Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood talk about the risks and rewards



Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood talk about the risks and rewards
• Guiding Your Play Through
Colin Mochrie and
Brad Sherwood talk
about the risks
and rewards of not
thinking things
Tony Kushner talks about the contentious nature of theatre,
and the continual, thrilling reinvention of his works.
APRIL 2010
Table Of Contents
2 0 1 0
20 The Ultimate Play Publication Primer
8 Light on the Subject
Customizing your Vectorworks workspace. By David K H Elliott
10 Bend Me Shape Me
This audio crew proves that the per-
formers aren’t the only ones contorting each night at a Cirque show. By Jacob Coakley
12 Broadway’s #1 Backup Plan
Merwin Foard keeps going on Broadway by making sure the Broadway show goes on. By Bryan Reesman
Special Section:
Plays and Playwriting
A step-by-step guide to successfully seeing your work in print. By Lisa Mulcahy
23 Plays & Musicals Directory
A directory of play and musical publishers guaranteed to have just the right show you’re looking for.
5 In the Greenroom
7 Tools of the Trade
A profile of Tony Kushner, one of the preeminent playwrights of our times thanks to his works that chart the slow, contentious, progressive growth of the human heart. By Katherine Brodsky
Nick Keenan uses sound to change the physics of a space, or play. By Jacob Coakley
4 Correction
24 Show Business
In the article “Mind Over Fiscal Matters” by Dave McGinnis in the March issue of Stage Directions, there were some inac-
curacies that we would like to
correct immediately.
16 Fast Scenes, Slow Heart
New gear for the technophile in all of us.
28 Answer Box
• Guiding Your Play Through
Leaning on others to help find the good new work. By Tim Cusack
25 Off the Shelf
Labor struggles at the Shaw Fest, AEA Inks new deal with Off-B’way League, and more.
Books that provide insight into making theatre better. By Stephen Peithman
APRIL 2010
ON OUR COVER: Jamecia Bennett (The Washing Machine),
Aurelia Williams, Lynnea Doublette and Felicia Boswell (The
Radio) and Greta Oglesby (Caroline Thibodeaux) in the 2009
Guthrie Theater production of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, Or Change
Colin Mochrie and
Brad Sherwood talk
about the risks
and rewards of not
thinking things
Tony Kushner talks about the contentious nature of theatre,
and the continual, thrilling reinvention of his works.
02.300.1004.indd 2
3/17/10 1:17 PM
Publisher Terry Lowe
[email protected]
Editor Jacob Coakley
[email protected]
Lighting & Staging Editor Richard Cadena
[email protected]
New York Editor Bryan Reesman
[email protected]
Editorial Assistant Victoria Laabs
[email protected]
Contributing Writers Katherine Brodsky, Tim Cusack, David K H Elliott, Lisa Mulcahy, Stephen Peithman, Bryan Reesman
Consulting Editor Stephen Peithman ART
Art Director Garret Petrov
Production Manager Linda Evans
[email protected]
Web Designer Josh Harris
Advertising Director Greg Gallardo
[email protected]
National Sales Manager Michael Devine
[email protected]
Audio Advertising Manager Jeff Donnenwerth
[email protected]
Sales Manager Matt Huber
[email protected]
General Manager William Vanyo
[email protected]
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Stage Directions (ISSN: 1047-1901) Volume 23, Number 4 Published monthly by Timeless Communications Corp., 6000 South Eastern Ave., Suite 14J, Las Vegas, NV 89119. It is distributed free
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02.300.1004.indd 3
3/17/10 1:18 PM
Powering Portable Dimmers in the Theatre
[We at Stage Directions made an error that we would like to
correct immediately. In the process we hope to open new portals of discovery for the practicing theatre electrician or technician. Richard Cadena, editor of PLSN magazine and an ETCP
Certified Entertainment Electrician and an ETCP Recognized
Trainer, explains more below. —Jacob Coakley, editor, Stage
n the article “Mind Over Fiscal Matters” by Dave McGinnis
in the March issue of Stage Directions, there were some
inaccuracies. The subject of concern centers on the
proper application of portable dimmers, supply capacity to
feed those dimmers, and overcurrent protection devices,
commonly known as circuit breakers.
In short, whenever dealing with powering portable
dimmers, follow these guidelines:
• Always read the specifications of any equipment before applying power
• Never power a device using voltage other than the rated voltage of a device
• Only qualified personnel should attempt to configure power distribution equipment
A circuit breaker is designed to protect against an
overload or a short circuit. In North American theatres
we most often use a molded case single-pole circuit
breaker, meaning it switches only one wire, which is
the hot or the black wire in a 120V system.
The basic ratings of a circuit breaker include the
rated current and the rated voltage. (There are other
specs involved in sizing circuit breakers but they are
beyond the scope of this article.) The current rating
determines how many amps can safely pass through
the device before it trips off. For example, a 20-amp
circuit breaker can pass 20 amps continuously in free
air without tripping. (Because most North American
circuit breakers are thermal-magnetic devices, they
are typically de-rated 20% when they are installed in
a breaker panel because of the effects of heating from
adjacent circuits.)
The rated voltage should be at least as high as the
system voltage. For example, a 20-amp 250V circuit
breaker will operate just fine in a 208V circuit but it
should not be used in a 277V circuit. It will likely work
fine in a 277V circuit until there is an overload or a
short, and when the contacts open they could arc and
re-close the circuit, thereby defeating the purpose of
the device.
When you are powering a portable dimmer from a
branch circuit (meaning the circuit fed from a common circuit breaker in the final leg of the power distribution), then the rated voltage of the device should
match the voltage of the circuit. Typically a portable
dimmer pack will be a 120V device. Depending on the
type of connector the dimmer pack uses, it could be
a 15-amp, 20-amp, 30-amp, or more, device. If it has
an Edison plug (NEMA 5-15) then it should be a 15-A
device. If it has a 20-amp plug (NEMA 5-20) then it
will still work with an Edison T-slot receptacle (NEMA
5-20R) because it is a 20-amp circuit that works with
15A and 20A plugs. If the device needs more than 20
amps then it should have a connector that will not
plug into an Edison receptacle.
In a 120/208V four wire plus ground system (green,
white, black, red, and blue wires), the voltage across
any hot leg (black, red, or blue wire) to the white
neutral conductor is 120V and the voltage across any
two hot lets on different phases is 208V. A 208V circuit
uses a double-ganged circuit breaker with two poles
that feed from two hot legs on different phases. These
branch circuits are typically connected to a locking
receptacle such as a NEMA L6-15 or an L6-20. There are
a few different connectors that could be used for 208V
devices, so if the portable dimmer pack doesn’t have
an Edison connector, then be sure to check the specs
and match the voltage to the circuit correctly.
Portable dimmers that have two power cables are
using two distinct circuits to double their dimmer
capacity. For example, the Leprecon ULD-360 dimmer
has two NEMA 5-15 plugs. Each plug is capable of supplying 15A at 120V, which is 1800 watts. By using two
power cables, a single dimmer pack can supply 3600
watts. This is typically done so that you can use commonly available Edison plugs and receptacles instead
of having to find larger capacity circuits and connectors in a ballroom or venue.
There are virtually no circumstances in which we
would encounter or need more than 208V or 220V in
the theatre (save for special applications). In a 120/208V
four wire plus ground system it is impossible to connect
the wires in any way to derive 440 volts. If you have a
special application with very high power requirements,
then you might use 480V three-phase by tapping into
the building service, but that should never be attempted by anyone except qualified personnel.
Working with power distribution is potentially
lethal and should not be taken lightly. If you build
distribution systems or interconnect distribution components then you should understand the dangers and
how to mitigate them. Take classes devoted to power
distribution, study the latest technology and techniques, and stay current with your knowledge. There
are many, many resources for doing so and there is no
reason to put yourself or anyone else in harm’s way.
Richard Cadena is the editor of PLSN magazine, the
author of “Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician
& Technician,” and an ETCP Certified Entertainment
Electrician and an ETCP Recognized Trainer. For training
opportunities in power distribution visit www.produc
4 April 2010 •
04.300.1004.indd 4
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theatre buzz
In the
IATSE Local 461 Strikes After Shaw Festival Locks Out Employees
On March 10, the Shaw Festival
locked out employees in their Facilities
department who were represented
by IATSE in ongoing contract negotiations. In response to the lockout the
rest of IATSE-represented employees,
including stagehands and technicians
as well as box office employees, went
on strike. While the two parties were
close to a contract, negotiations broke
down over language in the contract
regarding when the Shaw Fest could
replace the unionized workers with
others from an outside contracted
While the Shaw Fest maintains that
it was “committed” to fact that there
Actors’ Equity Reaches
New Agreement With
Off-Broadway League
Actors’ Equity Association and
the Off-Broadway League, the trade
association that represents commercial and non-profit Off-Broadway
theatres and productions, have
reached a new three-year agreement. The new contract will extend
to November 4, 2012
Highlights of the agreement
include: Salary increases in the first
and third years of the agreement,
with retroactivity to November 9,
2009; An expanded ability to use
recorded material in new media
outlets; For the first time, replacement auditions are required for
long running shows; Members of
the Off-Broadway League may now
produce shows in the Broadway
Box in Off-Broadway-sized houses
of 499 or less without paying a salary premium; Actors who perform
in productions that fall under the D
and E categories in the Off Broadway
agreement may no longer leave for
more remunerative employment
and then return to the production.
would be no layoffs during the length
of the contract, Local 461 President
Doug Ledingham criticized the Fest’s
“misleading” statements. According
to Ledingham “The actual offer was
to suspend any contracting out until
after Dec. 31, 2011, after which they
would again have the ability to replace
these employees at any point.”
