Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Association of Jewish Theater has announced its annual conference, which will be happening during the time of Untitled Theater Co. #61's Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas. UTC61 will be hosting.
For those interested, the registration forms and tentative schedule are online. I include the letter from the AJT below:
We are extremely excited about this year’s conference, "Jewish Theater of Ideas and Beyond," which will be held June 6 – 10, 2009, in one of the hearts of Jewish theater and the world of theater: New York City. Untitled Theater Company #61 will be hosting us. They are presenting their Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas from May 23 – June 14, parallel to the conference. The festival will include over 100 performances of over 15 productions originating from across the United States and the world, at numerous venues throughout the city.
This year’s conference takes advantage of New York City, highlighting Jewish theatre and culture each day:
• Sunday at Marymount Manhattan College, the college whose Jewish theater festival, in 1980, inspired the creation of AJT.
• Monday at 92Y Tribeca, the new hip downtown venue for Jewish arts.
• Tuesday at the stately Museum of the City of New York where, with other conference activities, we will get a private tour of the theatre archives, the largest collection of its kind in the world, including Jewish and American theater in the United States.
• Wednesday will be at the Center for Jewish History, which houses six different major Jewish organizations, including YIVO with its Yiddish Theater collection.
Conference Fees and Registration Information:
Being in New York, we expect more registrants than usual, and there are space limitations. Early-bird registrants receive a $50 discount. The conference fee is $350 for early-bird members and $400 for non-members. After April 20th the fee will be $400 and $450 respectively, so book early. There will also be day passes for guests and others wishing to attend for single days.
Registration includes three kosher meals from great New York dining venues, free tickets to UTC61’s production of Doctors Jane and Alexander, five other plays of your choice at the Festival, and of course workshops and panel discussions.
Playwrights and Solo Performers:
Playwrights will once again have the very popular Playwrights’ Forum, where we will present seven-minute excerpts of your plays, performed by professional actors and staged by professional directors. Playwrights please note - if you are interested in participating in this forum we can only accept the first 15 scripts submitted. The deadline is April 20. So please be sure to get your play in early.
Solo performers will once again have a solo showcase. You must be registered for the full conference to participate in either program. Please refer to the registration forms for more instructions
Two housing options are available now for those who require New York accommodations: The Muse, our main hotel, is an elegant and trendy boutique venue in the heart of midtown with a rate of $259/room or $130/night if you plan on sharing (a very low rate for a 4* hotel in New York). For those on a budget, we have an amazing deal through a partnership with NYU/Tisch School of the Arts; and have arranged for NYU dormitory room, at $60/single and $40/double per night. If you are interested in booking or sharing a room, contact Kayla as soon as possible: firstname.lastname@example.org and she will add you to the rooming lists. Don’t delay: we have guaranteed only a small number of booked rooms. We are in the process of reaching out to donors for subsidies for students. We will keep you posted.
Join us and celebrate a new year for Jewish theatre!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
House and Senate negotiators on the bill dropped the language prohibiting stimulus funds from going to museums, theatres, and arts centers introduced by Senator Coburn.
Arguing for the $50 million in arts money on the House floor on Friday, Representative David R. Obey, Democrat of Wisconsin, said: “You know what? There are five million people who work in the arts industry. And right now they have 12.5 percent unemployment — or are you suggesting that somehow if you work in that field, it isn’t real when you lose your job, your mortgage or your health insurance? We’re trying to treat people who work in the arts the same way as anybody else.”
Monday, February 9, 2009
I don't know what's gotten into me. Maybe it's the facebook group Dear John, encouraging people to send John McCain letters about NEA funding. I of course, predicted that any funding of the NEA would be squashed. It has been. At the time, I debated whether art was a luxury. I suppose I have come down clearly on one side of that issue now.
A few years ago, I wrote an open letter to President Bush on matters of civil rights, while working on the Havel Festival. This is on a matter that affects me much more directly of course. Perhaps it's working of the Festival of Jewish Theater and Ideas: "If I am not for myself, who will be. If I am for myself alone, what am I." (Hillel)
Dear Senator McCain:
I am not from Arizona, but I am an American, and as an American, I feel you and I both have a cause in common - the health and well being of our country. As a senator, I think it is your responsibility to nurture our country, to see beyond partisan rhetoric to the overall good of our country. There have been times I felt you have been able to do just that.
Which is why my heart broke to hear you, like so many, hold the NEA and what it does in such disrespect.
Senator, I have worked in theater all my adult life. It has never been easy. Like so many with a passion for the arts, I at times had to work a second job. One job was to work as a temp worker in a series of investment banks. There I saw the rampant greed that has brought about the current crises, as bankers slowly lowered the wages of the temp workers while raising their own bonuses, at a time when the economy was its most robust.
Most of the temp workers were in the arts. Many of us went on to make our living, small though it might be, in our chosen field, but it took years of toiling to achieve that honor.
Most of the bankers were puzzled by us. They assumed, if we had been able to make the money they made, we would be. What value, one banker wondered to me aloud, does theater have, if one gets paid so little to do it? Try banking, he advised. Or at least the movies.
At the time, I was mostly working in a downtown theater called NADA. It was a tiny theater, of sixty seats, much like the hundred of tiny theaters scattered across Manhattan. The permanent staff at NADA consisted of three people, all of whom lived at or near the poverty line, but still managed to survive. Every month 100 different people - actors, directors, playwrights, and technicians - used it as their temporary home.
The businesses around NADA loved it. The Lower East Side was then known more for drug dealing than art - but NADA began an influx of artists that have now transformed that sketchy neighborhood into a very desirable one. Every night, actors and audience members flooded nearby establishments, bringing business where there had never been any. With less money per year than the average bank spends in an hour, that tiny theater was able to create more jobs and more economic stimulus for a neighborhood than anyone had been able to provide for decades.
NADA was not alone. The theaters grew, the neighborhood with it, eventually the rents rose - and NADA disappeared. No one valued it enough give it the money to survive in a better economic climate.
Senator, I have not been a temp worker for years. Instead, I have been running my theater, where I have tried again and again the magic trick of taking one dollar and making it into five. I put on theater festivals with hundreds of performances. When people ask me my budget, I lie. I lie because I am embarrassed how small it is, how little I am able to pay anyone, and because I know they would not believe me if I told them. But for fifteen years, I have been able to keep the theater running. Our last festival was in honor of the former Czech President and playwright, Vaclav Havel. At times, when he would introduce me, he would say “This is a very important man in New York theater.” I would have to laugh. Who in America would call someone who earns what I earn very important?
But we are important, Senator McCain. You say that everyone loves the arts, but I don’t know that you believe it. I think it means to you that we all have been told we should love the arts. And I think we should. The arts ennoble a society and helps to form its moral core. In the theater, people without a voice can step onstage and suddenly be heard. It is a boon during dark times and can be a caution when times are better. I don’t know that everyone loves the arts, but I do believe we need the arts.
But you asked another question. Do the arts create jobs? Let me tell you what I think is behind that question – can someone who earns so much less than a CEO really be that important?
Senator McCain, I am ashamed of you for even asking.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
There is a current genre of work known as vernacular photography, which, in essence, takes photographs taken as snapshots by amateurs and elevates them to art, by virtue of the fact that they capture, either deliberately or inadvertently, something essential about a time and place. Disfarmer's work is slightly different: he was a professional, taking portraits. Like the found photographs of vernacular photography, his photos were discovered almost by chance, but in many ways they say more about him then about his subjects.