Hello, kiddies. I'm calling to you from the wilds of northeastern Missouri. I'm camped out in a spot directly in the line of the coming full eclipse, with only my wits and two bottles of whiskey to keep me going. There's a lot to do here as I prep for the moon to blot out the sun. So many dark, pagan rituals to set up. But, hey, it's all worth it, right? If I don't perform sacrifices to the almighty devourer of the sun in order to entice him to vomit it up again so that our world is not plunged into eternal darkness and torment, who will?
I'm currently in a coffee shop, sponging off some free wi-fi while I wait on a local fixer to supply me with the fresh goat blood and henbane that I need to stop the impending doom of the world. I'm also watching the battery level on my laptop tick down, because I forgot to bring the power cable with me. Talk about doom! There's so much to do and so little time left, so this week's edition of News and Notes will be rather sparse. Sorry, everyone. If we all survive the destruction and rebirth of the sun, I promise there will be more next week. If we don't, then, well, I guess you have some reprieve from whatever damn stupid thing Trump is doing this week. So, win-win, I guess?
Special thanks this week to the baristas at this Starbucks inside of this Target super center in St. Joseph, Missouri for allowing me to sit here way longer than it takes to drink a chai tea in order to pump this out. If humanity doesn't make it past this astral disaster, may your absorption into the Oblivion be quick and painless.
The Minnesota Fringe Festival may not give out official awards, but that doesn't stop other people from coming up with their own.
The Knight Arts Challenge announced it latest round of finalists for their ongoing attempt to dispel boredom in St. Paul. Finalist for the fourth year of what was a three-year program include performance projects from Ananya Dance Theatre, Contempo Physical Dance, Dangerous Productions, Elite Family Dance Company, Eric Tretbar, Frogtown Neighborhood Association (in support of the stalled revival of the Victoria Theater), Ifrah Mansour, Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Monkeybear's Harmolodic Workshop (hands down, the best name on this list), Nautilus Music-Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Penumbra Theatre (not a typo; they have two projects), Ragamala Dance Company, Sod House Theater, SteppingStone Theatre, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Ten Thousand Things Theater, Time Track Productions, TU Dance, Turtle Theater Collective, Wakemup Productions and Wonderlust Productions. Congratulations, everyone. Now, we move on to the next step, where they travel the world, battling to the death with swords, until there is only one left to win the Prize. Or am I thinking of Highlander again?
Trump. …sigh… Trump...
So, you know what happened at Charlottesville, and you know what Trump said about it, and you know how that made you feel. It made all of America feel stuff, and almost all of those feels were pretty lousy. Most of his arts council quit en masse with a strongly-worded letter where the first letters of each paragraph spell out "R-E-S-I-S-T". (This not only included the artists on the council, but also our own state Senator Richard Cohen).
The largely liberal theater world has been pretty consistent in providing pushback and commentary on this whole Trump thing. Michael Moore bussed the audience from his Broadway show over to Trump Tower to protest. The New York Times critics just held a discussion about all the Trump-related theater they had to take in this summer. (Best quote: "I don’t experience catharsis unless I’m startled into feeling more deeply than I do just reading the headlines on my phone."
That's great for rallying the liberal base, but at the Clyde Fitch Report, Duncan Webb asks if we're doing anything to reach people on the right of the spectrum. His conclusion is a hard no, and he lists the things that theater folks who think they are do consistently wrong: "We are not telling stories that seem relevant and compelling to many Americans. The people who are telling those stories are different than the people we’re trying to reach, and therefore just not relatable to those receiving these stories. We cannot expect prospective audiences to come to our urban temples of art. We have to take the work to them, in the places that they live, work and play."
At The Lark, playwright Matthew Paul Olmos wrote a blog entry that has been making the rounds, "There Is No Money in American Theater", in which he speaks some hard, sobering truths to all the starving artists out there. Standing ovations don't pay the bills, as anyone out there trying to run a small theater company already knows. (Though, I would be remiss if I didn't share this comment that was left on the article by a reader: "There is no money in theatre. For artists. But an awful lot of people make their money off the backs of artists in a hugely misguided inverted pyramid that awards funding to buildings and institutions and not artists.")
But you know what is making money? Hamilton. It will make money until the sun burns out. (Which, if my dark rituals work, will hopefully not happen on Monday) Though, they're afraid that other people are making more money off of it than they are. Scalpers and bots are still rampaging through their online ticket sales, and now Hamilton producers are joining a few other Broadway houses to digitally crack down on illegal re-sellers.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed himself as a dark god bent on conquering the world. His Hal Prince-directed original production of Evita is being revived for a world tour. At the same time, Webber's own production company just signed a deal to break his musicals into the Chinese market. Soon, he will control all the theater markets with his powerful, surprisingly smooth fists. You will all learn to love and fear the Webber. That is, unless this guy shows up with my damn goat blood and henbane soon!