That Soul Train has a YouTube Channel?
Again, no need to thank me.
It's a rare day that my interest in theatre and comix combines (outside of the latest sturm und drang over Spider-Man: Turn Off Your Audience) but today it's been announced that Disney is buying Marvel. Here's the press release (I've eliminated the second half of it which is all about stock sale regulations and the meaning of "Forward-looking statements"):
Burbank, CA and New York, NY, August 31, 2009 —Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL) in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration.
Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.
“This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories,” said Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “Ike Perlmutter and his team have done an impressive job of nurturing these properties and have created significant value. We are pleased to bring this talent and these great assets to Disney.”
“We believe that adding Marvel to Disney’s unique portfolio of brands provides significant opportunities for long-term growth and value creation,” Iger said.
“Disney is the perfect home for Marvel’s fantastic library of characters given its proven ability to expand content creation and licensing businesses,” said Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s Chief Executive Officer. “This is an unparalleled opportunity for Marvel to build upon its vibrant brand and character properties by accessing Disney’s tremendous global organization and infrastructure around the world.”
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel’s properties.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and Marvel have each approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, effectiveness of a registration statement with respect to Disney shares issued in the transaction and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Marvel shareholders. Marvel was advised on the transaction by BofA Merrill Lynch.
Investor Conference Call:
An investor conference call will take place at approximately 10:15 a.m. EDT / 7:15 a.m. PDT today, August 31, 2009. To listen to the Webcast, turn your browser to http://corporate.disney.go.com/investors/presentations.html or dial in domestically at 800-260-8140 or internationally at 617-614-3672. For both dial-in numbers, the participant pass code is 51214527.
The discussion will be available via replay on the Disney investors website through September 14, 2009 at 7:00 PM EDT/4:00 PM PDT.
About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, interactive media and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company with revenues of nearly $38 billion in its most recent fiscal year.
About Marvel Entertainment, Inc.
Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a library of over 5,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in licensing, entertainment (via Marvel Studios and Marvel Animation) and publishing (via Marvel Comics).
My mom sent me a one word e-mail about Love Among The Ruins, the pretentiously titled second episode of Mad Men's third season. That word? boring. Not even capitalized! That's how boring it was!
I beg to differ a little bit from my mom on this one. The first episode was boring in the sense that nothing really seemed to be happening (outside of the fire drill). In the second episode... plenty happened... I just didn't find it all that involving or compelling. It got me thinking... perhaps I'm over this show. Wouldn't be the first time. I was pretty much done with the Sopranos at the end of Season Four.
There's two real chinks in Mad Men's armor, and this episode was rife with both of them. The first is a kind of ham-fisted faux subtlety in their evocation of period. They largely got beyond this problem after the first few episodes of the show, but it rears its ugly head now and then. In this particular episode, it manifested itself in the writers' obsession with showing Betty draper smoke and drink while seven months pregnant. We get it, guys. It was a different time back then! With different mores! Oooooo.
The second problem is writerly contempt for character. This is the problem that eventually sank the Sopranos (it was also part of what made the show interesting to watch in the beginning). And here we must return again to Betty. Has Betty draper uttered one line this season that wasn't (a) Childish (b) Bitchy (c) Petulant (d) Inappropriate or (e) Conceited? Not that I can think of. Betty was never a super-likeable character but at least in prior seasons she was interesting and complex. Remember when she fixed her friend up with the guy she wanted to fuck and then was a total asshole about it? That was not very nice or good. But it was interesting! And mysterious! I'm not asking that Betty Draper be suddenly a good person. I just want her to be interesting. Now she's just kinda a dick. (Contrast that with the level of humanity the writers give characters they clearly like Pete or Peggy and what I'm talking about here might be a little clearer)
I must admit that literally as soon as Betty showed up in the episode i actually thought "oh, who gives a shit, really?" so it might just be my own boredom with Don's personal life. Similarly, actually, to the Sopranos, now that Don has been thrown out of his house and taken back, his personal life is much, much less interesting. They've pulled the pin on that particular aspect of their show, and no amount of John McCain as Betty's Crazy Father is gonna put it back in.
Speaking of Peggy, it's nice to have a show partially centered on someone so weird, played by an actress that opaque.
