Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Festival de Teatro Experimental

submitted by Jake Witlin

For those of you in and around Ecuador for the next few weeks, make sure not to miss the 11th annual FITE (festival de international theatro experimental). I had the great pleasure of taking in two shows, of which I can highly recommend both.

First, the street performers David Berga, Ferran Aixalà, Oriol Aubets, Jordi Huete, Jaume Jové, all from Spain, delight with an outdoor show of mime, mimickry and general merrymaking in EFS (¨Encara Farem Salat¨). Set against the backdrop of a funeral, the procession starts somber enough, as the four wiry actors carry a coffin thru Mariscal Foch, stopping in front of several coffee shops, where a crowd quickly gathers. Over the course of the next hour, we are taken on a humorous ride of pratfalls and wonderful mime as they try desperately to find the missing body!

The second, and more traditional show, comes from Uruguay, and was a truly unique experience. Josep Pere Peyró´s ¨Una Lluvia Irlandesa¨ is a touching and poetic look inside the psychologies of a young woman seeking to let go of a love, and the man who continually psychoanalyzes her, remarking that without feeling, there is no where else to go. Taking place inside of the hip and happening bar Pobre Diablo, the actors comfortably navigated the mess of tables and chairs, to leave the audience with a sense of wonder and awe as we voyeuristically witness the birth, then death of love without emotion. Underscored with a haunting score, it is not to be missed. Click here for more information.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fire at Egypt's National Theatre

The Associated Press
Saturday, September 27, 2008

CAIRO, Egypt: A fire destroyed the main hall of Egypt's National Theater in the heart of the downtown Cairo Saturday, wounding three firefighters, a civil defense officer said.Billowing white smoke filled the busy Ataba Square just after sunset as 22 engines responded to the alarms. Dozens of riot police also deployed to keep back onlookers. A major general with the civil defense on the scene described the fire as "almost contained," after high winds briefly drove flames into neighboring shops and buildings. Three firefighters were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The official smoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Brig. Gen. Nasr Zakaria of the civil defense operations room told the state MENA news agency that the fire began with an electrical short that caused an explosion in the theater's air conditioning system. The fire started just before the sunset evening meal during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan while workers were performing maintenance on theater's electrical systems. "There was a big blast, then smoke started rising from the roof," said Mahmoud Osman, the owner of a shop across the square. "Then flames engulfed the whole roof area and damaged parts of the wall."

The theater was original built in 1935, but had been recently renovated.The building would have been practically deserted due to the evening meal, but was scheduled to perform popular poetry recitations later on that evening. In August, Egypt's upper house of parliament was devastated by massive fire, also in the downtown area. That fire provoked popular outrage at the incompetence of firefighters and it was described as the latest failing of a government unable to stem rising prices of basic staples. Press reports at the time focused on poor training of firefighters and the absence of sprinklers or a fire management plan for the building — features which are rare throughout Egypt, where safety rules are nonexistent or lax. Few buildings in Cairo even have smoke alarms.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How the Brits Took Over Broadway

It is no surprise to any New Yorker that the British theatre is in command of the Broadway stage. While the foolish Americans greedily produce big, gaudy, movie-based, cotton-candy musicals, the English seem to be more interested in producing quality performances that somehow always wins critical praise and Tony awards. This Sunday, in the London 'Guardian', we're informed as to how this new 'British invasion' took place. Can anyone say Andrew Lloyd Webber? Here's an excerpt and the link to the full article.

According to Eleanor Roosevelt, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' The former First Lady may have made her famous remark in a different context, but her words resonate today as British art and entertainment again dominate New York's cultural scene. For some American commentators it is as if there is still a collective colonial hangover in Manhattan, with audiences happy to prize talent from across the Atlantic above anything of their own.

