Publications & Research
Paula Vogel: On “A Civil War Christmas” and Interpreting History for the Stage (Full Interview) (Theatre Initiative)
One evening over dinner, Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel delivered what she calls her “annual rant.” Why, she asked director Molly Smith, are theaters always remounting A Christmas Carol? Where is the American Christmas Carol? On the restaurant tablecloth, Vogel outlined the plot for a new holiday play: A Civil War Christmas. In our exclusive interview, Vogel discusses her research process; the “shout-out[s]” she gives to the present even when writing a period piece; and her commitment to make visible the experiences of Americans who might otherwise go unheard, be they women in the home or soldiers in the field.
“I hate the word duration,” says Tacita Dean, whose films unfold slowly, skirting boredom to challenge even her most patient viewers. “I prefer length.” In our exclusive interview with the artist, Dean speaks softly but emphatically about time’s myriad forms, from the geological and the celestial to the biological or the structural.
CAConrad's (Soma)tic Exercise for the Wagner Free Institute of Science (Heritage Philadelphia Program)
In 2011, the Wagner Free Institute of Science—a National Historic Landmark that offers a firsthand view of Victorian-era science—received support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to plan a comprehensive upgrade of the antique electrical system in its 19th-century exhibition hall. Watch an audio slide show of a "(Soma)tic" poetry exercise written by 2011 Pew Fellow CAConrad inspired by this preservation project.
In this article, journalist Celia Wren details People’s Light & Theatre Company’s difficult and unprecedented decision to postpone a show shortly before its opening and their efforts to turn a problem into an opportunity. Instead of presenting a work before it was ready, the company offered audience members the chance to participate in the further development of another play from the theater’s reading series. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage commissioned this article in order to understand the story and its implications.
Document(s) comprises a library of commentary on people and issues in the dance field. This repository of interviews and editorials by writers and thinkers on dance includes writing commissioned by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Ain Gordon, Kenneth Goldsmith, Roxane Gay, Cassie Chinn, Michael Rohd, Nate Wooley, MiJin Hong, Krithika Rajagopalan, Dorothy Noyes, Jerry Yoshitomi, HIJACK, and more to come: Push Me, Pull You is a series that investigates various issues surrounding (co-)authorship in cultural production. This project asks questions around definitions of authorship, collaboration within and across disciplines, audience participation, overlaps between curation and artistic production, and the influence of marketplace and other arbiters of control, among other concepts. We have asked thought leaders and cultural practitioners from across the country to share their thoughts about this ever-evolving subject on the Center website.
Legendary avant-garde performer Kate Valk is up for a professional challenge. This season, Valk—the only original member of New York’s Wooster Group still performing with the company—acts in Richard Maxwell’s innovative staging of O’Neill’s early plays, joins the directorial team for a co-production of Troilus and Cressida with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and collaborates with director Peter Sellars and dancer Michael Schumacher on a performance of sacred Buddhist texts. Theatre Magazine editor Tom Sellar talked with the actor about these exciting new ventures.
Read this article about Kate Valk >
Letting Go?, a new anthology edited by Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, investigates path-breaking public history practices at a time when the traditional expertise of museums and historical institutions is constantly challenged by evolving trends in technology, community-based programming, oral histories, and contemporary art. The anthology features 26 newly commissioned thought pieces, case studies, conversations, and artworks by 19 leading cultural practitioners, including Nina Simon, Michael Frisch, Kathleen McLean, Fred Wilson, and more.
Playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith spoke with Catherine Sheehy about the evolution of Smith’s one-woman show Let Me Down Easy and the theater’s important role in helping audience members to know “that stranger sitting next to you.” Sponsored by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, this event was part of the American Playwrights in Context series at the Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Download a complete transcript of the interview here (PDF) >
While in Philadelphia to perform August: Osage County, Academy Award-winning actress Estelle Parsons met to talk about acting with local theater professionals assembled by the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Click here to link to three filmed excerpts from that discussion.
Center Conversations: Idealware’s Laura Quinn and Andrea Berry on E-mail Fundraising (Cultural Management Initiative)
Watch a Center Conversations video with Idealware’s Laura Quinn and Andrea Berry, in which they talk about the basics of a good e-mail fundraising campaign. Idealware is a Portland, Maine based company that specializes in advising nonprofits on all things related to software.
Why perform "site-specifically," outside of formal venues? How can site work change the audience's perspective? What are common pitfalls of site-specific work? Melanie Joseph, Anne Hamburger, and Michael Rohd—three nationally renowned theater professionals with the shared goal of making compelling theater—met with members of the Philadelphia theater community to explore these questions and describe their own site-specific shows.
Václav Havel, renowned playwright and former President of the Czech Republic, visited The Wilma Theater in May 2010 to see the American premiere of his first play in 20 years, Leaving, a wry political tragicomedy about a recently retired chancellor of an unnamed European country who struggles with questions of truth and power. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage hosted President Havel at the Wilma for an interview conducted in front of an audience made up primarily of theater professionals.
Photo by Karl Seifert.
Read the complete transcript of a panel discussion between Todd London of New Dramatists, Victoria Bailey of Theatre Development Fund, David Dower of Arena Stage, Diane Ragsdale of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and moderator Ben Pesner as they describe their research findings about our national system of new play development: what's working, what's not working, and how to fix it.
The following case study chronicles Fatebook, a 2009 production by New Paradise Laboratories. Fatebook was innovative in form, creative process and content: a show developed and experienced partly online and partly live. The Theatre program commissioned arts journalist Charlotte Stoudt to research and follow the show in the hope that theater professionals around the country might find the methodology behind Fatebook useful in their own work. (Photos by Jacques-Jean Tiziou.)