Thursday, March 29, 2012

The beauty of Indie Theatre


Contributed by Jordana Williams


When I was 19, my friends and I drove up from North Carolina and camped out all night for tickets to RENT. That show meant the world to us. Because it was about artists in New York, which was what we all wanted to be someday.

I am an artist in New York now, but it's nothing like I thought it would be. I have two kids. I have a steady day job that I totally don't hate. I am neither deliriously rich nor dramatically poor, which I used to think were the only two options available for artists. I wouldn't even know how to begin sticking it to the man. It's all I can do to sort out babysitting while I'm at rehearsal. And I haven't lost much sleep over whether or not to sell out because: A) I don't think anyone's buying, and B) I don't have much sleep left to lose.

I don't know if I would recommend my life to anyone else, but it works for me. And somehow--blessedly and improbably--I think being a mom has made me a better artist. The less sense my artistic life makes, the more clarity I find about exactly why I'm sticking around.

Every time I read a script or consider a project, I have to decide if it's worth the missed bedtime stories, the favors called in, and the sheer exhaustion. It means I say no to stuff. It means I've had a dozen ideas that really excited me for a few days that I just never followed through on. But it also means that when I do move ahead with something, it's usually tremendously satisfying; not only because I chose carefully, but also because every time I walk into a rehearsal room, I have to justify my time there. It's made me more focused, honest, and efficient. It's made me more respectful of my collaborators' and audience's time as well.

The beauty of Indie Theatre, to me, is that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. Nobody's getting famous. Nobody's even getting paid enough to live on. It's nearly impossible to cajole an audience to part with a small amount of time and money to come see our shows. I used to think this was depressing, but now I think it's kind of awesome. Because you can't control the money or the fame or the audiences. All you really have any say in is how completely the art you make reflects your own values and interests and twisted sense of humor. If other people like it, that's great. If they don't, at least you do. Eventually, I think we all wind up doing it for the right reasons--even if it's only because the wrong reasons simply don't pan out.

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Jordana Williams has directed Mac Rogers' Hail Satan, Van Badham's Continuing Occupation for The Australia Project, The First Annual St. Ignatius Hanukah Pageant for 'Tis the @#$%ing Season at Theatre Row, Mac Rogers' Roll, four years with the Estrogenius Festival and several stints with The 24 Hour Plays. She is the lyricist portion of Williams/Rogers/Williams (Fleet Week, Air Guitar, The
First Annual St. Ignatius Hanukah Pagean and Love Story: A Story of Love). She is one of the founders of Gideon Productions, which currently is running Blast Radius.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All the World's a Stage

Contributed by Claire Lebowitz


All the world is absolutely a stage. In the theater of my dreams everyone is an actor. When one is made aware of this, a series of deep truths must follow. How will you play it? In the “how” we come to terms with our agency as players. This agency is important because the unification of the human organism is the cohesion of impulse and action, which is our only method for true social change. Acting teaches us that we are not merely helpless victims in the throws of an inhumane set of circumstances. When we act we practice the highest form of compassion and understanding and expand our own sense of ourselves. The actor is our guide through the transformative power of the theater. This could potentially transfer into one’s life and make us aware of the inter-relatedness of all things and the shades of difference that class, geography, language, race, age and gender place between us and the other.

The actor-spectator relationship must be examined carefully because when we talk about social change what we really mean to do is revolutionize man’s relationship to man. The theater gives us the opportunity to play by a different script than the play of war. To commune with people in a space and share the time, the moments of our life and expect those honorable guests to listen and not only listen but feel and relate; this is a daunting and important task. Everything is a symbol. We can hold a mirror up to what we perceive as consensus reality or we can rehearse another world.

We find ourselves in a time where Americans and people all over the world are finally waking up and realizing that we’ve lost our public assembly. We can no longer meet each other on the world stage to reveal ourselves in public and give voice to our struggles and our desires. If another world is to be possible the theater must become a popular art form; our concept of the theater must be expanded beyond “the fourth wall”, the imaginary thing that separates “us” from “them”.

Such a powerful tool should be used to create change and be accessible to all. Theater should be free; it should speak to the real struggles and desires of the people, not the board of director’s luxury lifestyle and the frivolity that keeps us all complacent. And surely, theater must exist beyond a ten block radius of midtown patronized by those who can afford to support a theater that perpetuates their status and serves the self-referential academic canon.

In the post-modern world that we live in our social media is making more people than ever aware of their opportunity to “create themselves”. The theater gives us a unique space to play out these questions of representation unmediated by technology. It is the place where we can try to discover who we really are. Though Shakespeare also knew and we must not forget that the theater is not only in the theater; it is in the streets!

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Claire Lebowitz is an actor, director and writer in NYC. She is currently an activist with the Performance Guild and the People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street. She was once assistant director under Judith Malina and the Living Theatre and most recently traveled to Afghanistan and India directing and teaching theater and civics to Afghan youth.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

International WTD Message 2012:



by John Malkovich


I'm honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.

May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life's work. And may the best of you - for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments - succeed in framing that most basic of questions, "how do we live?" Godspeed.


Monday, March 26, 2012

A Deeper Live Experience



Contributed by Sarah Cameron Sunde


I sit here at my computer trying to write this blog post that soon will be live for anyone who has access to the Internet to see. It’s miraculous, really. Hours from now, someone in Malaysia might stumble upon my post by googling just the right combination of words, and they might decide to reach out -- actually, let’s do this as a test: if you’re a person far from New York City who reads this post, please comment below. Just say hello and where you’re writing from and I’ll write you back. And who knows? Maybe we’ll form a connection that we can sustain. Maybe we’ll meet in person someday (I love introducing international theater artists to New York) and maybe we’ll decide to make a piece of work together....It’s possible. Anything is possible.

That’s what I love about the Internet - the serendipitous encounters with words and ideas that I would never have come into contact with 20 years ago. What I don’t love about the Internet is how it’s changed my ability to focus. I used to have a long attention span. But now, because of the sheer number of things I could explore at any give moment on my computer, I find myself more easily distracted and with a never-ending to-do list that feels unconquerable.

Since January of 2011, I’ve been working with a group of inter-disciplinary artists (a dancer, a composer, an actor, a visual artist and a video artist). Last week we finally decided on a name for ourselves after months of googling and searching for evocative words that no one in the world had come up with before. The possibilities were endless and yet completely limited.

With Lydian Junction (our brand new title), I am exploring a wide range of questions, but one that keeps emerging is this: how do we sustain live performance in our technology-dependent contemporary world? We’re attacking this question by going towards that place of fear. We use cutting edge video technology in service of making a deeper live experience for the audience. Many groups out there are exploring in similar tracks and because of the Internet, we have the possibility of sharing ideas faster than ever before. Our work can be in conversation with a global community.

And yet, in another way, theater is -- and will always be -- local. My theater friends in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Iraq might feel they know my work based on emails I send or what I post on my website. But until they actually experience it in its live form, they can’t fully know what it is, because they've never lived through the experience. In these tricky times we live in, maybe that is ultimately theater’s role? Whether locally or globally, live performance is something you still have to show up for. Blink and you’ll miss it. We’ll give you a unique experience - catch us if you can.

