Every other week, the editors of American Theatre curate a free-ranging discussion about the lively arts in our Offscript podcast.
This week, editors Rob Weinert-Kendt, Diep Tran, and Russell Dembin discuss money. Specifically, the drama brewing offstage with the Off Broadway contract negotiations, and whether actors working Off Broadway should be making more money (#FairWageOnStage). We also parse the highlights of our November issue on management and producing. And we’re looking for tips! Diep wants to know about theatres who have prioritized paying their artists and staff more, and how they did it (email her here). Russ is looking for more theatre ghost stories (email him here).
This week’s guest is Seattle-based director Desdemona Chiang. Diep sat down with her at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where Chiang was directing a Winter’s Tale set in China. She discussed why her mother gave her such a morbid name, and why she prefers directing classics. Chiang’s production of The Crucible is currently running at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, N.C., and she explains why she thinks it’s the perfect play for this election cycle.
Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, currently playing at Manhattan Theatre Club through Nov. 27 and then at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Dec. 2, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017). Nguyen puts a contemporary, hilarious, and subversive spin on the Vietnam War. If you don’t believe Rob and Diep when we tell you how good it is, you can read the script when we print it in our February 2017 issue.
And for a moving double feature, Diep recommends that you read Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer-winning novel The Sympathizer after seeing/reading Vietgone. It’s the year of Vietnamese writers!
Diep also recommends Sweat by Lynn Nottage, currently playing at the Public Theater in New York City, through Dec. 4. It takes a close look at a much-ignored population: those living in the wreckage of deindustrialized American towns. (For a variation on a similar theme, Diep recommends watching the Black Jeopardy sketch from” Saturday Night Live” that starred Tom Hanks.)
Russ recommends DUAT by Daniel Alexander Jones, currently playing at Soho Rep in New York City through Nov. 6, for a moving look at black queer identity.
And, in a new mini-segment of the podcast meant to branch out of our New York City silo, we’ll ask a critic from another city to recommend a show or theatre. Our first guest: San Francisco Chronicle theatre critic Lily Janiak, who raves about Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat by Yussef El Guindi, currently playing at Golden Thread in San Francisco through Nov. 20. She calls the play, about American representation of Middle Easterners, is both “strange” and “dangerous.”