Monday, April 29, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Voting open until Friday morning.  Here are this week's contenders:

Comment #1: a new comment on your post "Will 'Spider-Man' Injure More Actors?":

Although I understand that the SPider Man, after long lasted lawsuit; tries to increase its profitability by performing outside the US, it is hard to understand why they are planning this right now. Ithink the most important thing for now is to focus on successful and stable performance in New York. Looking at precedant accidents, I am doubtful that any kind of accident is possible for the actors next time because spider man deals with such aggressive and dangerous actions like flying. However, if the team has to move to another city to perform with completely new theatre that has different system, it can cause another disaster and it should be seriously considered because such accident can be very hazardous for actor's career. Moreover, as the article says, it will be extra charge for them to move around with extra charge for advanced techniques too. I am really glad that they made a settlement for the lawsuit, but I want the producers to take a safer and more precise step before they decide to change things because they will not want to be on news with another negative incidents again, which will only decrease audiences' credibiltiy or support. 
Comment #2: a new comment on your post "Nicholas Hytner: With Shakespeare, the play is jus...":
I love the point that this article makes, and it's one that I don't think I've ever really thought about in those terms: a play, unlike a book, is by definition meant to be performed, and so it make perfect sense that plays are left "incomplete" in a sense, and it is each production's job to fill in the blanks. I think that's what makes theatre so exciting, and especially Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare doesn't provide every single backstory and event, it allows each production to interpret it differently, and basically tell a different story. As the article mentions, if Polonius delivers his famous line as a pompous ass, then it means something COMPLETELY different than if he smirks or if he flinches or if he smiles. I think that's what makes theatre so engaging: no performance is ever the same, and even if you've seen Othello or Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet 100 times, there will always be a different story for you to discover. 
Comment #3: a new comment on your post "Smartphones Acting In Concert, At A Concert":
This is both cool and scary. Like pretty much everyone else who commented, I agree that this is a great development, and could be applied in many very useful ways. It could indeed be great in disaster and war zones; more and more, we are seeing technology allow for better access to humanitarian aid and social change(see: Arab Spring).
It is a bit scary though to think about the potentially malevolent uses of this technology. After all, if someone creates a software that allows to control mobile devices like this WITH THE USER'S CONSENT, you can be sure that soon enough someone will hack it and take advantage of that. And I don't really like the idea of someone getting into my phone via some cool technology I downloaded. But maybe it's not a risk. Maybe I'm just being alarmist.
In the meantime, I still think it's a cool technology. 
Comment #4: a new comment on your post "4 Career Lessons From A Former Design Intern":
First, I'd like to complain about the ads on this page. with that said, I really like this advice.
I love reading advice from someone who can actually back up why these things are important and I just love how relevant it is. I also think that it's very easy for us to roll our eyes at this type of advice but the way this article was written makes it very hard to ignore the fact that a lot of the things we do in our daily lives are advised against for good reason. We shouldn't be competing with each other to be "better" because, not only are we in a collaborative field, but we can make something better together than we every could apart, if only we can just put our egos aside. We shouldn't be designing a project just because we think "Susan will love it." but because we love it. We are all here because we love this art form and the second we start designing for someone else it stops being important. I think that something else we all tend to lose sight of is how to relax. This article is right, work will always be there, but (forgive me for sounding corny) we'll only be this young once. Yes, school and grades are extremely important, but who says we can't do well in school and also have a little fun? Even if that fun is just taking an afternoon off and spending some time in the park with a book, we should still remember to make time for that. I think we should all be remembering this advice and taking it to heart. 
Comment #5:  a new comment on your post "The Right Chair":
THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WAITING TO READ. This Journalist KNOWS what to say and how to say it.
"Why should lack of resources become an excuse for shoddy craftsmanship, or for compromising the quality of what we are capable as artists?"
I strongly believe that you can achieve an adequate and almost perfect world for a show without the biggest budget. I think it is a matter of knowing where to look for the materials, knowing how to design with a budget in mind, but not letting that stop the way that you envision the show. This journalist knows how to speak on this topic. FOR EXAMPLE... My group (for Susan Tsu's final design project) needed a ton of mirrors. This would have cost us about $500 on a $250 budget. Guess how much it cost? $0. We simply reached out to someone, and they extended a hand to help us.
Design what you want, and make it work.

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Will 'Spider-Man' Injure More Actors? Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has finally disentangled itself from the 17-month legal dispute between former director Julie Taymor and the show’s current producers. With the settlement, 8 Legged Productions—the entity behind the Broadway tuner—can now focus on boosting profitability, potentially through additional productions of the show outside New York. But can a show that gained early notoriety for injuries dealt to its actors in the Foxwoods Theatre’s made-to-order space safely launch in a touring version, or will traveling turn out to be Spider-Man’s kryptonite? (Sorry, wrong superhero.)

The Right Chair

HowlRound: I’m going to take the precarious position that, as designers, what we put on stage in front of an audience should never be an apology. Why should lack of resources become an excuse for shoddy craftsmanship, or for compromising the quality of what we are capable as artists?

Is this the final act for Nigeria's rich theatrical tradition?

