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Audition Advice with Casting Director Christine Sheaks

BY CAT ELLIOTT via From “Fargo” to “Boogie Nights,” Christine Sheaks has cast some of the greats. Sheaks took a break from one of her current projects, the “Dramaworld” series on Netflix, to offer her take on auditioning best practices. Is there any advice that you think all actors should hear? “Actors need to know who they are and be connected to it before they get in the room. What makes an actor different is what’s going to get him or her the job; it’s a light that shines brightly. When William H. Macy used to audition, he did this so well. He’d just come in and do his thing. It may not have been for everyone, but it would always be true to who he was. I was the casting associate for ‘Fargo,’ and we had him come in and read several times. He wasn’t a star yet, but he just brought something to the table that really stood out. So, he got the job.” What should actors avoid in an audition? “Don’t come in unprepared. If an actor has 10 auditions that day and then takes two seconds to look at the material, it’ll show. I always tell actors to have their agents call me if that’s the case. If I can give them a later time or another day, I would rather do that than have them come in unprepared. Also, actors should never bring in a prop. The only exception is a cell phone, which is okay because it’s not distracting. During an audition for the series ‘Moonlighting,’ we had an actor take a toy gun out of his pocket, pick up one of my producers and throw him against the wall. Most actors know they shouldn’t do that, but they should avoid bringing a prop, in general, because our focus will be drawn to it.” What should actors consider before they even get in the room? “The headshot is so important, as far as getting them to the room. They want the best possible picture they can get because if I don’t know them, I’m going off their headshot. And a good picture can be ruined by poor composition. For example, if an actor has a black background, a black shirt and a black border around the photo, it’s not going to work. Overall, an actor’s picture should be interesting and stand out from the crowd. I really believe in taking chances. Actors can take chances in how they sell themselves as well as what they do creatively. But they have to believe that they’re going to pull off those bold choices, or it doesn’t work.” Is there an encouraging story you can share? “I can share how I discovered Anna Faris. I came in on ‘Scary Movie’ to replace somebody else, and on my first day, I saw a mound of tapes of actors who had sent their materials in. I literally picked a tape out of the pile, put it in the VCR and knew right then that she was special. I phoned her manager and said, ‘You need to have her come in and audition in front of the director.’ She was going to have to fly in for the audition, so I said, ‘I’ll make you a bet. If she doesn’t get the part, I’ll pay for her plane ticket. But I don’t think I’m going to have to do that.’ And, sure enough, she got it.” Sheak’s time-honored advice reinforces much of the wisdom that teachers, casting directors and agents have been lauding for ages. By coming into auditions prepared and with a solid and personal sense of the role they’re reading for, together with a well-designed headshot, you’ll be sure to stand out. As Sheaks aptly put it, take your time with the material and avoid props when in the room (and certainly never manhandle any of the producers!). Taken to heart, her advice guarantees that, in her own words, you’ll let your light shine. And who knows, if casting loves what they see, they’ll bet on your success and even offer to cover your audition travel costs. Okay. That last part is a stretch, but you’ll still have a powerful ally on your side with an effective audition. View Original Article

