ROUNDABOUT BLOG

 

One of the greatest privileges of my career was working with Arthur Miller. Roundabout produced several revivals of Arthur’s plays over the years, and I can happily admit that this choice is partially because he’s quite simply one of my favorite American playwrights of all time. In fact, it would be fair to thank (or blame!) Arthur Miller for my entire career in the theatre. I can clearly remember being a kid who dreaded reading the novels I was assigned in school. And then, in junior high, I was assigned an Arthur Miller play. It made sense to me in a way no novel ever had. It was my first encounter with the kind of propulsive, morally compelling drama that I would come to learn was Arthur’s specialty. And it sent me running to join the stage crew of the next school play. From that moment on, mine has been a life in the theatre.

Arthur’s own life in the theatre continues to fascinate me. Getting to know the man in the later part of his career was eye-opening, as I watched Arthur react to his older works being revived one after another, even as he continued to write new plays. Here was a man who wrote an instant classic, Death of a Salesman, when he was only 34, and while he derived some joy from the ongoing success of that play, he was always looking forward, still striving to write another piece that might impact the world with the same ferocity. He never stopped trying to make theatre that would illuminate the current world and last well beyond it.

I see a lot of that side of Arthur in The Price. To me, this play sits on a strange border between past and future. Its characters are, in many ways, shackled to their past. Everything that happens in the play is happening less because of decisions made in the present and more because of events that occurred decades earlier, back during the Great Depression. Yet at the same time, it’s 1968, a time of incredible upheaval and forward motion in this country, and it’s clear that these people will see a great deal of change ahead. It’s this tension that makes the play so captivating, as Arthur places these figures in a situation that speaks both to their own particular moment and to the questions faced by anyone trying to reconcile their conscience with the mistakes of the past.

This production marks the first time that Roundabout is producing an Arthur Miller play without the man himself here with us, and I thank his daughter, Rebecca Miller, for that opportunity. I miss the man who, for me, went from inspiration, to legend, to friend. But I think he would be proud of Terry Kinney and his outstanding company of actors and designers. They have come together to create the kind of vibrant theatre that Arthur himself always strove for.

As always, I hope you will share your thoughts with me as you see this production of The Price. Please continue to email me throughout this season at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org. I can’t tell you how greatly I value your feedback, and I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
Sincerely,
Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


Arthur Miller's The Price is now in previews at the American Airlines Theatre. For tickets and more information, please visit our website.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Arthur Miller's The Price, From Todd Haimes


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Interview with Teaching Artist Mathilde Dratwa

Posted on: February 7th, 2017 by Roundabout

 

Master Teaching Artist Mathilde Dratwa joined Roundabout’s Teaching Artist roster in 2012. She leads a variety of workshops and residencies for students all over New York City. She currently serves as Partnership Coordinator for High School of Art and Design, where she works with the administrators and educators to ensure that the partnership with Roundabout best serves the school’s goals. Mathilde is also a member of the Teaching Artist Advisory Group, where she works with other teaching artists to better Roundabout’s TA training.

Education Coordinator Sarah Kutnowsky spoke to Mathilde about her career and work with Roundabout.

Sarah Kutnowsky: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.
Mathilde Dratwa: I'm from Belgium, but I've always liked to travel. As an actor, I've appeared on stage in London (Shakespeare's Globe, Cochrane Theater), Moscow (Vakhtangov Institute), Brussels (La Monnaie, the Belgian National Opera House) and New York (HERE, 3LD, Mark Morris, Target Margin...). As a writer, I've worked in Toulouse (Theatre de la Digue), Colombo (various news & media outlets) and New York (various downtown theatres). Recently, I've also started working as a filmmaker and producer. More details on those projects can be found on my website.

SK: What is your favorite part about working as a teaching artist?

MD: I love being an artist in the classroom. I often come into the room in-role for my first visit, and the students have no idea who I am, or why I'm acting so goofy. It's fun.
I also love that we bring spectacle into the classroom. I try to make a different use of their space, to switch things up. Sometimes that means dividing the room in two so there's a performance area, or stage, and an audience area. Sometimes it just means sitting or standing in a circle. Often it means getting out from behind desks. It's a break from their routine, and it sets up a nice dynamic.

