Letter from London: May 2014, by Kathleen Dimmick
A survey of the London theater scene evokes a vibrant mosaic of exciting new work and re-envisioned classics by Ivo van Hove, Bijan Sheibani, Howard Davies, Lucy Bailey, Simon Stephens, Carie Cracknell, Mike Barlett and many others.
Playwright, Playtext and Director in the U.S. Theater, an exchange between Carlos Murillo and Henning Bochert
An American playwright and his German translator trade views on the climate for new plays in both cultures and on evolving relationships between playwrights and directors.
Producing Classical Drama in the United States, by Arnold Aronson
Originally written for a German conference in 2005, this penetrating essay asks pointed questions about what the category of "classical" can ever mean to theater in a land that perpectually sidesteps the burdens of history.
Shakespeare Unimproved, by Jonathan Kalb
An astonishing Twelfth Night from London's Globe Theatre stars the imcomparable Mark Rylance and employs Elizabethan staging conventions with such effortless beauty they come off as an indictment of directorial excess in our era.
Tribute to Memory, by Ava Dweck
The American Repertory Theater production of The Glass Menagerie, now running on Broadway, exquisitely realizes the author's concept of a "memory play."
Two Octogenarians on the Double-Helix Ramp of Time, by Andrzej Wirth
A critic, former neighbor and fellow Polish expatriate bids farewell to the multi-talented playwright Slawomir Mrozek (1930-2013).
Boundaries of Scandal, by Jonathan Kalb
Thomas Bradshaw's latest play, Intimacy, takes his trademark brand of scandal-courting in a new direction, treating pornography as an utterly mundane, quotidian affair that no longer has power to shock parents because they help make it.
Brecht, Love and Taylor Mac, by Barbara Hammond
The inimitable Taylor Mac, as the doubled man/woman Shen Te/Shui Ta in the Foundry Theatre production of Brecht's classic Good Person of Szechwan, is the epitome of what Buckminster Fuller called a human "verb."
Ouf of the Dark, by Jonathan Kalb
Trevor Nunn's version of Beckett's All That Fall, starring Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, is by far the best of the three stage adaptations of this 1957radio play that has appeared in NY in recent years.
Voids Lost and Found, by Jonathan Kalb
British stars Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart perform two towering modern masterpieces in rep on Broadway--Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Pinter's No Man's Land--but their formidable talents serve one of the shows far better than the other.
Cinephilia, by Jennifer Cayer
In her latest play The Flick, Annie Baker uses a trio of ordinary employees in a rundown cinema to ask ontological questions about desire and the ways we are shaped by media.
An Unlikelly Utopia: Super Night Shot, New Haven, by Jenny Schmidt
The British/German experimental company Gob Squad uses its "live film" work Super Night Shot to reveal the hidden urban "magic" of New Haven, CT.
Doh! A Tragedy!, by Jonathan Kalb
Anne Washburn's new play about reconstructing culture after an apocalypse is the most perceptive and persuasive work about the necessity of theater to appear in years.
Escape from the Circus, by M. Romanska
Contemplating the internationally celebrated production of Mabou Mines Dollhouse at it completes its 10-year run, a critic complains of voyeurism and exploitation, saying the show callously scores feminist points at the expense of the disabled.
Be There, by Anita Rakoczy
HATE RADIO, Milo Rau's gripping theatrical recreation of the way genocide was incited through radio broadcasts in 1994 Rwanda, makes utter nonsense of audience detachment.
Vibes of Vilar: Political Theater at the 66th Avignon Festival, by Cyrielle Garson
The 2012 Avignon Festival, was a tribute to the festival's founder, Jean Vilar, chockful of openly political productions that emphasized "productive tensions and crossovers between new media, dance, literature and theater."
Creeps, by Jennifer
"Strange temporalities are at work" in playwright Annie Baker
and director Sam Gold "dusted off" adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle
Vanya at Soho Rep. The play is reimagined for contemporary American
tongues and intimate contemporary living spaces.
The Redemption Ouroboros,
by Susan Kattwinkel
In a new, untitled monologue performed at the Spoleto Festival USA, Mike
Daisey confronts the truthtelling scandal surrounding The Agony and
the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs--a groping attempt at self-redeption through
Genuins Illusions of
our Times, Richard Foreman in conversation with Magda Romanska
Published for the first time in its entirety, this still-fresh interview
from a month after the terrorist attacks explores the changed position
of American theater artists in a post-9-11 world.
A Lost Play Recovered?
Charlotte Charke's Tit for Tat; or Tragedy and Comedy at War,
by Joel Schechter
Is it possible that Charlotte Charke, 18th-century pioneer of gender-bending
performance art, deliberately "borrowed" a play by Henry Fielding
and presented it as her own when she was hard up in 1743?
A How-To of Holy Resistance,
by Claudia Orenstein
In a new book of perceptive and revealing essays, Savitri D and Bill Talen
explain the art and politics behind Talen's alter-ego, Reverend Billy,
activist-performer, tireless foe of consumerism, and founder of the quasi-satirical
Church of Stop Shopping.