15 Theatre Books to Add to Your Spring 2019 Reading List

BY DAN MEYER via inter might still be here, but as the weather starts to change, take on some of these reads – great with a snuggly blanket or outside at the park. 1. Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater, by Kathleen Turner and Dustin Morrow One of America’s most iconic actors, two-time Tony nominee Kathleen Turner looks back on her four-plus decades of work and shares the lessons she learned along the way. The book dives into some of her famous roles, as she discusses, with film professor Dustin Morrow, the techniques and skills she developed to become successful in the craft of acting. Filled with her signature wit (and that gravelly voice narrating in your head), this tome is bound to teach aspiring and established actors a thing or two. Available now from Skyhorse. 2. Plays by Women from the Contemporary American Theater Festival, edited by Peggy McKowen and Ed Herendeen Five plays written by female playwrights have been compiled into this anthology thematically tied to freedom of speech. Each of the works were presented at the Contemporary American Theater Festival. The group of writers represent a diverse range of women, who encourage exploring the sometimes challenging and tough pieces of theatre. Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage writes an introduction, and each play is followed by a playwright interview conducted by Sharon J. Anderson to help readers contextualize the piece and understand its connection to larger themes. Available now from Methuen Drama 3. Introduction to the Art of Stage Management: A Practical Guide to Working in the Theatre and Beyond, by Michael Vitale and Jim Volz Ever wondered what it meant to be a stage manager? Michael Vitale, who has assisted in productions ranging from the Hollywood Bowl to the Barbican Theatre in London, shares his insights on one of the stage’s most influential behind-the-scenes job. Vitale gives readers a guide to develop the skills of a successful stage manager, whether it’s pre-production or running closing night. Not contained to a singular genre, this book looks at stage management for various types of productions: theatre, opera, cruise ship performance, and dance, to name just a few. Out March 7 from Methuen Drama More Than a Scarecrow: Ray Bolger 4. Ray Bolger: More Than a Scarecrow, by Holly Van Leuven The consummate performer brought the Scarecrow to life in MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz. But his prolific career over five decades provides fodder for the first biographer about Bolger. The dancer first found comfort in his tap lessons before running away to repertory theatre and vaudeville on his way to becoming a contracted performer in Hollywood and a Tony Award winner. Out March 8 from Oxford University Press READ: Theatre Jobs: What Does It Take to Be a Broadway Stage Manager 5. Backing into the Spotlight, by Michael Whitehall Back in the day, Michael Whitehall was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. As a theatre agent for U.K. stars like Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, and more, he cast a spotlight on some of the world’s greatest players. Then, his son Jack (who provides the foreward) became a celebrity comic, and Whitehall found himself dragged along as his grumbling but hilarious partner-in-crime. In this memoir, Whitehall tells the hilarious story of his life and how his own career up-ended. Out March 12 from Constable Too Much Is Not Enough 6. Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood, by Andrew Rannells A Tony nominee for originating the role of Elder Price in Broadway’s smash hit The Book of Mormon, Rannells has gone on to be one of the wildly popular actor of across stage and screen. Originally from Nebraska, this memoir chronicles his coming-of-age, “bad auditions, bad relationships, and some really bad highlights as he chases his dreams in New York City.” Described as honest and hilarious—much like Rannells himself—the book pulls back the curtain on the struggling 20-something experience through Rannells’ specific story, before he became the well-known star he is today. Out March 12 from Random House 7. Broadway Investing 101: How to Make Theater and Yes, Even Make Money, by Ken Davenport This Tony Award-winning producer for Once on this Island and Kinky Boots has a lot to share thanks to his tremendous success bringing shows to the Great White Way. From choosing the right show to investing the proper amount and managing the risk, Davenport (also a producer on such shows as Spring Awakening, Groundhog Day) navigates readers through the necessary steps to become a profitable Broadway producer. Whether you’re curious about the business or eager to take the leap, this book will intrigue anyone who’s thought they want to be a producer. Out March 15 through Amazon Digital Services LLC 8. Getting Off: Lee Breuer on Performance, by Lee Breuer and Stephen Nunns One of the most influential avant-garde theatre artists, Lee Breuer arrived to the New York scene in the 1970s and has remained a staple ever since. Breuer created works independently and through his co-founded Mabou Mines company described as unique, challenging, and exciting. In this book, theatre historian Stephen Nunns takes a look at the director/writer/performers’ productions and Breuer’s past interviews to create something that is equal parts autobiography, anthology, and critical insight. Together, it creates an intimate look at one of theatre’s most daring minds. Out March 19 from Theatre Communications Group They Made Us Happy: Betty Comden & Adolph Green’s Musicals and Movies 9. They Made Us Happy: Betty Comden & Adolph Green’s Musicals & Movies, by Andy Propst The writers behind On The Town, Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town, and more get the biography treatment in this lookback at their work, careers, personal lives, and the artists they collaborated with—Leonard Bernstein, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, and Greta Garbo among them. Plus, Propst illuminates Comden and Green projects that never made it to the stage or screen, including a musical version of The Skin of Our Teethand a Busby Berkeley biopic. Out March 19 from Oxford University Press 10. Rebus: Long Shadows The New Play, by Ian Rankin and Rona Munro Detective John Rebus makes his stage debut in author’s Ian Rankin’s first play featuring the Scottish gumshoe. When a murder victim’s daughter shows up on Rebus’ doorsep, she challenges his detective instincts more than ever before. With his friend, DI Siobhan Clark, the duo set off to solve the case while personal issues threaten to derail the investigation. The book includes the entire script and an introduction from Rankin, along with an interview between him and Rona Munro, who assisted in developing the story for the stage. Out March 19 from Orion 11. The Complete Book of 1920s Musicals, by Dan Dietz Think you know everything there is to know about musicals from the Roaring ‘20s? Even the most knowledgeable theatre fans will learn something new in this comprehensive encyclopedia. It features 300 musicals from the decade that gave us Show Boat, A Connecticut Yankee, and Hit the Deck! and the minds of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin. A plot summary, cast list, musical numbers, creative teams, and opening dates, source material, and critical commentary are included for each production. Appendices dive into other shows from the decade, plus discography, filmography and a list of published scripts. Released April 10 from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 12. Opera in the Tropics: Music and Theater in Early Modern Brazil, by Rogerio Budasz While theatre might not be the first thing people think of when it comes to Brazil, music certainly is, and those familiar sounds have influenced the country’s theatre scene since the 1500s. In this historical reflection, Budasz explores influential creators and performers throughout the country’s history. The writer explores works and their relation to themes of slavery, gender, and local departures from national norms. This book will entertain and educate anyone interested in early theatre, Brazilian culture, or Latin American history. Out April 23 from Oxford University Press 13. Waiting in the Wings: How to Launch Your Performing Arts Career on Broadway and Beyond, by Tiffany Haas with Jenna Glatzer After dozens of auditions and consecutive rejections, Tiffany Haas finally got her break in Wicked as Glinda. Along her journey, she learned a lot about the road to becoming a Broadway star. Now, she shares that knowledge with anyone who has dreams of breaking through on stage. This guide will offer advice for auditions, finding an agent who will then find the best role for you, and everything in between. With insider tips, this book is for anyone who wants to have a career as an actor in theatre. Out April 23 from St. Martin’s Griffin 14. Theater of the Word: Selfhood in the English Morality Play, by Julie Paulson Author and English professor Paulson shares ideas on how medieval theatrical works can help us explore the idea of self. Looking at morality plays, the author examines what it means to be a human being through stories anchored in sin and the traditional Christian rites of confession and penance. Looking at this oft-forgotten genre of theatre, readers will learn more about medieval drama and how religious rule affected human actions and performances. Out April 30 by University of Notre Dame Press 15. Something Wonderful, by Todd S. Purdum This book hit our list last spring, but now, the story of Rodgers and Hammerstein is available in paperback! Learn about one of the greatest theatre partnerships of all time, as Prudum takes readers on a journey through Oscar Hammerstein’s and Richard Rodgers’ partnership and how the pair ended created some of Broadway’s most memorable classics like Carousel, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific. Reprinted May 14 from Picador READ: Exclusive Excerpt of Something Wonderful On the Writing of Carousel’s ‘If I Loved You’

