Sunday, September 27, 2009

Top Ten Actions Steps to Achieve 50/50 in 2020 from Princeton University's conference on Women in Theatre

This weekend, Princeton University organized a conference of Women in Theatre. Here are the top 10 action steps that we must to work on to overcome the challenges. Please click here.

[in the theater of One World]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Listening to Governors Island

NEW YORK, NY: Early into LÂN (Land), Sytze Pruiksma's sonic-driven video composition at the Dutch-themed New Island Festival on Governor's Island, your mind and eye wander. The mind-drift and roving-eye are natural and inevitable, because the 70-minute piece is performed outdoors and because the horizontal bars and solid lines of images march across the two giant projection screens that loom in front of us and block our full view of the Manhattan skyline.
Thoughts stream forth: Do you keep your eyes focused at the screens, or do you watch the ferries rolling to and fro over the dark waves of ocean? Are those the synthesized sounds of birds singing in the night air, or are they coming from Pruiksma's musical instruments? Will I have time to drink a glass of white wine at the Boulevard of Broken Dreams before catching the last ferry back to my overpriced Manhattan apartment?

I saw LÂN last night (Thursday) around 10 p.m. after two helpings of a big pasta dinner that came with an intense performance of Orfeo in one of the tents at the New Island Festival, a smorgasbord of location-based Dutch performances running through Sunday September 20 at Governors Island. I was fed well and felt kind of sleepy. It did not help that we, the spectators, were looking up at the visually arresting landscape while lying on our backs on low fold-out chairs on the grass. The crisp velvet of evening stretched across the vast expanse of the sky. There were no stars up above, but there were also no skyscrapers or neon lights marring our view of the cosmos. Those archetypal urban blights were laid out on the flatline of the horizon, flickering at the extreme right of a video-projection screen. So close yet so far. Standing at the extreme left was the Statue of Liberty, our appreciation of its all-night green-glowing vigil obscured by the thick branches of a tree.

Presented in an open-air environment, with a white cubic structure designed by the scenographer Sjoerd Wagenaar serving as Pruiksma's stage, LÂN wants us to meditate on the splendor of the islands of New York City. A concert of recorded natural sounds, loops of electronic compositions and long rows of stacked film projections of watery landscapes, LÂN (Land) mashes up music, nature and video, asking us to tune in to the sensory experience of the New York geography. Hailing from the bucolic northern province of the Netherlands called Friesland, Sytze Pruiksma is a composer, musician, birdwatcher, and one-man band. He performs his own rhythmically propulsive minimalist score (with sample of real sounds) while audiences are seated and watching an abstract film montage on two huge screens--a concert of images that refract the same natural location in which the piece is performed.

This time, however, Pruiksma and the filmmaker Herman Zielstra have included samplings of the grass parks of Governors Island itself. Several weeks before the official opening of the New Island Festival (which runs through Sunday September 20), the two Dutch artists shot a time-lapse video of the New York island and spliced it into the already existing montage of the beaches of Friesland.

At the Oerol Festival, where I first saw LAN this past June, Pruiksma performed his own experimental compositions on the vast expanse of the dunes. That version on the Dutch island of Terschelling was nothing less than a singular meditation of the Friesland landscape itself. This being a location-based live performance, LAN felt quite odd and put me in a quizzical mood, because the film refracted, re-framed and deconstructed the very same pastoral geography that surrounded us. Urban visitors, especially foreigners like myself, can't help but be awed by the look and feel, as well as the shapes and sounds of Friesland. Although Pruiksma's classical compositions were entrancing to listen to (and more colorful and melodious than those by Philip Glass), what exactly was the point of laying out in the dunes, with blankets on our lap, and contemplating the graphic qualities and electronic adumbrations of a geography that was, with no human intervention necessary, so seductively ethereal by itself and so amply available?

Terschelling was spectacular on its own. And if you've spent the better part of the day cycling from performance to site-specific performance from one end of the long island to another, you could be forgiven if LAN, with its backdrop of the orange-blue sun setting in the dunes, lulls you into a deep sleep. Instead of making us acutely conscious of the landscape, the Oerol version of LAN leaves you to move entirely inward. Left in a state of aloneness with neither a narrative to follow or enough of a build-up to the score that might lift your experience to the level of a spiritual trancendence, you simply surrender to the day's exhaustion.

Something about Governors Island has forced Pruiksma to open up of LAN as a film concert experience and to pick up the propulsive percussive beats in terms of performance. In New York, where it is being co-presented by the HERE Arts Center and the Province of Fryslan, LAN looks, sounds and feels re-invigorated. It's edgier and more bracing and completely satisfying.

