Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 — My Year in Review

NEW YORK CITY:  I know what you are probably thinking.  Look at this year-in-review list; Randy did so many things.  Check out the variety of activities he took on; he is all over the place.  You have a point, I suppose, for I did have a lot of different things going on in 2011.  In a deeper sense though, this first impression doesn't match my own perception of reality.  To be honest, 2011 had but one theme: I worked to advance the creativity of artists.  I tried, in my own busy way, to Occupy American Theater.  Looking back, I see I failed to change my world.  And I don't think I did enough.

Professions matter because, well, they profess things.  They legitimate themselves around a commitment to the public interest and democratic values.  All of us come to our professions because we want to make a difference.  If the professions are not serving the public as well as they might — if the professions face severe obstacles that prevent them from renewing their commitment to the common good (such as unemployment or sucky employers or the tragically expanding low-wage sector or the giant sucking sound of jobs moving to so-called "citizen journalism" or whatever new ails cling to excellence in journalism these days) — then taking real action is the only way to go.  What does civic purpose mean in arts journalism? What is the best way for this profession to serve democracy? How can critics and journalists of the arts exercise civic leadership? What is the political role of a theater critic, an arts writer or a cultural journalist?

Critics and art journalists have no choice but to move with the times, since what we need to survive will change as our problems alter and grow.  If you call for an experimental spirit in any public sphere, there is always the chance that trying new "stuff" may be the boldest action.  To experiment might mean coming up with fresh ways to combat calcified or slumbering institutions, to disrupt predictable patterns, and to dismiss the reflexive narrow-mindedness of those who cling to position and power.

Recently my way has been to move into the public and declare something larger than the latest arts controversy or missed story or consumer review.  If that attitude seems overly grandiose or self-serving, you are doing me or the profession no favors by calling it sham.  Not only have I paid my dues, I have also paid dearly for my convictions — in personal ways even I have not begun to fathom.  For as long as I can remember, I have never had the backing of any institution, for-profit or non-, that supported my idea of arts criticism as a public service.  Today's mainstream publications, print or digital, more or less mimic the dinosaur 20th-century media's dependency on celebrity and fame.  Media execs claim their practice is called vetting. The more my ideas get turned down, I am beginning to wonder if they should really call it news suppression.

Such fault lines reveal why change has not happened. Even the supposed last bastions of arts journalism don't truly serve the journalistic profession either.  At a majority of non-profit arts magazines I am aware of, the reporters simply write down what the arts administrators and exec directors say to them at press conferences or media interviews.  What these reporters are doing isn't journalism — it's stenography.  Worse, your own colleagues are frequently the first ones who will work to bring you down in the profession — who will resist or oppose your transparent attempts to rethink how best to achieve a better global dialogue about arts and culture.

So here is how my 2011 went — the year I put on a new coat of optimism and went all out to try new stuff. —RG

Speaker  “Solutions of Culture and Education: Concerning Second Generation Filipinos Rooted in Philippine Culture”
“Vision 2020: Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Development”
Commission on Filipinos Overseas |  Manila (Philippines)

Delivered a presentation outlining “solutions that address the culture of migration, keep overseas Filipinos rooted in Filipino culture, and promote education reform given the perspective that whether we like it or not, Filipinos would become global citizens and that the entire globe will be a mobile one.”

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas is an agency of the Philippine government under the Office of the President, which was established on June 16, 1980 through the enactment of Republic Act 79.

Selected Artist  | Playwriting/Screenwriting
NYFA Immigrant Artists Project
New York Foundation for the Arts |  New York City (USA)

For a period of six months, artists selected for the NYFA Immigrant Artists’ Project are guided in achieving specific goals and provided broader access to the New York cultural world through an exchange of ideas, resources and experiences.  This program helps immigrant artists build some necessary skills to fairly compete as professional artists in New York.

Curator and Editor “Approaches to Training: The Articulate Body”
American Theatre magazine
Theatre Communications Group |  New York City (USA)

The biggest issue ever published by American Theatre in terms of page count and advertising sales.

The first issue in its 25-year-old history to be devoted to movement and physical-theatre training for actors in the U.S. and internationally.

The Articulate Body (January 2011) is my follow-up to “Approaches to Training: Pillars of Voice Work” (January 2010) which I also conceived, curated and edited.  "Pillars of Voice Work" reached out directly to luminaries and innovators in the field of voice training in both the U.S. and abroad.

