That's it, friends. It's all over but the shouting. 2016 is officially dead and buried! Long live 2017!
If it felt like 2016 was a longer year than normal, well, it literally was, by about one second. I hope you used that extra second wisely, instead of trying to guzzle down an extra glass of "champagne" at whatever New Year's Eve soiree you attended. Now that you're sober and relatively out of your hangover, it's time to look forward to a bright and shining future, which will be immediately canceled on January 20.
But don't worry. American Theatre Magazine assure you: theatre is a counterweight for heavy times.
Last week on News and Notes I did my own brief rundown of 2016, but since we're just barely into 2017, most of the news I'm finding for you this week is more rundowns of 2016. Did you really think you could just escape from 2016? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
We have the best artists
'Tis the season when publications select their Artists of the Year. This year, the Star Tribune put out a whole list of runners-up, and one of the major contenders for the big prize for 2016 was Regina Marie Williams, who was apparently in everything in 2016. She even hosted the Ivey Awards. You cannot escape her. Unfortunately, Williams' excellence and ubiquity was not enough to nab the top prize at the Strib. That's a pretty tall order when your competition is Prince.
City Pages is also out with its own artists of the year for 2016. Included in the rundown are the native Duluth comedian Maria Bamford, who's having a bit of a national moment right now; performance artist Jaime Carrera, who died suddenly in 2016 (aren't you tired of that phrase by now?); new Jungle Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen who has done major work to diversify the Jungle Theater; and playwright/performer/aerialist/puppeteer/teacher/political activist Junauda Petrus, who has done, well, everything, apparently.
We have the best plays
We've already seen the annual "best plays" lists from the Star Tribune, from Lavender Magazine, and from the Star Tribune. I would love to share a similar list for you from another big publication like the Pioneer Press, but they haven't published any theater articles since December 14.
Thankfully, we can turn to the little guys for their takes. Bev Wolfe stepped in over at Twin Cities Arts Reader for her top 10 plays and musicals. Some of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers have started putting out their own lists, like Matthew Everett at Single White Fringe Geek. Then there's the big list from Jill Schafer at Cherry and Spoon, who sees more plays than god.
We have the best trends
According to Playbill, the national theater news scene for 2016 wasn't all Hamilton, but it was damn close. It was actually a banner year for diversity on Broadway, which is why they would also like to remind us that 2016 was the first year that people of color swept the acting categories at the Tony Awards. It was also the year that the year that the most-anticipated black musical, Shuffle Along, faltered and came to a close after only 100 performances, so there's that to keep in mind. Oh, and Andrew Lloyd Webber had three different shows running on Broadway, which I didn't even realize. How did he sneak up on us like that? (At least he finally realized there are some diversity problems in theater.)
Here at home, MinnPost also put "more diversity" down on their list of trends in the arts for 2016. (It's #6, actually). Once again, Sarah Rasmussen was given a nod for her work on that issue over at the Jungle. They also noted a trend in free and falling ticket prices, prodded on in part by the Guthrie's new level 9 initiative and Mixed Blood's ongoing Radical Hospitality. MinnPost also noted something that I hadn't personally noticed: a rise in the number of artists' collectives.
At City Pages, Jay Gabler has his look back at 2016, which mostly focuses on the transitions in leadership that happened over the past year (and, yes, once again, more praise for Sarah Rasmussen). Not only did we get new leadership at the Guthrie and the Jungle, but Sarah Bellamy is getting ready to fully take over Penumbra in the coming year, and the leaders of the Fringe Festival and the Hennepin Theatre Trust both stepped down. Like the rest of our society, a lot of things in the Twin Cites theater scene suddenly went into a state of flux in 2016.
Merry Christmas to Hailey
True story: when Bruce Willis and Demi Moore got married, they moved to Idaho. While they were there, they bought and renovated an old theater in the town of Hailey (population: 8,000) and invited a theater company to set up residence there. Just before the year that almost everyone said was uniformly terrible ended, Willis and Moore gifted the space to that theater company permanently.
At least some people somewhere got to have good news at the end of the year.