Online Hubbub: Romance

May 8, 2009

Let us know what you thought!

Why do we laugh at content that is so embarrassing and offensive?

If the defendant is guilty, what punishment fits the crime?


A.R.T.’s pARTy 2009 was a success!

May 8, 2009
pARTy 2009: Artistic Director Diane Paulus, Founding Director Robert Brustein, Actress Diane Lane

pARTy 2009: Artistic Director Diane Paulus, Founding Director Robert Brustein, Actress Diane Lane.

The A.R.T.’s annual fundraiser pARTy let the sun shine on Monday, April 27, when Artistic Director Diane Paulus was joined by special guests including members of the cast from her Broadway production of HAIR to help celebrate the dawning of a new era at the A.R.T.

Other groovy people of the night included actress Diane Lane, Joyce Kulhawik, and Billy Costa. The annual Robert Brustein Award was presented to internationally acclaimed director Andrei Serban and A.R.T. Senior Actor Jeremy Geidt.

The evening left hippie-clad guests dancing onstage and in the aisles after a rollicking performance by the Broadway cast of HAIR.

The event was a tremendous success thanks to the generosity of the A.R.T.’s friends, board members, and supporters.


Romance In The Era of Hope and Change

April 23, 2009

All through this season at the A.R.T., I’ve been pondering Romance while working on other projects. I’ve made it a point to try and re-read the text at least once a week. Back in January, I sat down for another trip through the play as President Obama’s inauguration played on a nearby TV. When I finally put two and two together, I grabbed a post-it and frantically scribbled a note: “This changes everything for Romance.” How could a farce that mocks our social differences succeed in an era of supposed unity?

Two weeks of rehearsal has calmed my fears. Hearing our cast deliver the play has reminded me that it is the ultimate equal-opportunity offender. Mamet goes out of his way to poke fun at every race, religion, sexual orientation, profession, nationality, and political viewpoint. I often have the image of Mamet sitting beside a list of special interest groups, checking each one off as he created the play’s dialogue. In fact, the Romance team created our own list of those lambasted in the play. It is an exhaustive list.

Writing these blog entries as I watch the news, I’m reminded that we may not be as united as we’d like to believe. The current string of tea-bag protests and the Texas governor’s threats of secession may be taken as humorous here in Boston, but this division is precisely what Mamet inflates and capitalizes on in Romance. He dares us to laugh at our differences, detonating our national traditions of political correctness and censored speech.

The technique has become a hallmark of Mamet’s work after Romance. His most recent Broadway hit November decimates the sanctity of the Oval Office, presenting the fictitious president as a swindling crook and anti-hero. Mamet turns the political speech into the stuff of farce in November, just as Romance mocks “legalese” lawyer-speak. If Mamet advocates for anything in these farces, it is for us to take ourselves less seriously.

The Romance of Rehearsal

April 17, 2009

There are two different farces going on at Zero Church Street: David Mamet’s Romance, and the zany process of actually trying to rehearse it. This group of company members and students could make me laugh at the phone book. But Romance has an unbelievable amount of shtick per page. There’s a seemingly endless stream of material for us to mine.

Right now, we’re spending most of our time decoding Mamet’s text. The dialogue of Romance is an incredibly intricate road map of pauses, periods, and commas. The process can be tiring, but the resulting dialogue is lively, dense, and worth the effort. Today, we spent three hours on just one section of one scene. Tommy Derrah, fresh off our production of Endgame, remarked that “this stuff is harder to crack than Beckett.” Fellow Endgamers Will LeBow and Remo Airaldi chuckled in agreement.

What constantly impresses me as I watch Scott Zigler and the cast tackle the text is the sheer ambition of Mamet’s dramaturgy. Most contemporary playwrights focus on two or three person dialogue. Mamet’s own most famous hits (Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo) revolve around two-handed scenes. But for Romance’s courtroom scenes, which make up most the text, Mamet keeps five to seven characters fully engaged in the action at all times. Continuously developing this entire cast of characters is a huge feat, and unpacking these rich scenes is keeping us plenty busy.

EXPERIENCE THE A.R.T. – 09/10 season

April 15, 2009

Welcome to 2009-10 at the A.R.T.! I am so excited to introduce the 09/10 season, and our new initiative:


You will see these words a lot. To me, theater is more than simply the play on the stage: it’s a ritual, a place for people to come and gather—a function of community. Next season is designed with this in mind, and is programmed around two festivals: Shakespeare Exploded! and America: Boom, Bust, and Baseball. Each festival will be enhanced by readings, discussions, art exhibits, and opportunities to socialize, dine, and even dance together.

FESTIVAL No. 01 – Shakespeare Exploded!

We open our 2009-10 season with Shakespeare Exploded!, a festival of radical new works inspired by three classic plays by Shakespeare. Dance to all the 70’s hits you know by heart at The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that unfolds around you as a nightclub fantasy. Then experience your own sensory journey as you enter the world of Sleep No More, an immersive “adventure theater” work inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock’s thrillers. Celebrate the holidays with Best of Both Worlds, an R&B and gospel musical that takes its story from The Winter’s Tale. Before you see Best of Both Worlds, make sure to catch the A.R.T. Institute’s limited run of the Shakespeare play The Winter’s Tale in early October.

FESTIVAL No. 02 – America: Boom, Bust, and Baseball

America: Boom, Bust, and Baseball explores the hopes, disappointments, and triumphs of the past American century from the roaring twenties to the Great Depression to the Boston Red Sox’s stunning 2004 World Series victory. We begin with the boom—Gatz brings every word of Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby to life in this once-in-a-lifetime marathon theatrical experience. The bust is Clifford Odets’ Paradise Lost, a powerful drama about an American family who loses everything in the throes of economic crisis. Spring is baseball season, and we’ll be staging the world premiere of Red Sox Nation, an exhilarating new musical that explores the source of the infamous Curse and the secret to its end by blending fiction, fact, and the mystical power of the game.

I am thrilled to invite you to immerse yourself in the A.R.T. experience alongside me next season—from attending, to contributing to active discussions online, to having a post-performance snack with your seatmates, to sharing your creative responses to our work with our community. I look forward to welcoming you to the theater!

Warm regards,
Diane Paulus, Artistic Director

Trojan Barbie – Barbie Doll art opening photos

April 11, 2009

A few photos from our Trojan Barbie Barbie Doll art exhibit opening event at SPACE 242. These and other fine art masterpieces inspired by or made with Barbie Dolls will be on display at SPACE 242 through April 17. Gallery Hours: Friday evenings 6:30-8 p.m. and by appointment. Co-sponsored by The Weekly Dig. Photos by Derek Kouyoumjian.

Online Hubbub: Trojan Barbie

March 27, 2009

Let us know what you thought!

Playwright Christine Evans said, “I’m not interested in simply taking a play and dressing it in modern clothes without creating a real dialogue between the past and the present.”  How did this dialogue between the past and the present resonate for you?

Please feel free to share any other thoughts on the production.