“The Articulate Body” includes a virtual history of U.S. movement training and my posthumously published interview with the late French mime Marcel Marceau. Read my introduction:

Moderator |  "Being Harold Pinter" post-performance discussion
Under the Radar Festival presentation of Belarus Free Theatre
The Public Theater and La MaMa E.T.C. |  New York City (USA)

Belarus Free Theatre is an underground theatre group that began in Minsk during the second term of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. It was an artistic means of resisting Belarusian government pressure and censorship. Our discussion focused on the company’s artistic meetings with Harold Pinter and on the current repressive political system in which Free Theatre members have been persecuted and imprisoned. 

My Name on Stage  | My signature inscribed on a play’s set design
Director Loy Arcenas’s design for Ralph Pena’s Flipzoids
Ma-Yi Theatre Company at Peter Jay Sharpe Theatre |  New York City (USA)

My name appeared in Arcenas’s 42nd Street revival of Flipzoids, Peña’s Obie Award–winning play about immigration and exile.  A beautiful element of Arcenas’s undulating sandy-beach scenery, which he designed, is the rear wall on which are written the signatures of dozens of well-known Filipino actors, writers and artists—all immigrants.

On closer inspection, I realized that my name was inscribed among the signatures, with mine placed right above the shoulder of the formidable actor Ching Valdes-Aran, who plays the lead part.  Both Peña and Arcenas said that the production “is our love letter to the Filipino community.”  I was honored and very touched to be included.

Participant (15 seconds) |  My name flashes on Australian Museum’s Williams Street façade 
“Your Names in Lights” |  A Project by John Baldessari
Kaldor Public Art Projects and Sydney Festival |   Sydney (Australia)

My name appeared in lights—for 15 seconds—in front of the Australian Museum’s William Street façade.  The American conceptual artist John Baldessari (recipient of the Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement at the 2009 Venice Biennale) looked for people who wanted their name in lights—but for 15 glittering seconds.  “Your Name in Lights” reflects the changing cult of celebrity in modern society and recalls Andy Warhol’s prediction that in the future everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame.

Moderator  | “Writing as Metamorphosis”
NoPassport Conference |  "Dreaming the Americas: Global Change in Performance"
NoPassport and Nuyorican Poets Café |  New York City  (USA)

A conversation about the global voice in the age of globalization with writers who have newly available play collections: Migdalia Cruz, Karen Hartman, Chiori Miyagawa, Kia Corthron, Linda Faigao-Hall, Catherine Filloux, Carson Kreitzer and Ruth Margraff.  Dramaturg Otis-Ramsey Zoe served as co-moderator.

MARCH 2011
Editor and Author  | “Viva La MaMa”
American Theatre magazine
Theatre Communications Group |  New York City (USA)

For the March 2011 issue of American Theatre, I wrote a tribute to the late Ellen Stewart, the legendary founder of LaMaMa E.T.C.  I also compiled and edited, "Viva La Mama," a collection of tributes from Stewart’s friends, collaborators, admirers and “babies” who remembered her as an inventor of the American alternative theatre — who had changed the face of world theater. 

Panelist  | “Gender-Neutral Casting”
Panel Discussion | “Limitless Casting: Could the Best Man for the Part Be a Woman?"
Actors’ Equity Association |  New York City  (USA)

In an age when men in drag are commonplace on Broadway, why are women playing male roles so rare? The Women‘s Committee of Actor Equity’s Eastern Equal Employment Committee hosted a panel discussion on gender-neutral casting, moderated by Gael Schaefer.  My fellow panelists were Deborah Wright Houston (Kings Country Shakespeare Company), Richard Schechner (NYU), Rebecca Patterson (Queen’s Company), Joanne Zipay (Judith Shakespeare Company) and Terry Berliner (Director).

Read Backstage's report about this panel, entitled "It's a Drag for Women."

Book Publication  | “About the Phenomenon of Theatre” |  published in English, Persian and French languages
Namayesh Publishing
The Fajr International Theatre Festival |  Tehran (Iran)

“Re-Orientalism,” my critical essay on the emergence of an Arab-American theater, was published in this book of critical essays and scholarly articles from the annual international festival held in the Iranian capital city of Tehran.  Released in three languages, the book was compiled by Nasrollah Ghaderi, in cooperation with Katayoon Hussein zadeh and Ali Najafi.

