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Posts from — May 2012

An Explosion of Dance


How Gotham Dance Festival boosts both audiences and artists

The dance world is exploding. There are innovative choreographers all over the map, many using multimedia and intricate styles to push the art form forward.

But experiencing all of their work can seem like an impossible mission. For instance, fitting in a premiere of “BIG CITY” by Brian Brooks Moving Company, and seeing the Los Angeles-based company BODYTRAFFIC perform Stijin Celis’ “Fragile Dwellings,”, and enjoying a night focused on American women choreographers would require cross country flights and more time than most people have to spare.

Fortunately, from tonight through June 10, the Joyce Theater will offer audiences an entire smorgasboard of dance when the Gotham Dance Festival returns for its third year. Four diverse companies—including those mentioned above—will rotate throughout the two weeks, while the performance on June 5th will honor American women dancemakers.

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May 30, 2012   No Comments

It’s Good To Make a Writer Squeamish

Peter DuBois and Gina Gionfriddo collaborate at Playwrights Horizons

It’s no surprise that playwright Gina Gionfriddo and director Peter DuBois are collaborating again. They’ve been trading ideas since the Clinton administration.

Currently, they’re hunkered down at Playwrights Horizons, working on the world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn, Gionfriddo’s new play about a career woman and a homemaker who envy each other’s lives. When Playwrights Horizons commissioned her to write the piece, Gionfriddo specifically asked for DuBois. “I’m not hugely prolific,” she says. “But anything that I’ve ever written, I would have wanted him to direct. It isn’t like I think he’s only right for certain projects. He’s right for all my work.”

Their connection became clear to the rest of the world when DuBois helmed Becky Shaw, Gionfriddo’s dark comedy about contemporary romance that was the hit of the Humana Festival in 2008. It eventually became a Pulitzer Prize finalist and drew raves at Second Stage Theatre in New York and the Almeida Theatre in London. (DuBois directed those productions, too.)

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May 29, 2012   No Comments

Ken Ludwig on The Essentials of Comedy

Hello TDF Stages readers,

Ken Ludwig is one of the masters of modern stage comedy, boasting hits like Lend Me a Tenor and Leading Ladies. And now he’s writing a regular column for [Breaking Character], the online magazine of Samuel French, Inc., that looks at the essential elements of great comic writing. Who better than Ludwig to understand the mechanics of a stage comedy?

In his latest column, Ludwig reflects on Moliere’s The Imaganiry Invalid and how it uses “essential building blocks” that are still part of comic writing today. I’m pleased to recommend it as part of TDF Stages’content-sharing relationship with [Breaking Character].

Below, you’ll find an excerpt from column. You can read the rest of it here.

Cheers,

Mark

The Essentials of Comedy

By KEN LUDWIG

Last month I was in Paris for a week, meeting a new French literary agent and a new translator, and I had the good luck to get a seat for the Saturday matinee performance at the Comédie-Francaise. The Comédie-Francaise was founded in 1680, and in its early days was called The House of Moliere. The theater now has a repertoire that includes the works of dozens of playwrights, but I was fortunate enough to see one of Moliere’s greatest plays that day, Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid). As it turned out, the performance was not only outstanding in itself, but also the perfect reminder of how comedy is created out of certain essential building blocks that haven’t changed in hundreds of years.

Le Malade Imaginaire is about a man named Argan who is the quintessential hypochondriac. He spends night and day buying new medicines, and as the play begins, he has come up with his newest idea for saving himself: forcing his daughter Angélique to marry his doctor’s son, a disgusting, cadaverous young man who has nothing going for him but his father’s profession. Argan’s notion is that having a doctor in the family will not only save him money, but maintain the kind of medical presence that the household needs. What better resource for a hypochondriac than a doctor in the house?

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May 29, 2012   1 Comment

Fighting Naked With Broadswords

How J. David Brimmer stages comic fights in “Medieval Play”

“Kenny has a lot of laughs in there, but we really want it to look like they’re going at it hammer and tong.”

Fight choreographer J. David Brimmer is describing the action in Medieval Play, the new play by Kenneth “Kenny” Lonergan, which is now in previews at Signature Theatre. And while the scabrous, irreverent comedy may not have any hammers or tongs, there are enough daggers and broadswords to make up for it.

Medieval Play, which features bands of mercenaries slaughtering and pillaging their way through the Hundred Years War and the Papal Schism of 1378, offers plenty of opportunities for Brimmer to do what he does best: stage people killing one another.

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May 24, 2012   1 Comment

A “Tree” Surprises Its Writer and Star

How “I Am a Tree” has startled Dulcy Rogers

You can’t expect to know everything about a play, even if you’re the writer and star. Just ask Dulcy Rogers, whose solo show I Am A Tree begins performances this Friday at the Theatre at St. Clement’s. After two years and multiple productions, the work is still startling her.

“I wrote it, so you’d think I’d know it,” she says. “But there are so many things about it I didn’t realize.”

For instance, when Rogers started writing I Am a Tree, she thought it would be performed by multiple actors. The play follows Claire, a thirtysomething who’s trying to learn about her mother’s history by tracking down three aunts she’s never met. It makes sense that each aunt would be played a different performer.

But when Rogers had her first workshop reading of the play, the cast had to cancel for various reasons. (“Actors can’t get it together in L.A.,” she jokes.) That left Rogers playing every part, and the audience liked the solo approach, so… surprise… I Am a Tree became a different show.

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May 23, 2012   No Comments