WBEZ | Sarah Ruhl http://www.wbez.org/tags/sarah-ruhl Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Daily Rehearsal: Just for Laughs cancellations abound http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/daily-rehearsal-just-laughs-cancellations-abound-99905 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mike%20birbiglia.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 148px; " title="Birbiglia, at the Vic no more." /><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Chris Hardwick and Mike Birbiglia</strong></span></span> have both dropped their Just for Laughs shows. Hardwick announced <a href="https://twitter.com/nerdist/status/210494447459381248">on Twitter</a>&nbsp;Wednesday that he couldn&#39;t<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-05/daily-rehearsal-sarah-silvermans-pro-choice-line-announced-99521"> perform with Sarah Silverman</a> because he&#39;s shooting an episode of <em>Nerdist </em>for BBC America. Additionally, &quot;Unfortunately, TBS Just For Laughs has announced that the performances of Mike Birbiglia&#39;s critically acclaimed one-man-show,<em>&nbsp;My Girlfriend&#39;s Boyfriend</em>, originally scheduled to take place June 12-16 at Victory Gardens Theater as part of the TBS Just For Laughs Chicago festival, has been postponed due to technical production issues,&quot; Victory Gardens <a href="http://victorygardens.org/onstage/mygfbf.php">wrote on their website</a>&nbsp;Thursday. He&#39;s now scheduled for October; Birbiglia <a href="https://twitter.com/birbigs/status/210817175227867136">tweeted </a>that the change was &quot;not my fault.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- The New York City group 13P&nbsp;</strong></span></span>will have its last show in July, an adaptation of Sarah Ruhl&#39;s <em>Melancholy Play</em> with music by composer Todd Almond, reports the <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/playwrights-collective-to-disband-after-production-of-ruhl-work/">New York Times</a>. Flashback to last year when Ruhl, a born and bred Chicagoan, had productions&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-22/sarah-ruhls-playwrights-work-dominates-spring-theater-84075">dominating the Chicago theater scene</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia, serif; "><strong>- Redmoon is looking for</strong></span></span> &quot;Audience Engagement team members&quot; <a href="http://redmoon.org/blog/seeking-summer-audience-engagement-specialists">this summer</a> for their Urban Intervention events. &quot;Audience Engagement team members will be on the ground at all Urban Intervention events, talking with audience members, gathering emails, and live-blogging. We&rsquo;re looking for fun, outgoing team players who love talking to people and know how to charm. We&rsquo;re especially interested in people who&rsquo;d like to learn more about Redmoon&rsquo;s process, or about social media and audience engagement in general.&quot; The first rehearsal for the events<a href="https://twitter.com/redmoontheater/status/209736117879177216">&nbsp;seemed fun</a>.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 13:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-06/daily-rehearsal-just-laughs-cancellations-abound-99905 Short plays settle for less http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-17/short-plays-settle-less-96504 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-February/2012-02-17/4610197524_15b3a653c5.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It’s like global warming: a lot of the evidence is anecdotal rather than empirical. But over the last decade at least, plays have been getting shorter and shorter. Are playwrights at fault? Do they realize they can earn the same bucks (if they earn anything at all) for a 75 minute show as for one twice that length? Or are audiences with shrinking attention spans demanding shorter performances? Whichever it may be—and you’ll have my opinion by the end of this post—a good night out in theater almost always is briefer than it used to be.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-17/4610197524_15b3a653c5.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 372px;" title="Caryl Churchill's 'A Number' runs a mere 55 minutes. (Flickr/TEDx NJLibraries)"></p><p>Right now in Chicago, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend even two hours in a playhouse, let alone longer. <em>American Idiot</em>, the Tony Award winning musical at the Oriental, runs 95 minutes. <em>Feast: An Intimate Tempest</em> at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is 75 minutes. <em>Punk Rock</em> at Griffin Theatre is less than two hours without an intermission. <em>dark play or stories for boys</em> (sic) at Collaboraction is 90 minutes straight through. <em>Race</em> at the Goodman, <em>Disgraced</em> at American Theater Company, Hesperia at Writers’ Theatre and <em>Love and Money</em> at Steep Theatre also are current attractions clocking in at 100 minutes or less.