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  • Posted 6/24/17 at 7:17 PM

Audiences Are Vomiting, Screaming, and Fainting at Broadway’s 1984, but the Directors Aren’t Losing Sleep Over It

Even before 1984’s official Broadway opening on Thursday night, audiences on the Great White Way were — at times quite literally — struggling to stomach the production’s combination of prescient themes and viscerally experimental staging. There have been multiple cases of fainting and vomiting at the show since it’s been in previews, police have intervened because of audience members screaming at actors (and each other) mid-performance, and earlier this week, a mandatory age restriction for entry was implemented. But ask the people behind this reimagining of 1984, and they’ll tell you that these reactions are, well, kinda the point. Co-director Robert Icke told the Hollywood Reporter on opening night that “this is designed to hit you hard” before imploring audiences to “take that [warning] seriously.” (He also added that walking out is “a perfectly fine reaction to watching someone be tortured.”) His partner, Duncan Macmillan, confirmed that they’re “not trying to be willfully assaultive or exploitatively shock people” with the graphic sequences — how nice! — but merely reflect what is “happening right now.” Sure, we could go into ethical implications, but it is hard to argue with that strategy: Textual resonance of 1984 aside, provoking people to vomit in disgust and argue until the cops show up is a pretty good way of nailing 2017. Just ask Julius Caesar.

What It Was Like to Star in the Trump-Themed Julius Caesar

“Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily.
Let not our looks put on our purposes,
but bear it as our Roman actors do,
with untir’d spirits and formal constancy.”

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  • Posted 6/23/17 at 12:18 PM

Ryan Murphy May Bring Landmark Gay Play The Boys in the Band to Broadway

As if Ryan Murphy wasn’t busy enough with his many TV projects, the producer might soon try out life on Broadway. According to a report from the New York Post, Murphy has optioned the rights to The Boys in the Band, Mart Crowley’s bitterly funny play about a group of gay men at a birthday party, which shocked audiences at the time it premiered in 1968, just before the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The Boys in the Band was later made into a 1970 film, and has had many other stage runs, including a recent revival in London. Murphy is reportedly looking to stage a revival to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the show. Prepare your devastating one-liners now.

  • Posted 6/22/17 at 10:40 PM
  • Banksy

DJ Goldie May Have Just Confirmed the Identity Of Banksy With a Slip of the Tongue

The true identity of Banksy is a more closely guarded secret than that of Batman. But after all these years, someone was bound to inadvertently drop a clue about the mystery man behind the satirical street art seen around the globe. In a recent interview on Scroobius Pip’s podcast Distraction Pieces, UK jungle producer Goldie might have done just that by potentially letting slip the first name of Banksy:

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  • Posted 6/22/17 at 7:42 PM

Theater Review: How Orwellian Is 1984?

Well, this wasn’t Julius Caesar, and no protester interrupted the writer-directors Duncan Macmillan and Robert Icke’s adaptation of 1984 the night I saw it. That may be a sign of its weakness as a play — or of its flexibility. After all, political adherents all over the spectrum claim George Orwell as their own. To the left, the story of Winston Smith speaks about right-wing authoritarianism and suppression of dissent. To the right, it speaks about the dangers of big government and Soviet economics. When Tom Sturridge, who plays Winston, joins the resistance and announces, “I want corruption, I want violence,” he could be Huey Newton, but he could also be Steve Bannon. Everyone wants to be against tyranny. We just can’t all agree on who Big Brother is.

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Tom Wolfe on Marie Cosindas, an Artist Who Created Something Completely New

Marie Cosindas was barely four-foot-eleven up on her tiptoes, if that. She may have weighed 100 pounds as long as she was lugging her big old Linhof wooden-box portrait camera and her tripod and stacks of four-by-five-inch film slides around in her duffel bag. She was so soft-spoken that if you were eating a potato chip or even a Stoned Wheat Thin, you couldn’t make out a word she said. And inside all that delicate wrapping was an iron rod.

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Protesters Interrupt Shakespeare in the Park’s Trump-Inspired Julius Caesar Again

Right-wing protesters once again interrupted the Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park Sunday night in response to its decision to style Caesar, who is stabbed midway through the play, after President Donald Trump. According to the New York Daily News, the two disruptions occurred early in the play. First, a protester named Jovanni Valle jumped onstage and shouted “liberal hate kills” and “Goebbels would be proud.” Later, 28-year-old Salvatore Cipolla climbed onstage and also shouted “Goebbels would be proud.” Both were quickly escorted offstage by security and have been charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. Their protests echo those of right-wing bloggers Laura Loomer and Jack Posobiec Friday night. Loomer ran onstage during the play’s assassination scene shouting “stop the normalization of political violence against the right,” while Posobiec filmed her and shouted “You’re all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels” and later, repeatedly, “Goebbels will be proud.” (Goebbels was Hitler’s minister of propaganda.)