Broadway's theatres are packed with UK drama, British music, British performers, even British history. The statistics match even the peaks charted in recent years. As Harry Potter's alter ego, Daniel Radcliffe, triumphs in Peter Schaffer's Equus - directed by fellow Briton Thea Sharrock - could there be more hardcore products for committed anglophiles than Maria Aitken's stylish tribute to Hitchock in The 39 Steps, the high farce of Boeing, Boeing or Robert Bolt's deft approximation of Tudor dialogue in A Man for All Seasons

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Actor, Activist, Racecar Driver and Popcorn Impresario, Paul Newman, died yesterday, at the age of 83, at his farmhouse near Westport, CT. Best known for such films as ‘Hud’, ‘The Hustler’, ‘Cool Hand Luke’, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, ‘The Sting’ and ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, Newman was the classic 20th century anti-hero. Here’s a link to the NYTimes Obit.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Performance Studies international Conference

The conference will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, its theme being MISPERFORMANCE: Misfiring, Misfitting, Misreading. The aim of the 15th PSi conference is to study a broad spectrum of cultural, organizational, technological and political performances by focusing on the causes and the problems of performance mistakes,misreadings, misunderstandings and misfittings – i.e., those outcomes of performance that are susceptible to provoking disturbances – even deep alterations – within diverse spheres of life: from the private to the social and political, ranging from slips of tongue, via artistic avant-garde and aborted revolutions, to environmental disasters; from ideological distortions and abuses of power to new perspectives andresistance to authorities of any kind.

The Organizing Committee of PSi #15 has decided to propose a new conference format, combining both the traditional and various non-conventional, open and flexible models of presenting, discussing and performing. While during the day conference participants present their papers in panel discussions, in the evening and late night slots they will be invited to participate in a program of shifts. Shifts are designed to accomplish a higher level of interaction between the participants in the conference, and, more specifically, between artistic and theoretical work. For more info, please visit PSi here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

FIRT-IFTR: Silent Voices/Forbidden Lives - Lisbon

Call for papers for the July '09 conference. Click here for details.

The conference theme will include the following related topics:

Drama under close scrutiny
: where, when and how censorship and other constraints operated on texts and how they affected theatre and performance in general
Theatrical genres: artistic responses to ideological constraints: how certain genres were invented or used to elude political or other forms of inhibition
Dancing: confrontations and commitments: social, political, cultural and artistic contexts can favour, challenge or confine choreography and bodily expression
Composing over silence: how music in performance has responded to difficult situations, inhibitions and unfavourable conditions
Gendered politics under surveillance: how gender may have proved to be the pretext for blockage, prejudice and concern
Bodies against boundaries: negotiating the physical presence of the performer, the erotic dimension of their body, the revelation of sickness, deformation, self inflicted pain and other forms that subvert conventional ways of representing the body on stage
Breaking theatre walls to reach elsewhere: outdoor performances, unconventional environments, the incitement of audiences to action, invisible theatre, internet explorations, global theatre, confounding boundaries between fiction and reality (by filming intimate scenes as if they were live action)
Setting the scene for/against the repressed other: how theatre has represented the other in a recognizable acknowledgement or denial of their existence or how it has illuminated their configuration
Regional, national and intercontinental dissensions: is it important to recognise geographical, linguistic and cultural predicament as encouraging its theatrical representation?
Dislocated outcries: immigrants’ Voices: immigrant communities or traces of their presence in multiple forms of performance
Performing memories: culture against adversity: how retaining cultural memories can help people preserve and invent their identity in difficult situations
Theatrical disobediences: rejecting conventions and defying expectations to invent other forms of living and expressing human desires and frustrations
Spectres of the invisible or haunting absences: how the dead and the silenced haunt live performance
Strategies of survival under empires: different configurations of hegemony have been opposed by theatre and performance in general. How should we characterise those human and artistic resources created out of cultural predicament? How should we identify and study different artistic strategies in the present and in the past?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Royal Shakespeare Company Goes Russian

Next year, the Royal Shakespeare Company will launch a series of 4 specially-commissioned plays about Russia and other former Soviet Bloc nations in an attempt to attract some ruble-rich billionaire investment. RSC Artistic Director, Michael Boyd, told The Independent that he wants Russian money to flow into theatre in the way that it has helped the visual arts to prosper. The first two Russian plays, to be staged in September 2009, are The Drunks by Mikhail and Vyacheslav Durnenkov, about a soldier returning from Chechnya as a reluctant hero, and The Grain Store by Natalia Vorozhbit, in a tale of 1930s famine in Ukraine. Further ahead, there will be new stagings of Pushkin's Boris Godunov and other less frequently seen classics by Gogol and Chekhov. Other Russia will conclude with an as-yet-unannounced transfer of a major Russian-originated production of a Shakespeare play.

