The Playgoer: March 2012

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rush Tickets for All!

Kudos to producer Jordan Roth for simplifying the rush ticket policy for at least one Broadway show:

A limited number of lower-price general rush tickets will be available for every performance of the Broadway run of Bruce Norris' Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park, the comedy-drama about the personalities behind racial shifts in a neighborhood, producer Jordan Roth announced on March 26, the day of the play's first preview. "We hope to give as many people as possible the opportunity to share this astonishing theatrical experience," Roth said in a statement.

Rush tickets (at $30 each) will be available on the day of the performance at the Walter Kerr Theatre box office beginning at 10 AM. Limit two per customer. Opening night for the limited 16-week engagement is April 19.

Yes. Finally. Increasing the opportunities to see a show instead of constricting them. What a concept.

Let's hope this scores big, since it's about time Broadway in general simplified the whole rush policy mess. Every show has its own policy--which is usually not publicized. Many are for only for the under-30 set (or even younger, requiring student ID). Do they have to make it so obviously begrudging?

When, in fact, I bet when a show is actually good, tons of folks will, er, rush to any opportunity to go for less than $40, or even $50.

And seriously, producers, how do you feel about your churlish rush policies when you're staring at all those empty seats during previews, huh?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Correction of the Day

Time we had a little humor in the Mike Daisey affair...

A writer named Jason Mick, at the Daily Tech site, criticizes, as I have, the things that Daisey got wrong or made up. Then he adds:
Mr. Daisey is married to Deborah Fallows, a Chinese native who wrote the book Dreaming in Chinese.
It is true that Deborah Fallows . . . wrote the book Dreaming in Chinese. It is true that friends have told her that she might as well have been born a native Chinese person, since her spirit matches that of Chinese women in so many ways. But she is a native of Chicago, not any place in China, and of Czech rather than Chinese ethnic background. And she is most definitely not married to Mike Daisey. At least that is what she told me when she stormed back into the bedroom this morning irate about what she had just seen about herself online.
-Mr. James Fallows

("Jason Mick might want to ratchet back his outrage over Mike Daisey's sloppiness with facts," he adds.)

And for the record, Daisey is married to his director/collaborator Jean-Michele Gregory.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Orson at 24

Orson Welles in 1939, when he was still a stage and radio star, pre-Citizen Kane. From a new exhibit of Golden Age Hollywood color photos at the National Portrait Gallery in DC.

Kinda looks like "the tall guy" in any twenty-something theatre company today, doesn't he?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

About Mike D

"We do not and cannot fact check our artists; we're a theater, not a news organization. The vast majority of what occurs on our stages is fiction. If we didn't believe fiction could reveal truth, we would have to give up our profession. With that said, it obviously matters a great deal to me that our audience understands what they are seeing."

-Oskar Eustis, AD of the Public Theatre, presenter and producer of Mike Daisey's The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs--which, if you didn't know already--came under a bit of heat this weekend.

I am just way too busy this weekend to weigh in on this coherently. But I think Eustis basically gets it right, from a theatrical standpoint.

On the other hand, someone who gets it wrong (at least in this quote) is the man who called him out, This American Life's Ira Glass, who complained: "The normal worldview is: somebody stands on stage and says this happens to me, I think it happened to them." Yes, I think Daisey did himself in when taking his stage show to NPR without accounting for the semiotic differences in mediums. But, man, the ambiguity of "truth" on stage...that's what theatre's all about!

Friday, March 09, 2012

A Site with a View

From NYPL, an online Noel Coward archive with bio and lots of photos. Take a tour and add a little style to your weekend!

The Lincoln Center Performing Arts branch will also have an on-site exhibit of many of the same materials starting next week.

At right: Poster for original Broadway production of Coward's Design for Living , with from l to r: Alfred Lunt, the playwright, Lynn Fontanne

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Review: Beyond the Horizon

For Time Out this week I review Eugene O'Neill's 1920 Broadway debut play, Beyond the Horizon. A title long familiar to me from theatre history books, nice to finally see it in this Irish Rep revival.

By the way, I wrote this last week, so that "slut" line was pre-Limbaugh, I promise.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Kickstarter: Better than NEA?

Are you sitting down? The crowd-funding site, Kickstarter, will soon be able to boast a bigger arts-funding treasure-chest than the National Endowment for the Arts.

Or, at least, so boasts its boss:

Kickstarter is having an amazing year, even by the standards of other white hot Web startup companies, and more is yet to come. One of the company’s three co-founders, Yancey Strickler, said that Kickstarter is on track to distribute over $150 million dollars to its users’ projects in 2012, or more than entire fiscal year 2012 budget for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), which was $146 million. “It is probable Kickstarter will distribute more money this year than the NEA,” said Stricker in an exclusive phone interview with TPM. 
Of course Kickstarter works very differently from a federal granting agency, and basically relies on how well you can bully (I mean, encourage) thousands of friends into coughing up a few bucks each. Sullivan rounds up the debate over the claim's merits here.

And to be fair, Strickler himself is far from suggesting his company supplant the Endowment:
“We view that number and our relationship to it in both a good and bad way.”
As Strickler explained, the milestone is “good” in the sense that it means that Kickstarter may now reach a point where it will funnel as much money to the arts as the federal agency primarily responsible for supporting them, effectively doubling the amount of art that can get funded in the country. “But maybe it shouldn’t be that way,” Strickler said, “Maybe there’s a reason for the state to strongly support the arts.”

Free-marketers would probably be happy to suggest a Kickstarter-like solution for "privatizing" public sector arts funding. Which is why I think the right lesson to draw from this is not that the NEA is unnecessary but that--in its current atrophied and deliberately starved state--it's so small!  At a time when anyone from political campaigns to Kickstarter projects can raise millions online in small contributions, $150 mil ain't much.

Just a reminder that-- No, Republicans, cutting the NEA won't do bupkis for the deficit.

So I'm all for Kickstarter shaming the congress by showing up how pathetically small their arts funding is. Unfortunately it won't be taken that way by many. long till you think some major nonprofit starts taking to Kickstarter when subscriptions decline?