MAY 2011
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's NewWorks Festival 2011
Chen Dance Center Theatre |  New York (USA)

Consulted with Tisa Chang, Pan Asian Rep’s artistic producing director, and worked directly with emerging playwrights whose 3 full-length comedies and 3 solo shorts were featured in this new-works project, led by Ernest Abuba and Ron Nakahara.  My 5 video interviews with the playwrights, created with Abby Felder, appear on Pan Asian Rep’s YouTube channel:

  1. "Allen Hope Sermonia speaks with Randy Gener" 
  2. "Una Aya Osato speaks with Randy Gener; and 
  3. "Nancy Eng speaks with Randy Gener
  4. "What does new work mean to me?
  5. "Kira Neel speaks with Randy Gener  

USA Participant
The 10th Swedish Theatre Biennial
Svenska Teaterunion and Swedish Institute |  Stockholm and Gavlé (Sweden)

Moderator |  Panel Discussion |  “Theatre and Democracy”
Led a seminar featuring Vanessa Cook, artistic leader of Market Theatre Lab of South Africa; Jessica Kaahwa, an actress and writer from Uganda who gave the message of the World Theatre Day 2011; Ambroise Mbia, an actor and director who heads the Cameroon Center of International Theatre Institute; and Alexander Kryzhanivskyi of the New Drama Theatre on Pechersk in the Ukraine.

Speaker | “Global Sweden: Swedish Theatre in the World”
In a seminar of international critics, I surveyed the evolution of contemporary Swedish drama, dance and circus in the U.S. and abroad.

JUNE 2011
U.S.A. Participant
2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space

Editor-in-Chief |  PQ MAG
The official broadsheet publication of the 2011 Prague Quadrennial
Ministry of Culture of Czech Republic and the Arts–Theatre Institute |  Prague (Czech Republic)

Edited PQ MAG, the official broadsheet publication of the 2011 Prague Quadrennial.  It published interviews with artists, photo reports, critical commentary and much more.  It was widely available at major venues in Prague’s city center: Veletržní Palace - National Gallery, Prague Crossroads - St. Anne's Church, the Piazzeta and the New Stage of the National Theatre, and DAMU (The Academy of Performing Arts Prague).

Curatorial Advisor and Co-Creator |  “From the Edge”
The USITT-USA National Exposition at 2011 Prague Quadrennial
USITT, the US association of design, production and technology professionals for the entertainment industry |  Veletržní Palace (National Gallery) |  Prague

Taking the architectural form of a beat-up performing garage with graffiti of President Barack Obama on the wall (designed by William Bloodgood), the USITT-USA PQ national exhibition mirrors the socio-political issues consuming American performance makers today.  My volunteer work on this project spanned four years.

I also led a series of daily gallery talks (with artistic director Susan Tsu) featuring renowned U.S. directors and designers whose works were exhibited in From the Edge.

Postcards from the Inge, a blog about the William Inge Center of Independence, Kansas, posted a three-part interview with me about the four-year process of curating and creating a USA national exposition in Prague:

  1. Interview – Part 1: "From the Edge"
  2. Interview – Part 2: "Active Searching & The Value of the Prague Quadrennial"
  3. Interview – Part 3: "A Ripple Effect."

JULY 2011
Web Launch      |
Facebook Page |
La Biennale de Venezia
The Arsenale and the Giardinni |  San Marco, Venice (Italy)

At the Venice Biennale, I launched a new magazine, in the theater of One World, and my new Facebook Page.  I filed art criticism and journalistic reports about the Biennale.

Featured Television Guest |  “Conversations with William M. Hoffman”
Part 1 and Part 2 aired on Channel 75 |  New York (USA)

CUNY-TV 75 aired my two-part guest appearances on its cable TV show, “Conversations with William H. Hoffman,” which bills itself as a “television series of discussions with major theatre and musical figures of our times.”

Book Publication  | “The World of Theatre” |  published in English, French and Arabic languages
Bangladesh Center of the International Theatre Institute (Bangladesh) and 
Peter Lang Editions (Paris, France)
33rd ITI World Congress |  Xiamen (China)
The U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) invited me to write a critical essay on the state of USA theatre, summarizing the 2007–2010 seasons. That essay was published in this newest edition of The World of Theatre, an anthology published every two years.  This major biennial ITI publication contains articles by ITI National Centers and provides a vast panorama of theatre productions and recent developments in each country over the past two theatre seasons.

