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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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.  

Often, when the subject of musical theatre comes up, someone will point out the unnatural audacity of people bursting into song in order to express how they feel about someone or something. Of course, as every musician will tell you, music is built expressly for just this task, even if it is created according to strict intellectual form and/or function. In the musical Once, the plot revolves around a songwriter and his work, so the songs we hear seem more organic to the unfolding of the story. 

There is no question that Mozart's place in the world of classical music is secure. The facts of his life as a child prodigy are well-known, but time and understanding have not lessened our fascination and admiration of the man and his work. His last opera, La Clemenza di Tito, was commissioned to celebrate the coronation of emperor Leopold II at Prague on September 6th. The opera is based on Titus, the Roman emperor who shows mercy to his attempted assassins by sparing their lives.

In 2017, Wichita State University celebrates the 44th year of their playwriting competition. Each year, hopeful playwrights around the country send in their original scripts for a chance to be produced onstage by the WSU School of Performing Arts program. The winning playwright is awarded travel and lodging, as well as a chance to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, along with submission of the script in playwriting categories.

Tchaikovsky was commissioned by the Director of the Imperial Theatre to compose the music for the ballet The Sleeping Beauty, with ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa, as choreographer. This was Tchaikovsky's second ballet, following his first collaboration with Petipa, Swan Lake. It includes a prologue and three acts, and is the longest of Tchaikovsky's works, running nearly three hours without intermissions, and as such, it is frequently edited for time.

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The Importance of Ideas in Theatre originally aired on October 25, 2015.

I believe in the revitalization of straight theatre in Wichita, theatre that is not backed by a musical score. I believe, as well, that it is a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of the present, and potential, theatre-going audience. And I believe that the most exciting productions occur when the director has ideas—or at least a point of view.

The Santaland Diaries, an essay by David Sedaris, made its debut nearly 24 years ago on December 23, 1992. Sedaris read the essay on NPR's Morning Edition where it was so enjoyed by listeners that Sedaris later published the piece in two collections: Barrel Fever in 1994 and Holidays On Ice in 1997.

The Nutcracker has become a treasured holiday classic, but that was not always the case. After the collaboration between Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa which resulted in the creation of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890, the director of Russia's Imperial Theatres commissioned Tchaikovsky to make an evening's entertainment that would include both an opera—which would become Iolanta—and a ballet.

A Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in a six-week flurry of inspiration. The story goes that upon visiting the industrial city of Manchester, Dickens was moved to write a tale that he hoped would help improve conditions for the poor, especially children. He hoped also to revive his career, which had fallen into a bit of a slump. He hurried it to publishers in early December 1843, and it came out in print on December 19. It has never been out of print since.

As we ease into the season of holidays, our thoughts turn naturally to fun, food, and drink, and local dinner theatre is where you can find it all. Mosley Street Melodrama is producing Holidays of Our Lives, an original script by local writer Carol Hughes that parodies soap operas and promises plenty of laughter, along with dinner, or without dinner, if that's your preference. The show runs from November 10th to December 30th.

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