...or to give a unique gift to the theatre lover in your life
Thursday, December 03, 2009
...or to give a unique gift to the theatre lover in your life
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So...IT'S ALL HAPPENING, FOLKS! We're gonna create the country's first Community Supported Theatre (CST), a development playground/research lab/community of audience-investors who will trace our newest project, Quantum Poetics (A science experiment for the stage), from its first creative retreat to its first public work-in-progress presentation.
You can read about the grant and our plans here and listen to my presentation (at the WNYC Green Space!).
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Jennifer asked all to create a soapbox manifesto reflecting on how the current arts economy is affecting us and our work. I struggled to get any thoughts out, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized none of us in this room should be here talking about the arts economy. There is no such thing as an arts economy since non-commercial arts by their very definition don't follow market logic and can't compete in the market place without dependence on non-profit support structures and the government . So we can embrace our role in the margins of the economy and struggle the way that performing artists have struggled since theatre and religion parted ways, or we can model ourselves on the only other two positions left to us in a market-driven economy: as charity (quite like an endangered species) or as community resource (like a neighborhood garden). Well, if we're a charity we should follow the model of other charities: humpback whales don't send out end-of-year asks or write grant applications, so we shouldn't either. We should depend entirely on the goodwill of people who don't want to imagine a world without theatre and therefore raise awareness, funds, and support to ensure we continue to exist. But, I don't want to be a charity, in large part because I don't think our social cause has enough merit to compete with other charities who actually change lives on a grand scale. So, the only round hole we can force our square peg of a "business model" into is as community resource. In this interconnected, digital age, if our art can serve as a meeting place for communities of like-minded individuals to connect, celebrate, and be challenged, then we might find a way of restoring theatre's primacy in people's lives and creating sustainable theatre-making organisms (not organizations).But, since we are, however, here to debate the "arts economy," I'll add:Why is there now, why has there been, and why will there always be prime, beautiful, ready to theatricalized real estate sitting vacant for extended periods in all 5 boroughs? If someone can work out insurance, tax deductions, box-office splits, zoning laws, etc so that businesses have a reason to open their doors to artists then we can do what we do best, drive in droves of foot traffic, people with expendable cash some of whom may be looking to rent a new office or storefront. 80% of Stolen Chair's operating budget goes towards space rental. Knock out that cost and we can pay our artists not only living wages, but competitive ones.As producer of a company made up of people whose survival jobs are freelance and often paid hourly, I am sick of arranging (or trying to arrange) quid-pro-quo deals that will help Stolen Chair the organization save money at the expense of the individuals who are Stolen Chair. In most cases, we'd be better off adding an extra-hour to our work-weeks and donating that money to the company.We need the next generation of gatekeepers or, in the very least, our current crop needs to start communicating with each other and rethink what it means to support "emerging" art. The supply of indie theatre in New York will always outstrip the demand, but by presenting, critiquing, and funding the same two dozen artists, our gatekeepers stifle innovation and creative movements the same way corporate monopolies do.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The Foundation would like to reiterate how impressed we were with all of the submissions from the 15 organizations that nominated their campaigns. The following FIVE organizations received the most votes, and thus, are the finalists for The Jenzabar Foundation Soical Media Leadership Award:
-The Stolen Chair Theatre Company
-Texas Friends and Allies Against the Death Penalty
-The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
The winner will be selected from this pool of campaigns and will be announced by the Foundation on Wednesday, May 13th.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
In our attempts to devote even more time to the laboratory process in 2009, we have already started research on Stolen Chair's newest original work, Quantum Poetics, even though we probably won't even be thinking about scheduling the first creative retreat until this fall (once we have started the CST). Since the piece will draw inspiration from recent advances in neuroscience and theoretical physics, research has been both challenging and thrilling. Fortunately, writers like Brian Greene and Jonah Lehrer have made these fields so accessible that I find I'm not only able to grasp this heady material, but actively salivate over the possibility of theatricalizing it. And unlike previous Stolen Chair projects for which the research was primarily limited to books and movies, I'm able to devour tons of information on Quantum Poetics via podcasts!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Science tells us what is true. Art tells us how those truths make us feel. Science is a building's structure. Art is the wallpaper. Science, we tend to think, will eventually know so much about the universe, perhaps art will no longer be necessary to describe human feeling. Recently, however, the fundamental truths of science have been discarded faster than last year's fashions, and new discoveries in neuroscience and theoretical physics have come to paint a chaotic, pluralistic vision of an unknowable world unrecognizable to our great-grandparents, but quite familiar to artists who have presented such fractured perspectives for decades. If art tells us the truth, then maybe science confirms the truth's truthiness? Or maybe: there is no objective, stable "truth," and scientists and artists are together joined in a journey to understand an ever-shifting reality. As science writer Jonah Lehrer writes, "Science needs art to frame the mystery, but art needs science so not everything is a mystery." In QUANTUM POETICS, Stolen Chair's 13th original work, we will fuse our experiments as a laboratory theatre with the experiments of chemistry, physics, genetics, and neuroscience laboratories around the world, guided by the question: how can theatre adapt recent scientific discoveries to the stage, creating a unique dramaturgy and performance style that speaks holistically to our contemporary human experience?
