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Originally inspired by European literary salons (but nowhere near as haughty), this newsletter is part round-up, part amusement, and part conversation-starting. It's our post-show pub conversations, only digital! You're encouraged to respond to this email with any insights, feelings, gripes, or revelations. Grab a drink, imagine you’re draped on a velvet sofa, and let’s ponder about plays!
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Contradictions in Capitalism

Hi Everyone! There finally seems to be optimism in the air. Who knows if it is vaccine optimism or natural spring optimism, either way, I'll take it!

This week's highlights skew towards the experimental and post-dramatic, or the "three chili pepper" shows. I've heard a lot of weariness for the genre- or is it intimidation? I'm not trying to get you to love experimental theatre but I get a bit deterred when spectators won't approach something simply because it is labeled experimental. I'm speaking as the converted, as I used to hate "weird" shows, back when I was going to tap-dance my way to stardom (RIP childhood dreams.) But after a few totally rad professors in Grad school opened my eyes, mind, and heart to durational or non-linear work, I was floored. I stopped focusing on "getting it", whatever "it" might be. Instead, I learned to focus on interpretive images, the effect of scale, and what it means to sit uncomfortably for hours. I knew my conversion was complete when my boss programmed a show where the actor peed onstage and yeah, I was totally into it (ask me later about that tech rider...) I think at this point I have comfortably reconciled the fact that I am the type of person who loves the European Avant-Garde and Wicked in equal measure. 

Experimental or downtown or Avant-Garde or post-dramatic theatre (not all terms are created equal in that list, but that is another discussion) asks me questions about perspective. What flourishes when the linear narrative is not the driving force? I'm extra curious to hear from my non-industry folks on this one, don't be shy, you know who you are! 

Another center point to this week was reading Monty Cole's marvelous essay The American Theatre is Not Build For Us, about the contradictions of non-profit theatres operating in capitalism. Before I even read the comparison of our structures to German ones (which, if you've read even half of a Salon before you know is a major preoccupation of mine- it is literally in my bio!) I was hanging on (almost) every word. It has audience outreach ideas and lofty artistic goals and pretty much everything I'm about. It also provides a ton of history and contextualization for how the American theatre structures came to be. I can almost hear the flock of theatre nerds uniting! It is what I would consider a "bible" article, (for lack of a better metaphor) that I plan on revisiting frequently. Read it. Love it. Let me know what you think of it. 

What's happening this week.

Fran and Kate's Drama Club by The Wooster Group

The Wooster Group is arguably the midwife to the birth of post-dramatic theatre practices in NYC. Do yourself the favor and YouTube everything they've ever done. Their monthly drama club hosted by Frances McDormand and Kate Valk will inevitably push boundaries of form and content. Watch it here >>
Anthropos, Tyrann (Ödipus) by Volksbühne Berlin

The Volksbühne in Berlin has a dramatic and juicy off-stage history and was one of the last places I saw live theatre in the before times. They have a vast array of live streams, films, and talk-backs including this 360 degree "digital theatre experiment" which uses Sophokles' play to "research the tectonic faults of the relations between human and non-human actors." Streaming live March 26. Watch it here >>
Twyla Tharp interview in The New Yorker

This interview is inspiring for a few reasons. Tharp is candid and straightforward, with a creative soul but a direct communication style. I particularly love her stance on assumed feminism and varied approaches to directing. Read it here >>
Other Happenings

Ruthie Fierberg's article for Medium is borderline too comprehensive, but we love some action-steps! With topics ranging from the lack of central leadership in American Theatre, air filters, Korea's safe and full theatres, audience accessibility, community relations, and unions, the message that the industry "needs deep focus and repair" is poignant. Get a big glass of wine, it is a long read but worth it. Read it here >>

➤ Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced vaccine sites in the theatre district staffed by out-of-work theatre artists and a mobile unit for Off-Broadway in a pledge to support reopening in the fall. Read it here >>

➤ Follow-up coverage on the protests in France was scarce, but I did find a fascinating piece from a socialist news website (ooh, that dirty word again, scandalous!) My jealousy spiked when the author took it as fact that "[a]ccess to art and culture is a basic social right of the working class in France and internationally." If only Americans could embrace these basic fundamental values. Read it here >>

The MS Pheonix Rising podcast on Soundstage (Playwrights Horizon's podcast) is a witty original series that is equal parts low-grade terror and dry humor. Full disclosure- I directed the workshop version and love the bizarre mash-up of experimental theatre/cruise ship entertainment. Listen to it here >>
Would you buy a ticket to a show described as experimental? If no, what are the limiting factors?
What are some of your most "out-there" theatre or live experiences? 
Email Me!
Missed a week? Read all of the previous Salons here!
Olivia is a freelance director who works in Dublin, NYC, and LA. She is preoccupied with German theatre aesthetics, dismantling problematic funding structures, creating work across geographical and cultural boundaries, and why football had a pandemic season (and oh so many outbreaks) when theatres remained closed. 
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