and to see them all in one show.  Too bad it’s weighed so heavily towards the males — but that’s the way the world was back then.  The box office numbers back this production up,  but I wish the play had something profound to say.  My take on the takeaway on the message then:  “We’re all human. (beat)  The newsroom is a fun place to be — if you’re a guy.”  The message now:  “We’re all human and have history — some worth keeping, some worth leaving behind..  Recognize and correct our biases. Learn to utilize the abilities that a variety of people have by taking storytelling in the Press to a higher level.”

Week #31 ending December 25, 2016 – 85% capacity, 73% of gross potential at a total gross of $842,663 at the Broadhurst Theatre, seating a maximum of 1,178 people.

https://www.broadwayleague.com/research/grosses-broadway-nyc/   

Dangerous Relations sans Romance

2016-12-30 : 8 pm performance

I saw “DANGEROUS LIAISONS” last night and thought it lacked one important element:  ROMANCE

The actors were fabulous, and the show was racy, scandalous and suggestive. I found the characters interesting but worthy of pity. It’s a story about the war of love and desire, and to me it missed the essential element of Romance with a capital “R”. The settings were “romantic” for sure:  candle light, exquisite period costumes, beautiful paintings and furniture.   A fabulous display of the decorative arts.  But,  I seemed to recognize just regular people wearing fancy attire and reading words in clever and mellifluous tones. Pretty, handsome, beautiful, the show is indulgent and thereby something special.  But, the depth of feeling one gets from connecting with the emotions of an exposed heart broken was lacking, and made me feel sad for us all.  I really didn’t care about the characters. They’re pitiful because of their boredom.  Some people in the audience loved the show and gave it a standing ovation — but I think they may just have been going through the motions.

I had no initial interest in seeing the show because I thought a show based on the movie was a gimmick. However, hearing from two colleagues that they enjoyed the show,
plus the availability of an economical ticket swayed me to check it out. For week #31 ending 12/31/2016, the show played to 49% capacity and 27% of gross potential at a total gross of $187,815.

1684 (352 years ago)

I was in the Lincoln Center performing arts library late last year searching for a book that would teach me about the fundamentals of a well-written play.  I found one:  The Whole Art of the Stage  by François-Hédelin Aubignac (as if anyone would know him because he died over 300 years ago).

I’ve renewed the book 10 times now, and it’s due on March 31, 2016.  I’m going to try to finish by the deadline this time.

The book is essential to anyone who wants to be connected to the core elements of what makes a play pleasing to an audience.  I thought it was important for me to post this information here, so I can reference it later.  Also, I hope to be able to share this book with anyone else who’s interested, because it’s available online through the University of Michigan:  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A26187.0001.001?view=toc

I just finished another chapter and thought it would be useful to put up one quote to show the brilliance of this instructional manual (p.128):

In a word, I deliver here all that I can say of this matter, which is, that the Events are always precipitated, when there has been nothing said before from whence they might probably proceed, as when a man appears expressly in the end of the Play, of whom there has not been  a word said along, and yet this man comes to make the winding up of the Plot.  Or when towards the end, there is some important Action done, which has no coherence with all that passed before; for though the Spectators love to be surprised, yet it is still with probability; and they are not bound to suppose anything, but what follows naturally these things which the Poet shows.

The Theatre is a world by itself, where all is comprehended in the emotions and extent of the Actions represented, and has no communication with the great World, only so far as the Poet himself extends it, by the knowledge which with Art he dispenses abroad. 
But the main thing to be remembered, is that all that is said or done as a  Preparative or  Seed for things to come must have so apparent a Reason,  and so powerful a Colour to be said and done in that place, that it may seem to have been introduced only for that and that it never give hint to prevent those Incidents, which it is to prepared.

Restart

I’m re-starting my writing after a 7 month sabbatical. Since then, I’ve seen a *lot* of great shows: “Waitress”, “Hamilton”, “Allegiance”, “Gigantic”, “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, “Dot”, “Disaster the Musical”, “Color Purple”, “Hughie”, “Sense and Sensibility”. It would take me several hours to get caught up on blogging about each and every show I’ve seen as I’ve done previously. The good news (great – actually) is the variety of high-quality theater that’s out there. There’s a lot going on! That said, I’m going to move towards commenting on an article that I read in the New York Times about the risks of venture capital in the technology industry, and how many start-ups actually fail: most. http://nyti.ms/1RazStz (924 Bitly link shares as of 2/28/2016)

What I find most interesting isn’t so much the demographic make-up of funded companies (primarily white males founders receive financing from the same demo in the venture capitalists) but a reference in the article to the minimum threshold needed to avoid failure. 55% of failed startups raied $1 million or less. http://bit.ly/1EyyECe (0 Bitly link shares as of 2/8/2016).

What I’m wondering is whether being able to raise funds above $1 million will help improve the chances a venture will succeed, because it’s a higher bar that needs to be met? Granted we’re talking about the whole population of failed start-ups, and 45% of failed startups have raised over $1 million so in the end the amount of money you raise doesn’t determine whether a venture will fail. However, knowing that most ventures fail, I’m guessing 90% in the tech space, what kind of funding is needed at a minimum? I believe this directly applies to raising funds for a commercial theater production. The average amount raised by failed start-ups is $11.3 million and the median $1.3 million. To me, these numbers look very similar to amounts raised for theater. Are the risks the same? The general rule of thumb is that 1 out of 4 investors get their money back or better, so a 25% chance of achieving a return looks like a pretty good bet, based on my initial analysis.

Trying to Fully-Connect

I saw “Dear Evan Hansen” at a 2 pm matinee performance on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

The book and music are excellent.  It’s a very touching story, set in a contemporary world of today where young people engage primarily online.  I would describe it as a story about loneliness in the midst of our hyper-connected world of social media. The need to connect profoundly with another human being is what makes the show relatable to different generations — because teenagers aren’t the only ones today looking for love.

The main character is a high school student, Evan Hansen, who writes a letter to himself at the advice of his therapist.  The letter is discovered by another student, and becomes the source of the entire plot of the show and examines different shades of “truth”:  actual, fictional, authentic, disingenuous, intentionally or unintentionally deceptive.  Who are we in a virtual world — our true messy imperfect boring selves, or an ideal one we choose to project and ultimately want to become?

The run at Arena Stage is from July 10, 2015 to August 23, 2015.

Here are two good reviews:

Peter Marks, The Washington Post:

http://wapo.st/1KZkXVs

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times:

http://nyti.ms/1DFqEFa

And the Area Stage show page (links to videos):
http://bit.ly/1DFsTbF

Will “Dear Evan Hansen” make it to Broadway in 2016 or 2017?

deh