January 31, 2013

INVISIBLE MAN #Twittermission Round-Up

Our inaugural #Twittermission took place on the evening of January 30. The Twitterverse was buzzing with excitement when we announced the event, and there were many people following closesly as I communicated over video chat with Invisible Man projection designer Alex Koch and costume designer Kathleen Geldard and relayed their answers to audience questions live over our twitter feed, which was then displayed on the video monitors in the lobby during intermission. While much of the in-house audience seemed busy/distracted with concessions and bathroom runs, the video monitors still drew several curious eyes who watched with interest. With a little more leadtime to promote the event for A Raisin In The Sun, we're hoping to get our audiences - both those at the theatre, and those at home -even more involved in the #Twittermission conversation.

The conversation remains on our Twitter feed, of course, but for the sake of posterity, here are the tweets as they took place last night. (for those unfamiliar with twitter shorthand, @diveunderwater is Alex Koch)

January 28, 2013

Introducing #Twittermission

As Twitter has continued to grow in popularity, there's been a lot of talk in the theatre world about how to integrate it (and other social media platforms / smartphone apps) into performances. Many of you have probably already heard or read about "tweet seats," and the ensuing conversation / backlash around that. But as our Artistic Director Peter said, "from the moment the curtain goes up to the moment it comes down, the art on stage is all the engagement the audience needs. That onstage moment you miss to read or send a tweet could be the one that sends chills up your spine, stirs you with empathy, or sends your imagination wild."

So instead, we've found another way to get involved — but of course, we're going to need your help (hence the "social" part of "social media). Enter: #Twittermission. What's that? I'm glad you asked (he says rhetorically). At select performances, we'll be opening up our Twitter account to an artist, designer, stage manager, or other face behind-the-scenes who will field questions from the audience and answer them in real-time during intermission. The conversation will be displayed on the video monitors in the lobby of each of our theatres, allowing our audience to follow along. And if you don't have a ticket for the performance that night, you can still follow along with us live on Twitter. Think of it as another way to keep the conversation going after the curtain's gone down (and for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter -- our tweets will all be public, so you can still follow along without signing up or having an account of your own). If you're not able to follow along live, the conversation will remain archived on our Twitter feed, so you can go back and read through it any time you'd like!

We'll be hosting our inaugural #Twittermission this Wednesday, January 30, at the 7:30pm performance of Invisible Man. Video / Projection Designer Alex Koch will be on hand to answer your questions, whether they're about the production in general, the integration of video/media into live performance, Pedro Martinez's new position on the Red Sox (hey, he's a Cambridge native), or anything else. Feel free to ask your questions ahead of time as well — we'll compile all your questions and answer them throughout each intermission, making sure to tag your twitter handle in the response (unless you ask us not). Just make sure that you direct your tweets to the @Huntington and include the hashtag #Twittermission.

Sincerely crossing my fingers in the hope that this works,
Thom Dunn
Web and New Media Manager

January 25, 2013

"Two Plays, One House" — A Special One-Night-Only Event

Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and the City of Boston’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events will collaborate to present Two Plays: One House: A Raisin in the Sun & Clybourne Park at Dorchester’s Strand Theatre on Wednesday, February 20 at 7pm. Hosted by Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB-TV’s Director of Public Affairs and Community Services and host and executive producer of “CityLine,” the evening will feature performances of scenes from each of the two plays and a panel conversation moderated by Ward with directors Liesl Tommy (A Raisin in the Sun) and M. Bevin O’Gara (Clybourne Park) about the issues of racism and gentrification raised in the plays. The evening is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are encouraged at huntingtontheatre.org/StrandRSVP.
Set in Chicago in the 1950s, the landmark A Raisin in the Sun depicts an African-American family whose struggle to achieve the American Dream leads them to purchase a house in a predominantly white neighborhood. Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize,Clybourne Park picks up where Raisin leaves off. In the first act, nervous community leaders try to stop the sale of the home to the family from Raisin. The second act fast-forwards the action 50 years as a white couple that plans to demolish and rebuild the house faces parallel opposition from the now African-American neighborhood association.
A Raisin in the Sun’s incredible legacy shines on Clybourne Park,” says Boston Mayor, the Honorable Thomas M. Menino. “These powerful plays explore themes such as racism, neighborhood identity, and the search for home in complex ways that resonate in our community today. I commend the Huntington Theatre Company and SpeakEasy Stage Company on this partnership to inspire meaningful discourse, and I look forward to welcoming them to the beautiful Strand Theatre for what promises to be a terrific evening.” 
Two Plays: One House is the continuation of the Huntington’s longstanding tradition of bringing its work beyond its homes on the Avenue of the Arts and in the South End to Boston’s neighborhoods and communities, including past events at the Strand Theatre (Breath, Boom; 2003) Roxbury Community College (Gem of the Ocean, 2004; Radio Golf, 2006; Fences, 2009), and Hibernian Hall (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, 2012). The event also continues SpeakEasy Stage’s series of public forums to further discourse on important cultural matters. Past SpeakEasy events include panel discussions on the challenges of readjusting to society after imprisonment in conjunction with its production of The Motherf**cker with the Hat and the effects of mental illness on both patients and caregivers during Next to Normal.
SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris plays March 1 – 30 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Tickets and more information are available at speakeasystage.com/clybournepark.
The Huntington Theatre Company’s production of A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry plays March 8 – April 7 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Tickets and more information at huntingtontheatre.org/raisin.
Find more information on the event at huntingtontheatre.org/Strand or speakeasystage.com/Strand.