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Sarah Cameron Sunde is a theater director who collaboratively creates inter-disciplinary performances for the stage and beyond. She is most known for directing world premieres of new work and U.S. debut productions of plays by international master playwrights (Brazil's Nelson Rodrigues and her own translations of Norway's Jon Fosse) at theaters such as 3LD Art & Technology Center, Rattlestick, 59E59, 45 Bleecker Theater among others. Awards include a Princess Grace Award and a NYTheatre.com Person-of-the-Year Award. Her current work is a true hybrid performance: UNTITLED #4 and will take over a The End - a new underground music venue in Greenpoint on March 31. www.SarahCameronSunde.com/news

Sunday, March 25, 2012

NYC World Theatre Day Event: PARTY!



World Theatre Day Party

Raise glass to theatre!

Tuesday, March 27th

Houndstooth Pub
520 Eighth Avenue

Happy Hour
5pm to 8pm

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2 B or Not 2 B Canon in D

Clips from World Theatre Day SPLAT performances in Time Square



2 B or Not 2 B SPLAT!



Sonja



Alex



Antonio



Carolina



Minette



Myrna does not know whether 2 B or not 2 B



Sue



Annalisa



Kaitlan



Tara



Myrna does not know whether 2 B or not 2 B - final performance


5 Cent Adventure SPLAT Performance


Pictures from the Create Your Own 5 Cent Adventure SPLAT Performance in Time Square.




SPLAT Performances Today!



Check out photos of preparations for the SPLAT performances today in Time Square.







Want to be involved? Check out the details...




Friday, March 23, 2012

Courage



Contributed by Zohar Tirosh-Polk


One of the reasons I wanted to be in the theatre is that theatre was an exciting and courageous place to be. Tony Kushner could write about a man dying of AIDS while talking about Jewish Guilt, Mormons and Reagan and how stinky politics is and homophobics and Ethel Rosenberg and disappointment and the heart and what it yearns for, all in one play. Theatre was the place Paula Vogel could talk about things no one talked about then and where you could fall in love with that uncle too. It’s where Edward Albee wrote about aspects of relationships I didn’t know existed, and aspects of myself I didn’t want to know. And it was the place Stephen Adly Guirgis struggled with God, heads on, right in front of us. Theatre was alive and thrilling, it was dangerous and kicking. Theatre was an opportunity to be heard, to make a difference, to reach out and touch something, to create an impact.

The truth is that in the last few years I haven’t been feeling courageous, at all. Everything around me seemed to be getting worse. The Iraq war happened despite all our collective efforts. The Israeli- Palestinian conflict continues to deteriorate and the peace I grew up hoping for, was nowhere to be found.

So I froze. I felt numb and speechless. What else was there to say after I said it again and again? If I wrote another play about Israel and Palestine and the checkpoints and the army and the settlers would make anything better? Change anyone’s mind? Protect a child from getting hurt/ shot?

No.

Besides, isn’t it just easier to settle for a comfortable and cozy night in front of the TV where real courageous writing is happening (and aren’t those writers mostly playwrights who need to make money anyway?) and watch The Wire or Homeland and feel like I am involved and I do care?

My husband Andy told me about a sermon he heard at All Souls Church recently. The Pastor spoke about Mohamed Bouazizi. Mohamed was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in order to protest the harassment by the government and the confiscation of his goods. He became a catalyst for the uprising-turned-revolution in Tunisa and later for the whole Arab spring. The pastor likened him to a modern-day Jesus.

Last Saturday, at the Tibetan rally in New York City, I learned that over fifteen monks and nuns (and one mother of four) set themselves on fire in the last few weeks protesting the Chinese rule in Tibet and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. The last monk set himself on fire this past Wednesday. In Palestine, a few prisoners have gone on hunger strikes in order to protest their administrative detention without a charge.

So many people stormed the streets this past year. Pictures from Tahrir Square were breathtaking and scary. What’s happening in Syria is terrifying, and having been in Israel at the tail end of that wave of the social justice rallies back in September, I saw it up close, something new was happening. Something new might just be possible.

Now, just to be super clear: I’m not advocating setting ourselves on fire. Really, I’m not. But it’s not a bad metaphor for theatre: a momentary explosion of energy and beauty and expression and protest, never to be seen again.

If theatre is partly there to inspire people to take risks and be just a bit braver, then, what if the opposite was true too? What if theatre could be inspired by the people? Could the theatre learn from them about speaking truth to power and fighting for justice? This year it seemed courage was outside, and I needed to search for it there, in the city squares and where true acts of courage where taking place.

In the last months, my collaborator, the wonderful playwright, Anna Ziegler, and I have been in the process of creating a theatre company that will focus on a new and courageous artistic exploration of Israel and Judaism. There was just more to do and we need to figure out how to do it.

And so, we’ll get off the couch.

Here we go.

PS. Here are a couple more things I think are brave and important:
Mari Brown and Deanna Pacelli’s incredible theatre piece: Twelve Feet in Twelve Minutes. Deanna and Mari went to New Orleans numerous times over the last six years and conducted interviews with many many Hurricane Katrina survivors. Read more about it here:
http://wordonthestreetplays.org/index.html

Israelis and Iranians are saying no to war on-line and over Facebook:
http://www.israelovesiran.com
https://www.facebook.com/israellovesiran

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Zohar Tirosh-Polk is an Israeli-American playwright. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Get what you need



Contributed by Crystal Field



I have always felt that Theater, especially Street Theater (TNC is a master of this genre) cannot teach anyone anything they don’t already know, but it can teach people to organize to get what they need. Yes, it can show us that indeed we do have the Human Right to a piece of the joyous part of our little planet.

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Crystal Field is an OBIE Award winning actress and co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater for the New City (TNC). Under her leadership TNC has produced over 800 new plays which have garnered a Pulitzer Prize and over 43 OBIE Awards for excellence in every theatrical discipline. TNC has also nurtured the talents of Sam Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, Romulus Linney, Richard Foreman, Lee Breuer, Miguel Piñero, Charles Busch, Moises Kaufman, Vin Diesel, Adrien Brody, Eduardo Machado, Jean-Claude van Itallie and Tim Robbins. Ms. Field’s staunch belief in the civic necessity of theater has manifested itself in the creation of several major New York City events such as the original Village Halloween Parade, the Annual Native American Pow-Wow and the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Virtues of Fast Dirty Theatre


Contributed by Ken Urban



If I could change one thing about theatre, I would change basically everything. But if I could only change one thing, and it had to be one thing that might actually happen, then I wish theatre would get made faster.

Things take so long to make it to American stages these days that a play rarely ever feels like it is happening in the present, which is odd, since theatre has to happen in the present.