Added Ledingham, “Local 461 will
not be bullied into accepting a contract which allows the jobs of its members to be auctioned off.”
In the 25-year association of Local
461 with the Shaw Festival, this is the
first time that there has been a strike
or lockout between the two.
Eight Professional Theatres
Announce Michigan Equity
Theatre Alliance
Michigan’s Equity theatre producers have banded together to form the
Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance (META).
The theatres involved are: Detroit Repertory
Theatre (Detroit), The Jewish Ensemble
Theatre (West Bloomfield), Performance
Network Theatre (Ann Arbor), Plowshares
Theatre Company (Detroit), The Purple
Rose Theatre Company (Chelsea), Meadow
Brook Theatre (Rochester) Tipping Point
Theatre (Northville) and Williamston
Theatre (Williamston). META is meant to
be a permanent alliance that will foster
collaboration at all levels of operations,
from marketing and audience development to collective bargaining to sharing
In a statement released to the press
the META org announced its goals as; to
strengthen and promote the image of
Michigan’s Equity theaters, while finding
ways to grow stronger through collaboration and to pursue projects in each of four
strategic areas identified as critical for success. These areas are: marketing, branding
and audience development; group vendor
and contract negotiation; research, best
practices and advocacy; space and facilities sharing/organizational efficiency. • April 2010
5-6.300.1004.indd 5
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theatre buzz
Debuts Interactive
Gear Reviews, a Stage Directions
Web site, has started a new feature to
give its members an even deeper look
at the backstage world, interactive product reviews. Rather than simply report
on gear for its readers, members of the
Gear Review group on
gearreviews) can become a part of the
process of reviewing a piece of gear, to
make sure that it passes all their tests and
giving everyone a greater sense of what
the equipment can do.
“We always work to bring our members closer to the info they need,” said
Jacob Coakley, editor of Stage Directions.
“The best way to do that is to let them tell
us what they want to know.”
Each piece of gear will be reviewed
for a month on, during which time members can see pics
of the gear in action, learn the results
of in-depth, on-site testing, and request
tests of their own. After a month on the
site a summary of the results will be
printed in Stage Directions magazine. The
first piece of gear under the microscope
is Chavuet’s COLORado 1-Tri Tour LED
“This is a fantastic program,” said
Berenice Chauvet, vice-president of
Chauvet Lighting. “We love that it is interactive. It allows us to not only get an
expert review of the product but also
direct, instant feedback from actual and
would-be users; and we can interact with
them on the spot.”
Users have already jumped in requesting tests, and the review is underway.
Anyone wishing to participate can join at www.TheatreFace.
com/join and surf over to the Gear
Review group at
“This is the next logical step in giving
our readers and advertisers interactivity between our print and e-media products,” said Stage Directions Publisher Terry
Lowe. “This will allow our readers to be
part of the process, which should make
for better choices, and better theatre.”
More Greenroom News
Items on page 26
April 2010 •
5-6.300.1004.indd 6
3/16/10 4:57 PM
Tools of the Trade
ETC Fire and Ice LED fixtures
ETC has introduced two new colorspectrum-specific versions of its popular
Selador LED line: Fire and Ice. Fire features
a warm wash of saturated reds, oranges
and ambers. Ice provides a palette of brilliant deep indigo, blue, cyan, green (and a
touch of red)—the gamut of blue washes
that designers seek for their light plots.
The Fire and Ice fixtures are designed
to equal or exceed the brightness performance of conventional
tungsten PAR fixtures and save dramatically on electricity. In
ETC testing for a typical color application, Fire and Ice fixtures
produced more light and consumed less than 70 watts of power
compared to their gelled tungsten counterparts at 575 watts.
Field Template ½” Striplight Placemat
Field Template has released their updated ½” Striplight Placemat, including templates for the latest fixtures. Along with the
latest ETC Source 4 MultiPARs, it’s got all the
latest LED’s: Selador, Color Kinetics, and the
Altman Spectra-Cyc. The ½” Placemat also
has the latest standards; the Aurora, EconoCyc, and Sky-Cyc, as well as PAR-56, PAR-38,
R40, and MR-16. There are section cutouts
for every fixture type, as well as three sets of circuitry symbols,
two-fer dots, and a scenery bumper.
Gerriets Absorber CS
Gerriets has expanded
its line of acoustic materials to include a new soundabsorbing textile, Absorber
CS. Absorber CS was created
in direct response to requests
from acoustic consultants
looking for the sound
absorption of wool serge in an inherently flame retardant, dimensionally stable textile. Absorber CS is made from 100% Trevira CS
and meets the following flame retardant standards: DIN 4102 B1,
NFPA 701, California title 19, and City of New York. It is available in
standard black as well as custom colors in quantities of 200 m (220
yd) or more.
PocketLD V2.0
Zinman Software has
released PocketLD v2.0
in the iTunes App Store.
PocketLD allows lighting
professionals to calculate
the FC/LUX and Beam/Field
Diameters for over 2000 fixtures and lamps. V2.0 adds
the functionality for users to edit the existing library, create
their own fixtures and organize these fixtures into an improved
Favorites List. New fixtures included in the library include
Dedolight, K5600 and Kobold. • April 2010 7
Light on the Subject
By David K H Elliott
Mod Your CAD
Customizing Your Vectorworks Workspace
od my CAD? Why? Can’t I just use it out of the box?
Doesn’t it come with everything I need?
Well, yes, for the most part. Out of the box, Spotlight
combines a powerful CAD program with some tools and resources added to assist in creating professional theatrical light plots.
Using Spotlight as is, you can draft light plots to the best professional standards and practices. So, why mod?
For power and efficiency. To add new capabilities. To improve
existing ones.
Spotlight is one of six Workspaces included with Vectorworks.
Each Workspace has a customized set of menus, commands and
tools for use in a particular industry. Nemetschek customized the
menus, commands and tools for each industry, making it easier
to use the program and, by being easier, making the user more
The idea behind modding your CAD is that even greater efficiency can be gotten by customizing the menus, commands and
tools for your personal way of working. The stock Menus, Menu
Items and Palettes can all be altered. New menus, new menu
items and new palettes can be created for additional commands
or tools that you download, write or purchase to streamline your
This article will show you how to modify one of the stock
commands by adding a command key and then consolidate the
Spotlight commands into a specialized menu.
When you open VectorWorks for the first time, the screen can
be overwhelming. You’re presented with the screen full of data
as shown in Figure 1: the Obj Info, Navigation, Visualization, Tool
Sets, Basic, Untitled 1 windows; a couple of smaller, unnamed
windows with paint buckets, pens and shapes; and across the
top of the screen, a specialized menu bar. A couple of those windows, Tool Sets and Basic, are full of tiny, unnamed icons. Lots of
icons. This is a workspace.
A workspace records which windows and palettes are open,
where they are on the screen, how the menu bar is laid out and
the list of items under each menu. A workspace also records
which tools appear in the floating palettes, what keyboard
shortcuts are assigned and what contextual menus are installed.
Any additions or changes that have been made are also recorded here. Workspaces can be built from scratch, duplicated,
renamed, modified, saved and, with some caveats, transferred
to another machine.
In creating your own workspace, you can create or modify
menus and build tool palettes to customize the environment to
your particular way of working. You can equip it to support your
process and the types of projects you work on.
Vectorworks comes with a number of industry-specific stock
workspaces. Depending on the version of Vectorworks you buy,
the list might include: Designer, Landmark, Machine Design,
Spotlight and Standard. The available workspaces are listed
and selected under Tools > Workspaces. Try a couple of them
out. The menus across the top of the screen change with each
workspace. Click on the drop-down menus; they change as
well. Before you finish, select Spotlight, making it the active
Getting Personal
The first thing to do is create a personal workspace which can
then be modified without altering the stock workspaces. To do
that, open the Workspace Editor under the Tools > Workspaces
Figure 1: The Spotlight workspace
In the Workspace Editor Options window that opens, Figure
2, there are three radio buttons in the window: Edit the current
workspace; Edit a copy of the current workspace; Create a new
Select “Edit a copy of the current workspace.” In the now active
text box, give it a new name or accept the name it gives you,
“Spotlight copy.”
