by Colin Thomas
“You’re fired!” is a Donald Trump catchphrase. But it doesn’t always work. Sad.
Case in point: Trump announced last week that he will disband The President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts and Humanities—but the remaining committee members had already resigned.
They quit in disgust over Trump’s response to the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. In an open letter sent to the President on Friday, August 18, the group, which includes painter Chuck Close and actor Kal Penn, wrote, “Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion.” Pulling no punches, the group called upon Trump to join them in their mass resignation: “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”
In this Vanity Fair article, Penn, who is a regular on the TV series Designated Survivor, adds perspective, revealing that, taken together, the first letters of the first word of every paragraph in the letter spell out RESIST, and noting that Melania Trump, the honorary chair of the committee, never communicated with its members.
In a related story, Melania and her husband have pulled out of the Kennedy Centre Honors. Mind you, this was only after three out of this year’s five inductees—producer Norman Lear, musician Lionel Richie, and choreographer Carmen deLavallade—said that they would not participate in the White House’s official dinner and private ceremony.
As Penn points out in the Vanity Fair piece, you can’t break up with somebody who’s already broken up with you.
Best drag name I’ve heard recently: Gladys Pantsaroff. It must be time for an item about nudity.
In this piece for The Stage, Adam Scott-Rowley offers three handy tips on how to perform naked. And, in this review from the same publication, Ka Bradley offers her take on the effect of the writer and performer’s nakedness in his solo show This Is Not Culturally Significant: “It lets the remarkable Adam Scott-Crowley clothe himself in voices.”
If you’ve ever wanted to see James Corden or Lin-Manuel Miranda with their pants off, here’s your chance. In this YouTube video, they perform excerpts from Hair—in a crosswalk, while the traffic is stopped. In the last bit, they remove everything but their wigs. Socially redeeming factor: hilarity.
The company, which plans to develop China’s musical theatre industry, has struck a deal with Shanghai Media Group Live, owner of 13 theatres and multiple performing arts companies. The flagship production will be a Chinese adaptation of composer Webber’s 1979 song cycle, Tell Me on A Sunday.
In the original, an unnamed, apparently unemployed English woman seeks marriage with commitment-phobic men in New York and LA. In a 2003 review in Variety, Matt Wolf said that “Tell Me on a Sunday trades exclusively on the notion of woman as victim,” And, in her review of a 2010 production in The Guardian, the formidable Lyn Gardner noted: “Actors are frequently called upon to do bizarre things on stage, but poor Claire Sweeney is the first I’ve seen directed to make love to the merchandise mid-show, in this case a small teddy bear available in the foyer for £12.50.”
But there are always new markets.
Actor Susan Sarandon says that she chooses what movies to act in based almost entirely on who else will be working on the project. Me and Susan: that’s how we roll—except that I choose what shows to see based on whose work that choice will expose me to.
The Dramatic Works Series at the upcoming Vancouver Fringe Festival features scripts by playwrights of Asian descent, which is already cool. And I’m particularly interested in director Chris Lam’s take on David Henry Hwang’s Bondage.
Lam is an up-and-comer: he’s an excellent actor and his direction of The Nether helped to make it one of the best shows at last year’s Fringe.
Bondage is intriguing. In it, a professional dominatrix interacts with a male submissive in an S and M parlour. Both are hooded, which allows their identities—crucially, their racial identities—to be fluid.
Theatre: the best medium for reminding us that reality is an ongoing invention.