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Jul 3, 2018



Theater, edited by Tom Sellar mid 80’s? This periodical is the journal of Yale School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theater. I arbitrarily chose volume 47, Number 1 and discovered the theme was “Curating Crisis.” The notion that theater would have a curator, which I associate with the visual arts, was news to me. As editor, Tom writes an opening overview. He also conducts four interviews with leading figures in experimental theater.

In one of his questions to Florian Malzacher, Tom defines the concept of curation in performance arts. “What’s exciting about curation is the idea. . . .that there could be linkages between individual performances and between artistic projects.” He goes on to talk about the “cultures of curation” (a concept he attributes to Beatrice von Bismarck). “It encompasses the larger linkages and also contemporary linkages, keeping track of what’s been attempted before and what’s being attempted now.” So this edition of Theater takes on how the role of curator plays out in festivals and often non-traditional theater spaces and expresses the hope that this new nomenclature really represents a new way of looking at theater and not just a new name for something old.

One concern, expressed in the essay “Identifying the Endgame,” by Thomas F. DeFrantz, and also in Jay Pather’s “Negotiating the Postcolonial Black Body as a Site of Paradox,” is that of redefining and constructing new audiences. Instead of the usual white male productions with a token woman or black offering, De Frantz suggests that the curator begin from the bottom up. Start with the audience. Find out what they are looking for. Pather’s essay indicates that in South Africa this is already happening amid the ferment of a resurgence of racial turmoil.

Most impressive in this edition is the world-wide reach of the contributors, their social involvement, and their fearless innovation.


New Posts
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    May 22, 2018

    Poetry in Motion, 100 poems from the subways and buses, edited by Molly Peacock ff, Elise Paschen and Neil Neches, with an introduction by Molly, who as president of the Poetry Society of America, helped launch the program in 1992. These gems, from poets as far back as Sappho to Shakespeare to Wordsworth to contemporaries like Louise Erdrich, have lowered the blood pressure and deepened the respiration of countless straphangers. Molly tells us, “We look for voices that will stimulate the exhausted, inspire the frustrated, comfort the burdened, and enchant even the youngest passengers.” Many of the poems reflect on travel itself, like Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn’s Ferry, Nina Cassians’s Please Give this seat to an Elderly or Disabled Person , or Ogden Nash’s Riding on a Railroad Train. Ninety-nine poets are represented in this collection. If you’re taking a trip, put it in your bag.
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    Apr 15, 2018

    A Village Destroyed, May 14, 1999, War Crimes in Kosovo, Jointly developed by Fred Abrahams 80’s?, Gilles Peress, and Eric Stover under the aegis of Human Rights Watch. I am grateful to Ron Singer for telling me about this book. On the morning of this day, Cuska, a village in Kosovo, populated by ethnic Albanians, was taken over by Serbian police. Its male population was divided into three groups and massacred. The book looks like an upscale photo book until you realize that the images depict the harrowing story of exile, death and destruction, all part of ethnic cleansing. Fred wrote the major part of the text. His section is called The Case, as this is not merely a journalistic report, but a documentation of war crimes which could play a part in trials at the World Court in the Hague or in other more local tribunals. Against all odds, one man in each of the groups taken to be slaughtered miraculously got away, so there are three eye witnesses to the crimes. In a page out of a spy thriller, film (of suspect provenance), which potentially contains images of the killers, comes to light. Fred scans the photos into his laptop for villagers to view and identify. Indeed there are individuals they recognize. (I have not succeeded in finding out what happened to the criminals. I gather that they were tried, but I haven’t been able to find the verdict.) This is a narrow slice of a much larger war; through the efforts and courage of this NGO, we see it in its raw brutality.
  • xxpaulmartin12345x
    Mar 11, 2018

    Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty records and analyses a Marilyn Minter retrospective, co-directed by Bill Arning ‘7?, who writes a director’s foreword and the introductory essay, “Marilyn Minter: From Unshiny to Shiny.” Bill, who directs the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, has collaborated with other museum directors and curators to put together this comprehensive show of an artist whose first installation he mounted in the ‘80’s at White Columns Gallery downtown. Bill traces the major shifts in her art while also conveying the history of the gallery scene in New York. He describes her evolution (also recorded in the book’s lavish photos) from her early works in the 70’s focusing on the very mundane (vinyl tile floors) through a period of “Food Porn,” (1989-1990) which indeed are erotic, to actual porn (90’s). Finally, Minter produces shiny Rococo images of mouths and other body parts engulfed in bubbles and jewels. Bill’s essay lays out a remarkable argument for the subversive relationship between these images and our culture. I believe that Bill Arning was in my class for more years than any other student. After he graduated, I kept running into him – once in Paris and once in the Oyster Bar at Grand Central. It’s a joy to encounter him again.