Clicking OK brings up the Workspace Editor, Figure 3. It has
three tabs and opens with the Menus tab selected, displaying a
column of commands and a column of menus. Clicking the disclosure arrow in front of any of the command categories opens
a drop-down list of available commands. Similarly, the disclosure
arrows in front of the menus display a list of the items appearing
under that menu.
Add a Keyboard Shortcut to a Command
With a menu open in the Workspace Editor, you can
drag an item from a command category and position it
in a menu, move an existing command from one menu to
another or assign a key combination to activate a specific
The first mod we’ll make is to add a key combination to
the Save View... command under the File menu.
April 2010 •
8-9.300.1004.indd 8
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The Save View
command takes
a snapshot of the
state of the layer
and class visibilities, the active
zoom percentage
and the view in
your drawing. It
creates a macro
Figure 2: The Workspace Editor Options
that returns you
to that same spot on the page restored with the settings
you made so that you can easily pick up where you left off.
To make this command more readily accessible, you can
assign a command key to it in the Workspace Editor.
Here are the steps to follow:
• In the Menus column, click the button next to View to
reveal a list of the menus and sub-menus beneath it.
• Scroll down and select Save View towards the bottom
of the View list.
• Below the Menu column are four possible key combinations that could be assigned to the selected command.
They can be seen, slightly grayed, at the bottom of Figure
3. When a command is selected in the Menu list on the
right, one of them, Use Cmd+Key (Or “Ctrl+Key” on a PC),
is highlighted. Touching any key now will assign that key
and key combination to the Save View command. Use the
7 key for this, since it’s an open key in Spotlight.
Now, anytime you’d like to record a Saved View, a
simple key combination will open the dialog box, leaving the mouse where you have it. The views that have
been saved can be accessed as one of the Script Palettes
under the Windows menu and double-clicked to invoke
or through a dropdown menu in
the title bar of the
document you’re
working on. Having
a fast, easy way to
create Saved Views
makes them even
more useful.
A Specialized Menu
for Spotlight
The next mod
will make a custom Figure 3: The Workspace Editor.
menu that gathers all
the Spotlight commands under one menu to create a one-stop
drop-down for lighting. This allows lighting designers, assistants
and electricians to work with Spotlight’s lighting commands
without having to surf the other menus to do so. We’ll add a new
menu, which I’ve called SPLT, but leave the existing Spotlight
commands in place in the stock menus.
Here are your steps for this:
• Under Tools > Workspaces, re-open the Workspace
Editor. In the Workspace Editor Options window, select “Edit
a copy of the current workspace.” Rename it if you wish and
click OK. The Workspace Editor opens.
• Drag the New Menu item at the top of the Commands
column into the menus listed on the right and position it
Figure 4: The SPLT menu in Workspace Editor.
where you want it to appear. Visual clues will pop up as you
drag to guide you in placing it. Once it’s in place, select the
name and change it to SPLT or whatever you’d like.
• In the left column, open the Spotlight category. One
at a time, drag the items from the category list into the
new menu. Separator lines found under the New Menu
item can be dragged and
positioned where needed
for clarity. (An exception:
the Create Seating Layout
command is found in the
AEC category.) Figure 4
shows the SPLT menu as
built in the Editor.
• Click OK to leave the
editor and return to the
drawing. Figure 5 shows
the new SPLT menu and
the consolidated commands. It is one possible
arrangement for the
Spotlight menu items;
you may prefer another
sequence. This version displays all the items that pertain directly to Spotlight.
At the same time, all the
Spotlight commands that
Figure 5: The SPLT menu.
appear in the other menus
have been retained in place.
Of course, there’s much more modding that can be done.
In the next installment, we’ll streamline a procedure by
recording a Custom Selection that replaces a multiple-step
process with a double-clickable macro and then, using the
VectorScript Editor, convert the macro to a Plug-in Object
and install it into a menu. It’ll be fun…
David K H Elliott is a lighting designer and educator. You can
reach him via e-mail at [email protected] • April 2010
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Sound Design
By Jacob Coakley
Bend Me Shape Me
Jessica Hird
The performers aren’t the only ones who contort each night at a Cirque show…
Meyer UP Juniors fill the back wall of the set and are important for the artists—like the trampoline
act show here—to give them a clear audio reference to orient themselves in space and in the song.
irque du Soleil’s Ovo takes viewers down into a bug’s
world, with circus acts and clowns performing amazing feats of strength and agility all set on the micro
level of insects. While the onstage antics may be impressive, the sound gymnastics that need to happen to let a
2500-person audience hear everything are pretty impressive too. Cirque’s touring big top is an unforgiving environment for sound and the responsibility for taming it each
night falls to Patrick Burke, Ovo’s head of sound, and Martin
de Blois, assistant head of sound.
“Our main concern every time we step out is to make
sure the coverage is even. So we spend a lot of time focusing,” says Burke. We’re standing on the Ovo stage after a
performance has finished, the crowd has left and the crew
has cleaned the tent. For the first time all evening the big
top is silent. Burke claps his hands once, and the sound slaps
around the tent, bouncing off the walls and the metal seating bleachers. “Focus is the most important thing. Because
with the tent, if you don’t focus right, you can get a lot of
EQ is also an issue in the tent. Even with a good focus frequencies between 200 and 1000 Hz have extra life and can
quickly change the sound. As Burke says, you don’t need a
lot of overpowering decibels, just “the right frequencies in
the right place.”
Finally, Burke and de Blois have to worry about more than
just the audience. The performers rely on music to maintain
their sense of pace and timing. When you’re flying through
the air and need to hit a mark in time with music—you need
to be able to hear the music, and not a muddle of reverb.
And of course Burke and de Blois need to take care of all of
this while mixing a live band. Take all of this into account
and it’s clear the performers aren’t the only ones who have
to walk a high wire act every night.
Patrick Burke (left) and Martin de Blois in the FOH position in the Ovo big top.
Setting Up
As might be inferred from Burke’s comments, the audio
rig for Ovo places a premium on precision, control and clarity, as opposed to overwhelming the audience with a wall
of sound. Two Meyer M’elodie line array hangs, six boxes
in each and angled so they have a slight cross-fire, provide
wide, even coverage for the bulk of the audience. The line
arrays are supplemented by Meyer UPQ and UP Junior
speakers mounted on the tent’s masts.
Surrounds are handled by Meyer M1D’s with six Meyer
700-HP subs handling the low end from their position under
the audience bleachers. All the audio is controlled by a
Meyer LCS Cue Console with six Matrix3 LX-300 Frames and
three Meyer Galileo DSP units. So yes, the show has a lot of
Meyer gear. Which caused a little bit of complications for
Burke—who’s also the FOH mixer—when he started on the
show and was struggling to master the LCS Cue Console.
“During the creation of the show last year, oh yeah, my
brain was fried,” says Burke. “I admit it. There’s so much you
can do with the console. It was so much information, but at
the same time it was so cool.” Creation meant long nights of
learning and programming on the console after long days
working with the artists live.
“We would do the staging during the day, working with
artists and the musicians playing, and then we stayed at
night after everybody left that we could do our stuff. We
played recordings of songs that we had rehearsed during
the day, but this time with the composer there, directing us:
‘Can you turn this down 2 dB? Can you place that chord in
that speaker?’ So they were long days.”
The audience size also affects how Burke and de Blois
capture sound as well. If the house is less than full, the
April 2010 •
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center section will fill up first, leaving the side sections
empty, letting reverb wash around the sides of the stage.
Unfortunately, that’s where the band and vocalists live, in
two different sections stage left and stage right.
“The musicians over there, the singers, the oboe player,
it’s really hard because the sound gets to the microphone
pretty quickly, there’s so dispersion. There’s no dampening,” says de Blois. They constantly fight bleed by trying new
mic placement positions and using mics that have variable
settings. For vocalists they’re fond of their Heil mics with a
low cut.
“It has a warm sound and it’s really good,” enthuses
Burke, who wasn’t familiar with the mic before using it on
this show. “I was just like, ‘Hmm, what’s that? Heil mic? We
better try it.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s great!’”
DPA microphones coupled with Sennheiser wireless
transmitters capture sound from the clowns.
But more artists need special care too, which is why
Meyer UP Juniors are placed throughout the back wall of the
stage. They provide fill for artists whose acts are behind the
speaker line, especially the final act, a trampoline number,
with artists bounding through the air and crossing the stage
flipping and twisting in an instant.
“When they are in the air it’s really hard for them to orient
themselves,” says de Blois.
“When they’re jumping around, if they land and it doesn’t
sound right, bad things could happen. They depend a lot on
the music,” adds Burke. “The speakers in the wall are there
for definition.”
