Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shakespeare and Character Workshops with British Director Pia Furtado

The Internationalists launch their educational workshop series with British Director Pia Furtado. Pia will be teaching two intensives, the first a Shakespeare delivery workshop, and the second a character creation workshop. Pia currently works at the Royal Shakespeare Company and has assisted, trained and been resident at theatres including Royal Court, Young Writer’s Program, Young Vic and Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Visit our website for more info.

Shaking Up Shakespeare: The Actor and The Audience
Saturday, May 3, 2008
TACT Studio, 900 Broadway, Suite 905 (at 20th Street)
Limit: 18
Click here to purchase tickets.

Led by British director Pia Furtado, currently working at the Royal Shakespeare Company, this workshop will impart some valuable techniques in helping you unlock your Shakespearian delivery, through a series of exercises focusing on voice and verse. In the morning, you will look at the practicalities of tackling Verse, Prose, Monologues and Dialogue through the style of individualised text work that would be undertaken in a rehearsal process. In the afternoon you will concentrate on how the work translates in performance, particularly playing with the relationship constructed between the actor and the audience; experimenting with both Stanislavskian ‘fourth wall’ delivery and ‘direct address’ audience engagement. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring a piece of memorized verse to this session. (8-10 lines of Iambic verse. Also bring a hard copy of the text or email it to us so we can make copies.)

Creating Character: A Short in a Night
Monday, May 5, 2008
Location: Theatre Row Studios, Studio #1, 411 W. 41st St, (bet. 9th and Dyer)
Limit: 14
Click here to purchase tickets.

Three dimensional characters and unique voices are important ingredients in great drama, and we all know that a beautifully-crafted character is an actor's dream. This workshop, led by British director Pia Furtado, will be spent exploring the nature of character. You will write a short piece in a night, using discoveries made through a series of writing exercises. We will dissect elements that constitute character and re-construct these building blocks to give life to original characters: imagined and observed. We will give voice to them through a series of free-flow writing exercises and by the end of the evening, should have performable playlets!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scottish Renaissance

Informative article in ‘The New Statesman’ about the emergence of new Scottish theatre. The author, R.D. Scott, talks about the recent production, Black Watch (here in Brooklyn last year at St. Ann's) and the recent offerings of ‘Brits Off-Broadway’. He also discusses what is currently happening up in the land of William Wallace.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Harare International Festival of the Arts

Starting tomorrow, April 29, thru May 4th is the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in Zimbabwe. Founded in 1999 by Manuel Bagorro, the theme of this year’s festival is ‘The Art of Determination’. Artistic Director Bagorro says, "HIFA 2008 is a celebration of the capacity of people to make amazing creative things happen. Both the Zimbabwean artistic community and the large number of international artists from more than 20 countries will come together in a spirit of inspiration and solidarity. HIFA demonstrates the power of the arts to unify, heal and generate positivity for a community determined to nurture the creative aspect of their national identity." Knowing through the news what Zimbabweans are experiencing right now, and so rarely getting information about theatre in Africa, I strongly encourage you to check out the website.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

UN Report on Creative Economy

The United Nations has just released its first ever report on the 'creative economy'. Central to the new development paradigm linking the economy and culture is the fact that creativity, knowledge and access to information are powerful forces that drive growth and development in a globalizing world. As the UN press release summarizes,

"The emerging 'creative economy' has become a leading component of economic growth, employment, trade and innovation, and social cohesion in most advanced economies. Unfortunately, however, the large majority of developing countries are not yet able to harness their creative capacity for development. The creative economy offers to developing countries a feasible option and new opportunities to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy. This is a reflection of weaknesses both in domestic policy and in the business environment, and global systemic biases. Nevertheless, the creative economy offers to developing countries a feasible option and new opportunities to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy."

The Creative Economy Report is the first to present the perspectives of the Unitied Nations as a whole on this topic. It proves empirical evidence that the creative industries are among the most dynamic emerging sectors in world trade. It also shows that the interface among creativity, culture, economics and technology, as expressed in the ability to create and circulate intellectual capital, has the potential to generate income, jobs and export earnings while at the same time contributing to social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development."

