Living In “Schmigadoon”!

This week, we continue our conversation with Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a tenured professor who has been fired from, and is now filing a lawsuit against, Linfield University, which would prefer to try to silence its critics rather than address the serious accusations of sexual misconduct against current and former members of Linfield’s board of trustees. Featuring: a special appearance from Washington Post theatre (and “Shipoopi”) critic Peter Marks; comic bestiality, William Goldman’s observation about what the real drag of a story can be; nostalgia for ancient things called “video stores;” shout-outs to In The Heights, Brigadoon (and its modern counterpart Schmigadoon!), Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Ben Franklin in Paris, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Leowe, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd; and most fundamentally, important childhood connections to great musicals of the past. PART ONE OF OUR CONVERSATION CAN BE FOUND HERE. (Length 16:00)

760. Some Broadway B.S.

Abbey Harris is the co-creator and co-host of Broadway Bullshit, the seasonal weekly podcast that examines Broadway musicals and discusses whether they should “fly, die, or retry,” and strives to provide contextual analysis, while also reminding fans why they love Broadway. FEATURING: bleeding edge hot takes; looking at classic material in new ways; the power of being a double threat; the importance of editing; some recording tips; and addressing the danger of running out of musicals. (Length 19:18)

Writing Like Shakespeare

Our last two scripts — William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) and Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel) — have been written largely in iambic pentameter, and this week we talk to lecturer and playwright Richard O’Brien (who, as his very helpful Twitter handle @NotRockyHorror explains, is not the author of that legendary classic) about what that all means. Featuring essential differences between poets and dramatists; the only problem with doing a surprisingly good Fletcher impression; how formal poetic structure can deepen character; how verse pulls off the wonderful double act of lending gravitas and making jokes land; showing off the precision and pyrotechnics of language; the floated possibility of guest lecturing (let’s make this happen, Shakespeare Institute!); and how one of the pleasures of writing (and watching) verse plays is how much they resemble musicals (but without the expense and difficulty of getting them on). (Length 21:08)

Everything Is Theatre

Richard ET White (left) is the former artistic director of the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago, and the outgoing and longest-serving chair of the Cornish College of the Arts Theatre Department in that institution’s 103-year-old history. Richard was also an acting and directing teacher at the University of California Drama Department where many RSC members got their early training. RSC co-artistic director Austin Tichenor talks with his former professor about how theatre can be anything and everywhere; how comedy about serious issues from the San Francisco Mime Troupe became life-changing; the influence of Richard Schechner and the Performance Group; sneering at prosceniums; what people forget about Brecht; the value of immaturity; the immediacy of improv; the storytelling and performance art of stand-up; being both expansive and inclusive; the value of sharing your lived experience; and how you want theatre to have the visceral impact of a great rock concert. (Length 24:06)

West Side Story

Remember live theatre? Remember when the big story back in late February was the controversial Ivo Van Hove production of West Side Story on Broadway? Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a professor of Shakespeare, English, and Gender Studies at Linfield College in Oregon, and a contributing writer to the New York Times and Atlantic magazine, wrote an article for the latter entitled, “Why West Side Story Abandoned Its Queer Narrative,” and, in this interview recorded on March 3, 2020, discusses the merits of the van Hove production and his insights into the original narrative. Featuring the peril of picking one’s prepositional poison; how a dorky 50s musical speaks to modern concerns about racism and police violence against communities of color; the struggle for Tony’s body; the problems with “I Feel Pretty;” Jerome Robbins’ lost play; expressing Jewish identity in the 1950s through ethnic minstrelsy; how Arthur Laurents “improved” on Shakespeare in particularly troubling ways; the rightness of questioning problematic aesthetics; the casting controversy in the recent Broadway production; and, most importantly, the feeling that when you love something you want to know and discuss everything about it. (Length 34:51)