Part of the excitement about Mike Daisey’s monologue about the moral dilemma of our beloved Apple products is that it feels so “now.” The damn show opened right when Steve Jobs died. You can’t buy that kind of press. Unless Daisey killed Jobs and then I ask: what is he doing in theatre if he has those kinds of skills? And whether Daisey gets into serious trouble for writing a faction – a work of fiction and fact – and perhaps neglecting to mention that fact is irrespective. Rarely does theatre generate so much energy and chatter. He was on The Ed Show, for Christ’s sake.

Now, I don’t think that means all theatre should be social engaged or whatever academic term is in vogue. I admire the well-meaning people who want to change the word, but their plays are almost as fucking boring as the plays written by people who don’t believe in writing stories or characters.

Listen: I didn’t get into theatre because I’m a good person. But fast dirty theatre: now that’s why I started writing.

Back in the mid-1990s, when I was in college and spent time in London, Stephen Daldry was running the Royal Court and he programmed a season of brand new plays by unknown writers, running them for three weeks. His philosophy: if a show tanked, it didn’t matter; there would be a new show opening soon. Out of that season came from Sarah Kane’s Blasted, which, despite what you might think of its dramaturgical shortcomings, is a pretty exciting play.

We need a major theatre to show that kind of gusto. I never would have started as a playwright if my parents took me to Lincoln Center. If that had been my exposure to theatre, I would have hated theatre. What made me like it was being in London and drinking and seeing plays that were written by angry Brits wearing a lot of black.

I know, I know. This isn’t the UK. This is America, you pinko HOMO! And true fact, I am mos def an American writer. But we can make that happen here I know it. Yes, yes, I know that endless development is part of the problem. Then there is the economy. The Economy! But think about it: the plays that stick with you have a raw edge to them and development can smooth all that roughness away. Course, that roughness might scare away the occasional donor. But imagine Beckett’s Endgame after three years of development. Beckett might have written On Golden Pond instead. (Wait a second! That might have been awesome.) But I Digress.

So that’s my wish for American theatre. A faster theatre that is funded. Well funded. Cause I’m older now and I don’t want my play to be staged somewhere gross without a nice bar and café.

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Ken Urban is a playwright. He makes music as occurrence and is one half of the band PorGee + Beth. He would like to encourage people not to name your band when you are “under the influence” and debating the merits of Mike + The Mechanics with your bandmate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 WTD SPLAT Performances



Are you an actor? Or a theater person? Or a just a lover of Shakespeare?

Well.

This is for you!

Saturday the 24th

There will be performances in Times Square celebrating World Theater Day! Or as we call them, SPLATs! (Site-specific Public Large-scale Acts of Theater)

One of the performances happening will be a large group recitation of Hamlet's To Be or Not To Be speech.

So. You wanna celebrate Theater? Shakespeare? Flash Mobs?

Come find the actors and musicians in Times Square and give the Bard's most famous speech your best shot with the rest of us! ( if you don't know it by heart, don't worry. We will have copies of it you can read aloud with us)

We will be performing the speech at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm on Saturday.

We will be right at the south end of the pedestrian plaza at 42nd street and Broadway.

Feeling shy? Well, then just come and listen and lend your support and appreciation for theater!!

See you there!


Monday, March 19, 2012

What I Would Like to See in the Theater

Contributed by Paul Bargetto


I recently watched a documentary about the Apollo space program and the astronauts that visited the moon. One of them described how he paused for a moment while standing on the surface of the moon and saw the earth suspended in the black and limitless void of space. He held up his hand and marveled that he could cover the entire earth with his thumb. I cannot stop thinking about that gesture and the awesome perspective it represents for our earth-bound fears and desires, our beliefs and faiths, our nationalities and identities. We all live together, by some extraordinary chance, on this tiny spot of blue, this miraculous and fertile garden in a limitlessly vast, sterile, and hostile void. And so, when I think about what play I would like to make, I find myself longing for the drama that can bring us closer to the other worldly perspective granted to those few men who were sent to the moon. While I would love to stage Waiting for Godot in the Sea of Tranquility, I hope more than anything for new plays that possess the creative power to match that view of our home seen from our nearest heavenly body over forty years ago. What new things can be seen and said from that vista of the imagination about the family, the tribe, the nation, the faith, the gender, the historical moment, or the language we find ourselves in on this spinning bit of cosmic dust, our beloved planet Earth? I am waiting for those dramatists to appear with great anticipation.

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Paul Bargetto is an international theater director and festival producer. He is the Artistic Director of the undergroundzero festival and cooperative and the artistic director of East River Commedia. He worked in New York City's downtown independent theater scene for the past fifteen years at such venues as PS 122, Collective:Unconscious, La MaMa, the Connelly Theater and the Abrons Arts Center. Internationally he has worked in Germany, Turkey, Poland and Romania. He currently resides in Warsaw, Poland.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Past WTD Messages



Watch the ITI's 2011 World Theatre Day Message by Jessica A. Kaahwa as read in multiple languages from people across the globe:

World Theatre Day 2011 from Jake Witlen on Vimeo.





Saturday, March 17, 2012

Find Out More about World Theatre Day

International Theatre Instistue (ITI)'s World Theatre Day site


Theatre Communications Group (TCG)'s World Theatre Day site
Follow WTD updates on Twitter @wtd12 & use hashtag #WTD12 now thru March 27


NYC World Theatre Day info
To get involved, email info@nycwtd.com
As details are announced, you can find out more at www.nycwtd.com
Check out the blog at www.nycwtd.blogspot.com
Follow us on Twitter @nycwtd
Friend us on Facebook


Friday, March 16, 2012

Map of World Theatre Day 2012 Events

Promote your World Theatre Day event by registering it with the Map of World Theatre Day 2012 Events.

This cool map shows all the places around the world where World Theatre Day events are taking place.

Register your production today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Humor and Intelligence are Stronger than Censorship


Contributed by Alessandro Berni
Translated from the Italian by Mirko Grewing


We are in Italy in the late 1960s. The country peasant discovers world power only one generation after the end of World War II. Though the economy managed to grow in the shadow of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War, the political system experienced serious moments of instability also affected by severe attacks during the historical period which is remembered as the ‘Years of Lead’.

Between 1969 and 1984, there were countless massacres of citizens and statesmen, while the perpetrators and instigators often remained unknown. Reviewing those years means to put a mirror in front of the subject of strategic tension or the theory that insinuates the hidden involvement (or the approval) of diverse groups of the State in terrorist actions against their own people.

One of the most discussed massacres occurred in Piazza Fontana on December 12, 1969 when a bomb exploded inside the National Bank of Agriculture of Milan causing 17 deaths. In the hours and days following the attack, 80 people were stopped for questioning.

Among those was the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli, who, according to the official version, committed suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of the Milan police station on December 15.

On May 3, 2005, the Court of Cassation definitively acquitted the last suspects for this massacre, and, regarding the death of Giuseppe Pinelli, the Judiciary unequivocally spoke in favor of the accidental death of the anarchist.

And “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” is the title of one of the most intelligent and politically engaged pieces of theater by the Nobel Prize winner, Dario Fo. The show was put on stage for the first time on December 10, 1970 at the Shed in Milan's Via Colletta.

