Thursday, April 28, 2011


BENEFIT X is going to be amazing! First of all, we've got our fabulous Associate Artists performing, and they'll be joined by Saturday Night Live's
Ana Gasteyer and Tony-nominee Marc Kudisch! Plus, we've got some old friends joining us that you won't want to miss - some of our past interviewees will be saying hello, so this is an awesome opportunity to see some of the real people who inspired the Civilians characters that you know and love!

And our silent auction is really gearing up! It's a featuring auction on our auction host's homepage (HERE). We've got some amazing packages (a fashion package with a guided shopping trip, fashion advice from an expert, and a $250 gift card to Saks; a rock climbing package; a relaxation package with a massage, facial, and 3 month membership to Yogaworks), delicious food and drink options (some amazing wine selections from our board and Honorary Committee, a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne Vintage 1998 with gorgeous Baccarat flutes), plus lots of travel (Cape Cod, Vegas), lots of shows (signed unpublished script from Lynn Nottage, Tony Kushner package, Playwrights and MTC, Atlantic and Soho Rep, Vineyard, AND MORE!), PLUS an original song written by our dear Michael Friedman, and a private reading by the illustrious and lovely Kathleen Chalfant.

CHECK IT OUT HERE! And forward to your friends! This is a great way to support the company if you can't make it to the event, and get some amazing stuff!

And if you haven't bought tickets yet, please GO HERE!

Thanks so much! See you on Monday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How do you know what you know?

(I AM) NOBODY'S LUNCH is "a cabaret about how you know what you know when nobody knows if everyone else is lying and when someone or something wants to have you for lunch." So one of the interview questions that our artists asked people was about how they know what they know. 

A Young Republican answered, "Truth is…is there one truth?  Well, I think truth is whatever the majority believes is true. If the majority of people believe that Osama Bin Laden is an evil man— there are some that might believe otherwise, and people are entitled to that opinion. But it does go against the accepted truth. So, right if enough people believe something is true, then it becomes true, to a certain degree."

A Young Man in New York said: "I told you I have a very hard time with reading comprehension. Asperger’s people are more left-brained than right-brained which means we’re very good at anything that involves rules or language and not so good at things like reading comprehension, social clues and world knowledge. Like I’m not good at inferring things. For some reason it’s not the same with entertainment news. I pick it up; it’s in the air around me. But see what I am trying to do now is to learn how to distinguish the language of Melrose Place from the language of the real world."

And HERE is the Song of Progressive Disenchantment, which is also relevant.

Relevant to today's news headlines: 

which brings us back to how you know what you know when nobody knows if everyone else is lying and when someone or something [or Donald Trump] wants to have you for lunch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

BENEFIT X Silent Auction is Live!

We're less than two weeks away from BENEFIT X!

Our silent auction just went live and it is looking fantastic! Check it out here:

We've got VIP Yankees tickets, some awesome art offerings, an iPad, lots of theater tickets (wanna skip the line at Shakespeare in the Park?), some great trips, and lots of other fun stuff, so be sure to take a look!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


We had a reading of THE GREAT IMMENSITY on Monday, and it went great! We had a good, responsive crowd - and to those of you who filled out the surveys: thank you!

I was talking to one of my friends about it, and he asked me what a reading is. It's likely that most of you reading this will know the answer to this question having acted in, produced, directed, or written a script that had a public reading, but it's actually a good question. A reading is a presentation for either a small group of friends or an audience where actors read the script aloud, usually with minimal movement and without costumes or lighting cues (of course the lights are on and actors wear clothes, though!). 

The Actors Equity Association (the union for actors) has a set of guidelines for what makes a staged reading that can be found HERE, and they give you information like the maximum number of hours of rehearsal (15), how many public presentations you can show (up to 3) and, perhaps the most defining features: "9) Book in hand, no memorization, only minimum staging with no choreography permitted."

So what is a workshop? The term is one of the "Fungible Terms" pinpointed and defined by David Dower in his essay "The Gates of Opportunity" for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He says the term "workshop" can be used to describe:

 "- Anything more than a five-hour rehearsal process for a reading.
 - The pre-production sketch of a new play—sometimes fully staged, sometimes fully memorized, sometimes involving design collaborations and tech. 
- A period of anywhere from two to three weeks in a room with actors to create a devised text, culminating in a reading.
- A multi-week process that involves designers.
- A low-budget premiere of a play.  Tickets are sold, press is invited to review the work, and the process involves a full rehearsal period and full complement of design elements.
- The interaction between the artist and the community—workshops are skill building opportunities led by the artist 'in residence' or a period of 'development.'"

So why would you want to see this stuff? Well, it's fun to be able to see a show grow, and can give you insight into how the artists are working. Plus it's a great way to support the arts - these are crucial events for artists to learn about how an audience reacts to a show. They get invaluable information about where laughs fall (or don't), pacing, and how the show as a whole sounds. You wouldn't publish a novel without asking your friends, mom, editor, etc. to read it first, and this is how to get an inside look at the theatrical creative process!

Hope that helps! Tune in next time, when we'll talk about the 29-hour reading...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hearing with Lasers - Post by R&D Group Playwright Don Nguyen

"This changes everything."  That's been quite the popular phrase lately.  It gets applied to almost everything nowadays.  Political campaigns.  The unveiling of a new Apple product.  But what about hearing implants?  

I'm currently working on the first draft of my play which deals with the identity of Deaf culture past and present.  One of the topics the play explores is the debate about cochlear implants.  These are hearing aid devices used by a deaf person in order to hear sound.  Unlike external hearing aids, cochlear implants are internal, connected to a receiver on the outside.  It's been proven highly controversial amongst the deaf community.  Some feel it helps them to hear.  Others feel it's a waste of time and forces deaf recipients to lose their deaf identity altogether.

So there may be a new kid in town to add to the debate.  Currently being tested in the laboratory is a new way to hear.  With lasers.  Yep, lasers.  What can't lasers do?  This article explains how "laser hearing" works:  

I found this section to be the most interesting:
Existing cochlear implants convert sound into electrical signals, which typically are transmitted to eight electrodes in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear where sound vibrations are converted to nerve signals to the brain. Eight electrodes can deliver only eight frequencies of sound, Rabbitt says.
"A healthy adult can hear more than 3,000 different frequencies. With optical stimulation, there's a possibility of hearing hundreds or thousands of frequencies instead of eight. Perhaps someday an optical cochlear implant will allow deaf people to once again enjoy music and hear all the nuances in sound that a hearing person would enjoy."
This sounds really exciting.  Or course I'm a hearing person reacting to this news.  I wonder how this news will be taken by the Deaf community.  I'm sure some will be intrigued and excited about this news.  Some will be skeptical.  And some probably won't even care.  
So there you have it.  Hearing with lasers.  This changes everything.  
Or does it?

Post by Don Nguyen, R&D Group Playwright