SWEAT, the latest play by Lynn Nottage that started life at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and went on to New York’s Public Theater, is now on Broadway. And that’s great. But is Broadway the right place for this play? Maybe not.
If ever there was an industry ripe for disruption – it’s the theatuh.
Antiquated business models, pre electronic mindsets (don’t you DARE take a photo!) and calcified, pound-of-flesh unions all combine to make this live performance art a sometimes fraught affair in the US.
A recent trip to America’s drama capital confirmed two evergreen truths about New York theatre: There is always something good on; Theatre is cheaper here than anywhere else if you know how to look.
Here’s what I saw with a few recaps.
- JITNEY by August Wilson on Broadway (TDF) $45
- Signature Theatre – EVERYBODY by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (TDF) $36.50
- Second Stage – MAN FROM NEBRASKA by Tracy Letts (TDF) $32
- Labyrinth Theater – DOLPHINS AND SHARKS by James Anthony Tyler $34.50
- Signature Theatre – WAKEY, WAKEY by Will Eno (TDF) $36.50
- Irish Rep – CRACKSKULL ROW by Honor Molloy $52.50
- Mint Theater Company – YOURS UNFAITHFULLY By Miles Malleson (TDF) $33
- Atlantic Theater – THE PENITENT by David Mamet (TDF) $31.50
- Joe’s Pub – LET US ASCERTAIN YOU by The Civilians $15
- Roundabout Theatre – IF I FORGET by Steven Levenson (TDF) $40
- Theatre for a New Audience – THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH by Thornton Wilder (TDF) $32
- LCT3 – BULL IN A CHINA SHOP by Bryna Turner $35
- SIGNIFICANT OTHER by Joshua Harmon on Broadway (TDF) $43
- Barrow Street Theatre – SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET $85
- Playwrights Horizons – THE LIGHT YEARS by The Debate Society $56
- St. Ann’s Warehouse – THE TEMPEST $89
- Manhattan Theatre Club – LINDA by Penelope Skinner (TDF) $32.50
- MCC Theater – YEN by Ana Jordan (TDF) $32
Off the charts demand is a beautiful thing. That’s the way it should be for theatre – not begging people to come support you, but rather battening down the hatches to control a wait list line that stretches around the block for a sold out show.
At the Public Theater, JOAN OF ARC: INTO THE FIRE, an exciting new show from David Byrne, opens next week.
But unless you have a ticket, it’s already gone, gone, GONE.
Let’s be brutally honest. Most theatre email marketing sucks. It looks like it was designed by your 65 year old Uncle Charlie, who’s not big into – you know – design. It’s boring and dull. And it’s ineffective. It simply assumes that the audience cares – vs. telling them WHY they should care. It doesn’t display on mobile. It’s one of the reasons your seats are empty and tickets are going for half off fire sales at the online equivalent of Rocco’s 24 Hour Pawn.
Here are a few examples of theatre email that go straight in the trash.
Most of the time, most days in every month, your audience is not in the theatre seeing shows. They’re out there in the world, doing what they do: swimming at The Dock, fastening miniature horses to sidewalk rings, dodging below crane-a-palooza. Maybe that’s only in Portland.
And when they’re not physically present in the theatre, which is most of the time, how do they experience your brand? It happens internally. Any time you come to mind, they replay a mental news reel that sums up all the various memories and associations they have. And other than the quality of your shows, probably nothing influences what they think as much as your graphic design.
Culture Project at Lynn Redgrave Theater
Thru Jan 8, 2017
Stand up comedy seems to have its share of substance abuse and extreme emotions. From the smoking craters of several career directions, Gethard weaves a personal story about how he finally figured out the right dosage and made a life on stage and off. Now we know: NJ is crazy.
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Thru Dec 18
When in the theatre – do what can only be done in the theatre. Color, costume, words. The avant garde language of Parks is framed and filled out by masterful direction from Lileana Blain-Cruz. This talented new director keeps her streak of utterly theatrical experiences going strong.
Shubert Theater on Broadway
Thru January 1, 2017
#JoyAlert. Even while many ingredients are well known and commonly used, the combination here connects deeply. That’s what arch types do. Willow McCarthy mesmerizing as our little reader and revolutionary. Bryce Ryness crucial as the iron-breasted Miss Trunchbull. Though it must be said he simply channels the great David Thewlis.
New York’s Second Stage Theater is on a roll.
Not that they weren’t on a roll before. But now they are REALLY, REALLY on a roll.
After acquiring the Helen Hayes Theatre in April of 2015, this upstart Off Broadway producer has moved stoutly onto the Great White Way. Even more impressive: the new Broadway space is dedicated to only contemporary playwrights. That’s right.
The company now has three (count ‘me) spaces around Manhattan. And from the looks of it, new productions are lining up in the queue like planes at EWR.
You can see the exciting lineup for next year here.
But one to call out right now is the rarely staged A PARALLELORAM by Bruce Norris.
And another is THE MAN FROM NEBRASKA by Chicago double threat Tracy Letts.