THE IDEATIONAL HORIZON: THE WORK OF LADISLAV VYCHODIL

THE IDEATIONAL HORIZON:

THE WORK OF LADISLAV VYCHODIL

By Haley Ritzert

From February 10 to May 21, Columbus Museum of Art will be presenting the exhibit “Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe.” The exhibit will feature the work of various Central European theatre artists and designers, including materials from the Jarka Burian Collection and the Czech Theatre Collection held by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

This post is second in a series highlighting designers in the Burian Collection whose work will be featured in the Shakespeare exhibit at CMA.

Ladislav Vychodil

Ladislav Vychodil

 

One of the featured artists is Slovak scenographer Ladislav Vychodil, who worked at the Slovak National Theatre from 1945 until 1999. He also established and served as principal professor of the Department of Scenic Arts at the Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts for over 15 years. His work in Czechoslovakia and abroad brought international attention to what Jarka Burian described as “the individual character of Slovak stage design,” noting that it is conceptually different from Czech scenography. Vychodil was a National Artist of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and in 1980, his designs were the centerpiece of an exhibition celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Slovak National Theatre.

Ladislav Vychodil designs

Ladislav Vychodil Design

 

Vychodil’s set design for the Slovak National Theatre’s 1980 production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Katerina Ismailova (also known as Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District), pictured above, is featured in the Shakespeare in Prague exhibit. The artistic, somewhat abstract design demonstrates several characteristics typical of Vychodil’s work, as described by Vychodil to Jarka Burian: an “ideational horizon,” with the horizon disappearing into red suggestive of both a sunset and spilled blood; an “inner cylinder” with “lines or ribs extending to lines of force, like a magnet, to the floor, creating a basic space,” and a “functional stage.” The swing Ismailova sits on is part of the functional stage, held up by a round, half-cylindrical structure around her.

The Jarka Burian Collection has extensive holdings on Vychodil and his work, with no less than forty-five of his productions represented including notable productions of the works of Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Václav Havel. His Shakespeare designs include The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, Richard III, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet.  The Burian Collection holds several of Vychodil’s drawings for Romeo and Juliet (Den Norske Teatret, Oslo, 1985) which Burian describes as a synthesis of the scenographer’s ideational cyclorama and functional stage.

Romeo and Juliet Design

Romeo and Juliet Design

 

The exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art; The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague; and the National Museum, Prague.

Works Cited

60th anniversary announcement. Slovak National Theatre. 1980.

Jarka Burian. “Notes on the Slovak Scenographer Ladislav Vychodil.” n.d.

Jarka Burian. “Entry for encyclopedia.” n.d.

Jarka Burian. “Ladislav Vychodil’s Scenography Abroad.” n.d.

“Shakespeare in Prague.” Columbus Museum of Art. n.d.

Ladislav Vychodil, interviewed by Jarka Burian, circa late 1980s.

 

Haley Ritzert is a senior majoring in history and German with a minor in Slavic languages and literatures. She is currently working at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and in Special Collections Descriptions and Access as part of a public history internship course.

 

 

 

Shakespeare in Prague and Bratislava: The work of Čestmír Pechr

Shakespeare in Prague and Bratislava:

The work of Čestmír Pechr

By Haley Ritzert

King Lear poster

King Lear poster

From February 10 to May 21, the Columbus Museum of Art will be presenting the exhibit Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in Central Europe. The exhibit will feature the work of various Central European theatre artists and designers, including materials from the Jarka Burian Collection and the Czech Theatre Collection held by the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

This post is first in a series highlighting designers in the Burian and Czech Theatre collections whose work will be featured in the Shakespeare exhibit at CMA.

One of the featured artists is Slovak graphic designer and scenographer Čestmír Pechr. Pechr studied graphic design in Prague from 1944 to 1947. In 1955, he began working as a designer and advertising graphic designer at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava. He was one of the most important early designers of theatre posters in Slovakia. His work is notable for its emotional, dramatic, and sometimes grotesque images.