Much like the performers, sound in a Cirque can bend
and twist each night, luckily for them Burke and de Blois
are artists, too, and can straighten it all out.
Meyer LCS Cue Console, controlling 6
Matrix3 LX-300 Frames
Meyer Galileo Loudspeaker Management System
TC Electronic TC-6000 multi-effect processor
TC Electronic FireworX multi-effect processor
360 Systems Instant Replay
Yamaha 01V mixing console (used as sidecar)
Yamaha PM5D, 48 inputs
Monitoring system: Sennheiser SR 350 IEM G2 personal
IEM transmitters with EK 300 IEM G2 beltpacks receivers
Wireless microphone system: Sennheiser EM 3732
receivers with SK 5212 beltpack transmitters
Mains: Left, Right Meyer M’elodie Line Arrays,
6 boxes in each
Mast Fill Speakers: Meyer UPQ’s, UP Juniors
Front Fills: Meyer UP Juniors
Surrounds: Meyer M1D’s
Subs: 6 Meyer Concert Series 700-HP Subwoofers
All Photography by Benoit Fontaine
Tent acoustics make it tricky to find the right levels on characters’ mics. • April 2010
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By Bryan Reesman
Photographs Courtesy of Merwin Foard
Broadway’s #1
Backup Plan
Merwin Foard keeps going on Broadway by
making sure the Broadway show goes on.
Merwin Foard as Javert in the original Broadway run of Les Misérables.
e has had one of the most enduring and consistent
Broadway careers of the last three decades, yet Merwin
Foard may not be the most recognizable face on the
Great White Way. The reason is simple: While Foard has performed his fair share of supporting roles and ensemble work,
he is now regularly a standby or understudy for leading parts.
He’s the one waiting in wings in case the lead happens to fall ill
or cannot perform for any reason, occasionally balancing that
with ensemble parts. His fourteenth and latest Broadway gig
is as both Nathan Lane and Ron Holgate’s understudy for The
Addams Family, which opens April 8 in New York after an out-oftown run in Chicago. Foard has become Broadway’s seasoned
back-up man, and he has fashioned a career from this unusual
Throughout the last decade Foard has landed a mixture
of ensemble, understudy and replacement supporting roles
in shows like The Little Mermaid, Assassins, Sweeney Todd and
Kiss Me, Kate. As he will readily attest, it’s a fun life. Prior to The
Addams Family invading the Great White Way, Foard spoke to
Stage Directions about his history, the twists and turns of his
highly unusual career path, juggling professional work with family time (he is married with two daughters, aged 11 and 16) and
how he has sustained and evolved his craft over three decades.
Stage Directions: You’ve been an ensemble player for many
shows, and you are the main understudy on Broadway
Merwin Foard: I’m like the main second guy on Broadway.
This is the third show I’ve been a standby for which I’m not in
the ensemble. I’m a peripheral person on a contract, but if the
star is down I’ll step in for them. Before Addams Family was the
Sweeney Todd revival where all the actors played instruments,
and before that was the Kiss
Me, Kate revival, where I stood
by for Brian Stokes Mitchell
and Ron Holgate. Nathan
To read more from Merwin Foard’s
Lane and Terrence Mann,
interview, including why he turned
who I standby for in Addams
down the opportunity to understudy
Hugh Jackman, visit
Family, are my 24th and 25th
actors who I have either stood
by for or understudied on
Ultimately, what is that experience like?
It’s a constant state of agita until you really know what
you’re doing. I did get called on to go on for Nathan over the
Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago, when we were still in previews, and of course whenever a show is brand new all the
rehearsal process is for the cast that will be performing it eight
“When I was in Mermaid I had to
learn how to roller skate on those
heelies. Never did I think that was
something I would have to learn.”
—Merwin Foard
performances a week. During the preview process, when you’re
rehearsing changes to the script and score and the blocking and
choreography every day, again that’s with the primary cast. I
would sit in the audience, make copious notes, erase a lot and
relearn what I’d already learned, so my rehearsals were not
scheduled until after we opened on December 8 in Chicago. But
I got called upon during the Thanksgiving weekend prematurely
because Nathan came down with bronchitis. We all crossed
our fingers, and I hoped that my in-the-living room and in-theshower homework paid off, and thankfully everything went well.
I did three performances for him over that weekend, and it was
a successful time for me and the cast, and I think for the directors and producers, too, because it allowed them to see that the
show was going to be fine.
Your career has certainly been keeping you busy, hasn’t it?
It has. It’s been a great life. We’ve been having a good time
with it, and now my oldest daughter feels like she wants to go
into theatre, and we keep telling her not to base her desire to
do it on my seeming ease and success because mine is not a
traditional story. Whenever I go on to talk to kids at schools who
want to major in drama and go on to be a professional actor, I
always tell them that 98% of the actors union, of Actors’ Equity
Association, are regularly unemployed and 2% are regularly
employed. If you were to put that on any other profession, you
April 2010 •
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Foard met his wife Rebecca Baxter in 1988, playing Curly opposite
her in a production of Oklahoma for Minnesota Opera and Opera
probably wouldn’t want to pursue that
because the odds are drastically against
you succeeding. If you have to do it, then
you have to do it. There’s nothing that can
be done about that.
It’s a tricky business to keep up with
because it’s constantly evolving. What
they’re looking for is always changing. It’s
not something that stays the same. You
have to keep up with what the market
needs, or what it is they’re looking for, so
you’re constantly changing your skill sets.
When I was in Mermaid I had to learn how
to roller skate on those heelies. Never
did I think that was something I would
have to learn. In Sweeney, because all the
actors played instruments, I had to learn
percussion. Here I’m learning how to be a
tango dancer. It’s crazy how it continues
to change with the shows that crop up.
You attended the Manhattan School
Of Music. How valuable was the experience of the schools you went to? And
what advice would you give to young
students who can’t exactly go to the
school that they want to because of
cost or other considerations? Does a
high-pedigree school really matter?
I think that these days—because we’re
looking into that with our 16-year-old, so
we’re really analyzing what’s out there
that is going to have a department with
what she wants in terms of performing • April 2010
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3/16/10 4:58 PM
Merwin Foard (center) as Richard Henry Lee in the Roundabout Theatre’s 1997 revival of 1776. Also
pictured are Oscar-winner Pat Hingle as Ben Franklin (left) and Brent Spiner (right).
arts that’s also going to be within our budget—kids really should
work with their parents so that they’re not burdened by the
financial aspect of it, with college loans. Don’t keep your fingers
crossed for that scholarship because it may or may not come,
but find schools that are around youthat do offer what you want.
Because of American Idol and all of these performance - based
television shows, kids are wanting more and more to do this,
and because of that schools are creating departments that they
didn’t have before, so it doesn’t have to be NYU or Michigan,
these big performing schools, in order to have that on your
resume and in order to book the job. Now all of these smaller
schools that you might never have heard of are developing
really solid performing arts majors and departments. Last night we were finding the area schools
that offer that and going through their Web sites.
Thank God for the Internet. Take a virtual tour of
these schools, look at their staff and the depth of
talent that the staff has. Some of these people and
the faculty have amazing resumes.
And you’re right to say that it’s really about the
experience that you make of it. I also tell students
that just because Broadway is here, don’t think
that this is the place you have to go to do live
theatre. There are great pockets of live theatre all
over the country—Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago,
Denver, a lot of towns in Florida, Houston and
Dallas. There are great centers all over the country
that have wonderful theatre.
I think the problem with a lot of kids that graduate is that they think they have to go to New York because that’s
what’s expected of them. You can really build up a great regional
resume as a stepping-stone to New York. Don’t come up here
and burn yourself out trying to be a waiter or a temp and stealing time for an audition here or there because you’re not going
to be focused and end up blowing it. Casting directors in New
York have very long memories—it can be a really good thing
and be a really bad thing. If you come up here and start blowing auditions, they’re going to remember that, and getting that
same audition later on in your career is going to be really hard
to come by. Our 16-year-old is really keen to go into acting, and
we’re really keen to keep her, not in our
backyard, but at least in a state school,
and there are a lot of really great schools
within a five or six-hour drive that have
new but solid theatre programs.
Of all the performers you have
worked with, who has taught you the
most or whom you have learned the
most from?