Here is a link for the highlights and the full 357-page report.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Open Proposal Call for Turka 2011

Turka, Finland has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2011 and they are searching for project proposals. They have announced an open project call and are now looking for new and innovative projects and the best people/organizations to present them. The year long celebration will be implemented through extensive national and international cooperation, and will be comprised of about 300 projects, with the aim of finding most through the open call. Proposals are due by May 31, 2008. Click here for more information.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Repertory Self-Isolation

This is the third article in a series written by The Belarus Free Theatre on contemporary theatre in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. You can find the first two articles linked in our March 21, 2008 post. Here’s a quick excerpt.

“If you look carefully through the repertoires of the Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian theatres, there is one conclusion you may come to: theatres in these countries stand outside the global theatre space – and maybe even strive for self-isolation. An entire complex of theatrical problems is to blame.

Once, a famous Moscow critic, who came to the Belarusian capital to hold a seminar, asked “What is on at Minsk theatres?”. I answered, “You probably won’t have heard of many of the playwrights…”. “I know every playwright – I read three or four plays a day.” When the critic saw the program of one of the theatres, he stared at it, perplexed, for a couple of minutes and after a pause asked, “Who are these writers?!”.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spoleto Reunited

This is from an article in the NYTimes about the American and Italian Spoleto festivals. Read more here.

"The Spoleto Festival U.S.A. and its long-lost partner in Italy, the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Umbria, have announced that they will renew an association that ended 15 years ago.

The two arts festivals say they are discussing at least one joint opera production for the summer of 2009. Spoleto U.S.A.’s music director, Emmanuel Villaume, is to conduct at the Italian festival this summer. And there is even talk about forming a single orchestra, though that possibility so far appears remote. Beyond that, officials refused to offer more details."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cultural Cooperation Grants for EU-Brazil

The European Commission Culture Program (2007-2013) has announced a Call for Proposals for cultural cooperation projects with Brazil. Applicants must either reside in 1 of the 27 member EU states, 1 of 3 EEA countries, 1 of the 3 candidate countries or Serbia. Eligible projects will involve cooperation from at least 3 different countries (one being Brazil). Also, at least 50% of the activities must take place in Brazil. Check out the EACEA website for full guidelines and specifications. The deadline is June 1, 2008.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Russian Ban on British Play

In Your Hands, by Moscow-born British playwright Natalia Pelevine, has been banned by the Russian authorities after only one performance. The play recreates the 2002 ‘Norde-Ost’ theatre siege by Chechen militants of the Theatrical Center of State Ball-Bearing Plant Number 1 in the Dubrovka area of Moscow. During the second act of a sold out performance, 42 armed men and women ran onto the stage and took approximately 850 people hostage. After a 2 ½ day siege, Russian forces pumped an unknown chemical agent into the building's ventilation system and raided it. Officially, 39 of the terrorists were killed by Russian forces, along with at least 129 of the hostages (nine of them foreigners).

The play includes actors dressed as terrorists running through the audience to recreate the events. The play opened in the southern city of Makhachkala, which is the capital of the Dagestan region. This was a controversial choice of venue for the play, because it was the invasion of Dagestan by Chechen forces in 1999 that was one of the triggers for Vladimir Putin's second Chechen war. The UK ‘Independent’ reports,

“On the opening night, the theatre got a last-minute call saying that Mukhu Aliev, the Dagestani president, would attend. Mr Aliev arrived with his security detail and, just before the curtain rose, says Pelevine, someone thought to warn the bodyguards that the play involved actors dressed as terrorists running on to the stage. "Lucky you told us," said one guard, "or we would have shot them dead immediately."

Ninety minutes later, there was hardly a dry eye in the theatre and the performance received a standing ovation. But one man didn't enjoy the show. President Aliev stood up before the end and, without applauding, swept out of the theatre with his entourage.

