On Stage

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

Tune in on alternate Mondays or subscribe online at iTunes.  

On Stage: Rent

Sep 11, 2017

Louis-Henri Murger's novel, “Scènes de la vie de Bohème,” was a loose collection of vignettes based on his own life as a poverty-stricken writer in Paris in the 1840s.

Gioachino Rossini wrote his first opera, Demetrio e Polibio, as a student. From the age of 18 until he retired at 37 at the height of his fame, Rossini created 37 operas, sometimes conducting them as well as supervising their productions. We know that he was born on Leap Day in 1792 in Pesaro, Italy, and we know that he died in what was at the time a suburb of Paris in 1868, but the details of his life beyond his work are cursory.

The theatre world lost a giant on July 27 with the passing of playwright Sam Shepard from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mr. Shepard was 73.

Over the course of his career, which spanned more than half a century, Shepard found success as an actor, a playwright, an author, and a director. 

A recent announcement came from Harvard University that it is suspending its graduate-level theatre training program, the ART Institute, for three years in an effort to address ongoing problems. The U.S. Department of Education gave the program a “failing grade” in January because of the debt that its students typically face upon graduation. 

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.

Pages