Author: Clarion Theatre Staff

7 Jun by Clarion Theatre Staff

Clarion Theatre Cafe Bar

The Clarion Theatre Cafe Bar is a haven for self- indulgence in the most exquisite cakes and patisseries you will ever see anywhere in Windsor.

All our delicious hand-made patisseries, gateaux, and coffee are a wonderful taste sensation using the finest ingredients, all of which can be enjoyed in our café, or to take-away.

Our menu includes full English and continental breakfasts, light lunches including sandwiches made to order, homemade soups, teas and coffees and the most amazing hot chocolate made with real Belgian chocolate with over 25 varieties to choose from.

The Clarion Theatre Cafe Bar was first conceived in 1999 by Chef Patissier/Chocolatier Roy Hastings, whose dream had always been to own his own French Patisserie and bring the finest Continental Patisserie to Windsor. Now 11 years on, the Clarion Theatre Cafe Bar is both loved by locals and visitors from all over the globe. They have Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric 2 Group Espresso Machine in their cafe. So, you will get the delicious espresso made by the best commercial espresso machine in the world.

To soak up its amazing continental atmosphere, and enjoy the most unique experience, please visit the Clarion Theatre Cafe Bar, Windsor.…

2 Jun by Clarion Theatre Staff

Classic Clarion: Eric Tamm, Senior, Pursues Ballet Career at American Ballet Theatre

As previously noted, the Hawthorne High School Clarion is now publishing older articles from past Clarion issues. What is featured here is an article from Volume 3, Issue III published in March of 2004.

For Hawthorne senior Eric Tamm, dance has been a part of his life almost as long as some of us have known our alphabet. At age five, Eric’s family moved to New Jersey from San Francisco. When sign ups were posted at a local dance studio, Eric’s family thought that dance might be something that he would be interested in, and he quickly became enrolled in the school.

Twelve years later, Eric has much more experience than when he was a beginning five year old. He has performed throughout the east coast, including such venues as the Intrepid in New York City and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Tamm was even given the opportunity to dance in St. Petersburg, Russia, but the war in the Middle East unfortunately cancelled the trip. Now Eric is up to tackle his most distinguished feat yet: his acceptance to the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company Associate Program.

The program held open auditions to anyone throughout the nation. The American Ballet Theatre bases its decision on the potential of each participant. They see if the dancer has the possibility to excel into a professional company when they mature. Out of such a vast number of people, only ten were chosen, Tamm being one of them.

“Receiving the acceptance phone call from the ABT was probably the most memorable moment of my career,” claims Tamm.

The American Ballet Theatre will be another task added to Tamm’s already busy schedule. He is a member of SHARE, the Italian Club, National Honor Society and PEER Listening. College plans will also be placed on hold until Tamm’s dancing career is over, but if he were to choose a major, it would probably be in the forensic science field. Sacrifice is not unknown to Tamm, though. Weekend relaxation and time with family can be easily replaced with dance practice and rehearsals. Physical fatigue and injuries can also be a strain. Time management is constantly a factor in life as well. Tamm does claim though, “Dance taught me discipline more than anything.”

Tamm has never been discouraged to the point where quitting was an option. He remains motivated by watching professional dancers that give him inspiration.

“I am very excited about the direction my life is headed in. I feel there’s a long road ahead of me and maybe it will be with ABT, but it may take me elsewhere. Part of the excitement is not knowing,” says Tamm.…

2 Jun by Clarion Theatre Staff

On the Rights of Playwrights and White Tears

Last week, Clarion University in Pennsylvania was forced to cancel its planned production of Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India. The reason: casting. Three of the characters were written as Indians, and the predominantly white school had cast two white actors and one mixed-race actor in the roles.

