Friday, January 30, 2009

Notes From Justine...


Dreamers dream, and rhymers rhyme whisk the party back in time...

“I’m not quite sure how this time reversal thing goes,” says Alex, the actor who plays the Magician in Anna’s Perfect Party and The Amazing Magician’s Marvelous Mistake.

“Well who is?” I think from my seat, watching the character discussion unfold regarding this magician. Is he sure of his magic? Does he enter the world of this play knowing that everything he sets into motion will work out just fine or are there insecurities about how he can help these kids best? I wonder how it will all unfold in the coming rehearsals.

It's very early in the process, with two of 6 actors missing and the Playwright and the Artistic Director both observing for the first time. Some directors would quake in their boots. Not Nikki Rothenberg. She cheerfully puts her 4 out of 6 through their paces, quickly establishing that much work has already been done.

Already well on its way to full blocking, with real character work emerging through the generic kid-ness the play is just beginning to speak. When Anna is told strenuously “nobody’s perfect!” her plaintive “WHY NOT?” rings clearly. Children don’t seem to come into this world accepting this fact. Anna thinks it’s reasonable to expect perfection of herself and, come to think of it, so do I.

It’s not an easy lesson this play has at its heart: Mistakes are the mother of invention (excuse the misquote); love yourself, and embrace the uniqueness of fallibility. Quite a message for a play about a super fun, wacky birthday party with a magician who’s REALLY Magic, I think…can’t wait for next Tuesday.

Justine Lambert
Artistic Director
TheLooking Glass Theatre

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rehearsal photos from the upcoming children's show,
Anna's Perfect Party & The Amazing Magician's Marvelous Mistake

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming soon to The Looking Glass Theatre!


Written by Karin Diann Williams
Directed by Nikki Rothenberg
February 21 - April 5

Nobody’s perfect.
But Anna is a girl who won’t take no for an answer.
Can an Amazing Magician’s spell turn her into the perfect girl?

The Looking Glass Theatre proudly announces its production of Anna's Perfect Party and the Amazing Magician's Marvelous Mistake, a new children’s play written by Karin Diann Williamsand directed by Nikki Rothenberg, which opens at The Looking Glass Theatre on Saturday, February 21. Performances are scheduled every Saturday at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. and every Sunday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. through March 29.

About The Show…
Anna has the perfect present for Betsy Bailey’s birthday. Now if only she could tie the perfect bow… Come to think of it, Anna wants to do everything perfectly! And although nobody’s perfect, she isn’t one to take no for an answer. Her best friend Marley thinks trying to be perfect takes too long, and isn’t much fun. But when Anna meets a magician known as the Amazing M, she convinces him to cast a perfect spell, unleashing an afternoon of unexpected mayhem at Betsy’s party, where Anna and her friends discover the pitfalls of perfection, learn how to value differences, and find the courage to try new things – even if that means making a mistake.

About the Playwright Karin Diann Williams…
Karin Diann Williams is a playwright and screenwriter whose work has been produced and published internationally. San Diego's Fritz Theatre – where she was Playwright-In-Residence from 1992-2001 – staged her plays Australia, Room, Susan Katrina and Jill, The Hatchet, Quiz, and The Third Voice of the Nightjar. She is currently an Artistic Associate at Looking Glass, where audiences have seen her plays Head, Time Troll, and Spirits!, among others. As a Partner in the motion media company CulpepperWilliams, she wrote and produced The Prisoner (winner – Best Web Series, NYTVF) and the independent feature film "Jordan" (currently in post production).

About the Director Nikki Rothenberg…
Nikki Rothenberg has been working with The Looking Glass Theatre since the summer of 2005 when she assistant directed the children's show, Not Enough Princesses. Since then, she has directed several pieces for the Looking Glass, including Out Of My Head: A Musical Review, and The Untitled Pregnancy. Other outside favorite directing credits include Into The Woods and Cradle Will Rock. Her most recent project at the Looking Glass was teaching the intern acting class. Nikki is a graduate from Emerson College and currently works at Don Buchwald & Associates.

About The Looking Glass Theatre…
The Looking Glass Theatre’s mission is to explore and expand the feminine aesthetic, producing works by historic female playwrights, new works by women, and productions of the classics re-imagined by contemporary women directors. In June 2006, The Looking Glass Theatre and Artistic Director Justine Lambert received The Lucille Lortel Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women.