8 Must-Haves for a Self-Tape Home Studio

BY AMY RUSS via Imagine you get an email from your agent tonight requesting a self-tape for a huge role that’s due first thing tomorrow morning. How do you react? Do you do your happy dance, confidently record at home with the correct equipment, and send your agent a professional quality self-tape ahead of the deadline? Or do you panic because you don’t have any lights (or other elements you need) and cobble something together that you’ll ultimately need to redo so your agent can submit it? If you’d react in the first way, well done! If you’d react in the second way, you need to up your self-tape game. A self-tape is crucial to your success as an actor and you need to be prepared when a last-minute request comes in. To make sure you’re ready when the requests come in, it’s useful to have a small, professional-grade setup in your home. Here’s everything you’ll need: 1. Camera If you already have a smartphone, this is a one and done! Smartphones have awesome cameras now. Just make sure to shoot horizontally. 2. Lights Good lighting makes a huge difference. If you have the room, you ideally want a three-point softbox set up. Realistically (especially in New York City where space is tight), you should invest in a ring light that’s small enough to store in tiny apartments and will light up your face beautifully. There’s no need for an extra stand because your phone attaches to the inside of it. You can find these in a range of prices, so do your research. If you can, I recommend trying some out before buying. 3. Tripod and/or Light Stand If you use the three-point lighting setup mentioned above, you’ll need a tripod for your phone as well as stands for your lights. If you use the ring light, you’ll only need one light stand. You can find an inexpensive tripod or light stand on Amazon or at B&H. READ: Your Guide to a Perfect Self-Tape 4. Smartphone Tripod Adapter You’ll need an adapter to attach your phone to the tripod or ring light. I learned this the hard way when I couldn’t figure out how to attach my phone during a last-minute audition. Learn from my mistake and buy one ahead of time. 5. Microphone Sound is usually the last thing people think of when doing videos, but bad sound can have a huge impact—and not in a good way. Do yourself a favor and invest in a lavalier microphone. 6. Backdrop A blank wall in a neutral color is the best self-tape backdrop. If you don’t have uninterrupted blank wall space, a blue screen or muslin photography backdrop is necessary. You could also hang a plain sheet behind you, but make sure you iron out any wrinkles! 7. Editing Software You’ll need to use software to edit and export your video. I have a Mac so I use iMovie. If you’re a PC user, try HitFilm. 8. Reader It’s always best to have an actor read with you. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and set up a reader circle. Make yourselves available to read for each other as auditions come up. Once you have all your gear, I recommend doing some practice runs. This way, you’ll be a pro at setting everything up and when that late-night email comes in, you’ll be able to knock out your tape without any added stress. A casting director won’t be able to focus on your acting if they can’t see or hear you properly, so work out these technical elements before the need for a self-tape arises. That way, you can ensure nothing will distract the viewer from your work. View Original Article  

Actor Taxes: How to Prepare for the New Tax Law Changes

BY BAILIE SLEVIN via I’m not an accountant but I am a financial advisor which means I’m one of the professionals people turn to for help in deciphering what could happen with their tax return, especially this year with these new tax laws. The changes are so sweeping and wide-reaching that we still don’t know exactly what the potential problems are and it’s easy to feel like you’re being dropped into a foreign system. So let’s talk about how to prepare, not just financially, but emotionally and practically as we creep closer to April 15. Accept that neither you nor your accountant has all the answers yet. This is the toughest and the most important. You may “know” this, but have you accepted it? Accepting it means that while you may not be happy about it, you also aren’t staying up all night, tossing and turning while elephants wearing tutus made of 1099s dance around in your head. And this isn’t a dig at your CPA—it’s new for them too. If this is your first year with a new CPA, some extra vetting on your part would be prudent. If you’re staying with your tried and true then you already know the level of care you and your tax forms are going to receive. Do what you can. Help your accountant out and give yourself a place to funnel that anxiety. Itemize, itemize, itemize. Since some categories and types of deductions may have changed this year, you can be proactive by making sure you have a crystal clear context for every expense from 2018. So many of our purchases accomplish multiple tasks. It’s possible that one iteration may better clarify an expense’s usefulness with this new code. And your accountant will thank you. They don’t live your life. They don’t know that every meal at Westway Diner is a production meeting. Only you know that. Get a hobby. I’m serious. You’re going to need something to distract you over the next couple of months. Don’t try to find it on the fly. Don’t fall into something destructive. I know many people who, when concerned about money, spend more money. Find a hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with your chosen career. It has a far better chance of relaxing and distracting you. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to enjoy it. Plan ahead but don’t act ahead. You may owe taxes. You may not. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before you start putting money into a retirement account, talk to your accountant and financial advisor. Taking that step could be over preparing to the point of injury. If you want to prepare, move those funds to a savings account where you’ll still have flexibility; once money is in a retirement account, you have very restricted and limited access. Planning ahead is great, just make sure that plan can bend and grow with you. Commiserate. Plan some time to hang out with your like-minded, super smart, on top of their sh*t friends and talk about how much this sucks. It’s important to have a community and the theater/film/TV community is such a beautiful one. The unity you’ll find is second to none so lean on your peers and let them lean on you. Strength in numbers! Get educated, not obsessed. Unless you’re planning on going into the financial services field, there’s a limit to how much of a time commitment you should make to learning the intricacies of the new tax bill. Not because you shouldn’t be informed—you should be—just don’t overdo it.  Konmari your life on this one. Does tax law bring you joy? Does it make you money? Does it further your career? Learn enough, then let the professionals handle it. We’re all going to get through this, some of us as individuals and some of us as newly formed corporations. But here’s the thing: taxes will always go up and taxes will always go down. New taxes will be created and some old taxes will fade. The ability to deduct has always been a gift, changing year to year. I challenge you to view the uncertainty of this year not as a hurdle you have to overcome, but as an opportunity to engage more fully with your finances and be a driving force in the wave of increased personal financial health. Bailie Slevin is a registered representative and financial advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). OSJ:52 Forest Ave., Paramus, NJ 07652. Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY.  PAS is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian. Certified Financial Services and Entertaining Finance are not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. View Original Article

