July 21, 2008

Inbox: HPF News

This in from Ilana Brownstein, who's leaving us for a teaching post at BU before the summer ends. We'll miss her energy and enthusiasm, and I hope that we will continue to bring success to the programs she began here at the Huntingon:

Hello All,

It's time for Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) general news, and for another update on the adventures of our very own Huntington Playwriting Fellows. They've been busy!

First, the general news. The creation and leadership of Huntington Playwriting Fellows program was honored in June by Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas with the Elliott Hayes Award, a national prize for dramaturgical excellence. I was glad to have Huntington Artistic Associate Bevin O'Gara and HPF Kate Snodgrass on hand in San Deigo to help me celebrate, and I am proud to report that the terrific writers who are a part of the HPF program are receiving greater attention than ever.

Now for the writerly adventures...

2007-09 HPFs

Ken Urban’s play, "The Happy Sad," had an extended run at New York’s Flea Theatre this past spring, and on July 14th had a one-night-only reading with the Flea cast as part of Harvard University's summer programming. His short play "Tecmessa (a footnote on envy)" played California's Rude Guerrilla Theater in July. Ken was recently awarded a 2008 MacDowell Colony residency; he'll spend three weeks at the retreat in September. Upcoming productions include "The Secret Lives of Eskimos" at Chicago’s Stage Left Theatre (produced by The Mill) in Jan 09, and "Nibbler" at L.A.’s Theatre of NOTE in Nov 08. Ken is currently working on a commission for the museum at Ellis Island.

Joyce Van Dyke had a reading of her play "The Oil Thief" at New Rep in February; it will be produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre this fall with Melinda Lopez and Will Lyman in the leads, Judy Braha directing, and I'll serve as dramaturg. Her play "Aurora" (a working title) will receive a developmental workshop this winter through the B.U. School of Theatre New Play Initiative - Joyce has been creating this piece in collaboration with director Judy Braha and an ensemble of actors over the past year.

Kirsten Greenidge has had a busy summer, with one residency at the Aspen Festival of Ideas to work on a commission from La Jolla Playhouse and Theatre Masters, and another residency at the Sundance Theatre Institute Lab with her play "Bossa Nova." She was also a featured speaker at the Black New England Conference held at the University of New Hampshire, where she delivered a talk called "Lifting the Veil" about how she creates stories and African American characters for the stage.

Jacqui Parker has spent much of her summer so far taking Boston youth up to her Theatre Intensive Camp on Social Justice and Leadership, based at Goddard College in Vermont. She is also currently playing the mother of a Central African dictator (opposite Oscar nominee Lindsay Crouse) in Lee Blessing's "Going to St. Ives" at Gloucester Stage. Catch it until Aug 3, and come September, you can see her singing and dancing in the Lyric's production of "Follies."

2005-07 HPFs

Rebekah Maggor was featured this last week as a guest on WBUR's new show Radio Boston, where she talked about Boston accents (or are they dialects?), and gave a shout-out to fellow HPF John Shea. Listen to the show here: http://www.radioboston.org/?p=901
Rebekah is also a recent recipient of the first Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT commission – she is co-writing a play with Harvard astrophysicist James Battat. It was a lengthy application process, so congrats Rebekah!

Lydia Diamond was invited to The Orchard Project’s annual retreat, run by Ari Edelson (Artistic Director of New York's The Exchange), to work on an adaptation of Roya Hakakian's novel "Journey to the Land of No." "Stick Fly" was part of the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in July (CATF has a history of producing HPF and Breaking Ground plays), and will be published this fall by Northwestern University Press. "Stage Black" was recently published by Dramatic Publishing, and is being produced by MPAACT theatre company in Chicago this winter.

John Shea’s "Claire Silva" (Breaking Ground 2007) was read at Williamstown this summer as part of the Fridays at 3pm series , directed by former HTC Artistic Associate Justin Waldman. John also recently turned in a first draft of his Huntington commission, a play called "Junkie." Stay tuned for more news on that in the coming months, for sure.