Czech theatre scholar Anna Dvořák writes that Pechr’s “talent for expressing the spirit and mood of a theatrical production is best documented in a series of posters introducing identical symbols–pale hands, for example–in varying degrees of stylization.” Here Dvořák is referring to the pale hands of Pechr’s posters for Richard II, Othello, and Henry IV, which are seen below.

 

Richard II poster

Richard II poster

Othello poster

Othello poster

Henry IV poster

Henry IV poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pechr’s work also includes set designs for plays put on at the Slovak National Theatre, including Hamlet, Henry IV, and The Comedy of Errors. His posters for Shakespeare productions include Henry IV, Timon of Athens, Richard II, Othello, and two designs for King Lear. The Jarka Burian Collection holds the four posters shown here. 

 

The exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague; and the National Museum, Prague.

 

Works Cited

Daubrava, Miroslav. “Čestmír Pechr.” Slovenské národné divadlo. 4 October 2016.

Dvořák, Anna. “Contemporary Czech and Slovak Poster Design.” Ideas 6, no. 1, 1999.

“Shakespeare in Prague.” Columbus Museum of Art. n.d.

Haley Ritzert is a senior majoring in history and German with a minor in Slavic languages and literatures. She is currently working at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and in Special Collections Descriptions and Access as part of a public history internship course.

 

 

 

In Remembrance of Vera Blaine

Vera Blaine, teacher, choreographer, dancer, and department chair, passed away peacefully on December 26, 2016.  A celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, January 15, 2017, 1:00 p.m., at the Department of Dance, Sullivant Hall, 1813 North High Street, Columbus, OH.

Vera Blain - Portrait

Vera Blain – Portrait

By Marissa Ajamian

Vera Blaine, affectionately known as Vickie, had an extremely prolific career in the arts and in the Department of Dance at Ohio State. She received both her BS and MA at The Ohio State University and she returned to the University as a professor of dance. She was also the chairperson of the Department of Dance for twelve years. While she was teaching at the Department of Dance, she changed how composition was being taught by introducing the study of weight. These weight studies that Blaine created continue to be taught in the Department of Dance.

Vera Blaine - Heel Talk

Vera Blaine – Heel Talk

Blaine was born in 1934 in Barberton, OH. In her junior year of high school, Blaine joined the Actors Guild of Variety Artists which allowed her to perform in working class clubs in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. After high school, Blaine wanted to become a professional tap dancer. However, her father felt that Blaine should go to college. This led Blaine to study dance at The Ohio State University.

When she registered for classes, Blaine enrolled in modern dance with Helen Alkire who became one of Blaine’s mentors. While Blaine was a student, Alkire took the dancers to the American Dance Festival. At the festival, Blaine took her first composition course with Louis Horst, composition teacher and musical director for Martha Graham. After receiving her Masters at Ohio State, Blaine moved to New York City to study under Horst at the Martha Graham School of Dance. While in New York, she also studied at the Cunningham studio to learn the Cunningham technique and repertory. Her classmates included Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown.

Vera Blaine - Teaching

Vera Blaine – Teaching

In the late 1960s, Blaine was offered a teaching position at Ohio State where she was influenced by the work Lucy Venable and Odette Blum were doing with Labanotation. The Laban effort and space work intrigued Blaine which led her to create her composition class around weight studies. She became the leading choreographer and director of the University Dance Company for 15 years. In 1977 she received the Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1983, Blaine became Chair for the Department of Dance which she remained until 1995. In 1988, she was the first recipient of the Chairperson Recognition Award. In 1996, Blaine received the OhioDance award. In 2005, she became Professor Emerita and taught Composition part-time in the department. In 2006, she received the University’s Distinguished Service Award. Her choreography has been performed by professional dance companies including HARRY, The Bill Evans 2nd Dance Company and the Kinetics Company.

Vera Blaine had a major impact on The Ohio State University’s Department of Dance. She was a mentor for many of the students of the department and helped to shape their ideas on composition. Her weight studies class continues to be used to help students become aware of these weight qualities within their own dancing. Blaine dedicated much of her life to building the Department of Dance and helping to maintain its status as one of the top dance departments in the country.

