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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Artistic Directors Show the World Their White-Guy Blinders, Twitter Explodes in Their Faces

Posted by on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Last night, Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks hosted a panel discussion (the first of a three-part series) with artistic directors at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

A few folks, including Strand Theater artistic director Elissa Goetschius, dutifully tweeted the proceedings which began about as drearily as you'd expect: ".@petermarksdrama acknowledges how the relationship between ADs and critics is frequently strained, but expresses his admiration." (Yawn.)

The thread showed a glimmer of feistiness after playwright Steve Spotswood tweeted a photo of the stage:

And director Tlaloc Rivas shot back:

Rivas started tweeting statistics on the conservatism and conformity of regional-theater programming. He said he'd conducted a survey of 150 off-Broadway and regional theaters and found that this season, there were more productions of Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike (15) than there were of works by August Wilson and Lynn Nottage combined (9). And there were 14 productions of Venus in Fur (now playing at the Seattle Rep!) versus 12 productions by Quiara Hudes, David Henry Hwang, and Karen Zacarias combined.

So far, so good—the big-shots talking and catching some well-earned flak. But the real fun starts around 4:48 when Ryan Rilette of the Roundhouse Theater in Maryland steps in it:

People start coming out of the woodwork...

And then...

Wow. That Ryan Rilette just can't stop throwing shit into the fan can he? (To be fair, he later claimed the quote was out of context.)

I posted a few of the (many, many) responses below, but you should check out the whole thing. It's a funny, scorching, and sad picture of the fracture lines in big-house theater these days. (And thanks to playwright—lady playwright!—Holly Arsenault for the tip.)



Comments (10) RSS

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Sargon Bighorn 1
I don't understand the out rage. What's happening that is so upsetting?
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on February 18, 2014 at 8:50 PM · Report this
fletc3her 2
Twitter?! That's the worst!
Posted by fletc3her on February 18, 2014 at 9:04 PM · Report this
There's a really great Storify that compiles all the Twitter conversation here, for those who want to see everything that unfolded in all it's effed up glory:…

Elissa also posted a fantastic blog post in response to the evening here:…
Posted by revolutionerdy on February 19, 2014 at 7:13 AM · Report this
This was fantastic reading. So much truth. Now go see "The Piano Teacher" by Julia Cho at Rep Stage in Columbia MD. Closes Sunday.
Posted by Mid-Atlantic 2 Cents on February 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Much truth here. Now go see a play at a DC Metro Area theatre, Rep Stage in Columbia MD, "The Piano Teacher" by Julia Cho, directed by Kasi Campbell. Closes

See what one award winning young female Korean-American playwright is writing. Directed by a female director as well. Here is some programming everyone should get behind. Enjoy!

Posted by Mid-Atlantic 2 Cents on February 19, 2014 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Roaring with laughter. Does anyone else remember the discussion on the stage on the Intiman, held after Mike Daisey's piece about the state of theatre? Looked ALOT like that panel in DC.
Posted by RMDavis on February 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM · Report this
As a theater professional (and a white guy) who has worked all over the country I have one work for the future of the theater as expressed here: SNORE
Posted by TGBob on February 19, 2014 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Hey, you don't suppose there are so many productions of "Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike" and "Venus in Fur" because those shows won Tonys, do you?

There may be something wrong with the Tonys, but that's a different discussion. Tony winners sell tickets.
Posted by TalkinTony on February 20, 2014 at 12:28 AM · Report this
Yes, Tony winning plays make money and both are small cast productions. The real issue is when you look at the seasons of the Regional Theaters, it does not balance out. White male writers are king, which goes along with the white males as artistic directors.
Posted by Will123 on February 20, 2014 at 6:53 AM · Report this
Meanwhile in Seattle we produce a an opera about the Jerry Springer show and can only manage to cast two actors of color with nary a comment about that in any of the reviews.
Posted by don't let that stand in your way on February 20, 2014 at 10:08 AM · Report this

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