BBC News: Theatre attendance in Nigeria's economic capital, Lagos, is dwindling as "Nollywood" - the country's prolific film industry - surges in popularity. This - along with the high cost of renting traditional venues - means that theatre producers may have to find cheaper, alternative venues for their plays.

Supersizing a 'Sunday in the Park' What happens when you take a Stephen Sondheim chamber piece — “Sunday in the Park With George” — and produce it operatically, quadrupling the size of the orchestra?

Why Chicago's Comedy Tradition Is Unlike Any Other Reduce Chicago to its deep-dish core, and you will see it is at once synonymous with blustery winds, baseball futility, and side-splitting comedy of the highest degree. It is not only the birthplace of ensemble comedy but also the breeding ground for generations of comedians since the 1950s. Chicago comedy began at the turn of the 20th century, when the city was a major hub for vaudeville. According to Douglas Gomery, professor emeritus at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland in College Park, “Chicago always trailed only New York in vaudeville stops,” with dozens of theaters, some—like the Academy of Music and the McVickers—with capacities of up to 2,000 seats. But vaudeville didn’t stand a chance against the emergence of the talkies. “By 1930 pure vaudeville had died,” writes Gomery, “crushed by Hollywood.”

Monday, April 22, 2013


Sitting at my new desk at home.  Might need a new chair...  Should I be watching the NBA playoffs?  The Bulls fan in me says I should be...  Only two weeks of class left at work.  Every single year it seems to go that much faster...  Considering retiring my desktop at home.  Thinking about using a laptop as my primary machine for the first time...  The US Senate really never misses a chance to disappoint these days.  Might bee time to change the cloture rules...  Started through the backlog of Orphan Black on the DVR.  So far it seems to be a show about a girl not answering the phone.  A little it reminds me of Dark Angel.  That's not a bad thing...  After due consideration I have decided that #Nerdland - Melissa Harris Perry might be the best news/commentary show on TV.  Clearly I have drunk the MSNBC Kool-Aid...  Went to a retirement celebration for a faculty member that has been here more than 40 years.  If I hang here for 40 years it will be the year 2040 and I will be, I will be old...  Mrs TANBI and I may have shelved our landscaping ambitions in favor of an even crazier real estate scheme.  Keep in mind I had called the landscaping plan "science fiction"...  It is possible I did a lousy job selecting articles for the News From the Real World this week...  I think that maybe June will be a post-a-day month like I did in January.  Writing a blog shouldn't be this hard...  Being in a job 40 years feels like a long, long time.  But FWIW, being in a job for 12 years also feels like a long, long time...  Cartoon Network must have done a deal with Netflix, so now there's JLA, JLU, Batman Beyond, Brave and the Bold.  I have months of teenage television in front of me...  Still not feeling very informed on the Pittsburgh Mayoral election.  Might have to crack a local paper...  Carnival came and went.  They got one really nice day and one really pissy day.  My students basically missed the whole thing working on projects... 

Comment of the Week

Vote for comment of the week - votes close Thursday.  Here are this weeks contenders:

Comment #1: a new comment on your post "25 College Diplomas With the Highest Pay":

Is Ms. Adams trying to depress me? Is she mocking my life choices? I hope so. Because it gives me a chance to get on a soapbox for a second about the pathetically short-sights gradient with which articles like this, and maybe American culture in general, measure success. I have worked a lot of different types of jobs on my way to this school, so I can reassure my younger colleagues that rate of pay has NEVER, not even once, been a reliable measure of how good I was going to feel about a job. You take the big payoff jobs so you can do the little ones with your buddies. The environmental movement used to talk about a "triple bottom line" (they still might... are there still environmentalists?), which adds environmental cost/benefit to the traditional business ledger. I believe in looking at pay rates this way, and there is no amount of pay that can balance a ledger of misery. 
Comment #2: a new comment on your post "The arts mean business in Pittsburgh":
Great to know that the investment in arts and culture has such an impact on Pittsburgh's economy, because usually, in other regions, it can be quite the opposite. This is largely also impart due to your audience numbers. Pittsburgh has many tourists and citizens who frequent cultural and arts events, while other regions many now be trying to build their audience base. On a side note, I really didn't know that Pittsburgh attracted that many tourists yearly.