When I did Mame in ‘83, Angela
Lansbury was starring in it. Watching
someone who in ‘83 wasn’t a spring
chicken—and a lot of reviews said
that—there’s a number in the second
act where Mame dances with all of these
teenagers, and it was a big, choreographed number. Our choreographer
would say, “Angie, if you want to sit
out, I’ll work with the kids and you just
hang. I’ll bring you back in the next time
we do a full run through.” Her attitude
was, “No. As long as they’re doing it, I
want to be doing it.” You look at someone who even then had such an amazing career—and continues to have one
now—you think that’s really something
because she could’ve very graciously
said thank you and sat down with a cup
of tea and waited and watched while
we sweated. If we were working on it,
she wanted to work on it. At my impressionable 22-year-old age, I looked at her
April 2010 •
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3/17/10 1:20 PM
“I also tell students that just
because Broadway is here,
don’t think that this is the
place you have to go to
do live theatre.” —Merwin
Foard (left) starred as Lancelot in a regional production of Camelot with
Terrence Mann (right) as Arthur. Mann, who originated the role of Javert
in Les Misérables on Broadway encouraged Foard to audition for the role.
and thought that was remarkable. She
told me a lot through that one gesture,
just that solid work ethic and not being
afraid of the work and not taking the
easy road out. I have to credit her.
I assume your hope is that you’re
going to take on a lead or major supporting role in the future?
Absolutely. Everybody wants to play
the part or have the part written with
them in mind, and that’s great. Until
that happens, I’m totally content to be
the backup guy.
12-14.300.1004.indd 15
3/17/10 1:20 PM
Special Section: Plays & Playwriting
Fast Scenes, Slow Heart
Photo courtesy of
Mike Habermann
Photo courtesy of
Tony Kushner has become one of the preeminent playwrights of our times by charting
the slow, contentious, progressive growth of the human heart.
By Katherine Brodsky
Tony Kushner
Left to right: Valeri Mudek and Kate Eifrig in Tiny Kushner at Berkeley Rep
ony Kushner is one of the most renowned American playwrights, having received a slew of prestigious awards,
including the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for Angels in
America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1993). The play was
later adapted into an acclaimed HBO miniseries and directed by
Mike Nichols. His diverse body of work includes short plays, movies and even a musical—Caroline, or Change. He is also known
for his outspoken nature and refusal to shy away from difficult
topics—such as AIDS, the Taliban, and homosexuality and scripture. His work’s inherent theatricality and its ability to engage an
audience’s emotions, despite how uncomfortable those emotions
might be, have earned him a place as one of America’s greatest
Kushner’s love for the theatre stems from its ability to engage
emotion and the imagination, combined with his sense of political
sensibility and community. “I like the challenge of trying to write
a world, a community, or an event purely out of human direction and dialogue,” he says. He’s also interested in the dialectical
nature of theatre: the contradiction, debate and argumentation,
all of which are commonly found in his work. This structuring
concept comes from his sense that a serious crisis is happening,
and must be understood to be defused.
“More and more and more as I have gotten older I feel that we
are rounding a corner into something—onto a new highway—
and that you have got to
remember different directions. And I think some of
those directions could—
without any hyperbole—
For the full interview with Tony Kushner,
lead to the end of at least
including a concrete look at his process of
human life if not all life
writing, visit
on the planet. I feel that
we are at a very significant
Jim Lichtscheidl in the West Coast premiere of Tiny Kushner
at Berkeley Rep
Juxtaposition and Politics
Kushner’s storytelling structure can be considered unusual.
He frequently uses shorter episodes in his plays, a departure from
conventional structure.
“I’m interested in stories that have a real stretch and sprawl
and aren’t tightly focused,” he says. “So there is something about
the short scene that has that quality to me where you show quick
snapshots of reality. They are sort of spliced against one another.
It’s the audiences’ job to piece them together into a narrative and
to figure out the way in which the action is continued from scene
to scene. And also to realize the kind of disjuncture and the jumps
and skips and juxtapositions—it feels more real to me. My life feels
chopped up in that way and I think life in general is chopped up in
that way. It’s not one seamless, smoothly flowing narrative.”
A lot of Kushner’s work contains political themes and it’s difficult to accuse it of being just “pure entertainment.”
“Because there is no such thing as pure entertainment,”
responds Kushner. “I mean, all entertainment has substance
and all substance has politics. So there is no entertainment that
isn’t political. The silliest campiest musical has its politics—it just
depends on what they are. And also how overtly they are worn.”
That said, he doesn’t believe the role of art is merely to deliver
messages—there are more effective ways of doing that. Still,
Kushner has no problem with art having a propagandistic or
educational function. Homebody/Kabul’s purpose, for example,
was to remind the world about Afghanistan and pay attention
to it when nobody was thinking about it at all. “I was happy that
people would learn things about Afghanistan from the play,” says
Kushner, though he did ensure that there was more to the play
than merely tedious education.
“I said this a million times but I think that the purpose of art is
always on some level to preach to the converted,” adds Kushner.
“I think that if you’re a playwright and you write a play that is
intended to lecture people who don’t know as much as you do
and who aren’t converted to your way of thinking about the
April 2010 •
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Special Section: Plays & Playwriting
Michal Daniel
Jackson M. Hurst (Jackie Thibodeaux), Nikki Renée Daniels (Emmie Thibodeaux) and Zadir King (Joe Thibodeaux) in the
Guthrie Theater production of Caroline, Or Change, at the Guthrie’s 2009 Kushner Celebration
world—you are going to be condescending and boring. You’re
going to bore yourself and that’s how you bore other people.
You say things that you already know and it’s hard to keep awake
while you’re doing that.”
Preaching to the converted, however, isn’t about repeating the
same thing over and over again to those who know it already. “I
think that when you’re a preacher—if you’re a good preacher—
you go in front of your congregation and you want to give them
something to think about.”
In Kushner’s view, although this “congregation” shares a common faith, it also shares many doubts and questions. The playwright and audience both walk out on a terrain that perhaps
neither fully understands.
“You are wandering out into the darkness with the
audience, or asking them to join you as you wander
out,” Kushner explains. “All art has one achievable, or
at least partially achievable goal, which is to try and tell
the truth. And if you’re in any way an intelligent, selfaware person then you know that the hardest thing to
get around in telling the truth is not exterior censorship.
For most of us, the real censor, the real trickster, the real
impulse to lie or to hide the truth and to be afraid to
seek the truth is what we do to ourselves.”
Kushner believes it is this communal experience of
pursuing the truth and the meaning of life that brings
people to the theatre. “As long as you’re really struggling to break through to some kind of understanding
you’re doing your job as an artist,” says Kushner, adding,
“Don’t make it easy on yourself, and don’t be boring.”
Transformation of the Heart
Throughout Kushner’s work, there are certain themes that
seem to reappear. The relationship between theory and action
appears to be central to most his writing. How does transformation happen in people? What is the relationship between the
world outside and the world within? What is the role of a progressive person in the world?
“The human heart is a progressive thing. I believe that it is also
enormously slow. And cautious. And in some ways conservative in
the sense that it doesn’t like to let go of what it loves. It can’t let go
April 2010 •
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16-19.300.1004.indd 19
Michal Daniel
that easily—or necessarily bravely. There is a contradiction in people that makes change both on the inside and
on the outside enormously hard. And I think those are
two big themes in my work.”
Lately, Kushner has been drawn into the world of
film, most recently collaborating on the screenplay for
Steven Spielberg’s Munich with Eric Roth, earning him
an Academy Award nomination. He loved working with
Spielberg so much that he is now working on a screenplay about Abraham Lincoln for him. It is a rewarding
experience, but is also perhaps “the hardest thing” he
had ever had to do.
“And it pays really well,” he laughs. Even with highly
successful musicals like his Caroline, or Change, by the
Michael Esper (Eli Wolcott) and Stephen Spinella (Pier Luigi Marcantonio [Pill]) in the world premiere of The Intelligent
time the royalties are split with all involved parties, the
Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures last spring at the Guthrie Theater.
checks shrink significantly.
Despite it’s lack of a rich paycheck, though, Kushner
still loves the process of theatre. Although movies are
seen by millions of people, he believes plays tend to stay
produced, that is performed is an act of self-exposure—you have
out in the world and get reinvented over and over. As an example got to be comfortable with it.”
he offer his own Angels in America, which has been running for
Which is not to say Kushner rushes into that exposure. Though
nearly 20 years, all over the world.
he is currently working on a rewrite for his new play, a new musiWhen it comes to success, Kushner has some advice: “Your cal and two films at the same time—he hedges when discussing
only hope at succeeding, I think, is to not lie. It’s hardest to be whether he’ll meet the deadlines necessary to place the projects
brave and honest. And not try and trick people. Sometimes that in the public view.
is rewarded. Sometimes it’s punished... You have to be willing
“Well, I didn’t say I was going to meet any deadlines,” laughs
to make a fool of yourself in public. If you’re going to perform Kushner, “Deadlines are...kind of interesting—It will be ready
in public—and playwriting, any writing that is published, that is when it’s ready.”
3/16/10 5:02 PM
Special Section: Plays & Playwriting
The Ultimate Play Publication Primer
Your step-by-step guide to successfully seeing your work in print
To Agent or Not To Agent?
For many new playwrights, the question of utilizing an agent
to assist in getting published is a true catch-22; after all, don’t you
need to already be published to get an agent? Not necessarily—
many highly esteemed publishers are smartly focused on quality
over connections.
