September 26, 2008

Nicholas Martin News

We learned late last night that Nicholas Martin was hospitalized after a small stroke yesterday. Word is that Nicky is doing well, in good spirits, and no doubt entertaining the hospital staff. He is expected to make a full recovery after a yet undetermined period of rehabilitation.

Nicky was directing Noah Haidle's Saturn Returns at Lincoln Center in NY. has that news here.

Nicholas Martin is Artist Emeritus at the Huntington and is slated to direct The Corn is Green starring Kate Burton and her son Morgan Ritchie later this season. He is currently artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Please join me in wishing Nicholas a speedy recovery. I'll keep you posted as I can.

- Todd

September 18, 2008

Adam Pascal Live

I'm heading to the South End tonight to see Adam Pascal at the Calderwood Pavilion. I put this You Tube playlist together to get an idea of what I'm getting into. I've never actually seen Rent or Aida in the theater. The playlist has 5 clips - and about 20 minutes of Adam and his friends performing. Pick the song you know - and enjoy.

Tickets ($20 to $45) and more info - click here

September 11, 2008

Playwright in the House

Richard Nelson, the author of How Shakespeare Won the West is in the house. Right now - on the day before our press opening - making an adjustment to the opening of the play. And he was here for the first rehearsal. And practically every day in between making daily tweaks and corrections. That's five weeks thus far.

I'm not complaining, mind you, just making sure your understand.

It is standard practice, whenever we do a new play, that the playwright visits and participates in the process. The level of involvement, however, can vary greatly. Even with Richard. He wrote our adaption of The Cherry Orchard a few years back - and I think he was here for just a few days. I expect we'll see a lot of Jose Rivera and Richard Goodwin this season - maybe even Tom Stoppard - who knows.

I think it's pretty cool having these folks in the room. It's when I get a little star struck. I mean really... Richard Nelson, Teresa Rebeck, August Wilson, Tom Stoppard? How can that not be exciting. And then there are folks like Melinda Lopez, Ronan Noone, and Sinan Unel... people who might not (yet) have Tonys, but who you know and root for and talk to like a friend.

You spend a couple of weeks in tech and preview with these folks and you have a new appreciation for their craft - it's amazing how much the experience can heighten your emotional attachment to the work.

What we try to do at the Huntington is create a comfortable environment for our artistic team (the actors, director, designers, and playwright) in order that they can do their best work and bring you the best of their work.

The relationship a playwright has with their play, the director, and the theatre and it's staff is different on each production. Some are primarily interested in the text, some in the direction, some in the technical elements, and some even in participating in casting the production. Some actively seek feedback from the team - and some don't. For most it's some combination of all of the above. Part of the fun of my job is figuring out what that dynamic is and how to best navigate it.

One of the things I like best about my job is that it brings different challenges on a daily basis... this is just one more example.

I would love to hear from those of you out there who have participated in the creation of a new work - people who have been there in the room helping form a new play. Designers, directors, artistic directors (yah you DuBois!), staff, actors, audiences, and even yous playwrights. Yep - I know you are out there...

What kind of collaboration suits you best?

What makes for a productive and valuable relationship between the playwright, director, artistic team and staff? What gets in the way?

What else have you to say on the topic? Click below and let me know...

September 6, 2008


The fall previews are starting to hit the papers - here are a few links:

Curtain Rises on a New Director - on Peter DuBois in the Boston Globe

Boston Theatre brings in Young Blood - on Peter DuBois in the Patriot Ledger

BU Today - on Peter and our BU Community Night

Theater's Journeyman - on Richard Nelson in the Boston Globe

Tom Stoppard's Rock n Roll at ACT - on Tom Stoppard in the San Francisco Gate

Easy Does It - on greater Boston's fall theater scene in Theatre Mania

Prop Drops - on Adam Pascal in Playbill news

Mother and Daughter Keep the Show Going On - on Wishful Drinking at Hartford Stage

September 5, 2008

How Shakespeare Won the West - Final Dress

Tonight was our final dress rehearsal - the show begins previews Friday Night (9/5/08). It was an excellent run after 4 days of tech. We had a good turnout of staff in the house to experience the fun - and we'll share it all with good sized preview audiences this weekend. When are you coming?

I've been thinking about what to focus on here in the blog for this production.

There is some fun tech stuff as usual. The set is a big open wooden structure - pretty cool of itself.

The tech challenges have really been a test of our theatre curtain rigging 101 skills: We have roll drops, and we have curtain on a traveler track - which opens to reveal another curtain behind it. We have curtains that fly, we have a curtain that look like a Tee Pee, and we have bunting that swags. We have a drop that that rises up from the floor - it's on a winch. We have a curtain that falls down, and one that's hung like a clothes line. And then there's the one that's called an Austrian Curtain (def - a curtain that is raised (opened) with bailed lifting lines and is sewn with both vertical and horizontal fullness). 15 feet or curtain have to appear out of no where. We're still working on that.

I think I've got them all. Oops one more - a banner that had scene titles projected on it. The projected titles were cut tonight. We'll see what happens to the banner tomorrow.

Need a refresher course on your rigging terms? Click here.

Then we have some glorious period costumes - city wear, western wear, and even some good olde Elizabethan Shakespearean garb. Yep - even the horse has a ruffle around it's neck.

The crew cleans up tonight as Richard Nelson (playwright) and Peter DuBois (Huntington Artistic Director) talk onstage after tonight's dress rehearsal.

But I'll talk more about that stuff when the pictures that Charlie Erickson took tonight are in hand. 'Cause all of that isn't really what I intended to write about in this post...

What I think I'll try to explore is what it means to have the playwright around when you're doing a world premiere (or otherwise rehearsing their play). Yes - we're doing Shakespeare, but this is a new play by Richard Nelson. I've also had the pleasure of being in tech with Melinda Lopez, Roonan Noone, Teresa Rebeck, Sinan Unel, Jon Robin Baitz, Noah Haidle, and August Wilson (just to name a few). It is a very different experience - and not just for the tech staff. Heck - the director and the actors get more notes from the playwright than I ever do.

But more on this idea later. It's one AM - I am unwound and ready for bed - and I have to be back at work in about 8 hrs. Stay tuned for more. I'll be looking for your thoughts on the subject, too...

September 2, 2008

Strong Carbon Arc Spotlight

This carbon arc followspot - a piece of stage lighting history which has lived in our upper lobby at the BU Theatre for the last few years - needs a new home.

I would really really really hate to toss it.

If you have a good home for it - and can come pick it up before 9/12/08 - let me know. Email me at twilliams at

If you think you might know of someone who would like it - please pass this link along.

No - it is not functional - you don't really want to be burning carbon these days - do you?