It was also great to see that so many jobs are created from the arts, due to the fact that so often artist usually have to struggle while moving from gig to gig. However what is interesting is that they state the number of jobs that are created, but not the average salary of these jobs. Which I think that I would be more interested in knowing. $400 million in household income overall may seem like a large figure, but when you break that down into the many different people and jobs and pay scales, it may start to look fairly dismal. However the most interesting part was the $74 million in local and state tax revenues which is enough to pay the salaries of almost 1,400 school teachers, firefighters, librarians and police officers. That really shows a great contribution from arts revenue. 
Comment #3: a new comment on your post "Theater: Creating a kid-friendly version of ‘The T...":
I don't like this "kid-friendly" version of the Tempest at all. When I was a little kid I would go to see Shakespeare all the time and I never had a had time understanding what was going on. I didn't need the plot to be boiled down for me to see what was happening. To me it sounds like the only change they have made to make this kid friendly is to cut a few lines with the goal of making the show shorter. These people seem to think that children will not be able to sit still and focus on the play for more then 90min with a 10min break. That is just rude. As a young child I was about to watch long Shakespearean shows with no breaks and I didn't for a moment get distracted or lose focus. I may have been bouncing in my seat, but only because of how focused I was on what was happening on stage. Another problem I have with this show is the idea that having teenage actors will make young children like the show more. This is just silly, a small child has just as much in common with a 16 year old as they do with a 90 year old, maybe less. On the whole I do not like the ways this company chooses to play down to children. 
Comment #4: a new comment on your post "A Call For Enrichment and Education Within the The...":
I must confess that I don't have a passion for the theme park industry. But, I found myself relating to this article, not necessarily because of the subject matter, but because the author calls out to the people in his profession to care about their industry, and actively participate in it, instead of just making a drafting, taking the paycheck, and walking away. He argues that the theme parks cannot be truly entertaining unless the people who design them, test out what they've designed. In the theatre world, designers and managers are increasingly not caring about the production they work on, just their little part; and some don't even like theatre at all, they just do it because they're decent at it. I felt this author's passion, and I related to his call for his colleagues to have that same passion. I love theatre. I love going to see live theatre. I love watching the shows I manage. I care about what happens onstage, and what the audience thinks. There is also a cancer in our industry of lack of passion for the actual industry. People might be passionate about the lights or the construction of the set, but if they don't care about the production, or care about theatre as a whole, how can they produce something of true quality? 
Comment #5: a new comment on your post "New York Costume Ban Proposed By City Councilman":
Proposing a law to ban people from wearing costumes in public, even only specific costumes, seems like an extreme solution to something that hasn't come across as a huge issue. If this law is referring to the pushy people who try to sell you things in NYC while wearing costumes, then there are a heck of a lot more people like that who aren't wearing costumes than those that are wearing costumes. If this law were to pass there would be a lot more to it than preventing those sales people from wearing costumes. Children would not be able to dress up as certain characters for Halloween, or at any other time of the year as children are wont to do. This would also prevent conventions like Comicon from being held in NYC city. Dressing in costume is a huge part of that convention. The same goes for other events and conventions. Would Disney need to acquire permits to put their employees in costume every time they host an event in Times Square? It seems like there are a lot of things that haven't been thought through all the way involved with this law.

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

The Power List: Why Women Aren’t Equals In New Music Leadership and Innovation

NewMusicBox: I once had a conversation with my violin teacher that I will never forget. I was at a crucial stage in my development as a musician. The path to a career as a professional violinist was becoming clearer to me, and my passion and talent were becoming more evident. I was in my lesson; I had a stack of music on the stand and several important auditions coming up. Turning to my teacher and mentor, I wondered aloud how viable this path was really going to be. “I would advise you to think very, very carefully about all of this,” she said grimly. “Being a musician and having a family is extremely difficult.” I was fourteen.

The Empirical Kids Twelve years ago, I wrote a piece for The Atlantic, called “The Organization Kid,” about the smart, hard-working, pleasant-but-cautious achievatrons who thrive in elite universities. Occasionally, somebody asks me how students have changed since then. I haven’t been perceptive enough to give a good answer.

Live Sound: More Than A Project: Audio For Alan Parsons In The Live Realm

Pro Sound Web: Few have achieved the level of success of Alan Parsons as an engineer/producer, as well as a performing artist in his own right. After beginning his career as an assistant at Abbey Road Studios at age 19, he worked on iconic records such as Abbey Road and Let It Be before further cementing his reputation on projects with The Hollies, Al Stewart, Paul McCartney and Wings and, of course, with Pink Floyd as engineer on Dark Side of the Moon.

F.C.C. Has Yen for Broadway’s Wireless Spectrum An hour before curtain at “Mamma Mia!” at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, Craig Cassidy, the head sound man, starts his nightly ritual of testing the wireless microphones that the performers wear hidden in their white spandex bell bottoms. The run-throughs by Mr. Cassidy ensure that the microphones are transmitting on their assigned frequencies, a narrow sliver of the nation’s airwaves. The same process takes place every night at nearly four dozen other Broadway theaters, where an inadvertent twist of a dial can put a cordless microphone on the wrong frequency — wreaking havoc if it should send the harmonies of Abba in “Mamma Mia!” into the speakers of a performance of “Wicked” across the street. “It’s quite a juggling act we have to perform in this area to coordinate the use of all of those microphones,” Mr. Cassidy said.

Shakespeare scholars unite to see off claims of the 'Bard deniers' A group of 22 of the world's leading Shakespeare scholars have come together to produce a book that details what they consider to be definitive evidence that the Bard really did write his own plays. Since the 1850s, 77 people have been suggested as the likely author, with Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere – the 17th Earl of Oxford – and Christopher Marlowe the most popular candidates, and Queen Elizabeth I among the most outlandish. The academics feel the anti-Shakespeare campaign has intensified lately, and that the elevation of Shakespeare authorship studies to master's degree status has been the final straw.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Time for the Writing

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Comment #1: a new comment on your post "Religious protests greet Broadway play's first per...":

Well isn't this just a great story to read on my Monday afternoon. Having some more Christians revolting and protesting, some production that is portraying Mary in some "new" light. WHOOAA! First I really enjoy the fact that the group protesting says they are In "Defense of Tradition, Family and Property". Family and Property, wait WHAT!! Family I can totally get behind Tradition I can not. Did this Christian's read the gospels, because I have, (side note I am not a scholar, but I do feel like I pay attention to the words on the pages). TRADITION, is what got the Jews in trouble in the first place, the pharisee and saducees were so caught up in legalism they totally missed the point of the Jesus. Nicodemis (a pharisee, I beilieve) is the probably the only pharisee to truly seek out with Jesus said. But if you read the bible, TRADITION like the "FOUNDING FATHERS"" HA. How about Thomas Jefferson, who cut sections of the BIBLE out that he did not like. Are you trying to protect that guy. Sure go for it but I will not be standing in that line. Ok moving forward.

