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Management and the Arts November 10, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Academy of Ballet, Conservatory of Music, English Department, Theatre Department.
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management-and-the-artsThis is essential reading for anyone who wants to be a modern arts producer. An easy-to-read, step-by-step guide to the business of producing art in America. The book offers a thorough foundation of business skills to shepherd any artist into the world of managing an organisation. At the same time, the author maintains a steady recognition of the art world’s glorious peculiarities. Art is not business, rather, business is the vehicle to deliver great art to great audiences. The book is splendidly interactive, with many real news clippings from exciting and relevant current events and a series of assignments for the reader to engage with the concepts.

As the American touchstone in this topic, the book espouses the American system of arts administration, which, like it or not, has pervaded large arts organisations around the world. There is little time spent on those peculiar arts companies from other countries that stray from the American model.


Can’t Smile Without You October 26, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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51sb307j62lThe incredible Barry Manilow musical hit the Edinburgh Festival Theatre last week. Starring Chesney Hawkes, and two other reality television stars, this was an evening of good old-fashioned, no-pretenses showbiz schmaltz. And it was fun. With an audience made completely of middle-aged women singing along, what’s not to enjoy?

The 39 Steps March 25, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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p3923_m1.jpgGosh! go see this brilliant show. It’s terribly likable! Winner of the Olivier award for Best Comedy and you can see why when you see the show. This show is a big friendly dog that aims to please and succeeds in spades. It will lick you all over the face with uncontrovertial fun that is just clever enough to make you feel like not a total idiot for loving it so much.

It’s simple fun! And they must be making a fortune! It’s a 4-person cast who play every role brilliantly.

Des McAnuff is now sole Artistic Director at Stratford Shakes March 18, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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macnuff650.jpgRead the NY Times story here. Well, duh. Three Artistic Directors? That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. A friend recently proposed the concept that all major producing theatres orbit around one crazy person (the Artistic Director). The very definition of a good Artistic Director of a theatre is that they don’t take their marching orders from anyone except their own crazy self. Des McAnuff is perfect for Stratford, and I couldn’t be happier that he is stepping up to the plate.

Waiting for Godot March 9, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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2423.jpgBOOORING!!! That’s really all I need to say to convey my feelings about Waiting for Godot at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. It was a completely average, passable production, like hundreds of other Godots that have come before it. The set was fine. The acting was fine. Except for the guy playing Estragon, who put on this hideous aristocratic accent and was completely overacting. In the second act they tiptoed around the idea of playing it funny, as they tossed off minor physical comedy and almost went for slapstick but not quite. If they had just gone for it it would have been fine, but as it is the attempt at comedy just reaffirmed how boring the evening was.

Hello Dolly! March 5, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Conservatory of Music, Theatre Department.
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hellodolly.jpgThis review of Hello Dolly! at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre is contributed here by a special guest writer to Goldblatt University, Dr. Joe Jeff Goldblatt, CSEP.

I saw the most wonderful production of Hello Dolly on saturday! It had a cast of 40 and a 10 piece orchestra that sounded like 30! The show a was at the Festival Theatre down the street from our home. This is a 100 year old theater and of course, gorgeous inside. It was a west end cast and starred Anita Dobson who is a big tv star here from the show Eastenders. She portrayed Dolly with a thick Yonkers accent as did the rest of the cast. The show began with a the curtain raised and a street scene of Yonkers and a marquee that announced “Hello Dolly” As the show began, the marquee sign flew out and the cast streamed in including a full size train carrying Dolly. During the “Parade” number the director brought in local children in victorian costumes and they ran down the theatre aisles with helium baloons and stood in front of the stage as spectators watching a parade. And during the final notes of the number he fired confetti cannons (arcade large format) over the audience. Although it was a matinee audience of mostly seniors, they roared with approval and I thought of YOU NOW WHO!

The waiters number was to die for! Such dancing I have never seen even in NYC. The only weak part was Dolly’s entrance. She wore a goregous gold gown with a black boa and black goves. The black look put a funeral pall on what is generally a joyous highlight of the show. Shoot the costumer! The rest of the costumes were gorgeous and uniformly excellent.

The lighting was old fashioned broadway with follow spots for the principals and subtle mood lighting throughout. I was impressed that a show that is playing about 15 cities in mostly OLD theaters could have such sophisticated lighting. What was most remarkable was that this old chestnut appeared fresh and new. At the interval I went to the bar and was humming a song when a 30 something year old man asked, “Did you like it?” “Yes, I loved it!” He said, “Is this a recent show?” I told him it was 40 years old and the Wilder play was almost 100 years old. He said, “I am amazed because the ideas and lines are so relevant today.” I suggested, “that is why they call it a classic or a masterpiece of theater, just ask Mr. Shakespeare!” He nodded and said that it was his first time to see the show and could not believe what he had missed all these years. Ah, the magic of the theater!

So, next up is Half a Sixpence. I wonder how long I can afford this fun? My ticket cost 8 pounds (about 15 US dollars) and was in the top balcony. The top ticket price was 22 pounds (about 40 US dollars). I moved to the front row after the first act as there were plenty of seats. Will keep this up until I get caught! Today is mummies day (mothers day) in Scotland and Sam is taking his mother, girfriend and me to see Ballet North in a production of Midsummer Nights Dream on Wednesday of this week in the same theatre. The tickets cost a whopping 10 pounds!