“In terms of experience and credentials, you do not have to
be a professional playwright to be published,” says Abbie Van
Nostrand, vice president of Samuel French, Inc. in New York
City. Although Samuel French does prefer to work with represented/solicited submissions, they make a point of being open to
unagented writers, as long as they display professional attitude.
“In part, publishing is about forming relationships; we want to
know that you are going to be wiling to work with us throughout
the publication and beyond, in term of promoting your piece,”
Van Nostrand elaborates.
The pros to submitting unrepresented work include the fact
that you save the time and effort it takes to impress an agent, first
and foremost, not to mention money when your work is picked
up for publication (a reputable agent will take approximately
10% of all your payments, fees and future royalties). If you go it
alone, you’ll most likely be untested when it comes to dealing
with tricky contractual and creative issues. In addition, having a
well-respected agent sends the definitive message that you know
what you’re doing.
“If a playwright is new, he or she should focus on craft. That
playwright should be reading lots of plays and studying, not be
focused on publication,” says Jason Aaron Goldberg, president of
Original Works Publishing in Los Angeles. Your best move, then?
Be honest with yourself. Are you seasoned and knowledgeable
enough to handle negotiations for your work on your own? Is
your work in the absolute best shape it can be? If the answers to
these questions are no, or even maybe, take a step back, perfect
your product, and then seek out the representation you probably
do really need before approaching any publisher.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
When you ultimately send your work to an agent or publisher,
it’s crucial to avoid sloppy mistakes. “The best advice I can give a
playwright when submitting to any organization is follow directions!” stresses Goldberg. “Submission guidelines are there for a
reason. You need to take the time and read over those guidelines
and see what the company wants. The number one rule for all
Original Works Publishing submissions is that the play has been
previously produced—I can’t tell you how many subs we get that
are unproduced.”
So yes, you need to scrupulously research a publisher’s M.O.,
Darren Goldstein and Jennifer Mudge in the Atlantic
Theater Company 2009 production of OOHRAH! by
Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Evan Cabnet.
Tae Kwon
By Lisa Mulcahy
hink you’ve written the next God Of Carnage—but have no
clue about how to get it published? You’re not alone. Even
the most talented, experienced playwrights need to tread
carefully when it comes to issues like representation, marketing,
publisher evaluation, contracts, copyright and payment specifics.
Here’s SD’s no-nonsense, common sense playbook for getting the
exposure—and compensation—your work deserves.
top to bottom. “Do your
homework—see what
kind of material it’s known
for,” Goldberg continues.
“See what is required in
a submission. Then, be
professional, and write a
short cover letter so we
know your intentions— it
is troubling when you get
a blank email with attachments. I want to see a
one-paragraph synopsis
that covers the basic story
and theme—make me
want to read it. I do not like full-page or multiple-page synopses
that cover every aspect of the play. Why do I need to read the play
if you give me all that? Also, I need complete contact information,
a playwright bio or resume, and production history for the submitted work, ideally with reviews.”
Speaking of that resume, how do you show yourself—and
your work—off to best advantage? “Ideally, an author’s resume
would reflect multiple productions with a range of groups and
theatres, as well as give information about awards and competitions, workshops and readings, writers’ retreats and any other
kind of writing you do,” says Van Nostrand. “Also, it is important
to be clear about the play’s future. Are you still trying to actively
develop or produce the play? Are there other pending production
inquiries on the piece? Letting us know that this play is still active
will give us insight as to how it will read to potential audiences.”
Keeping aware of the latest technological updates in the
publishing world can also give you a leg up. “In efforts to increase
our efficiency and respond to playwrights as soon as possible, we
are using an online query format for general submissions that is
available through our website,” says Van Nostrand. “If you submit
online, make sure your attachments are clearly labeled with the
title of the play and your last name.” Check with any organization
before you submit by snail mail; although most publishers prefer
April 2010 •
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PDFs or Word docs, most will still accept hard copies, but you
should know for sure.
Posing The Proper Points
Congrats—a publisher’s read your submission and declared
that your work is perfect for them. Yet is this publisher perfect for
you? Put its potential to the test by asking the following essential
How can your demographic serve my work?
“We serve a wide market of theatre producers from the small
amateur school group to large professional theatres,” says Van
Nostrand. “Each group has a different set of criteria they use when
selecting a play, and we work to develop
a catalogue of plays that serve this variety
of producing groups.” Make sure your
publisher has this kind of diverse audience range.
How much money am I going to make,
and on what schedule?
“It is okay to inquire about royalties,”
says Goldberg. “Playwrights should be as
informed as possible.” A quality publisher
will never have a problem outlining their
policies on advances, compensation for
additional writing and royalty specifics,
and should be fair when it comes to negotiating financial points.
What restrictions will be built into my
Find out your potential publisher’s
position on further submissions of your
work for production. Will inclusion in a
catalogue mean you can no longer send
the play out on your own from a legal
perspective? If you become agented, will
your agent be allowed to solicit productions on your behalf? Some publishers
encourage their writers to send out their
plays on their own to theatres, which
can be good, since it gives the writer a
great deal of control over the play’s future
trajectory. If your publisher wants you
to submit on your own, though, ask to
get copies of the published play submitted to you at cost, to save out-of-pocket
What circumstances will allow my work
to revert to me?
Some publishing deals demand your
work be contracted for perpetuity; others
allow for mutual termination; still others
require that the publisher will receive a
cut of all future profits should you and the
company part ways. Understand, and do,
what is comfortable for you.
“It is important to be clear about
the play’s future. Are you still trying to actively develop or produce
the play? Are there other pending production inquiries on the
piece?” — Abbie Van Nostrand
Should You Sign On The Dotted Line?
Satisfied with the offer a publisher
makes you? Ask for a contract, and read it
over carefully with an attorney (if you can’t
afford one, an organization like Volunteer • April 2010
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Special Section: Plays & Playwriting
“Plays are not like novels or essays—they
are pieces of art intended for production.”
—Jason Aaron Goldberg
A production still from Furious theatre Company's
production of Alex Jones’ Canned Peaches in Syrup,
published by Original Works.
Lawyers For The Arts can help). Keep
your eyes peeled for any clauses that
allow the publisher to creatively edit
your work—you should always retain
that right.
“Plays are not like novels or essays—
they are pieces of art intended for production,” says Goldberg. “By the time
you seek publication, the work should
be finished. It should already have gone
through development, and any edits
should have been made there.” Expect,
though, to work with your publisher on
details like copyediting.
“The editing process is more about
formatting scripts into book form, making sure the author’s vision is represented clearly, and gathering the components necessary to make a completed
acting edition—production information, set plots, character information,”
explains Van Nostrand.
Never assign your play’s copyright
to a publisher! “There should be no
copyright issues with your play,” says
Goldberg. “This is part of our contract.” If
you’ve written an adaptation or translation, obtain all permissions for use of the
text before approaching any publisher
in the first place. Got all these ducks in
a row? Now listen to your gut: are you
truly happy with what this publisher is
offering you? If you have even the smallest reservation, bring it up. Bottom line:
your work is too valuable to risk. Have
foresight about your future. A publishing deal can last a very long time, and
both you and your publisher should
want to maximize its potential. As
Goldberg smartly concludes: “The best
relationships I have are with playwrights
who understand that publication is simply the beginning of the next phase of
the play’s life.”
April 2010 •
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Plays & Musicals
P.O. Box 577676
Chicago, IL 60657
P: 773-404-8016
W: www.americanplay
Artage Publications;
The Senior Theatre
Resource Center
P.O. Box 19955
Portland, OR 97280
P: 800-858-4998
W: www.seniortheatre.
Broadway Play
Publishing Inc.
56 E. 81st St.
New York, NY 10028
P: 212-772-8334
W: www.broadwayplay
Centerstage Press
P.O. Box 36688
Phoenix, AZ 85067
P: 602-242-1123
Dramatists Play
Service, Inc.
440 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10016
P: 212-683-8960
Encore Performance
P.O. Box 14367
Tallahassee, FL 32317
P: 850-385-2463
W: www.encoreplay.
Heinemann Drama
P.O. Box 6926
Portsmouth, NH 03802
P: 800-225-5800
W: www.heinemann.
Heuer Publishing Llc.
P.O. Box 248
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406
P: 800-950-7529
L.E. Clark Publications
P.O. Box 246
Schulenburg, TX 78956
P: 979-743-3232
J. Gordon Shillingford
Publishing & Scirocco
Box 86
Rpo Corydon Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3M 3S3
P: 204-779-6967
W: www.jgshillingford.
Josef Weinberger, Ltd.
12-14 Mortimer St.
London W1T 3JJ
P: 442075802827
F: 442074369616
W: www.josef-wein
KMR Scripts
P.O. Box 220
Valley Center, KS 671470220
P: 316-425-2556
Lillenas Christian
Drama Resources
P.O. Box 419527
Kansas City, MO 64141
P: 816-931-1900
W: www.lillenasdrama.