They want to protest, Fine Great!!! Do IT!

But I just want to always say, if you just go home and show LOVE truly the best our sinful, depraved selfs can then that will be a bigger impact then protesting. But yet again I am not a big supporter of the Christian founding fathers so what do I know.

Ok so the point about the playwright and direction being homosexual. Umm let me think. So in God's eyes "we all have fallen short of the glory of God". So your telling me two sinners (just like everyone else) is directing a play, about a woman who is truly not that important in the scheme of Salvation. Salvation comes through one name and it is not Mary.

So I decided not to yammer about property. 
Comment #2: a new comment on your post "Regional Companies Battle Tough Times With New Fun...":
I'm sure I gathered the groundbreaking new fundraising methods being implemented by regional theaters. The efforts and changes that theaters are taking to their approaches to fundraising are no where near as drastic as they need to be in order to theater to survive in the changing climate. The donors that companies have relied on for so many years are drying up. The committed donor no longer exists.

I was discussing arts funding with a friend of mine, and she disclosed that the internet fundraiser Kickstarter contributes twice the amount of funding to the arts than the NEA. People are looking for one-time donations. No one wants to be committed to anything anymore. Kickstarter monopolizes on the ability of the donor to pick, choose and evaluate direct projects. It's not just someone donating money to an organization. Those who receive funding must clearly layout the process and the product they will create. Also, the donor gets more than the satisfaction, they receive gifts based on the level of donation - not just their name on a plaque.

Large organizational donations are still crucial for non-profits, but if they want to change their tactics with individuals, then take a look at some new guerrilla fundraising techniques. Consumers aren't interested in being a life-time donor. They want to shop around and participate a little in a lot of projects. 
Comment #3: a new comment on your post "Review: 'Book of Mormon' lives up to the hype in P...":
I saw the Book of Mormon last week when it was at the Benedum and I was very excited to see it, one because Grey was in it and also because of all of the mixed reviews that it has gotten. After the first 20 minutes of the show and the stereotypical African setting, characters and scene I was most upset and disturbed. Then I had to stop myself and remember who the creators were and what their vision was. I had to stop myself from feeling as though it was the most racist thing ever and remember that it just wasn't the black stereotype that was being represented, but the white and norman. After I slapped myself out of it, I must admit that I started enjoying myself and then I was completely captivated by intermission. The music and lyrics were good and funny and made the story so compelling and easy to follow. I also love the touring set and how it captured all of the different worlds/locations.

Some of the African accents weren't consistent. That was my biggest problem after my initial racist concern. Good show! 
Comment #4: a new comment on your post "Suzy Lee Weiss: To (All) the Colleges That Rejecte...":
There appears to be this widespread belief among many (not all, but many) white seniors applying to college and their white parents that one can only get in to their dream school if they are *insert minority here*. This is what this article is alluding to and I dare hope that this is meant to be a satire, because if it's not this girl is just exposing her bitterness and narrow-mindedness to many, many people.
Just a few weeks ago, I heard several women discussing this very topic. One of them was explaining that her son did not make it into any of the medicals schools he applied to because he was white, and that it's well known that good schools only accept minority students. My friend had to keep me from going up to them and suggesting that maybe her son's flaw wasn't being white, but simply not being good enough instead.
This is such a sly form of racism; it implies that minority students who got into college didn't truly deserve it, and simply benefited from their skin color/ethnicity/upbringing. It implies that the students she mentions "who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe" didn't deserve to get into college.
Claiming that being white and "not diverse" is the reason she didn't make it to the college of her choice is complete delusion. Yes, colleges want diversity. I would too, if not looking for "diverse" students meant accepting self-entitled and self-centered students like Suzy Weiss.
I recommend reading this article responding to Weiss's: 
Comment #5: a new comment on your post "Jane and Jim Henson: How do you get to be a profes...":
As a child, I grew up watching "The Muppet Show" re-runs with my family and when I'd watch TV in the morning before school, there was always "Sesame Street" on. In essence, puppets were an important part of my childhood. If I wanted to make my own toy, I used to make (rather poor quality) sock puppets with button eyes and pipe cleaner hair. The art of puppeteering is something that is very respectable in my mind, just as much as the theatre I do is very respectable to me. It seems a bit strange that a field that's such a staple on TV and in modern children's lives is something that only a few colleges provide a degree or training in. People who really like puppets shouldn't have to hope and pray that eventually a renown person in the field will find them. I think that puppeteering has a lot of theatrical value as well, and that more theatre schools (in the least) should provide more puppeteering and puppet making classes. I don't see this art form dying out anytime soon, which is so great that such a physical and traditional form of entertainment has such staying power.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Worth A Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

Was Shakespeare a tax dodger? Bard was 'ruthless businessman who exploited famine and faced jail for cheating revenue'

Mail Online: It sounds like the sort of character who would have been deeply unpopular in one of his plays. William Shakespeare was a 'ruthless businessman' and tax dodger, researchers have claimed. Although he wrote plays that championed the rights of the poor and the needy, archived documents show the playwright was actually a wealthy landowner repeatedly dragged before the courts and fined for illegally stockpiling food and threatened with jail for evading taxes.

