The Death Of Niche Theatre?

Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Outward Spiral Theater Company is Minnesota’s “longest-lived theater company dedicated to telling the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender America.” But the company has suspended operations. What’s led to the crisis? “The very idea of gay theater has become – if you’ll pardon the expression – kind of a queer one”, writes Dominic Papatola. Why? Because niche theatre like this has been absorbed into the mainstream. Perhaps there is no longer a place for theatre with an issue-based focus…

Is Christopher Wheeldon The Real Thing? (Maybe Not?)

Christopher Wheeldon is touted as dance’s next great genius. But Tobi Tobias is still to be convinced. “Most observers, dance critics in the lead, are so grateful for what Wheeldon can do, they don’t ask for much more.  Me, I find nothing moving behind the craft—no hint of the deep feeling that can permeate ostensibly abstract work, no creation of an architectural universe that proposes a mysterious and  absorbing world in itself.”

Do-It-Yourself Everything

“Neil Gershenfeld, a physicist and computer scientist who runs the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, envisions a time when many of us will have a “fabrication center” in our homes. We’ll be able to download a description of, say, a toaster — perhaps one we designed ourselves — to our computers, and then feed the designs and the raw materials into a personal fabricator. At the push of a button, almost like hitting “print,” the machine will spit it out.”

The Case For A Scorcese Oscar

Hollywood should be feeling guilty, writes Michael Wilmington. Martin Scorcese has deserved an Oscar as Best Director at least three times before. Yet he’s got nada. “Why should Marty Scorsese get the Oscar this time? More than anything else, because he’s earned it. Though there’s controversy about whether it’s really 2004’s best movie, The Aviator is currently the front-runner and favorite, by virtue of its pack-leading 11 nominations.” So is this the year?

Strathmore – Suburban Culture, Urban Ambition

The new Strathmore Music Center in a Maryland suburb of Washington DC is an ambitious undertaking for a suburb. Benjamin Forgey writes that “the $100 million center is a traditional urban institution in a fast-changing suburban setting. It’ll contribute most significantly to the cultural life of its home county, of course, but, with the Baltimore Symphony treating it as a ‘second home,’ it’ll add choices for many music lovers in the metropolitan area. The architecture itself will be an attraction, eventually. In an age of prominent, in-your-face, innovative civic architecture, the center is a deceptive exception.”

The Anti-Gay Agenda

Protests over SpongeBob, complaints over gay being shown on a PBS cartoon, books that even mention homosexuality being taken off library shelves in Mississippi. What’s going on? “If you are a recently re-elected president with a strong conservative Christian base, and some elements of that base are throwing hissy fits over a sponge and a bunny or what’s on a university library shelf, it takes unwanted attention away from larger, more politically challenging matters relating to same-sex marriage bans, or free-marketing Social Security, or strengthening the anti-abortion movement — a movement that, as President Bush vowed on Jan. 24, ‘will not fail.’ The culture wars aren’t won on the battlefield. They’re won by playing a good shell game.”

The Hollywood Beat: Journalism Without A Net

Bernard Weinraub is retiring as Hollywood correspondent for the New York Times. After a tour covering the Vietnam war, Hollywood should have been a breeze. But “only in my 14 years here – most of it spent covering the movie industry, the rest covering television and music – did I come face to face with some of the more startling, and not always pleasant, truths about human behavior, my own included.”

What You Want, When You Want It

The expectation of the new entertainment consumer is that they should be able to watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it. And if the producers of these programs don’t make it easy and attractive, then consumers will find other ways to get it. How about your own cable-TV set-top box? TV shows on your computer? Bottom line: entertainment moguls better figure out a business model to satisfy customers or they’ll lose out.

Argento Of The Prairies

American composer Dominick Argento has published a memoir. “Having called Minneapolis home since he accepted a job at the University of Minnesota in 1958, he stayed mostly immune from the compositional fads of the day, and he encountered in the Twin Cities not just a host of organizations willing to commission works from him, but an audience that wanted to hear contemporary music.”

Free Marketeer – Saatchi Clears His Closets

Collector Charles Saatchi has been selling off his BritArt stable and declared painting king once again. Really? “Does Saatchi really believe the claim publicity material makes – that painting continues to be ‘the most relevant and vital way that an artist can communicate’ in an age of video, photography and so forth? In which case, it would seem odd to inaugurate his triumphant year of painting with works made so long ago as to be anything but present in tense. Or is he just taking advantage of the current economic revival to make good in the secondary art market?”