With this work, the facts that caused the death of Giuseppe Pinelli are called into question through verbal proceedings, newspaper articles and interviews. Where the official records tell of a man who falls and dies, according to the reconstruction of Dario Fo, a man first dies and then falls is put on the stage.

The Nobel prize performances caused more than forty trials all over Italy, to the point that Dario Fo recalls jokingly about the organization of the dates: "Places and timetable for the tour were organized according to the trials that we had to attend. "

To avoid new complaints and also because of the growing number of witnesses added to the case, the drama was changed three times in the first two and a half years.

In particular, Dario Fo, replaced the place and time of representation by recounting the similar case of another Italian anarchist, Andrea Salsedo, who died in similar circumstances to those of Giuseppe Pinelli, during an interrogation in New York in 1920.

Thanks to this ruse, Dario Fo could continue to go on stage offering a representation that, while mocking power, reminded us that the truth of the massacre of Piazza Fontana was far away.

Even then, Italian public opinion was strongly influenced by television, so “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” should be considered as one of the rare moments when the theater was able to make its voice heard and had a decisive role in the communication of a political argument.

To an honest, creative mind, the informational constraints, the entire string of those who seek the truth, to deal with the ring of their own emotions should not be perceived as a daunting obstacle but as an artistic opportunity to ensure the general public strengthens their values, to have the courage of their convictions.

The history of literature and information recalls a long number of works by authors who made jumps in time and space in their texts in order to remedy the complaint and challenge an injustice.

In all, it is important to remember that when Alessandro Manzoni wrote the famous historical novel “I Promessi Sposi”, Italy was not free because it was occupied by the Austrians. Because of this the writer set the pages of his novel during the Spanish domination of the Seventeenth Century to denounce the abuses of power against such simple people - two young lovers.

Because we all know, abuse is always abuse.


ORIGINAL ITALIAN

Quando ironia e intelligenza sono più forti della censura

Siamo in Italia alla fine degli anni sessanta.

Il Paese contadino della fine del secondo dopoguerra dopo solo una generazione si scopre potenza mondiale.

Se il sistema economico riuscì a crescere all’ombra del muro di Berlino, in piena guerra fredda, il sistema politico visse gravi momenti d’instabilità anche condizionato dai gravi attentati di quel periodo storico che è ricordato come gli anni di piombo.

Tra il 1969 e il 1984 furono innumerevoli le stragi di cittadini e uomini di Stato con esecutori e mandanti che spesso sono rimasti ignoti.

Rivedere quegli anni significa doversi ritrovare a specchiarsi di fronte all’argomento strategia della tensione ovvero quella teoria interpretativa che insinua la partecipazione nascosta (o il benestare) di deviate parti di Stato in azioni terroristiche ai danni del proprio popolo.

Una delle stragi più chiacchierate è quella di Piazza Fontana del 12 dicembre 1969 quando esplose una bomba all’interno della Banca Nazionale dell’Agricoltura di Milano provocando 17 morti.

Nelle ore e nei giorni successivi all’attentato furono fermate per accertamenti circa 80 persone.

Fra queste, l’anarchico Giuseppe Pinelli che il 15 dicembre secondo la versione ufficiale si suicidò gettandosi dal quarto piano del commissariato di Polizia di Milano.

Per questa strage, il 3 maggio 2005, la Corte di Cassazione ha assolto definitivamente gli ultimi indagati e per la morte di Giuseppe Pinelli,
la Magistratura si è pronunciata in modo univoco, nel senso della morte accidentale dell'anarchico.

Ed è proprio “Morte accidentale di un anarchico” il titolo di uno dei più intelligenti e politicamente impegnati spettacoli teatrali del premio Nobel Dario Fo.

Lo spettacolo venne messo per la prima volta in scena il 10 dicembre 1970 al Capannone in Via Colletta di Milano.

Con quest’opera, attraverso verbali processuali, articoli di stampa e interviste si rimise in discussione i fatti che provocarono la morte di Giuseppe Pinelli.

Se gli atti ufficiali raccontano di un uomo che precipita e muore,
secondo la ricostruzione di Dario Fo, viene messo in scena un uomo che prima muore e poi precipita.

Le rappresentazioni provocarono contro il premio Nobel più di quaranta processi in varie parti d’Italia tanto che per l’organizzazione delle date, come ricorda scherzando Dario Fo: « Luoghi e calendario della tournée erano organizzati in base ai processi che dovevamo sostenere. »

Per ovviare nuove denunce e anche a causa del numero di testimonianze che si aggiungevano al caso, la drammaturgia nei primi due anni e mezzo venne cambiata tre volte.

In particolare, Dario Fo, sostituisce il luogo e il tempo della rappresentazione raccontando l’analogo caso di un altro anarchico italiano, Andrea Salsedo, morto in circostanze simili a quelle di Giuseppe Pinelli durante un interrogatorio a New York nel 1920.

Grazie a questo escamotage, Dario Fo poté continuare ad andare in scena offrendo una rappresentazione che, intanto che si dileggiava del potere, ci ricordava che la verità sulla strage di Piazza Fontana era lontana.

Già allora, l’opinione pubblica italiana era fortemente influenzata dalla televisione e Morte accidentale di un anarchico deve essere considerato come uno dei rarissimi momenti in cui il teatro sia riuscito a far sentire la propria voce e abbia avuto un decisivo ruolo comunicativo su un argomento politico.

Per una mente onesta e creativa, le costrizioni informative, le corde all’intero del quale cercare la verità, affrontare il ring delle proprie emozioni non devono essere vissute come un freno scoraggiante, ma un’opportunità artistica per garantire all’opinione pubblica la forza dei propri valori, il coraggio delle proprie idee.

La storia della letteratura e dell’informazione ricorda un lunghissimo numero di opere di autori che abbiano fatto fare ai propri testi salti temporali e modifiche di spazi per ovviare la censura e contestare un’ingiustizia.

Su tutte, è significativo ricordare che quando Alessandro Manzoni scrisse il celebre romanzo storico I promessi sposi, l’Italia non era libera perché occupata dagli austriaci.

Per questo lo scrittore ambientò le pagine del suo romanzo durante la dominazione spagnola del XVII° secolo per denunciare i soprusi del potere contro tanta gente semplice, due ragazzi innamorati.

Perché si sa: un abuso è sempre un abuso.

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Alessandro Berni was born in Tuscany at the end of the 70s and is a theatre artist and journalist. He has worked at various theatres in Europe and several internet sites including www.artribune.com, www.fareitalia.com and www.i-italy.org.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How do you guys do this?

Contributed by Emma Chong


I see two of our apprentices trudge up the stairs after a long day in the rehearsal room, and I hold the door for them. They’ve been working on their showcase material, all original material that they’re creating on their own. They can’t believe they’ve been at this all day, and all month. “How do you guys do this?” one asks me.

How indeed?