U.S.A. Jury Member
51st International Theater Festival MESS Sarajevo
Međunarodni teatarski festival MESS |  Sarajevo and Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Established in 1960 by Jurislav Korenic as the Festival of Small and Experimental Stages, MESS Sarajevo is one of the best theatre events promoting modern theatre expression in the former Yugoslavia.

Accompanied by a delegation of artists, we met with three Bosnian prime ministers of culture and sports (federal and canton) in their government offices.  We grilled the politicians on matters of European cultural governance and Balkan cultural politics.  Our meetings were covered by local Sarajevo newspapers.  A report about my experiences in Sarajevo, "An inspiring international festival rises above a 'catastrophic state of culture' in Bosnia and Herzegovina' " appears in — and on the official website of the International Theatre Critics Association.

Moderator |  “Advancing the Creativity of Artists”
"Dialogues Across Cultures:  A Model for Building Enduring Partnerships" |  Symposium on Contemporary African Performing Arts
MAPP International Productions and the Africa Arts Consortium in partnership with Museum of African Art, The African Center for Education at Teachers College and the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University |  New York City  (USA)

Led a public conversation with Faustin Linyekula, choreographer from Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ralph Lemon, artistic director of Cross Performance of NYC

This two-day symposium was designed to open up conversations around international cultural exchange; to share lessons learned through case studies; and to build understanding and connections between artists, organizations and public communities in the United States and on the African continent.

Moderator |  “Ivo van Hove with Randy Gener”
BAM Next Wave Festival | Artist Talk: Movies and Theater
BAM Rose Cinemas |  Brooklyn Academy of Music |  Brooklyn, N.Y.  (USA)

A conversation with acclaimed Flemish director Ivo van Hove, whose work Cate Blanchett describes as “stunning with a capital ‘S’ — returns to BAM with a stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s heartrending film Cries and Whispers, performed by Toneelgroep Amsterdam, the flagship theater of the Netherlands.

NoPassport Press Book Launch Party and Salon
New Dramatists |  New York City (USA)

Celebrated the publication of Carson Kreitzer’s collection, Self-Defense and Other Plays, and Chiori Miyawa’s upcoming collection America Dreaming and Other Plays.  In addition to Kreitzer and Miyagawa, authors Susana Cook, Kia Corthron, Migdalia Cruz, Christine Evans, Linda Faigo-Hall, Catherine Filloux, David Greenspan, Matthew Maguire, Saviana Stanescu and Caridad Svich read and performed from their works.

U.S.A. Media Representative
German and American Media Dialogue
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in cooperation with Goethe Institute Washington and the Studio Theatre |  Washington, D.C. (USA)

The Media Dialogue consisted of a public discussion among German and American theater critics and addressed trends in contemporary theater in Germany and the U.S.  The Dialogue launched a sustained dialogue among critics between the two countries.  Joining me were German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig (The Arabian Night and Golden Pavilion); Peter Kümmel, theater critic for the newspaper Die Zeit, and Peter Michalzik, journalist and theater critic for the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

My interview with Schimmelpfennig, "That Point in the Drama Where It Starts to Hurt, That's Where the Work Gets Interesting," appears in Critical Stages

Organizer and Moderator |  A Broadway Panel Discussion
“Anatomy of Breakout”
The Drama Desk and Fordham University Theater Program |  New York (USA)

Led a star-packed Broadway panel discussion reflecting the remarkable trend of breakthrough productions and breakout performances on New York’s commercial stages in the fall 2011.

Featured Broadway panelists were actor Samuel L. Jackson and director Kenny Leon of The Mountaintop; playwright David Henry Hwang, actor Jennifer Lim and director Leigh Silverman of Chinglish; playwright David Ives of Venus in Fur; actor Liz Mikel, book writer Douglas Carter Beane, composer Lewis Flinn and director Dan Knechtges of Lysistrata JonesTheatremania writer Leslie (Hoban) Blake served as co-moderator.

U.S.A. Artist
The International Festival for Musical Performing Arts “Life is Beautiful!”
Teatrul National de Operetta “Ion Dacian” and Teatrul Metropolis |  Bucharest (Romania)

Producer and Book Writer |  “A Medley of Sondheim”
Performed at the Metropolis Theater, this concert production celebrated the iconic musicals of Stephen Sondheim (Anyone Can Whistle, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George).