</p><p>One argument is that the attention span of audiences is shorter due to TV, internet, multi-tasking and our ability to absorb images more quickly; a proposition I firmly and adamantly reject. The vast number of theaters presenting three-hour-plus works by Shakespeare, O’Neill, Chekhov and other authors gives that argument the lie. Some of our most popular works are long plays, among them <em>A Streetcar Named Desire</em>, <em>Death of a Salesman</em>, <em>Angels in America</em> (either part) and musicals such as <em>South Pacific</em> and <em>A Fiddler on the Roof</em>. Audiences sit through these works with only one intermission typically.</p><p>What’s more, film patrons eagerly stay glued to their seats <em>without</em> an intermission for films running two-to-three hours in length. Some may take a potty break or hit the concessions stand, but most do not. Not so very long ago, the standard length for a movie was 90 minutes while theater <em>always</em> was two-and-a-half hours or more. It’s ironic that the profiles have reversed. The point is, however, that there’s ample evidence that audience attention span is NOT a compelling argument for shorter plays, so we must look to the playwrights themselves.</p><p>My colleague, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-16/brevity-soul-wit-96475">Kelly Kleiman, puts forward an economic argument in her current blog post</a>, and there’s some truth to it: generally it will be cheaper for a theater to produce a one-set play with two or three or four characters, which is the profile of shorter works for the most part (musicals such as <em>American Idiot</em> being an exception). Still, I say look to the playwrights. Beyond economics, it’s very, very difficult for a writer to sustain interest in only two or three characters over a stretch of two or more hours. Yes, Tennessee Williams does it in <em>The Glass Menagerie</em> and Albee in <em>Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?</em> and O’Neill in <em>Long Day’s Journey Into Night</em> but they are exceptions by master playwrights.</p><p>Conversely, it’s virtually impossible to create a play with 10 or 12 or more characters and multiple sub-plots in 90 or 100 minutes. An author simply doesn’t have time to develop that many characters and situations.</p><p>And here we must look at how playwriting is taught, as dramatic authors mostly come out of academic programs nowadays rather than materializing spontaneously. Writing exercises very often call for an author to create a two-character or three-character scene based on a particular situation or goal, but almost never are authors-in-training asked to create an eight-character or 10-character scene. Young playwrights are not asked to envision and outline larger works, say an epic history play in the manner of Shakespeare, or a three-act drama in the manner of Chekhov, or a multi-generational work in the manner of whomever. Those few writers who do just that usually come to such works after they’ve been writing awhile and often through mighty struggles. Tony Kushner worked on <em>Angels in America</em> for 10 years.</p><p>I could continue to discuss this subject at much greater length, and astute observers certainly could counter my arguments with numerous examples such as Sarah Ruhl’s ambitious <em>Passion Play</em> or the type of large stories the House Theatre of Chicago and Lookingglass often develop for, and within, their own ensembles. I’ve made my points, however, so this probably is a good place to stop. I’ll close with just one final example.</p><p>The ultimate reduction in playwriting so far may be <em>A&nbsp;Number</em>&nbsp;by award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill. Produced successfully in London, New York, Chicago (at the Next Theatre Company) and elsewhere, this two-character play runs just 55 minutes but is sold as a full-length evening standing on its own.</p><p>The Churchill play is NOT a full evening, no matter how you slice, dice or julienne it. Even though the Next Theatre production was extremely well-done (far better than the New York staging), it should have been part of a double bill of two one-act plays. If Churchill insisted by contract that it had to be staged as a stand-alone work, then she should be drummed out of the business. Simply put: it is exploitive capitalism at its worst to extract a full ticket price from audiences for less than a full evening of theater. Then again, <em>caveat emptor.</em></p></p> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-02-17/short-plays-settle-less-96504 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater news 5/12 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-12/elf.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-12/elf.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 600px;" title="(K Leo)"></p><p>1. The Geek Girl Burlesque, the folks that brought you <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-18/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-418-85334"><em>BOOBS AND GOOMBAS: A Super Mario Burlesque</em></a> at the Gorilla Tango Theatre (still running, by the way) have done it again with <a href="http://www.gorillatango.com/cgi-bin/public/gttv2.cgi?location_number=2&amp;shows=yes"><em>FELLOWSHIP OF THE BOOBS: A LOTR, WoW, D&amp;D RPG BURLESQUE</em></a>. This won't be a passive experience however; prepare to go on a quest with the performers, something that boyfriend you met at the <em>Star Trek</em> convention will love.