The great thing about working at Roundabout is that the students get to come see a play. For many, it's their first time going to the theatre. That's a wonderful thing to witness.

SK: What is the most challenging part of working as a teaching artist?
MD: It's hard to see what the teachers and students are up against on a daily basis in many schools. Budget cuts, lack of supplies, cramped spaces, overworked teachers, too much emphasis on testing, student attendance issues... Because so many buildings are now shared by several schools, the auditoriums or theatres are often not available... It's challenging to deal with all these issues and logistics. Luckily, we have systems in place to help us manage these problems as best we can, and a strong support network in schools and in the Education department at Roundabout.

SK: Could you share a memorable lesson or moment from your time as a teaching artist at Roundabout?
MD: I taught a residency last year that went very well. Because I don't work at the school, I didn't know the students' reputation before I started: who was a troublemaker, who was struggling with their grades, who was the class clown. I gave the students a chance to impress me. Some of the students who don't perform well academically got a chance to shine, and that proved to be really important: the teacher had no idea that a particular student (whose written work was very poor) could excel in this context. It was great to give her an opportunity to see that student in a new light. I also remember her surprise when some of the shy students got up and performed in front of the class. She said, "I never knew they had it in them!"

SK: Are you working on any exciting projects?
MD: I recently founded MomsinFilm.org, an organization that provides mothers in the film industry with community, funding and advocacy. The film industry isn't currently structured to support freelance parents, so we're working on finding ways to address those challenges and even the playing field.


Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday


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On the Exhale

With the world premiere of On the Exhale, we proudly welcome Martín Zimmerman to the Roundabout family and add him to the extraordinary list of playwrights to be produced through this program. We started Roundabout Underground as a launch-pad for emerging writers, and as the subsequent successes of our first eleven playwrights demonstrates, it is doing exactly that. I can say with confidence that, with this intense, surprising, and moving debut, Martín is already taking off for great heights.

In On the Exhale, Martín creates an exquisitely intimate relationship between audience and character, bringing us on the journey of one woman as she sees her worst fears coming true. What Martín has crafted is both a captivating story and a necessary theatrical exploration of America’s relationship to gun violence at the most deeply personal level. He helps us as an audience to grieve the past, survive the present, and confront the future.

One of the things that I think Martín has done so beautifully is to write a play for one actor that never feels like the prototypical “one-person show.” It is so layered and complex that you never feel the need for other voices to permeate the world of this piece. It is a true play, just one that happens to have only one character in it. And of course, I feel so lucky to have the remarkable Marin Ireland taking on this challenging role. She is one of the most captivating performers of her generation, and to have her command the stage alone in this play, under the direction of the brilliant Leigh Silverman, is simply thrilling to watch.

I’m also grateful to Martín for his choice to infuse such accessible humanity into a work that tackles a dark subject. Taken as a whole, the questions surrounding this country and its history with guns are, to my mind, utterly overwhelming. But Martín is able to break it down in a way that allows us to connect without shutting down. He considers the physical object of a gun itself, the act of holding one and how that differs from seeing one from the other side. He addresses the feelings of power and fear that the mere image of a gun can bring to the surface. And he holds nothing back either about the consequences of violence or our rituals of grief – in all of their insufficiencies. It is a raw, joyful, tragic, and stunning piece, and one that I am so proud to be sharing with you.

As we continue this remarkable tenth season at Roundabout Underground, I know that Martín Zimmerman will continue the great tradition of this initiative. I am so proud of the achievements of the artists who have come before him, who not only brought their brilliance to the Black Box Theatre, but who have also gone on to make some of the best work in theatres across the country and around the world. I can’t help but marvel at the ever-growing list of playwrights, directors, actors, and designers who found an early home with us. From a two-time Pulitzer finalist, to five recent Tony-winners, to more Broadway debuts than I can count, it’s been hugely gratifying to watch these artists attain such success.

I hope that you enjoy On the Exhale, and I am eager to hear your thoughts on this world premiere play. Please email me at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org to share your response to this exceptional new work.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Sincerely,
Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO


On the Exhale is now playing at the Black Box Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre. Visit our website for tickets and more information.


Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, On the Exhale, Roundabout Underground


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