FRICK BOOK AWARD

drop-dead.jpgDrop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York has won the ATDS 2017 John W. Frick Book Award, which recognizes “outstanding works that expand and challenge the field of American theatre and drama.”

Gratitude is owed to the Frick Award selection committee of the American Theatre & Drama Society, as well as those without whom the book would not exist. This includes the team at Northwestern University Press, the Performance Works series editors Nicholas Ridout and Patrick Anderson, and editor Michael Levine.

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Coney Island, 1972 (image via flickr user fauxto_digit)

Video: NYC Performance in the 1970s

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:

Oct. 31 Book Event + Screening + Discussion

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

Photo by Shalmon Bernstein

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 ScreeningShorts 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.

Visit the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center’s website for the full program information.

 

photo credit: Shalmon Bernstein

Julie Bovasso & the Dramatic Imperative

Upcoming: the Association for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference in Baltimore, where I will participate in the Debating Postdramatic Theatre working session with, “The Moon is Ours! Julie Bovasso & the Dramatic Imperative.” Short excerpt below the still of Bovasso in Robert Frank’s 1961 short film, The Sin of Jesus.

Julie Bovasso in Robert Frank's The Sin of Jesus, 1961.

“And it was not just Actor’s Equity rules and cramped basement theatres that the Bovasso aesthetic mocked; on the downtown performance scene, a restless and expansionist avant-garde outgrew its playgrounds to find a tower of Babble awaiting them. Her characters speak English, Swedish, Chinese, Italian, and gibberish; their mother tongues are unstable, their desires are hysterical, their conflicts self-reinforcing. ‘What do you mean, dream’s over?’ a desperate lawyer asks a psychiatrist, holding tightly to the fantasy of Jungian interpretation. Bovasso’s writing and direction stressed the uncanny contours of loss, experienced through the performers’ resistance to their roles, and the playwright’s insistence on a fraudulent dramatis personae.”