Last week on News and Notes we talked about stuff. This week we will talk about more stuff. But before we do that, there is other stuff that has come up that is connected to the stuff from last week, so let's not leave that stuff sitting on the floor like junk. It's all stuff, and it deserves to be recognized as such:
(1) Last time, I shared with you my own true, personal story of meeting Greg Allen, formerly of the Neo-Futurists. Now that Allen has unceremoniously cast them all off, Neos, past and present, are coming out of the woodwork to confirm that my impression of the man is pretty much in alignment with reality.
(2) I also mentioned last week that Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally realized that there is a diversity problem in British theater. You probably suspect that we have the same problem here in the colonies, but now here's some numbers to confirm it.
(3) The main meat of last week's article was over what we as theater artists should be doing differently in light of the new political paradigm we've found ourselves in, and, holy crap are there too many articles to list on that subject. Where do I start? Small? How about Chicago's Second City quietly taking a stand against hate speech from the audience after an increasing number of incidents have driven away performers? How about a medium-sized thing, like Lynn Nottage talking about Sweat and how she decided to take an honest look across the divide? Or, how about this really big-picture thinking from filmmaker Adam Curtis on why he thinks hyper-individualization in the arts helped lead us all to this moment?
Oh, that show
So, there's this little indie show out there. You probably haven't heard of it. It's called Hamilton. I guess it's kind of a big deal in New York or something. I heard that Mike Pence enjoyed it.
Anyway, this obscure little play will be coming to Minneapolis. Hearts are all aflutter. (Even though Chris Hewitt would like you to know that we already had a better show tour its way through.) Tickets aren't on sale yet, but you'd better get in line already, because you've only got until 2018 before Hamilton tours into the Twin Cities.
Or, maybe don't bother waiting in lines. There's an easy way to guarantee your seats! All you have to do is purchase a Hennepin Theatre Trust season subscription for 2017! Oh, I see a question. Yes?
But, wait, isn't the show coming in 2018?
Excellent question! 2017 season subscribers who renew for 2018 then get first dibs at reserving tickets for Hamilton! See! Easy!
So, I have to purchase two full-season subscriptions to get a decent chance at seeing this one show? Well, that does sound kind of greedy when you put it that way… but, come on, there will be single tickets for sale, too!
Like the ones in New York that are sucked up immediately by bots to go to scalpers for huge markups?
Ummmm… Didn't Congress just pass a law about that or something?
Oh yeah, like people who run illegal bot networks really care about laws. Anyway, the public has been getting seriously burned by scalpers for years, and legislatures have done nothing but encourage them.
Look, Hennepin Theatre Trust is doing their best to bring you a show that you say you want. There's just no way, short of cloning Lin-Manuel Miranda several thousand times, that they will be able to accommodate everyone-
Well, how about we just boycott the show, then?! That'll show them!
Seriously? Did you not see what happened the last time someone called for a boycott of Hamilton? The show made more money than ever!
So, no matter what I do, someone is going to find a way to graft more money from me over the thing that I love, while our elected officials sit by twiddling their thumbs?
Sorry, kid. Graft is the name of the game these days. Welcome to Trump's America.
I'm pretty sure this lawsuit is over
I've learned through bitter experience this year not to declare that a lawsuit is over. From now on, I will let other people do it for me. So, take it away, Deadline: "Judge Dismisses Ed Asner Suit Vs. Actors’ Equity; Small L.A. Theaters Must Pay Minimum Wage".
If you haven't been keeping up, yes, Ed Asner is still alive, and, yes, he was one of the lead organizers in Los Angeles in a suit against Actors Equity Association. It's all part of the long-running soap opera that is the fight over Equity's changes to the 99-Seat Plan in LA. The judge in the case considered both sides of the argument and dismissed the lawsuit. At least I'm pretty sure. I've been wrong about these things before. I'll let Dakin Matthews at Footlights explain the nitty-gritty details.
So, this is over, right? Thank god. This has been going on far too long…
Oh, what's this article in Playbill say? "Plaintiffs said they may appeal the ruling that 99-seat theatres will have to begin paying minimum wage."
Dammit! Just when I thought I had a handle on this.
But, don't be surprised if a dispute over paying people comes to your neck of the woods. Your local pool of actors may not have a beef with Equity (they did just negotiate a pay raise for Off-Broadway, so New York folks should be tickled), but the new rules on overtime pay from the Labor Department are currently trapped in legal hell. If and when they resurface, those of you who run theaters are going to have to take a hard look at your budgets again.
It's snowing outside, and it's fake snowing inside, so it must mean that the holiday season is upon us. 'Tis the season for endless Nutcrackers, and a barrage of Christmas-themed shows are all duking it out in a bloodthirsty battle for the right to warm the cockles of your heart.
Your heart-cockles have many choices for their holiday-appropriate warming this season. Sure, you can take in one of the bajillions of Nutcrackers, or you can go see your four millionth sincere rendition of A Christmas Carol; but it's also a Twin Cities tradition to let you have your holidays in whatever weirdo confabulations you want.
So, if you need Christmas in a trailer park, a drag Christmas that is also in a trailer park, a stage version of the greatest action movie ever told, or Dickens transmogrified into one corner of the Star Trek universe, your strange, specific needs are more than covered. And, if those don't float your boat, then make your own.
Now, just figure out how to say "Merry Christmas" in Klingon (the header title to this section has chosen its favorite option), and you're on your way!
This is also the magical time of year in which we look back on the previous 12 months and put things in "best-of" lists. Once again, John Townsend at Lavender Magazine has beaten everyone to the punch with his Theater Year in Review, and he has continued his Christmas miracle of fitting 12 productions into one Top 10 list. If you find yourself listed somewhere there, congratulations! If not, just wait. We have many more Best of the Year lists to get through before we tell 2016 to piss off for good!