This sexy Sondheim tribute featured an impressive cast of Broadway’s top musical talents and Sondheim specialists: Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables); Angel Desai (Sondheim’s Company); Ali Ewoldt (West Side Story); Jose Llana (The King & I, The Flower Drum Song, Wonderland); and Orville Mendoza (Sondheim’s Road Show). Albin Konopka was the musical director.

Lecturer and Moderator |  “Sondheim and After: A Listening Party on America’s Greatest Living Composer”
Sondheim considers himself “a playwright in song.” How he arrived at this unique description was the subject of my lecture, conference and listening party.

My presentation pulled aside the curtain on Sondheim’s creative universe: “Sondheim’s creative journey,” my thesis stated, “strives to reach the heights of a total and cinematic dramaturgy within musical structures.”

Video Interviewer |  Japan Society’s YouTube channel featuring "The Bee"
Conversation with Japanese theatermaker Hideko Noda
Japan Society and Under the Radar Festival |  New York (USA)

Interviewed Hideki Noda, director and co-author of The Bee, (Soho Theatre of London), one of two Under the Radar Festival programs produced by the Japan Society.  Noda is one of the most popular director–playwrights in Japan.

The video interview appears on

Monday, December 26, 2011

International journal Critical Stages publishes my latest articles, interviews and editorial content

NEW YORK CITY:  The 5th edition of Critical Stages/Scènes critiques is now online.  As the U.S. editor, I contributed 4 articles and curated the Interviews section, the most ambitious set of interviews I've ever curated for this international web journal.

Critical Stages/Scènes critiques No. 5 contains 34 authors from 20 countries have written 45 articles for this 5th issue.  "There is no journal that has such international resources," says the publisher/editor-in-chief Yun Cheol Kim.

The articles I contributed reflect both the national and international purview from which I always write and edit.  I interviewed the U.S. playwright, screenwriter and director Craig Lucas, the author of Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless, The Light in the Piazza, The Secret Lives of Dentists and the upcoming musical King Kong, which will premiere at Melbourne's Regent Theatre in early 2013.  In recent years, Lucas has frequently declined to give interviews to the media, so my conversation with him, entitled "Fear. Hope. The Life Force": Why I Write Plays," is an exclusive for Critical Stages.

I also interviewed U.S. playwright and librettist Ruth Margraff.  In my article, entitled "Trying to Look at Opera from the Pillars of Theatre," Margraff talks about the plays that are gathered in her new collection of plays, Red Frogs and Other Plays, which will be published in early 2012 under the NoPassport Press literary imprint.

Then I turn my attention to Germany.  My article on Roland Schimmelpfennig casts a new light on this German playwright and director who is currently one of the most heralded, most prolific and most produced playwright in Europe.  My conversation with him — entitled "That Point in the Drama Where It Starts to Hurt, That's Where the Work Gets Interesting" — took place in the lobby of the Sofitel Hotel in Washington, D.C., near the White House, a couple of hours before the opening night of his play The Golden Dragon at the Studio Theatre.  At the time, I was participating in a "German and American Media Dialogue" organized by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in D.C.

In my editorial "The Critical Act of Conversation," I observe that the interviews I curated and edited for Critical Stages ranges far and wide and traverses four continents (Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas) in search of their chosen subjects.  In all these interviews, I asked the critics to track down a theater artist whom they felt deserved to be more widely known by an international audience. I wrote:
"In choosing our interview subjects, each one of us exercised an essential critical act. If as Peter Brook once said that for an artist the choice of what one works on is an artistic act in itself, I would venture that the same goes for critics who decide to confront artists with questions. Indeed, all of interviewers depart or rebel from the typical slate of questions. It is of course fascinating to see how artists from four different continents respond to a similar set of questions — their replies reveal the hidden or neglected sociopolitical issues that our so-called globalized world frequently fail to expose — but it is even more significant when the critics probe the artists further about their work, their lives and their ideas."

Enjoy my articles in Critical Stages as much as I enjoyed curating and editing it as the U.S. editor. —RG

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Revista 22 magazine loves "Medley of Sondheim"

BUCHAREST:  The reviews are out, and they're still giving us love.

In a critical report devoted to this year's edition of the International Festival for Musical Performing Arts "Life is Beautiful!", the critic Ioana Moldovan of the Romanian weekly magazine Revista 22, reserves praise for my production of A Medley of Sondheim which performed this past November at the Teatrul Metropolis.