Mr Boyd said he was inspired to launch the theatre project, which has been 3 years in the planning and which includes a play staged under his direction. "We launch ‘Other Russia’ – an exploration of Russia and the former Soviet Union countries, drawing on the great Russian theatrical tradition with some of Eastern Europe's most inspirational new writers. I am looking forward to directing The Grain Store on the main stage at The Courtyard Theatre…It's a big moment in Russian history as it tries to engage with capitalism and the West. It is the major supplier of energy for the rest of Europe. It's an interesting time to see whether there will be a new clampdown, a new Cold War, or whether freedom will again be curtailed.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

British Government Backs Free Theatre Ticket Plan

As reported by the BBC, as part of a £2.5m government-funded plan, nearly 100 publically-funded theatres across England will offer free tickets to young adults. Between 2009-2011, the participating theatres will give away tickets at least once a week to 18-26 year olds on a first-come, first-serve basis. The plan follows recommendations made in a recent government review about engaging young people.

The Supporting Excellence in the Arts report, by former Edinburgh International Festival director Sir Brian McMaster, recommended a "free week" to engage young audiences by opening up publicly-funded arts organizations. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that, after consulting with venues, the idea had been translated into "a long-term and sustainable opportunity to engage young people and build a new audience over a period of time".

Arts Council England has given its support to the plan, calling it ‘an exciting new step’. “We want young people to grow up with a strong sense of the possibilities the arts give them," said its chief executive, Alan Davey. "In order to have that happen, we must make it easy for young people to get access to excellent, inspiring art."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is British Theatre the Envy of the World?

Nicholas Hytner, the artistic director of London’s National Theatre, writing in the ‘Sunday Times’, explains why British theatre is the envy of the world. Which, if you ask me, is a pretty bold statement. Agree? Disagree? Also, can one be an Anglophile if one is already from England or, as he runs the National Theatre, is Hytner contractually required to be a nationalist? Read more here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stratford Festival in Red

As Wall Street collapses and the U.S. government is using all its taxpayers’ money to fund an unjustified war and bailout greedy corporations who mismanaged (or flat-out stole) ‘Average Joe’ citizens’ cash, the first theatrical casualty has been noted, and it always starts small. The 'Toronto Star' reports,

“Eleven employees of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival have been let go in reaction to an operating deficit for the season that is expected to run well into seven figures. It's not expected news from an organization that has run its last 14 seasons in the black, a tribute to former artistic director Richard Monette, who died last week at the age of 64. What general director Antoni Cimolino called "a perfect storm" of rising fuel prices, a weakening U.S. dollar and an uncertain economy have combined to find the festival facing red ink for the first time in its recent history.

This past season, the first for artistic director Des McAnuff, got off to a rocky start when his two associates, Don Shipley and Marti Maraden, resigned in March over personal differences. Still, the season that opened in May received generally enthusiastic reviews, even from the New York critics who had been largely absent in the last decade. But the economic situation, price of gas and other external factors slashed the American audience by close to 14 per cent, a devastating blow to the festival.”

Saturday, September 20, 2008

U.S. Congressional Arts Report Card

Americans for the Arts has published their 'Congressional Arts Report Card 2008' in advance of the November election. Statistics show that the budget for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) is just 48 cents per American. Funding for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Arts in Education and the office of Museum Services totals approximately eight hundredths of one percent of the federal discretionary budget. The NEA budget had its highest budget back in 1992 at $176 million. In FY08 it is $144.7 million. Taking inflation into consideration, the FY08 budget has about half the purchasing power of its '92 budget. Without going through each member of Congress' grade , I'd just like to single out Doug Lamborn (Republican for the 5th district in Colorado). Not only does he receive a failing grade, he offered an amendment in June 2007 to eliminate funding for the NEA all together. Luckily the vote failed 97 to 335, but anyone in Lake, Park, El Paso, Fremont, Chaffee, or Teller counties should send this loser a message on election day that his antics won't be tolerated.

