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Changing Theater’s Nature
Intrigued by the way people tell their stories—in looping, often tangential tales—Pavol Liska phoned a fellow member of Nature Theater of Oklahoma. Over 10 calls and 16 hours, the script unfolded for Life and Times, a 10-part work in which an entire life—birth to the present day—will be sung verbatim onstage. Maddy Costa uses the piece as a window into the company’s ingenious, mischievous style.
The Plot Thickens
You’d think that among theater people, the biggest control freaks would be an artistic director and a playwright—those responsible for the company’s aesthetic vision and the text used onstage. But when Elevator Repair Service’s John Collins and playwright Sibyl Kempson talk about Fondly, Collette Richland, it’s clear that instead of obsessing about control, both are exhilarated by the lack thereof.
Sibyl Kempson: The Push and Pull of Playwrighting
Elevator Repair Service became an international sensation with Gatz—part of a trilogy involving onstage readings of classic dead-guy literature: Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway. So what happens when they co-create their next production with “one of the most radical, transgressive, and hilarious playwright/performers out there”? That someone, the very much alive Sibyl Kempson, talks about the experience.
Forecasting Change: A Meteorologist and an Artist on the Climate Crisis
Paul Douglas considers himself an “albino unicorn.” A moderate Republican, he’s also a meteorologist who believes climate change is real. Music-theater artist Cynthia Hopkins decided to make art about the crisis after a 2010 Arctic expedition. In a recent interview, the pair discusses global warming and ways that art, science, and spirituality can work together to change minds about a changing planet.
Love Song to a Clement World
During a 2010 trip to the Arctic, Cynthia Hopkins serenaded a sailing vessel, the Noorderlicht, that carried her and other artists on what she calls a “lucky, life-transforming” journey. First sung with ukelele accompaniment on the ship’s deck, the song is now part of Hopkins’ new climate-themed music-theater work, one she characterizes as a “love song to the miraculous clemency of our world.”
Ganesh, Nazis, and the Elephant in the Room
Staging a story of the deity Ganesh traveling to Nazi Germany to reclaim the Sanskrit symbol of the swastika was complex enough, even without this factor: It’s told not by a Jewish or Hindu cast but through “actors perceived to have intellectual disabilities.” Back to Back Theatre’s Bruce Gladwin discusses the work and the questions it raises about exploitation, power, and cultural appropriation.
Reconstructing King Lear’s Tragic Condition
Ever since Shakespeare penned King Lear in the early 1600s, the tragedy’s text has been endlessly challenged—so much so, writes Guthrie Theater senior dramaturg Michael Lupu, that it’s nearly impossible to find a “pure” Lear. From a 1681 version with a happy ending to Peter Brook’s famed 1962 staging, Lear has seen countless reconstructions—including She She Pop’s Lear with a twist, Testament.