Revista 22 critic Ioana Moldovan
Moldovan's performance review, entitled "Unsprezece zile frumoase în noiembrie (Eleven Beautiful Days in November," individually singles out the incredible Broadway artists who brought to life the music of Stephen Sondheim.

Moldovan praises these Broadway performers for their ability "to reconstruct, even for a moment, that special atmosphere and the entertaining world of [Sondheim's] shows."

She also notes the excitement of the Romanian audiences whom, she observed, "hardly wanted to accept the end of the show."

Moldovan's review echoes similar praise from top Romanian musical artists who saw the Sondheim show.

Alexandra Craescu, the leading star of Rebecca, a major production of the Teatrul National de Opereta "Ion Dacian," commented: "They were absolutely amazing. I love them all. Great voices, great acting, great technique—I love them. I want to hear them again here in Romania. They've changed my life!"

Cezar Ghioca, a U.S.–trained Romanian director who specializes in musicals, operettas and musical revues, stated: "Wonderful evening! I went home floating in a balloon of happiness—a wonderful treat to be able to take back home in Bucharest, straight from the theatre, that anti-gravitation state that only a Broadway show can create. Thank you."

Playbill, a Broadway publication, has published, "A Sondheim-inspired Romanian Adventure With Ali Ewoldt and Friends," a news story by Matt Blank and a photo diary documenting A Medley of  Sondheim, the first USA production to ever debut at the International Festival of Musical Performing Arts in Bucharest.  The photo diary was created by Ali Ewoldt, the leading actor who played Maria in of the 50th anniversary revival of West Side Story.  Here is the link:

This is Moldovan's review in the original Romanian language:
Şase artişti americani de origine filipineză au adus la Bucureşti o oră din muzica lui Stephen Sondheim, cel mai mare compozitor american în viaţă. Arii din musicaluri celebre precum: West Side Story, Sweene Todd sau Anyone Can Whistle au entuziasmat publicul, care cu greu a vrut să accepte încheierea spectacolului. Reacţia este oarecum firească, fiecare dintre cei şase artişti: Albin Knopka, Jose Llana, Joan Almedilla, Ali Ewoldt, Angel Desai şi Orville Mendoza fiind nume consacrate pe Broadway, care au reuşit să reconstituie, chiar şi pentru o clipă, atmosfera specială a acelei lumi de spectacol.
A Medley of Sondheim at Teatrul Metropolis in Bucharest

A magazine devoted to politics and culture, Revista 22 is published weekly (since 1990) by the Group for Social Dialogue in Bucharest.  In English, the name of the magazine translates as 22 Magazine.  It was named in memory of December 22, 1989, the day the communist regime in Romania was overthrown.

Moldovan's article, which was published on December 20, 2011, states that a total number of 450 artists were invited to this year's edition of the festival, of which 310 artists came from abroad. Twelve countries were represented in "Life is Beautiful" — Italy, U.K., Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria, France, USA, Georgia and Romania — and the total number of audiences reached 4,000 spectators.

"There is every chance that the festival will continue to grow and become a landmark in the performing arts music scene in Romania and elsewhere," said Alina Moldovan, deputy general director of the National Operetta Theatre" Ion Dacian," which annually organizes this one-of-a-kind international festival. —RG

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"in the theater of One World" declares "Radio Muezzin," "Macbeth After Shakespeare" and "Chinglish" among the world's best theater of 2011

NEW YORK CITY:  The arts-and-culture magazine in the theater of One World announces its top-10 picks for the world's best theater of 2011.  Click here to read the article.

At the top of the hierarchical list are Radio Muezzin (Germany/Egypt), a documentary work by the Swiss director Stefan  Kaegi; Macbeth After Shakespeare (Slovenia/Croatia), staged by Ivica Buljan; and David Henry Hwang's Broadway play Chinglish, which originated at the Goodman Theatre of Chicago.

Of Radio Muezzin, the global roundup, "My picks for the world's best theater of 2011, states" "You might say that Radio Muezzin stages a Western country's (Germany's) attempt to promote diverse Egyptian voices abroad. It is also about the Egyptian government's decision to use technology to silence individual voices. In Sarajevo [where Gener saw this documentary theater]..., it was about the triumph of a group of passionate muezzins to perform the story of their lives despite the decision of one of their own to almost sabotage Kaegi's outstanding show."
Radio Muezzin | Photo by Amer Kuhinja

Macbeth After Shakespeare, a Slovenian/Croatian staging of the Heiner Muller drama, is described as "stunning" and "a revelation."