Glenn Beck: Americorps will be Obama's National Security Force or Fedayeen. It's a really weird segment with no logic at all. Glenn Beck asserts that Americorps will be a National Security Force under Obama and then starts asking "Why would he want to do this? How will this work?" as if by asserting it, it has become true. AmeriCorps is a national service organization. I really don't get it. Americorps will be the Brown Shirts and the SS combined? WTF?! :
Some Thoughts on the Indie Theatre Scene From a Practitioner
NB: I am really only writing about New York here, I’d love to hear what other people’s experiences of the indie/grassroots/whatever scenes in their town’s.
NB2: This is very rough. Commentary is welcome.
NB3: Please forgive the wonky formatting.
The weaknesses of the Indie Theatre Scene can be roughly categorized thusly.
(1) Lack of Adequate Funding (And Funding Sources)
Many problems spring forth from this one issue. The lack of quality stage managers, for example. As one Artistic Director told me “Finding a good stage manager in the off-off world is very difficult. You want to find someone really good with little experience, because as soon as they have both quality and experience, they’ll be too busy to work with you.” As a result, good stage managers are frequently either (a) people with good organizational skills who need to be taught how to stage manage while the director is also directing the show, (b) angels (or people involved in the production company) or (c) recently graduated theatre students. Of these, Group A is the least desirable and also the easiest to find.
Another problem is attition. Some people are dedicated to indie theatre and sticking it out. They view at as something necessary to them as people rather than as a potential profession (profession in the sense of something they get paid to do, I’m not talking about dedication here). Others view indie theatre as where they are now not where they are planning on staying. As a result, losing actors to gigs that pay actual money is frequent, scheduling around people’s remunerative conflicts can be a nightmare etc. On top of this, the “scene” such as it is has rather a lot of turnover as people leave to other cities, other fields, better paying jobs etc. There is very little institutional memory as there are, essentially, no institutions.
One artistic director, when asked by me how he’d run his theater if money were no option, said “I’d pay every actor $5K a week”. His point was that he could avoid the above issues if he could pay people enough. He had also just lost a lead actor to a film.
In addition, lack of adequate funding can make professionalism more complicated and difficult to achieve. When someone is doing something at night essentially as a hobby, that can have an adverse affect on someone’s level of commitment to a project. In New York, the carrot of “being discovered” or a show positively affecting someone’s career helps mitigate this. I am told in other cities where it really is someone’s hobby, these problems are far more pronounced (one director told me of an actor with some experience wanting to reschedule rehearsal because the weather was going to be nice the next day and he wanted to go hiking.)
More—and more creative—funding sources need to become available. Something like the NYC equivalent of The Awesome Foundation would be a good start. As David Dower pointed out at the TCG conference, stabilizing the grassroots theatre world would not take a lot of money and small amounts of money can go a long way.
(2) Expensive, low-quality real estate
To paraphrase Richard Foreman: the artist problems in New York are real estate problems. Space in New York City comes at an outrageous premium. The facilities groups have access to are frequently in states of disrepair, with out of date equipment, low storage spaces and bad backstage facilities. They also cost easily $1,500 a week at a minimum. Companies get around this by producing in rep spaces such as the spaces run by Horse Trade, the Gene Frankel and the 78th Street Theatre Lab. These spaces tend to have more severe quality issues but are dramatically cheaper. In my mind, the value in these spaces is fairly dramatic. A show at Horse Trade if you’ve worked out the right deal with them, costs little up front and the rental is largely taken out of your box office. You trade exclusivity for this and the spaces can be tricky to work with. But many spaces costing over a grand a week are not actually much better.
One of the other issues in space quality is the lack of good space managers. Many space managers are extremely hostile, unhelpful, hate their jobs and/or view renters as potential Visigoth Hordes coming to burn their peaceful village down. As the space managers rarely own the spaces, they often fail to understand (on an emotional or cognitive level) that the money you are paying keeps them in business. There are good space managers out there (I had a great experience with Kyle et al at the Access and I think Eric at 78th Street is one of the nicest people working in theatre) but bad space managers can make the experience of doing quality work much much harder. (As can, from a design perspective, the lack of up-to-date drawings and all sorts of other little things).
(3) Low Visibility for Work
Let’s just admit it: Supply vastly outweighs demand. This is why festival glut is a really serious problem. Individual shows have a very difficult time getting attention even when festival season isn’t happening. Now that festivals happen year round, getting visibility is even more difficult. The stereotype of indie theare is that artists either (a) guilt-trip their non-theatre friends into seeing work they’re not really going to like and subsidizing it with the ticket prices or (b) that theatre artists make up the bulk of the audiences at indie theatre shows. While both stereotypes are based in some kind of reality (people who do theatre care about theatre and want to see theatre etc.), these both arise out of the same supply-demand issue.