</p><p>The show draws influences from all the best fantasy sources, including Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, and Dungeons and Dragons, in case you can't tell from the title what those abbreviations mean because you're not of that kind. It starts June 2 which is very soon! How did that happen?</p><p>2. Desmin Borges is <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14756075/desmin-borges-returns-to-teatro-vista-in-freedom-ny">back </a>in Chicago&nbsp;for the 20th anniversary&nbsp;of&nbsp;<em>Freedom NY&nbsp;</em>by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/teatro-vista-new-york-and-chicago-honors-84628">Teatro Vista</a>. &nbsp;He's currently in New York for&nbsp;<em>The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.&nbsp;</em>Nab him while you can; the press opening is tonight, and its at <a href="https://www.theaterwit.org/boxoffice/index.php">Theater Wit</a>.</p><p>3. Sarah Ruhl, whose <em>Stage Kiss</em> is at the Goodman right now, is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-22/sarah-ruhls-playwrights-work-dominates-spring-theater-84075">certainly having her moment</a> or two. <a href="http://goodman-theatre.blogspot.com/2011/05/rapid-rise-of-sarah-ruhl.html">Here's a brief picture</a> of why.</p><p>4. Yesterday at 3pm, there was theater online. <em>White Noise</em> <a href="http://www.whitenoisemusical.com/live/">streamed a live performance</a> of six songs from the musical, and included some cast commentary. Did anyone watch? It probably was not the most work appropriate....</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="390" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-25/Rahm Emanuel Elex Night_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" title="(Getty/Scott Olson)" width="594"></p><p>5. Rahm Emanuel <a href="http://www.chicago2011.org/news/mayor-elect-emanuel-announces-findings-of-the-chicago-2011-transition-report/">released his transition report</a> this week, announcing that he plans to "Conduct a review of City-organized festivals and cultural programming." The new administration also plans to "Develop a strategy for creating and supporting cultural hubs." So far, no real details as to how either of these will be executed, or what they actually entail.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Thu, 12 May 2011 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-512-86451 Sarah Ruhl(s): Playwright's work dominates spring theater http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-22/sarah-ruhls-playwrights-work-dominates-spring-theater-84075 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-22/Sarah-Ruhl-headshot.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 456px; height: 555px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-22/Sarah-Ruhl-headshot.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>How many Sarah Ruhl plays can one town take at the same time? It would appear Chicago is about to find out as an unofficial festival of Ruhl&rsquo;s work descends upon us. Court Theatre currently is presenting Ruhl&rsquo;s stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf&rsquo;s quirky transgender tale &ldquo;Orlando,&rdquo; through April 10. I guess one really doesn&rsquo;t need to say &ldquo;quirky&rdquo; as a modifier for Woolf or her work. Then the small, Off-Loop Filament Ensemble Theatre offers Ruhl&rsquo;s version of the Greek classic, &ldquo;Eurydice,&rdquo; at the Lacuna Artist Lofts in Canalport (of all places), April 20-May 29. Yet a third Ruhl play hit&rsquo;s the boards April 30-June 5, as the Goodman Theatre stages the world premiere of &ldquo;Stage Kiss,&rdquo;&nbsp; a comedy about actor ex-lovers who are cast opposite each other in a melodrama, which follows them offstage. And then not-quite-this-season, Victory Gardens Theater will open its 2011-2012 season with Ruhl&rsquo;s &ldquo;In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play,&rdquo; Ruhl&rsquo;s Pulitzer prize-nominated play from last year.</p><p>Ruhl, who was born and raised in the Chicago area, previously has had her diverse range of plays and adaptations produced locally by the Chicago Dramatists, Court, Goodman, Piven and Steppenwolf theaters. She recently was named a MacArthur Fellow, as if she needed the money.</p><p>FYI: Filament Ensemble&rsquo;s production of Ruhl&lsquo;s &ldquo;Eurydice&rdquo; is part of a two-show repertory based on Greek classics, its companion piece being &ldquo;Orpheus: Featuring DJ Puzzle as Fate,&rdquo; a very modern take on the Greek legend by Filament artistic director Owen Sade.</p></p> Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-03-22/sarah-ruhls-playwrights-work-dominates-spring-theater-84075