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  • Posted 6/18/17 at 11:42 PM

The Audience of Broadway’s Come From Away Cheers as Hillary Clinton Keeps a Good Thing Going

If you’ve seen a Broadway show in the last six months or so, there’s a significant chance you saw a surprise double bill: the play or musical you paid for and a celebrity cameo by Hillary Clinton, smiling politely as the audience gave her another standing ovation. On Thursday, the former Democratic nominee, her husband Bill, and her daughter Chelsea attended a performance of Come From Away, a musical about the roughly 7,000 air travelers grounded in Gander, Newfoundland, after planes were rerouted following the aerial attacks on 9/11. Christopher Ashley took home a Tony for Best Direction for the production earlier this month.

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  • Posted 6/16/17 at 1:49 PM
  • Theater

Bruce Springsteen Is Going to Broadway, Which Is Now 100 Percent More Welcoming to Dads

Here’s a way to get all the music and star power of a big Broadway show, minus that pesky plot. Per the New York Post, Bruce Springsteen is planning to do an eight-week stint on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre starting this November. The Boss is reportedly going to perform a pared-down version of his touring set five nights a week at the 975-seat theater, essentially giving a close-up look at the material he typically brings to stadiums. Suddenly, Phish’s 13-show Madison Square Garden residency seems muted and reasonable.

Amy Schumer Is Reportedly in Talks to Star in Steve Martin’s New Broadway Play

Amy Schumer could be Steve Martin’s new bright star. (I apologize for any memories that phrasing might bring up.) The comedian and actress are in talks to star in Martin’s new play Meteor Shower, according to the New York Post. Laura Benanti, a.k.a. Melania Trump, is likely to co-star in the absurdist comedy, which centers on two couples in 1993 Ojai who watch a meteor shower together. The performance would be Schumer’s Broadway debut, and a chance for her to incorporate some new self-deprecating theater anecdotes into her stand-up sets.

Plays Indecent, Six Degrees of Separation, and Sweat Announce Plans to Close This Month in Wake of Tony Awards

The week after the Tony Awards has been brutal for this season’s plays. Today, Paula Vogel’s Indecent, which centers on the 1923 production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, announced plans to end its run on June 25. Indecent won two Tony Awards on Sunday, for director Rebecca Taichman and for its lighting design. Yesterday, fellow Broadway plays Sweat and Six Degrees of Separation also announced plans to close this month. Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, which won a Pulitzer Prize this year but earned no Tonys after three nominations, will close July 25. The revival of Six Degrees of Separation, which earned nominations for best revival and star Corey Hawkins, and also starred Allison Janney, will close June 18.

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Ingrid Michaelson Will Make Her Broadway Debut As Sonya in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

As if “Sonya Alone” didn’t already sound like a perfect Ingrid Michaelson song, it will soon be sung by Michaelson herself. The singer-songwriter will join the cast of Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 from July 3 to August 15 this summer to play Sonya, the tortured cousin of Natasha, played by Denée Benton. Brittain Ashford, who originated the role, will return on August 16 to the musical, which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won two last Sunday. Michaelson will join Hamilton’s Oak Onaodowan, who will replace Josh Groban in the role of Pierre, also starting July 3.

Francesco Pacifico’s Sharp New Novel Class Takes on Post-Hipster Williamsburg

For all the moaning about Brooklyn novelists over the past two decades, there’ve been very few novels set in Williamsburg. As if following a Paul Auster homing beacon or reading Paula Fox’s Desperate Characters as an instruction manual, most Brooklyn novelists have settled in South Brooklyn and set their books somewhere in the orbit of Prospect Park. The narrator of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 works at the Park Slope Food Coop and walks to Brooklyn Bridge Park after his shift and sheds a tear (“a mild lacrimal event”) looking across at Manhattan. Colson Whitehead wrote the quintessential set piece treating a late-night trip to a Fort Greene bodega in John Henry Days. We know from Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn that most of the barflies at the Brooklyn Inn circa 1999 were somebody’s assistant. To tell by Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., many residents of Clinton Hill live their lives as if it were the 19th century with better appliances. Though there have been fads for narrators with neurological disorders or doubled selves and minor outbreaks of magic realism in recent years, realism, refinement, old brownstones, and hardwood floors are the hallmarks of these books. They play by the rules and, at their worst, read as if they were written to pay the rent.

