Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Month: April 2014

REVIEW The Mysteries, world premier, conceived and directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskander, dramaturg Jill Rafson, featuring The Bats, 52 episodes from the Bible written by 48 playwrights, The Flea Theater

The Mysteries is one whopper of a project!


It’s an epic telling of the Old and New Testaments, referring to Medieval and later “mystery plays” of the life of Christ, 52 episodes more or less in sequence divided into three parts:  The Fall, The Sacrifice, The Kingdom.  Written by 48 playwrights, it’s performed by 54 actors who act, sing and Mysteries4_HunterCanning
dance 78 parts or so in 5 ½ hours, all taking place on the relatively small performance space of the Flea, with the audience in touching distance of the actors, and not only that, it includes dinner! .

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NEW APP “SCRIPTOPIA” MOVES TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE THEATRE REHEARSAL PROCESS

Let's Talk Off-Broadway rarely publishes press releases but the new app, "Scriptopia," seems unusually intriguing and of potential interest to our readers.  As always, comments are very welcome.  Scroll down below the text, click on "comments," write in comment box and click on "post."  Emails are private and never appear with comments,  Yvonne 
================================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
press contact: Sam Rudy 212 575 0263
 

NEW APP “SCRIPTOPIA”
MOVES TO REVOLUTIONIZE
THE THEATRE REHEARSAL PROCESS
Creators set to launch software May 1 at Lark Theater
 
SCRIPTOPIA – a new software application that will usher play development and theater collaboration into the 21st century – is being launched May 1st, according to its founder, stage director Kay Matschullat. Ms. Matschullat was joined in the creation of SCRIPTOPIA by Andrew Mirsky and Marc Huey.
 
SCRIPTOPIA will be unveiled on May 1 (3 to 5 pm) – at an event featuring the creators and theater artists who will demonstrate the app – at the Lark Play Development Center (311 W. 43 St.) in New York City. Register at www.scriptopia.eventbrite.com or call 323-682-0097.
 
Available on computers, tablets and smart phones, SCRIPTOPIA promises to revolutionize the development and rehearsal process for playwrights, directors and theater artists everywhere by streamlining some of the theater's most crucial, time-honored, time-consuming and archaic practices – script changes.
 
Among the leading features of SCRIPTOPIA:
–writer’s script changes go instantaneously to artistic team
–instant comparison between old and new versions of the script
–revisions can be shared and heard immediately
–actors can highlight scripts – and save personal notes through various re-writes — with one click
–directors and stage managers can instantly share notes selectively or with all members of the company
–stage managers can share blocking notes without interruption
–sides at auditions a thing of the past
–time and money-saver making efficient use of working hours
–paper-saving practice that is good for the planet!
–a myriad of advantages particular to the artist's discipline and needs
 
According to Ms. Matschullat, a director who has taught actors and directors at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for 20 years, “I created SCRIPTOPIA so theater artists can spend more time on their art and less time on frustrating delays at the copy machine and otherwise. I wanted to create a tool that enabled changes to be shared instantaneously, allowing everyone to be on the same page, literally and metaphorically. During the many months that we have been developing SCRIPTOPIA, more and more ways for the application to serve the playwright, director, actors and stage managers have emerged. We intend for artists' collaboration to be smoother, more artistically fulfilling and closer to a 'utopian' work environment as rehearsal and development time becomes more crucial – whether its regional theater, Broadway, workshop or summer stock.”
 
She adds that developing the application in real-time with theater artists at the Lark, New Georges Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Center Theater provided insight into how to refine the software to best suit its users.
 
Presently undergoing testing at Queens College and Lark Play Development Center in NYC, SCRIPTOPIA has generated considerable enthusiasm from its first-time users:
 
John Clinton Eisner, artistic director of the Lark, says “SCRIPTOPIA is visionary in how it uses technology to cut through the 'paperwork' and get right down to a creative process based on close collaboration and easy communication.”
 
Playwright Dominique Morisseau claims “the instantaneous distribution of re-writes is my favorite part. The actors can speak the words immediately.”
 
In addition to saving precious time in and out of the rehearsal room, director Kwame Kwei-Armah, who recently directed Dominique Morisseau's SKELETON CREW with the help of SCRIPTOPIA, remarks, “The ability to send notes privately or to the group without interrupting rehearsal is incredibly valuable. They arrive instantaneously and effortlessly. Notes between the playwright and director happen seamlessly, discreetly and productively without distracting the actors. It's life-transforming – I love it.”
 
