Saturday, December 27, 2008

World Stage Design 2009

Korean Theatre Artist Association and OISTAT have launched a new website for World Stage Design 2009. Check out the website for their gallery of world theatre design and a competition for scenographers/theatre designers to be presented online and at Seoul World Stage Design exhibition in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Visas / the discordant note

Ole Reitov & Hans Hjorth have released a white paper on visa issues, Europe and artist mobility. Focused primarily on the music industry, the paper hightlights a number of problems faced by creative companies working with artists from non-EU countries. Read the paper here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Applications for Romania's 2009 is a non-competitive international experimental theatre festival taking place between the 18th and 25 October 2009 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and organized by Teatrul Imposibil (The Impossible Theatre), an independent Cultural Association located in Cluj-Napoca. is an event addressing young people (15-45), artists and public, both from Romania and abroad, interested in new/experimental arts and media, as they are the ones whose new perception needs and social references are served by the experimental artistic field. Also, either as public or as artists they need this kind of collaborative activities in order to have access to different perspectives on the cultural, political and social issues, through art. The participants will be “cultural ambassadors” of their countries, and will have the opportunity to represent their national cultural specificity. In the same time the event will offer them the time and the place to exchange experiences and points of view and to work in unfamiliar media, in order to challenge their creativity and to discover other perspectives, as a result of our across borders intercultural approach. Applications are due 1 March 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The ‘Greening’ of London Theatres

Mark Shenton has written on the Guardian blog about London’s promise to reduce energy use in their buildings. According to a report from the mayor’s office, the theatre industry creates 50,000 tons of cardon emissions a year. The action plan proposes a 60% reduction by 2025, which would be the eqivalent of converting 5000 London homes to zero-carbon. The Arcola in Dalston has lead the charge by promising to becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boyd and Sacks Discuss Actors and Memory

RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd and neurologist & author Dr. Oliver Sacks recently had a conversation at Columbia University about memory and actors. Check out some excerpts here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brantley says 'year of trans-Atlantic theatre in NY'

Ben Brantley, chief theatre critic of the 'New York Times', summed up the 2008 theatre season with this opening:

"According to all current maps the theater district known as Broadway is still in Manhattan, while its British counterpart, the West End, is firmly based in London. Yet a majority of the items in the list below might have been culled from either place. This was the year of trans-Atlantic theater in New York, when Anglo-American cooperation (a subject wittily excoriated this season in Caryl Churchill 's Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? at the Public Theater) produced a hearty crop of expertly mounted — and in some cases transcendent — productions. The year’s best new musical (Billy Elliot) originated in the West End, and the most important New York premiere (Blasted) was a production of a show first seen in London more than a decade ago."

He's right and he's wrong. Sure, it was a great year for English language UK imports, but that really doesn't encompass 'trans-Atlantic'. Brantley does follows it up by saying 'Anglo-American cooperation' which is much closer to the truth, so let's not kid ourselves. The Brits have, on average, have had better large scale productions, both dramatic and musical on Broadway for years (I mean, when will f*#king Phantom close?). But saying it's the 'Year of Trans-Atlantic theatre' is like Sarah Palin saying 'Africa is a country'. If London is all Brantley thinks is 'trans-Atlantic', then I encourage him to seek out productions from places like Reykjavik, Oslo, Madrid, Lisbon, Algiers, Casablanca, Dakar or Capetown. All of those are right across the Atlantic too.

Yes, Billy Elliot is another example of how a successful movie has made it to the West End/Broadway. Big deal. Shouldn't Lord of the Rings be coming soon? And Blasted was fantastic, as it was 10 years ago. So why has it taken so long for it to finally get here? New York likes to think it's the center of the universe, but in the 21st century, the center is everywhere. Instead, the city is quickly becoming a museum town like Rome or Paris. It's not the cutting edge anymore, just a theme-park replica of a place where things once happened. Americans can easily mass produce, package and promote a product in order to make money, but the art often gets lost in the shuffle. The Brits play the same game, but they haven't completely lost their sense of quality yet. They will, but not yet.