Why Art Thou Here? Give
a Straight Answer, by Erika Munk
A penetrating and circumspect essay argues that The Great Game,
Tricycle Theatre's internationally acclaimed, 11-hour, 12-play cycle about
Afghanistan, was actually a gargantuan effort to justify the western military
presence in that country as the only possibly course of action.
by Jonathan Kalb
J.T. Rogers's tale of clandestine CIA activities in 1980s Afghanistan,
Blood and Gifts--an expansion of a play originally written for
The Great Game--delivers as much as can be expected from its
genre of realistic historical fiction, but it ultimately sheds unflattering
light on that genre.
Let's Count, Daddy,
by Anita Rakoczy
The German experimental company She She Pop brilliantly marries oral-history
docudrama to Shakespeare's King Lear in its new work Testament,
a brilliant and "taboo-less dialogue about time, money, aging and
Demands for Empathy,
by Martin Harries
The hottest ticket of BAM's fall season was Robert Wilson's version of
The Threepenny Opera, performed in German with a cast from the
Berliner Ensemble. But did the production really have a political edge?
Or was it "theatered down" to entertainment by the "Wilson
Ruby Cohn (!922-2011),
by Elin Diamond
The venerable theater professor and doyenne of Beckett scholars is remembered
by those who loved and admired her , learned from her, and benefited from
the trails she forged.
When Egos Collide,
by Mimi Torchin
A revival of Austin Pendleton's delicious play about a fictional encounter
between Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Tynan and others demonstrates
why celebrity eavesdropping can be irresistible, even for the intelligent.
Recovering Trauma: An
Interview with Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, by Caridad Svich
On the eve of the New York premiere of her play Lidless, about
an imagined reunion between a Guantanamo detainee and the female interrogator
who tortured him, playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig reflects on post-traumatic
stress, cognitive reframing, and playwriting as a means of structuring
Don't Let Him Be Such
a Hero, by Shari Perkins
The actor Daniel Radcliffe went to enormous lengths to prove his stage
chops in the current Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business
without Really Trying, yet his performance is still "ghosted"
in fascinating ways by his inescapable identification with the role of
Harry Potter, "the boy who lived."
How to Stay a New
York Playwright, by Barbara Hammond
On the eve of the opening of her new play Eva the Chaste, Barbara
Hammond reflects on what it takes to endure as a working dramatist in
America's theater capital.
or The Magpie's Revenge, by Jonathan Kalb
Formally speaking, Tony Kushner's new play is startlingly conventional
despite its playful title: The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism
and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, but it is still extraordinarily
smart, deeply inquisitive, and wonderfully risky.
The Three Trillion
Dollar Opera: Memoirs of the Banker Macheath, by Joel Schechter
The immortal criminal and friend of the powerful Macheath, from Brecht's
Threepenny Opera, explains why he moved to New York, bought a
skyscraper, and became a U.S. banker.
Lights up on Spiderman
(the Taymor version): A Scathing Review of the Scathing Reviews,
by Laura Strausfeld
A theater director argues that Julie Taymor's original conception for
the famously expensive, never-opened Spiderman musical was utterly captivating
visually and that its co-composer Bono, not Taymor, was principally responsible
for its weaknesses.
Silent Suppression as
Feminist Expression: Fanny Burney's The Witlings,
by Johnna Adams
Did the finest female English novelist in the era before Jane Austen deliberately
block her own path to becoming a great dramatist? A playwright-critic
argues that she did, for feminist reasons.
Awe, by Jonathan Kalb
Gatz, Elevator Repair Service's staged version of The Great
Gatsby, is a work of quiet and sustained brilliance--a soulful feat
of artistic understatement that lasts seven hours.
Dressed Up in Your Skin
and Bones, by Jennifer Cayer
Cynthia Hopkins confronts her father's battle with Parkinson's Disease
in her latest piece, Truth: A Tragedy, elevating junk into art
and a daughter's disdain into reverent acceptance.
by Jonathan Kalb
The first act of Will Eno's new play--his first "full-evening-length"
work--is as radiantly original and imaginative as anything he has written
before. The second act is another matter entirely.
by Minou Arjomand
An American dramaturg attends the Edinburgh festivals and reflects on
risk, artistic freedom and the impediments to cross-Atlantic artistic
understanding in theater.
by Martin Harries
The Dutch theater company Hotel Modern risks obscenity with Kamp,
a "live-action animation film" performed onstage, using 3,000
three-inch puppet figures to represent the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration
A Thousand Voices,
by Theresa Rebeck
In an eloquent and hard-hitting speech to her professional colleagues,
one of America's most produced female playwrights sounds off about persistent
discrimination against female playwrights in the American theater.
Lies of the Drama,
by Neil Blackadder
A critic compares Donald Margulies Broadway premiere, Times Stands
Still, with the New Group's revival of Sam Shepard's 1985 A Lie
of the Mind and finds that they represent two radically opposed paradigms
of American drama.