Scotland Creative Nation March 1, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Film School, General Studies, Theatre Department.
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getjimdyson_sultan460.jpgexperienced a lot of great stuff and a lot of baloney at the Scottish Arts Council Cultural Summit 2008: Scotland Creative Nation. Overall, it was a fantastic event and I am truly lucky to be in such a creative nation where the arts are valued and well shepherded by the arts council. good work arts council.


Suzanne Lacy‘s lecture about her work. She is fascinating! She’s a conceptual artist who goes around to communities and organizes events, dinners, art installations that have meaning for specific communities. i love the word community. great word. she celebrates, comments on, illuminates communities by creating rituals or milestones for the twenty-first century. loved hearing about her work and hope to hear more.

Per Ericsson talked about the Swedish Film Institute and their education initiatives. They use multimedia in school to engage students and he was very convincing about the benefits of relating to kids by talking about movies and giving a classroom a camcorder.


fascinating debate about “excellence” with Sir Brian McMaster and Joyce McMillan. Sir Brian has written a new scheme about evaluating which institutions are excellent. i’m sure it was well intentioned but it provoked a great deal of controversy in the crowd, and there was much skepticism. interesting debate, but i’m not sold on this excellence concept. i’ll have to read the report.

ultimate highlight:

chat with vicki featherstone and helen marriage about producing. informal and fun. unlike the other discussions which centered on buzzwords and business models, these gals just sat around and chatted, musing on the nature of the Arts Producer. As Vicki said, “this is the hippie shit.” or “artsy faggot bollocks” which is the new buzzword for this lecture. Helen Marriage runs Artichoke which clearly does cool shit like The Sultans Elephant and she told great stories about producing it. finally, real people.

Static March 1, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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staticwe.jpgStatic, the new play by Suspect Culture, is fun, fascinating, and worth a look. Not the best play ever written, and not the best production ever staged, but is it new, is it innovative? you bet your bum.

it’s about a woman whose husband goes deaf but continues his love of pop music in a very “High Fidelity” style. Then he dies, and his wife has to deal with her life without him. She finds a mix tape he made her which has secret meanings for her. the story is very “High Fidelity” and the set, with groovy retro dark wood and speakers, echoes this style of old record collectors.

the twist is the sign language used. ever actor signs, and the signing is integrated into the blocking with just as much care and thought as any other piece of direction. a deaf person who cannot read lips would be able to comprehend the script from beginning to end, but in a different, almost richer way than those of us listening to words and music. the signing echoes, underlines, conflicts with and illuminates the words and the stage images.

that being said, the script is a little schmaltz and the director could have tightened it up a bit to give it more bang and less fizz. certain parts are truly funny, and the production over all is good fun.

there is a short film which precedes it which is quite good. one of the stage crew was not wearing blacks. tsk tsk.

go see it at the traverse.

Six Characters in Search of an Author February 24, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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Fascinating production of Pirandello’s phenomenal play at the Lyceum Theatre here in the ‘burgh. I saw the first preview performance so I don’t think it’s fair for me to critique the entire production. I’ve seen shows with lousy opening nights that end up becoming amazing by the end of the run.

First of all, this is a Victorian-era theatre with a horseshoe-shaped house with several balconies and boxes. You know what that means–restricted views, something I despise. There probably doesn’t exist the Victorian guilded hall style theatre that has no restricted viewing, as realism had yet to be invented and people were just as interested in the audience as they were as what was on stage. I believe that Victorian theatres with significant restricted viewing should be amended so that no one sits in the bad seats or the audience space is altered.

This is an amazing script. If you haven’t read or seen this, do it. Written in 1919, Pirandello manages to be postmodern in a manner years beyond his time. It’s a wonderful backstage drama with tons of meta-theatrical one-liners and brilliant ideas articulated. And yet, this production makes it feel dated. The script was translated into English and set in 1919 Britain, but this setting seems half-hearted and uninspired. The set is boring and almost ugly. There is a stage revolve near the end that you can see coming a mile away. The costumes as well seem completely uninspired. The lighting is equally boring.

The saving graces were the performances. Ron Donachie plays the part of a lifetime as the Father. John Dougall is stellar as the Director. Amy Manson rules the stage as the Daughter. These three took the wheel of a floundering production and drove us somewhere. I wish the Director had done as much. I really hope that he tightened the show up after previews, because there was several “dead” moments and the show ended with about three stage tableaus too many.

QMU Lecture by Prof. Joyce McMillan January 19, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in Theatre Department.
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Fantastic lecture by theatre critic and QMU prof. Joyce McMillan. Prof. McMillan was completely intense and it was spellbinding–which is not what I expected from an afternoon lecture by a college professor. The topic was Scottish Theatre since 1970 and she was waaay into it, getting the audience excited. Bravo to QMU for organising (note my use of the “s” there, I’m an anglo now, don’t ask my how I pronounce the word “book”) such a great event in a perfect location. Honestly this theatre does not look that great from a performance standpoint. But it was a great location for the lecture. And I look forward to seeing many shows there.

AND, the word on the street is that, as a critic, Prof. McMillan is firm but fair. Which is a huge compliment, if you know anything about the reputation of most critics.