Recently, the Collective Arts Think Tank has put some thought into this issue and recommends that we, essentially, cut down on supply. While I agree, the question automatically begged is who is meant to be cutting down on supply? Now, the Collective Arts Think Tank is largely centered around performance companies doing generative work, but it’s still worth asking. Vallejo Gantner is a co-signatory. Is PS122 going to reduce its programming by 50% while still seeking the same level of funding from donors and foundations? My guess is no (nor would I were I he). Who, then, is supposed to take the hit and reduce their supply? Who puts down their gun first in the Mexican Stand-Off of Off-Off Broadway?
The truth of the matter is that as long as work is largely funded by the artists themselves with a few outside donations and the occasional foundation kicking in some grant money every now and then, there’s no incentive to reduce supply (unless the producers get laid off from the day job funding their theatre company). The market does not in any way influence what gets put on (this is a good and bad thing). What determines it is simply staying power. Who will stick it out the longest, go the extra mile, dump more of their own money into their shows, and who will go with them. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s one of the reasons why supply is so high.
This is related to another issue (Which is interrelated with the next point). Success is poorly defined. A show that sells badly can still be an artistic success. A show that no one liked can still be beloved by its creators. If success is poorly defined, failure is also poorly defined, and thus a company ceasing production is largely based on factors that have little to do with the actual work.
(4) Severe Quality Control Issues
Most theatre is bad. There, I said it. There’s plenty of bad theatre happening in large venues with lots of money. Money does not determine quality (although it can help create an environment in which quality is easier to create). That being said, as a practitioner and viewer of indie theatre, it’s worth noting how often amateurishness pervades the scene… plays frequently have uneven casts, clumsy staging and poorly-thought out design.
Sometimes, this is made up for by the early-Sam Shepard qualities… energy, intensity, immediateness etc. but oftentimes, it is not. Frequently shows display potential excellence with little actual excellence.
There are many reasons why this is so, but one that keeps coming up in conversations with peers is the lack of frank peer-to-peer dialogue about the work created. If frank peer-to-peer dialogue about work is to happen, it’s most likely going to happen in person-to-person private contact, in meat space, not cyber space. Artists don’t really want to hear criticism and their friends don’t really want to deliver it. In addition, there is little effort put out to question non-friend audience members as to their responses to work. The rule of thumb is at times that if the creators were happy with it, the audience’s experience of it can be easily dismissed.
I’m painting in broad strokes here, of course, and I’ve seen lots of excellent work that I wouldn’t have seen anywhere else were it not for the Indie Theatre scene (Fight Girl Battle World and Universal Robots being two recent examples) but the truth of the matter is, a lot of work is sub-par. And it’s very difficult to convince first-time audience members to take a risk on indie theatre (Despite the excellent price point) because of their worries about the quality of what they’re about to see.
It’s also why—as one producer/director told me—“we need to plaster any good reviews all over the fucking place like needy children to get people to believe we don’t suck”. Which gest back to the visibility issue.
This also returns us to the issue of Poorly Defined Success. If market considerations are irrelevant (and again, I think it’s in general good that that’s so) due to self-funding and the work “plays be its own rules” or some other “has its own terms” type thing going on, then no matter what happens, the play can be defined as a success. As a result, the only way of separating wheat from chaff overtime becomes exhaustion. But how dedicated you are is not the same as how good you are.
I think most civilians would be surprised on what theatre people create out of next to nothing. The show I’m directing right now has multiple costumes for five actors (including a hand-made giant chicken outfit) for under $300.00. Theatre folk—and especially indie theatre folk—are amazingly good at stretching every dollar and at using technological innovations (particularly where sound design is concerned) to accomplish this.
What amazes me every time I do a play is the amazing resources contained just in the human beings I work with. Many of the people working in indie theatre are polymathic in their interests and talents. And because the scene is not dominated by theatre MFA folk, there’s more of a diversity of background and kinds of experience and knowledge. Talented and generous people are able to bring their diverse backgrounds out to help make the show better.
Necessity being it’s mother, resourcefulness is of course deeply intertwined with Inventiveness. When design in the indie world is inventive (and it’s worth saying, often it is not as stated above) there’s a sophistication and ingenuity behind it that really cannot be found elsewhere no matter how much money you spend. It’s more magical to transform a shoebox into a kingdom than it is to build a replica kingdom out of plywood.