And it's far from over. 2009 begins with the biggest Anglophile f*#kfest imaginable with The Bridge Project at BAM. The radical concept of having Yanks and Red Coats work together on the same stage at the same time. This isn't a comment on the productions (I actually think they'll probably be pretty good compared to what else is out there). This is a comment on what is supposed to be radical. New York didn't experience a British Invasion as Brantley seems to suggest. The Brits have been here forever and don't seem to have any plans of leaving. We get our revenge in London by making them watch Josh Hartnett in Rain Man.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tercer Festival Internacional de Teatro y Danza

La Compañía de Teatro ANTIFAZ, fundada en la ciudad de Iquique, Región de Tarapacá el 03 de Marzo de 1993, a la fecha convertida en una de las organizaciones teatrales de mayor prestigio dentro y fuera de sus fronteras, convoca a todas las agrupaciones del arte representativo en las áreas del Teatro y la Danza al TERCER FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE TEATRO Y DANZA FINTDAZ 2009, A realizarse del 12 al 17 de Octubre, en la ciudad de Iquique, Región de Tarapacá – Chile.

IQUIQUE - Tierra de Sol, Playas, Desiertos, Salitreras, Oasis y Zona Franca.

El FINTDAZ es un evento de iniciativa privada, de autogestión, que logra su soporte económico a través de Proyectos Artísticos Culturales, Auspicios de Empresas Comerciales y Aporte de Colaboradores Anónimos.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Irish New Wave in New York

Belinda McKeon has written a great article for the ‘Irish Times’ about the new wave of Irish theatre that hit New York in 2008, and it sure wasn’t the Yeatsian vision that many traditional theatregoers and critics were expecting, including Rough Magic's Improbable Frequency at 59E59. Read it here.

“It's not such a bad thing to bring to New York a piece of theatre which belongs clearly neither in one box or in another…Preconceptions about Irish theatre - let alone Irish musical comedy - won't have been much help to them. Again, not such a bad thing. Because, in fact, it has been the year of living variously for Irish theatre in New York. Improbable Frequency is far from being the first Irish show which critics have found difficult to pin down.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Antonin Artaud for President

I read in the morning paper today that of all of the write-in votes for the recent U.S. presidential election, amidst the ballots cast for Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, someone wrote in 'Antonin Artaud'. Lord knows what ol' Antonin would think of Barack Obama, but I trust we can be pretty thankful that Artaud isn't around to run for office. Hasn't George W. Bush conducted enough 'Theatre of Cruelty'?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peter Brook Begins Hand Over of Bouffes du Nord

Legendary stage director, Peter Brook, now 83, will begin a “gradual transition from the inside”, resulting in handing over the reigns of the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in 2010 to Olivier Mantei, deputy head of the Paris opera company Opéra-Comique and currently head of the musical programming at the Bouffes du Nord. Olivier Poubelle, a theatre entrepreneur specialising in modern music at some of Paris's most cutting-edge popular music venues, will work alongside him. The worn old theater, which Brook rescued from ruin in 1974, is where he has based his International Centre for Theatre Research.

Brook said: "I wanted to look very realistically to the future. I can't say I'll stay here forever. Everyone says something has been created almost invisibly in this theatre over 34 years. A lot of thought went into what would be the proper continuity. I didn't want to just place someone here and say, 'Here, take over.' I never talked about retirement as retirement is something forced on you by the state if you are unfortunate enough to work for the state. This has always been a private theatre… The first thing I wanted to establish – having spent all my life fighting against tradition and saying everything in the theatre must always be in a state of evolution, must always refuse to have a method, a way of working – was to avoid [appointing] a successor who would have to try and prove my line, which is against the whole life force of the theatre."

Read about here in English and here in French.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ERICarts Study on Mobility in Creative Sector

Check out the ERICarts Institute’s study for the European Commission on mobility incentives in the culture/creative sector. This was not intended to be an audit of all mobility related schemes in Europe, but rather a survey and analysis of the range and scope as well as motives and results of such programs.

