7 items from 2014
Pia Wilson's new play, Turning the Glass Around, interweaves the naturalistic and the theatrical, the rational and the seemingly irrational, and the everyday and the supernatural in order to interrogate other, contemporary American hybridities.
The interracial marriage of Philip and Daina Lee (Don Castro and Carmen Gill) comprises the vehicle for Wilson's deconstruction of "America" and its “Dream” in the tradition of playwrights such as Suzan-Lori Parks and David Henry Hwang. The death of Philip's father, an immigrant restauranteur who loved all things stereotypically American, throws successful businessman Philip into a crisis of guilt and self-doubt. His colleagues have nicknamed Philip “The Asian Tiger” but mock his Korean background behind his back, and Philip’s firing means that he and Daina, a wealthy, well-connected African-American, are soon finding »
- Leah Richards
“If I’m going to a play, I want to see myself onstage,” said Lydia R. Diamond. “It’s not rocket science.” Diamond’s comment cut to the core of a question posed by National Public Radio’s Michel Martin at Wnyc’s Greene Space Sept. 19: Does Broadway reflect the vibrant, dynamic stories of its diverse city? The event, titled “A Broader Way,” kicked off Martin’s 10-city tour centered on having what she called “difficult discussions with dignity.” Diamond was joined by fellow award-winning NYC playwrights whose work explores racial issues—David Henry Hwang, Kristoffer Diaz, and Bruce Norris—to get to the bottom of whether the Great White Way is too white. Tony-nominated actor Stephen McKinley Henderson performed a monologue from August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” to set the evening’s thought-provoking tone. As Martin interviewed her panel of theater professionals, another conversation »
Bravo has put three more scripted series projects in development, including Rules Of Attraction, a high-concept adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis book, with Roger Avary, who wrote and directed the 2002 Lionsgate feature adaptation, writing. Lionsgate TV is producing. Also in the works is Shanghai, an ensemble drama centered on a group of ex-pats living in China written by M. Butterfly scribe David Henry Hwang. Amazon has a similar pilot, comedy Cosmopolitan, about the loves and adventures of a group of young expatriates in Paris. Bravo’s third project is Sweet Life, a family drama set in the Inkwell area of Martha’s Vineyard where affluent African Americans flock to vacation. Bravo recently greenlighted its first scripted series, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Odd Mom Out, and set for development All the Pretty Faces, executive produced by Jennifer Garner. Here are descriptions of the three new scripted projects in development: »
- NELLIE ANDREEVA
Tolstoy never really proved his thesis that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But the three messed-up ménages in residence at the Signature Theatre these days — one martialist, one minimalist, and one maximalist — certainly do. In David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, on the Diamond Stage, Bruce Lee is constantly humiliated by his father, even from beyond the grave. The unnamed inhabitants of Will Eno’s The Open House, at The Linney, are so emotionally defective they must each be replaced, like Brand X toasters past their warranty. And then there are the Lafayettes, screaming, drinking, and hair-pulling their way through Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate, at the Griffin. They make the other clans look like Cleavers, and make you want to wield one.The setup wasn’t new when Horton Foote used it, more than two decades ago: Three screwed-up adult children gather at their late father »
- Jesse Green
Biographical plays, when they fail, usually do so in one of two ways. Some, like the recent Becoming Dr. Ruth, are busy travelogues of the subject’s life, narrating the major events as if from a tour bus but skimping on current drama. Others, like End of the Rainbow, featuring Judy Garland at her sad-clown finale, focus a microscope on a moment of crisis that is almost by definition unrepresentative. David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu, about the martial arts star Bruce Lee, somehow manages to fail both ways: It’s busy and false. Its many crises feel artificially constructed, even if they are biographically accurate, and it never achieves a recognizably human, in-the-moment texture.The play started life as a musical, and some of its problems may have begun there. Announced in 2008 as Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, with songs by David Yazbek and direction by Bartlett Sher, »
- Jesse Green
Opera has always been a reflection of the cultural zeitgeist of Western society. Historical events, popular stories, real people—they’ve all inspired musicalizations which allow patrons to connect directly with cultural moments in artistic ways.
But while opera may have stopped being the most popular art form, it never stopped being a relevant one. Hats off to the contemporary composers who continue to devote themselves to breathing life into the art form (because if they don’t, who will?). Opera is an endangered species, much like pandas or stenographers, and it continues to thrive creatively by reflecting the pop culture moments—movies, »
- Marc Snetiker
Would Mary and Nigel give Kung Fu a ticket on the hot tamale train? Quite likely!
Off Broadway’s Signature Theatre is hosting the world premiere of Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang’s new biographical play Kung Fu, starring So You Think You Can Dance season nine standout Cole Horibe as martial arts legend Bruce Lee. For the buzzy role, Horibe is one of EW’s stars to watch in 2014; Spring Awakening and Glee alum Phoebe Strole will play Lee’s wife Linda.
The play follows Lee’s journey from troubled youth to Hollywood and Hong Kong icon. Director-choreographer team Leigh Silverman (Well, »
- Marc Snetiker
7 items from 2014
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