Kate Snodgrass’ IRNE Award-winning play "The Glider" was produced this summer in Denver at the And Toto Too Theatre. She is currently working on a commission for the Northwest Theatre Alliance - she and a group of other writers are adapting Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel "Herland" (Kate's responsible for chapter 10). Plus, she continues to support her fellow HPFs - in her role as Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights' Theatre, she's producing Joyce Van Dyke's "The Oil Thief" this fall.

2003-05 HPFs

John Kuntz’s hilarious "After School Special" is running at Company One in the BCA through Aug 8. John calls it "Charles Busch meets Irma Vep meets Scooby Doo" - if you go, watch for a guest appearance by Melinda Lopez! This fall, Johnny's "Hotel Nepenthe" will be read in New York by Square Peg Productions. He has recently been commissioned with Rick Park by the Phoenix Theatre (formerly known as Way Theatre Artists) to write "The Superheroine Monologues"; it will be performed at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in the spring. Boston Playwrights' Theatre has also tentatively scheduled Johnny's new play "The Salt Girl" for the fall of 2009. As for Johnny's acting gigs, watch for him over the next few months in "The Communist Dracula Pageant" by Anne Washburn at ART, "Cabaret" at New Rep, and "Irma Vep" at the Lyric.

Melinda Lopez’s "Alexandros" (Breaking Ground 2007) ran at the Laguna Playhouse in the early summer, and she can be seen in fellow HPF Joyce Van Dyke's play "The Oil Thief" at Boston Playwrights' Theatre this October.

Ronan Noone has been keeping good company this summer. His newest play, "Little Black Dress," will be featured in New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theatre summer readings festival (Aug 1-3), along with new plays by John Patrick Shanley and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, among others. (Powerhouse is also home this summer to "Fault Lines," a new work by HTC alum Stephen Belber!) "The Atheist" enjoyed a run at Williamstown, with Campbell Scott once again in the role of Augustine Early and Justin Waldman directing, and "The Blowin of Baile Gall" ran at L.A.’s Lyric Theatre.

And Sinan Unel is currently resting up after the awesome run of "The Cry of the Reed" earlier this spring. More news from him, anon.

Well, that's the sum total of it for the moment. Congrats to all the HPFs on their fabulous work!


July 18, 2008

Inbox - The Creative Economy

from my mailbox this morning (below) - looks like the idea of the creative economy has taken root. MA has so much to offer in terms of cultural tourism - glad to see that the politicians are figuring out how valuable that is.

Creative Economy Council Passes in the Mass. House
Proposal to Create Council: First in the Nation

Dear Friends,

This week the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill to create a statewide council on the creative economy. The council will work with the Office of Economic Development to "develop a statewide strategy for the enhancement, encouragement, and growth of the creative economy in the commonwealth, and to promote through public and private means responsive public policies and innovative private sector practices."

MAASH thanks Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi, Chairman Dan Bosley and the entire House chamber for taking the national lead in this economic opportunity for our communities.

Rep. Dan Bosley (D-N. Adams), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, proposed the bill and guided it through the House legislative process.

"The creation of the first-in-the-nation statewide creative economy council
is a major milestone in the growth of our creative economy. Through this
council, we will be able to identify strategies, effective practices and
ideas so that the non-profit cultural organizations, the for-profit businesses and creative individuals can thrive. I am proud to be part of an effort that once again makes Massachusetts a national leader." Chairman Bosley said.

The council will consist of 23 members including legislators, the director of MAASH, the director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and other leaders in the creative economy movement.

The text of the bill will be posted on the MAASH web site.

The creative economy council bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Thank you,

Dan Hunter
Executive Director
Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences, & Humanities (MAASH)

July 14, 2008

This job IS for the birds...