Even paper-oriented stage managers such as Matt Van Slyke have noted, “I loved the freedom that no paper gave me and the artistic team. Re-writes moved instantly and we never moved to the copy machine. It was especially helpful during a stand-in rehearsal as all of the actor's blocking was neatly accessible in the margins.”
 
For further information about SCRIPTOPIA, visit www.scriptopia.co.
To register for the May 1st event, call 323-682-0997 or go to www.scriptopia.eventbrite.com.
###

REVIEW The Heir Apparent by David Ives, adapted from le Légataire universel by Jean-François Regnard, directed by John Rando, Classic Stage Company

David Ives does it again — almost.  His earlier adaptation of Moliere’s le Misanthrope (1666), renamed The School for Lies  (reviewed here in 2011) was an orgy of unending laughter.  This adaptation of Regnard’s le Légataire universel (1708) which he renames The Heir Apparent isn’t as successful although Ives follows his same rules of mod transformation, because Regnard’s play falls short of the brilliance of le Misanthrope.  

So what does David Ives “do” with these late sixteenth and early seventeenth century French plays?   

He translates them into completely contemporary lingo, without any inhibitions or unnecessary reverence for  “The Past,” unworried about “anachronism,” using contemporary slang and turns of phrase, and in a spectacular rush of imagination invents contemporary in-jokes in place of  the in-jokes of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that today would seem like out-jokes, or be missed.  He's tremendously witty!  Meanwhile, he holds to the past in the costumes and, with titillating ambiguity, in the decor, and for the plot maintains the rules, regulations, customs and laws of the 16th and 17th centuries, all of which, coming up against the contemporary language and modern references, create a delicious cognitive dissonance.

Thanks to David Ives, these plays come to us more themselves than they would be in literal word-for-word translations.  They're as good as they were in their own day which in the case of Moliere means marvelous, less so for Regnard. 

Jean-François’ Regnard was a reigning comic playwright of the Comédie-Français after Moliere; this is his best known work.  The situation is that  a rich old man, Geronte, appears to be dying and his poor nephew, Eraste, is angling for his fortune, which will enable him to marry the beautiful Isabelle.  Obstacles arise for Eraste including the varied set of characters seeking the dying man’s fortune who appear and, in some amusing scenes, claim in one preposterous way or another to be long lost relatives. 

The biggest obstacle of all is that the tough old geezer, much as he seems on his last legs, simply doesn’t die.  Crispin the servant, facilitator to the core, invents clever schemes to help Eraste whose own inability to do anything for himself makes him a less than sympathetic character as a lover, which I found a weakness in the play.  Who cares if this jerk gets the girl or not? 

Much of the early part of the play (at least it seemed to go on a long time) centers around old man Geronte’s problems with his plumbing: there’s lots of tiresome scatological joking and horsing around.  Instead of an amusingly extreme aspect of character (such as one would find in Moliere), we’re stuck with Geronte’s extreme digestive problems, but Paxton Whitehead, abandoning any vestige of narcissism, gives his all to the rather repulsive role and, when called for, produces an impressive of physical transformation.  By the end of the play, the characters' situations have changed but — in contrast to le Misanthrope — they haven't learned much.  

The most interesting character is Scruple — the short lawyer of briefs – acted by David Pittu who plays it like José Ferrer as Toulouse-Lautrec in the 1952 John Huston film, The Moulin Rouge — on his knees.  He’s also responsible for the most hilarious scene in which the attorney, a true professional, is drawing up his client's will while oblivious to false identities — always good for laughs, and Pittu’s intelligent but obtuse sober mien adds to the fun.

Carson Elrod is energetic and amusing as Crispin, the man of many devices and “a whole comédie-française in himself.”   Suzanne Bertsch is appropriately imperious as Isabelle’s mother.  

See The Heir Apparent and you’ll enjoy it, but you don’t “have to see” it the way I felt you “had” to see The School for Lies.  (I saw it twice just so somebody else who'd miss it otherwise could see it once.)

The Heir Apparent plays at Classic Stage Company in New York City's East Village through May 4th, 2014.  For information and tickets, click on live link of title.

 Yvonne Korshak

Comments are very welcome.  Scroll down, click on "comments," write in comment box and click on "post."  Emails are private and never appear with comments.

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