During the course of the study, ERICarts collected information on:
* mobility trends in different regions of Europe;
* recent debates taking place within individual countries;
* existing mobility schemes (their objectives, kind of support, target beneficiaries, eligibility conditions and the nature of benefits);
* the main motives for funding bodies to support mobility; and
* the main sources where professionals can find information about mobility incentives or barriers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

NEA Announces Report on Nonprofit Theaters

Washington, D.C. -- Nonprofit theaters in the United States have seen unprecedented expansion across the United States, according to new research from the National Endowment for the Arts. All America's a Stage examines developments in the growth, distribution, and finances of America's nonprofit theater system since 1990. While the research indicates broad growth and generally positive fiscal health, it also reveals decreasing attendance rates and vulnerability during economic downturns.

"America has created a magnificent national network of nonprofit theaters," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Our challenge now is to use them ambitiously to bring the power of theater to our citizens, students, and communities."

Nearly 2,000 nonprofit theaters were analyzed for the study, which draws from several data sources such as the Internal Revenue Service, Theater Communications Group member survey data, the U.S. Census Bureau's Economic Census Data, and data from the NEA's Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. The investigation revealed that NEA funding is a likely catalyst in drawing sizeable contributions from other sources. Each dollar in NEA grant support is associated with an additional $12 from individual donors, $1.88 from businesses, and $3.55 from foundations. Among the key findings:

Broad and rapid expansion across the country
The number of nonprofit theaters in the United States has doubled over a 15-year period. In 2005, there were 1,982 nonprofit theaters with annual budgets of at least $75,000, up 100 percent from 991 in 1990.
Among the top ten states with the highest per capita concentration of theaters are Vermont, Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Connecticut, and Minnesota.
Although theaters continue to cluster in high-population states, the number of theaters in small and mid-sized population states has grown substantially. From 1990 to 2005, the sharpest growth rate occurred in Nevada, Arkansas, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Mississippi.

Theater finances – generally good news
Nonprofit theaters generally have maintained a healthy balance sheet. Between 1990 and 2005, real assets (such as land, buildings, and equipment) grew by nearly 60 percent, while liabilities remained flat.
Nonprofit theaters have achieved a more equitable balance between earned and contributed income. Earned income made up 52 percent of all nonprofit theater revenue in 2005, the remainder was mostly contributed. Individuals and foundations remain the biggest contributors to nonprofit theater.
In 2002, individuals donated 40 percent of all contributed revenue, and foundation giving made up 22 percent.
Between 1990 and 2005, nonprofit theater revenues fluctuated sharply with business cycles in the U.S. economy. After the 2001 recession, nonprofit theater revenue (including both ticket sales and contributions) dropped nearly 12 percent in 2002. Revenue continued to decrease slowly from 2002 to 2005.

Flat or shrinking attendance rates
Audience trends are flat or in decline. The percentage of the U.S. adult population attending non-musical theater has declined from 13.5 percent (25 million people) in 1992 to 9.4 percent (21 million people) in 2008. The absolute size of the audience has declined by 16 percent since 1992.
The number of adults who have attended musical theater has grown since 1992, but remains largely constant as a percentage of the population.
Attendance trends do not seem primarily related to ticket prices. Statistical models predict that a 20 percent price hike in low-end subscription or single tickets will reduce total attendance by only 2 percent. These data suggest that other facts are likely affecting the demand for theater.

Press Release from NEA

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Edinburgh Fringe Gets A Bailout

It’s nice to know that in some countries, such as Scotland, it isn’t only the financial and auto industries getting bailed out, but theatre festivals as well. The funding package for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival includes a loan of £125,000 from the city council and a one-off grant of £65,000 from the Scottish Arts Council. The Scottish Government will also provide an advance of £60,000 on future funding. Read the full BBC report here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Austrian Actor's Accidental Suicide On Stage

Daniel Hoevels, 30, accidentally slit his throat on stage last Saturday night when the prop knife for his suicide scene was actually a real one. Hoevels was performing his final scene in Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart at Vienna’s Burgtheater, when he committed the unfortunate act. When blood began pouring from his neck, the audience applauded, thinking it was a very life-like ‘special effect’. The police have questioned the cast and crew to determine whether it was a mistake or an attempted murder. Hoevels survived only because he missed his carotid artery. The knife was reportedly bought at a local shop and one possibility is that the props staff forgot to blunt its blade. After emergency treatment at a hospital, Hoevels declared that ‘the show must go on’, and returned to the stage on Sunday night with a bandage tied around his neck, ready to once again meet his mock demise. So the valuable lesson to be learned here for any actor is: Always check your props.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