Friday, September 19, 2008

'Goodness' May Not Make Rwanda

Volcano, a Toronto theatre company, has been invited to perform their production of Michael Redhill’s Goodness at the second annual Festival Arts Azimuts in Huye, Rwanda. Trouble is, the Stephen Harper Canadian government has cut close to $45-million in arts and culture programs, including PromArt, which supported touring Canadian artists with travel grants, and Trade Routes, which supported the export of cultural goods and services. The Azimuts Festival has offered to pay €20,000 ($30,500) to bring Goodness to Rwanda, but Volcano’s artistic director Ross Manson estimates the total budget for the tour at more than $80,000. Recipient of many awards, including the ‘Best of Edinburgh 06’, Goodness is about a Jewish descendent of Holocaust survivors and an African woman who has been victim to a much more recent genocide. Read the ‘Globe & Mail’ article here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Italian Comedienne May Get Jail For Pope Joke

Sabrina Guzzanti, an Italian comedienne, is facing up to 5 years in jail for saying Pope Benedict XVI would go to hell and be tormented by gay demons. Guzzanti made the comments at a Rome rally in July. The crowd loved it, but not so the Italian officials. She is facing prosecution for "offending the honor of the sacred and inviolable person" of the Pope. The July rally was called to protest against alleged interference by the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Italian affairs, from abortion to gay rights, but also to attack the Prime Minister Berlusconi for passing 'ad personam' laws to protect his own interests and avoid prosecution on corruption. Dario Fo, the Nobel prize-winning playwright, said that applying the outdated law would even have led to the prosecution of Dante, since "he put a Pope in the Inferno as well, namely Boniface VIII". Read the full article here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Namibia's Youth Theatre Festival

An out-of-school youth theatre group from the Omaheke Region on Saturday evening swept the boards of the NTN Youth Theatre Festival by winning four of the six categories in the five-day event. With their winning play, Mponenang (Child abuse) the group, Metsweding, will be going to Germany next year to represent Namibia in a festival. The group won: Best Overall Play, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. A group from Oshakati won the Best Actor Award and the Most Promising Actor Award was won by a group from Tsumeb.

"I see theatre as a mirror through which a community and/or the society looks critically at itself as a very powerful medium of reflection and expression during these hard economic times and challenges. During the festival we have had the unique opportunity to witness different life experiences of our people across the country," said the general manager of the National Theatre of Namibia, Werner Thaniseb, when announcing the winners of the festival on Saturday evening at Shifidi Secondary School. More than 70 out-of-school youths in 10 groups took part in the festival with self-written plays.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blanchett & Hoffman Form Theatrical Alliance

Oscar winners Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cate Blanchett have formed a theatrical alliance with London’s Ambassadors Theatre Group. ATG's joint chief executive and creative director Howard Panter called the initiative "a new creative bridge to create, produce and exchange work that would not otherwise be produced." ATG, which runs the West End's Trafalgar Studios, said Monday that the Sydney Theatre Company, run by Blanchett and her playwright husband Andrew Upton, and Hoffman's LAByrinth Theater Company in New York would become associate companies. Under the arrangement, the American and Australian companies would stage work in the West End theater, and British plays would travel to Sydney and New York. The first play to get the collaborative treatment is Riflemind, Upton's play about an aging rock band's reunion, which opens in London on Thursday under Hoffman's direction.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moscow Season Preview

Thanks again to John Freedman from the 'Moscow Times', here's a preview of the upcoming season in Moscow, which features Vladimir Pankov's Gogol. Evenings. Part II at the Meyerhold Center, Konstantin Raikin's production of Blue Monster by Carlo Gozzi, and Roman Kozak's production of Biljana Srbljanovic's Locusts at the Pushkin Theater. Read the complete text here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Will Playwright Havel Outlast President Havel?