M. Bevin O’Gara (Clybourne Park director) has previously directed For You for Me For You and Love Person (Company One), Matt and Ben (Central Square Theater), The Pain and the Itch (Company One, IRNE Award nomination for Best Director and Best Ensemble), Two Wives In India and Gary(Boston Playwrights Theatre, Elliot Norton Award nomination for Best Production), 2.5 Minute Ride(Downstage @ New Rep, IRNE Award nomination for Best Solo Performance), Othello and The Crucible (New Rep On Tour), Melancholy Play (Holland Productions), Bat Boy: The Musical (Metro Stage), Tattoo Girl, Painting You, and Artifacts (Williamstown Theatre Festival Workshop), and ANTI-KISS (3 Monkey’s Theatrical Productions). Other companies include New Repertory Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre of Dublin, and the Actor’s Center of Australia. Ms. O’Gara is associate producer at the Huntington Theatre Company. She has a BFA from Boston University in Theatre Studies.
Liesl Tommy (A Raisin in the Sun director) previously directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for the Huntington Theatre Company and Ruined for the Huntington/Berkeley Repertory Theatre/La Jolla Playhouse. Other credits include Peggy Pickett Sees the Face of God by Roland Schimmelpfennig (world premiere, Luminato Festival/Volcano Theatre); Ruined by Lynn Nottage (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Eclipsed by Danai Gurira (world premiere, Yale Repertory Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, McCarter Theatre); and Angela’s Mixtape by Eisa Davis (world premiere, Synchronicity Performance Group, New Georges). She was awarded the NEA/TCG Directors Grant and the New York Theatre Workshop Casting/Directing Fellowship and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. She has also been a guest director and teacher at The Juilliard School, Trinity Rep/Brown University’s MFA Directing and Acting Program, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a graduate of Newton North High School and a native of Cape Town, South Africa.
Karen Holmes Ward (Host) is the Director of Public Affairs and Community Services as well as host and executive producer of “CityLine,” WCVB-TV’s weekly magazine program which addresses the problems, concerns, and accomplishments of people of color living in Boston and its suburbs. “CityLine" was recognized as the recipient of the Associated Press Massachusetts/Rhode Island ‘Best’ Public Affairs program in 2008. Holmes Ward also oversees WCVB’s public service and community outreach efforts including the station’s work with Habitat for Humanity and “Extreme Makeover: My Hometown” and WCVB’s first-of-its-kind web-based initiative, Commonwealth 5, nominated for a National Emmy Award for the 2004/2005. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications (now COM), Holmes Ward has received numerous awards for her work in the community including the Boston Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Award; National Association of Black Journalists Region I Journalist of the Year; Big Sister of Greater Boston Achievement Award; Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts President’s Award; Women of Courage and Conviction Award from the Greater Boston Section National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Karen is a Board member of the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center and a past Board President.


Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.


The Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events fosters the growth of the cultural community; promotes public participation in the arts and public celebrations; and advances cultural tourism in Boston. Learn more at cityofboston.gov/ARTS.