It’s nice to be able to say, “I work in the theatre.” It feels great to be able to go to work and feel like it’s more than hiding in a cubicle or being a corporate zombie. It feels really great to be working in a small, comfortably intimate theatre, where the staff feels like family. And it’s a dream come true to be doing theatre that’s new and exciting and making a difference in people’s lives, theatre that leaves audiences wowed and communities transformed, theatre that makes its participants say, “I’ve never been in a play like this before!” Getting paid to do all this feels pretty good, too.

But on the other hand—and what an “other hand” it is—collaboration is a royal pain.

It can be hard enough to get two people agreeing on something. We have an apprentice corps of four, an Ensemble of five, eleven members of the company, plus four affiliates. Sometimes, we add onto that the input of outside artists. Still other times, we invite the community to give their input on the work in progress, or to help shape a project that we’re creating for and with them.

We can talk for hours.

The two apprentices head back to their corner of the office, and I watch them go. I came through the apprentice program three years ago, and this is my first year as a full Ensemble member. I know that their exhaustion isn’t from the physical activity or the mental tension of writing all day but the simple frustration and strain of trying to get four creative minds all speaking the same language, trying to get four creative visions into the same alignment.

Ensemble theatre is a special case for this. We sit together, and we discuss, and we argue, and we get mad at each other, and we have moments of unexpected discovery together. It’s frustrating, and it’s wonderful. I walk out of the rehearsal room bursting with ideas for what we can work at our next rehearsal session. I walk out of a meeting irritated that we can’t spend more (or less) time talking through something. “We did it! We fixed the mission statement!” an Ensemble member exults and initiates a round of high fives, after months of tedious group-rewriting and nitpicking.

Collaboration. It takes time, trust, patience, blood, sweat, tears, and love. And things aren’t always solved.

But the art that comes out of us as a collaborative collective is all the stronger for it. The question of “How do you guys do this?” is still one that I don’t know how to answer, but however we do it, I’m awfully glad that we do.

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Emma Chong is an Ensemble Member/General Manager at Touchstone Theatre. Touchstone is a professional, not-for-profit theatre dedicated to the creation of original work. At its heart is a resident ensemble of theatre artists rooted in the local community of Bethlehem, the Greater Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, and the international community of ensemble theatres. More online at www.touchstone.org

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's all in the Company


Contributed by Laura Leffler-McCabe



Company is a word that has been on my mind a lot over the past year and a half.

In the theatre world, the term company conjures many fleeting thoughts for me. The Federal Theatre Project, SITI Company, A Chorus Line - yes, different modes and hierarchies, but all companies, nonetheless.. We in the theatre have a pretty solid understanding of a "company" as a group of artists - usually actors with a director - who train and work together. Company is a catch all term - I’ll get to defining it. Hang on.

And then if I try to ignore the theatre part of my brain (which is hard to do), the term brings to mind big companies like 3M, Target, General Mills, and along with those companies, I see people in business suits, carrying briefcases, scurrying.

Okay, hold those thoughts, as I sidestep as nimbly as possible here.

In early 2010 I directed a production, an adaptation of Kate Chopin's The Awakening (which is a beautiful book you should totally read). I worked with the actors and production team over a period of seven months, workshopping, creating the script, sharing a physical vocabulary, working with a composer. It was difficult, yet amazing.

Then it was over. After all that work creating common vocabulary with all those great artists, there I was. Alone and dreading the thought of starting from scratch - again - to create that understanding that just comes after months of working together. And with my highly practical art degrees, I was also without a whole lot of preparation to run a company.

Now we’re back to company.

So. Wild experiment time. What if I started a theatre company that was both Federal-Theatre-Project-company and 3M-company? What if I got together a group of like-minded artists who wanted both to work and train together creatively, but also who wanted to be independent and produce our own shows? What if we were a company that was also a company? And we could provide each other company?

Fast forward 18 months, and here I am, Artistic Director of Savage Umbrella, a group that co-operates as a company to create new works of theatre, constantly striving to engage artists and audiences in vital discourse. And all because we envision theatre as critical shelter, embodying compassionate space for relevant conversation.

We’re trying to define company for ourselves, with all the facets that the word reflects. And there’s clearly a giant learning curve. Though growing can be painful, we feel taller, more flexible. We've had members come and go in that time - it's certainly not a model that works for every artist.

But for those of us it is working for, we embrace this idea of a 360 degree artist. We swap roles. We all write and perform and design; we all write e-mail blasts and create budgets and write grants. We seek to be jacks- and jills-of-all-trades. We seek to do it together. Together is better than alone, as we say in our manifesto.

We succeed; we fail - but we do it together, and that feels right. I often say in meetings, "We can do whatever we want!"

For now, we are.

We're a company-company, providing each other company. It feels good.

(Because we are passionate about conversation, we'd love to hear from you. What do you think of our model? How does your company - or company - operate? Email us at savageumbrella[at]gmail.com. If you're in Minneapolis, drop us a line - we'd love to meet you!).

----------------------

Laura Leffler-McCabe is a founder of Savage Umbrella and a freelance director and theatre-maker. Previous work in the Twin Cities includes directing and creating many shows for Savage Umbrella, assistant directing for Theatre de la Jeune Lune (Fishtank\ and The MovingCompany (Come Hell and High Water), costuming for Theatre Latte Da and 20% Theatre Company, and performing with the Bedlam Theatre, Mixed Precipitation and others. She did her undergraduate at Baker University and earned an M.A. in theatre (emphasis in directing) from the University of Kansas. More than anything, she likes camping, roller skating, new work creation and reinterpreting classics for the contemporary stage.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why work in the theatre?

Contributed by Alexandra Harbold


Why work in the theatre? Furthermore, why work in the theatre now?

I grew up on
Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers.
When eating soup, dip the spoon away from you, not towards you.
Don’t eat with your elbows on the table.
Asparagus is eaten with your fingers, unless the stalks are too long.
Etcetera.

In part, I work in the theatre because it is not polite.
And to connect back to
Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers, however tenuously, it’s about
appetite.

Theatre pursues and is fueled by our curiosity, our fears, our doubts, our passions, our
rebellions, our hunger, our nightmares, our devoutly-to-be-wished hopes – all of which resist
containment. They jump the borders. Actor/director Simon McBurney of Complicite said
in an interview, “I'm naturally attracted to something I don't understand, because when you
try to deal with that, it opens a door into another world.” I love that theatre not only gives us
a means to wrestle with what confounds and eludes us, it converts that solo wrangling into a
shared experience.

Performance demands skill, but skill alone is insufficient. For virtuosity – and magic – to
happen, it’s a brew of technique and intuition, language and muscle, secrets and radical
generosity, breath. It needs a living circuit between actor and actor, actors and director,
actors and audience. Being in the rehearsal room and seeing theatre reminds me of our
capacity to surprise ourselves and others. To see something from another point of view. To
change. All of which gives me great hope. While it is not polite, theatre makes us
profoundly human.

