Category: United Stage

United Stage

The Us of Us: Aristotelian Politics in the Age of Unreason

We live in odd and curious times where politics are more performance than punditry and more perfunctory than professional. How did we get in such a mess of unequal consequences? We won’t just rise or fall and find the mean when this comet ride is over — we’re heading into a catastrophic tumble of immortal termination — just as the Gods before us fell from the temple and humankind stopped looking to the heavens for confirmation of the merits of their lives in the glow of the clouds and decided to forgive their own sins while skipping the punishments.

In critical moments, I turn to my training, and seek the greater mind, and the more universally sophisticated aesthetic for guidance and comfort. As, Aristotle wrote, in “Politics” —

Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.

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United Stage

A Stone’s Throw: “That Abortion Play” 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago, as an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, I wrote a play: A Stone’s Throw. The full-length drama was about the dilution of the human spirit forged against the willful hard-edge of moral exhumation — but my production quickly became known on campus as “That Abortion Play.” You may download an early draft of “A Stone’s Throw” on this Boles.com Prairie Voice Archive Scripts page; and here some of the reviews of the production.

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United Stage

Attention and Intention: Contextual Consequences and Cultural Confusion in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening Broadway Revival

Let’s agree on one thing: Deaf West’s excellent Broadway revival of “Spring Awakening” is a fine production currently showing at the Brooks Atkinson theatre in a limited run. The sets and lights are magnificent. The staging is right. The actors are completely superb. The effort is noble, but perhaps, imperfect in the execution of its essence, and it is in that vacuum of those slight flaws in amber that this review reflects — to make you think and wonder in preservation and ponder beyond the simple joy of watching a few Deaf actors on a live Broadway stage.

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United Stage

Never Speak to the Actors!

There’s an old, weary, chestnut in the theatre — that deserves to be burned alive, eaten whole, pooped out and buried in the deep blue sea and then never spoken of again — that goes a little something like this, when directors say to Playwrights: “Never Speak to the Actors!”

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United Stage

Brander Matthews: Father of Dramatic Literature

Brander Matthews was one of the purist theatrical geniuses we’ve had in, and around, the intellectual American Stage.  Brander rightly believed a play only existed in performance and that the performance and the text must be evaluated separately. He was also one of the first professors at an American University — Columbia University in the City of New York starting in 1892 — to promote, and foster, the idea that Dramatic Literature was just as important a field of study as any historic cave wall painting or artistic sculpture or aesthetic structure. He believed in the power of the Playwright to form the world.

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United Stage

Liviu Ciulei and Marlon Brando: Recoiling the Mortal Coil!

The great international stage and screen director and designer, Liviu Ciulei, and the divine stage and screen actor Marlon Brando both share something disturbing as it is true: They both believed in bringing coiled drama into an explosion on the live stage. If the purpose of the Dramatic Arts is irrevocable change, they reasoned, then coiled detritus is the user agent that propels forward the story to the tragic, if not always cathartic, end.

I was fortunate to purchase authentic photographs of both Liviu and Marlon and I appreciate this moment of sharing them with you. Here’s the caption for Liviu’s photo:

International director Liviu Ciulei has been named Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theatre beginning Sept 1. 1980.  The 57-year-old former head of Rumania’s leading repertory theatre, the Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Theatre, has earned an international reputation as a stage and screen director, actor, designer, and architect. His directing and design credits include productions throughout Europe, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

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United Stage

The Tale of the Most Insane Desk Ever: NO DRAWERS ALLOWED!

There once was a rather famous, if old timey, theatrical agent in New York City who had one hard and steadfast rule in his office: No drawers allowed! This no-drawer mandate mainly had to do with desks, but he also included boxes, trash cans and file cabinets in his rage. The rule was incredibly raw, because in those days, The City, and theatrical agencies, ran on paper. There was no digitization. No cloud or computer storage. You Xeroxed and your Faxed and you managed the wood pulp blizzard as best you could.

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