We have a friend who monitors the alley behind the BU Theatre - and keeps the vermin at bay. My office overlooks that alley - and Matthews Arena beyond.

This was the view from my window this afternoon. Please pardon the quality - my window is really really dirty. I would love to know what kind of bird it is - I'm guessing a hawk of some kind. Write in and tell me if you know...

And no - I don't spend my days gazing out the window... our evening custodian, Tony, told us about the view.

Update (July 16): I have had two confirmations that this is a juvenile Red-tail Hawk. Linda Cocca at Mass Audubon went on to say:

"When the young leave the nest they are the same size as the adults, but their coloration is different---the young don’t have the red tail.

There have been a pair of red-tails nesting in the vicinity of BU for 2 or 3 years now and this bird is probably one of the offspring.

PS> She Loves Me closed in Williamstown on Saturday and this morning a truck was unloaded here on Huntington Ave with the props, motion control equipment and stock scenery. It's all back! Yay. Most shows have about a six month life from design through closing. This one I've been working on for at least a year now....

July 2, 2008

To do list

Why do I keep telling myself that the summer will be nice and relaxed..

We have a lot of planning to get ready for next season - and Artistic Director Peter Dubois is now (officially) here and giving us lots of things to think about. And it is a massive season with large shows in both theatres.

Here are just a few items from my project list:

How Shakespeare Won the West - final scenic designs (by BU almuna Antje Ellerman) are complete - very old West - it will be fun. It's an epic cross country journey and this world premiere will fit in the BU Theatre just fine. We should see Costume prelims soon and the scenic build should be underway this week!

How Shakespeare Won the West has at least 24 scenes. Designer Antje Ellerman took photos of the model to create a story board for the director (and us). The above is page 3 of 8. It's an exciting wooden structure that can become anything from a tavern, a theater, even the plains of the Midwest.

Boleros - Scenic designer Alexander Dodge brought us his prelim designs after several weeks of work with Director Chay Yew. Beautiful work - as usual from Alexander - nailing the feeling of the play while firmly locating us in Puerto Rico for the 1st act and Alabama for the second. We also asked Alexander for some advice on how we might liven up the dowdy lobbies at the BU Theatre. He had a lot of great ideas. And now I've got a lot of organizing to do.

Act I of Bolero takes place in Puerto Rico. The above photo is a rough model photo by Alexander Dodge.

Alexander is also designing our spring production of The Miracle at Naples. This will be the show to see to cure spring fever. It's funny, and it's funny, it's naughty, and oh yeah, it's funny. IMHO anyhoo.

Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher will be paying us a visit in October with her show Wishful Drinking... our buddies at Berkely Rep are sending it out on the road after weeks of sold out performances. Yep - Princess Leah. Post AA. Looking forward to that too! My associate Adam gets to load that one is as most of the rest of production will be in tech for Boleros.

Rock n Roll - ACT in San Fran is building this one as they perform it first, but we've been keeping an eye on the design process. It's coming along great.

The above sketches of the scenic design for Rock n Roll are by designer Doug Schmidt.

The Corn is Green - We're ahead of the curve here - we'll be building the same set (by Jim Noone) that some of you saw in Williamstown last summer, so the design process there is all done. And it's our only single set show in the BU Theatre this year - piece of cake. Except for the costumes. It will be nice to spend a few weeks with Nicky come mid season.

The tale of the Pope takes on Galileo plays out in the Two Men of Florence written by Richard Goodwin will get it's American Premiere come March. We hear that Richard and director Edward Hall (yep - Sir Peter's son) have been working on the script for the last few months - resulting in a title change as well as tweaks to the script.

I'm really just getting rolling on this one - but - I have to tell you how strange it was seeing (Richard's wife) Doris Kearns Goodwin on the Today show one morning this spring, and then getting a phone call from her a day later about the scenery from the 2004 UK production. I may be getting into international set shipping. We'll see!

Enuf for now.