David Caute, writing for the 'New Statesman', asks if Czech playwright/president, Vaclav Havel’s artistic vision has survived the compromises of executive power? Below are some excerpts. Read the full article here.

“It seemed out of the question for Václav Havel to become president of Czechoslovakia after 40 years of Communist rule. The long-haired playwright had been just a persistent dissident voice, if one making some of the most eloquent minority demands for civil liberties, notably Charter 77. Everything changed when the new Civic Forum of November 1989 brought crowds to Wenceslas Square unanswerably demanding freedom from a collapsing Soviet empire. In the course of this "Velvet Revolution", the mild-mannered Havel found himself the astonished occupant of Hradcany Castle in Prague, high above the Vltava River. No flash in the pan and no mere figurehead, he liked the job enough to retain it for 13 years. Globally feted, though not always popular at home, he was loaded with do-good prizes and hailed by a joint session of the US Congress.

Now Havel is back as a playwright. Can the artist survive the blatant compromises of executive power? The focal character of his new play, 'Leaving', is a deposed leader coming to terms with a melancholic void after losing the status inseparable from his sense of himself...In the new play, there are no Vaneks. Power and wealth have taken their toll. All the main characters are loquacious, burdened by swollen egos, by pride, by vanity. But Havel makes light of it - this is a comedy leaning towards tragedy via farce. Take, for instance, the torrent of deliberate anachronisms. The script offers no time setting but we may assume that the pivotal figure, Vilém Rieger, has only recently stepped down as 'chancellor'. This is reinforced by his recall of something Tony Blair said to him, and President Havel himself once told him that 'popularity isn't everything' - yet Rieger pitches into wild anachronism when recalling how Chiang Kai-shek was impressed by his policy speeches and how Mao Zedong admired Rieger's bust of Gandhi 'when he came to visit'. Amusing enough if you know your dates, but isn't the teasing Havel waiting to see if we do? The teasing also extends to frequent voice-over authorial interventions (recorded recently by Havel in Prague), during which the actors are required to freeze. At one juncture, the Voice mentions 'my somewhat self-centred delight in being able to come up with any hare-brained idea at all, which the actors have to play with a straight face'.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Creative Collaboration Southeast Europe Arts Fund

Creative Collaboration is the British Council’s South East Europe* Arts Project. This includes Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey.

Creative Collaboration operates in partnership with artists, cultural producers and creative entrepreneurs to create a series of collaborative cross-border art projects in South East Europe and the UK. Projects can include performances, publications, exhibitions, installations, networks, websites, residencies or workshops (this list is not exhaustive). You should apply to the Collaborative Project Fund if you want to create such a project.

Projects that enrich the cultural life of Europe and its surrounding countries and build networks for dialogue and debate across the arts communities of South East Europe and the UK, as well as fostering understanding, skills development, trust and respect across borders.

The application process is in two stages:

• Stage One – Concept Note–Deadline now extended to Oct 10 08
• Stage Two – Full Application (if invited)–accepted until Nov 30 08
Individual artists or groups/companies working in all art forms are eligible to apply for the fund. As long as you work in the Arts and are committed and enthusiastic about cross-border collaboration you can apply!

Failure to complete the form correctly or respond to queries from the Creative Collaboration team will mean that your application cannot be considered. Applications should be completed in English.

Creative Collaboration will normally support up to 50% of a project’s total budget. Priority will be given to applicants able to demonstrate that they have a balanced range of sources of income, including in-kind contributions, in place. However, in exceptional circumstances we may fund a higher percentage of a project’s budget. At Stage Two, applicants will be required to submit a detailed budget forecast for the creation and delivery of their project.