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The Artistic Director of the Public Theater Addresses Trump Controversy Before Julius Caesar Opening Night

Before Monday evening’s opening night of Julius Caesar, the artistic director of the Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, addressed the controversy surrounding their Shakespeare in the Park production. The play, he said, “warns about what happens when you try to preserve democracy by non-democratic means. Again, spoiler alert: it doesn’t end too good.” As Eustis explained in part to a supportive audience, “Like drama, democracy depends on the conflict of different points of view. Nobody owns the truth. We all own the culture.” Both Delta Air Lines and Bank of America withdrew their sponsorship of the yearly free outdoor Shakespeare festival in response to a negative backlash received by the Public Theater’s version of the show, which depicts Julius Caesar as a blonde, modern-day Trump-like tyrant. Not exactly crying havoc and letting slip the dogs of war, but the theater’s stance on the whole debacle is pretty clear nonetheless.

Public Theater Thanks Supporters Amid Controversy Over Trump-Inspired Julius Caesar

New York’s Public Theater has posted a statement thanking people for their support online after corporate donors Delta Air Lines and Bank of America pulled their support due to a controversial Trump-inspired production of Julius Caesar. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we have received around our free production of Julius Caesar,” the statement read. “We continue to be guided by our values of openness, inclusion, and the conviction that in drama and democracy alike, the clash of opposing values leads to truth. The Public Theater has always been — and will remain — of, by, and for the people.”

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  • Posted 6/12/17 at 4:08 PM

Corporate Patrons May Not Demand Squeaky-clean Art, But We Shouldn’t Expect Them Not To

I sent an arts organization a $50 check the other day, in the hope that it might add to a lot of other drops and eventually, if not quite fill the group’s bucket of debt, at least coat the bottom. That donation did not of course give me the right to call up the management and demand a say in its programming, but had I not wanted the group to do what it does, I would have kept my 50 bucks. A similar calculation has always guided those who anoint the arts with money, whether with an eyedropper or a fire hose. Church fathers, sovereigns, governments, foundation boards, philanthropists, corporate donors, penny-ante supporters like me, and ticket buyers everywhere — all weigh the artistic and social value of the artistic endeavors that get their cash. Making those judgments is neither censorship nor meddling; it is a central responsibility of those who can and feel they should throw money at creative work.

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  • Posted 6/12/17 at 1:07 PM

Backstage Portraits From the 2017 Tony Awards

As hosted by Kevin Spacey, and tangentially, Rachel Bloom, Sunday night’s Tony Awards introduced TV viewers to the best of a Broadway season without a clear Hamilton-like standout. Dear Evan Hansen took home the most trophies, with six wins including Tonys for Best Musical and Best Actor Ben Platt, while major prizes also went to Oslo, for Best Play, and the Bette Midler–led Hello, Dolly! for Best Revival. Regardless of whether you knew the lyrics to all the shows by heart, or remain a theater neophyte, get a close look at a few of the night’s big winners with Vulture’s backstage photos from Radio City Musical Hall.

Rachel Bloom’s Best Zingers From The Tonys

It took a few years, but it seems Rachel Bloom finally has found somebody to watch the “F*CKING TONY AWARDS” with her. Several somebodies, in fact. Acting as a backstage host at the 2017 Tony Awards, Bloom — with a mic in her hand and tiny red hat on her head — quipped to the camera with performers and casts, joking about everything from being more excited about the show than she was at her wedding, to not getting accepted at Carnegie Mellon University, to absolutely losing her mind upon spying Patti LuPone. (The War Paint star recently told Vulture that Bloom “is the only person in film today that knows how to do musical numbers.”)

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Here Are Your 2017 Tony Award Winners

The Tony Awards were live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and host Kevin Spacey wasted no time in poking fun at himself and his hosting capabilities in his opening monologue. Without Hamilton to steal the show, it seemed like there was finally a chance for some friendly competition between casts and crews. However, the night went almost entirely as expected, with favorites Bette Midler and Ben Platt taking home prizes for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for their roles in Hello, Dolly! and Dear Evan Hansen. Those shows also took home the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best New Musical, respectively. Here’s the full list of the night’s champs, with winners in bold.

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Leslie Odom Jr. and Cynthia Erivo Saved The Otherwise Lackluster Tonys with The Power of Their Voices

Sunday night’s Tony Awards — from a slightly painful opening number featuring host Kevin Spacey to a seemingly never-ending stream of guys in blue tuxedo jackets — were a fairly tame affair. About halfway through the telecast, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (Oh, Hello) introduced the Radio City Rockettes to perform a routine set to “New York, New York.” It was fine. The Rockettes were, well, the Rockettes. But just as we were all starting to wonder, Hmmm, why are we killing time at the Tonys with this kick line, the answer arrived in the form of two angel-voiced Tony Award winners by the names of Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton).

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