Maverick Musicals
89 Bergann Rd.
Maleny, QLD 04552
P: +61 61-7-5494-4007
Mc2 Entertainment
3004 French St.
Erie, PA 16504
P: 814-459-7098
W: www.mc2entertain
Meriwether Publishing
Ltd./ Contemporary
Drama Service
885 Elkton Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO
P: 800-937-5297
W: www.contemporary
Music Theatre
421 W. 54th St., 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10019
P: 212-541-4684
Mysteries By Moushey,
P.O. Box 3593
Kent, OH 44240
P: 330-678-3893
W: www.mysteriesby
One Way Productions,
2269 S. University Dr.,
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33324
P: 954-680-9095
W: www.biblicalactor.
Onstage Publishing
190 Lime Quarry Rd.,
Ste. 106j
Madison, AL 35758
P: 256-461-0661
W: www.onstagebooks.
Original Works Publishing
4611 1/2 Ambrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
W: www.originalwork
Plays And Musicals
Lantern House
84 Littlehaven Ln
Horsham, West Sussex
RH12 4JB
P: +44 44-700-593-8842
W: www.playsandmusi
Playwrights Canada
215 Spadina Ave.
Ste. 230
Toronto, ON M5T 2C7
P: 416-703-0013
W: www.playwrights
Popular Play Service
P.O. Box 3365
Bluffton, SC 29910
P: 843-705-7981
Samuel French, Inc.
45 W. 25th St.
2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10010
P: 212-206-8990
W: www.samuelfrench.
Spotlight Musicals
97 Massapoag Ave.
Easton, MA 02356
P: 877-406-3064
W: www.spotlightmusi
Stage Kids The Edutainment Company
P: 888-537-8243
P.O. Box 430
Windsor, CO 80550-0430
P: 970-377-2079
W: www.summerwind
Tams-Witmark Music
Library, Inc.
560 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10022
P: 212-688-9191
W: www.tamswitmark.
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization
229 W. 28th St. 11th Fl.
New York, NY 10001
P: 212-541-6600
P.O. Box 1064
Crystal Beach, ON L0S
P: 866-245-9138
W: www.theatrefolk.
Pioneer Drama
Service, Inc.
P.O. Box 4267
Englewood, CO 80155
P: 800-333-7262
W: www.pioneerdrama.
com • April 2010
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Show Biz
By Tim Cusack
Not the Same Old
very year American Theatre magazine compiles its Top-10 list of
the most frequently performed plays for the current producing
season at Theatre Communication Group’s constituent members across the country. These data always provide a fascinating
snapshot of the collective mindset of decision makers at the nation’s
established not-for-profits. For example, between 2006-2010 John
Patrick Shanley was the undisputed King of the Playwriting Hill, with
close to 50 productions of Doubt going up during that time. David
Lindsey Abaire was second with 33 productions of Rabbit Hole, and
while none of her individual plays racked up anywhere near those
numbers, Sarah Ruhl ruled L.O.R.T. She made the list each of the past
three years with a total of 31 productions of three plays. And then
there’s Tennessee Williams—apparently the Wingfields of St. Louis
haven’t smashed that crystal unicorn for the last time just yet, as The
Glass Menagerie has received nearly 20 productions since 2006.
While in some respects the lemming-like mind-meld of the
administrators at our nation’s larger theatres is deeply depressing
(although, I suspect, the fortunate few playwrights and their agents
feel differently), for indy theatre producers, this cookie-cutter programming represents an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from
our big brothers and sisters.
One dependable source for the intrepid producer to find interesting, quality new work that nobody else in town (or likely your region)
is doing is the Plays and Playwrights anthology, published annually
since 2000 by The New York Theatre Experience. This month the
organization is coming out with the 2010 edition, and to mark the
occasion, I sat down to chat with editor Martin Denton.
What led you to want to take on this kind of project, Martin?
The real story is that we saw a show called Are We There Yet?
written by Garth Wingfield and produced by a company called New
World Stages. As we were leaving, I said to my mother Rochelle, “That
was a really great play, and someone ought to publish it because if
Leaning on others to help
find the good new work.
no one does, it’s going to disappear after 16 performances, and no
one will ever know it happened.”
What was it about that particular play that gave you the idea
for the book?
It’s a lovely play about a woman who’s in her early thirties who
finds out she has breast cancer. It’s a very funny play, not a sad play.
Very heartfelt with beautiful characters you really like, and there’s
wisdom in it. So at the end of the year, I said to Rochelle, “Remember
when I said someone ought to publish that play? We should publish
a book of plays.” And instead of saying the sensible thing like, “Why?
Are you crazy? We’ve never published anything before!” She said,
“Okay.” So we did, without having any idea how to do that. And the
impetus, besides this particular play, was that I knew that we knew
enough plays at that point that deserved to be in this book, and we
were starting to know some playwrights and how to get to them. But
beyond that was the fact that in 1999, the only books featuring new
American plays were those written by famous people. It turned out
to be very successful for what it was. And every play in the anthology had at least one—and some many—subsequent productions
because of it.
What playwrights/companies will be included in the 2010
This year we’re publishing The Talking Band for the first time—
Flip Side by Ellen Maddow. We put it on the list sort of whimsically,
and then we were going through it and saying “Well, surely she’s
been published, and so we can cross this off,” but we researched
and checked, and she’s NEVER been published. Brian Parks [Arts
and Culture Editor at The Village Voice] is another person who’s surprisingly never been published. His play The Invitation is probably
the best thing he’s ever written. It’s about the greed that caused
the recent economic collapse, except it premiered in September
‘08, so it was very prescient. Then we’ve
got Nat Cassidy’s play Any Day Now, which
is a lighthearted, three-act family dramacomedy like August: Osage County, only
the characters are zombies. And we have
Gyda Arber’s Suspicious Package, an interactive play on the iPod. It’s the most interesting
use of this technology I’ve seen in the theatre.
What other resources would you recommend to producers seeking new work?
There are now many more collections
than when we started. Smith & Kraus has
gotten much more regular with its New
Playwrights: The Best Plays of a year series.
Then there’s Eric Lane, Artistic Director
of Orange Thoughts Productions and a
playwright himself who has edited several
anthologies for Random House [e.g., Laugh
Lines, Leading Women and Take Ten: New
10-Minute Plays —ed.]. And the New York
Theater Review is also a dependable annual
compilation of alternative play scripts. All
of these books can be found on Amazon.
24.300.1004.indd 24
April 2010 •
3/16/10 4:47 PM
By Stephan Peithman
The How
and Why of It
| Off the Shelf
Books that provide
insight into making theatre better
cting teacher Sam Kogan once asked, “How can actors
understand a character if they do not understand
themselves?” It was a rhetorical question, but in The
Science of Acting (Why You Think The Way You Do and
How To Change It), Kogan follows up on it by identifying the
relationship between neuroscience, psychology and acting
to help actors identify “invisible” thoughts that drive their
own lives, as well as the characters they portray on stage.
Kogan died in 2004, and this thought-provoking new book
was completed by his daughter, Helen Kogan, chair of the
Academy of the Science of Acting and Directing, which her
father founded. [$30.95, Routledge]
The stage an actor performs on is the focus of How to
Start Your Own Theater Company, but instead of a simplistic
how-to approach, author Reginald Nelson puts the whole
thing into context of the first three seasons of Chicago’s
award-winning Congo Square Theatre. As his tale unfolds,
we see how seemingly mundane issues (rent, parking, safety,
determining tax status and calculating budgets and finding
flexible day jobs), reflect the daily realities of small nonprofit
theatre companies. Nelson covers the big topics, too, like
finding a space, choosing plays, rights and royalties and
fundraising, but he also provides important insight into
working with underserved communities. In short, he packs a
great deal into the book’s 179 pages, but does not pretend
to answer every question, since the answers may depend on
the start-up company’s particular situation. What he does do,
in highly readable and informative fashion, is make the reader
aware of what to expect, what questions to ask, and where to
get the answers. [$16.95, Chicago Review Press]
Nonprofit organizations “are not victims of economics,”
writes author Susan U. Raymond. “They are part of the
nation’s economic structure. They are (or ought to be) masters of their own destiny—vibrant economic actors with a
wide range of revenue options and strategies.” That’s the
central point of her book, Nonprofit Finance for Hard Times:
Leadership Strategies When Economies Falter. She spends
a great deal of time in an explanation of the economic system
in modern-day America, and how the nonprofit sector fits
into it. It’s clear she believes that providing tips and how-to’s
is meaningless without this background—and so not until
chapters 8-10 does she addresses specific financial strategies
for coping with, or recovering from, economic hard times. A
patient reader will be rewarded, however, since understanding the big picture helps set the path a particular nonprofit
should take. As Raymond points out, it’s not a matter of just
hanging on for the white-knuckle ride, but planning the best
strategy to survive and succeed. [$45, Jossey-Bass]
The Jossey-Bass Reader on Nonprofit and Public
Leadership gathers a collection of writings on leadership
and management in the public and nonprofit sectors, including previously published essays, articles and extracts from
books and periodicals that have been selected by author
and Professor James L. Perry. Topics include principles and
practices of leadership, organizational change, corporate
culture, communication, efficiency, ethics, understanding
leadership roles in the nonprofit world, “founder vs. executive
director” relationships, board leadership, alternative and collaborative leadership, strategic management, sustainability
and the future of leadership. The book’s diversity of subject
matter and vantage points makes it a worthwhile read. [$38,
Philanthropy in a Flat World: Inspiration through
Globalization, by Jon Duschinsky, is aimed at helping fundraisers and nonprofit managers become more flexible, adaptable, and international in approach. Competing successfully
in today’s “borderless world” is a fairly narrow topic of interest, since not many theatre companies work with donors
from countries other than their own. But for those who do,
Duschinsky provides many eye-opening moments, including his belief that “Your aim is quantum fundraising, where
you throw the rule book away and put absolute faith in your
vision for change. Lack of self-confidence has no place in
the fundraising world of tomorrow. The stakes are too high.”