We are offering grants for research and development projects up to a maximum of £5,000, and grants for fully developed projects of between £5,000 and £25,000. In exceptional cases we may fund larger scale, higher value collaborative projects/multi-country arts partnerships. We are unable to offer support for existing projects but proposals developed from ideas already under discussion, or existing models that can be developed further will be considered. In addition, we are unable to provide retrospective funding for any project-related activities taking place before the application process has been completed and project funding has been confirmed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

London's Green Theatre Initiative

This is an article publish in 'The Stage' on 10 September 2008 by Matthew Hemley

London’s theatre industry pumps 50,000 tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year - equivalent to 10% of the city’s total bus emissions or the annual energy consumption of 9,000 homes. The findings are outlined this week in a document entitled Green Theatre - Taking Action on Climate Change, a joint initiative between Mayor Boris Johnson and leading theatre groups, including the Society of London Theatre, National Theatre, the Theatres Trust and Ambassador Theatre Group.

Described as an action plan for the industry, it outlines measures that the capital’s venues can take to reduce energy use in buildings. The annual figure of 50,000 tons of carbon emissions that London theatres create is equivalent to that of 830 buses. The figure, which does not include pre-production or audience travel, is also equal to the total TV emissions from all homes in Westminster. Surprisingly, the biggest chunk of the theatre industry’s carbon footprint - 35% - comes from activities front of house, such as air-conditioning in auditoriums, a convenience an increasing number of venues pride themselves on offering audiences.

The heating and cooling of rehearsal spaces comprises 28% of the total footprint, while stage electrics, including lighting and sound, are responsible for 9% of the overall amount.
The document and its findings, based on assessments of more than 100 venues and theatre suppliers throughout Greater London, warns: “Without action, emissions and fuel bills are set to grow, in particular with the trend of West End productions using more energy to create ever more visually-spectacular shows.”

Johnson said his aim was to see London’s theatres achieve a 60% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2025 and described the industry’s power to set an example in tackling climate change as “immense”. He added: “This plan will enable all of us to reach that 60% target and avoid some of the potentially disastrous consequences of carrying on business as usual. It will help theatres to communicate the message about climate change to audiences, without imposing on their artistic integrity or reducing the quality of shows.”

Controversially, the plan includes recommendations that theatres:
• Charge production companies for specific energy use.
• Switch on stage lighting just 30 minutes before a show starts, to save a collective £100,000 a year in energy costs.
• Install low-energy bulbs in the foyer and backstage areas.
• Include equipment energy costs in production budgets.

Travel is not included in the theatre industry’s carbon footprint of 50,000 tons, but separate findings show audience travel to London theatres accounts for 35,000 tons of carbon emissions a year. These findings reveal one in three theatregoers still travel by car or taxi to a show. The plan said that if all audiences travelling to a theatre by these means switched to public transport, carbon emissions from audience travel would be reduced by around 14%.
For a full report, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

'The Nanny' is New Voice of US Public Diplomacy

This is how we win hearts and minds? With, possibly, the most annoying voice in America? Can't the Bush Administration just give up? It's only a few more months. It's like they are determined to fail abroad.

Television star Fran Drescher will serve as the newest envoy for US public diplomacy, with trips planned later this month to eastern Europe, the State Department said Friday. Star of the television comedy hit, The Nanny, Drescher will join baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr and US figure-skating superstar Michelle Kwan as envoys who help polish Washington's image abroad. Drescher is "a Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, cancer survivor and founder of non-profit organisation the Cancer Schmancer Movement," the State Department recalled in a statement. "She will support US public diplomacy efforts, including working with health organizations and women's groups to raise awareness of women's health issues, cancer awareness and detection, and patient empowerment and advocacy," it said. Her first trip in late September will include stops in Romania, Hungary, Kosovo and Poland. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri formally announced Drescher's appointment in Washington on Monday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ailey Member 'Made To Dance' for Israeli Security

How does one prove they aren’t a terrorist? Dance.

At least that’s what Abdur-Rahim Jackson, renowned dancer with Alvin Ailey, had to do to convince Israeli airport security in Tel Aviv that he wasn’t planning jihad. Jackson, 31, was detained on Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv because officials were suspicious of his first Muslin name. He says he was grilled about his name and asked twice to dance before being allowed to enter the country. Jackson, a graduate of Julliard and an eight-year veteran of the elite 30-member multicultural dance ensemble, said airport security guards separated him from the group as soon as they touched down in Tel Aviv.

