Brian Eugenio Herrera's #TheatreClique Newsletter for September 6, 2020.
WELCOME back to the recently rebooted #TheatreClique Round Up... my emphatically irregular summary of what was clicking over on twitter via the #TheatreClique hashtag, along with stuff I’ve shared on my “Storming the Brain” FB group (plus other stuff just cuz it's my newsletter). The archive of the 2018 iteration of this newsletter can be accessed here; current issues will be archived at the #TheatreClique homepage.
This Week's #TheatreClique-ing:
As this week’s opener, I lift this video from the rising seniors in the University of Michigan’s BFA Program in Musical Theatre, where the annual “Senior Entrance” tradition welcomes the arriving first-year class with an elaborate musical mashup that showcases skills and personalities of the senior class (that also winks and nods to the particular quirks of their experience of the program) as it also documents what the last six months have felt like for a rising generation of committed student theater-makers.
Soraya Macdonald reflects on Chadwick Boseman’s legacy as a griot among thespians • Tom & Lorenzo document Boseman’s intentionality on the red carpet • on the topic of the complex work done by Black figures leading lives in the public eye, one of the many gifts of Koritha Mitchell’s recent conversation with Brittney Cooper (on the occasion of the launch of Mitchell’s latest book) was Dr. Mitchell’s mention of this piece she wrote about Michelle Obama’s artfully crafted and performed public persona • and as if Dr. Mitchell weren’t busy enough this week, she also "revisits” Lorraine Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun in the context of the recent protest action “We See You White American Theatre” • Playbill explores how HBCUs are uniquely equipped for training the next generation of Black theatre artists • cultural critic Rebecca Wanzo explicates the ambivalences stirred when whole fields turn to confront anti-blackness • Melissa Phruksachart’s review of the recently best-selling literatures of white liberalism remains an invaluably rigorous guide • and Lauren E. Turner offers a welcome reminder of why land acknowledgement matters…
Also this week, Diep Tran (one half of TokenTheatreFriends) asks “What Happens to West Side Story When You Remove Race?” • Jose Solís (critic/advocate & the other half of TokenTheatreFriends) is named Hunter College’s latest Floria Lasky Visiting Artist and host of a series of conversations with notable BIPOC theatre-makers (up first? Peppermint!) • Beirut-based writer and performer Milia Ayache offers tips on “Vocal Hygiene for the Revolution” • John Cameron Mitchell drops a new benefit album (click here for the uncensored video) • Marga Gomez does a podcast • make-up artist Jason Adcock releases a terrifying “Karen” mask, just in time for Halloween • NPR runs a fascinating account of the first Chinese-language production of Raisin the Sun to be staged in Beijing • an editor asks a critic to explain the particular pleasures of remote theatre • and then there’s that moment when the White House characterizes anti-racism trainings as un-American propaganda of the “critical race theory movement”…
and just in case you forgot, singer-songwriter Heather Chelan reminds us that “the pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it” • Elysa Gardner profiles the particular challenges faced by touring productions during a pandemic • an actor resigns from the actor’s union to take an acting job • Playbill asks ten “top” college theatre programs “how they are navigating this unprecedented moment" • Sara Georgini takes us through the particulars of one scholarly society’s decision to not just cancel their annual in-person meeting but to fully reimagine the model of what an academic conference might be • and James Alonzo White choreographs a buoyant version of The Wiz’s “Brand New Day” in the pandemically emptied streets of NYC’s Greenwich Village…
...and this week in Fornésiana: the Hewes Design Awards, which annually honors excellence in theatrical design, awarded a 2020 special citation to the design team for Theatre For a New Audience's 2019 production of María Irene Fornés' Fefu and Her Friends in recognition of their collaborative work. The designers recognized in Adam Rigg (scenic design) Montana Levi Blanco (costume design), Jane Cox (lighting design), Palmer Hefferan (sound design), Cookie Jordan (hair and wig design), and Andrew Diaz (properties design). Lileana Blaine-Cruz directed the production.
In which I offer resources in response to informational questions raised in last (or in anticipation of this) week's meeting of "Theatre & Society Now"...