Marissa Ajamian is an undergraduate in the OSU Department of Dance. This blogpost is excerpted from a major research project she conducted as part of the Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP) during summer 2016 on OSU’s Women of Dance. Her research was supervised by Nena Couch and Karen Eliot.

TRI’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY

We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Lawrence and Lee Institute!

lawrence-and-lee-anniversary

Members of the family here for the celebration on October 23, 2016

On November 7, 1986, the Theatre Research Institute was named in honor of the playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. It has been an exciting 30 years of growth as well as moves from Lincoln Tower where Bob and Jerry are pictured in 1986 to Ackerman to the wonderful renovated Thompson Library.  We recently had the opportunity to celebrate not only this anniversary, but also the 100th birthdays of Lawrence and Lee, in a wonderful event that brought together members of the Lawrence and Lee families from California, Pennsylvania, and D.C.

The following are the remarks given at that event by Nena Couch, who joined the Lawrence and Lee Institute as the founding curator in 1986, acknowledging the playwrights and some of the people present who have been instrumental in building the Institute.

Some of us have had the great pleasure of growing up with Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, studying their plays in school and seeing productions. For those who might not yet have had that experience, we will have a brief window into their work in just a few moments.

lawrence-and-lee

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee at the Theatre Research Institute at its naming in 1986

In many ways, Jerry and Bob were the theatrical conscience of the country for the many decades of their partnership, from their work in radio to great plays that spoke to human and individual rights, be that individual a free-thinking Mame (Auntie Mame and Mame) who urges us to discover new things about ourselves and the world, a Drummond (Inherit the Wind) whose balancing of the Bible and Darwin shows us that the open and inquiring mind is our champion against censorship, a Countess Aurelia (Dear World) who proves to us that “one person can change the world,” a Supreme Court Justice Dan Snow (First Monday in October) who fights for the light for everyone, or a Thoreau (The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail) who is not afraid to march to a different drummer.  Lawrence and Lee have populated stages all over the world with sometimes serious, sometimes funny, but always passionately committed, individuals.  The playwrights were always enemies of, as they said, “anything which places corsets on our minds or our soaring spirits.”  With that in mind and in their honor, the goal of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute has been to support research, teaching, and creativity which allow the spirits of our students, faculty, and visiting scholars to soar.

I was very honored to be selected as the first curator of the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and to have the opportunity to work directly with Bob and Jerry who were inspirational. And many talented and creative individuals have been a part of the Institute’s work over the years.  Some of them are here today, so I would like them to stand as I acknowledge them.

Part of the Lawrence and Lee impact at OSU before the Institute was named for them, David Ayers was executive director of the American Playwrights’ Theatre, a non-profit organization founded by Jerry Lawrence and Bob Lee in 1963 here at Ohio State to promote new plays by established writers for regional and university theatres. David also originated roles in two Lawrence and Lee plays: The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, and Jabberwock.

Alan Woods, director emeritus of the Lawrence and Lee Institute, was my longtime colleague and partner as the Institute made the transition from a departmental collection to a national resource. As the Institute director for 30 of his 38 years of service at OSU, Alan worked to integrate use of collections into student scholarship, was executive editor of Theatre Studies, a journal for graduate theatre students from around the country, initiated the Eileen Heckart playwriting competition to provide new works for older actors, and was an outstanding teacher whose students are now active professionally in a wide range of positions from the academy to commercial theatre to theatre criticism. The Lawrence and Lee Institute as it exists today owes much to Alan’s contributions.

In 2009, theatre professor and resident lighting designer Mary Tarantino stepped into the role of Institute director, and has been a great partner in growing the use of Institute collections within the Theatre curriculum and building the Institute’s programs. Mary’s own courses are a model for embedding primary sources in the classroom, and her work in this arena has been recognized in national presentations and publications. Mary also brings great expertise to the Institute team in theatre design and technology which is a major area of collection growth and use.