A friend just closed a show and told me of an unforgettable Closing Night gift she received
from the Crew. Each night, her warm up included The Dream Keeper; she would speak
Langston Hughes’ words into the empty house:

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

That night before the closing performance, the Crew brought her a collection of their
dreams.

That’s why I work in the theatre.

----------------------

Alexandra Harbold is an actor, director, and teacher. She is the Artistic & Literary Associate
at Salt Lake Acting Company. Upcoming directing projects include Harold Pinter’s
Betrayal
for Pinnacle Acting Company.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

NYC World Theatre Day Event: HotINK Festival


The HotINK Festival of International Plays is presented March 22nd–26th.

HotINK is an international play reading series that has introduced NY audiences to plays from all over the world

Visit the website or a list of plays and a schedule of events and to make reservations visit.


Check out the NYC World Theatre Day website for a list of other 2012 NYCWTD activities.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

World Theatre Day Event: I AM THEATRE Video



In honor of World Theatre Day’s 50th Anniversary, Theatre Communications Group, the home to the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, invites you to demonstrate the vitality of international theatre today by participating in the I AM THEATRE project.

I AM THEATRE captures pivotal moments in the lives of theatre-makers in an online video series, raising awareness for the theatre field and championing the diverse group of people who are creating, supporting and engaging with theatre.

Visit the TCG website to learn how to submit your video, and watch those made from others around the world—you may read additional instructions here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Breaking Down the Barriers of Theater

"What is theater? Where does it intersect with sociology? Politics? When does theater that busies itself with current issues cease to be theater and become journalism or propaganda?"

These questions were discussed at "Breaking Down Barriers," an event hosted by Georg Genoux, the founder of Moscow's Joseph Beuys Theater, and journalist Mikhail Kaluzhsky.

Moscow Times theatre critic John Freedman chronicled the event in this article.

What do you think?



Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Feliz Día Mundial del Teatro!


Contributed by Bernardo Cubría



There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think to myself, “what the hell am I doing with my life?” I’m 29 years old, I live in a tiny room, in a tiny apartment (once populated by bedbugs), where I share a bathroom with 3 other people. I have no money…like, there-isn’t-one-purchase-I make-without-having-to-calculate-my-remaining-balance no money. And somehow, I walk around thinking I’m going to start a family someday….? Sheesh.

It’s an insane life, and I chose it.

So why keep at it? Why keep doing it? Why put up with the hectic schedule, broke lifestyle, and constant rejection in order to create live theatre? Ask a normal person on the street what they think of theatre… In fact I just did while I sit here in Union Square writing this. These were the first three answers: (1) “Dat like shakepseare, right?”, (2) “Whatever.” and (3) “Oh yeah - I did that in high school”.

The truth is, sometimes even I don’t know why I do it. But for some reason, I do. I wake up every single day, confront my aforementioned life choices, and gladly dedicate the majority of my day to theatre. Just like a smoker, I can’t stop. (And not a 1950’s smoker who didn’t fully comprehend the risks of tobacco, but more like a 2012 smoker who knows what is going to come of this and says, “screw it”.)

This year, I decided to start a podcast where I interview the people that inspire me in this industry and toss the question back to them – “Why do you do this?”. The people I’ve had on the podcast so far come from very different backgrounds and have had very different journeys, but they all mention one word: community. Theatre people love community. We love the bond built in a dressing room, we love a stiff drink after tech, we love the thrill of being part of an ensemble that is greater than the sum of its parts, above all we love connecting to people – each other and the audiences we hope to impact. It’s a beautiful thing. Nowhere is human connection more alive and real than in live theatre.

However, here is where, if I were someone of note, I would take a detour to my soap box and mention how weird it is that a group who loves community can often shut out the most important community -- the audience. The most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in theatre are when we’ve been able to reach people who may have never been to the theatre before. Our ability to surprise, inspire, move, and inform a “non-theatre” audience could be theatre’s greatest gift. Yet too many theatres and too many theatre people around the world look down on the poor, on minorities, and on non-college educated people. I once even witnessed a “theatre person” scoff at an audience member after a show because they had never heard of Edward Albee (The shame!)

But I am not someone of note, so… I will end with this:

Theatre does build communities – and let’s hold it to the highest ideal of what we all know it can be. It crosses borders, it break down barriers, and it makes us realize that we are all human beings, together in our struggle. Balancing our budgets, trying to save enough to not have to share a bathroom, and who knows, maybe one day start a family. I’m just a kid from Mexico who grew up in Texas and who, thanks to theatre, has a bond with people from all over the world. For that, I choose this life, and I would choose it again in a heartbeat.

To all the people crazy enough to do this, I say Feliz Día Mundial del Teatro!

----------------------

Bernardo Cubría is a Mexican actor, writer and lover of guacamole. He hosts the weekly podcast interview show Off and On: A New York Theatre Podcast available for free on Itunes. He can be seen this summer in Mando Alvarado’s adaptation of Hamlet in Central Park produced by SummerStage. www.bernardocubria.com



Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Local Becoming Global

Contributed by Ianthe Demos


It strikes me that as a theater generation that is crossing borders and cultures with an ease that was hitherto unknown uncommon we carry a great responsibility.

How do we move towards eradicating old divisions and creating interdependence while simultaneously ensuring that theater remains a reflection of cultural, political and societal diversity?

As a director that divides her creative time between Greece and New York City, an artistic director that runs a company brimming with international artists, and an artist manager who has traveled across the world for the past ten years with a variety of international companies, I often wonder about the impact that my exposure to diversity has had on my work and my artistic beliefs.

I do not assume that the work I create as a director in the mountain villages of northern Greece will play the same way in the heart of NYC. Fundamentally, I understand that my audiences have different needs and desires in each place. I have a deep respect for the fact that as a performing company touring throughout the world the work must allow itself to be impacted by differing cultural environments. Simultaneously, as the artistic director of One Year Lease Theater Company, I have spent the last several years premiering work by international playwrights in NYC in an effort to expose NY audiences to these works and hopefully create cultural bridges thereby.

I do believe that we must be a generation without borders when it comes to presenting each other’s work. The beauty of the local becoming global is that, as artists we have greater opportunities to be exposed to a diverse range of work, explore the impact of that work on our own creative process and engage attempts to understand and celebrate our differences.

I also believe that we must be a generation that embraces our varying borders when it comes to creating work. We must remain open to the beauty that comes with being a foreigner and experiencing work that we don’t fully grasp due to a cultural, societal or political divide. It is, after all, these differences that retain the vibrancy of the theatrical event.

I was in a rehearsal room this past weekend with members of OYL’s acting ensemble. The project is a devised piece the company is creating entitled Shifting Baselines. The piece explores the influence of American culture on Balkan border crossings and migrants in the region. Our work on the piece has taken us in varying directions thus far: mask work; images and lines of text compiled from a visit to the Albania/Greece border crossing; improv work in which the ensemble explored its personal responses to nationalism; and various physical, character and textual workshops. We have become aware that however the piece evolves we must ensure that while inspiration is drawn, in part, from Balkan border crossings, we are not attempting to put ourselves in our subjects’ shoes but rather communicate on our understanding of them, from our cultural perspective.

