Archive for February, 2007

Interview: Jurij Alschitz

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Photo: Jurij AlschitzDr. Jurij Alschitz’ work as an actor, director, and professor is deeply rooted in the rich soil of Russian theatre tradition, stemming from the ongoing process of research and development in acting methods started by Stanislavsky. After studying with Anatoly Vasiliev at the Russian Academy for Theatre Arts, Dr. Alschitz joined him in 1987 at the theatre “School of Dramatic Art”, where he continued to develop his rehearsal and training methods. In 1994—1995 he founded a series of independent international theatre centers in Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, and Oslo. These centers joined forces in 2000 to form the European Association for Theatre Culture (EATC), with the goal of bringing together the world’s different theatre traditions.

In this interview Dr. Alschitz talks about his work as Artistic Director of the EATC, and the process of learning and creating in the theatre.

 Interview: Jurij Alschitz [17:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The Music Thief

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Hatto HoaxThere’s a new low for crime and a new high for technology: Joyce Hatto’s stolen recorded performances.

In a recent Festival Story, we covered the breaking news of the apparent theft of recorded performances by relabeling them as those of Joyce Hatto, a British pianist, who died last June at the age of 77. Hatto had a concert career until the mid-seventies, when she stopped giving public performances because of cancer. Nonetheless, to all appearances she was keeping extremely busy. Her private label, Concert Artist, run by her husband William Barrington-Coupe, turned out more than one hundred recordings of her solo and concert work from their studio in Cambridge.

Problem is, these recordings are performances by other artists.

For some time there had been chatter on a Usenet group ( These non-professionals were hearing a hoax. How could she be creating all these incredible performances? The professional critics, especially a few for some of the major publications, ridiculed the questions. Most of our trusted guides were only hearing beauty, refinement, and worshipful mastery. The Guardian’s Jeremy Nicholas: “one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced.” The Boston Globe’s Richard Dyer: “Joyce Hatto must be the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of.” To be fair, they weren’t that wrong in hearing great performances, albeit for the second time: one of the recordings was actually created by Vladimir Ashkenazy, and another by Yefim Bronfman.

The plot to steal performances began to unravel when the critic Jed Distler began to play a Hatto recording of Liszt. His digital reader attributed the recording to Laszlo Simon. Distler got in touch with Gramophone editor, James Inverne. Inverne, who had been aware of the Usenet postings, contacted Andrew Rose of Pristine Classic. By analyzing sound waves, Rose has confirmed seven (so far) of the performances that have either been lifted exactly as previously recorded, or manipulated just a bit to try to distinguish them from the original recording.
[Want to see how this was done, and hear the tests? Check out Rose’s work. He also includes a guide to how the hoax was executed — please, don’t try it at home.]

Despite the evidence, husband Barrington-Coupe denies any thievery, and claims all the recordings were made by Hatto under his supervision. Critics now hear the similarities. Gramophone promises more to come in their April issue.

This could be a new low in crime, at least artistic crime.

However, this certainly is a new high for the power of the PowerBook. Not only did technology capture the titles (courtesy of the catalogued online database, CDDB, and made available by services like iTunes), and reveal the sound waves to make the case: the story was driven by individuals coming together as an online community.

Marx was right: there’s real music in the masses.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Gustavo Matamoros

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Photo: Gustavo MatamorosIn this podcast Ana Maria talks with Gustavo Matamoros, artistic director of the Subtropics Experimental Music and Sound Arts Festival, taking place in Miami, Florida from February 23rd through March 4th. This year the festival honors John Cage, in collaboration with the citywide tribute to Merce Cunningham, Merce in Miami. Gustavo and Ana Maria discuss John Cage, the music of bark beetles, and how ever-changing funding scenarios can make for a fresh and vibrant festival.

 Interview: Gustavo Matamoros [15:45m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Ticket Masters of Charge

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Times Square Panograph
Photo by Mr. Chalk — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

There’s the feeling of excitement from holding a winning ticket. There’s feeling disappointed from holding a losing ticket. Now, there appears to be a new category: feeling ripped-off by holding a show ticket.

Many of us work hard to bring audiences to a performance by paying attention to each step of creating, promoting, and selling the show. You know, it can be rather hard work. What helps close the deal is old-fashioned customer service — with a smile. These days Broadway theatre appears to be offering customer service — with a shove.