Since QUANTUM POETICS will be created over the course of our entire 2010 season--virtually doubling Stolen Chair's developmental time--we're still discovering the contours of the project. What we do know, however, is it will, like all Stolen Chair pieces, be developed by our resident company in a process likened to an "aesthetic supercollider" (Leonard Jacobs, NY PRESS), a collaboration further enriched through interviews with reknowned physicists, neuroscientists, geneticists, and chemists. We hope QUANTUM POETICS, our most far-reaching creation to date, may serve as a stepping stone for dialogue between the artistic and scientific communities, inviting each to draw inspiration from the other.
Friday, March 20, 2009
- Wear the structure on your sleeve...and then play! The second thing these clowns did was introduce the unicycles (pictured at right) which would serve as the routine's finale. Of course, they prolonged and toyed with us for over 20 minutes before delivering the promised finale. This playful dramaturgy takes Chekhov's gun theory ("If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.") one step further, and, I think, is especially vital for companies like Stolen Chair who tend to devise unfamiliar theatrical structures. Show the audience the unicycles so they know where you're taking them. (And don't take too damn long to get there!)
- Define failure on your own terms. The clowns told us to "Boo" loudly whenever they dropped a club or ball. They then mocked us when we didn't "Boo" loudly enough. This transformed what should be a net energy loss (the failure of a routine) into an energy gain (audience shouting loudly at the stage in complicity with the performers)
- It's okay to remind the audience that they are watching live theatre and not television (and that live theatre is always an interactive event).
Monday, March 09, 2009
While we were maintaining radio silence, Back Stage's national edition published an "Ask a Director" column with yours truly. The question: "How do you deal with a cast of actors that have different processes and techniques?" Here's the tease:
"I don't really care if they're processing past traumatic memories or doing their taxes, as long as they can execute the score with precision and presence."Thanks to Sarah Kuhn to asking such an important and provocative question.
Not content to read myself with the pesky restrictions of word counts, I was given free rein to run my mouth further in an interview at NYtheatre.com's NYtheatre Voices, where I detail, for the first time, Stolen Chair's plans to adapt the business model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to laboratory theatre. This is the proposal that landed us the ERPA grant we keep talking about. If you want to read even more about this, you can head over to ERPA's blog and read about the adventures that Aviva and I had visiting New Paltz yesterday and interviewing farmers.
New newsletter will be out tomorrow and we have a wee little gig on Thursday eve (Puppet Playlist @ The Tank) if you can make it.
Monday, January 26, 2009
This production from Stolen Chair Theatre Company is more than irreverent. It ruthlessly and riotously dispenses with notions of respect for the deceased...But while proclaiming theatre dead, the show's sharp, thoughtful writing, high-impact direction, and skillful performances justify its preservation.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I want to state immediately, [it] was TERRIFIC and you SHOULD SEE IT. It's about death, and it's very very funny, though maybe you need to be able to find the various thoughts about death both very funny and very disturbing (often at the same time) to appreciate it -- I found myself laughing a lot, but also torn and slightly upset by remembrances of human deaths I have witnessed in person or been near to, memories of the funeral home run by my grandparents and the bodies I saw there (which generally gives me a cold, dispassionate eye to mortal remains and cremains), and the increased sense of mortality that has hit me the last few years. A good mix of emotions for a show to give you...
One reviewer somewhat dismissed the show as having been done before, and better, by some famous names (a dicey reason for critically dismissing anything, really; at a certain point you can dismiss anything, including masterpieces, as treading ground covered by earlier masterpieces)
Monday, January 19, 2009
THEATRE IS DEAD AND SO ARE YOU: This macabre vaudeville about death is not for everybody, but it's a terrific adventurous work by Stolen Chair Theatre Company featuring impressive production values, broad dark comedy, and great performances. PICK OF THE WEEK!
What are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now (and use coupon code BLOG1 for a special discount, valid this weekend only)! I'm pretty darn sure we will be turning people away closing weekend so please be sure to buy your tix in advance...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
A macabre and weirdly off-kilter cabaret that revels in death: in looking this greatest of taboos in the face and then throwing a custard pie at it..smart, stylish, and virtuosic, deconstructing what bothers us about the Final Rest by throwing as many theatrical gimmicks as possible at it. If the opportunity to see one of indie theater's smartest and most adventurous young companies tangle with the Unknowable tantalizes you, then a visit to the Connolly may well be in order.