omplete QPORIT: DIANE PAULUS AND RANDY WEINER

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

 

DIANE PAULUS AND RANDY WEINER


Perhaps the most exciting trend in current theater is the strong emergence of site-specific immersive environments, audience involvement, highly dramatic movement added to music, highly skilled visceral and sometimes sexual performances, along with classical themes. Both Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner are at the center of this theatrical movement.

Randy Weiner is a producer of Sleep No More. Diane Paulus directed the revivals of Hair and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (TONY winner this year for Best Revival of a Musical) and she is the artistic director of The American Repertory Theater.

I’ve been interested in talking with Randy Weiner ever since I went to Sleep No More.

And I’ve been interested in talking with Diane Paulus ever since I saw the revival of Hair on Broadway, (as well as an amazing production of an opera, Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna -- "Presented by the Gotham Chamber Opera, in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History and in association with the American Repertory Theater" -- which Diane directed in the grand dome at the Hayden Planetarium! ... see below.)

I had the opportunity to meet Diane and Randy at the Music-Theatre Group (MTG) where they were making an appearance on the way to the TONY awards show. (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess was nominated for 10 awards, winning two, for Best Musical Revival and Best Actress in a Musical—Audra McDonald). There was not a lot of time to talk to them – I could have interviewed each of them for hours – but, happily, they also provided a lot of additional information about themselves, with insights into their work, during their appearance at MTG, nicely moderated by Thomas Schumacher (a producer, and President of the Disney Theatrical Group).

THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS
Directed by Diane Paulus
Winner of TONYs for 
Best Musical Revival and
Best Actress in a Musical - Audra McDonald
Photo by Michael J Lutch



Here is a brief outline of the order of sections in this story:

1 -- Diane Paulus & Randy Weiner
2 -- Links to shows by Diane and Randy that are currently playing -- somewhere in the world -- marked in dark red!
3 -- Diane Paulus – Credits
4 -- Randy Weiner – Credits
5 -- More Videos
6 -- More links - shows that are currently playing -- somewhere in the world -- are marked in dark red!



DIANE PAULUS AND RANDY WEINER

Diane has a serious face, on which great joy breaks out at special moments. Randy has a gentle sense of humor, and a pleasant face which turns serious at important moments.

As children, Diane Paulus and Randy Weiner both had parents that loved theater, and took them often.

Diane was a ballet dancer and pianist. For Diane, these experiences provided a strong passion for using music and movement to create visceral theater. For Randy, Broadway was just not doing theater right; his theater-going left him with a rich background in theater, but a great interest in creating some other kind of theater.

During high school they happened to attend nearby camps in the summer, and when Randy, a runner, could not run because of an injury and decided to take part in a show at the nearby girl’s camp, he met Diane, who was involved in the show. A bit more than a dozen years later they married, in 1995.


DIANE PAULUS AND RANDY WEINER
June, 2011
Photo Courtesy of ART



Diane went to Harvard for political science and Randy went to Harvard as a pre-med. Harvard had no drama department, but it did provide opportunities for each of them to experiment with all kinds of ad-hoc wherever-you-can-do-it theater. Randy found he preferred theater to looking at slime molds in a microscope. But, even as he moved professionally into theater, he continues to think of himself as scientific, which informs his world view and helps motivate his choices.

Diane graduated from Harvard to begin working for New York City officials, often monitoring City Council and other meetings. But she discovered she preferred the grass-roots, hands-on activities of interest groups and social work groups to the talk of the politicians.

She decided to train herself as an actress in theater. Her training was blessed. She joined the acting program of Paul Sills, George Morrison, and Mike Nichols. Then she went to the Williamstown Theater Festival as an intern, working (among other tasks) the graveyard shift pounding nails into scenery. She discovered that “The theater was joy!

One of her early opportunities was to work with The Music-Theatre Group.