Notes on Blanchett's
Blanche, by Jonathan Kalb
Cate Blanchett's performance as Blanche Dubois in Liv Ullmann's production
of A Streetcar Named Desire may be the most accomplished and
difficult performance of this fine actress' already astonishing career.
in Transit, by Henning Bochert
A German observer considers what was gained and lost when Young Jean Lee's
"racism mouse-trap" The Shipment was performed on tour
Designing The Great
Game: A Conversation with Pamela Howard, by Terry Stoller
In a probing interview, the stage designer of Tricycle Theatre's The
Great Game describes the very unusual creative process behind this
extraordinary cycle of 12 original plays about Afghanistan.
by Royd Climenhaga
A dancer-turned-critic reflects on the career of German dance-theater
legend Pina Bausch (1940 - 2009).
of Everyday Life, by Martin Harries
Les Éphémères, the latest collective work
by Ariane Mnouchkine and Le Théâtre du Soleil, is an intensely
engaging and exhilarating day of theater rooted in the transient pleasures
of everyday life.
Amazing Untold Stories
of Catalogues, by Jonathan Kalb
Two pieces by the British experimental troupe Forced Entertainment perform
the unlikely feat of limning the entirety of human life via an absurd
and obsessive gesture of listing.
Round Two/Round One,
by Eric Bentley
Bentley was the translator of the American premiere of Arthur Schnitzler's
Reigen (La Ronde) in 1955. In this preface to his new
version of the play, he makes the case for reading play as art rather
by Kevin Byrne
In its latest madcap exploration of human fallibility and impossible idealism,
the National Theatre of the United States of America turns its satirical
guns on the Chautauqua tent-shows that toured rural America in the 19th
and early 20th centuries.
Best Supporting Roles,
by Loren Edelson
In the new Classical Theatre of Harlem/Harlem Stage co-production of Chekhov's
Three Sisters, directed by Christopher McElroen, the supporting
characters take center stage.
by Lydia Stryk
A contemporary playwright living "somewhere between Berlin and New
York" describes the irreplaceable presence of Harold Pinter.
The Looking Glass,
by Caridad Svich
Designed for performance in an art gallery, Tim Crouch's new work England
is an experiment in identity-exchange and a tour-guide-style, continent-hopping
journey through broken love, life-threatening illness and the longing
to transcend cultural divides.
Modern Geek Theater,
by Paul David Young
Joseph Silovsky's one-man, one-robot show The Jester of Tonga
is delightful immersion in geeky, resourceful, low-tech invention, but
it's also oddly ambivalent about its subject matter and evasive about
the author's connection to it
The Long and the Short
of It: An Interview with Tim Etchells, by Jonathan Kalb
The principal writer and director of the British experimental theater
group Forced Entertainment speaks about the company's "durational"
performances that last between six and twenty-four hours.
Nothing But the Truth,
by Terry Stoller
A new collection of essays and other texts about contemporary documentary
theater explores the techniques and thought processes behind "verbatim
On a Burning Altar,
by Caridad Svich
The belated New York premiere of Sarah Kane's scandalous 1995 play Blasted
shows how much larger this much-discussed playwright's work always was
than its original Cool Britannia context suggested.
Note on Death, Modernism, and Mark Morris's Staging of Prokofiev's Romeo
by Martin Harries
In 1941, Prokofiev disclaimed the tragic ending of his ballet Romeo
and Juliet as a "barbarism," inserting a happy ending instead.
Now Mark Morris's staging of the later version revives the question of
which ending was truly barbaric.
Coming of Age: Mamet at Sixty,
by Robert Vorlicky
David Mamet claimed to have converted to conservatism in a notorious Village
Voice essay earlier this year. A probing article uses his two most
recent plays, November and Keep Your Pantheon, to show
that the full truth is a bit more complicated than that.
Vijay Tendulkar (1928-2008),
a tribute by Balwant Bhaneja
A translator and adaptor reflects on the life and career of one of India's
foremost playwrights, the greatest of an embattled group of modern writers
who subjected Indian social reality to merciless scrutiny.
Ophelia, Thrice Born,
by Loren Edelson
Aya Ogawa's new play Oph3lia interweaves three different tales
of adolescent girls and young women who embody and embellish aspects of
Shakespeare's fallen heroine.
Macbeth's Young Frankenstein
Moment, by Adam Casdin
The much-ballyhooed version of the Scottish play starring Patrick Stewart
is in fact "overstimulated" and weakened by the same amped-up
"hurly burly" as several other current Broadway blockbusters.
by Alexis Soloski
An American critic journeys to Reykjavik for the first version of "Lokal,
an international festival of art and performance."
The Gold-Painted Plaster Leg
of Love, by Kevin Byrne
The National Theatre of the United States of America's production of Moliere's
Don Juan is another of the company's brilliant exercises in authentic
A Playwright's Worries,
by Theresia Walser
A well-known German playwright breaks a cultural taboo by speaking her
mind about the uses and abuses of director's theater. An essay translated
by Claudia Wilsch Case.
In a Garden State:
Jason Grote in conversation with Caridad Svich
The author of 1001, recently premiered at the Denver Center Theatre
and Baruch Performing Arts Center in NYC, speaks about politics, boredom,
surviving as a playwright, and what it's like to be from New Jersey.
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