The Special Operations Executive is Iron Age Theatre’s brand-new experimental and developmental division. Here is our home page and scratchpad; it’s full of information about our new projects and (occasionally) the mad theories behind them. We’ll also be posting theory, criticism, and conjecture here, so if you’ve got something interesting to say about the theater in Philadelphia, let us know.
Tags: curse of the starving class, plays, sam shepard, theater, wilma theater
I’ve got to admit, I don’t know whether those Wilma Theater cats are really happy with the theater that they’ve got. It’s a great big cavernous space, with, I don’t know, three hundred seats or something like that. It can’t be mixed around the way a traditional black box can, though it doesn’t have that weird grandeur that proscenium spaces sometimes have. I don’t know, do you think they like it? Was this is the idea when they built the new theater? “Let’s do a bunch of plays in a space where we can’t rearrange the spacial arrangement between play and audience.”
“Let’s do a Sam Shepard play!”
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Tags: as you like it, braak, shakespeare, theater, theatre
I saw As You Like It at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre over the weekend, and it was fine. A nice little show, most everybody did a good job, and what do you expect from As You Like It? Frankly, I’m beginning to suspect that Shakespeare just wasn’t really a top-notch comedian.
But anyway, there’s a huge problem that I have with the play, and while I was watching it I think I stumbled on a way to solve it, and I want some opinions here. The problem that I have is this: Orlando is a complete fucking bonehead.
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Tags: blade runner, braak, do androids dream of electric sheep, philip k. dick, reviews
My review at io9.com:
Adapting Dick’s seminal novel is guaranteed to be a difficult process, and would have been even if Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner weren’t already a 30-year-old SF classic. Untitled Theater Company #61 took on the ambitious challenge. And mostly, it worked.
I think that “mostly it worked” was actually an edit; the problem with this play is that mostly it DIDN’T work.
I put this up for about ten seconds last time, then I took it down and sold it to someone. Now, I am linking to it instead! My original title: Naturalism–A Bad Form of Theater? Or the Worst Form of Theater? was not approved.
Tags: Paranormal activity, verisimilitude
Cross-posted from Threat Quality:
Jesus, when am I going to stop with this? Okay, so, Holland wrote his bit about Paranormal Activity, and he’s right in a lot of important ways. But I think there’s actually even more to be mined from a discussion of the subject, and since that’s basically all I do (talk about things AT LENGTH), that’s what I’m going to get up to today.
Cards on the table here: I’ve been wanting to do an expressionist version of Dracula for some time now. I have all kinds of crazy ideas for it, and to that end I have done some investigations into the aesthetics of horror, and looked at some of the ways that horror works onstage. I am familiar with the subject, yes, but it’s also reasonable to assume that I’m just jealous that someone got to Dracula here in Philadelphia before I did.
Pertinent to this, I want to make sure we’re clear about this thing, too: I like horror movies, a lot, and — though people often declare me incapable of human feeling and therefore inexpert when it comes to assessing what are presumably “non-rational” forms — I have been scared silly by horror movies before. I slept with the lights on for a week after I saw The Ring; I had nightmares after I saw The Exorcist. I was so scared by the trailers for the original Nightmare on Elm Street that I could never actually bring myself to watch the movie. This is pursuant to my point, I’ll elaborate a little later on.
Anyway, so. Tribe of Fools is primarily a physical theater group in this, the Philadelphia area. They did a production of Dracula that I saw on Thursday (of a week ago), though I held the review out of courtesy; I don’t like to get into the argument about whether or not critics have an obligation to support theater no matter what. Whatever good or bad I have to say, it won’t affect their ticket sales.
This is what the advertisement for Dracula says:
Brain fever, nightmare, shadows, and madness saturate this dynamic new look at Dracula. By using scientific methods designed to stimulate fear in the human brain, this original adaptation kicks you into the swallowing abyss of terror. Audience members must sign a waiver to participate.
So, I want to start up some awards in Philadelphia for independent theater. Awards are always a tricky thing; I mean, on the one hand, no one working in the arts should care about awards, because they’re bullshit, right? Even if you could accurately create a system for quantitatively evaluating performances or direction or design, how would you configure a system to ensure that you were judging it fairly? And then, what’s even the point of the award? You’re not going to be able to give them out until the show’s closed, anyway, so it’s not like it’s going to directly impact audience attendance. Certain people really care about getting awards, but really, I think we can all agree that artists who work primarily for the purpose of being officially honored by some arbitrary organization are probably not at the top of the list of great artists.
On the other hand…