You Must Practice Gratitude for Successes Big + Small

BY LEAH NANAKO WINKLER via I am a playwright, and I cling to the love that surrounds me. I try not to bask in my own insecurities because that is dismissive of the people who support me. The world may say “no,” but it’s OK to carry a natural confidence, even if you’re a woman. But I try not to be so obsessed with myself—that’s dangerous. Or with critics—I’ve never been and never will be a perfect wispy darling. But I’m obsessed with my audience. I could die happy sitting in a dark theater with you, my throat tightening at the sound of your sobs, my heart vibrating by your laughter. I will love this feeling of strange intimacy for a lifetime. I will wake you if you’re snoring near me, but I enjoy that, too. How lucky am I to have something I love so much? So, I speak up when I need to for this thing that I love. And I use my voice because I have one. I write from a place of truth because it’s pointless to lie. I try to reflect the world I see, even if it’s not always represented. That’s not an agenda. It’s just the humanity I know. Again, I’m a playwright. And even at 33, some consider me young. This is good; I like being considered young. But because of this, some may say I’m trying to tell you too much. Show you too much. And maybe that’s right. Because there are so, so many things I want to tell you about, and I want to show them loudly and messily and be full of life and wonder. Don’t be afraid to do this. That’s exactly what theater is for. I love theater now the same way I did when I was a kid reciting the best female monologues of 1999 by myself in my room into a tape recorder to feel how playwrights’ words sounded in my mouth. The words felt like a release, but it certainly wasn’t in the realm of my possibility to actually become a playwright. I didn’t even really know what Broadway was! And then, by some sort of miracle, I found myself last night drinking wine at an opening night party for my second Off-Broadway show, “God Said This,” surrounded by collaborators, friends, loved ones, agents and managers I used to only dream of representing me at an amazing restaurant that a generous institution rented out just to celebrate the play we created with a step and repeat and everything. All of my actors are dressed to the nines and hugging each other. They look so happy. My director and I are wearing matching outfits. The associate director who spearheaded my play into production is smiling ear to ear. The staff is celebrating. I looked around this vast open space filled with people I love and flashed back to a moment 10 years ago. I was alone, cleaning candy off the floor of a self-produced festival show that performed to an audience of six. It’s a stark contrast, but I know even then that I would do it again and again. I would tell my younger self that those moments were just as important as the one I had the privilege of basking in now because I worked my ass off—and even if it doesn’t feel like it, anything can be a hidden building block. I’d also say that you’re going to be OK. It might be slower for you, but it’s OK. It’s gonna suck sometimes, but you’re lucky, remember? Look at the love around you in any space you’re in. At the same time, don’t let yourself be underestimated or taken advantage of, and don’t feel like you have to deal with intolerance or jerks of any kind. It’s just not worth it. And don’t suffer fools, but also don’t forget that sometimes the fool can be you. A good collaborator will tell you, and you’ll know they’re right. And most of all, have gratitude for wherever you’re at in your career. Say thank you to your director, who stays late steaming curtains even if it’s not her job; the lighting designer who makes jokes that are actually funny when everyone is tired and waiting for late set pieces to arrive; the stage manager who brings cookies to tech; the assistant stage manager who shows up early from Queens to the Cherry Lane Theatre every single show day with a smile on her face; the costume designer who can turn back time and make you cry with one amazing yellow dress; and your actors—your wonderful actors who work so hard and make their voices and bodies so vulnerable every night. Thank them for feeling your words in their mouths now. They help you better understand whatever you thought you conjured up in your head, whether you know it or not. And say thank you to every person who championed your script or honored you or gave you a prize or a check or a couch or a meal or a drink. Thank your friends. Thank the veteran mentor who called to check in. She doesn’t have to do that. Nobody has to do anything. Ever. And it all means something forever. And most of all, say thank you to the stranger who has come to every reading, 10-minute play, workshop, and full-length since 2006. To the person who hugged you with tears in their eyes because their parent was sick, their sister is sick, they lost their mom, their daughter, they’re going through it now. Thank you for telling me—I’ll never forget it. We’re not alone. Thank the friend who said your show was so visceral emotionally that her body reacted and she shit her pants, and that made you laugh so hard you almost shit yours. Thank the mixed-race student at the talk back who timidly asked questions about your shared identity; the Asian-American girl who thanked you for visibility and rich characters; the audience member who cried start to finish at the image of a Japanese mom in a hospital bed since we’ve only been watching white people fight illness on stage for so long. And thank the countless people who come up to tell you what your play reminded them of in their own unpredictable lives. Thank them. It takes a lot of courage to face each other in this world. And weirdly, the theater is a safe space to step into each other’s light. Don’t deflect these moments. Say thank you. View Original Article