Mr Aliev then denounced the play, accusing it of glorifying terrorism, and further suggested that itwas part of a sinister plot based in Britain, pointing out the play was first put on in London.

"Dagestan is the place, after Chechnya, that enemies of Russia want to destabilise," said Mr Aliev.

Pelevine says she intends to sue over the allegations and will try again to stage the play in Moscow. "This is the first case of theatre censorship since Gorbachev came to power," she said.

"There's every desire to keep this going. People in Moscow are very concerned and think that now is the time to speak out."

Here is a link to an article from Radio Free Europe and another article from 2006 in The Moscow Times about the London production.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Golden Mask Awards

Following up on a previous posting regarding John Freedman of The Moscow Times, here is his article about the award results from the 14th Golden Mask Festival in Russia.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pippa Bacca Remembered

A tragic story about Italian performance artist, Pippa Bacca, 33, and her murder by a Turkish driver who picked her up. Ms. Bacca and her colleague, Silvia Moro, 37, where hitchhiking from Italy to the Balkans down to the Middle East, both wearing white wedding dresses, to promote messages of peace and “marriage between different people and nations”. Ms. Moro last saw her friend in Istanbul on March 19, where they split up and agreed to meet in Beirut. Ms. Bacca’s naked body was found on April 11 in some bushes outside a Turkish village. Though no official death has been given, local authorities say Ms. Bacca appears to have been raped and strangled. Memorial services were help yesterday. I strongly encourage you to read the full article in the NYTimes and visit to learn more about Ms. Bacca and her work.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

McBurney Back On Broadway

British director Simon McBurney, founder and A.D. of Complicite, will helm the second revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, opening on Broadway on October 2, 2008. McBurney was nominated for both the Tony and the Drama Desk awards in 1998 for his production of Ionesco’s The Chairs. John Lithgow will star as Joe Keller. Diane Wiest will reportedly play his wife, Kate Keller. There is also speculation that Katie Holmes will make her Broadway (and professional stage) debut, playing the part of a woman who visits her former neighbors and the family of a missing pilot she once loved. The actress has committed to taking part in a private workshop of the play in May. I’ve seen McBurney do some miraculous things on stage, but making the third Mrs. Tom Cruise a competent stage actress should be one of his greatest challenges.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Technological Takeover?

Lyn Gardner, theatre blogger for the 'Guardian Unlimited', raises the ever timely question, “Does contemporary theatre depend too much on technology? Has technology now become the show rather than servicing it?” She’s in the firm belief that tech is taking over. This in contrast to Robert Lepage’s ‘World Theatre Day’ message that says we all need to embrace technology as part of theatre’s natural evolution. (Funny enough, Gardner brings up Lepage’s Edinburgh Festival open night that had to be cancelled because of computer problems.)

No doubt, this question will continue to press upon the theatrical community as technology continues to advance. It’s not so much should we utilize the technology, but how can we best use it to our advantage? I think the both of them are correct. We do need to be open and accepting of new ideas and resources, but at the same time we need to make sure that the tools are serving the show. Theatre is primarily the relationship between the actor and the audience, and nothing should distract from or prevent that connection being made. Technology can either help or hinder our ability to tell the story and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Small Companies, Big Names

Intriguing article today in Australia’s The Age about how small companies are increasingly relying on big-name playwrights to sell tickets, but are also wary of the financial and production pressures involved. One company in particular is Red Stitch Actors Theatre, an actors co-op that produces mostly ‘overseas’ plays. Their artistic director, David Whiteley says,

"There's a lot of excellent work out there and, the fact is, Australian audiences just won't see it. In London you might have 10 or 20 companies that are presenting new international plays but here you have one or two — the choice of what we can do is amazing."

