John Porter’s “Almost Maine” review is available both on his blog or, if you prefer to hear the dulcet tones of his lovely voice, you can stream it off of the WCVE site. This show closes this weekend so get out to see it while you can.
Grant Mudge of Richmond Shakespeare wrote an Op-Ed in this past weekend’s Times-Dispatch in anticipation of the opening of “Art” at the Virginia Museum. Check it out if you haven’t read it.
There are many cool things about this production being the one that re-opens the theater at the museum, the most obvious being the title and theme of the show. Director kb Saine also used to work for TheatreVirginia, if I remember correctly. Mr. Mudge uses his Op-Ed piece to talk a little bit more about the value of live theater. His sentiments are encapsulated in this passage:
You respond to a work of art with only your own senses, thoughts and emotion. In theater, the art responds back. Actors hear and are influenced by the audience. And they respond. It's vital that audiences know how much of every performance they see they are inextricably a part. This shared experience is the performing arts' chief recommending quality. The entire community, artists and audiences alike, experiences together.I’m glad that Grant took the opportunity to put that kind of endorsement of live theater out in a piece that he could have devoted solely to promoting his own company or production. After reading this op-ed, it occurs to me that there are many other interesting topics that could be explored as part of the re-opening of the Museum Theater. There are very specific ones like the economic reasons that TheatreVA closed and how theater has changed in town since. And there are also more general theater-related issues involved: what is the state of regional theater? Do local audiences care about having an Equity theater in town? Should they?
The closing and re-opening of the theater begs more general entertainment-related questions too: the rise of social media and the explosion in the popularity of video games could be construed as indicating that people – particularly young people – want interactivity to be part of the entertainment experience. How can theater capitalize on that?
Of course, I don’t have much in the way of answers. But I’m always one to jump on the opportunity to ask the questions. If you have any answers, I’d be very interested to hear them. Also, in other Richmond Shakespeare-related news, they issued an Audition Turnout Challenge on their blog recently. If you've got a hankerin' for that iambic pentameter, their audition this weekend is the place to be.