The article praises Hwang's Chinglish quite simply "the best American play of 2011."

Jennifer Lim in Chinglish by David Henry Hwang

J.T. Rogers's Blood and Gifts is "the world's greatest example of a political drama that hits your heart and mind." And Sleep No More "will go down in history as the classic example of a site-specific theater masterpiece."

Moreover, the Romanian director's explosive staging of Faust at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival and the National Theatre of the French community in Brussels is praised as "the greatest Romanian production of this decade."

The Belarus Free Theatre's Being Harold Pinter, which made stops in Chicago and New York City, is described as "a landmark in the history of Pinter productions."

In addition to the top-10 selections, in the theater of One World's best-of-the-year list includes 10 honorable mentions and 15 special mentions from the U.S. and around the world.

The Telling Orchestra from Norway "is hailed as "unquestionably the best theatrical performance by a pavilion at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.

Film and theater director Loy Arcenas's re-staging of Ralph Pena's Flipzoids "confirms this play's status in the canon of American drama," says the article, adding that Septimus and Clarissa, Ripetime's staging of Ellen McLaughlin's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway is "one of the best stagings of Woolf's work I've seen."

Lynn Nottage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark was named this year's best comic play.

The Broadway revival of Anything Goes is praised as "a joy from start to finish" -- "a kick-ass lush production that you will not likely ever see in a long while (if you don't go see it now)."

Sutton Foster in Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Here are my picks for the world's best theater of 2011:
1) Radio Muezzin (Germany/Egpyt)
2) Macbeth After Shakespeare (Slovenia/Croatia)
3) Chinglish (USA)
4) Silviu Purcarete's Faust (Romania)
5) Being Harold Pinter (Belarus)
6) When Father Was Away on Business (Serbia)
7) more...more...more...future (Democratic Republic of Congo)
8) Blood and Gifts (USA)
9) Sleep No More (U.K./USA)
10) Cries and Whispers (Netherlands/Sweden)

The honorable mentions are:
11) The Telling Orchestra (Norway)
12) Flipzoids (USA)
13) The Book of Mormon (USA)
14) Septimus and Clarissa (USA)
15) Correspondences (Haiti/Mali/South Africa/France)
16) The Normal Heart (USA)
17) Anything Goes (USA)
18) Prometheus Landscape II (Belgium)
19) By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (USA)
20) Silenciados (Spain)

in the theater of One World made a point of expressing enthusiasm for 15 others shows which are given special mention.

These Special Mentions are:
1) Honey Brown Eyes, written by Stephanie Zadravec and directed by Erica Schmidt (USA)
2) Invasion! by Jonas Hassen Khemiri and directed by Erica Schmidt (Play Company, USA)
3) Kom Ta Min Hand (Come, Take my Hand) at the Swedish Theatre Biennial in Gavle (Sweden)
4) Arcadia written by Tom Stoppard and directed by David Leaveaux (Broadway)
5) Hypermnesia (Serbia/BITEF), written by Serbian and Bosnian actors, and staged by Bosnian director Selma Spahic at MESS Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
6) Venus in Fur written by David Ives (Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway, USA)
7) Queen of the Mist, the musical by Michael John LaChiusa (Transport Group, New York, USA)
8) Go Back to Where You Are by David Greenspan (Playwrights Horizons, USA)
9) Heaven on Earth by Charles F. Mee and directed/choreographed by Dan Safer (Witness Relocation, USA)
10) Angel of Swedenborg by Ping Chong and the Great Jones Repertory (La MaMa E.T.C., USA)
11) Unnatural Acts by Plastic Theatre, directed by Tony Speciale (Classic Stage Company, USA)
12) Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth By Day written and directed by Sharon Fogarty (Mabou Mines, USA)
13) Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire (Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway, USA)
14) Broadway revival of Follies by Stephen Sondheim (USA)
15) Gardenia by Alain Platel & Frank van Laecke, Les Ballet C de la B (Belgium).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Randy Gener interviewed and extensively quoted in Croatian and Slovenian national media

NEW YORK CITY:  This past weekend, I was interviewed on Slovenian national television, Dnevnik, at La MaMa E.T.C.  A day after my review of Ivica Buljan's mesmerizing production of Macbeth After Shakespeare, two major European media outlets, one in Croatia and another in Slovenia, published articles about this very physical interpretation of Heiner Muller text which comes "after Shakespeare."  Both articles quoted from my text.  In the latter case, the quotation lifted from my review is so extensive that my words appear in the title.  I am excited to add that my blog, in the theater of One World, is prominently mentioned in the Slovenian article from MMC RTV Slo.

