Spring break hiatus!

Hi everyone!

Firstly, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts yesterday. I’m really busy sorting out other things I have to get done before I leave for vacation tomorrow. I didn’t want to post a lackluster post just to stay on schedule. Hope you all can understand. But in the meantime, check out Tuesday’s post on theatre etiquette!

Secondly, I’ve mentioned briefly in previous posts that there’ll be no posts this coming Tuesday and Friday due to my spring break. But I’ll be back starting April 4th with a post about the controversy surrounding Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and why it failed, then on April 7th with a analysis post on why so many non-theatre fans like Hamilton. That’s actually what I’ll be using the data from my Google survey for! You can still take it until then if you haven’t already.

I’ll try to update you all on the Project Theatricality Twitter, but if not, have a safe and great week! See you in April!

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Theatre Etiquette You Need To Know

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The word “etiquette” is defined by Google as “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group”, which definitely applies to theatre. After all, a night at a theatre is a drastically different environment than a night at the movie theater. But as of late, there have many incidents to suggest that people often forget how to act in a theatre – from a patron trying to charge his phone using a fake outlet on stage, to Patti Lupone famously taking an audience member’s phone and scolding them for texting during a show. So today, I’m going to shed some light on the things you should and shouldn’t do while at the theatre.

Turn off your phone

You saw this one coming. As the cast of An American in Paris says during their Easter Bonnet parody of The Book of Mormon‘s “Turn It Off”, well, audiences seem to be trouble having doing just that. At most shows just before the lights dim, there will typically be an announcement reminding audience members to turn their electronics off, as they can be a distraction to those on stage. A good number of audience members will not take this seriously and completely ignore it, continuing to use their phones up until the overture starts.

What most people don’t realize is that the announcement is right; it is a huge distraction to actors on stage, and other audience members. It’s not just the sound of your default iPhone ringtone if it happens to go off, it’s the light from the screen if you’re texting. Not only can other audience members see it as clear as day, actors can too. The bright stage lights often make things beyond the stage completely dark and difficult to see, helping actors to concentrate on the scene and not so much the audience – but if there’s a phone out, actors can say goodbye to their hyper focus.

This issue has become so common in theaters around the world that a West End theater in London had considered pointing a laser in the faces of those who commit this offense in theater. Even if you’re Snapchatting how you’re at Hamilton and just have to get that last lyric quote in, it can wait. If there’s suddenly an emergency, take it to the lobby. The rest of the audience will thank you.

Don’t leave during the bows

We all understand parking is expensive and you don’t want to get swept up in the rush of people leaving at the same time to get to their cars, or you just have to be first in line to meet your favorite actor at the stage door. But leaving during the bows gives the impression that you are in a rush to get out of there and don’t really have any interest in celebrating the people who entertained you.

You spent just two hours at a show, the least you could do is spend a few more minutes rewarding the actors and band for the their hard work. Plus, pushing past others who are seated around you and want to enjoy the bows in incredible rude. Just calm down and stay put. Your car won’t miss you.

Don’t talk or sing during the show

I don’t care if this is your kid’s 20th time seeing Wicked and just wants to belt out “Defying Gravity” with Elphaba. Singing along with the show while it’s being performed is completely unacceptable in any circumstance. Those who do this take away attention from the actual performers and make it seem as though they aren’t really paying attention to the show in the first place.

The same goes for talking. It’s fine to have an audible reaction to something (like laughing or gasping), but turning to a fellow audience member to ask a question about the show or critique an actor’s looks is inappropriate during the show. If you just have to tell someone, wait until intermission or after the show.

Of course, there is an exception to the no talking/singing rule: if you’re prompted to do so by the actors. The 2013 revival of Pippin is known for its audience participation in the song “No Time At All”. Despite this cases like this, always use your better judgement and remember that there’s a time and a place for everything.


What’s an instance where you saw someone not following theatre etiquette that made you angry? Should I make another post on theatre etiquette in the future? Tell me in the comments!