Sometimes together and sometimes separately, Randy and Diane worked at, worked in, and created all kinds of theater in all kinds of venues. Randy conceived of a disco version of Midsummer Night’s Dream which became The Donkey Show -- as a mashup of a cabaret act, a theater piece, a bar distraction, and a night at a 70’s roller disco night-club. It was first staged in a rat-hole (literally, it seems) of a venue. The Donkey Show caught on right away. It has since played around the world, and can be seen on Saturday nights in Cambridge, MA at the Oberon Theater. Learning from doing, the shows provided an education in out-of-the-box theater that helped develop the strategy for producing Sleep No More. (Later, Randy developed in "THE BOX" theater – see below.)

Sleep No More (created by Punchdrunk, a British theatrical troupe) has few words and maximal abstract movement. The producers have put phenomenal resources into creating and presenting/performing the show, and none into advertising. The show itself, its creation, and its promotion are so radical that it could only be done successfully by someone who had climbed a steep ladder of development in this type of theater. It has an audience that has become a growing community. It is new-audience, audience-involved, immersive, site-specific theater.

Diane Paulus, now the artistic director of The American Repertory Theater (ART), says the mission of ART is to expand the boundaries of theater. At ART, in addition to the shows that she has directed herself, the theater brought in Gatz, and Sleep No More to Cambridge, before they came to NY, and provided space for Once to workshop on it’s way to Broadway (and to this year’s TONY for Best Musical).


SLEEP NO MORE
At the AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER
Stephanie Eaton and Vinicius Salles
A PUNCHDRUNK AND A.R.T. PRESENTATION
Later, RANDY WEINER and EMURSIVE BROUGHT
SLEEP NO MORE to NY
Photo credit: Stephen Dobbie and Lindsay Nolin
 


A central core of Diane's philosophy is to create theater for the audience – for her the experience of the audience is central. Interestingly, what is most important to her about Gatz is not its unique and brilliant presentation of the story of The Great Gatsby, but its affect on the audience as a unique and brilliant theater-going expedition and experience. (FYI – a note about Gatz: An office worker in a cluttered office, picks up a copy of The Great Gatsby and starts to read it; then other office workers morph into the characters in the novel, and the entire book is read – every word, cover to cover -- and lived in a more than six-hour marathon performance with a dinner break.)

Here’s Diane, in an excerpt from our interview at The Music-Theatre Group, talking about music and opera and Gatz and the audience. (Tech Note: this was shot wild, hand-held, in a barely lit corner of the lecture room at MTG while they were setting up for the talk. The video is in 3D, shot with the HTC EVO 3D. Click on the 3D button below the image to select your preferred mode: the video can be viewed in NORMAL 2D, or with colored 3D glasses, or on an eyeglasses-free lenticular 3D screen, or -- BEST if you can do it! -- with 3D glasses on a 3D TV or computer monitor.)




Looking ahead to the next season, Diane is directing a revival of Pippin, something she has long wanted to do. The show did well in its original Bob Fosse directed 1972 Broadway version with Ben Vereen, but is better known now for less interesting subsequent revivals and amateur productions. Among the features that will energize this new production is the participation of the physical, agile troupe Les 7 doigts de la main (currently in New York with Traces).

Shows on tap for the next (2012-2013) season at ART are:

Marie Antoinette
A world premiere by David Adjmi, (author of Elective Affinities and The Evildoers), directed by Rebecca Taichman (Helen Hayes Award for The Clean House, Elliot Norton Award for Mauritius);

The Lily's Revenge
An Obie Award-winning five-part theatrical event created and performed by Taylor Mac with a community of local artists;

The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams’ poetic masterpiece directed by John Tiffany (director of Once on Broadway and Black Watch);

Pippin
A new staging of the Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Schwartz, directed by ART Artistic Director Diane Paulus with choreography by Gypsy Snider of Les 7 doigts de la main;

And

Beowulf - A Thousand Years of Baggage
The Edinburgh Fringe Award-winning “song-play” by Jason Craig, with music by Three Pianos co-creator/performer David Malloy, directed by Mallory Catlett.


With a mission to expand the boundaries of theater, a perfectionist’s desire to create visceral theater with movement and music, and superb taste, Paulus’ ART is creating one of the most exciting and important theaters in the country and the world.