Suzy Lee Weiss: To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It's simple: For years, they—we—were lied to. Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere. What could I have done differently over the past years?

Religious protests greet Broadway play's first performance

News - The Stage: The world premiere of Colm Toibin’s stage play The Testament of Mary, a one-woman show starring actress Fiona Shaw and directed by Deborah Warner, was marred by protests on Thursday, March 26, the night of the production’s first Broadway preview. The protesters were members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, a not-for-profit organization with its national headquarters in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, “concerned about the moral crisis shaking the remnants of Christian civilization”, as noted on the TFP website.

Is Audition-Room Privacy Dead? A planned auction of 54 VHS tapes featuring early auditions by actors Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, and many others has touched off a fit of handwringing in the casting community and endangered the age-old idea of the audition room as sacred space. On April 5–6, Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills will put the tapes up for sale, some with suggested values as high as $2,000–$4,000. Darren Julien and Martin Nolan appeared on NBC’s “Today” March 29 to publicize the auction and claimed that the tapes were being sold by three casting directors who wished to remain anonymous. But the tapes are widely believed to have come from CDs Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson, who cast most of the projects associated with the auditions. Letterhead from their office can be seen in the catalog for the auction. Kathleen York, whose auditions for the films “Jersey Girl” and “Ransom” are included in the auction, is confident that the tapes come from Jenkins and Hirshenson.

Politics Spills Onto Stage in Budapest Draw a triangle on the map of Budapest. At one corner, atop the Millennium Column in Heroes’ Square, rises an angel. A few kilometers away at the apex, built like a boat about to sail into the Danube, stands the Hungarian National Theater.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Try as I might I just haven't been keeping up with this... I don't think enough people watch MSNBC for anyone to get charged up over something one of their weekend hosts says (besides she pretty much just said "It takes a village")... We got our new home office furniture Friday. So far we've emptied five sets of plastic drawers, seven plastic bins, and three boxes - so about half way... Thought about getting a haircut today exactly 30 minutes after it would have been possible to get a haircut today... I wish the weather would make up its mind and pick a season... Mrs. TANBI and I are thinking about becoming real estate moguls... The crit schedule is still in motion. I am not confident I will get it finalized tomorrow... I'll be taking the bus all week as they have closed my parking lot for Spring Carnival. It's probably worth it... Apparently the podcast is good this week. Guess I'll have to get to that tomorrow... Tonight at Mad Mex the server brought half my entree before the starter, then took it back, then they brought the other half of my entree, followed by something Mrs. TANBI hadn't ordered, followed by her corrected entree, and then returning with the other half of my entree, after which we got our starter. It's a good thing we like Mad Mex... It has been long enough now that I will not be surprised if nothing happens nationally over gun control... I was hoping last night to have seen the Northern Lights, but there was no love this far South... The new office configuration reduces the size of the TV picture like 20%. It's still huge, but it is hard to go backward... There's a city election coming up. I don't know much more than that. I probably should... Hello out there FIOS? Roku? Where is the FIOS app for the Roku? I'd download that toot suite... Roger Ebert is gone. That makes me sad. There was nobody more often on target to what I would think about a film... Four weeks left in the CMU school year. Clearly I've got some grading to do...

Monday, April 08, 2013

Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Comment #1: a new comment on your post "Spain abandons the theatre":