The Censorship of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening

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Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play Spring Awakening – which follows a group of young German teens who struggle through their newly discovered sexual feelings without any guidance from their parents, which proves to be fatal for some characters – was subject to censorship for practically a century. It was being banned from being performed in Germany until 1906. It did not receive its first English performance in the U.S. until 1917, to which the city’s Commissioner of Licenses threatened it with closure as he claimed it was too pornographic. Then in England in 1963, it was performed for two nights only under heavy censorship. Even the popular 2006 musical adaptation by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater  – whose staging includes partial nudity – eventually came out with a heavily edited school edition of the show that still causes controversy when it’s performed by colleges and even some high schools.

Due to its suggestive themes like rape, suicide, prostitution, homosexuality and abortion, many may agree with art being censored when it deals with subjects like this – especially when it’s through young characters like those in Spring Awakening. But, in my personal opinion, I believe that a play like Spring Awakening  should never be censored or edited. I can understand why these subjects could possibly be triggering or conflict with an audience member’s moral values. And I do think it’s important to keep performances of Spring Awakening marketed toward its target audience: teens and young adults. But obviously, not every audience member will find these themes as sensitive as some might. Because of this, I don’t feel that censorship does the play’s message any good.

The play’s events are meant to be a cautionary tale to its audience; it’s a story of what can go wrong when there is a lack of communication between parent and child. By censoring scenes that involve rape or violence, you’re doing exactly what the play warns against: being honest and upfront about the truth to children who are coming of age. The same can be said for editing, which is arguably even worse than simply censoring a rape scene versus taking it out altogether. It’s not the play’s responsibility to make you feel comfortable, it’s supposed to do the opposite. That is the genius behind Wedekind’s play, it forces you to step out of your bubble of safety and confront what makes you uncomfortable and consider it – and you how deal with it in your own life.

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John Gallagher Jr., Jonathan Groff (center), and Lea Michele in a scene from the 2006 musical adaption of Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening represents a worst case scenario – how the censoring of content that could be seen as offensive, suggestive, or controversial can kill, if it goes on for too long. While Spring Awakening is only one example of censorship in theatre, there are many others. And if censorship in theatre and other art forms continues, its negative effects on impressionable audiences could be felt sooner than we seemingly thought.


What do you think about the censorship of Spring Awakening or other similar works? Share with me in the comments!

Review and Thoughts: Come From Away Cast Album

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On September 11th, 2001, pilots of passenger planes in the sky across the U.S. were delivered the worst possible news: there had been a terrorist hijacking. This caused the FAA to close the U.S. airspace and order all passenger planes to land as soon as reasonably possible, either making an emergency landing or heading back to where they had left from. Pilots had 30 seconds to make a decision otherwise air controllers would do it for them. Thus, Operation Yellow Ribbon was then initiated by Canada to assist in diverting all passenger planes to places away from possible targets in the U.S. Approximately 238 flights were diverted to airports across Canada. 38 of those flights with around 7,000 passengers and 19 animals among them were sent to Gander International Airport in Gander, Newfoundland. Those aboard the 38 planes were stranded in Gander for five days. Despite feeling terrified, hopeless, and helpless, they weren’t alone – for the citizens of Gander responded with hospitality, generosity, and kindness.

This event is the basis for the plot of Come From Away, a new musical that just opened on March 12th at the Schoenfeld Theatre and whose cast album was released digitally on March 10th. Starring Jenn Colella (If/Then) and an ensemble of eleven others, they portray hundreds of characters, from Gander citizens to the come from aways (the people of Gander’s name for those stranded) set to a score written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein that showcases Gaelic, rock, and folk influences.

Every song is sure to give you chills – it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the magnitude of the trauma the come from aways experience, as I’m sure anyone who remembers that day can also relate to. Songs like “28 Hours / Wherever We Are”, “Lead Us Out of the Night”, and “On The Edge” are examples of this – in the previous song mentioned, the come from aways are glued to the news, not willing to sleep or do anything else. Similarly, Jenn Colella as now-retired pilot Beverley Bass may bring a tear to your eye as she belts “Me And The Sky”, which encompasses Bass’ feelings regarding the sexism she faced when becoming the first female American captain and how her – and everyone else’s – world view has changed after 9/11. Contrastingly, the lighter side of the situation is shown in the songs “In The Bar / Heave Away” and “Screech In” when the come from aways are initiated as honorary Newfoundlanders – if they kiss a fish first.