Broadway’s Audiences Are Getting Younger

BY BRUCE HARING via Broadway used to be the province of the blue hairs. But lately, the blue hairs attending shows are as likely to be kids and teens as they are the ladies who lunch. The Broadway League’s annual demographics report, The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2017–2018, has been released, comparing current Broadway theater-going habits in New York City to previous seasons. The Broadway League was founded in 1930 and is the national trade association for the industry. From June 2017-May 2018, the League’s research department administered surveys at 49 different productions at 120 individual performance times. Shows were selected on a quarterly basis to represent what Broadway was offering that season (i.e., a proportionate number of musicals versus straight plays; revivals versus original works; and new productions versus long-running shows). Questionnaires were distributed at multiple performances per show to account for variances in the weekday, weekend, evening, and matinee audiences. Completed questionnaires were tabulated and weighted based upon the actual paid attendance for each show. In total, 36,000 questionnaires were distributed and 20,091 were returned, representing a 56% rate of return. The 21st publication is just out and reports the lowest age attendance since 2000, a significant bit of hope for Broadway’s long-term health. During the 2017–2018 season, the average age of Broadway theater-goers was 40.6, the lowest since 2000. For a second year in a row, there was a record total number of kids and teens under 18 attending a Broadway show. At 2.1 million, it represents the highest total ever (it was 1.65 million the season prior). Additionally, since the 2010-2011 season, Hispanic/Latino attendance has grown by 61%, or 430,000 admissions (from 710,000 to 1.14 million). “This report shows that the vast majority of current theater-goers had some connection to theater-going as a child, which is why programs like Kids’ Night on Broadway, Broadway Bridges, and the Jimmy Awards are so important in encouraging young people to be interested in theater,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League. “It’s exciting to see record numbers of kids and teens attending Broadway shows. In addition, since the creation of Viva Broadway in 2011, we’ve seen the Hispanic/Latino attendance grow by 61%. Broadway is truly for everyone, and with the wide variety of productions available, audiences are really responding.” MORE FROM THE REPORT:  * In the 2017–2018 season, Broadway shows welcomed 13.8 million admissions. * Approximately 38% of those attendances were by people from the New York City metropolitan area. * Sixty-three percent of admissions were made by tourists: 48% from the United States (but outside  New York City and its suburbs) and 15% from other countries. * Sixty-six percent of the audiences were female. * A record 2.1 million admissions were made by children and teens. * The average age of the Broadway theater-goer was 40.6 years old, the lowest since 2000. * Since the 2010-2011 season, Hispanic/Latino attendance has grown by 61% or 430,000 admissions (from 710,000 to 1.14 million). * Of theater-goers age 25 or older, 81% had completed college and 41% had earned a graduate degree. * The average annual household income of the Broadway theater-goer was $222,120. * The average Broadway theater-goer reported attending 5 shows in the previous 12 months. The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprised only 5.5% of the audience, but accounted for 31% of all tickets (4.3 million admissions). * Playgoers tended to be more frequent theater-goers than musical attendees. The typical straight-play attendee saw nine shows in the past year; the musical attendee, four. * Sixty percent of respondents said they purchased their tickets online. * The average reported date of ticket purchase for a Broadway show was 43 days before the performance. *The majority of theater-goers attended in pairs or small groups of family or friends. * Approximately a third of responses included some kind of personal recommendation including word-of-mouth, asking friends, or reading posts on social media. View Original Article

The Drama Book Shop to Close Doors in 2019

BY OLIVIA CLEMENT via The 100-year-old performing arts bookstore is reportedly looking to relocate after facing a steep rent increase. The Drama Book Shop, which celebrated its 100th anniversary just last October, has told Crain’s New York Business that it will close the doors to its longtime home in midtown in early 2019. The performing arts book shop, which boasts an impressive collection of play and musical scripts, biographies, guides, and history books, will reportedly look to re-open elsewhere in the theatre district. The Drama Book Shop’s vice president Allen Hubby told Crain’s New York that the closure was due to a recent, and steep, rent increase. The company has occupied its home at 250 West 40th Street for almost 20 years. The theatre community has already begun rallying in support of the store, echoing the community effort the shop saw after experiencing water damage in 2016, when it saw almost a third of its inventory wiped out due to a burst pipe within the building. Following the incident, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote much of In the Heights in the bookstore’s basement) appealed to theatre lovers to help the Drama Book Shop. Playbill has reached out to Hubby, who started working at the store as a clerk-cashier in 1977, for further comment. View Original Article