What's amazing to me is that Spain's government thought that taxing live theatre events up the nose was going to be a good source of revenue in the first place. It must say something about Spanish devotion to the arts that would make such a potentially politically damaging move attractive. The article states a 33% drop in attendance, amounting to 1.8 million fewer butts in seats. That means that before the tax, Spanish theatre could count on 5.4 million ticket holders per anum, or around 11% of their 48 million companeros. That got me thinking, how does this compare to the U.S.? Should the feds tax us similarly? Perhaps to pay for some of the oil spill clean-ups that lately seem to be blossoming like the proverbial black crocus? Turns out, at least according to these guys:, we do a little better! 40 - 50 million Americans per year from 2003 - 2010 went to a live theatrical event. Even at it's lowest during that period (39 million in 2009, a bad year all around), per capita U.S. theatre attendance stood at above 12%. Of course, 73.4 million Americans attended a major league baseball game that year, but half as good as baseball is nothing to shake a hot dog at. Currently there is no Federal live event tax, although some states, perhaps most notably Nevada, have jumped on the Spanish banda vagon and charge an event tax on tickets. Hopefully the Feds will figure out all the revenue they've been missing out on and get a piece of the action for themselves. After all, is it fair for these fat cat regional theatres to live high off the land while oil executives scrounge and scrape to pay all the taxes and fines for a little oopsy-spill every once or twice in a week? Viva Espana! 
Comment #2: a new comment on your post "Live, From New York, It’s Your Next Theatre Season...":
I've noticed the same trend that this article mentions: theatres around the country have very often been producing a handful of the same plays. Those plays may change from year to year: for example, a few years ago, the show "Red" was everywhere. "Spring Awakening" seems to be pretty popular, especially among college theatre companies (I know 3 universities that did Spring Awakening this year.) Everyone and their mother wants to do War Horse now. I'm conflicted as to how I feel about this trend. Yes, repeats of plays can be redundant, but because so many theatres have a geographic-specific audience, this gives more people the opportunity to see good shows (or at least shows that have been popular in NY). I do wish that more theatres would produce more new works or less well-known productions, but at the same time, I absolutely understand why theatres want plays that will bring in money. I'm not sure if theatres will do less well-known works and take bigger risks in this economic climate without some increase of government support or some other system of support from donors or companies, all of which has been very difficult to come by. 
Comment #3:  a new comment on your post "Theater Talkback: How to Offend a White Person":
As our resident "black" DP, here's how I see it. When it comes to racial slurs, there are obviously the big ones like the N-word. I've been called that before and yeah it sucks but in the scheme of things, I often find my friends who aren't african american, black, or whatever you decide to classify yourself as, the ones who get the most offended. Racism is terrible, I really truly hate how some people treat me because of my skin tone but when it comes down to it, the words mean nothing. It's really the actions and emotions behind it. People will worry about how they say things and will someone think they're racist if they say this or that. And yes, there aren't really offensive racial words for white people. But all these are just smaller facts in a big issue. I really don't mind if someone says black girl problems to me of tells me " that's because your black". It's when there is hate behind it that it becomes an issue. Let stop focusing on the words we are saying and focus on the meaning behind them. Because I'm telling you, if accidentally say something that might possibly be construed as racist in an attempt to explain something, well thats life and I won't care. Life isn't polite, especially when talking about stereotypes. People need to stop saying "thats racist" or "your racist", every time someone says something that isn't completely politically correct. It actually make really racism seem less harsh, and I have more of a problem with that then someone calling me "black girl". Saying I have a big butt or that I'm better at communicating with "my people" because I'm black, well not entirely polite or true, is not racist so stop calling it that. Racism is when someone spits at your feet and calls you a F-word N-word. See the difference? 
Comment #4: a new comment on your post "'The Flick' Prompts an Explanation From Playwright...":
The fact that there are theatres that take the risk and produce new american plays is a great thing. They take a great deal of risks putting new works on. Any person that threatens to leave or stoping going to a play is ridiculous. I do not really understand why people leave plays at intermission. If you are not enjoying it then you should still be there listening and observing why you didn't like it. You should think to yourself why the people who were creating this piece of work were doing so. Every minute you spend in a theatre watching a piece of work you did not like is a minute you can spend learning about theatre and what to do versus not and why. I also think that the artist directors letter was the perfect thing to do in a situation. It told people they had made a bold choice and if you did not like it then you are fine and if you did like it that is fine too. It was a good mixture of bring people into a difficult process of choosing the how and why of new works. Go him! 
Comment #5: a new comment on your post "Cyndi Lauper on Being a Composer, for ‘Kinky Boots...":
I always think it's interesting when people who have achieved some notoriety in one field attempt to break into another related field. One one hand, it seems to be easier for them, since there's always someone who will pick something up thinking that people will go see it plainly because it was written by a famous actor, even if it's bad. I suppose that's the downside. The upside is that these individuals, knowing what they know about all aspects of their craft, are often very good at the new thing they are trying. Maybe it's something they have always been interested in or maybe it's recent, but much of the work turns out promising. This seems to be the case with Kinky Boots. I haven't seen the show myself (although I hope to), but have heard only positive reviews from those who have. I suppose the lesson to be learned from that is a good team is a good team, even when people step outside of their standard roles.

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Spain abandons the theatre

Telegraph: A report published last week showed audiences have fallen by a third at theatres across Spain since the government raised the sales tax on cultural events. The price of theatre tickets rocketed in September when VAT rose from eight to 21 per cent in an emergency measure to boost government coffers and reduce the burgeoning public deficit.

Save Tungsten Campaign Launched Internationally

News content from Live Design Magazine: A major campaign to save the tungsten bulb for theatrical use has been launched internationally, with a long list of distinguished lighting designers supporting the cause: Richard Pilbrow, Patrick Woodroffe, Durham Marenghi, Paule Constable, Rick Fisher, Neil Austin, Andrew Bridge, Mark Henderson, Johanna Town, Mark Jonathan, David Hersey, Jennifer Tipton, David Finn, Ken Posner, Don Holder, Ken Billington, Brian MacDevitt, Howell Binkley, Steve Shelley, ML Geiger, Aaron Copp, Seth Jackson, Kevin Adams, Jules Fisher, Christina Giannelli, Mark Stanley and many others, including those in Canada, France, and Australia.

