Category Archives: The More You Know…

Playwrights Welcome

Dear Friends,

We received an email yesterday from Samuel French, with whom The Theatre Guild has worked for many years.  It was a reminder about Playwrights Welcome—a program with the Dramatist Guild and participating theatres to offer playwrights free tickets to shows.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Become a member of the Dramatist Guild (click here to learn more and become a member)
  2. Go to the Samuel French Playwrights Welcome website to find a participating theatre near you and their terms for the Playwrights tickets. For example in New York State, the following theatres are participants:
    • Atlantic Theater Company (New York, New York)
    • Axis Company (New York, NY)
    • Irish Repertory Theatre (New York, NY)
    • Paul Robeson Theatre (Buffalo, NY)
    • The Pearl Theatre Company (New York, NY)
    • Queens Theatre (Queens, NY)
    • Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (New York, NY)
    • Road Less Traveled Productions (Buffalo, NY)
    • Roundabout Theatre Company (New York, NY)
    • Urban Stages (New York, NY)
    • Vineyard Theatre (New York, NY)
  3. Go to the Box Office of a participating theatre and ask if they have Playwright tickets.
  4. If so, present your Dramatist Guild card and your ID and go see a great show!

As we have written about the rising price of theatre tickets—especially on Broadway—we are so excited to learn about this opportunity for members of the Dramatist Guild to see shows for free!

And for those of you who plan to start their Thanksgiving Day travels early—please have a safe and wonderful holiday!

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

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A Woman’s Place

Dear Friends,

As we alluded to in our last post—and that you undoubtedly know—there were no women actors during Shakespeare’s time, their parts usually played by young boys.  We did a bit of digging to find out exactly why, but there doesn’t seem to be anything exact about it!

We found a great article from Stage Beauty about it: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

The most widely accepted theory was the Church during this time vilified the traveling acting troupe, even blaming the Great Plague on them!  As such, it was thought to be too “unseemly” for a woman to be allowed on stage.

Of course, not everyone thought this way—on mainland Europe things were changing more rapidly than in England.  In fact, during Elizabeth I’s reign, women were established in Italian theatre with France quickly following suit.

It wasn’t until the reign of Charles I (1625-1649) where women in England were allowed to take the stage.  That is to say, not English women—oh no! The very first was a Frenchwoman named Henrietta Maria who came to England with a French company.  However, apparently the novelty of having a woman on stage was still too radical for England and the French troupe soon went back to France having been booed off many stages.

Then all of theatre took a huge backslide, when Oliver Cromwell rose to power during the English Civil War.  Without the protection of the crown, the Puritans were allowed to dictate and not only were women banned from the stage, but the entire performance was banned and “theatre found itself cast into another dark age.”

With the downfall of Cromwell, theatre found itself back in favor with Charles II with a mixed reaction to women on the stage.  It finally happened on December 8, 1660—the first Englishwoman took the stage.  Margaret Hughes played Desdemona in The Moor of Venice, which was thought to be a success.

From that point, the gates opened and slowly women were welcomed to the stage until we finally arrived at the point where the idea of theatre without a woman playing in a woman’s role seemed implausible.

You can read the whole article here: http://stagebeauty.net/th-women.html

And to think now we are at the point (as we told you about in an earlier post) where the Donmar Warehouse produced a version of Henry IV with an all-female cast!

We find this so interesting—that theatre shows this ascent of women from the “dark days” of Shakespeare’s time to now when we are enthusiastically enjoying the glorious tide today.

Best,

Philip Langner and Marilyn Clark Langner

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The New Globe

Dear Friends,

Our last post about “making the nut,” always makes us think about Shakespeare and the glories of theatre at that time.

We are reminded about the story of London’s New Globe Theatre—it’s a wonderful story!

new-globe-blue

A friend of ours, Sam Wanamaker, had the idea in 1969 of building a New Globe in London, just like the Old Globe Theatre that Shakespeare played in, which burned down in 1644.  Sam worked and worked for 18 years, and in 1987 work commenced on the new theatre.

I was lucky enough to be in London at the time and friendly with the producers involved.  I remember visiting the theatre as it was under construction and seeing all the aspects of the original theatre.

It was so thrilling and Sam must be highly celebrated for his glorious concept and his amazing creation—it is an exact replica of the original, except of course for the thatched roof!

It’s there right now—and when in London, you should certainly go see it!

Best regards,

Regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—all this reminiscing has given us the idea of finding out about the theatres and plays that led up to our present theatre culture and we can’t wait to share our findings with you!

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Did You Know?

Dear Friends,

Many people in businesses ranging from finance to bicycle repair commonly use the term “making the nut” as a way to gauge how they are faring vis-à-vis the bottom line. Far fewer people, however, know the origin of the term.

It dates from the 1500’s in England when traveling theatrical troupes went around the countryside plying their trade. The players would reside in a local inn while they performed in a given township before moving on and repeating the pattern in the next tavern. Since actors were not considered the most credit-worthy types, the innkeeper demanded some security, which would be his taking and holding the large nut from one of their wagon wheels. This was a convenient and symbiotic transaction for both parties: the players short of gold or possessions would not have to part with anything dear in advance, and the innkeeper was assured they could not skip town before paying their bill. When their performances generated enough in coins or goods to pay the innkeeper and redeem the critical pieces of their wagon wheel, the performers “made the nut,” and the troupe could move on to the next stop.

Regards,

Philip & Marilyn

Photo from ForwardWalking.com

Photo from ForwardWalking.com

PS—Speaking of theatre in the 1500’s, stay tuned tomorrow for more about Shakespeare’s theatre!

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