During a summer evening in August 2011 OYL’s acting ensemble and I found ourselves sitting at a table outside a coffee stand by the Kakavia border – the crossing between Albania and Greece. Some of us watched a young man asking for money – and one of our actors asked if I would find out what he thought of America. I gave the man whatever change I had on me and struck up a conversation. It was only later when we were back in our rehearsal room that I discovered how this moment had made some of our company members uncomfortable.

We believed that this particular man would have jumped at any ability to escape his present condition, and here I was asking him questions for a theater piece with no intention other than to use our conversation as inspiration. It was the self-indulgence on my part that was the source of debate. The conflict inherent in my very interaction with the man now remains part of the exploration of the work. We are deliberately, and at times self-consciously, examining American influences on Balkan border crossings through the eyes of artists based in the US.

As borders become easier to cross we have a unique opportunity to unashamedly explore that which we don’t understand. Ultimately borders are equally strong depictions of a beautiful and powerful diversity as they are of the differences that harm us.

----------------------

Ianthe Demos is the Artistic Director of One Year Lease Theater Company. OYL is committed to the creation of new work, the training of young theater artists, the development of new scripts inspired by ancient stories, and the advancement of international collaboration in the theater. Ianthe also directs within the company and is currently working on an upcoming production of Mark Ravenhill's pool (no water) which will receive its NYC premiere in May 2012.


Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Misinterpretations


Contributed by Ian Rowlands


I chose to make my home in Wales (UK), and live my life through the medium of Welsh, its minority language (though my plays are all written in English in an attempt to cross both the internal and external borders). Over the years I have spoken of the need for my culture to reach out and dialogue globally, believing that through dialogue one gains perspective and strength. Digital technologies have recently enabled inter-cultural dialogue on an historically unprecedented level. However, with seemingly infinite opportunities to dialogue, perhaps now is the time to question more carefully what we truly want to communicate?’

Yes, we are currently at a ‘hinge point’ of global connectivity. However, throughout the centuries, we have been at other ‘hinge points’, created by the inventions of new media, which have radically re-mapped the lines of communication in the world. The consequences of which have been as life changing in past times, as the current digital revolution is in ours (consider the impact of the printing press upon the established church). One could argue therefore, that the issue is not one of connectivity - media is media.. The dilemma is, as it always has been when a new media emerges, what, of our cultural experience, do we chose to communicate and what is actually communicable?

For, what we chose to communicate of ourselves is invariably a subjective choice. It is governed by how we perceive ourselves within the world and how we wish the world to perceive us. Theatre itself is highly subjective. It is an expression of its time and place. That is its strength, that is also its weakness as it tends to generate a set of signs only wholly understood by the community from which and for which it is formed.

Having made a subjective choice (having written a play), we mistakenly believe that our cultural expression is translatable (especially if there is a shared lingua franca). However, nothing , it can be argued, is translatable. As Baudrillard writes (Fatal Strategies) ‘We never communicate. In the to-and-fro of communication, the instantaneity of looking, light and seduction is already lost’. Communication is, at best, interpretation; translation of signs.

My wife was an editor at a translation house. For her, translation was an out-moded practice. Instead, she sought ‘cultural equivalence’ – to create a set of signs that would create an emotive response in the recipient culture equivalent to the emotive response in the source culture. For, misinterpretation is endemic to communication.

As Raymond Williams writes (Culture and Society 1780-1950) ‘We fail to realize... that much of what we call communication is necessarily, no more in itself than transmission, that is to say, a one way sending. Reception and response, which complete communication, depend on other factors than the techniques’.

Against the odds, we, as theatre practitioners, strive to communicate – or write our ‘one way sendings’. But, could our attempts to reach out globally / to cross borders through our work compromise our cultural specificity as we aim for a trans-global expression in an increasingly cosmopolitan world? Is there a danger that we will eventually write for a stage of relevance both to all and as a consequence, no-one? (This is obviously in relation to text based theatre over which non-text based theatre has an advantage – a punch is a punch in any language!)

N. B. I am not questioning the opportunities technology offers to create global networks / spread debate and best practice etc. I read with equal relish HowlRound (US), the posting of the National Theatre Wales, the newsletter of T.I.N (Netherlands) and emails from practitioners in Zimbabwe. My concern is the impact of globalization upon artistic expression.

In an interview in Trans-Global Readings (ed. Caridad Svich), Jose Esteban Munoz writes of the Latino theatre in the US “If the object of this new cosmopolitanism is to abandon the nation, (I) would be opposed to such an undertaking... the notion of trans-nationalism that most interest (me) is the idea of collational linkages between different modalities of cultural and political nationalism. To this end (I) pursue the idea of trans-localism’.

Wales is a small nation, and from the perspective of any small nation / community of people, the global appears seductive. Small nations / communities need to communicate (against the apparent odds of being understood) in order to be... understood. The web offers them an unprecedented forum. However, one wonders what will practitioners from small nations, such as Wales (or practitioners from currently bigger ones) chose to compromise on the altar of global communication – especially as cultural forces shift? Their localism? Their linguistic differences? Their cultural borders? For without borders, what is any nation / community of people / practitioner? Such is the dynamic between trans-globalism and trans-localism. We may be global citizens, but there are billions of worlds in this world.

For, if culture comes from the local, in a global culture where the local is down-graded, might there lurk a hidden danger. Instead of it being a case of ‘What do we want to communicate’, in future, might it not be a case of ‘What, if anything, will we have left to communicate’ regardless of whether communication is an illusion or not?

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Ian Rowlands is a writer / director living in Wales. His play, Blink ran at 59E59 as part of the Brits off Broadway festival in 2008. An International Associate of The Lark, NY. His last three plays were developed in conjunction with the company: Desire Lines (subsequently produced by Sherman Cymru, toured Wales in 2011) and the two play project Troyanne / Historia (both plays were read at NYTW in December 2011).


Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Countable and Uncountable Definitions of Theatre


Contributed by Patricia Masera



Looking for the definitions for the word theatre, I came across something quite interesting, according to the MacMillan Dictionary, theatre has, among others, these 3 definitions:
  1. [COUNTABLE] a building, room, or outside area used for plays
  2. [UNCOUNTABLE] the activity or job of writing, performing, or organizing performances of plays
  3. [UNCOUNTABLE] plays considered as entertainment or art

Although these are not uncommon findings, what caught my attention was the Countable and Uncountable adjective and their impact on what is happening in theatre nowadays.

More and more boundaries are being broken and at the same time established- [Countable] -, it sounds like incongruence but it is in our differences that we are getting closer; it is through those [Uncountable] that we find the bridges that get us closer. Technology has become part of that bridge, by bringing us closer as artists, providing tools to achieve our visions, and the challenge to establish theatre and live performances as a vital means of artistic connection with the audience.