NY City is fortunate that some of the best shows directed by Paulus or playing at ART were created here or have come to NY -- via The Public Theater (Hair, Gatz), Broadway (Hair, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and possibly Pippin), and Randy (Sleep No More).

Diane worked with Tod Machover, (Director of the Opera of the Future group at the MIT Media Lab) directing his opera, Death And The Powers: The Robots' Opera. Randy co-wrote the story. Just recently, Randy worked with Tod and members of the Media Lab creating an experimental extension to Sleep No More, in which GPS and communication devices were embedded in the masks. This made it possible to communicate with actors and audience members remotely, and also to activate special effects in the rooms based on the proximity of either actors or audience members. This experiment, in augmenting the analog, live experience with computerized effects is ongoing.

Sleep No More is not especially profitable, even with a large audience and sold-out shows and alcohol sales, because of its huge cast and staff and large running costs, and relatively inexpensive tickets. But it is at the center of a portfolio of projects in development for Randy and for EMURSIVE (the company producing Sleep No More – a partnership of Randy Weiner, Jonathan Hochwald, an expert in producing large scale shows, and Arthur Karpati, an expert in real estate) based on site-specific, audience centered, innovative theater, including the possibility of projects with more cast than audience, and sponsored projects that transcend old-fashioned ideas of theater.

One once-rumored project apparently not likely soon, would be a production of Sleep No More in Las Vegas, where Randy says it would not really fit very well. (My pitch for a Vegas centered SNM type show would be an original script set either in pre-Castro Cuba or the near future, about corruption in a gambling casino, in which clues from the show would allow audience-members/players to improve their odds of winning at gambling in the casino of the story – betting, for example on “fixed” Coney Island type Steeplechase Races – while still continuing to wager (honestly!) in the games of the host casino. It would be, essentially, a story-based, live computer game. And… it could be expanded to a world-wide online/offline massively multiplayer computer game.)

In addition to producing Sleep No More, Randy has written and produced many other shows, including a version of Caligula at LaMaMa, and work with Cirque du Soleil. He is co-owner and a manager of THE BOX and THE BOX SOHO, very expensive, late-night clubs with extremely sexual shows.

Given the incredibly complex real estate deals that led to creating the “McKittrick Hotel” for Sleep No More, and the edge-of-the-allowed activities at THE BOX and the added international complexities of THE BOX SOHO, as well as other projects in development, Randy says with a grin, he does spend a good deal of his time with lawyers.

He is interested in all possible ways of promoting (but not advertising) and “monetizing” his productions. He is interested in the disco and bar and night club scene. He is interested in sexual theater. He is interested in creating a show which begins as soon as you start thinking about buying tickets – the entire experience is part of the show. He is very very interested in preventing the audience from being bored. He is interested in classical theater and re-inventing it for modern audiences. He is interested in immersive, site-specific theater in fascinating spaces, music, physical action, visceral energy, and highly skilled performances. He is interested in experimenting. He is interested in being different.


Here’s Randy, speaking at the TEDx Conference on The Broadway of the Future:



RANDY WEINER AT TEDX BROADWAY




Immersive, site specific, interactive theater has a long history and a wide spectrum of variations – from Elizabethan country fairs to futuristic virtual reality computer games. Randy Weiner’s projects are currently among the most ambitious, the best executed and the most interesting and entertaining shows in the world. With a keen intelligence, an extensive background of experience, and a driving curiosity to experiment and create new theater, he is likely to keep surprising and entertaining and stimulating us -- this new audience for a new theater!


SHOWS BY DIANE PAULUS AND RANDY WEINER 
CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION
(or soon to be!)
SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD


SLEEP NO MORE-- NYC
http://www.sleepnomorenyc.com/


AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER A.R.T.
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/


THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS ON BROADWAY
http://www.porgyandbessonbroadway.com/


THE BOX -- OFFICIAL SITE
http://www.theboxnyc.com/#/?page=cover


A. R. T. – THE DONKEY SHOW
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/donkey-show/


AMALUNA (on tour)
http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna/default.aspx


PIPPIN AT A.R.T. (Coming!)
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/pippin



DIRECTED BY DIANE PAULUS
SELECTED CREDITS

Cirque du Soleil's production of AMALUNA, directed by Diane and inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, is currently on tour in Canada.

