Theater Reads: Julie Taymore, Israeli Shakespeare, Pro-Ams, and Criticism

 A few theater related articles around the web I found of interest this week:

Julie Taymor Roars

by Jacob Bernstein, The Daily Beast, May 21, 2012
The director speaks about her career, the Spiderman issues, and where she’s going.

Maybe my taste is different than 80 percent of the people that go to Broadway, but I wouldn’t say that’s a mistake … What’s tricky about my career is that people get really excited, they want all that groundbreaking or envelope-pushing stuff, whatever you want to call it, and then at the 11th hour, they get nervous. They smell more success if we don’t go too artistic.

Shakespeare Trumps Politics

by Matt Wolf, New York Times, May 29, 2012
Controversy surrounded a world-theater Festival at the Globe Theater in London. A controversial Israeli company traveled to perform The Merchant of Venice, despite hostility from the British about Israeli/Palistinian relations:

The reason for the prevailing uncertainty lay in the visit to London of the Habima Theatre from Israel, amid fears of further disruptions of the sort that have lately greeted other Israeli cultural emissaries to the United Kingdom . Last September, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra arrived at the capacious Royal Albert Hall only to field repeated vocal protests from within the auditorium.

And here, nearly nine months later, was Israel’s national theater finding that many a distinguished cultural figure in Britain wanted the troupe’s visit to the Globe called off because of its touring activities back home. Emma Thompson, Mike Leigh and the Globe’s own onetime artistic director, Mark Rylance, were among signatories to a letter in March incensed that Habima had performed in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The review continues to relate how the production went down, including some tensions within the audience.

The professional lens: Are we a sector of underemployed ‘professional’ artists or successful ‘pro-ams’?

by Diane Ragsdale, The State of the Artist, March 12, 2012
What constitutes success for artists?  Making a living at it?  Being paid any sum? Does money enter in at all?  What about all of the artists who work at a high level of craft, but do it for free?

Among the consequences of our fetishism of professional status, it strikes me that we have relegated ourselves to being a sector with huge numbers of unsuccessful and underemployed professional artists rather than a sector with huge numbers of successful, part-time or occasional, pro-am ones.

How to be Open to Criticism

by Jim McCarthy, Live 2.0, May 23, 2012
A topic that cannot be discussed enough among local artists.

Whenever you hear something negative about yourself, your work, your organization or whatever, stop and consider the possibility that the criticism is correct.

Note that I didn’t say “assume it’s correct.”  I said consider the possibility that it’s correct.  This pause helps take the emotion out of it a little bit, gives you a chance to evaluate what’s said on its merits and make a decision about what if anything you want to do about the input.

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