Broadway Swings: Covering the Ensemble in Musical Theatre (BOOK)

In this textbook for performers, the position of a Swing-an Understudy for the Ensemble-on Broadway is examined from every angle, showing just how vital Swings are to the success of anmusical theatre production. Authors J. Austin Eyer and Lyndy Franklin Smith draw on their own experiences as performers, and gather first-hand stories from other Swings about the glories and hardships of their industry. The book features interviews with over 100 Broadway pros-Swing veterans, Stage Managers, Casting Directors, Choreographers, and Directors-including Rob Ashford, Susan Stroman, Jerry Mitchell, Larry Fuller, Tony Stevens, Beverley Randolph, and Frank DiLella. Broadway Swings is the ideal guide for anyone considering a career in this most unique of positions, or anyone curious about what really goes on, behind-the- scenes, in a long-running show. PURCHASE HERE   Read more about becoming a Broadway Swing.

Artistic Directors: Let’s Do Better

via At its national conference in St. Louis June 14-16, TCG asked four theatre leaders to answer the question: How does the role of artistic director need to change for today’s world? All four delivered these “vision statements” as speeches to fellow leaders assembled for an artistic directors summit on Friday, June 14. They are published here with their permission. Modeling a Better World Howard Shalwitz, artistic director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. The theatre is a utopian enterprise that impacts our world by modeling a world that is better. It does this in a few different ways. It does it through the plays we produce on our stages, which, even though they are built on conflict, model the give and take of ideas, the depth of human struggle and connection, and the possibility of one person living imaginatively inside the skin of another. It does it through the inspiring process whereby shows come to life—the way artists with different skills and backgrounds collaborate to create an experience for others, and the emotional commitment they make to re-enact it night after night. It does it in the way we gather an audience, all in the same place at the same time, to take in something stimulating and provocative, and then to debate about it peacefully. Finally, theatre models a better world through the institutions that enable theatre to happen—in the people they draw together, the way those people are trained and supported, how they interact with each other and the communities around them, the values they project to the world. Artistic leadership encompasses all of the above. And right now all these dimensions of our work are changing in a particular way. We have arrived at a moment in our history when all the choices we make will be viewed through the lens of political and social justice. We know the great justice-related questions of our time, they couldn’t be more obvious: Whether our nation will be a haven where people of different races and backgrounds live and work together, a place of even-handed law and opportunity, or whether we will erect walls and prisons that divide people from others perceived to be different Whether wealth and power will be distributed rationally, or whether they will be accumulated in the hands of a very few, while many others lead lives of struggle and persecution Whether we will have a healthy planet that continues to provide sustenance and inspiration, or whether the lives of the least protected will be cut short by environmental disasters and genocidal wars The challenge for the artistic leaders of tomorrow is clear: How will your answers to these overwhelming questions of political and social justice affect the way you choose plays, gather and support artists, welcome and engage audiences, and structure and build your organizations? How will your theatre model a better world? The leaders of tomorrow will inherit more institutional assets than their predecessors did, in the form of buildings, budgets, boards, donors, strategic plans, etc. These assets will be a platform for the things you hope to accomplish, but they may also stand in the way. Here are a few hard questions that new artistic leaders are sure to face, and which might require some upending of institutional structures: How can we spend more money to compensate artists fairly and elevate the purpose of their work, and at the same time charge audiences less so we can engage with the fullest range of citizens? How do we create zones of respect and safety in our rehearsal rooms, while tackling work that is intentionally prickly and uncomfortable on our stages? How do we welcome the widest range of identities and aesthetics in our artists, and at the same time cultivate our own personal standards of taste and excellence, as required of us as leaders? How do we welcome audiences and supporters with wide-ranging backgrounds and viewpoints, for plays with diverse characters and sentiments, in an environment where people are cocooning themselves to avoid hearing things they don’t already agree with? How can we speak truth to power in our work, at the same time that we connect our institutions to the financial and power structures of our communities in order to build more resources? One thing I know for sure: No amount of institutional assets will keep you from the feeling that you are constantly on the front lines, making the case for our art form, and reinventing the strategies whereby it can be supported and shared with your community, just as our godmothers Nina Vance, Margo Jones, and Zelda Fichandler did over six decades ago. To make the theatre you believe in, you will need to change hearts and minds in the world you live in. Howard Shalwitz, artistic director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington, D.C. Be Like Michelle Lisa Portes. (Photo by Joe Mazza/BraveLux) Thank you, TCG, for inviting me to share my thoughts on transformative leadership with this illustrious (and terrifying) room full of artistic directors. Yikes! First off I’d like to define my terms. For me a transformative leader is one who changes the behavior, attitudes, and culture of their community. In the theatre, I define community as both internal—board, staff, artists, crew, and audience of a particular theatre—and external: the neighborhood and town or city of which that theatre is a part, as well as the national theatre community impacted by the decision-making of each theatre within its ecosystem. One who changes the behavior, attitudes, and culture of their community.  But toward what? Toward the community’s greatest, most expansive, most daring and empathetic self. When I think of transformative leadership, I think of Michelle Obama. Michelle more than her husband, actually, because from her position I believe she was more effective in changing the behavior, attitudes, and culture of her community—which is in her case, well, the entire nation. I select Michelle Obama specifically as a model for transformative leadership in 21st century theatre because she is: Progressive Outspoken Of the people Savvy and flexible, and Imaginative And underpinning all of these traits is her clear vision for what her community could be, and her deep, abiding, and passionate belief in her community’s ability to rise to its greatest self. Let’s take her qualities one by one. Progressive. In thinking of leadership in the theatre, I think of progressiveness on two fronts: civic and artistic. On the civic front, a progressive platform roots itself in the belief that each person has a voice and each person is valued, heard and cared for. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are embedded within progressive values.   Inclusion of multiple voices is always already a given. On the artistic front, progressive to me means work that surprises and delights, defies expectation, and expands our understanding of the world of which we are a part. A great example of the marriage of both civic and artistic progressiveness is Niegel Smith’s production of Father Comes Home From the Wars by Suzan-Lori Parks, currently at Goodman Theatre. Oustpoken. We know Michelle Obama is plenty outspoken and has regular opportunities at the mic. How is a theatre outspoken? I’d argue a theatre has the opportunity to express its progressive values in everything it does: every person hired, every production programmed, every board member recruited, every piece of communication, every person brought into the audience, and every conversation. At every point of decision, a theatre and its leadership have the opportunity to speak their progressive values loudly and clearly. This requires a leader with a high risk tolerance. Outspokenness runs the danger of creating pushback and conflict within the community. But we learned where “Talk less, smile more” gets someone. The best leaders hedge daring risk-taking with the ability to engender genuine trust. To move a community forward you must have the trust of that community. And this is where Michelle Obama’s next set of traits come in. Of the people. From singing in cars to going to Walgreens with Ellen to her countless meetings with people of all ages and walks of life, Michelle Obama creates a genuine relationship with her