Q1: What is “critical race theory”?
Q2: What is “anti-racism”?
Adventures in Remote Theatre-going:
Wherein I highlight some my priority destinations for the upcoming week.
Days of Re-Creation • a virtual play written entirely by writers of color, via Live and In Color; Thursday, 9/10 — 7pm Eastern.
Incidental Moments of the Day • the third (& final?) installment in Richard Nelson’s quarantimes additions to the Apple Family Plays; performed live on Thursday 9/10 — 7pm Eastern (streams on YouTube thereafter).
Miscast 2020 Goes Virtual • live performance on Sunday 9/13, 8pm Eastern ( YouTube recording available shortly thereafter).
What StinkyLulu Says This Week:
Wherein I offer a brief overview of this week’s podcast episode.
In the first part of week’s episode of StinkyLulu Says, I comment on the peculiar predictability of the rising backlash to the anti-racist turn within cultural institutions. And, as always, in the second part of the podcast, I reflect on my most recent remote theatre-going adventures — this week, with brief commentary on New Museum’s presentation of the first installment of Cucú and Her Fishes (the eco-feminist reimagining of María Irene Fornés’s Fefu and Her Friends by the “nomadic” research collective Ensayos), as well as a bit of a rumination about why I find the MT21 “Senior Entrance” (featured above) to be such a remarkable document of how performance can document this moment in time.
On This TheatreCliquer's Dance Card:
Wherein I shamelessly promote my own upcoming public events.
The Apple Family has become an uexpectedly persistent referent in my remote theatre-going since the early days of quarantimes, so I'm very much looking forward to learning what they’ve been up to over the last couple months in Incidental Moments of the Day; plus I’ll be staging my own private #carmenmirandapalooza as I ready myself for the launch of something called Film 101: Latin Numbers with Princeton Professor Brian Herrera on 9/15.
Voices from Behind Academentia's Paywall:
If you are not academically-affiliated, or if your institution does not subscribe to these journals, or shake the social media trees to see if some academic somewhere might hook you up with a pdf or two. Or check with your friendly neighborhood librarian to see if they can help. But download the pdf directly if you can. Because ACADEMIC CLICKS COUNT too!
Since it seems to be Koritha Mitchell week here at #TheatreClique (yay! Koritha Mitchell Week!), it seems only apt that I lift what has, for me, been one of the most important articles of the last few years: Koritha Mitchell’s deeply historical yet somehow also (always) both prescient and timely essay “Identifying White Mediocrity and Know-Your-Place Aggression: A Form of Self-Care” (African American Review 51.4). The essay explicates the familiar phenomenon wherein the success of marginalized peoples (non-white, non-straight, non citizen) “brings aggression as often as praise” and does so in way that re/activates our capacity to recognize “know-your-place aggression” (whether micro or macro) as a constitutive feature of US culture and history. An essential, transformational resource, written in Mitchell’s rigorously accessible signature style. Quite simply, a must.
Encourage Your Institutional Library to BUY THIS BOOK:
Book recommendations from students, staff, faculty and alumni can have a major impact on institutional purchasing priorities, especially at college/university libraries. Visit the library page at your school/s and click around to figure out how to recommend a title for purchase.
Dorinne Kondo, Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity (Duke University Press, 2018) • Among the most important and potentially far-reaching books of the last few years. The book blends Kondo’s scholarly training as an anthropologist with her longstanding professional practice as a dramaturg alongside her creative artistry as a playwright to offer a searching and incisive study of the racialized structures of inequity that configure contemporary theatre. Kondo’s deft balance of criticality, practicality and artistry makes this a rare gem of a scholarly book — a pleasure to read, a joy to teach, and a gift to fellow scholars and future researchers. (Indeed, in Theater & Society Now this week, we’ll be discussing Kondo’s second chapter on “Racialized Economies” alongside this stunner of a piece from Soraya Macdonald.) I do hope that you ask your institutional libraries to share the gift of Dorinne Kondo’s Worldmaking with your communities.
Until next week, dear #TheatreClique, keep on clicking those theatre links! And please do encourage any and all to subscribe.