Cara Joy David of the New York Times recently covered all those little added fees to ticket purchases from the large services, Ticketmaster and Telecharge. You know these fees. You see an advertised price for a show, but when you actually make the purchase it is higher, and not from some obscure retail tax but from “processing” charges.

You’ve got to admire the lingo, and the audacity, used by some in the industry. “Service Charges” or “Convenience Fee” range from $6.50 to $11.00; “Restoration Fee” or “Facility Fee” adds another $1.50; if you want your ticket mailed to you, add another $2.50 to $4.00, or $19.50 for second-day post; or, if you want to wait to pick it up at the box office, well, you still have to add $2.50.

They want you to buy your ticket on the web — but charge you for this convenience, or charge you for the inconvenience of picking it up at the box office! Catch-22, anyone?

They want you to help preserve and restore their theatres, but aren’t they already charging each production those costs in their rental agreements, or in the terms for producing the show?

Does all this add up? Well, according to the New York Times that little “restoration” or “facility” fee of $1.50 on top of the $110 ticket brought in an additional $10.5 million for the Broadway landlords last year, alone. (If that’s the restoration, can’t wait for the renaissance!)

David asked the Shubert Organization, one of the grand Broadway theatre owners and producers, about these charges. Shubert is in a privileged position, as they also own Telecharge.

Shubert president, Philip Smith, provided this in-depth and to the point response: “We will not talk about this. We do not ask you to comment on how much you charge for the newspaper.”

Ouch! Someone seems a bit sensitive (and a bit clumsy) when it comes to customer relations.

The chairman of the Shubert Organization, Gerald Schoenfeld, has had, at times, a testy view of the New York Times’ approach to Broadway. He has correctly noted that the paper makes a great deal of money from Shubert advertisements that run in the paper, costs that the Times can, and has, increased when they see fit. Moreover, while the New York sports teams receive free daily listings of when the game is going to be played, theatres have to pay for listings in the newspaper.

Still, when a reporter is asking a question, they are (hopefully) asking questions we want to know. There really is no need to slap the reporter — and us — for asking a simple question; just as there is no reason to slap on all these additional charges.

I wonder why they don’t clearly establish and advertise the price for a seat that includes these little costs. If venues hire an outside company to provide the ticket selling “convenience” to the public, then be upfront about the charge for this convenience. Let us decide whether paying for the convenience is worth it.

For the rest of the producing world, this is a good reminder about the importance of customer service, transparent ticket pricing, and the feeling of excitement from holding a winning ticket.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Patricio Pucci (English Translation)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Photo: Patricio Pucci“Jazz in Miramar” started as a local event, featuring mostly musicians from Argentina and Uruguay. Today it has become an international jazz tradition in the city of Miramar, a seaside resort that gathers thousands of Argentines every summer. The 2007 edition took place from January 18-23, in homage to Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, an internationally acclaimed musician and composer from Rosario, Argentina.

Patricio Pucci, the producer and general director of the festival, talked with KadmusArts about how this event has grown and become what it is today. He discusses the different styles of jazz featured in the festival, as well as the different types of fusion between jazz and other musical genres that South American musicians are producing. In closing, he shares his views about the future of the festival, and the future of jazz in Argentina, where young people are taking it more seriously every day.

 Interview: Patricio Pucci (English Translation) [23:34m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Patricio Pucci (in Spanish)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Photo: Patricio PucciEl Festival “Jazz en Miramar” comenzó como un evento local, reuniendo principalmente a músicos de Argentina y Uruguay. Actualmente, se ha convertido en una tradición internacional de la Ciudad de Miramar, un balneario en la costa Atlántica de Buenos Aires, visitado por miles de turistas cada verano. La edición 2007 del festival se llevó a cabo entre el 18 y el 23 de enero, en homenaje a Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, un reconocido músico y compositor de Rosario, Argentina.

En esta entrevista, Patricio Pucci, productor y director general del evento, nos cuenta cómo ha crecido el festival desde su primera edición. También describe los diferentes estilos de jazz que se proponen, y los diferentes tipos de fusión de jazz con otros géneros musicales que existen en Sudamérica. Finalmente, Pucci comparte con KadmusArts su opinión sobre el futuro del festival y del jazz en Argentina, donde los jóvenes se lo están tomando cada vez más seriamente.

 Interview: Patricio Pucci (in Spanish) [19:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Mommy, What’s a Hoo-Haa?

