In the Blood
I read the first line or two and knew who wrote this (“The Red Stuff: A Guide to Letting It Bleed Onstage”, Aug. 4)! All these things are of course considered, because Jay Duckworth is a genuinely considerate artist, collaborator, and human being!
When I directed the Scottish play, I included a blood-soaked scene between the Macbeths. This included a tub of blood hidden just upstage of the sofa so the two actors could replenish. Well, there was blood everywhere—and I don’t mean just on the set. The floors on- and offstage were all sticky, all the door handles, etc., were covered in it. I wanted the costumes to be soaked—and they were–so that was expected. But the rest? A daunting, nightly surprise.
Associate Professor of Theatre
Too much stage blood! We all know it’s an effect. We quickly accept the signifier. After that, any more blood is silly. We’re not thinking, “How tragic to bleed so profusely,” but “Who’s going to have to mop that up?”
I am disappointed that there is no mention of the utter BLOOD FLOOD that is the Evil Dead musical in this article, and how they have to clean that up not only from stage but the seats daily.
I worked a blood scene that was made entirely out of food products for a month run. It gave me horrible acne, and the director and company had no way of helping me nor tried. It’s so important to consider everything for actor safety, health, and many more things.
Vividly remember overhearing a conversation between props and production for Guards at the Taj about how many gallons of blood were needed per performance. The answer was somewhere in the 60-80 range.
Katie Lynne Krueger
Long Wharf’s Bold Step
I want to commend Frank Rizzo for a well-researched, comprehensive article about the exciting and bold changes afoot at Long Wharf Theatre (“Long Wharf Takes the Off-Ramp to a New Future,” Sept. 20), even as I challenge what I see as a few missteps that complicate his hopeful support of the company’s leadership. I’m firmly in agreement with Teresa Eyring’s statement that “what Long Wharf is doing is pretty revolutionary and exciting and will serve as an example or a model for the rest of the theatre field.”
As a former artistic director and longtime chronicler of the regional theatre field, I am in awe of the bravery of Long Wharf’s decision, led by Jacob Padrón and Kit Ingui, to create a more inclusive, accessible theatre for New Haven by leaving behind a space that has been—from the beginning of Long Wharf’s time there—problematic and, in many ways, uninviting. More, faced with the kind of structural deficits and troubled history that so many leaders of their generation have inherited (primarily from my own Boomer generation), they have taken a leap that many have wished to take before them: to get out from under the “edifice complex” that has driven the nonprofit field to build beyond its means.
To me, this is the kind of visionary leadership that marked the founding of our field, but it is leadership in a new key, and it takes as a given the need for new models to counter the broken economics of nonprofit theatre and the elitism and racism that underlie those economics. We can’t know if or how they’ll succeed any more than pioneers like Nina Vance or Zelda Fichandler could have known they’d succeed by building art theatres in Houston (Alley) or a segregated Washington, D.C. (Arena) in the mid-20th century, or than Margo Jones could truly believe that her vision of a theatre in every city of over 100,000 people could ever materialize.
Where I feel Rizzo muddles his message of clear-eyed journalism and hometown hopefulness for Long Wharf’s new path is in the way he presents and orders some of his reporting. For example, his synopsis of Padrón’s background singles out his founding of the Sol Project and leaves out Padron’s leadership producing at New York’s Public Theater, Steppenwolf, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, leaving the impression—which no doubt the haters (and there are plenty of people taking potshots at Long Wharf’s decision from the sidelines) will read as proof that he only cares about Latine artists and audiences.
Similarly, while Rizzo points out midway through that all the writers in Long Wharf’s first full season back from the pandemic were “new plays by people of color,” he waits till the end of the article to give his opinion that these works were “as fine as any I had seen when I first walked through those doors 45 years ago.” In a piece that begins with a mile-long, nostalgic list of works by all-white male writers he loved early in those 45 years—Miller, Williams, Albee, Wilder, O’Neill, David Storey, Peter Nichols, Simon Gray. Athol Fugard, Shakespeare, Shaw, Molière, Chekhov, Ibsen, Congreve, Coward, Strindberg, O’Casey, Wilde, Turgenev, D.H. Lawrence, Brecht, and Beckett—he leaves us wondering too long whether “people of color” is another way of saying “lesser” writers. I’m grateful that Rizzo eventually gives his thumbs up, but wish he hadn’t kept them in his pockets for so long.
I want to see more written to acknowledge that the nonprofit theatre field, initially founded by women, was, once it was established as viable, run almost exclusively by men—white men (I am one). Then, as it grew culturally marginal, nearly unfundable, and structurally impossible, run by boards who often misunderstood their theatres’ missions and their own functions as trustees, and too often tainted by bad-boy behavior from its leaders, it was (let’s say four or five years ago) handed off in great numbers to women and BIPOC leaders, who were almost doomed to be blamed for the failures of the theatres they inherited, even though they didn’t make the mess in the first place. Then the pandemic came, and what started as broken become almost impossible. And yet these new leaders found a way to keep their closed theatres afloat, to adapt to changing times. Sometimes, as is the case with Padrón and Ingui at Long Wharf, they found or forged a new path. We should all be cheering them on. We should all be wishing them well. We should be thanking them in advance for saving a field we love.
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