Q&A: Neil A. Mazzella

News content from Live Design Magazine: I started in Off Off Broadway in 1973 and did everything, as they really didn’t pay you. After six months I started as an electrician with the Chelsea Theatre Company at BAM. In 1975 I went to graduate school for my MFA at the Yale School of Drama and majored in TD&P—technical design and production. I then worked at the Metropolitan Opera House as a carpenter until 1980, when I founded Hudson Scenic with Gene O’Donovan, who I had met on a show called Ballroom, at the pre-Broadway tryout in Connecticut. Gene left in 1994.

'The Flick' Prompts an Explanation From Playwrights Horizons The artistic director of Playwrights Horizons, a leading Off Broadway company that produces new American plays, took the unusual step on Saturday of e-mailing 3,000 of the theater’s subscribers to explain his decision to produce Annie Baker’s new play “The Flick,” whose three-hour length and periods of long silence have infuriated some audience members. The letter, posted below, is the first of its kind for the artistic director, Tim Sanford. In a telephone interview on Monday, he said it was “not an apology,” but rather an effort at “community engagement” over a play that has been embraced by critics – and recently won the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize – but has prompted threats of subscription cancellations by some people walking out at intermission. Mr. Sanford said that about 10 percent of the audience had bolted the play at the interval during the first week of performances in February, but that those numbers have diminished since.

Can unions save the creative class? They’re just for hard hats. They peaked around the time Elvis was getting big. They killed Detroit. They’ve got nothing to do with you or me. They’re a special interest – and they hate our freedom. That’s the kind of noise you pick up in 21st century America – in politics and popular culture alike – when you tune your station to the issue of trade unions. Union membership, and ensuing muscle, have been in steep decline in both the public and private sectors. Just look at Wisconsin’s “right to work” push, the anti-teachers union “reform” movement, corporate union-busting, P.R. “messaging” firms hired by management to smear striking workers, hostility from the Republican right and indifference from a Democratic Party that’s reoriented itself around professionals and Silicon Valley.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

The Creative Class Is Still On The Rise

Big Think TV | Big Think: In 2002, Richard Florida published his celebrated book The Rise of the Creative Class about the growth of the creative workforce and its implications for the rest of the culture and the economy. When the book was re-issued with updates ten years later, some of Florida's critics wondered whether the book should be given a new title: The Rise and Fall of the Creative Class.

A Connecticut Theater Club? Say, That's The Ticket Are Connecticut theaters missing out on a new audience? New engagement? New revenue? The thought occurred to me when a colleague asked me a simple question: How can she buy a gift certificate for someone who can then choose whatever show they want at any major theater in the state? With so many terrific theaters around the state -- and not sure of the giftee’s tastes -- she didn’t want to be tied down to selecting just one theater, one show, one time.

Why Are There So Few Female Magicians?

Ashley Fetters - The Atlantic: In the new Steve Carell comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, there's a moment when Jane (Olivia Wilde), Burt's reluctant onstage assistant, transforms Burt's dollar bill into a butterfly. It's a charming scene, showing one more adorable step toward Burt and Jane's inevitable rom-com happy ending. Plus turning money into a tiny fluttering monarch is just generally pretty cool. Yet it also got me thinking: Why is this the first time I have ever seen a woman do a magic trick?

The new propaganda is liberal. The new slavery is digital What is modern propaganda? For many, it is the lies of a totalitarian state. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl and asked her about her epic films that glorified the Nazis. Using revolutionary camera and lighting techniques, she produced a documentary form that mesmerised Germans; her Triumph of the Will cast Hitler’s spell. She told me that the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of the German public. Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? “Everyone,” she said.

Television Still Written by White Men: Report Minority writers remain underrepresented in American television, which may contribute to the dearth of roles for minority performers.
“[W]riters play a foundational role in the fashioning of the stories a society circulates about itself. But in the Hollywood entertainment industry, unfortunately, there has all too often existed a disconnect between the writers hired to tell our stories and an America that’s becoming increasingly diverse with each passing day,” the report from the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) states.

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Comment #1: a new comment on your post "Failing College":