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Jenn Colella and company in Come From Away.

Speaking as someone who was too young to have any memory of the attacks, Come From Away transported me to a different time full of emotions that just aren’t tangible if you read about them in a history book. But if you remember, it’s different. As the come from aways put it, “something’s missing”. Perhaps, if the pain of that day is too much to bear, you’d want steer far away from this cast album – a perfectly valid reason to do so. Although, I’d argue that Come From Away isn’t about 9/11; it’s about the days that followed, and what we all should do for each other in times of strife. It attempts to take tragedy and remind us all that there was some good in the world on that day. If you take one thing from Come From Away to heart, it’s a line from the final song on the cast album: we all come from everywhere, we all come from away.


The Come From Away cast album is now available digitally via Amazon Music, Spotify, and iTunes and will be released physically on March 24th. For more information, go to comefromaway.com.

I need your help with an upcoming post!

Hi everyone! As the title says, I need some help! I’m currently working on a post that’ll most likely be coming out in two weeks after my spring break – I won’t be posting during that week – and I need to collect some data for it. So I made a Google Form! It’s pretty straightforward (I hope) and shouldn’t take too long. There are a few written questions, but don’t feel pressured to write a whole lot if you don’t want to. I wanna keep the subject of the post this data is for a bit under wraps right now, but I can promise you it’s gonna be great. Make your guesses on what it is in the comments! I’m really excited for it.

Well, that’s all I have. Again, here’s the Google Form link – after you’ve taken it, share it with your friends too! And if you haven’t already, check out Friday’s post on The Public Theatre and how it’s influenced Off-Broadway theatre over the years. Tons of your favorite shows started out there. Of course, I’ll be back on Tuesday with another post as always. It’s a review of the extraordinary “Come From Away” cast album – the show opens tomorrow at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre!

Thanks again and have a great day!

 

Off-Broadway and The Public Theatre

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What do musicals like Hamilton, Fun Home, Hair, and A Chorus Line have in common? Nothing, right? Far from it, actually. They’re all considered to be among the greatest theatrical works of our time, and they all originated at The Public Theatre in New York.

Now known as the ultimate Off-Broadway hub for new, upcoming experimental works, The Public Theatre first opened in 1967, boasting the world-premiere of Hair, a rock musical known for its controversial themes rooted in the hippie counterculture of the 60s. After its run at The Public, Hair had a successful Broadway transfer and went on to be a cultural icon internationally as well as domestically; it was Tony and Grammy nominated in 1969. This allowed The Public to continue to grow as they cemented themselves to being committed to “embracing the complexities of contemporary society and nurturing both artists and audiences” – as its founder Joseph Papp wanted.

The next production housed at The Public that proved to be as culturally impactful as Hair came in 1975 – A Chorus Line. The show popularized concept musicals as it explored the complexities of seventeen performers audition for a Broadway show. Similar to Hair, A Chorus Line transferred to Broadway not long after its run at The Public and soon exploded in popularity and was showered with many accolades. It became the fifth musical in history to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and spawned many international productions across three decades. Without the borrowed $1.6 million from The Public to produce the show, A Chorus Line would mostly certainly not be the quintessential musical we know it as today.

More recently, The Public has produced two back-to-back incredibly successful Tony winners: Fun Home and Hamilton. After The Public, both shows went on to became immediate successes. As mentioned in my Fun Home review, it broke ground in its representation of the LGBT community. In 2016, Hamilton became the ninth musical in history to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has become a nation wide success in a short amount of time.

It’s no secret that most impactful Broadway shows start Off-Broadway – just take a look at shows like Rent and Next to Normal – but history has shown that The Public Theatre is New York’s leader in bringing new, different, and innovative works to life. So if you happen to come across a show you think is the next huge sensation, chances are it came from The Public.


Have you been to The Public Theatre? What’s your favorite work that’s emerged from The Public? Let me know in the comments!