Here are links to these various media outlets:

1) Buljanov 'Macbeth' oduševio njujoršku publiku 

2) Mini teater New York potegnil "v vrtinec poželenja, brutalnosti in samouničenja"

3) Uspešen nastop Mini teatra pred zahtevno newyorško publiko

For me, the saddest part about this blizzard of media coverage is that the show ran this past weekend from Dec. 8 to 11.  That's not enough time for a show to grab an audience.  Just when word of mouth has spread, the show is over.  How is it possible for the rest of the public to see for themselves what the hubbub was all about?

Domen Valič, Marko Mandić, Stipe Kostanić, Jurij Drevenšek,
Milena Zupančič in "Macbeth After Shakespeare” | Photo by Miha Frass and SONDA
Revelatory shows like Buljan's come to New York only once in a while.  Producing across the Atlantic Ocean is so expensive that there ought to be more exposure for works like this. Add to this the fact that this is a busy season in the commercial theater.

Having seen Buljan's productions last year (Zagreb Youth Theatre’s equally physical The Garage), also at La MaMa E.T.C., I can only hope that the next time this director and the Mini teatar of Slovenia return to New York the current media coverage they gained this time around might be linger in the memory long enough for more New Yorkers to catch their work.

Born 1965 in Sinj, Croatia, Buljan studied political sciences, French and literature as well as comparative literature at the University of Zagreb. As a journalist he worked with the magazines Polet and Start. He served as theater critic for the daily paper Slobodna Dalmacija and is a member of the editorial council of the theatre magazine Prolog. At first, he worked as dramaturg—in Slovenia, France, and Croatia—collaborating with directors such as Vito Taufer, Christian Colin, Jean Michel Bruyere, Krizstof Warlikowski, Ivan Popovski and Robert Waltl.

His productions have been seen in international festivals in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Venezuela, Austria, Greece, Macedonia, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Poland, Albania and, of course, Slovenia.  From 1998 to 2002, he was the Manager of the Croatian National Drama Theatre in Split. He is also the co-founder of the theatre Mini teater in Ljubljana, where he often works as a director or dramaturg.

He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Dubravko Djušin Award (1997, for Phaedra), the Petar Brečić Award  (1999, for his theatre essays), the Peristil Award (2001, for Oedipus), the Borštnik Diploma and a Special Award from the Jury (2004, for Schneewittchen After Party), the Medal of the City of Havana (2005, for Medea Material), the Borštnik Diploma for best direction and best performance (2007, for Oedipus in Corinth).

Here is my review, entitled " 'Macbeth After Shakespeare' (Slovenia/Croation) muscles its way into brilliance," which I wrote. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Sondheim-Inspired Romanian Adventure With Randy Gener, Ali Ewoldt and Friends -

PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Sondheim-Inspired Romanian Adventure With Ali Ewoldt and Friends -

Playbill has published a news story-cum-photo album documenting the lecture/listening party on composer Stephen Sondheim I gave and the musical show I produced in Romania. The show, entitled A MEDLEY OF SONDHEIM, is the first USA production to debut at the International Festival of Musical Performing Arts in Bucharest. The article was written by Matt Blank, and the photo album was specially created by Ali Ewoldt, who starred as Maria in the national tour of WEST SIDE STORY. The article reads:

"Sondheim and After": Gener with Jose Llana, Ali Ewoldt and Orville Mendoza
A quintet of Broadway favorites, directed by Jose Llana, recently had the unique opportunity to bring the music of Sondheim to Romania in a Nov. 17 Bucharest concert. 
Joan Almedilla (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables), Angel Desai (Company), Ali Ewoldt (Les Miserables, West Side Story), Jose Llana (The King & I, Spelling Bee, The Flower Drum Song, Wonderland) and Orville Mendoza (Pacific Overtures, Road Show) performed A Medley of Sondheim, a concert presentation of Stephen Sondheim's iconic musical numbers. 
Ewoldt documented the whirlwind 2-day trip and offers readers an exclusive look at their travels, the performance and some of the breathtaking historic sights around the city.