UNESCO Committee Meets on Cultural Diversity

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee of Convention on the protection and promotion of diversity of cultural expressions is meeting in Paris from December 8-12 to discuss international cooperation and sustainable development. The 24-member committee, chaired by Canadian Gilbert Laurin, will examine means of promoting international cooperation in the field of cultural expressions as well as means of encouraging the parties to integrate culture into sustainable development in accordance with the terms of the Convention. It will also examine a preliminary draft on the use of resources of international funds for cultural diversity whose objective is to support the emergence of a dynamic cultural sector. Decisions taken by the Committee will be submitted to a conference of the parties to the Convention that will meet in June 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

US Invades UK or UK Invades US?

The London critic, Michael Billington, recently ruffled some feathers with his article entitled ‘United Stages of America’. In it, he laments that there is an American takeover of British stages, singling out the Royal Court who has had 24 of its 36 playing weeks this season dominated by work from U.S. playwrights.

Later, Dominic Cook, the RC’s artistic director, concluded in a letter by saying, “You might even argue that the considerable American talent that exists is underrepresented - this year only 16 out of 44 playing weeks saw American plays in our main auditorium. In our second house, none of the seven plays was American. According to its founding mission statement, the Royal Court exists to ‘create the conditions for writers, nationally and internationally, to flourish’. To stage plays from beyond our own borders is our obligation and I am proud to do so.”

To complete the triumvirate, Karen Fricker, an American lecturer in contemporary theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London and deputy London theatre critic for Variety, posits on the Guardian blog that “What makes London one of the world's great cultural centres is the multiplicity of art forms available from every corner of the globe… Few would disagree that if London's arts scene were less international then the city's liveliness would start to wither.”, and then asks, “Is there a pressing need for London-based theatres in particular to prioritise plays that interrogate the state of the English nation? Are issues of national identity still of paramount importance in a 21st-century global city?"

What’s so wonderful about this discussion is that it’s nearly identical to the one being had in New York, except it is the complaint that the British have staged a takeover of American theatres, with Billy Elliot being the most recent invasion. Of course, this debate is rather moot, because it’s just re-enforcing the entire Anglo-American worldview. The upcoming Bridge Project at BAM is the prime example. Cross-cultural exchange and collaboration is incredibly important, and The Bridge Project is an important first step, but it is still the safest choice on the block. Sure, they are taking a victory lap around Europe between NY and London, but that doesn’t really amount to real engagement; only spectacular star-worship.

The real question that needs to be asked is, ‘Where are all the plays that weren’t written in English?’ (and staging Chekhov or Ibsen doesn’t count). There are clearly dozens of remarkable playwrights out there from every country offering unique stories that transcend national and linguistic boundaries. No doubt translation is an issue, but it is too often used as an excuse. How about the U.S. and U.K. settle their arguments by agreeing, for a season, to stage works by writers who aren’t from English-speaking countries? You want to talk about a true global explosion of stories and ideas? Let's try it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

U.S. Dept. of State Launches Online Video Contest

The U.S. State Dept., in conjunction with the Adobe Foundation, have launched an online video contest to amplify U.S. public diplomacy using web-based outreach campaigns and social media platforms. The “My Culture + Your Culture = ? Share Your Story” video contest is part of a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) initiative to encourage cross-cultural community building and mutual understanding via the web and social media platforms. The contest also highlights the newly designed website,, which is a portal to ECA’s Facebook page and its ExchangesConnect social network (

The Department of State invite members of the ExchangesConnect online community to submit a short video (up to 3 minutes) on the contest’s theme. Video submissions will be accepted December 1, 2008 to January 26, 2009. The ExchangesConnect community will vote on video entries and an expert panel of judges, all ECA exchange alumni, will rank the “top 40” videos. Two foreign and two American winners will be selected by ECA. International winners will be eligible for a two-week all-expenses paid exchange trip to the United States; the American winners will receive the same to an overseas destination.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Iran: New Voices