You first hear the gurgling of water, presumably from the laps of water hitting the row of wood pegs on the Frisian sea (on film) or hurtling toward the shores of Ellis Island (looming like a dark shadow behind Pruiksma). What follows are furious rushing patterns, which match the hurtling linear speed of filmed elements (depicting water, oceans, birds, grass, sand, clouds) across the huge screens. Every so often, you hear bird whistles. Loops of recorded sounds and melodies mingle with Pruiksma's drumming and screeching, and then underscored once more by the insistent hum of Governors Island itself.

Because Pruiksma can hear (but not see) the movement of ferries behind him, he has no fear of exploiting the coastal sounds of New York. As the piece progresses, his very physical performance seems to want to be in competition with the ferries rolling by, but he never steals attention to himself in a vulgar way. Compositionally, Pruiksma invests himself ardently in the most familiar flourishes of natural sounds. He understands that even cliches can resonate if modulated in the right tone. In Oerol, his tonal minimalism sounded like a call to a silent prayer. But at the New Island Festival, the percussive electronic score of LAN rises to become a salute to Governors Island.

And yet Pruiksma does not aim to messily implicate LAN into the history of this once-inaccessible New York island. Every so often, the film stops to show us gorgeous landscapes of a grassy park on the island, but that's as much of a reveal as it allows. The rest of LAN plays like a call to new awareness.

In the dunes of the Terschelling island at the Oerol festival, LAN only wants us to surrender to the Mark Rothko-like abstraction of moving colors, stacked sounds and filmed textures. But this time around, the odds are against Pruiksma. As a sparring partner, Governors Island is rope-a-dope; it is a formidable opponent with its own agenda. Sometimes things happen that raise the dramatic stakes, as when an oil tanker appears out of nowhere and parades its mammoth shadow in the background, quietly wresting our attention. At other times, allegory, meaning and our own personal associations attached themselves to the experience.

LAN is performed at the intersection of three New York islands. Ellis Island juxtaposes itself in the background. When the images of several rows of birds stream across the video screens, the film evokes memories of the millions of immigrants who passed through that island's facilities, now a musem. Obviously, the island of Manhattan impresses itself and runs counterpoint to natural world which LAN celebrates.

And if you took notice of the empty seesaws and red-metal slides of the children's playground nearby, along with the rubble of demolished barracks and unoccupied apartment buildings that were once a home to the families of the U.S. Coast Guard, you cannot help but feel suddenly attuned to the reality of this former military installation, a lost legacy that has recently been turned into a virtue.

That's because LAN in New York feels a hymn to a ghost town. At the New Island Festival, it beguiles us to want to discover this island's undulating parks and rough harbors. It awakens our senses to the thrill of re-discovering a landscape that is isolated no more. [in the theatre of One World]

For ticket information, visit

NoPassport Press Celebrates the Release of 12 Collected Plays and Single Edition Works

NEW YORK CITY:  Seven collected plays under the NoPassport press imprint will be launched on Thursday February 25 at ACROSS THE UNIVERSE WITH NoPASSPORT PRESS, a conversation and book presentation moderated by New York writer and editor Randy Gener.  

Join playwrights Oliver Mayer, John Jesurun, Mathew Maguire, Amparo Garcia-Crow, Alejandro Morales, Chiori Miyagawa, Caridad Svich and press editors Otis Ramsey-Zoe and Stephen Squibb for a conversation & celebration of publications of their plays from NoPassport. This event takes place 6:00–8:00pm at New Dramatists (424 West 44th Street, bet. 9th and 10th Aves.). Admission for this event is free.  For information, call (212) 757-6960. For further information contact

This book launch is a pre-conference launch for the 2010 NoPassport Conference. DREAMING THE AMERICAS: UTOPIA IN PERFORMANCE at Nuyorican Poets Cafe is a two-day conference with the support of The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, Idiom, The Internationalists, 50/50 in 2020, Conni's Avant-Garde Restaurant, and New Dramatists. 

Join Migdalia Cruz, Erik Ehn (Brown University), Randy Gener , Henry Godinez (Goodman Theatre), Jeff Janisheski (O’Neill Theater Institute), Lisa D'Amour, Catherine Filloux, Karen Hartman, Melanie Joseph (Foundry Theatre), Jeff McMahon, Oliver Mayer, Chiori Miyagawa, Katie Pearl, J.T. Rogers, Ian Rowlands, Alberto Sandoval, Octavio Solis, Saviana Stanescu, and a distinguished roster of established and emerging artists for the fourth annual NoPassport “Dreaming the Americas” Conference held at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City with pre-conference event at New Dramatists.

RANDY GENER is the New York writer, poet, editor, playwright and visual artist.  A lecturer and public speaker, Gener recently gave the keynote speech at the 2009 Swedish Theatre Biennial.  He is a co-founder and editorial board member of a new international web journal, Critical Stages, at He is a core member, an editorial board member and a series editor of NoPassport theatre alliance & press. Gener has been praised by the New York Daily News as an “internationalist, a champion of cultural exchange and dialogue” and by Instinct magazine as “the visionary.” 

