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Theater seats

Video Series: The Power of Theater
What does theater "do"? Does it matter in a contemporary, screen-driven society? Drawn from the Kennedy Center Education Department archives, this series examines the way theater impacts modern society and culture.
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage, Controversial, Playwrights & Plays

Nobody's Perfect

Video Series: Nobody's Perfect: Page to Stage
Explore the creation of the Kennedy Center's Theater for Young Audiences and VSA Arts production of Nobody's Perfect, including how American Sign Language was incorporated into a lively musical (ASL captioning is included in every episode in this series).
Jobs in the Arts, Language, Literature, Theater, Young Artists, Backstage, Musicals, Accessibility

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

Video Series: Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia: Backstage
Go backstage with the artists of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia to learn about the skill and creativity they use to bring charcters to life, and what it's like to be a professional puppeteer on the road.
Puppets, Literature, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage, Theater

Tornado, by Cai Guo-Qiang

Video Series: Tornado, by Cai Guo-Qiang
This excerpt from Cai's Tornado: Explosion Project for the Kennedy Center includes both the dancing boats and the tornado itself
China, Science, Visual Arts, Asia, Backstage, Innovators & Pioneers

Stephen Schwartz

Video Series: An Evening with Stephen Schwartz
From his time at Juilliard to his grand success on Broadway, follow the path of Stephen Schwartz, the composer/lyricist of such legendary works as Godspell, Pippin, and his most recent Broadway hit, Wicked. Excerpted from the Kenndey Center event moderated by Michael Kerker, ASCAP Director of Musical Theater, this series invites you into the world of one of the American theater's most talented artists.
Theater, Music, Popular Culture, Broadway, Composers, Musicals, Backstage

War Horse

Multimedia Series: War Horse: Creating the Play
How do you bring a horse to life on stage? Find out with the video and image clips that give you a glimpse of the amazing puppetry that makes audiences forget Joey the horse isn’t a real animal.
Animals, Backstage, Broadway, History, Europe, Puppets

Blood, Guts, & Gore

Video Series: Blood, Guts, and Gore
These video tutorials offer step-by-step guides for homemade fake blood and other gory stage effects. The series is hosted by stuntman and special effects professional Greg Poljacik.
Backstage, Movies & Movie Stars, Television, Theater, Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stunts & Special Effects

Elephant and Piggie

Video Series: Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play
Explore the creative process behind the writing, music, and design of the musical Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play! This video series features clips from the performance and takes you behind the scenes to hear from author/illustrator/lyricist Mo Willems and others on the creative team.
Backstage, Musicals, Literature, Animals, Playwrights & Plays

Nobody's Perfect

Flash Interactive: Nobody's Perfect
There’s more to live theater than meets the eye, peek at backstage theater culture to meet the challenges and the collaboration of talents who to bring a script to life.
Young Artists, Theater, Music, Jobs in the Arts, Language, Backstage, Musicals

Interactive: Dancing With Gregory Hines
In this video-based interactive, Gregory Hines is your guide through the diverse and exciting history, people, and techniques of tap.
Backstage, Broadway, Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, History, Innovators & Pioneers, Musicals

Theater conversations

Audio Series: Theater Conversations
The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, in association with The Dramatists Guild, presents conversations from their two-week playwriting intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Backstage

A Teenager With a Radio Microphone

Audio Series: D.I.Y. Old-Time Radio
After learning about the history of radio drama, use everyday items around your house to record your own.
Backstage, History, Innovators & Pioneers, Musical Instruments, Jobs in the Arts, Stunts & Special Effects

studio microphone

Audio Series: The Music of Sound
Learn how composers and sound designers use their tools to create or enhance mood in a film or commercial.
Backstage, Composers, Movies & Movie Stars, Music, Jobs in the Arts, Television, Stunts & Special Effects

Phantom Toolbooth cast

Audio: The Phantom Tollbooth: Page to Stage
Follow the process of bringing Norton Juster’s beloved book from the golden age of children’s literature to the stage. Commissioned by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this world-premiere musical tells the story of Milo, who comes to realize that life is more exciting than his wildest dreams. This inventive musical features a melodious score by Arnold Black and witty lyrics full of wordplay by Pulitzer Prize and three-time Tony winner Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me).
Literature, Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Music, Backstage, Musicals

Knuffle Bunny

Audio: Knuffle Bunny: Page to Stage
Follow the process of bringing Mo Willems’s beloved children's book to the stage. Commissioned by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, this world-premiere musical tells the story of Trixie, her parents, and Trixie's favorite stuffed animal, Knuffle Bunny. This fun musical features an up-beat score by Michael Silversher with lyrics by Mo Willems.
Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Music, Puppets, Literature, Musicals, Backstage

Willie from Blues Journey

Audio: Blues Journey: Page to Stage
Join playwright Jerome Hairson and director Scot Reese as they bring the story of Blues Journey from page to stage, developing the original book of blues lyrics into a fully realized play, rich with musical performances. Blues Journey follows the life of a blues performer as he learns to play, finds fame, and witnesses the blues evolve into rock-and-roll in this world premiere Kennedy Center original production based on the children's book by Walter Dean Myers.
Blues, Music, Theater, Jobs in the Arts, Popular Culture, Rock & Roll, Musicals, Backstage

Musical theater kids

Audio: Write Your Own Musical
Heather Nathans, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Maryland, is joined by Joe Stein and Sheldon Harnick (writers of Fiddler on the Roof) and Stephen Schwartz (who wrote Pippin, Godspell, and Wicked) to talk about how a musical gets written.
America, Art Venues, Backstage, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Playwrights & Plays, Theater, Young Artists

arts quote

Arts Quotes: George Balanchine
"First comes the sweat. Then comes the beauty if you're very lucky and have said your prayers."
Backstage, Dance Legends, Ballet, Dance, Choreographers

Agnes De Mille

Arts Days: September 18, 1905: Dance Queen of Broadway
Her father William and her uncle Cecil were both big-shot Hollywood directors, so perhaps it was genetic that Agnes de Mille sought a life in the arts. She studied piano, considered acting and took dance lessons, and choreographed big dance sequences for movies like Cleopatra and ballets including the sensational Rodeo (which received 22 curtain calls). Yet it was as a choreographer for the theatrical stage that de Mille really found her calling.

