Brian Eugenio Herrera's #TheatreClique Newsletter for February 7, 2021.
WELCOME to the #TheatreClique Round Up — my (mostly) weekly newsletter dedicated to clicking on some of the most interesting, intriguing & noteworthy writing about drama, theatre & performance (at least, so says me)…
This Week's #TheatreClique-ing:
For this week’s opener, I lift this energizing conversation between The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and Jeremy O. Harris not just for all they talk about (sartorial strategies, “post-racial” comedy, friendly racism, facetime-freezes) but for the how at the 10:37 mark Harris seizes this spotlighted moment to advocate for #BeAnArtsHero…
And here is some what’s been clicking since my last newsletter…
Jerald Raymond Pierce asks “what could a ‘New Federal Theatre Project’ actually look like?” • Donny Repsher talks to a remarkable cohort of arts leaders (including Jacob Padrón, Hana S. Sharif, Stephanie Ybarra, and Robert Barry Fleming) about what lessons the American theater of 2021 actually learned from the reckonings of 2020 • Choreographer Emily Johnson (Yu’pik) details what can (and what did) happen when calls for meaningful land acknowledgement as first steps in processes of decolonization collide with the institutional cultures of power, prestige and “contractual obligations”…
Lavina Jadhwani and Victor Vazquez discuss the horizon of “identity-conscious casting” • Julia “Juju” Nieto and Rishi Mutalik discuss the necessity for the BIPOC Critics Lab with its founder Jose Solís • a new coalition, BIPOC in TYA — a grassroots group of Black, Indigenous & People of Color artists in Theatre for Young Audiences — announces a new resource, “Anti-Racist and Anti-Oppressive Futures for Theatre for Young Audiences: An Interactive Guide” (set to drop February 8)…
Lady Bunny and Linda Simpson contemplate the past, present and future of drag • Alexis Soloski considers the past, present and future of live-filmed performance by talking artists who’ve blurred such boundaries for years • Charles McNulty reflects on Adrienne Kennedy’s past, present and future influence on the American theatre via the virtual Adrienne Kennedy Festival, even as he also ruminates over what defines theatre in the digital era • Soraya McDonald reads her essay "Wandering In Search of Wakanda" aloud • Dan-El Padilla Peralta aims to “save classics from whiteness” • in a follow-up to her August 2020 article (“When the Students Have Notes for the Teachers”), Ciara Diane invites BFA college students/alumni to provide updates on how their theatre programs are and are not making good on their pledges to move their programs towards more equitable and anti-racist education…
Soraya McDonald vividly remembers how Cicely Tyson (1924-2021) was part of a generation that made Black dignity and Black humanity emphatically visible on stage and screen • Linda Bloodworth-Thomasen remembers Hal Halbrook (1925-2021), and Don Shewey shares this extraordinary 2009 interview, in which Holbrook recounts the early days (and early dramas) of Lincoln Center Theatre…
Juan Barquin and Kyle Turner take on the recurring controversies around “straight actors playing gay”• a “Zoolander Extra Resigns” from SAG-AFTRA • and playwright/performer Tessa Albertson joins with composer MUR in this tuneful prayer…
...and — lest I forget — this week in Fornésiana: brings the remarkable opportunity to engage the remote presentations of two very different Fornés works: Philadelphia’s University of the Arts presents Promenade — Fornés’s musical rumination on the tortures and titillations of capitalism — in five remarkable episodes and the Theater School at DePaul University in Chicago presents Fornés’s translation/adaptation of Lorca’s Blood Wedding in an evolving multi-media encounter… (FYI: you can hear me reflect on my experiences of each in this week’s installment of StinkyLuluSays.)
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 blackface minstrelsy?
Q2: who was Keith Haring (1958-1990)?
Adventures in Remote Theatre-going:
Wherein I highlight some of my personal priority destinations for the upcoming week.
Blood Wedding — María Irene Fornés adaptation/translation of Federico García Lorca, presented by the Theater School at DePaul University (Chicago) • "a progressive experience, starting as an audio play and adding visual elements as the story unfolds" • $10 • streaming in 24-hour access windows through 2/14.
Promenade — María Irene Fornés & Al Carmines’ legendary experimental musical presented by the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) • a remotely recorded performance • $10 (+$1.50 fee) • on-demand streaming through 2/14.