Anca Galron, while officially in another OSU Libraries’ department, seemed like she belonged to the Lawrence and Lee Institute. She spent many years cataloging and processing great performing arts materials and bringing her own subject expertise with her master’s in theatre to improve access to our collections.

As the first Lawrence and Lee Institute curator, it was a huge pleasure to be able to welcome Beth Kattelman in 2006 as the Institute’s second curator, the Curator of Theatre, a position made possible by the amazing generous bequest from Jerry Lawrence. Beth has a long history with the Institute from her grad student years when she served as Theatre Studies editor. Following her PhD here, she went on to get the MLS, and came back to us to bring together theatre scholarship, expertise in performance and production, and library qualifications to enrich the Institute. Beth is a brilliant teacher, and engages students in multiple departments with Institute collections in ways that keep bringing them back for more.

We feel that Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee have left us an amazing legacy that guides us as we continue to build the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, and it is a real honor to be here with the families and all of you to celebrate this first 100 years of their lives and work.

“Theatre is the universal means of expression. It embraces all of the arts through which human minds seek to reach one another.”
Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee – November, 1986

Howdy Doody Marathon

Howdy Doody Marathon, New Special to Air on Independence Day

By Cecelia Bellomy

Soft-body Howdy Doody doll, c. 1950-59

Soft-body Howdy Doody doll, c. 1950-59

“Buffalo Bob” Smith’s belt

“Buffalo Bob” Smith’s belt

It seems like a new candidate may enter the presidential race on a platform of cheap sodas, one day of school, and two Christmas holidays per year. Straight from Doodyville, it’s Howdy Doody, the eponymous, red-haired marionette from The Howdy Doody Show, and he’s back on television for the first time in over fifty years.

This landmark show was the first children’s television program as well as the first program to be broadcasted five days a week. After an impressive 2,543 episodes, the final episode aired on September 24, 1960. The Howdy Doody Show has not aired again since that day. Until now.

Super fan and television producer Burt Dubrow has been working to get Howdy back on television screens and found success through COZI TV, a classic television re-run channel owned by NBC.

The nine-episode marathon will air on July 4th , beginning at 9 a.m. EDT and will be bookended by a new special highlighting Howdy Doody’s two presidential campaigns in 1948 and 1952, Howdy Doody for President.

Between fireworks and barbecue, take a trip down memory lane or discover for the first time the only freckle-faced puppet with enough charisma to capture the hearts of a whole generation of American children.

You can find more information on the marathon here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/52675380b43347759f1f90b9b401348a/its-howdy-doody-time-again-july-4th-tv-marathon

To commemorate the marathon, enjoy a curated selection from the TRI’s very own Ralph MacPhail Jr., Howdy Doody Collection.

Original Howdy Doody Show test pattern. The final image fans would have seen at the end of each episode from early 1948 to mid-1955.

Original Howdy Doody Show test pattern. The final image fans would have seen at the end of each episode from early 1948 to mid-1955.

“Buffalo Bob” Smith, Howdy Doody, and Clarabell the Clown on the steps of the Capitol for “I Am an American Day,” May 15th, 1949

“Buffalo Bob” Smith, Howdy Doody, and Clarabell the Clown on the steps of the Capitol for “I Am an American Day,” May 15th, 1949.

“Howdy Doody for President,” 1948

“Howdy Doody for President,” 1948

 

“I’m a Friend of Howdy Doody” lunchbox, 1954

“I’m a Friend of Howdy Doody” lunchbox, 1954

Undergraduate Fellow Studies Historical Film Medium

Undergraduate Fellow Studies Historical Film Medium

By Cecelia Bellomy

When I ask Jayce Fryman, current Special Collections Undergraduate Research Fellow, to see the film for the 9.5 mm projector he is studying, he opens the box with sudden excitement. He unravels a bit of a slender roll of film where I see several successive black-and-white frames of a towheaded boy squinting into the sun stationed in front of a large, gnarled tree. Jayce seems to be easy going by nature, but it is easy to see his passion for the work he is doing.