In a post-gazette article from 2010 explains some things that colleges spend money on. They mainly spend money on: sports programs, raising teacher salaries, giving dorm rooms new technology and comfortable living conditions, and better food. All of this to attract new students. I've also heard that colleges spend a lot of money on landscaping and the care of campus property to attract prospectives. I see this in a lot of colleges around the USA. However, let's take a look at CMU. Admit it. We don't have great sports teams and the players were not given scholarships or a large sum of money from the university to spend throughout the year. I don't know anything about the teacher salaries, and I'm not going to say anything. I'm pretty sure most students don't like the quality of dorm rooms on campus. I KNOW everyone hates the food here. So what is CMU spending the money on? Technology. Top-notch systems in Purnell. I don't know what else, but these things are pretty helpful in our education. Don't get me wrong. I hate the price of tuition in the USA. It's as if the colleges are trying to set students up for failure. If they can't afford the school, they take out loans and are in a lifetime of debt. If they don't go to the school because of financial problems, then they don't seem to be getting the best job offers after. Clearly, things need to change, but for right now, I don't know enough information to determine how to change it. 
Comment #2: a new comment on your post "Punchdrunk theatre company returns with show shrou...":
This theatre company seems to be approaching the ideas behind sleep no more and other space based theatre productions. I think a good name to describe this type of theatre would be to call it Theater of Spaces. From my start here at Carnegie Mellon I have been thinking about and even look at this type of emerging theatre. The ideas behind it seem to be exactly as Barrtte described "So if you flip it and it is all about the danger and the anticipation then suddenly you are ready for what might happen. Your brain is charged – your body is active and your mind is active – so the whole show will hit you more deeply." It seems as if the experience of the theatre then seeing and understanding. There also seems to be elements of blurring the line of performance versus real life and overwhelming audience members. I wish I had a chance to experience this production and study this more I think it would be very interesting topic to write a book on.
Comment #3: a new comment on your post "Lavish curtain calls give audiences one last treat...":
All of my experiences with seeing shows on Broadway in the past few years have involved these curtain calls that seem to never end- in a bad way. I have to disagree with some of the viewpoints taken in this article describing the curtain calls as something the audience greatly enjoys and sees as another final treat. I don't enjoy it, and usually the people around me get sick of it too. To have a long curtain call is inconsiderate of the audience. Yes, people are paying for the entertainment, and they are there to sit and be entertained, but let's say the show receives a standing ovation (which happens often on Broadway). If the curtain call is a full length Broadway musical number (let's say between 10 and 15 minutes) it's inconsiderate to expect an audience to clap almost straight through, or keep the standing ovation. Also, there is nothing wrong with having a 5 minute long curtain call for a large show, and then letting people leave. For the most part, it seems as though these long endings are a way to make people feel guilty about leaving after the show is "over" (though it seems to be a flexible definition currently), and make them stay through for an announcement about Broadway Cares in the hopes they'll donate money. I enjoy seeing shows on Broadway, but I hate when shows drag out the end, it puts an awkward twinge on the end of a (usually) good evening of theatre. 
Comment #4: a new comment on your post "Billie Joe Armstrong to Write Songs for Yale Reper...":
Ugh, Billie Joe, when will you quit?! I went through a huge Green Day phase....and that was almost 10 years ago. At that point the band had already been around for another 10 before that. The thing about it is that he's just not cool anymore. There was a big market for that genre a while back, then not so much. Then it kind of exploded again after 9/11 when everyone was feeling really angsty and American Idiot was released. But.......that wasn't the end. American Idiot the musical is okay. I can think about it without wanting to vomit. HOWEVER, I do not feel like Billie Joe has a place at the Yale Rep. It's not even like they're trying to go contemporary by getting someone who is cool. They're going with someone who kind of sort of used to be cool but also is old now and has a lot of drug problems. What I'm getting at is that there are SO MANY talent musicians, so I just don't understand why it had to be Billie Joe Armstrong. 
Comment #5: a new comment on your post "The new propaganda is liberal. The new slavery is ...":
I am not even sure where to start with this article. First of all, the definition of propaganda (thank you,, is "ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause." So, in effect, EVERYTHING in the media that we read, watch, or hear is propaganda to some extent. There are liberal media outlets, like the Huffington Post, and conservative ones, like Fox News or apparently, and each one chooses to title their articles a different way, to include or omit different facts of a story, or to put a certain spin on it, depending on the reaction they want to engender from the public. So to claim that the liberal media is the source for all of this "manipulated propaganda" that the article cites is naive and just wrong. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different media outlets and ways people discover and absorb events and actions, all of which have some kind of lean or bias.

Because of this, I absolutely do not agree at all that the situation we are currently in is analogous to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Before people owned televisions, had computers, or could access the internet, the ways in which the public could gain or learn information was severely limited. They could read one of a few (state-sponsored) newspapers, or listen to (state-sponsored) radio. Especially in Nazi Germany, these media outlets became more than just state-sponsored; they became state-run. This is propaganda to the extreme, where access to information is held in a chokehold by the state, and I do not think that we are anywhere near the realm of this extreme, as this article suggests. In fact, we are the exact opposite: because of the internet and digital capabilities, anyone can write anything they want and have it read by hundreds, thousands, or millions of people. The government cannot control what a blogger writes, and what the public reads. Yes, many media outlets have some kind of connection to the government. Right now, maybe more of those media outlets are liberal than conservative, but 6 short years ago, that was flipped. The government is more liberal now, so it has more liberal connections. Bush was more conservative, and so his media connections veered in the opposite direction.

I think that the writer meant that the "submissive void" of the Germans in the 1930s was caused by, and then used by, the Nazis to create propaganda, in the same way that the "digital slavery" of the current generation is being used by the liberal government to further their aims. To claim that the government somehow has control over the liberal media and liberal Hollywood to the extent that this article implies is paranoia to the extreme. Furthermore, the article's paragraphs about Iran and Israel's nuclear capabilities and the threats that they pose is vastly uninformed. Sure the US-supported Iranian shah was by no means an angel, and Iran pre-1979 had its own problems. But to claim not only that Iran does not have nuclear weapons and is no threat to the Middle East, but also that Israel is the true enemy state ignores and blatantly disregards over 30 years of diplomacy and verified fact while providing absolutely no proof or evidence for any of his claims.

In summary, propaganda in the media and in the entertainment industry is inevitable, but to claim that there is a liberal conspiracy to such an extent that this article does is ludicrous.