Protest and the Arts

The first-ever Shakespearean-style theatre in France was vandalized a week before it opened. It looks like the protests were aimed at the cost of the project to the city and the decision of public officials to support the project in general.

Protesting over financial concerns and the health of an art community are oftentimes interests that come at odds during times when public budgets are small and seemingly shrinking. Of course, people are going to be concerned about any public spending when there still aren’t jobs for everyone and when there are still many people who are homeless, hungry, and without health care. Protesting over public spending on a Globe-style theatre is perfectly valid, and it’s a concern that you can’t really argue anyway.

I argue for theatres and for public spending on the arts not to contradict protesters but to say that art is a valuable member of our collective culture and is also so vulnerable to being undermined by government that we ought to do whatever we can now to protect it and give it to the community to control. That’s how Detroit’s wealth of public art was saved from seizure by zealous debt managers.

Art matters, and you might not be able to put actual dollar signs on the value art adds in total to a community, that does not negate its importance to a community. I support the Globe Theatre in France and hope it can be repaired and prepared for an opening stronger than ever.

Funny New Play In London: Today’s Must See

“Nice Fish,” a play written by Mark Rylance and American Louis Jenkins, is coming to London’s Harold Pinter Theatre in November. Previously, the act has run at Harvard University in Cambridge and St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York.

This play is impressive and has been to some pretty impressive places, but when you go, you won’t feel like that at all, which is what makes this such an exciting thing to plan for. Sometimes, it can be easy to be so concerned with getting information and influence from the most high-cultured sources that you forget to laugh at silly things and almost stop remembering how to let loose. That’s a scary thought, as we should all remember how to laugh at incredibly silly things no matter how much success and power we come into or how much we grow up.

Enter Mark Rylance and Louis Jenkins! These artists have created a real piece of work, according to industry insiders. At each of their showings, there will also be four tickets given away to viewers who come dressed as either actual fish or fishermen with a fishing rod. That’s so silly, and the antics make you want to roll your eyes, but it’s exactly what Britain needs at this moment in time. This is the funny play everyone needs to see. It’s supposed to be the play of the winter in London, so check it out now.

Live Production of Hairspray Adds Singer Ariana Grande

On December 7, NBC will show a live broadcast of a play for the third year in a row, this time from Los Angeles. This year’s production will be Hairspray, which was first on Broadway in 2002 before being adapted to film in 2007. The plot involves two girls who are seeking to get on a local dance show that mimics American Bandstand. Besides the dancing aspect that’s part of the production, Hairspray offers a musical look at segregation and its effect on Baltimore during the 1960’s.

On July 7, singer Ariana Grande announced on the social media outlet Twitter that she has been cast as Penny Pingleton, the friend of the play’s main character, Tracy Turnblad. Grande wrote in a series of tweets about the impact that the original 2002 production had on her, with actress Kerry Butler handling that role.

Prior to the start of her career in the music industry, the 23-year-old Grande began in the 2008 Broadway production of the musical, 13. From there, she moved to television, where she appeared on the Nickleodeon cable series, Victorious. That helped propel her to a recording contract, which has resulted in three albums and a pair of Grammy Award nominations.

Grande was the latest notable name to join the production. Harvey Fierstein has already been cast as the mother of Turnblad and is also serving as a writer on the show. In addition, Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson are joined by Martin Short.