Thoughtful and candid discussion and commentary on the performing arts by "those who do." This is a forum meant to reflect what's currently on the minds of working actors, directors, designers, producers and writers.
Imagine for a moment if two of the most brilliant plays now running in New York by two of our most imaginative living playwrights--David Ives and Edward Albee--had been subjected to the sort of dramaturgical “help” most of the rest of us endure on a regular basis.
Here for your enjoyment are some imaginary notes given by some well-intentioned dramaturges during the developmental workshopping of Venus in Fur and Lady from Dubuque, which thankfully apparently they never endured.
After months of bugging acquaintances for suggestions, I've finally started posting my list of the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time” at my personal blog. Each episode will get a separate blog post, counting backward toward No. 1. A list of the programs revealed so far is here.
I'll be posting the entire list at Extra Criticum, but please visit my blog if you're interested in the meantime. And I welcome comments from the insightful E.C. audience!
Here is the introductory post:
When I decided to make a “best sitcom episodes” list last year, I had two goals in mind. One was to make the case for the sitcom as an art form to people who were unfamiliar or dismissive of it. The second was to contribute to the making of a canon, or a consensus set of episodes that critics should be familiar with so that we have some shared points of reference.
Ted Hope continues to offer wisdom, wit and encouragement to those of us still committed to creating truly independent film. Check out his 35 Ways to Keep the Faith in Truly Free Film, recently posted on IndieWire:
This great post by Adrienne Crezo on the Mental Floss blog to cheer up any writer feeling overwhelmed by rejection this Holiday Season:
For writers, getting rejected can seem like a pastime. But don’t take my word for it, even though I’ve gotten my share of no-thank-yous. These best-selling authors were rejected, too, and some not very kindly. Editors, publishers and agents have made big errors in judgment, as evidenced by the list of unkind (and sometimes needlessly rude) rejections received by these famous writers. Full post here.
I miss playing music for other people. Sure, my love of listening to music was a major driving force in seeking a career in the music industry, but for me, music is not only to be received, but also to be shared.
And since I have no great musical talents of my own - despite a year of French horn, the praise of my grandmother during piano lessons, and chorus roles in several high school and college musical theater productions - I can only share other people's music.
Whenever an artist is invited to present work at a venue, there's an opportunity on the part of the presenter for making someone feel special with very little effort. To some presenters this comes naturally. To others, not so much. Here, in random order, are some of the things I feel every presenter, curator, producer or host ought to think about before they invite us to screen, perform, talk or appear.
There's a style of acting that sprang up about 20 years ago as far as I can tell and I just don't get it. I call it the "Minimal Inflection Approach," or M.I.A. for short because often when watching one of these actors, one has the sense that a part of their soul is just that: M.I.A.
You all know what I'm talking about. They speak their lines in a virtual monotone (i.e.with minimal inflection) and I suppose we are expected to project whatever we like onto them but as far as I can tell, there ain't a lot going on up there. Here are three examples of actors who seem to appear this way in every role they play. Care to expand the list?
It's rare that any of us would ever actually be stranded on a desert island, but for some reason, we humans love to make lists in anticipation of such an event.
This weekend, I am moving into a spare room in an apartment in Astoria, Queens, which - after nine years of living alone in a studio apartment - might as well be a desert island.
I planned to put most of my stuff in storage, and give the rest away, a purging process that has been more than difficult. When choosing what to keep and bring with me, I thought it might be nice to bring my remaining vinyl records and my stereo rack system with turntable. I liked the idea of playing records in Queens, alone in my room, desolate, lonely, longing.
But still, I couldn't put all of my CDs in storage. After 13 years of working in the music industry, and having inherited my father's penchant for record-shopping, I've got a lot of CDs. So I allowed myself to cherry-pick the few discs that I absolutely cannot live without, for however long I will be in that month-to-month living situation in Queens while I look for a job (or a life) elsewhere.
With LOST giving it up Sunday night in a pop culture gorge-fest, naturally I started to think of other notable finales.
The best, of course, the mother of all final episodes, is MASH. Moving, funny, incredible and sometimes painful (if your heart doesn't break for Hawkeye and the "chicken", you are dead), it rounded out the moving, funny, incredible and sometimes painful (particularly in the last couple seasons when Preachy took over from Funny in the writer's room and minor characters were given major roles too often - there's a reason that some of them were written to be minor - Klinger is only funny/interesting in a dress - out, not so much of either).
Each character got an ending that fit them (such as Charles, who had always been the music snob, could no longer listen to his records without remembering the quartet of musicians who died from a roadside bomb), and nothing felt off or rushed.
These films are
not "the best" but maybe we can call them the most influential, and I
don't mean they've influenced other films, but influenced the culture.
They've affected the way we speak, see, behave, think, and feel.
Sometimes we're aware of it, sometimes we're not; some of them are
quoted or referenced so often we've lost touch with the original source.
After seeing the Broadway
production of Matthew Lombardo’s Looped the other night, I was struck by how the playwright endeavored to find
a fresh approach to the biographical drama in Act One, and then fell into the
trap of good old “confession and reconciliation” banality in Act Two, thereby
turning a surprisingly entertaining evening into another disappointing attempt
at bringing a life to life.
Disparity between Acts is not
the sole domain of biographical plays, of course. Many a great playwright has been stymied by second acts, and
it is no small feat that Looped
manages to entertain up until the predictable and preposterous confessional
climax. What keeps the play
interesting in Act One is Lombardo’s fine and vital sense of comedy and,
mainly, Valerie Harper’s brave and bravura turn as the bawdy Tallulah Bankhead.