Jayce Fryman with Baby Pathé Projector

Jayce Fryman with Baby Pathé Projector

 

Fryman, a rising junior, is studying The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector. The Baby Pathé reads 9.5 mm. film and was one of the first at-home video apparatuses, a French machine which, surprisingly, “encroached” on the American film market. The projector is a new acquisition for the TRI which has found a home in the Magical Lantern and Optical Entertainments Collection.

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector

The Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute’s Baby Pathé Projector

 

Jayce, a film studies major himself, indulges my ignorance of all things film history with grace: the art of 9.5 millimeter film “didn’t last terribly long,” he says, but it “was popular for a short time” from the mid-twenties to late-thirties before being overtaken by the 8 millimeter format. 9.5 mm. can be distinguished by its central sprocket holes, or holes in the middle of the strip at the bottom of each frame which, according to Jayce, creates a “much better image” than 8 mm. He hopes to get one of the TRI’s two Baby Pathé projectors working while he is studying at the TRI. He tells me a part has been ordered to try to restore the machine.

When I asked Jayce what was the most surprising thing he has learned so far, besides more knowledge of the medium, he reports that the projector was acquired by the TRI from the West End Lyric Theatre in St. Louis, where it was owned by the Skouras brothers, one of whom, Spyros, would become the president of 20th Century Fox. Jayce is clearly a bit awestruck by the history of the objects he is studying.

It is important to Fryman, as an undergraduate, to get “exposure” to research “as early as possible” since he hopes to teach and do research in the future. In the upcoming months, he reports that he will be doing research on the niche genre he calls “horror musical films.” He says he wants to know why some genre mashups are successful and others aren’t. It is a similar drive that pushes Jayce forward in his TRI research. The 9.5 medium had blown over in America by the beginning of the 1940s but survived in Europe into the 1960s, and Jayce hopes to find out why this style of film was so short-lived in the United States.

RICKY J. MARTINEZ HONORED

RICKY J. MARTINEZ HONORED AT CEREMONY

By Cecelia Bellomy

Ricky J. Martinez signing his copy of his remarks for the TRI. Looking on: Mary Tarantino, OSU Department of Theatre Lighting Designer and Director of the Theatre Research Institute; Deborah Robison; Damon Jaggars

Ricky J. Martinez signing his copy of his remarks for the TRI. Looking on: Mary Tarantino, OSU Department of Theatre Lighting Designer and Director of the Theatre Research Institute; Deborah Robison; Damon Jaggars.

Ricky J. Martinez, Cuban-American playwright, director, and choreographer from Miami, Florida, was awarded this year’s Margo Jones Award during the 30th Anniversary Season at the New Theatre where he serves as Artistic Director. In the program for the Theatre’s most recent production, his original play Roof!, Martinez’s Artistic Director’s note describes this momentous anniversary season as having the theme of “survival of the determined,” featuring five playwrights, including himself, who have “persisted writing—artists believing their work on stage is integral to their growth and the growth of our young city.”

The persistence of Ricky J. Martinez is finally being recognized. He was awarded this year’s Margo Jones Award, presented by The Ohio State University Libraries’ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute. This award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, and who have encouraged the living theatre everywhere. Martinez was presented with the award at a ceremony which took place at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, the regular performance space for the New Theatre, on April 30th.

The ceremony saw a large turnout of Ricky’s teachers, students, and Miami theatre folk, including many of Ricky’s collaborators from the New Theatre and elsewhere. Speakers included Carol Cadby, a 30-year theatre educator who teaches at George Mason University, Signature Theatre, Synetic Theatre, The D.C. Theatre Lab Conservatory, Arlington Public Schools, and was Martinez’s former teacher; and William “Bill” Schwartz, professional actor and New Theatre favorite. The award was presented by Damon Jaggars, Vice Provost and Director of The Ohio State University Libraries, and members of the Margo Jones Medal committee—Nena Couch, Beth Kattelman, Mary Tarantino, Deborah Robison representing the Jerome Lawrence family, and Jonathan Barlow Lee representing the Robert E. Lee family. Also in attendance were Neila Lee and Jenny Lee.