NoPe - NoPassport Conference SCHEDULE


NoPassport and Nuyorican Poets Cafe present a two-day conference with the support of The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, Idiom, The Internationalists, 50/50 in 2020, Conni's Avant-Garde Restaurant, and the Lark Play Development Center, and the cooperation of New Dramatists.  

Pre- Conference Event:

FEBRUARY 25, 2010 at New Dramatists, 424 W. 44th St, NYC from 6-8 PM

Across the Universe with NoPassport Press, Moderated by Randy Gener

 Join Tanya Barfield, Oliver Mayer, John Jesurun, Mathew Maguire, Amparo Garcia-Crow, Alejandro Morales, Chiori Miyagawa along with press editors Otis Ramsey-Zoe, Stephen Squibb and Caridad Svich for a celebration of publications of their plays from NoPassport.

*Admission to this event is free.

Conference @ Nuyorican Poets Café/NY

Fri. February 26, 2010 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

& Sat. February 27, 2010 11:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.  

For further information contact  


Preliminary Schedule–Program is subject to radical change

FEBRUARY 26, 2010 Panels:


with DANIEL BANKS (DNAWORKS), DANIEL GALLANT (Executive Director, Nuyorican Poets Cafe), CARIDAD SVICH (Playwright; founder, NoPassport)



Moderated by BIANCA BAGATOURIAN (Playwright & President of Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance) and MEGAN MONAGHAN (Dramaturg)

Panel: MARCY ARLIN (Immigrants Theater Project), STACIE CHAIKEN (Storyteller/Performer),ERIK EHN (Playwright), CHRISTINE EVANS (Playwright, to be confirmed), CATHERINE FILLOUX (Playwright), J.T. ROGERS (Playwright), DAWN AKEMI SAITO (Storyteller/Dancer), KELLY STUART (Playwright),

*This is an Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance session.



Erik Ehn is Head of Playwriting at Brown University, and former Dean of California School of the Arts.

 We are in the middle of an extraordinary time, if utopia is understood to include moral diversity (heaven and hell). The ways in which we are being disregarded, forced into strange shapes, misunderstood, privileged, urged - are now (briefly) the fracture that permits growth. Making art in holy shadow in obedience to disaster.


This special lunch/performance costs $10 (separate from registration and at event only).

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant (a Village Voice Choice and Time Out New York favorite), is not a locale but a group of bold (if fictional) theatrical performers, devoted to the ongoing celebration of the work of Conni Convergence, the beloved icon of stage and screen. Hailed as “devilish dinner theatre” by The New York Daily News, these unique theatrical-culinary events mix the ingredients of fine food and drink, brash Vegas-style song and dance spectacle, and a loving sendup of avant-garde pomposity.


Moderated by Tamilla Woodard and Jake Witlen

Panel: MELANIE JOSEPH (Artistic Director, The Foundry), MALLORY CATLETT (director), STEPHEN SQUIBB (C-Artistic Director, Woodshed Collective), LISA D'AMOUR (Playwright), KATIE PEARL (Director/Performer), IVAN TALIJANCIC (Artistic Director, Wax Factory), IAN ROWLANDS (Playwright, Advisor, Welsh Arts Council), MELISSA FENDELL (Founder, The Anthropologists) and more TBA

*This is an Internationalists session.






NoPassport Press presents excerpts from new work (read by authors) and a conversation about the global voice in the age of globalization with five writers who have newly available plays, along with scholars and theatre-makers who've written about their work.



11:00 AM: “Utopia/Dystopia & The Global South: The Networked Self in Performance"

With CARIDAD SVICH (playwright & founder, NoPassport)

a reflection on inscription, virtual spaces, the wired self and writing about and for the Global South. 

CARIDAD SVICH is an award-winning playwright, translator and lyricist. Her adaptation of Allende's The House of the Spirits premiered February 2009 at Repertorio Espanol in NY. She is alumna playwright of New Dramatists, founder of NoPassport, associate editor of Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge/UK), and contributing editor of TheatreForum. Visit her at


Jenny Greeman and Melody Brooks (New Perspectives), Susan Jonas and more TBA

New Perspectives Theatre Company, The League of Professional Theatre Women and 50/50 in 2020 explore what it means to make art in a culture that only values capital. Is the act of creation a radical act? Can theatrical space be viewed as utopian space? The panel will investigate these theoretical questions and move toward practical solutions for reassessing the value of theatre and its makers. In particular, representatives of the newly formed 50/50 in 2020 will share their plan for achieving parity for women artists by 2020.