community (and may I remind us again here that her community has generally been the entire nation). I had the opportunity to meet her and her husband at a fundraiser following a production of a play I directed in Chicago. While the then U.S. Senator worked the room, I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle for 15 minutes or so, and within the first 5 minutes she made me feel as though we’d known one another for years. She was engaged, curious, and present. Those qualities when in conversation with a member of one’s community allow a leader to truly connect with another person and begin the process of creating trust. Savvy and flexible. One of the things I watched during her tenure in public office was Michelle Obama’s savvy and flexibility in handling the many waves of public opinion. She had a knack for keeping her finger on the pulse of her community, and adjusting her messaging accordingly. Not in a smarmy political way; rather, she listened closely and adapted her communication style so her community could hear her better. The measure of a leader’s synergy with their community is their ability to recognize when the needs of their community shift and to adjust their approach to meet that shift. Imaginative. Innovation follows imagination. Not to dock another of my heroes, Hillary Clinton, but I’m not sure imagination is her strong suit, and I think that has cost her. What both Obamas have is great imagination: the ability to envision a new idea and to capture their community’s imagination with that vision. Further, a transformative leader must have the imagination to envision new ways forward when the first idea fails, as it inevitably will. So to wrap up: to me a transformative theatre leader in the 21st century is one who effects positive change in the behavior, attitudes, and culture of their community; who is progressive, outspoken, of the people, savvy and flexible, and imaginative; who uses these superpowers toward their clear vision of what theatre can do within their community; and who believes passionately in the capacity of both the art form and the community to bring us to our greatest selves. Lisa Portes, freelance director and head of directing, the Theatre School at DePaul University   Right-Sized and Open-Minded Jack Reuler. (Photo by Tess Lund) Artistic directors: Take us from nicety to necessity, and transform our organizations, our art form, and our field to become indispensible to our regions, and not simply in terms of quality of life or as an economic engine. The regional theatre movement was about decentralization, and we need to recentralize our theatres in our communities—recenter ourselves in the daily civic lives of our communities. What is a healthy community and how do we participate in it? How can our theatres immerse themselves in issues of safety, poverty, the justice system, health care, transportation, water, politics, power imbalances, and so much more? Let’s involve and engage the populace (not just subscribers) and respond to its public will, its poetic will, and its political will. Artistic directors: We can stop being the expert and become the arbiter. We often do things for and not with. It’s time for that to change. Let’s recognize theatre as product and tool. Artistic directors are the mediators that foster discourse around society and democracy. A.D.s need to understand and believe that this community-based art is good art with a solid aesthetic (and it’s where the money is and will be flowing). Artistic directors need to have a moral imagination. ROI, return-on-investment—it’s been hard for me to acknowledge that the making of plays is the most inefficient manner of effecting change. The number of dollars spent to reach the numbers of people we reach in hopes of changing attitude, behavior, and policy—it’s bad math. Let’s do better. The more earned income-reliant we become, the more risk-averse we become. Artistic directors: Reverse that. Please. Know that adaptability is the new sustainability. Purpose and principles supersede survival. Also: Know your place and your organization’s role on the privilege-inequity-responsibility continuum. Transform EDI from an aspiration to the understood foundation of your institutional culture. Make Jubilee obsolete before it happens because that’s the work you do. Allow the Kilroys to stop because of the choices you make. Allow there to be fewer theatres because you’ve led your board in sunset conversations, not because of impending diminished resources but because of mission realization. Embrace that theatres and plays sometimes get in the way of theatre—the performance/audience relationship is morphing. Desegregate canon-based theatre, devisers, and improv. With all of these job openings being discussed perpetually, and as you traverse the opportunities, eschew the notion that the trajectory should be to bigger. Size doesn’t matter. Don’t think small, mid-sized, or large based on budget or number of seats or any indicator; think in terms of “right-sized”: Those who do what they want to do at the caliber they want to do it with the resources they have. Be right-sized. It is the artistic director’s job not to ask audiences what they want to see and pander to that, but rather to lead audiences to see that which they don’t yet know they want to see. Ask questions. Lots of them. Provide vision. Lead! Above all, lead organizations that welcome introspection, self-criticism, and dissent. Jack Reuler, artistic director, Mixed Blood Theatre Liberate the Classics, and Ourselves Mica Cole. Our democracy is being hijacked. People are being killed. Water is being poisoned. Schools are being shot up. Families are being seperated. Prisons are being filled with people whose only crime is existing. Ice caps are melting. Storms are storming. Entire species are becoming extinct. Mosques are being burned. Bombs are being dropped and children are catching them. Drug addiction is at an all-time high—for white people. Bathrooms are hostile territories. Identities are being weaponized. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work is being colonized. This is the backdrop against which we plan and produce our seasons. Against this backdrop: We strive to produce classic plays in ways that do not reify oppressive norms. This is not always possible—fucked-up shit was happening back in the day—but we value practitioners who have the curiosity, creativity, and analysis to work toward that end with humility and rigor. We are mindful that reverence for and adherence to classical norms can undermine our efforts to dismantle white supremacy. We can hold the truth of both the greatness of classical plays and the ways in which they were used as tools of colonization, erasure, and cultural genocide. We analyze historical and current manifestations of oppression in order to make artistic choices that affirm the liberation and humanity of those who have been dehumanized. We hold that plays that interrogate, indict, impose upon, and incite outrage from those in power are necessary tools in dismantling systemic oppression. We prioritize the comfort and safety of those seeking liberation— in our audience, in our company, and on our stages. We know that terms like “traditional, classic, universal, and transcendent” are codes of white supremacy that centralize whiteness, European-ness, heterosexuality, maleness, cisgendered-ness, able-bodiedness, Judeo-Christianity, documented citizenry, and the English language. We work to recalibrate our artistic sensibilities in order to ensure that these identities are not the barometer by which we define our aesthetic values. “Culturally specific” is a phrase we use when also describing white-authored plays. We are clear that whiteness is a culture. We are careful not to enter our education and community work with a missionary complex. That is, we don’t decide that our Shakespeare productions are what’s best for communities who are otherwise not even thought of when we plan our seasons. We let them decide what is needed for their liberation. We unequivocally believe in people’s right to tell their own stories. Full fucking stop. We have a responsibility to illuminate the human condition onstage and improve the human condition offstage. We cannot do one without doing the other. Black lives matter. We advocate for stories that are intersectional. We know that putting stories in binary boxes only serves to strengthen oppression. We believe in self-identification and self-determination. We check our tendency to define others. We recognize that oppression is not bi-directional. We cannot entertain the notion that calling out oppression is an act of oppression. We literally. Just. Can’t. With y’all. We do not have to be reminded that regional theatres were formed at a time when people of color were being lynched, could not vote, endured segregation and police brutality, had their stories erased or revised by a racist educational system, and sat in the back of our theatres, if at all. A time when simply existing was an act of bravery. We own that our theatre was founded and funded by white supremacy and we know that whiteness will not dismantle its own fortress. Mica Cole, repertory producer, Oregon Shakespeare Festival View Original Article