 

Martinez and Eileen Suarez, Managing Director of New Theatre

Martinez and Eileen Suarez, Managing Director of New Theatre

An award-winning director, Martinez has been invited to direct for the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival, and Stanford University’s National Center for New Plays; James Madison University and the Forbes Center; Words A-Fire Festival in New Mexico; Ignition Fest at Victory Gardens, and others, in addition to his direction for New Theatre. Martinez’s risk-taking and collaboration with playwrights on more than 50 world premiere plays has proved more than successful. Many of the works have gone on to become Pulitzer Prize finalists and winners and ATCA’s Steinberg finalists and winners, among other prestigious awards, and many of the works have been preserved for the American theatre through publication. Nationally, Martinez has stayed an active champion for new works, participating on the Executive Committee for the National New Play Network (NNPN); the Advisory Board of the Latino Theatre Commons; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) panelist (seven years); Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; National Fund for New Musicals; PlayPenn; and San Antonio’s Luminaria Festival.

As a playwright, Martinez has been mentored by Arthur Kopit and Tina Howe; is an NNPN playwright alumni, and has works being read and produced nationally and internationally. Martinez is an accomplished actor, dancer, choreographer, singer, song writer, musician, community leader and theatre activist. Recently, he has been empowering hometown artists, as well as audiences, with the celebrated Miami 1-Acts Festival that provides a platform for Miami-centric voices of the next generation of theatre makers to be heard. Martinez has worked tirelessly to encourage new and varied voices in the theatre internationally, nationally, and right in his hometown, but has garnered less personal acknowledgement than his work deserves. Perhaps it was New Theatre Board Chair Steve Eisenberg who best stated the significance of the ceremony: “I feel like tonight the universe is more balanced.”

 

Margo Jones Award Honoree Ricky J. Martinez with members of the Robert E. Lee Family: Neila Lee, Ricky J. Martinez, Jenny Lee, Jonathan Barlow Lee

Margo Jones Award Honoree Ricky J. Martinez with members of the Robert E. Lee Family: Neila Lee, Ricky J. Martinez, Jenny Lee, Jonathan Barlow Lee

 

The importance of the Margo Jones award was recognized by the Miami Dade County office of the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners proclaiming April 30th, the day of the ceremony, “Ricky J. Martinez Day” in honor of his award and of his work in expanding Miami’s art landscape. This is the first time the Margo Jones Award has been the catalyst for a proclamation, and The Lawrence and Lee Institute is named multiple times in the document: “Whereas: Miami-Dade County is proud to echo the sentiments of the Ohio State University’s Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute as they honor this fine gentleman with this prestigious award.”

 

Ricky J. Martinez and his mother. Ricky J. is holding the Margo Jones Award medal and the proclamation from the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of Commissioners proclaiming Saturday, April 30, 2016 Ricky J. Martinez Day

Ricky J. Martinez and his mother. Ricky J. is holding the Margo Jones Award medal and the proclamation from the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of Commissioners proclaiming Saturday, April 30, 2016 Ricky J. Martinez Day

 

Ricky Martinez was “dynamic and gracious and tearful” during the ceremony, and his acceptance speech was exceptionally “moving,” said Beth Kattelman, member of the Medal committee and Curator of Theatre for the Theatre Research Institute. In his speech, Martinez addressed that question that many lovers and makers of theatre are asking today, Is theatre dying?

[making theatre is] very, very dangerous…but so are we…because we are alive…and theatre is made by living people. So the unwritten fact is theatre has never-was never dying! It’s in the moment, as we are; living!

In a world where new theatre faces the constant threat of being swallowed up by newer and more convenient medias, theatre makers with a clarity of vision and persistence like Martinez’ are an invaluable necessity.

Celebrating Carnival

April 11: A Wellness Event at Thompson Library: Celebrating Carnival: Engage in dances of Soca, Samba, and come dressed in your best Carnival costume. Following the class, tour the Thompson Libraries’ current exhibit Dancing in the Streets: Carnival from Britain to Brazil and Beyond.

