“The preview performance of Julie Bovasso’s Angelo’s Wedding on 11 May 1985, imploded after an altercation between the playwright and the staff of Marshall Mason’s Off-Broadway Circle Repertory. Bovasso, then almost fifty-five years old, attended the performance against the explicit wishes of the production team; the rehearsal period had been fraught. Suspecting unauthorized cuts, Bovasso took a seat in the audience, but then, midshow, confronted the backstage crew and demanded the chance to give the actors notes. The staff refused. At the start of the third act, Bovasso changed tactics: she alighted the stage and instructed the audience to leave the theatre. Members of the crew blocked her access to the actors, leading to a physical altercation, a 911 call, and, eventually, her forced eviction from the theatre.”
“As we enter a period of uncertainty, to put it mildly, one of the areas most at risk is the federal funding of arts and culture. It’s no surprise to hear that the social conservatives and free-market extremists now in power are already making noises about implementing their long-held dream to eradicate the NEA and PBS.
What happens, then, when the faucet is turned off? What are the priorities, how do funds get allocated, and to whom?
Our current predicament makes Hillary Miller’s Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York an especially fascinating read.”
On October 31, 2016, the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center hosted “Theatre & Performance in the 1970s,” a launch for my book, Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York (Northwestern University Press). After an all-day screening, “Shorts from the Feminist Seventies” (curated by Shilyh Warren), the evening panel discussion was moderated by Executive Director Frank Hentschker, and featured playwrights, directors, and historians discussing the theatre artists and institutions of the 1970s. A remarkable group of participants joined me for this incredible event: historian Julia Foulkes (New School), playwright and novelist Jessica Hagedorn, director Muriel Miguel (Spiderwoman Theater), historian Cindy Rosenthal (Hofstra University), and playwright Richard Wesley. Thanks to HowlRound TV for live streaming the discussion, which is now available for viewing:
Monday, October 31, 2016 The Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309 6:30pm Discussion + 11:00am Screenings
FREE + Open to public. First come, first served.
In the mid-1970s, many artists and organizations defied socially destructive policies and fought for the arts as a public good during New York City’s near-bankruptcy and resulting austerity. Scholar and playwright Hillary Miller’s book, Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York (Northwestern UP, 2016), combines theatre history with analyses of productions of the time to examine how the performing arts survived the crisis. Miller’s account includes Broadway (TKTS), BAM, La MaMa E.T.C., and The Public Theater, and highlights the important role of Martin E. Segal in shaping the City’s cultural policy for decades to come. A panel of playwrights, directors, and historians will join in conversation about the theatre artists and arts institutions of the 1970s, and the significance of its theatrical legacies in our contemporary city. Invited are Julia Foulkes; Jessica Hagedorn; Muriel Miguel, Spiderwoman Theater; Cindy Rosenthal; Richard Wesley; and others (TBD).
All-Day Screening: Shorts from the Feminist Seventies is a selection of 16mm documentaries made by women in the 1970s on topics ranging from marriage, sex, and reproductive health to labor, identity, and memory—all culled from the New York Public Library’s Reserve Film and Video Collection. Opening remarks by curator and film scholar Shilyh Warren,and invited guest Elena Rossi-Snook, Archivist, Reserve Film and Video Collection, The New York Public Library. Additional support from Third World Newsreel.
It’s true that all New Yorkers can take advantage of any TKTS booth by the very fact of their mobility, but this philosophy—the idea that patrons should travel to a centralized, civic arts space for their cultural uplift—has proven over the past decades to rely on faulty logic.