They’ve presented the Australian premieres from such writers as Edward Albee, Paula Vogel, Mark O'Rowe, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Richard Bean, Martin Crimp, Austin Pendleton and most recently, Neil LaBute’s The Mercy Street.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Goodman Goes Global

The Goodman Theater in Chicago will share the spotlight next year during their Eugene O’Neill Festival. Toneelgroep Amsterdam of the Netherlands and the Companhia Triptal of Brazil will join the Wooster Group as part of a three month celebration of O’Neill’s work. In addition to the previous announced Goodman production of Desire Under the Elms, starring Brian Dennehy, Toneelgroep Amsterdam will present their mix-media version of Mourning Becomes Electra directed by Ivo van Hove, and Companhia Triptal will produce three out of the four sea plays directed by Andre Garolli, while the Wooster Group remounts their Emperor Jones, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte and starring Kate Valk as the African-American title role. Continuing on the O’Neill trend, Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls will also direct Brian Dennehy this summer at the Stratford Festival of Canada in a new production of Hughie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Toronto takes on Montreal

With global arts funding being cut across the board, it’s nice to hear a story where those budgets are actually increasing. It appears that Toronto now has the funding to climb the ladder and challenge Montreal as the cultural capital of Canada. The Ontario government had some extra money lying around after fiscal year 2007, so Dalton McGuinty gave the arts community over $75 million. The biggest winner was Luminato, Toronto's festival of creativity, which made its debut last year. It received $15 million as a legacy gift to plan for the future and commission new work. Read more here in ‘The Star’.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hollywood Conquers Broadway

Fascinating article in the ‘San Francisco Gate’ yesterday about the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood. Though not strictly about anything international, as the columnist points out, for a long time, NY and LA were considered two different countries.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Prague's Arts Funding Crisis

The current trend of funding cuts continues around the globe. This time it’s Prague. Not-for-Profit arts organizations have never had an easy relationship with City Hall, but after months of waiting for delayed grants, arts groups were shocked to discover that they were receiving less money, if any at all. Arts groups (pictured) have started a petition and protest, calling for the resignation of certain city officials and proposing drastic policy changes. Click here to read more from 'The Prague Post'.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Off-Off Broadway Economic Survey

This week, the New York Innovative Theater Foundation released the findings of their statistical analysis of Off-Off Broadway economics. Questions for the survey focused exclusively on production budgets. The results prove that the OOB community is actively producing high-quality productions at affordable prices with paid actors and production value. Seventy-three companies responded to the budget survey, including some that have been around for more than 40 years, and some for less than a year and a half.

Friday, April 11, 2008

European Mobility Residencies

For the past 17 years, the Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes have had the mission to promote the emergence and the mobility of young artists on a world scale. They are now launching their mobility program for 2008-2009.

This program has more than 30 residencies available between Sept '08 and Sept '09, representing many opportunities to develop innovative projects and encounter new audiences.

It is open to artists between 18 and 35 years old, living in one of the partner countries, and proposing innovative projects reflecting an opening to the human, social and economic contexts surrounding them. Starting this year, all applications will exclusively be made online at the Pépinières website.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Head of U.S. Public Diplomacy

Bill Hybl was sworn in on Tuesday by Vice President Dick Cheney as chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy that oversees the State Department's diplomacy policies and programs. Hybl is the chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs and past U.S. Olympic Committee president. He wants to improve the world's view of the United States through music, sports and cultural affairs. Commission responsibilities include international exchanges, U.S. international information programs and publicly funded nongovernmental organizations. Hybl will serve through October 2009. He also serves on the board of directors of the International Republican Institute and leads the board for the International Foundation for Election Systems.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Be sure to visit the new site, RAFT– a temporary platform for contemporary questions. Formed out of an alliance between IETM, and Oscura magazine. It will offer “an open and democratic space for people to think about performing arts today”.