[$27.95, Jossey-Bass]
While Theaters 2: Partnerships in Facility Use, Operations
and Management is designed like an art book, the real art
here is in its examination of the growing number of partnerships between institutions, municipalities, agencies and arts
organizations as principal facility owners and managers.
The visual focus is architectural, while chapters detail the
various levels of collaboration necessary to create distinctive
and practical theatre spaces in today’s economy—including defining common goals among various user groups,
reconciling budgets and program activities, and delivering
a completed multipurpose building. Detailed case studies
of 42 public and private partnerships include the Hylton
Performing Arts Center in historic Manassas, Virginia; the
Oslo Opera House; Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall; the
Margot and Bill Winspeare Opera House in Dallas, Texas; and
the Las Cruces Performing Arts Center at New Mexico State
University. Project summaries at the end of the book include
facility descriptions, locations, and participating design teams
for each project. Combining plenty of solid information with
informative photos and drawings, this is outstanding work.
[$75, Images Publishing] • April 2010
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3/17/10 1:22 PM
In the Greenroom
In Brief…
Two-time Academy Award-winner Albert Wolsky will
receive the 2010 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement
Award for costume design, and Tony Award-winning scenic
designer and educator Ming Cho Lee will receive the TDF/
Irene Sharaff Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence
in Theatrical Design. Costume designer Alejo Vietti will receive
the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, and famed theatre
craftsman/designer John David Ridge will receive the TDF/
Irene Sharaff Artisan Award…New York’s Summer Play Festival
selected playwright Alena Smith as their representative playwright for the Voices of Change Festival in Bielefeld, Germany…
Off-Broadway’s 11-time Obie Award-winning Soho Rep has
received a grant in the amount of $200,000 from The Andrew
W. Mellon Foundation to help support the work of the company
over the next several seasons...The Francesca Ronnie Primus
Foundation and the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
have awarded playwright Jamie Pachino of Los Angeles the
2009 Francesca Primus Prize for her play Splitting Infinity, worth
$10,000… Marin Theatre Company has awarded their 2010 Sky
Cooper New American Play Prize to Bill Cain for 9 Circles. Cain
will receive a $10,000 award accompanied by a world premiere
production of 9 Circles in the Lieberman Theatre as part of MTC’s
2010–11 season. Also, MTC has given their 2010 David Calicchio
Emerging American Playwright Prize to Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
for Lidless. She will receive $2,500 and Lidless will be included in
MTC’s New Works series in the 2010–11 season… Julia Cho won
the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, given annually to women
playwrights, for her play The Language Archive.
DePaul University Expands Theatre Wigs
And Hair Certificate Program
NEA Names Ralph Remington New
Director of Theatre and Musical Theatre
DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education will
expand its distinctive Wigs and Hair Chicago program this June.
The only existing certificate program focused on teaching students to design, create and maintain stage hair will now feature
a course on the construction and maintenance of facial hair. The
new course complements Wigs and Hair Chicago’s two existing
five-day certificate programs.
The suite of programs now consists of: Wigs and Hair Dressing
and Maintenance Program; Wigs and Hair Production I Certificate
Program; Wigs and Hair Production II Certificate Program. Students
earn a Certificate of Professional Achievement from DePaul upon
completion of each program.
Ralph Remington has joined the National Endowment for the
Arts as the director of theatre and musical theatre. Most recently,
Remington was a city council member of the City of Minneapolis,
representing Ward 10 from 2006 through 2009. Prior to that
public service, Mr. Remington worked as artistic associate with
Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; producing artistic director and
founder of the Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis; and as
an actor with the Guthrie Theater and Illusion Theatre, both of
Minneapolis. At the NEA, he will manage the NEA’s grantmaking
for theatre and musical theatre, as well as develop partnerships
to advance the theatre field as a whole, and lead large-scale theatre projects such as the NEA’s New Play Development Program.
changing roles
industry news
Continued from page 6
For more information about the companies advertising in Stage Directions®
and serving the theatre profession, go to the links listed below.
American Musical & Dramatic
Academy - AMDA
Graham Swift & Co/ Theatre Guys
Angstrom Lighting
Apollo Design
Light Source, The
Arena Drapery Rental
Look Solutions
Atlanta Rigging
Production Advantage
Production Intercom
13, 15, 22
Charles H. Stewart & Co.
27, C3
Chauvet Lighting
Samuel French
Checkers Industrial Products
Sculptural Arts Coating
CM Rigging
Selecon Performance Lighting
Demand Products
Dove Systems
Theatre Wireless/
RC4 Wireless Dimming
5-6.300.1004.indd 26
April 2010 •
3/16/10 4:40 PM
Classified Advertising
just stand
stand there!
up online
online for
Stage Directions
FREE subscription
subscription today! • April 2010
Answer Box
By Jacob Coakley
Christopher Ash
The Texture
of Ghosts
Christopher Ash
Nick Keenan uses sound to change the
physics of a space, or play.
Nick Keenan placed a speaker in a table to mimic the sound of props in New Leaf Theater’s production
of A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room.
ick Keenan is a Chicago-based sound designer who has
worked with a lot of storefront theatres (he’s Artist in
Residence at Chicago’s New Leaf Theatre, not to mention a multitude of designer credits across town) and larger ones
as well (he’s sound op at the Goodman Theatre). You can check
out his demo reel at He also teaches and is on
the faculty of Northwestern University’s “Cherub” program for
high school theatre students. But he’s not done yet—in addition to his sound work he’s also a bit of a Web ninja, doing web
development projects for and the Chicago
Theater Database and has his own blog (TheaterfortheFuture.
com) where he discusses new directions in theatre and has been
called “one of the smartest voices in the theatrosphere” by Time
Out Chicago. He stopped by the chat room on
February 24 to talk about his approach to sound and theatre,
excerpts of which are reprinted below.
Jacob Coakley: Talk about what you mean by “texture” for non-musical theatre. What is that exactly?
Scene sting music, underscore during dramatic
parts? Does it resolve itself differently for each
Nick Keenan: When I’m designing a system I’m
thinking about the acoustics of the space, and how
that translates into the acoustics of the world of the
play. The texture of sound can be used to make
spaces feel different than they are, just as light
changes the way that static objects are shaped. And even if I’m
not using music in a show, I may change the way a room ‘feels”
by adding rumbles, tones, dancing notes, environmental scoring—texture.
Nick Keenan wanted his sound design for New Leaf Theater’s production of The Dining
Room to create a space that belonged to ghosts.
Nick Keenan: An example, actually. You guys know
A.R. Gurney’s play The Dining Room? Basically a
bunch of families in different decades overlapping
their lives in the same environment: the dining
room. You’ll be in the ‘40s and then teens from the
‘80s will run through.
Nick Keenan: We cut all the props in a production
we did of that at New Leaf Theater, and I fired a
special practical speaker into the dining room table.
The actors would move their hand, and you would
hear them pick up and polish a fork or fold a newspaper, but you wouldn’t see it happen. The space became the
home of ghosts. It all comes from thinking about the acoustic
“physics” of the world of the play.
Justin Argenio: How do you cope with the integrity
of the designer vs. what the director, artistic director, producer wants? Especially if you disagree.
Nick Keenan: It depends on what I can get away
with. Which I
think is true of all
of us. It’s a game
of “yes and.” If you
as a designer cut off someone
To read a transcript of the entire chat
else’s process with an inflexisession, head over to www.theatreface.
ble “no” you’re cutting off the
com/nickkeenan. To join in other chats,
creative flow in the room.
head over to
That’s poisonous.
28 April 2010 •
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