(2) Supportive Community
Really, one of the best things about working in indie theatre is the communities of artists that have developed. It reminds me a bit of what someone told me about living in Portland, Oregon, “No one has much money here, so there’s a real desire to help people out and make the best of it. You get a lot of invitations to come over to a potluck”. These communities then overlap and “intermarry” in a way, helping expose artists to new collaborators in a safer way than the usual blind-audition process.
In addition, I have found indie theatre artists to be in general a fairly selfless, generous lot. We go to see each other’s shows (when possible), we help each other when sets need to be built or crises emerge. We consult each other when we need help. We work together in strange overlapping circles and learn from each other, then bring this knowledge back to our own little fiefdoms. It’s really remarkable, and quite moving to experience. It’s like having a very large extended family. For example, I’ve never worked with Vampire Cowboys, but I know so many people who have (or are just part of the same social circles) that when I met Qui and Abby we were basically already friends.
I think this one speaks for itself, really. If you’re looking for variety in theatre, the indie theatre scene is the place to go. You can see a gajillion new plays on any given night, all with very different sensibilities jostling with company created work that ranges from commedia derived spectacles to somber meditations on death. In some venues you can see one show at 8 and see its polar opposite at 10.
The one chink in variety’s armor is the classics. There aren’t a ton of productions of either the classics or the I guess you could call it “20th century rep” in the indie theatre scene. I don’t personally think there should be. That territory is very well covered elsewhere, and it’s fine to let other people do what they do well while doing what we do well.
(4) Audience Demographics
While in my experience, indie theatre audiences are not as racially diverse as they probably should be (and would be if the work produced was more diverse) the audience for indie theatre is in general young, hip, interested in the arts, well read and/or educated etc. They are, in other words, the audiences that large institutions increasingly talk about trying to rope in to their shows.
As time passes and it becomes clearer that the Indie Theatre Scene is its own scene-- rather than the minor leagues for institutional theatre—addressing these (and other) weaknesses by building on our strengths will be the way forward. In some cities the grassroots or indie theatre scenes have already gone their separate ways from the larger LORT theaters that dominate the landscape of their cities. I’m interested in finding out what innovations and different ways of thinking have arisen from this.
These days (not speaking historically) the two parties tend to gravitate institutionally to very different places. The Democratic Party as an institution tends to gravitate towards a kind of Nervous Ineffectualness. The tactical choice to try to pass Health Care reform with 60 votes instead of 51 (now no longer an issue because Max Baucus delayed the process so long that the 60th cloture vote died), the preening of the Blue Dog Caucus etc. are examples of this.
This ineffectualness is problematic when paired up against the Republican Party, which in the post-9/11 era gravitates institutionally towards Insanity. And thus we have the continued embrace of Sarah Palin (who herself embraces Glenn Beck), Chuck Grassley going full-wingnut etc.
These gravitational pulls are what keep me up at night, politically speaking.
If April is the cruelest month, is August the ugliest?
I don't know, but something seems to be in the water. Several blogs I read have commented on a recent uptick in trollish behavior in their comments threads. The blogosphere in general-- both in theatre and not-- seems oddly dark and mean, and August has been filled with a lot of petty squabbling. Conversations I have with people in the real world (or witness) seem to have a note of hostility and/or despair underlying them.
And in the political world, of course, there's the whole town hall-tea bag-September 12th-Glenn Beck thing. The crazy just seems to get a lot more airtime than it used to.
What's going on? Is this just the Dog Days?
... adding... political blog Balloon Juice noticed the same thing, you can read about their fix for it here.
For the Democrats running against Mike Bloomberg for Mayor... What, exactly is their strategy? Hope photographers surface of him raping a nun while killing a baby?
I'm not sure I'm going to vote for Bloomie... but criminy, I feel bad for the guys running against him.
The critical response to The Bacchae, along with my own experiences studying and working on Greek Tragedy (and adaptations of same) and as audience member have got me wondering... Are we so far removed from the context in which these plays were developed that a straight-forward rendering of a Greek Tragedy is doomed to failure?
I'm tempted to answer the question in the affirmative-- with one big caveat: Even a "Straightforwards" adaptation of a Greek Tragedy is somewhat adapted already. Not only is it translated into English, but the texts we have have already passed through the hands of Monks during the Middle Ages who transcribed the plays for the purposes of teaching classical Greek. We have absolutely no idea what intentional alterations and mistakes they might've made along the way.