February 21 - April 5, 2009
SCHEDULE: Saturdays @ 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.; Sundays @ 2 p.m. @ 4 p.m.
TICKET PRICE: $15 Adults, $12 children 12 and under
ADDRESS: 422 West 57th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues
PHONE: (212) 307-9467
TICKETS: (212) 352-3101 or go to
TDF Vouchers Accepted!

Videos of last season's shows!

Adventures of the Puppet Princess
A Balinese fairytale with music

Written & Directed by Jennifer Goodlander

The Spanish Wives: A Groovy Tale of Peace, Love and Restoration
Based on the Restoration play Mary Griffith Pix
Written & Directed by Aliza Shane

Shakespeare in the Living Room

The Times reports that the Ohio Theater has six months to figure out how to pay competitive rent to their greedy new landlord:(

This is sad, of course. But, for me, it's also surreal. The little, struggling theaters are always on the verge of closing. But these bigger spaces are just, you know, THERE. The Ohio Theater doesn't just cease to exist!

Theater is all about space. To tell a story, you have to block out distractions. As the size of the audience increases, the steps you have to take to shut out distractions grow more complicated.
Most of the challenges we face in theater spring from our collective idea about what level of complexity must be achieved to make a storytelling event qualify as "theater."
If I get some actors to perform a Shakespeare play in my living room for four weeks, does it count? Would it qualify? Let me put it another way: how quickly would an actor drop out if another opportunity came up? He'd say, "I'm really sorry, but ..." But what? But this other thing is a real production. Why is it real? Because it will occur in a space set aside for doing plays.

We all collectively draw a line. On this side is activity that uses theater-related abilities. On that side is a "real play." Of course, attitudes in this regard differ from individual to individual, but the collective result is that theater that matters has to take place in an indoor space used exclusively for performance.

Therefore, theater is real estate.

Think about this. Think about what we all go through to find a place to live in New York. Nothing makes the people back in North Dakota think we're complete idiots for living here more than the rent we pay and the tiny boxes we get for that rent.

Now imagine that you have to rent a 3-bedroom apartment in a doorman building on the upper east side to present your cross-dressing version of "The Taming of The Shrew."

Everything you experience both doing and consuming theater is a correlation of real estate. The texture of the toilet paper. The stray extension cord. The graphics on the flyer. The tear in the seat. The wobbly set piece. The house slippers peeping out under Julius Caesar's toga. It all goes back to real estate.

We need to redraw the line.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Acting in 3-D- Beware of flying chairs!

Theater lovers should be amused by an article in The NY Times today about the headaches Hollywood faces with its 3-D agenda:

Here's the deal; movies are dying because everyone wants to stay at home. Hollywood is making this big bet on 3-D to offer a big enough spectacle to inspire people to get off the sofa.
Sound familiar? It's an old story. Theater began losing audiences to movies, then TV. So Broadway pumped up the spectacle ... the chandeleirs, helicopters, ocean liners. Now when some actor at The Looking Glass convinces Aunt Martha to come see her show, Aunt Martha wonders, "Where's the boat?" Off and Off Off Broadway still have to compete with this expectation of some sort of spectacle ... a helicopter or a movie star.

Now Hollywood is FINALLY facing the same sort of threat. We're all turning into those tubs of lard in Wall-E. People don't want to get off the sofa.

Plus, of course, we're dealing with this weird thing called "culture." Be honest; back when it was only the so-called "high arts" that had to worry about apathy, weren't you kind of thinking, "Well, you know, I have to admit I'd rather see Raiders of The Lost Ark than an opera"? But now, shock of shocks, watching a narrative sequence acted by human beings is "culture," it's old fashioned, and increasingly requires specialized education about what you're supposed to think and feel ... in the same way that you have to "develop a taste" for opera or theater. Researchers are finding that if you ask a tween "would you rather watch a movie or do stuff on the internet?" the latter wins hands down.

But think about Hollywood's solution: expensive, high tech 3-D. Meanwhile, what is theater? Isn't a live play the ultimate 3-D movie? You know, think of the hours of design and programing it takes to make someone feel as though an object is zooming right at her. Hey, an actor can just pick up a book or chair and lob it right out there.

Maybe someone should develop a play, maybe just an abbreviated Shakespeare show, as "The Ultimate 3D movie" ... work out the whole thing as though it really is the end result of years of production at PIXAR just to "create the illusion" of human beings on a stage, you know, "acting."

Happy 2009!
Hope to see you at "The Glass" this year...