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Friday, July 08, 2011


-Somehow in these cash-strapped times, Rocco's NEA has come up with a whole $30K (!) to help fund a new "Open Captioning Initiative" to help TDF install English- (not foreign-) language surtitles in some theaters. Believe it or not, the target audience is not just the deaf, but even those with "mild hearing loss." My questions are: Are the days of the screeching headphones over?  And will this put deaf-signers/interpreters out of work? And are U.S. audiences now just in general too hard of hearing to enjoy an unamplified theatrical performance?
-Seattle's Intiman still hopes to resurrect itself, and is counting on better ties with local artists to do so.

-Oregon Shakes Fail: In other Northwest news, Oregon Shakespeare Festival has had to move performances to a nearby park due to structural damage (bad beams) to their permanent outdoor indoor Ashland theatre.

-Speaking of U.S. Shakespeare fests, Denver Post's John Moore suggests most of them (or their audiences) are so weary (or wary?) of the Bard that "only 37 percent of the productions offered by the 10 leading Shakespeare festivals in North America were written by their namesake" and are steadily substituting a whole different kind of verse drama, like "Menopause the Musical" and "Elvis: The Early Years." (I guess "the late years" would be too Falstaffian?)

-And for those who do still care about Shakespeare, here's even more about how to build a traveling Elizabethan playhouse in your own backyard--or Park Avenue Armory, if you have one.  (I'm surprised Oregon Shakes doesn't put in an order for a delivery.) Also, a video: 

Setting The Stage: Royal Shakespeare Company in New York from The Greene Space @ WNYC & WQXR on Vimeo.


Susan said...

TDF isn't new to providing funds for open captioning - they've been doing it in NYC for years, they're just expanding it nationally now.

Open captioning is indeed replacing sign interpretation at many theaters, since it reaches a greater percentage of the population. People who are hard-of-hearing rarely know American Sign Language, but will attend an open captioned performance. (Or wear a listening device. Which aren't going away, because they're available at every performance, while open captioned performances are expensive and can only be done for a few performances, at most, during each run.)

Unknown said...

Playgoer, any way of learning what the public bill will be for RSC's undertaking? I'm just curious how much of our arts funding will go to (what I'm assuming) will be a play series most of us cannot afford...

Playgoer said...

You raise a good point, Roberson. One that should be obvious, but seems never to be raised about our "nonprofit" theatre institutions. Namely: If you take public funding you are obliged to offer tickets that the general "public" can afford. I have no sympathy with those who claim taxpayers shouldn't be forced to support "obscene" art. However, they should at least be able to SEE what they're paying for!

Playgoer said...

late update/correction on the Oregon Shakes story: it was their indoor space not the outdoor theatre that had the structural damage