Earlier the same week, Katori Hall objected passionately in The Root to a production at Kent State University in Ohio of her two-hander The Mountaintop, in which the role of Martin Luther King Jr. was played by a white actor*. Though she wasn’t able to stop the production, director Michael Oatman’s decision led her to officially stipulate that the characters in The Mountaintop be played by African-American or black actors, unless approval has been granted. Writes Hall:

The casting of a white King is committing yet another erasure of the black body. Sure, it might be in the world of pretend, but it is disrespectful nonetheless, especially to a community that has rare moments of witnessing itself, both creatively and literally, in the world.

Many may read Hall’s op-ed, or Suh’s statement on his Facebook page, and wonder: But why can’t the best actor get the role? Two reasons: playwrights’ rights and white tears.

1) The rights of the playwright trump the rights of the directors/producers.

Neither Suh nor Hall was informed of the productions’ casting choices—in Suh’s case, in fact, there was never a licensed agreement in place to produce the work. As Suh wrote on Facebook:

On November 9, after confirming that a fully executed license agreement did not exist, I sent an email to [professor of theatre and director Marilouise Michel] insisting that she either recast, or cancel the production. I absolutely understand that this has caused anger, confusion, and disappointment among the actors and crew that had been hard at work on the piece. I do not take that lightly. The students are victims, and the timing of this mess has raised many questions. But the timing was never in my control.

Clarion University did provide Suh with a $500 royalty check, but that does not excuse its failure to procure a signed contract (which is illegal when mounting a production) or from failing to get Suh’s permission for changing the race of the characters in Jesus in India.

There are a number of playwrights who do not mind cross-cultural casting in their works, even when certain characters are described as white. East West Players, an Asian-American theatre in Los Angeles, has managed to procure rights to cast Asian/Pacific-Islander actors in roles explicitly written for white actors, such as Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years or Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s A Little Night Music. In all cases, the authors approved the casting, as it has been the norm in the theatre (American theatres, at least) that the intentions of the creators trump the vision of the director unless the work is in the public domain.

There are telling precedents to this latest controversy. In 2005, a high school production of Big River cast Huckleberry Finn with a black actor and Jim, the runaway slave, with a white actor. This was met by protestations from the rights holders, R&H Theatricals.

“That’s taking a liberty that one could argue is not appropriate to what the authors of that musical are trying to convey about the novel,” said Bert Fink, spokesman for R&H Theatricals, in a Washington Post article. “To ignore the racial component of Huck Finn does a disservice to the story.”

Let this be a lesson to any production—professional, university, or amateur—looking to license a work not in the public domain: If you are looking to change the race of a character in any direction, ask the playwright first. Changing a character’s race should be given the same level of consideration, procedurally speaking, as abridging or otherwise adapting a published work. The authors created the work, they should be allowed a say.

Which brings us to our next point: Why does race-specific casting matter?

2) Now ain’t the time for white tears.

The familiar protestations against Lloyd and Hall’s decision to not allow white actors to be cast in these plays—that everyone worked so hard, that this is “reverse racism,” and so on—amount to another case of “white tears,” that unfortunate phenomenon that sees any questioning of long-standing white privilege, in this case the right to play any role of any ethnicity, as an inequity on par with institutional racism, as if the playing field were level. An op-ed at The Root succinctly defines white tears as “what happens when certain types of white people either complain about a nonexistent racial injustice or are upset by a nonwhite person’s success at the supposed expense of a white person.”

No, these playwrights’ objections to white-washed productions of Jesus in India and The Mountaintop were not about excluding white actors and artists. Their plays were meant in part to provide opportunities for artists who are still too often left out of the room. And when actors of color are not available to play the roles, to ask that the production not go on is taking a moral stand against racist traditions that are still hurtful to communities still vastly underrepresented in the theatre. As Suh put it:

The practice of using white actors to portray non-white characters has deep roots in ugly racist traditions. It sends a message, intended or not, that is exclusionary at best, dehumanizing at worst.

