What We’re Reading

Welcome to the Green Room’s newest series, What We’re Reading, in which we’ll share with you some of our favorite articles about theater and performance from all around the internet this week. 

In “Pursuing the Muse Against the Clock,” the great Lin-Manuel Miranda describes the impact Jonathan Larson’s work has had on his growth as an artist as he prepared to perform in Tick, Tick… Boom! at City Center (which concludes today, for anyone in or near NYC!). The piece is just beautiful. I’ll let Lin speak for himself:

Just as “Rent” grabbed 17-year-old me and announced, “This is what you should be doing,” “Tick, Tick … Boom!” grabbed the 21-year old me and refused to let go. It was more than a portrait of the artist as a young man; it was a sneak preview of what my 20s would be […] Every young artist deals with these realities, and Jonathan gave them specificity and vitality and truth. He kept going, and, in doing so, galvanized a generation of songwriters to follow his lead, myself included.

Whether you’re a Renthead or you’ve never heard of Tick, Tick… Boom!, this piece is a must-read.

Crossing the Value Border: Doing Theatre in Non-Traditional Communities” by Jennifer Fawcett considers how the centralized structure of the American theater industry is affecting the way theater functions within local communities. Why is local theater important to a community? She writes:

An audience that has a sense of ownership to a production is a different kind of audience.  I’m not talking about preaching to the choir, I’m talking about people recognizing their community on stage.

The Green Room has featured articles about various kinds of theatrical representation before; it’s no secret that I’m always interested in exploring the relationship between theater and its audiences, and I found the way Fawcett connects that topic to the broader structures of commercial theater to be fascinating.

Lastly, if you missed the news that broke last week about the production of Hands on a Hardbody in Texas that got shut down – or if you want to read more about why the production was so problematic – you should read “Rebuilding ‘Hardbody’ At A Houston Chop Shop” by Howard Sherman. It’s an especially great read because Sherman spoke with many people involved in the debacle, including artistic director Bruce Lumpkin and Hardbody composer-lyricist Amanda Green. Particularly striking to me was this quote from Hardbody bookwriter Doug Wright:

In the theater, I’m paid next to nothing for a play…but I get something even more philosophically and artistically valuable: ownership of my own writing. I live with the assurance that my scripts won’t be altered in any way without my blessing. That’s the one reward the theater can truly offer writers.  It should never be taken away.

It’s a great summation of the trade-off involved in switching mediums. The whole article is a thorough look at the incident and a valuable read; it was very interesting to read Lumpkin’s comments to understand how he rationalized making the changes that he did (though I personally tend to agree with Sherman and Wright on this one).

Have an article you think we should check out? Leave it in the comments below! 

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