Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obsession: Katie Mitchell

I've been low-grade obsessed with UK director Katie Mitchell since this fall. The Guardian has a great interview with her today. (Read it, you'll love it.)

Notable for the big conversations happening in the theatreblogosandbox:
Do you suffer for your art?

No. It is a source of great joy for me, and I still pinch myself that people pay me to do it.

Career: Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company as a director in 1998. Is now an associate director at the National Theatre, London (020-7452 3000), where her production of ...Some Trace of Her opens on July 30.

High point: "I don't do highs and lows. Theatre is hard graft, and I try to maintain a steady equilibrium."

Notable just because:

What's the best advice you've had?

A Russian woman called Professor Soloviova once saw a hit show of mine and said: "It looks very beautiful, but there's absolutely nothing going on between the actors." It set me up to ensure that was never the case again.

Quick anecdote:
I went on a Kurosawa and sushi date with an old friend this weekend. After the movie we started talking about how we're both devoted to oddballs like David Lynch and Akira Kurosawa, but I've never liked anything by Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock. (I know, right?) I appreciate them as genius artists, but I find their films pretty boring. Anyway, I think my Kubrick/Hitchcock ambivalence is mostly about this feeling I get that neither of them care about their actors. Ms. Mitchell's quote made me think of that conversation, and how live performance can fall into a similar trap of looking great but feeling pretty empty.

Oh, and, bonus, Mitchell's Waves is coming to Lincoln Center this fall. See you there!

Introducing Morgan Tachco!

Ahem! I think an introduction is in order.

I am extremely pleased to welcome a second writer to Resources for Emerging Arts Leaders, my friend and colleague Morgan Tachco.

Morgan is a formidable presence in the New York indie-theatre scene, and her insights and intellect are second to none.

And, of course, I'm always thrilled to welcome another girl to the theatre-blogging sandbox.

And I promise to post more regularly. If only because I'm nervous you'll all catch on fast that Morgan's smarter than me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Notes on the 2nd Indie Theatre convocation

As with many other artists at the Barrow Street Theatre on Saturday, I attended under a few auspices. Personally, I was there for the IT Awards, as an actress/producer and to see how The League of Independent Theatre has evolved since its beginning stages (disclosure: I am on staff at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards and was in the beginning meetings of litny’s Steering Committee as a then member of Horse Trade and a founder of the FRIGID New York festival).

The purpose of the convocation was to reconnect the community, catch up on progress made over the last two years, learn about NYTE’s new web launches, and to introduce the new advocacy group for Off-Off Broadway: The League of Independent theatre, or LIT, or litny. I was excited to catch up with many people I haven’t seen in awhile, and had a good time; some highlights were:

Rochelle Denton’s speech
that talked about how we define ourselves as Off-Off theatre artists and made the case for maintaining our individual definitions, missions, language, goals and to honor our Off-Off heritage while uniting under one new idea – indie theatre. The title had required some defense and justification, as I know of some artists that were confused as to the meaning of the term, whether their work garnered the indie theatre label, what it meant, why it was necessary, etc. Rochelle’s speech did a nice job of clearing the confusion a bit, and besides the fact that she’s hilarious and great to listen to - I’d be interested to read others’ comments.

Indietheatre.org: 2.0! Martin Denton announced a “web 2.0” launch to contribute to the existing indietheatre.org site that involves an artist directory, an RSS feed, video trailers, evolving his already successful podcast into a video podcast & more, all to be in effect come fall. Congrats and thank you for tapping into this, NYTE.

We learned how AEA members can join the Off-Off Broadway Committee, which is the best trajectory to make code reform a reality: ANY AEA member can call the OOB rep at Equity and tell him you want to take part. He will contact you to attend a meeting, and as long as you attend two, you will be a member. You are not obligated to attend every meeting. The hot-button code reform issue carried a more positive and hopeful tone than I’ve heard in at least a year.

In the end, I was happy to have so many people together and glad I attended, but was with the majority of people commenting on Martin’s blog in feeling left in the dark about LIT’s specific goals for the convocation. There has been some discussion there, Chris Harcum had some good ideas for the league, and John Clancy responded to the confusion with some clarifications. I'd like to hear more people's thoughts.

My most pertinent suggestion to LITNY would be to start an online presence IMMEDIATELY – re-open the blog, start a Facebook group, I’d really LOVE it if they started a ning or something like it – but at least an interim web portal is necessary: where people can read the statement of purpose & articles of incorporation, what litny thinks the issues are directly affecting us and their goals to achieve them, and be informed about litny events. There was mention of a TCG free night of theatre marketing event with litny that I’m sure people want to know more about, for example, and there is another LIT event next week. People need a forum to post questions, concerns, accolades, comments, etc, and most importantly be informed. The point was made that it’s difficult to repeat town hall-like events to gather community opinions – which is true – and the web is a place where most of their prospective members sit for at least six hours a day. It would benefit LITNY to be there, too.

The next litny event will be next week at the UndergroundZero festival on Tuesday, June 22nd at the Manhattan Children’s Theater, which I look forward to. The IT Awards will be at that event and have been given time to discuss The Off-Off Broadway surveys we are conducting in order to better advocate on behalf of the community with litny, currently surveying demographics among individual artists. Our last findings were published in the Off-Off Broadway budget report, which was very exciting, and created a buzz about the actual numbers OOB works with, which were higher than expected with the participating group. We need a much broader base for our current survey: 6,000 by October...You can help make that happen here.