SETC Seeks New Executive Director

Executive Director Position Search Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) is conducting a nationwide search to fill our Executive Director position.   THE SOUTHEASTERN THEATRE CONFERENCE (SETC), seeks our next creative and dynamic leader for the position of Executive Director (ED). SETC is the strongest and broadest network of theatre practitioners in the United States providing extensive resources and year-round opportunities for the field. Qualified applicants will demonstrate evidence of substantial executive and/or artistic leadership in theatre or a related field; experience in fiscal and personnel management and event planning; and knowledge of theatre as a business, art form, and/or field of scholarship. The ED is the chief executive officer and executes the vision and mission of SETC by supervising the central office staff and collaborating with the executive committee, board of directors and advisory councils. Responsibilities include overseeing the planning and execution of the nation’s largest theatre convention (5000+ registrants), unified auditions and other professional programs; developing and managing a budget and financial architecture that sustains the fiscal wellbeing of the organization and provides entrepreneurial incentives for growth. A bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university is required. Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications. Applicants should submit a letter of application detailing their particular interest in SETC, a statement of administrative and leadership philosophy, a current resume and the names and contact information of five professional references. Please send all materials electronically to: Screening of applications begins 7/1/2018 and continues until the position is filled. SETC actively pursues widely diverse pools of qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, gender identity or national origin. To learn more about the Executive Director position and SETC, see our online prospectus at this link: Individuals are also invited to make nominations of qualified candidates by and sending the nominee’s contact information. The search committee staff will follow up by contacting the nominee with instructions regarding how to apply. Please pass this information on to your associates and colleagues to help SETC get the word out about this important opening and unique opportunity.