As the founders explain, they chose the name because “the idea of the space is to be, as the name itself conveys, a temporary platform made of pieces tied together.We needed a name. We kept thinking about fluidity in contemporary definitions and borders, about this ocean of information around us and between us, not unlike the ocean that divide all the writers of this project into continents. Then we had this idea of this initiative as a small temporary and basic platform made of some ideas/questions/people tied (softly) together and floating around for anyone to navigate.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

August Wins Pulitzer

Tracy Letts’ dysfunction-family drama August:Osage County has won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Arriving on Broadway with its original Steppenwolf cast in tow, the play has all the earmarks of the classical American three-act drama (a mix somehow of Eugene O’Neill and Sam Shepard). It is by far the best play I’ve seen on Broadway since Angels in America back in 1993. Before August becomes a staple of the regional/community theater circuit, make sure you see the original cast. For this and other roles, Amy Morton should be considered one of the best stage actresses in America, and Deanna Dunagan gives a legendary performance. For those who say there are no good parts of women, they can find an additional half dozen from this script. The play closes at the Imperial Theatre on April 20 at 3 PM, and thankfully is transferring to the Music Box for a April 29 opening.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Russia's Golden Mask

John Freedman’s coverage of this year’s Golden Mask awards is top notch. John is the editor of 'The Moscow Times'. He is also the paper’s theatre writer and critic. If you want to know what’s going on in the contemporary Russian scene, John is the man to go to.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Enda Walsh

Jason Zinoman has written a fantastic article on Irish playwright, Enda Walsh. Produced by the Druid Theater Co. of Galway, Walsh’s The Walworth Farce will open at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn on April 15. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing 2 of his plays in the past, Disco Pigs (Edinburgh-1998) and Bedbound (Dublin-2000), and they were outstanding.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

From Blackaddar to Mr. Bean to Fagin

I’m not usually one for posting casting news, but this one brought a little smile to my face. Rowan Atkinson, of Mr. Bean and Blackadder fame, will play Fagin in the new Cameron Mackintosh production of Oliver!, which will open in London in January 2009. The sad thing, of course, is that his Nancy is being cast by the BBC1 reality show “I’d Do Anything” where 12 finalists were recently announced. 3 young lads are also being chosen to share the title role.

In a statement, Atkinson said, "In the 1980s I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr. Bean and film making. I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage and the idea of the role of Fagin, which has long intrigued me, (some time ago I even played the role in a school production), seemed like too good an opportunity to miss."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Simultaneous Shakespeare

From the UK Guardian, a short article about 35 simultaneous productions of Shakespeare plays being performed around the globe to commemorate his 444th birthday on April 23rd.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fortress America

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to improve the visa approval process for international artists. By current law, the visa is to be completed in two weeks, but more often takes between two and six months. H.R. 1312, approved by voice vote, extends the time period given to Homeland Security to process nonimmigrant visas for certain types of artists from two weeks to thirty days. If the department fails to meet that deadline, it must provide premium processing services free of charge. As it stands today, each petitioner must pay a $1000 fee for premium processing that ensures a decision in fifteen days. The bill, which applies only to visa applications made by nonprofit arts groups, still needs the Senate’s approval.

Here's an article.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Rise of Mandarin

Here's the link to an article from the AP about the rise of people learning Mandarin, as it quickly becomes the international language of the 21st century. I found this interesting because, on a recent trip to my hometown in New Jersey, I read in the local paper that my old middle and high school will introduce Mandarin into the curriculum next year. Below is a snippet of the text.

"China, having traded socialism for capitalism, is emerging as an economic power, perhaps the only one that could rival U.S. dominance in the 21st century. For a new generation of students, business people and even artists, the land of opportunity now lies to the East, not the West.

Drawn to its promise, many are seeking ways to navigate the often rough-and-tumble Wild West atmosphere of working in China. The clearest barometer of this trend is a booming appetite for learning Chinese.

Worldwide, about 40 million people are learning Mandarin, China's official spoken language and its most common dialect. Nearly 100,000 foreigners went to China to study Mandarin in 2006, more than twice the number five years earlier."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

P. Fomenko Theater

Interesting article in the NYTimes the other day about the new P. Fomenko Theater in Moscow. Though I wish the journalist had spent more on the company and less on the architect, I guess I have to give props to Sergei Gnedovsky for designing the place.