Red Bike — Caridad Svich’s one-person play presented by Unicorn Theatre (Kansas City) • "a virtual theatre production" • pay what you wish ($5-$45 suggested) • video-on-demand available for 48-hour rental through 2/21.
What StinkyLulu Says This Week:
Wherein I offer a brief overview of this week’s podcast episode.
In this week’s episode of StinkyLuluSays, I contemplate the disruption of familiar theatrical rituals — and discovery of new ones — as we enter the 49th week and begin the twelfth month of what will be a full year of theatre without theatres; some reflections, too, on my recent remote encounters with the work of María Irene Fornés.
On This TheatreCliquer's Dance Card:
Wherein I shamelessly promote my own upcoming public events.
I’ll be joining Dr. Ricardo Montez in conversation about his recent book, Keith Haring’s Line (Duke UP, 2020), for an event sponsored by Princeton BTGALA — who ask "please fill out our RSVP Form by Tuesday evening. A link for the presentation will be emailed to you." All are welcome.
Voices from Behind Academentia's Paywall:
If you are not academically-affiliated, or if your institution does not subscribe to these journals, 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!
Over the last several weeks, I’ve had occasion to revisit my understanding of the history of blackface performances practices and traditions — especially the commonplace claim that, though the tradition began to stir in the 1830s, blackface minstrelsy’s “real” heyday was roughly between the 1870s and the 1930s, followed by a steep decline punctuated by occasional reprises since the mid20th century. Current scholarship — especially the work of my colleague Dr. Rhae Lynn Barnes — complicates that end-point in sometimes startling ways, and Dr. Kellen Hoxworth’s recently published article “The Jim Crow Global South” (Theatre Journal, December 2020) reevaluates that timeline’s front-end in comparably astonishing fashion. Hoxworth’s essay invites us to consider blackface minstrelsy’s early and quick travels along the circuits of empire in the 1830s & 1840s. Specifically, Hoxworth charts the transoceanic “relays” of early blackface minstrelsy between performance sites in the antebellum United States, imperial Britain, and colonial South Africa, thereby prompting a powerful — and possibly field-reorienting — reassessment of minstrelsy’s myriad beginnings. It’s a remarkable essay, expertly researched and captivatingly argued… Seek it out.
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, especially in times of financial uncertainty. Visit the library page at your school/s and click around to figure out how to recommend a title for purchase.
When I received the invitation to join Dr. Ricardo Montez in conversation about his new book, Keith Haring’s Line (Duke UP, 2020), I leapt at the opportunity because, even though I got the book pretty much the second it came out, I had not yet been able to actually spend time with it, beyond relishing the extraordinary images (most in full color) scattered throughout the comparatively slender volume. Having already read Tim Murphy’s excellent interview with Montez, I expected the book to be gratifying read. I was not disappointed. Elegantly written and deftly structured, the book offers a captivating account of how Keith Haring’s art (and life) practice might best be understood NOT through a genealogy of his collaborative encounters (with ideas, with influences, with individuals, with experiences) but through an understanding of what Montez calls Haring’s “complicity” within that collage of encounters and within the racializing systems and structures that allowed for Haring’s blazing ascendance as a major artist of the early 1980s (and the early AIDS era). Montez reassesses the idealization of interracial “collaboration” — a rhetoric that invokes the act of artistic co-creation to neutralize the actual, lived disparities (of race, of class, of gender, of ability, of prestige) that are always at play when artists work “together.” Indeed, Montez’s book — searingly smart, lovely to read — is also remarkably timely, arriving as it does at this moment of racial reckoning wherein so many creative artists are demanding changes in how and why (and by, for and about whom) art gets made. Ricardo Montez’s Keith Haring’s Line invites us to see the legendary wiggling dynamism of Keith Haring’s bold lines as a ready reminder that every act of creative collaboration is — for better and worse — always already also an expression of cultural complicity within the systems and structures of power that allow any work of art to be legible as such. A potent, provocative and urgently relevant read — let your library know about it today!
Until next time, dear #TheatreClique, please share this newsletter with those friends, colleagues and students who might appreciate the opportunity to encounter the many voices gathered in each week’s edition. Errors and oversights published in the newsletter will be corrected in the archival versions. And, in the meantime, keep clicking those links — good writing needs good readers and our theatre clicks count!