"It was really an embarrassing and unpleasant position to be in," Jackson said Tuesday. "To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit…We passed the security check, and then I was approached and asked to step aside.” He said he was escorted to a separate waiting area where security guards questioned him for an hour about his first name.

"I explained to them that my father converted to Islam and gave me this name...They repeatedly asked me what my father's name is, what my mother's name is and why they gave me this name."

Attempting to prove he is a professional dancer, Jackson handed them an Alvin Ailey brochure featuring photos of him performing. "They saw the pictures and then one of them asked me to dance for him," Jackson said. "I was embarrassed, but I was afraid to do something wrong that may cause me to look suspicious."

Minutes after dancing for one security guard, Jackson was requested to repeat the impromptu performance for a female security guard. "I demonstrated a few dance moves and after another clarification of the details, they released me and allowed me to join the rest of the troupe," Jackson said.

He said he did not file a complaint, explaining, "We're only here to bring positive light to our lives and the people here."

Security officials at Ben-Gurion airport refused to issue an apology. TheIsrael Airports Authority said, "The details of the incident are unknown to us, and no corroboration was found in the investigation we conducted."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Broadway's Glass Ceiling

American playwright Theresa Rebeck, writing for the London Guardian, responds to the recent NYTimes article about the upcoming male-dominated season on Broadway. Hilary Clinton may have made 18 million cracks in the metaphoric ‘glass ceiling’, but female theatre artists aren’t having the same commercial luck. “In the 2008/2009 season, as it has been announced, the number of plays written by women on New York stages will amount to 12.6% of the total. Want to know the same figure for the 1908/1909 season? Let's see, it was ... 12.8%!” Read the article here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Natakam International Theatre Research Lab India

The Natakam International Theatre Research Lab India, in collaboration with Sopanam Performing Arts Centre and Actes Lies Theatre France, host an International Theatre Conference and Solo Performance Festival in Kerala, India from18-22 Jan 2009 (with a deadline of 30 Nov 2008). This year’s themes are Body Kinesis in Intercultural Performance and Matriarchy- Performance of Motherhood.

To gather a community of performance oriented group from all over India and abroad.
To explore the matriarchal point of view and the performance related to it exploring with traditional lores.
To provide opportunity for presentation and discussion on researches among academic scholars and practitioners in the theatre and performance studies in India.
To theorize on the present state of Intercultural aspects related to body images in Performance.
Studies discourse through the series of researches and / or presentations;
To exchange information among scholars and practitioners in the theatre and performance studies regarding this traditional theatre form;
To build networks among scholars and practitioners for future collaboration in research, academic exchange and performance praxis.
Performance Studies scholars interested and/or focused on Body exploration/kinesis.

Researchers, academics and consultants with research interests on Theatre and Performance Studies (especially those who specialize in intercultural studies)
Theatre practitioners: actors, directors, artistic staff, production staff and stage staff who specialize or perform.
Graduate and post-graduate students in theatre, performance studies and related fields
Publishers of journals and/or academic textbooks in Theatre and Intercultural Performance Studies
Students in theatre arts, art studies, art education, performance studies and related disciplines.

Email Contacts:
haikutvla@rediffmail.com or sreejithdasaratha@yahoo.com or kalari7th@gmail.com

Sunday, September 7, 2008

NY Season Preview

Not to fear. Shrek and Dirty Dancing are not the only pieces of crap headed to a stage near you. Heck you might even be lucky enough to see Harry Potter's 'magic wand' or watch Katie Holmes suck as much on stage as she does on film. Here is a list from the NYTimes of this season's theatrical gambles. Some will hit, some will miss and some shouldn't have ever been considered. Take a gander.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

DV8 Physical Theatre Auditions

DV8 Physical Theatre is seeking highly experienced and trained dancers with strong technique and discipline. Acting ability and a willingness to improvise are essential.The company will be holding open auditions in New York, Paris and London for:1. Future projects. 2. The re-casting of the 2009 tour of "To Be Straight With You." Information about the auditions and company can be found here.

