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Redmoon's Fire Organ, one of the components of the Grand Spectacle, is part of the first Great Chicago Fire Festival. (Photo by Ali Zayed)

Midday News Roundup: The Brantley-Don't-Tweet Edition

Updates and links for your midday reading.

As editors over here at American Theatre, we spend a lot of time reading the Internet for you. So instead of scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed on your coffee break, check out these stories that have been culled by AT‘s editors for your perusal.

  • The Great Chicago Fire Festival (which we covered this month in our magazine) went down over the weekend. Upside: 30,000 people were in attendance. Downside: Because of some rain earlier in the week, a number of floats on the Chicago River that were supposed to light up in flames did not so much as spark, according to the Chicago Tribune.  But the technical difficulties didn’t douse Redmoon artistic director Jim Lasko’s enthusiasm. “The bottom line is when you try something new, there are going to be difficulties, and this was one,” he said. “We had over 2,000 artists’ work represented last night successfully on the river…and if it was pyro that you came for, there was an amazing fireworks display.”


  • Playbill ran a Q&A with New York Times critic Ben Brantley in which he discussed the state of theatre criticism today. A highlight, addressing his critics, here: “My standard response to readers who email and say, ‘We must not have seen the same play’ is always, ‘We didn’t see the same play. It was probably on a different night. Every performance is different. I was in a different seat in the house, most likely.’ But, also, you can’t erase who you are when you go to the theatre, and no matter how you try to be wholly objective, you bring your own life history to it—you bring your body temperature, you bring this whole skew of elements that make us individuals… I think it’s dangerous to think, ‘Gee, I got that wrong because other people thought differently.'” We also learned that Ben is on Twitter, but only passively: “I’m on Twitter, I just don’t post. I read it.”


  • As a newly launched theatre website ourselves, we were intrigued to learn that the lively, artist-driven theatre website Minnesota Playlist is getting a reboot. In a post at HowlRound, co-founder Alan Berks talks about why he started it, and about the things he’s learned in the six years he’s run the site with his partner, Leah Cooper. One bracing takeway: “We can’t re-energize the audience for arts writing without re-envisioning arts writing itself. Though we have a core group of literate, committed readers, the least read articles are generally the ones we commission from conventional non-artist journalists. Artist writers naturally find ways to communicate their ideas to readers without being bound by convention. When we discovered that artists could review each other’s work with passion, from new perspectives (and without being blackballed by other artists), we decided to expand our criticism section on the new website.” That’ll be one to watch.”


  • This weekend, the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists are holding their biennial Conference and Festival (which we covered here). HowlRound is curating a series of first-person posts this week about the festival theme of: “Home? Here? There? Where?” First off, director Victor Maog, on his theatre company Second Generation: “2g was founded to increase Asian American representation in theater. Asian Americans have historically been ignored and misrepresented in the media, by not being perceived as American but as the ‘perpetual foreigner’ and through instances of yellow face.”


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