1:00-2:10 PM IDIOM: Between Art and Theater: Genealogies of Performance

Organized for Idiom by Stephen Squibb, Panelists: TBA

The arrival of widespread interest in performance amongst contemporary artists has not immediately translated into an expanded interdisciplinary interest in that other, classically time-based medium, the theater. Nor has the theater, broadly speaking, seen fit to expand its categories to correspond with the sudden promiscuity of its traditional methodology. What is the nature of this reciprocal ignorance? Is it simply a question of incompatible constituencies? No doubt there is a deep divide in each community’s respective method of production – but are we so determined? This panel aims to examine the recent history of performance as it relates to current patterns of production and dissemination, with special consideration given to the divide between contemporary art and theater.

Idiom is an online publication of urban artistic practice. By allowing emerging artists, writers and arts professionals to report on, review, and otherwise cover overlooked or under-thought aspects of the larger creative community, Idiom offers a local, engaged counterpoint to the prevailing discourse of contemporary art.


Counter Indications, a collaboration between writer Jeff McMahon and media designer Jacob Pinholster, is a live performance/installation examining forced confessions, the parameters of what is considered "cruel and unusual" treatment, and the role of influence in determining truth.

Jeff McMahon, Assistant Professor in the School of Theatre and Film at Arizona State University, is the recipient of 8 NEA Fellowships in Choreography. His live  works combining live speech and movement with media have been presented since 1980 at P.S. 122, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, PS 1, LACE, Cleveland Performance Art Fest., Jacob's Pillow, Highways, and numerous other venues in the U.S. and Europe.  He recently completed a writing residency at the Edward F. Albee Foundation.






 Panel: ELAINE AVILA (Playwright, University of New Mexico), KATE WEISS (Canadian Theatre Alliance), CHARLOTTE MEEHAN (Playwright, Wheaton College), LISA SCHLESINGER Playwright, Columbia College Chicago), MATTHEW MAGUIRE (Playwright, Fordham University), LINSEY BOSTWICK (Big Art Group), and more TBA

6-6:30 PM CLOSING 

7:00 PM RECEPTION hosted by the Lark Play Development Center, 939 8th Avenue.

NoPassport was founded by playwright Caridad Svich in 2003. It is an unincorporated theatre alliance & press devoted to cross-cultural, Pan-American performance, theory, action, advocacy, and publication. Caridad Svich and NoPassport is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of [Caridad Svich & NoPassport] may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance
strives to fulfill its mission of projecting the Armenian voice on a world stage through theater and film by offering contests for new writing, play readings and various educational programs. For more information, please see or

The Internationalists is a collective of directors from around the world whose mission is to create a more open, sustainable and interactive global theatrical community.  We foster creative diplomacy in order to build bridges between artists and audiences of all nations.  By developing a global network of artists, we promote the creation of contemporary performance with an emphasis on cross-cultural exchange and collaboration.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Book on "Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence" Published in Europe

SOFIA, BULGARIA: Randy Gener's Nathan Award-winning essay "See Under: HOMELAND," has been published in a new book, Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence, an anthology of essays edited by Kalina Stefanova and Ian Herbert. Published in Sofia, Bulgaria, by St. Kliment Ohridski University Press, the book serves as a record of the proceedings of the 2008 World Congress of the International Theatre Critics Association and was financed by the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria.

Theare and Humanism in a World of Violence is the first attempt in a book-length form to answer such hot-button questions as: "What makes violence onstage today so sexy? Until recently, violence for its own sake was the prerogative of B-movies and junk mystery novels. What made theatre follow suit? What is the impact of the theatre of violence on the audience? Doesn't it actually make us conformists? Is there a place for humanism among all the postmodern "ism," including post-human and or meta-human theatre? What is the relationship between violence and the aesthetics of ugliness?"

Gener's scholarly essay address the role of theatre and humanism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on U.S. stages. This timely and relevant essay tackles how Israeli writers like David Grossman and Ian Hatsor have ceased to directly address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their plays or fiction, after years of violence, military attacks, bombings and innumerable truces that have frayed Arab sympathy. Meanwhile secular Israelis and some Americans who have tackled the conflict in their writings have been villified. On the other hand, it has been very difficult to grant ordinary Palestinians their humanity on U.S. stages without someone insisting that the words "suicide bomber" and "Hamas" need also be uttered in the same breath.

In addition to the range of critical voices from around the world, Theatre and Humanism in a World of Violence contains the acceptance speech of the second winner of the IATC Thalia Prize, the French critic, director and playwright Jean-Pierre Sarrazac, who can be said to have first identified the notion of a post-dramatic theater. There is also a postscript: a text by Richard Schechner, the distinguihsed American director and theatre scholar, on the notion of the five avant-gardes.

Copes of the book were distributed this past April at the Europe Theatre Prize in Wroclaw, Poland, exactly year after the events it records. To purchase copies at the published price of 60 euroes, please contact Kalina Stefanova at this email link, and she may be able to arrange for her Ministry of Culture to send a copy.