On Stage

KMUW commentator Sanda Moore Coleman looks behind the curtain to give listeners (and play goers) a bit of history and perspective.

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Theatre critics have often found themselves in the crosshairs over negative reviews. A great review can bring in larger audiences, and in the same way, a negative review can adversely affect the size of the house.

publictheater.org

If you have ever questioned the relevancy of Shakespeare to the 21st century, The Public Theater in New York provides an answer.

People who believe the arts are not fundamental to a good education are perhaps defining too narrowly the purpose of art, and the skills that come with practicing creative expression.

We live in turbulent times, and our culture reflects that—a quick look around at what is happening in theatre, about theatre, and to theatre is evidence of a national zeitgeist that is in a period of flux.

Wendy Wasserstein is probably best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles. The show opened on Broadway in 1989 after a run on Off Broadway was received with a bounty of critical applause, and went on to receive a New York Drama Critics Circle award and a Tony for Best Play.

The first woman playwright to have caught the attention of those who write history is the German Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim. She lived and wrote in the 10th century; her dramas were written in Latin and revolved around female characters' conversions to Christianity. Since then, a number of women have enjoyed successful careers as playwrights, although only a few names are familiar to us today. High school and college students alike remember the often-anthologized Trifles, written by Susan Glaspell in 1916.

The work of American playwright Tennessee Williams is known for its poetry, the thick vein of autobiographical truth that runs through much of it, and its many adaptations to film, including A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Night of the Iguana. Despite the near brutal emotional vulnerability wielded in his most famous works, Williams himself tended to exaggerate and prevaricate when it came to interviews. His autobiography, Memoirs, is riddled with inaccuracies, half-truths, and downright lies.

Satire, slapstick, farce: No matter how it is dressed, comedy is a theatrical mainstay. 

Modern stand-up comedy is rooted in the comedy acts that appeared on vaudeville stages during the turn of the 20th century.

nbc.com

Since antiquity, we have negotiated the power structure with comedy—from Aristophanes up to the present day. Aristophanes, considered the Father of Comedy, mocked Athenian government and society without mercy.  

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