AMALUNA - TIGHT WIRE
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
COSTUMES - MEREDITH CARON - PHOTO BY LAURENCE LABAT


AMALUNA - WATER BOWL
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL
COSTUMES - MEREDITH CARON - PHOTO BY LAURENCE LABAT



THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS
By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin
Adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks, and Diedre L. Murray

AMALUNA
For Cirque Du Soleil

PROMETHEUS BOUND
Script and lyrics by Steven Sater (from the play by Aeschylus)

THE MAGIC FLUTE
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

DEATH AND THE POWERS: THE ROBOTS' OPERA
Music by Tod Machover
Libretto by Robert Pinsky
Story by Robert Pinsky and Randy Weiner

THE CAPEMAN
Music by Paul Simon
Lyrics by Paul Simon and Derek Walcott
Book by Derek Walcott and Paul Simon

JOHNNY BASEBALL
Music by Robert Reale
Lyrics by Willie Reale
Book by Richard Dresser
Story by Richard Dresser and Willie Reale

IL MONDO DELLA LUNA
By Joseph Haydn
The Hayden Planetarium, Rose Center for Earth and Space; American Museum of Natural History

(Note: IL MONDO DELLA LUNA is a comic sci-fi opera from 1777 by Joseph Haydn which takes place largely ON THE WORLD OF THE MOON. So what could be a more appropriate, site-specific, immersive place to stage the opera than inside the dome of the Hayden -- no relation -- planetarium. In this scene below, the eyes -- a familiar folk totem -- are projected onto the dome. The whimsical and ingenious production uses jugglers, amusing space-suits, and cool moon-ish fluorescent lighting from hoops and other props.)


IL MONDO DELLA LUNA
IN THE HAYDEN PLANETARIUM DOME
Photo by Richard Termine


THE DONKEY SHOW
Conceived by Randy Weiner
Music directed by Michael Mitchell

DON GIOVANNI
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

KISS ME, KATE
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Samuel and Bella Spewack

HAIR
Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, music by Galt MacDermot
Public Theater, Delacorte Theatre, Central Park; Later on Broadway.



RANDY WEINER
SELECTED CREDITS

THE DONKEY SHOW
Photo by Marcus Stern



EMURSIVE
The company producing Sleep No More is a partnership of Randy Weiner, Jonathan Hochwald, an expert in producing large scale shows, and Arthur Karpati, an expert in real estate.

SLEEP NO MORE
The Drama Desk Award winning immersive theatrical experience of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More is produced by Randy as a partner in EMURSIVE.

THE DONKEY SHOW
A disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has been produced in New York, London, Madrid, Geneva, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Seoul, and throughout the United States was conceived and co-created by Randy.

THE BOX and THE BOX SOHO
Along with partners Simon Hammerstein and Richard Kimmel, Weiner created and continues to manage the highly sexual and very expensive variety theatre-nightclub.

DEATH AND THE POWERS: THE ROBOTS' OPERA
Collaborating with Director Diane Paulus, Randy's work includes the story for a robot opera, Death and the Powers, created by Tod Machover and the Opera of the Future Group at the MIT Media Lab.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
For this R&B musical based on Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale,
Developed and produced by the Music-Theatre Group, Women's Project, and American Repertory Theater, Randy created the book and lyrics.

PROJECT 400
A troupe Randy established with Diane created more than 35 productions.

OBERON
The theatre-nightclub that is the second stage for American Repertory Theater was created and is managed by Weiner.

AMALUNA
Randy collaborated with Cirque du Soleil.

Additional Credits…

Randy has served on the Advisory Committee on the Arts at Harvard University and has lectured on theatre arts at Harvard, Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University, and Yale University.


ARCHBISHOP SUPREME TARTUFFE
Co-Writer, with Alfred Preisser, Classical Theatre of Harlem.

CALIGULA, MAXIMUS
Co-Writer with Alfred Preisser, Classical Theatre of Harlem.