Knowing this fact, what are theatre artists to do when they want to cast cross-culturally but can’t because of the demographic of their community? Three suggestions:

1) Pick another play where the playwright will approve the casting. As Hall pointed out in her editorial, she has been working on a London production of her play Children of Killers, about the aftermath of the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, and she said she has “urged the directors to cast for diversity within their youth groups, providing the caveat that casting must drive home the major theme: that lines of identity were arbitrarily drawn by colonial powers, rendering signifiers of ‘racial’ identity unreliable.”

2) Pick from among many new plays in the American repertoire that deal with race but don’t require white students to practice blackface/yellowface/brownface/redface in school: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate, Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men**.

3) Have a white actor play Martin Luther King Jr. or do monologues from August Wilson but only in the classroom or in a workshop setting. Make it a teaching moment. Discuss that while the best actor for the role may not always be of the race specified, in the real world, it is not yet possible nor desirable for any actor to play any race. The phrase “the best actor should get the role” is a noble sentiment, but it is far from the norm. Make it a conversation not just about the play but also about the unfortunate racist traditions that have been perpetuated in the theatre and continue to be perpetuated to this day. Speaking of which, here’s a bonus suggestion: If your student body isn’t diverse enough to do plays featuring people of color, maybe you should start by addressing that problem.

In short, teach your students, empower them to change the inequities in our field, and society at large, for the better. Make them see that they are not victims of missed opportunities but victims of a system that continues to judge everyone by their skin, their class, their sexuality, their ability status.

The theatre field is not perfect, in short, and any educational institution that doesn’t address that should refund its students their tuition.

*A previous version of this article claimed that the part of Martin Luther King Jr. was double cast with a black actor and a white actor. In an article from the Akron Beacon Journal, it’s revealed that a white actor played the role for the entire run of the show after the black actor dropped out. Thanks to Howard Sherman for pointing it out.…

2 Jun by Clarion Theatre Staff

Political Theatre in the Early 20th Century

At the turn of the century an interest in theatre that explored the moral and social issues of contemporary society had developed. During Granville Barker’s management of the Royal Court between 1903 and 1907 the work of Fabian George Bernard Shaw began to be popular. Granville Barker also produced the work of feminist writers such as Cicely Hamilton who also wrote for the suffrage cause with The Pioneer Players. In the regions socialist writers Stanley Houghton and Harold Brighouse (known as the Manchester School) wrote plays such as ‘Hindle Wakes’ with working class protagonists.

Socialist theatres

At a more grassroots level,z the Socialist movement and the early Labour Party used cultural activities to further their cause. Cooperative societies also ran drama groups. In 1912 the National Association of Clarion Dramatic Clubs established the People’s Theatre in Newcastle. Other theatre groups aimed at promoting the socialist cause sprang up across the regions.

The Workers’ Theatre Movement

Between 1926 and 1935 the Workers’ Theatre movement used theatre to agitate for social change. WTM which was allied with the Communists rather than the Labour Party, developed an ‘agit-prop’ style using songs and sketches in a style of production akin to the music hall. Whilst the Labour Party desired to raise the education levels and opportunities for the working classes through cultural activities, the WTM took its theatre onto the streets in an attempt to incite change.

Other political companies included the Salford-based Red Megaphones and Hackney People’s Players. Committed to removing the bourgeois trappings of theatre, they wanted to create a more physical theatre that reflected the machine age. Popular plays were Ernst Toller’s Masses and Men and The Machine Wreckers and Karel Capek’s futuristic nightmare RUR where machines and robots are used to replace the working class.

The Actresses’ Franchise League

Founded in 1908 the Actresses’ Franchise Pageants League was founded to support the suffrage movement. It staged suffrage events and readings and its members wrote and produced plays in support of the cause. These included Cicely Hamilton, Ellen Terry, Elizabeth Robins, Edith Craig and Sybil Thorndike.

By 1914 membership numbered 900 and there were groups in all major UK cities. Plays included Cecily Hamilton and Christopher St John’s How the Vote Was Won (1909), and Hamilton’s most famous work Diana of Dobson’s. Members later supported the war effort with the Women’s Theatre Camps Entertainments group which toured military bases throughout the country.…