Chris Wilkinson from The Guardian recaps the recent festival of new Iranian work at the Barbican. The season presented three productions: Daedalus and Icarus by the Mungu Theatre Company, Quartet: A Journey North from the Mehr Theatre Company and The Power of Cliché by Haleh Anvari. The program also featured films and a series of lectures about the history and current state of Iranian performance. As Wilkinson concludes, “If the Barbican's season demonstrates anything, it is that not only is this kind of cross-cultural conversation vital in overcoming common prejudices, but also that this dialogue is actually already thriving, even though you might not notice it at first glance.” Read the article here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ivo van Hove in Conversation with Chuck Mee

[I do theatre] 'to be happy.'

'Theatre is a real part of my life. It's not a job.'

'I hate the term "deconstructionist". It's not what I do.'

‘What’s interesting about life are the things you don’t know yet.’

‘Preparation is my safety net.’

‘Our goal is always Olympic; go for the gold. Better to fail with grandeur.’

‘A play is like a holiday. We have to all decide where to go. If I decide to go to Umbria and the actor goes to Budapest, we aren’t on the same vacation.’

‘Before you find the exit to the building, you have to find the entrance.’

‘I direct texts. They are not my fantasies. I try to direct what the writer intended.’

[to Chuck Mee] ‘Eugene O’Neill is your opposite.’

‘When you close the rehearsal room door, you can live all your fantasies. You can live what is forbidden in society. All these experiences are inside us.’

‘I try not to know how the scene ends. We have a misunderstanding that we have to know.’

‘I admire actors who play it like opening night at the first rehearsal.’

‘When you don’t know the answer to something, don’t pretend like you do.’

‘Craftsmanship without passion is boring.’

‘We always play an interpretation. It’s never objective.’

‘I can tell much more about myself with someone else’s words. It’s more personal.’

Friday, December 5, 2008

Foreman To Stream Wednesday Rehearsals

Looks like Richard Foreman at the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre has followed The Internationalists streaming lead and will begin broadcasting Wednesday rehearsals of his new show, Astronome – A Night at the Opera. Theatre bloggers have been abuzz, being given the change to witness this downtown director’s collaboration with musician John Zorn. We’ll see how the experiment goes, and if influences the show or is just a clever marketing devise.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Kentridge Amidst the Venice Floodwaters

Before Venice flooded this week, William Kentridge, a South African artist, with the Handspring Puppet Company and the Ricercar Consort, a small period-instrument ensemble from Belgium, mounted Monteverdi’s “Return of Ulysses” at the ancient Malibran Theater. At the same time, a video Mr. Kentridge devised for the fire curtain at Venice’s main opera house, La Fenice, was revealed. “Made to be seen as audiences arrive and the orchestra tunes up, it will be shown over the coming weeks before various operas.” Read Michael Kimmelman’s NYTimes article here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alas, poor Yorick, I knew Andre well.

Apparently the dead are more distracting than the living in the latest incarnation of Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company. The skull of concert pianist and Holocaust survivor Andre Tchaikowsky has been appearing in the current Stratford production, starring David Tennant, and is causing a bit of a sensation. It was Tchaikowsky's dying wish to have his skull used in Hamlet and he bequeathed it to the RSC, but now the company says a fake skull will be used when it transfers to London. Audiences were unaware the skull belonged to the Oxford pianist, but the secret was revealed by Tennant. The RSC told Channel 4 that now the secret was out, it would be "too distracting for the audience" if the skull was used. Tchaikowsky died of cancer at the age of 46 and donated his organs to medical research, with the exception of his skull.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ivo van Hove Returns to NYC with 'Opening Night'

Acclaimed Belgian director Ivo van Hove returns to New York with a stage adaption of John Cassavetes’s 1977 film, Opening Night. New Yorkers know him mostly for his radical interpretations of the classics (Williams, Ibsen, O'Neill, Moliere) produced at NYTW. Opening Night shows another side of van Hove and his interest in screen-to-stage adaptions of classic films. The five performances begin at BAM on Tuesday and will be performed in Dutch with actors from Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Be sure to read Tom Sellar's fantastic article from the NYTimes here.