SWIMMING WITH WATERMELONS
Writer; with Music-Theatre Group, Vineyard Theatre.

TURANDOT: RUMBLE FOR THE RING
Writer; with the Bay Street Theatre.

THE JIM ROSE CIRCUS IN "STAIRWAY TO HELL”
Writer; with Base Entertainment, Underbelly in Edinburgh.

THE KARAOKE SHOW
Writer; with Jordan Roth Productions.

BEACHER'S MADHOUSE
A variety show that ran four-years at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and now tours North America
Co-creator and creative director.

THE MOST INTERESTING SHOW IN THE WORLD
A new variety circus, sponsored by Heineken, completed its second 16-city US tour
Co-creator and creative director.

PURGATORIO
A Halloween extravaganza presented by CBS Radio in Times Square.
Co-creator and creative director.



VIDEOS


NEW INTERPRETATION OF 'PORGY AND BESS' PROVOKES AS IT CONTINUES TO RESONATE 





AUDRA MCDONALD PERFORMS "SUMMERTIME" - THE ROSIE SHOW - OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
 




TIM DAX IN CALIGULA MAXIMUS BY ALFRED PREISSER AND RANDY WEINER





RYAN KNOWLES & JUSTINE JOLI IN CALIGULA MAXIMUS BY ALFRED PREISSER AND RANDY WEINER 





ARTISTIC DIRECTOR DIANE PAULUS ON BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 





THE DONKEY SHOW





INTERVIEW WITH TOD MACHOVER 2: "ASSEMBLING THE CREATIVE TEAM" FOR THE ROBOT OPERA





RUDI MACAGGI: THE DOS EQUIS "MOST INTERESTING SHOW IN THE WORLD" 2010 NATIONAL TOUR - CHICAGO 





DIANE PAULUS ON WINNING THE TONY AWARD FOR HAIR





HAIR PERFORMING ON LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN





THAT MAGICAL MOMENT WHEN THE STAGE OPENS UP
AT THE END OF A PERFORMANCE OF HAIR...
IN THIS CASE, THE LAST PERFORMANCE OF HAIR ON BROADWAY





LINKS


QPORIT: DIANE PAULUS - IL MONDO DELLA LUNA, HAIR, A.R.T.
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2010/02/diane-paulus-il-mondo-della-luna-hair.html


QPORIT: SLEEP NO MORE -- REVIEW & GUIDE
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2012/05/sleep-no-more-review-guide.html




DIANE PAULUS
http://www.dianepaulus.net/


DIANE PAULUS – WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Paulus


RANDY WEINER – WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Weiner


SLEEP NO MORE-- NYC
http://www.sleepnomorenyc.com/


AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER A.R.T.
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/


THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS ON BROADWAY
http://www.porgyandbessonbroadway.com/


PORGY AND BESS - WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porgy_and_Bess


PIPPIN AT A.R.T.
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/pippin


PIPPIN - WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pippin_%28musical%29


AMALUNA
http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna/default.aspx


THE MUSIC-THEATRE GROUP
http://www.musictheatregroup.org/


THE BOX -- OFFICIAL SITE
http://www.theboxnyc.com/#/?page=cover


TRACES
http://tracesusa.com/


LES 7 DOIGTS DE LA MAIN
http://7doigts.com/en


A. R. T. – THE DONKEY SHOW
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/donkey-show/

DEATH AND THE POWERS: THE ROBOTS' OPERA
Emily Albrink
Photo by Nicholas Wiltsie


OPERA OF THE FUTURE
http://www.media.mit.edu/research/groups/opera-future


OPERA OF THE FUTURE -- The technology
 http://opera.media.mit.edu/projects/deathandthepowers/technology.php


SOME REVIEWS OF CALIGULA
http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-04-12/theater/the-next-batch-of-serious-theater-critics-takes-on-an-impressive-new-caligula/



TWITTER
https://twitter.com/randyweiner
https://twitter.com/americanrep
https://twitter.com/sleepnomorenyc
https://twitter.com/operafuture

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