The dance routines she created were anything but routine. Musicals like Carousel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and especially Oklahoma! revolutionized musical theater by the way de Mille incorporated her choreography right into the plot, further rounding out characters’ personalities, and blending folk dance with ballet.
Backstage, Broadway, Choreographers, Dance, Dance Legends, Musicals, Theater

The John F. Kennedy Center

Arts Days: September 08, 1971: America’s Home for the Arts
In 1958, President Eisenhower signed legislation to build a national cultural center in Washington, D.C. Yet in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Congress decided that the center would be a “living memorial” to our 35th president, who had worked tirelessly to elevate the role of the arts in America.

Opening night saw the debut performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, written in memory of the fallen president; other performers included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Berkshire Boys Choir. Since that night, the Center has welcomed and entertained millions as the finest performers from around the globe have graced its multiple stages. In addition, its Education Department touches more than 11 million young people, teachers, and parents each year.
Architecture, Art Venues, Backstage, Ballet, Choreographers, Composers, Dance, Dance Legends, America, Innovators & Pioneers, Music, Music Legends, Musicals, Opera, Theater

Playbill

Arts Days: July 06, 1934: Get With the Program
Go to any theater on Broadway, in Miami, or even St. Louis, and you’ll probably be handed a copy of Playbill. Part program description of the play you are about to see, part theater magazine, Playbill was first called the Strauss Magazine Theater Program, after its creator Frank Vance Strauss.

In 1884, Strauss started a company that created programs tailored to shows. It featured restaurant ads, feature articles on famous directors, and other related material. These days you can subscribe to the magazine, as well as have one customized for any given show. It lists the actors, the parts they play and their work in other shows, as well as the sequence of events that will take place on the stage.
Backstage, Broadway, Playwrights & Plays, Theater

John Kander

Arts Days: March 18, 1927: Razzmatazz On Broadway
Along with lyricist Fred Ebb, the composer John Kander created some of the most memorable tunes you’ll ever hum. Like “New York, New York”—Kander came up with that unforgettable melody and Ebb added the words. The men also collaborated on the musicals Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and others. Together they understood the conventions of musical theater better than just about anyone.

But it wasn’t always that way. Kander wrote the music for a show called A Family Affair in 1962. Kander clicked with the show’s producer Harold Prince, who thought he was a terrific musician and hired him and Ebb to write the music and lyrics for Flora, the Red Menace. In 1966, their work on Cabaret led to the Tony Award® for Best Musical. For nearly five decades, Kander and Ebb were the longest running musical/lyricist partnership in Broadway history.
Backstage, Broadway, Composers, Music, Musicals, Music Legends, Theater

Swifty Lazar

Arts Days: March 28, 1907: Nothing Slow About Swifty
When Hollywood legend Irving Lazar managed to sign three mega-deals in a single day, actor Humphrey Bogart jokingly gave him the nickname “Swifty.” It stuck, creating the role of a super talent agent, with such clients ranging from writers Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Tennessee Williams, composers Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and George Gershwin, and actors/singers Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Cher, and Madonna.

Lazar was notorious for his legendarily high phone bills (he worked those phones!) and even more famous for the party he threw every year after the Academy Awards®; an invite to Swifty’s party meant that you had arrived.  Standing only 5’3”, Lazar was a giant when it came to protecting the creative and financial interests of his famous clients. Lazar also produced movies and plays, and even represented politicians like Richard Nixon, but his work as a performer’s advocate is still what he’s best known for.
Backstage, Movies & Movie Stars, Presidents

Spotlight

Arts Days: March 16, 1912: Electrifying Art
It can be easy to overlook the role that lighting plays during a ballet or theatrical production, but you’d be surprised at how much a performance’s lighting design contributes to our enjoyment of it. From how well we are able to see the action to the emotions we feel as we watch, Jean Rosenthal helped make the position of lighting designer more important than it had been.

In her work lighting dance performances for Martha Graham and plays for Orson Welles, she not only used lights to illuminate the action for the audience, but to set the mood, advance the plot, or underscore the importance of certain characters. Nowadays, lighting designers work closely with the director and actors to figure out how to use light effectively before, during, and after a show. And, if you’ve seen a dancer or singer standing in a diagonal shaft of light during a big solo, you’re seeing a bit of Rosenthal’s influence at work.
Backstage, Dance, Innovators & Pioneers, Jobs in the Arts, Movies & Movie Stars, Theater

Theater collage

Article: It's Not Just a Stage
How to find your way around a theater, onstage and off
Backstage, Art Venues, Theater

Aida

Cuesheet: WNO Look-In: Aida
Theater, music, and dance come together in this introduction to opera and Verdi’s Aida, one of the world’s most famous operas. At this Look-In, students hear amazing performances; see demonstrations of behind-the scenes technology, lighting, and stagecraft; and get a glimpse into the many careers available in stage performance, both onstage and behind the curtains.
Opera, Backstage

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