Photo: Fire Goddess, Notting Hill Carnival, London, England, 2002. Photograph by A.R. Tompsett

Photo: Fire Goddess, Notting Hill Carnival, London, England, 2002. Photograph by A.R. Tompsett

Join Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Damon Jaggars and Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk for a dance celebration! Engage in dances of Soca, Samba, and come dressed in your best Carnival costume. Following the class, tour the Thompson Libraries’ current exhibit Dancing in the Streets: Carnival from Britain to Brazil and Beyond. Curators Nena Couch and Lesley Ferris will share stories and special collections from Carnival. The dance celebration runs from 4:15 – 5:20 pm, with exhibit tours at 4:40, 5, and 5:20 p.m. Check-in begins at 3:45 p.m. This event is open to all Ohio State faculty, staff, students, and spouses/same-sex domestic partners.

2016 William Case Kramer Fellows

Meet the 2016 William Case Kramer Fellows!

By Cecelia Bellomy

It is the TRI’s pleasure to introduce the two William Case Kramer Fellowship recipients for 2016, Mandy Mitchell and Joshua Truett. I interviewed each fellow to learn about their completely different yet equally compelling plans for the research funds as well as their approaches to art and research.

Mandy Mitchell 2016 William Case Kramer Fellow

Mandy Mitchell 2016 William Case Kramer Fellow

Mandy Mitchell is in her first of three years pursuing a MFA in Acting, having received her B.A. in Theatre from Salem State University. With the fellowship funding, Mandy will be travelling to Morinesio, Italy this summer to take part in a week-long workshop on pageant puppetry. In Morinesio, a tiny village in the Alps, she will learn about various techniques of puppet construction and animation, focusing on those used in traditional pageantry. The week will culminate in two separate processionals in which the puppets she and other workshop participants made will be paraded through the town in a feat connecting to the village’s historical roots.

There is “something really wonderful and magical about puppets,” Mitchell says of her draw toward puppetry. They can do things actors “honest-to-God can’t do,” such as die on stage. Puppets are having a moment right now—“not a Muppet moment,” she assures me, a “real” moment. By this she refers to productions such as Avenue Q and Hand to God, both of which have been Broadway hits with huge puppetry elements.

In the same way that puppets are beginning to be used as conduits of adult drama, “in a dream world,” Mandy would find a way to combine puppetry with her passion for children’s theatre in order to “do puppet Shakespeare” as a “not stuffy first way” for kids to come at the Bard. In the short term, she plans on sharing what she learns in Morinesio in a lecture through the TRI, and she plans to use elements of puppetry in a one-woman show.

 

Joshua Truett 2016 William Case Kramer Fellow

Joshua Truett
2016 William Case Kramer Fellow

Joshua Truett is in his second of three years in the M.A. Theatre Performance, History, and Theory degree. He arrived at Ohio State with his B.F.A. from New York University and M.F.A. from California State University, Los Angeles. With his funding, Truett will be spending the month of May in Juchitan de Zargoza in the isthmus region of Oaxaca, Mexico. This part of Mexico is known for its “local festivals,” called velas, the most of which occur during May. During the month, Joshua will observe the velas and take classes at the local Cultural Center to learn the native language, Zapotec.

Truett will then return to Juchitan in November to attend the “vela of the muxes.” The muxes, he notes, are “an indigenous group that some scholars consider a ‘third gender’.” Joshua has a “strong scholarly interest in queer and trans identities” and “was drawn to Juchitan because it has often been called a ‘queer paradise’, because of the longstanding acceptance of the muxes in the local culture.” Truett also cites Juchitan’s world famous cuisine and an interest “how the production and consumption of food ‘performs’ specific cultural identities” as another reason for his research.

He will present the findings from his first trip to Juchitan at the Hemispheric Institute’s Ecunetro conference in Santiago, Chile this summer.