The need to create a theatrical piece - may that be in a theatre, a house, a warehouse, a virtual platform or at a park - has long been around us, and we continue to modify our stages depending upon our resources and our needs. It has been imperative for the performing arts to evolve as technology keeps developing at a fast pace. The performing arts have had to re-invent it and at the same time keep true to its nature. Without a doubt this task has become more and more difficult over the years, not only because of financial constraints but also because live performances have to keep a pulse on their surroundings, not just emotionally but also at a global level. Despite what drives us as a community we have an inner force as artists to create and reach out, collaborate and share our experiences. Exposing ourselves and collaborating with other disciplines and being able to use those technological tools to our advantages has been part of the challenge.

It is the possibility of the Uncountable despite country, race, or discipline that drives us to pursue that moment when the exhilaration of both performer and audience connect. It has no definite definition, location, or medium. It is the pure presence of beauty and art in action.

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Patricia Masera (Paraguay) is the co-founder of the aerial Paraguayan theatre group Nhi-Mu. She was awarded the B’nai Birth for Achievement in Theatre and a Fulbright Scholarship in 2006. She has a MFA in Performing Arts Management from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day, please click here.



Sunday, March 4, 2012

World Theatre Day Event: NYC Shinsai


On Sunday, March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the earthquake in Japan, theatres everywhere are invited to join SHINSAI: THEATERS FOR JAPAN. Shinsai [SHEEN-sigh] means great quake in Japanese. A menu of 10-minute plays and songs has been commissioned from major American and Japanese artists, who have donated their work for this one-day only event.

Find out more about this event by visiting the NYC World Theatre Day website.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Generation Without Borders



This year, in honor of World Theatre Day's 50th Celebration, Theatre Communications Group, home of the U.S. Center of International Theatre Institute (ITI), asks theatremakers to respond to the question of whether the next generation of theatremakers will be a "Generation Without Borders."


Submission Deadline: March 9, 2012

Generation Without Borders is an essay contest created by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the home of the U.S. center of the International Theater Institute(ITI-US), as part of the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day. To learn more about TCG/ITI-US and World Theatre Day.


For more information, to download the submission form and for contest instructions, visit the TCG website.


We are dedicating next week's blog posts to this question. Please join us.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Join the NYC WTD Coalition

Do you have a production that is running in NYC March 21st – 27th? Join the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition and help us share this international celebration!

To become a member of the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition email us at info@nycwtd.com.

We request that all NYC WTD Coalition Members:
  1. Send an Eblast to your patrons Wishing them a Happy World Theatre Day on March 27th or in the week leading up to March 27th. We will design the eBlast for you so all you will have to do is forward it along or if you already have a planned eBlast we will create something you can easily include in your already planned eblast.

  2. Post a link to our World Theatre Day website (www.nycwtd.com) on your website so your audience can find out about other ways to celebrate.

  3. Also if you are in performances, it would be wonderful if you could read and/or distribute the International Theatre Institute’s World Theatre Day Message during your performances March 21st – 27th in a curtain speech or in the program. We will provide you with a Program Insert.
In exchange for joining the Coalition, we will list and promote your organization on our website, in our tweets, and on all of our promotional materials. Last year, we had thousands of hits on our website and we distributed hundreds of flyers.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Small Dinner Party


Contributed by Steven McCasland



Upon reading of Vaclav Havel’s death, I couldn’t help but wonder who would pass me the potatoes at my very imagined dinner party. My make-believe companions have been leaving me one by one and now it’s just me, the roast beast and a bunch of empty chairs. Which brings me to Ionesco. Whom I would most probably not invite for the sake of my sanity. And I can’t imagine that he and Ethel Merman would get along. She’s a no-nonsense kinda broad.

Here’s how I picture it:


Dorothy Loudon has volunteered to provide the entertainment. The chanteuse stands on a small stage, accompanied by baby grand, bass and percussion. And as she sings about how she ain’t got nobody, my guests begin to arrive. There’s Ethel Merman, who is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. And with her comes that brassy laugh. We joke for a moment, admire Dotty’s song-selling and Ethel heads to the drink cart as Tennessee Williams walks in through the door, a cigarette dangling from his very handsome mouth. “Hello, darling,” we say, kissing each other’s cheek.

Outside, I hear a car horn beep three times. The party is barely beginning when Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence step out of the Rolls Royce and walk up to the door. The booze is sure about to flow!

Arthur Laurents was supposed to come. But he called an hour prior to say that he wouldn’t come if “that bastard” was going to be passing the broccoli. I insisted he’d pass the corn, but Arthur wouldn’t hear it.

I survey the room. I wonder if this odd band of legends might look more like a reality show on Bravo than a dinner party in the village. A few more musicians have arrived. I hear a trombone wailing as Tennessee grabs a refill. Dotty’s feet are tapping, moving, the fringe on her dress shaking and everyone’s eyes are on her. Heaven. Three more guests to go.

I tried inviting Pinter, but he hesitated.

The doorbell rings and in comes Vaclav Havel with a stack of books he saved from burning. Plays. Presents he brought for me, his favorite pupil, the bibliophilic theatre nerd. (I won’t leave the apartment for the next four weeks. I’ll be too busy reading.) Noël is dancing with Gertie in the corner, whispering something naughty in her ear. Her pearly whites shimmer when she laughs.

And soon, the final guests arrive: Lanford Wilson and Moss Hart walking through my door. Moss looks dapper in a white suit and coat-tails. Lanford’s in sweatpants and hasn’t shaved. But he’s here. And who could ask for anything more? Kitty Carlisle-Heart is running fashionably late. Moss just couldn’t wait any longer.

Suddenly, there’s a lull. Ethel tells somebody to “shut their front door” as Dorothy begins a quieter song. Something Louis Armstrong once sang. I think for a moment, would he like it here? Would he have brought Ella? But the tangent dissipates and I spot Tennessee with a notepad. I’ve read his journals. I wonder – does he know? Has my voyeuristic pleasure embarrassed him? And as the guilt makes me blush (or is it the scotch?), they’re gone as quickly as they came. The room is silent. No band playing. Dorothy’s stopped crooning. And the only ice cubes clinking are the ones in my glass.

But I mustn’t waste any time getting sad. I’ve got too much work to do. Theirs. I’ve got to finish what they started. Isn’t that why I’m here? Isn’t that why we all are? But before I get back to editing a 23rd draft or climbing a ladder and re-focusing a light or being sentenced to the back row of the chorus line, I’m gonna take a moment to raise my glass and say,

“Here’s to another year in this crazy, messed up, awesome, remarkable, ridiculous, wonderful, miserable, exciting, spectacular, soul-sucking business we call show!”

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Steven Carl McCasland is the Artistic Director and founder of The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective. When not writing plays and drinking Pinot Grigio, he can be found directing productions around New York. Credits include: Hamlet at the Red Room, A Doll's Life at The New Ohio, Crossing Brooklyn, WSXR Players' 1944 Broadcast of Twelfth Night and more. His play neat & tidy debuts at The Living Theatre this May. To learn more about Steven and Beautiful Soup, visit www.beautifulsouptheatercollective.org. Will-you-won't-you join the dance?