New York
Saturday 4th October, 10am till 5pm
New Dance Group Studio, Studios 4 & 5
305 West 38th St, New York, NY 10018

Saturday 25th October , 10am till 5pm
Maison des ArtsEntrée des artistes
1 avenue du Général Billotte, 94000 CRETEIL

Saturday 8th November , 9am till 5pm
Steve Whitson Studio, Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial St, London E1 6AB

Friday, September 5, 2008

Italy's Starving Cultural Institutions

Italian arts institutions are in a pickle and they only have themselves to blame for electing Berlusconi to a third term. (At least us in the US are constitutionally protecting from having Bush serve another term.) Below are some excerpts from a NYTimes article with a link to the full text here.

"Arts institutions across Italy are reeling from a sweeping round of budget cuts adopted this summer by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's four-month-old conservative government. More than $1.3 billion has been slashed from the culture ministry’s budget for the next three years. The cuts have affected hundreds of museums and archaeological sites that depend on state money, as well as opera houses, theaters, filmmakers, libraries, archives and conservators of monuments and artworks; they also threaten the lush countryside, which the Culture Ministry is expected to protect.

Weak economic growth and stricter EU limits on government budget deficits have forced member countries to reduce public arts financing. But critics here grumble of particular shortsightedness in Italy. While the nation touts its cultural heritage as an essential component of national economic growth, critics say the government fails to preserve this precious resource. (“It is our oil,” Sandro Bondi, the culture minister, told the Turin daily La Stampa this week.) Italy’s most recent operating budget allocated just 0.28 percent to the culture ministry."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nordic Culture Forum on Contemporary Drama

165 participants took part in the Nordic Culture Forum’s gathering to discuss contemporary drama took place in Tampere on 7-8 August 2008. All countries shared the need to reach out to new audiences with new stories. The search for new audiences has brought along new kinds of working methods, like hatcheries where playwrights work in groups and together with tutors and actors. One of the future challenges is to reach out to the new members of the society and to tell the stories that they can associate with.

Nordic theatres have not chosen many new plays from neighboring countries, and, excluding the classics and children’s plays, there are only few plays from other Nordic countries in the theatre repertoires. As a future recipe, the NCF suggested open and strong Nordic networks, which follow the time and adapt to the changing needs. They could also play an important role in changing the focus of Nordic cooperation towards the international theatre field.

Check out the English language link here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

RSC Launches Public Donation Appeal

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has launched an appeal to raise £1m in public donations to help rebuild its main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The theatre closed for redevelopment in 2007 and the RSC has already received more than £100m towards the work. Now the company is seeking a further £10m and is hoping £1m will come from public donations. Donors will be able to sponsor a brick for £50, or have a seat in the theatre in Warwickshire named after them.

The transformation of the Grade II listed building started last year and should be completed by 2010. The new auditorium will incorporate the art deco facade of the 1932 theatre. Plans include a "thrust" stage for the main theatre, a 108ft (33m) tower at the entrance and a riverside walkway. The RSC has already raised £102m, including £50m from the Arts Council of England and £22m in private pledges.

The RSC has a long history of raising money from private sources. When fire severely damaged the original Stratford theatre in 1926, it was rebuilt following an international emergency appeal. And in the 1980s the nearby Swan Theatre was paid for entirely by an American philanthropist, Fred Koch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NY's First Irish Theatre Festival

Hard to believe it hasn't happened yet, but so was George C. Heslin, artistic director of Origin Theater Company, who organized the first ever Irish Theatere Festival in NY. With such notable Broadway names as Conor McPherson and Martin McDonagh, it's shocking to think this is the first stab at it, but, hey, stranger things have happened here in the Big Apple. Running now until 28 September, nine companies will present the plays of 13 writers at five locations, including Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs (which again is surprising that it's having it's NY premiere, since I saw it in Edinburgh last century and up at Williamstown at least five years ago). Check out the NYTimes article here.