When I asked Mandy Mitchell about the role research plays in her discipline as a performer, she remarked, “we have to be the expert in the room…for our art to be good art,” or , to put it more simply, “you have to do all the things…[it] makes you better, makes you stronger,” she said with a laugh. In the near future, Mitchell can be seen playing Mash in OSU Department of Theatre’s production of Aaron Posner’s play, Stupid F*cking Bird.

Joshua Truett’s upcoming projects are various and vibrant, and include a script for a play about the first San Francisco gay riots, “a TV pilot about San Francisco’s first black female millionaire, known as Mammy Pleasant,” and  “an English-language Noh play” about Jacqueline Kennedy’s ghost haunting the site of her husband’s assassination. On the topic of art and research, Truett remarks that research, “will open-up new identities, places, and issues” which can be “integrate[d] into [his] art-making.”

Congratulations to Mandy and Joshua—it is easy to see that their research will have far-reaching impacts on the performance and study of theatre at large.

 

The William Case Kramer Fellowship, funded by the William Case Kramer Endowed Fund, was awarded for the first time in 2009. Kramer very much valued both the research at the Institute and the international research experience that Professor John H. McDowell encouraged when Kramer was a graduate student in Theatre at OSU, and the Kramer fellowship seeks to re-create that experience.

2016 Margo Jones Award

2016 Margo Jones Award honors Ricky J. Martinez

Ricky Martinez

 

Ricky J. Martinez, artistic director for the New Theatre in Miami, Florida, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Margo Jones Award, presented by The Ohio State University Libraries and OSU Arts and Humanities. The award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, and who have encouraged living theatre everywhere.

Martinez is a spirited Cuban-American “theatre maker.” As an award-winning director, Martinez has been invited to direct for the MFA Playwrights’ Workshop at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival, and Stanford University’s National Center for New Plays; James Madison University and the Forbes Center; Words A-Fire Festival in New Mexico; Ignition Fest at Victory Gardens, and others, in addition to his direction for New Theatre. Martinez’ risk-taking and collaborations with playwrights on more than 50 world premiere plays have lead to Pulitzer Prize finalists/wins and ATCA’s Steinberg finalists/wins, among other prestigious awards, with many have preserved for the American theatre landscape by being published. Nationally, Martinez has stayed an active champion for new works, participating on the Executive Committee for the National New Play Network (NNPN); the Advisory Board of the Latino Theatre Commons; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) panelist (seven years); Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; National Fund for New Musicals; PlayPenn; and San Antonio’s Luminaria Festival.

As a playwright, Martinez has been mentored by Arthur Kopit and Tina Howe; is an NNPN playwright alumni, and has works being read and produced nationally and internationally. Martinez is an accomplished actor, dancer, choreographer, singer, song writer, musician, community leader and theatre activist. He has recently been empowering hometown artists, as well as audiences, with the celebrated Miami 1-Acts Festival that provides a platform for Miami-centric voices of the next generation of theatre makers to be heard. 3

The award will be presented to Martinez at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (Cutler Bay, Florida) on April 30 at a ceremony which will include such notable speakers as Carol Cadby, a 30-year Theatre educator who teaches at George Mason University, Signature Theatre, Synetic Theatre, The D.C. Theatre Lab Conservatory and Arlington Public Schools; and William “Bill” Schwartz, professional actor and New Theatre favorite.

The Margo Jones Medal commemorates one of the pioneers of the American professional regional theatre movement. Jones (1912-1955) supported and nurtured new plays at the theatre she founded in Dallas in 1947, including Tennessee Williams’s Summer and Smoke and Lawrence and Lee’s Inherit the Wind. The pattern she created for developing new plays is now a standard method for producing new plays in the living American theatre. Members of the Medal Committee are Deborah Robison for the family of Jerome Lawrence; Janet Waldo Lee, Lucy Lee, and Jonathan Barlow Lee for the family of Robert E. Lee; and Nena Couch, Beth Kattelman, and Mary Tarantino for the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State.

Margo Jones Medal

Margo Jones Medal

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