Founded in 1992 by Producing Artistic Director Paul Daigneault, SpeakEasy Stage Company is Boston’s premier theater staging Boston premieres. Its mission is to connect, inspire, and challenge its audiences with the most socially-relevant theatrical premieres featuring the most talented artists in Boston. SpeakEasy’s mainstage is the forum for the Boston premieres of new musicals and plays, showcasing works never before produced in the area. In addition, the company contributes a unique artistic perspective to the Boston theatre community and creates a nurturing environment for artists, audiences, and arts administrators. Through its programs, SpeakEasy makes Boston's South End neighborhood an artistic and cultural destination, keeps vibrant, high-quality theatre thriving in Greater Boston, and provides jobs for locally-based actors, directors, designers, technicians, and administrators.speakeasystage.org.

January 22, 2013

Happy 284th Birthday, Mr. Lessing!

From Sam Lasman, Literary Professional Intern
My desk is currently host to a plethora of baked goods, individually bagged and awaiting sale. While we dramaturgs generally strive to bring good will and sugary cheer to all, there is a more specific reason behind these efforts today.

On this day in 1729, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born in Kamenz, Saxony. A prominent philosophe of the Enlightenment and friend of luminaries such as Moses Mendelssohn, Lessing was also a playwright and critic whose work in creating a national theater for Germany led him to the invention of dramaturgy. By advocating a close working relationship between art critics and artists, stressing the importance of classic models from Aristotle to Shakespeare, and emphasizing reasoned negotiation rather than absolute principle as the best route to the truth, Lessing laid the foundations of modern dramaturgy.

In honor of his contributions, the Huntington resident dramaturgs and their associates are holding a bake sale to benefit the Early Career Dramaturg Fund. This organization offers grants to budding dramaturgs, often to help them attend the national LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas) conference each summer.

Among the treats on offer are classic chocolate chip cookies; decadent chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting; splendid snickerdoodles; and dangerously good chocolate peanut butter bars.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lessing!

January 16, 2013

Special Upcoming INVISIBLE MAN Post-Show Conversations

From Sam Lasman, Literary Professional Intern

Given the depth and complexity of the themes explored in Invisible Man (both the novel and our currently running stage adaptation), we've invited local scholars who study Ellison, his work, and/or broader themes of African-American literature and identity to lend their voices to a few of our regular post-show conversations. On Saturday, January 12, Robin Bernstein, an Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University, joined us following the 2pm performance. She brought keen perspectives on the representation of invisibility and the performance of black narratives to the conversation. Her most recent book, Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, won the 2012 Outstanding Book Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

Upcoming guests include:

  • Saturday, January 19, following the 2pm performance: Cynthia Young, Associate Professor of English and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College, teaches courses on race, film, and African American literature. She is the author of Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism and the Making of a U.S. Third World Left and has written widely on popular culture.
  • Sunday, January 20, following the 2pm performance: Theo Theoharis, an Associate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, teaches a course on the cultural politics of Invisible Man. Professor Theoharis has published books on authors as disparate as Ibsen, Joyce, and Cavafy.
  • Saturday, January 26, following the 2pm performance: Sandy Alexandre, an associate professor of American literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the author of The Properties of Violence  (2012), which explores the connections between various representational forms of lynching and the issue of black dispossession. She is conducting research for her second book, trying to determine if slavery's discourse of black “thinghood” — as chattel, cargo, etc. — informs representations of black people’s relationship to material objects. She also has published several scholarly articles.
  • Saturday, February 2, following the 2pm performance: Glenda Carpio is a professor of African and African American Studies and English at Harvard University. Her book, Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery, was published by Oxford University Press in 2008. She is currently working on a book on immigration, expatriation, and exile in American literature. Professor Carpio also recently co-edited African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges (2011) with Professor Werner Sollors.
We hope you'll join us for one of these special conversations. If you've already seen Invisible Man, let us know what themes you left the theatre thinking about.

January 15, 2013

What Audiences Are Saying About INVISIBLE MAN

Have you seen Invisible Man? Please share your comments with us.

  • In the final moment of the play, Invisible Man declares, "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" When have you felt invisible? Did this story speak for you? 
  • Theatre and novels are two very different methods of telling a story. Have you read Ralph Ellison's original novel? Do you think this was a successful stage adaptation? Do you think the theatrical elements -- the video projections, Invisible Man's narration, etc. -- were effective in telling the story?
  • Did you attend a post-show conversation? What comments surprised you or made you think differently about the play? Would you attend a post-show conversation again? What were you thinking about on the way home from the theatre?

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of Invisible Man plays through February 3, 2013 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800.