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Across all nations, all cultures, all kinds of artistic work, and all audiences, no matter where you are, there is one basic, essential fact that we all share: All of us have come from a vagina — except in Florida.

The Atlantic Theatres are currently producing Eve Ensler’s internationally renowned The Vagina Monologues. The play, now translated into 45 languages, is a series of monologues based on Ensler’s interviews with women about their views and experiences with sex, relationships, and violence against women. The production is often presented every February as part of V-Day, a global movement initiated by Ensler to stop violence against women and girls.

Well, it would be more accurate to say they were producing The Vagina Monologues. A woman called the theatre to complain that driving by the theatre and seeing the marquee she was “offended” when her niece (no age given) asked her what a vagina was (or is, as the case might be).

How does the theatre respond? What kind of bold stand to take? How will the producers lead the community in entertainment and enlightenment? Why they’ll change the name of the play! No longer will Floridians have to be shocked to see the word “vagina” in twelve-inch letters! The Atlantic Theatres is now presenting — live and for the first time anywhere in the world — The Hoo-Haa Monologues!

Honestly. The theatre has changed the billing of the play so no one else will be offended by the word “vagina.”

The story was first reported by News 4 in Jacksonville, Florida. (In the kind of irony you can’t make up: if you go to their website for this story you can click on the page’s advertiser to see women dancing — in their underwear.)

Where does “hoo-haa” come from? Apparently, it is children’s slang for “vagina.” At least that’s according to the second definition listed in the Urban Dictionary. (In another kind of irony you can’t make up: the first listing for the slang word is for telling “somebody of a good achievement or when trying to show off: Hey man, I got laid last night! HOO-HAA!”)

At least Thomas Bowdler was more creative. (You have to keep up on the history of censors.)

According to the theatre’s website:

It is not the intention of the Atlantic Theatres to offend anybody by hosting this event and we formally apologize to anyone that was upset when we advertised this on our marquee during the first week of February. We have since made changes to reflect the sensitive nature of this show’s title. If the new title on the marquee is still appalling, please call with suggestions.

Surely, we all can provide them some appropriate responses and recommendations.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Deborah Golden

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Photo: New Play Festival Artistic DirectorsDeborah Golden is the Executive Director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, which sponsors the Philadelphia New Play Festival. In this podcast she talks about the genesis of the festival, the nine world premieres, symposia, readings and works in progress that begin on February 8th, and why Philadelphia is in the midst of a cultural renaissance.

 Interview: Deborah Golden [10:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The Art of a True Fan

Monday, February 5th, 2007

There can be more to life than festival creating, participating, and traveling.

Last summer, we covered the World Cup: from our own cultural guide to what can be applied to producing art. Now, America is a nation obsessed by a game. (For many this surely must be a relief from other recent obsessions.) The game is the Super Bowl. Updating Paul McCartney’s poetry, this year’s expensive-marketing-company slogan: “Let’s Get It On.” (The game is so big, you don’t have to wait to get to the road.)

How big? Over 140 million watch the game. (In American television ratings, the game is always the number one watched show. Last year’s second most watched show? The Super Bowl post-game show.) Advertisers spend $2 million for a one minute commercial during the game. Each winning player receives $73 thousand and a $5 thousand ring. Losing players receive $38 thousand. (The average NFL salary is $1.1 million, which does not include signing bonuses. Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Colts received a $34.5 million signing bonus in addition to his seven-year $98 million contract.)

You can’t look at the money without also including the projected $100 million spent betting on the game. (That figure only includes the legal wagers.) Online you can find over 160 categories to bet - from who wins to how long it takes Billy Joel to sing the “National Anthem” at the start of the game. (The over-under is 1 minute and 44 seconds. In 2004, Beyoncé stretched the song to 2.09.)

Still, for all the time (pre-game show starts 9 hours before the game), analysis (newspapers with special sections), and build-up (even politicians stop talking about themselves to weigh in on the game) there is something remarkable about the event: it is a festival writ large.

There is accessibility for everyone. For the cognoscenti, there is all the information, statistics, and strategies to discuss. For the casual fan, there are the background stories of the players - the character motifs complete with dramatic arcs of obstacles overcome, and reversals of fortune. For those with no interest in the game, there is the opportunity to be welcomed into a home for a party with lots of food, drink, and cheers.

In other words, the Super Bowl follows the same model as a festival: open to all, fun for many, and with live drama.

Life is good when the sporting life and the artistic life come together. Don’t you think?

- Bill Reichblum