Greek theatre served a very different role in Athenean society than it does for us. It was, amongst other things, a religious rite. You also only saw it once a year. You'd see four plays a day for three days, etc. The dramaturgical conventions are also completely different. If you staged a play today where all the action took place off stage and then people came in and talked about it, most people would leave feeling deeply unsatisfied.
Also, the Greeks already knew in depth the stories and characters being staged. (This is a similar problem that confronts people who want to stage either part of Henry IV by Shakespeare, it'd be like Brits four hundred years from now trying to stage the screenplay to Tombstone). There's thus less of an emphasis on story in Greek theatre than we're accustomed to, and unless you're already a devout theatre-goer, following the who's who might be a little complicated.
And, of course, there's the Chorus. Because if you love ninety minutes of people saying instead of showing, just wait til you have to sit through three passages during which the question Who understand the gods? is rhetorically asked over and over again for ten minutes.
Greek plays seem to work best when they're either aggressively adapted (a la Charles Mee) or where a very sure directorial hand serves as a kind of de facto adaptation. But even then, although I enjoy reading them (particularly Women of Trachis) I find watching them deeply unsatisfying. You?
When I was in Middle School, frequent Parabasis commenter Herxanthicles was one of my two friends. And our friendship was borne out of a mutual love of Marvel comics (and its requisite unexplained Butter-Battle-Book like disdain for DC). Our first conversation ever was about X-Men, if I recall.
Anyway, we loved Marvel. We loved specifically, X-Men (Claremont was still writing for the series) and its spin offs (New Mutants, X-Factor, that weird one in Scotland with Nightcrawler, my older brother's copy of Kitty Pride and Wolverine, the six-part Japan-set miniseries etc.) and Spider-Man. And, this being that time for Marvel Comics, Todd McFarlane was King of Comic Book Artists.
I loved Todd McFarlane. I'm embarrassed to admit it now, but I loved him. The knotted webs, the crazy anatomy, the hyper detail. The exaggerated breasts on MJ probably didn't hurt either.
Anyway, there was this one artist we hated. Whenever he showed up in a comic, drawing in a way that departed from Marvel's house-style rather extremely we would bitch about it at length. His eyes, particularly, these weird single-shade rectangles, were so lame and amateurish!
The artist's name? Mike Mignola. I finally figured it out yesterday as I'm now making my way through Hellboy. I was wondering why his art looked familiar. So I asked Herx if he remembered if Mike Mignola was the artist we both hated in early 90s Marvel and he remembered it was. It was the eyes that did it.
Mike Mignola is, of course, one of the highest regarded artists and writers in mainstream comics and his artwork borders on flat out genius. There are moments of outright brilliance on almost every page of a Hellboy comic. His use of negative space is superb, and the stylized way he has of drawing people is elegant and really throws you into the horror genre.
This is a very mundane example of the ways we change over time. It is amazing how completely I got that one wrong... And yet, when I was in 7th Grade, I wanted to do theatre professionally when I grew up, and I'm thirty and i'm still pursuing it. Herx was at the time the most gifted musician I knew and now he's a professional musician. I don't listen to the Industrial music I listened to during my periods of extreme anger in middle school, but I still love the Simon & Garfunkel and REM that I'd put on in my happier moments.
You know, I gotta hand it to Feingold. When he's not complaining about how things were better in his day (and how you should get off his lawn) he really is an unbelievably good writer and perceptive viewer of theatre. This review of the Bacchae is exquisite. Particularly the first two paragraphs:
It's really all Winckelmann's fault. Here we sit, nearly a quarter-millennium after the 18th-century German scholar's death, and we still haven't worked out a convention for bringing the chorus of a Greek tragedy to life onstage. Here is JoAnne Akalaitis, a director celebrated for her work with ultra-modern European playwrights; here is her production of Euripides The Bacchae, on a sleekly curved, ultra-modern set by John Conklin.
And here is her chorus—the vitally important Euripidean chorus of wild women, foreign to Thebes, worshippers following the trail of a strange new god. Who are they? The same nice girls in uniform costumes, this time orangey-pink lawn-party dresses by Kaye Voyce, evocative of some quaint spring ritual on a 1930s Seven Sisters campus. Here they come, chanting in unison, more or less comprehensibly, to quasi-recitativo phrases by Philip Glass, making gracefully unison minimalist motions choreographed by David Neumann. And it all looks exactly like what Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) said it should look like, and what two and a half centuries' worth of earnest academicians have striven to make it look like: noble antiquity, possessing the grave stillness of the best ancient vase paintings. And not a half-second's worth of beauty, reality, poetry, drama, or truth.
But the Times doesn't seem to know that. Here they are on Josh Neufeld's new book about Katrina survivors:
The book, released last Tuesday, tells the story of seven survivors who were living in and around New Orleans, and is based on research and interviews conducted by Mr. Neufeld. It is the latest example of the expansion of the graphic format to include nonfiction and reportage as well as superheroes and fantasy.
Ugh. Really? We have to do this dance again? American Splendor was first published in 1976. Maus began in the late 1980s and won a little thing called the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Joe Sacco's Palestine (which if we're limiting it to reportage is really where the expansion happened as far as I can tell) is over 20 years old now. Large swaths of comics not published by Marvel or DC are nonfiction... just to name some hits from recent years... American Elf, Epileptic, Persepolis, Blankets, Mom's Cancer, Nat Turner and Awkward and Definition are all nonfiction comics that have enjoyed popularity, critical acclaim and award booty. The medium's already expanded. Graphic Reportage is nothing new.
I love superhero comics, don't get me wrong. I'm making my way through Hellboy right now and greatly enjoying it. But the idea that the medium has been about Superheroes and Fantasy has been untrue for quite some time. Just because the writer just woke up to something that happened decades ago doesn't make it new.
Sean, in the comments to this post about the Fringe writes:
anyone who thinks the Fringe is making New York theater worse, who thinks it's even in the top 25 things making New York theater worse... I guess I'd ask that you work within the system at least once before making that judgment.I'm inclined to agree. In fact, I'll go even further... I wouldn't put the Fringe in the list of Top 25 Things That Negatively Affect Indie Theatre (although I would probably put "Festival Glut" on there). I should also note that I don't think the Fringe harms NYC theatre at all actually, I just think it's a strange beast and that maybe, 12 years in, could use some rethinking in terms of what purpose it serves today. Anyway... still, this lead me to thinking what are the 25 Biggest Problems in Indie Theatre.
Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:
(1) Since it's mentioned above: Festival Glut
(2) Lack of adequate rehearsal time. An off-broadway show rehearses for roughly 30-40 hours a week and rehearses during the day while previewing. The show I'm directing right now will have 80 hours of rehearsal total.
(3) Real Estate Part 1: Theater Rental costs
(4) Real Estate Part 2: Affordable good rehearsal spaces
(5) The current showcase code makes remounting and/or extending shows very difficult
(6) Lack of good stage managers (although I've been lucky in this regard lately and if anyone needs recommendations, shoot me an e-mail)
Feel free to add to the list. I'm not trying to have a bitch session, I'm honestly interested in what the issues are and how we could better address them.
We'll have a follow-up post talking about the strengths of indie theatre later this week.
If you've seen the previews, I don't think anything I'm writing here is a spoiler, but if you're sensitive about such things, don't read this post.
I saw it this weekend and quite liked it. Didn't love it. Didn't think it was awesome. But I really really liked it. The slow suspenseful music-less moments (the first scene and the scene at the basement bar) are, for my money, the best parts of the film and show what a master of film language Tarantino is. I was grateful, after Kill Bill's mannered deployment of the "Quentin Tarantino Explains the Dual Meanings of Pop Culture Signifiers" monologue every fifteen minutes to have a period piece that forced him out of it. I was also happy that he shot a film in three languages, which forced him to work in somewhat different dialogue styles. I was finding his writing a bit pat by the end of KB2, so it was nice to see that he can break out of that when he wants to.
To me, what's most interesting about QT's post-Pulp Fiction work is the weird subtextual airing of conflicts and ambiguities about his own films, filmmaking and his audience. He followed Pulp Fiction up with Jackie Brown, a purported heist thriller/comedy that is pointedly, deliberately unthrilling and character-based (not that that's a bad thing) and then follows that up with a two-part meditation on violence which is really a meditation on violence-as-entertainment, much of which is filled with decidedly unentertaining, excruciating to watch and listen to sequences.
And now we have Inglurious Basterds, QT's answer (if interviews are to be believed) to There Will Be Blood in which the climactic sequence is a bunch of Nazis laughing at a film showing a massacre of American Soldiers, followed by a laugh-out-loud funny massacre of the same Nazis in a movie theater where the central image is a burning movie screen. QT shows Hitler laughing and cheering the slaughter, and then gives us a slaughter programmed to make us laugh and cheer. It's kind of breathtaking, really. Roland Barthes would've had a field day with this movie.