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December 23, 1983 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18 Friday, December 23, 1983

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Greenberg's 'Theatre Careers' Gives Advice

By LEA D. FIELD

In the opening sentence of
her book, "Theatre Careers"
(Holt, Rinehart and
Winston), Jan. W. Green-
berg states, "When people
consider work in the theater
they think of acting. But for
someone who wants a life in
the theater backstage in-
stead of onstage work
exists.
The author, who is a
theatrical press agent in
New York City, goes on to
define in detail the many
jobs that exist and the man-
ifold opportunities that life
LEA FIELD
in the theater can offer.
Wayne
State University
Through interviews and
profiles of established pro- and Meadow Brook The-
fessionals in the commer- ater at Oakland Univer-
cial and "not-for-profit" sity.
In addition, there are
theaters, Ms. Greenberg
presents a unique picture of small local community
theaters such as the Attic
backstage theater.
Her flowing but direct Theatre, Birmingham
conversational style creates Players and the 4th Street
an atmosphere which is at Playhouse. There are ap-
once informative and fas- proximately 160 such
cinating• to anyone in- theaters in the United
terested in theater produc- States.
These theaters are sup-
tion.
Backstage theater is ported by government
very serious business grants, foundations, sub-
and most often big busi- scriptions and private dona-
ness. The many opera- tions as well as box office
tions and staffs involved receipts. Consequently,
in creating a show and they can present classics
making it a success could and works from the past
well compare with any that a commercial theater
large corporation. Al- cannot. Moreover, they can
though the book num- take a chance on an un-
bers only 183 pages it is a known playwright.
Union requirements that
complete manual for
anyone aspiring to work are so rigid in the commer-
cial theater are greatly re-
in the theater.
The author proceeds to laxed in the nonprofit ven-
discuss the various types of tures. In most cases, the di-
theaters, starting with the rector is also the company,
commercial Broadway or general and stage manager,
off-Broadway theater where all rolled into one. Instead of
productions are financed by having to consult investors,
producers or investors and he deals with a board of di-
ticket sales. Therefore, rectors or a committee.
On Broadway the goal
plays to be presented must
have mass appeal. They is to make money. In the
must be housed in union nonprofit theater, the
theaters where only union play is intrinsic to the
personnel are permitted to continuance of the thea-
be involved in the produc- ter and is part of the artis-
tic purpose of the institu-
tion.
This means that all man- tion.
Frequently, successful
agers, of which there can be
four (company, general, shows that are first pre-
house and stage), and all di- sented in nonprofit theaters
rectors, (of which there can are moved to commercial
be as many as three), all set theaters on Broadway with
and costume designers, many of the original cast
musicians, electricians, members and backstage
wardrobe, property and personnel. "Annie" was
crew personnel must all be- born in just such a theater.
long to various unions. The long-running "Chorus
Even the actors must belong Line" performed one year at
to Actors Equity and abide the off-Broadway Workshop
by this union's require- Theater subsidized by the
New York Festival Theater,
ments.
before coming to Broadway.
When one realizes that a
Because out of town try-
show can cease to exist outs have become so expen-
overnight — it is a precari- sive, this method of scouting
ous existence, indeed — one the regional or nonprofit
wonders at the courage of theater has taken on a new
investors. Yet, despite the importance. Ms. Greenberg
negatives, working in the makes clear the role of in-
theater has a magic and ex- vestors or "angels" who
citement all its own. There have a special arrangement
is always the chance that with the producer called a
the show will be a hit and a limited partnership com-
long run such as "Annie" or pany. The producers are
"Chorus Line." Then, even completely responsible for
the person who raises the the. show.
curtain shares in the
Today the Shubert organ-
euphoria.
ization, among the largest
The "not-for-profit" in the country, owns and op-
theater is another matter. erates 16 Broadway theat-
These involve theaters ers in addition to many
connected with univer- others across the nation.
sities such as our Hil- The Nederlander organiza-
berry and Bonstelle at, tion of Detroit owns 10

Broadway theaters as well
as others throughout the
country. They produced
"Annie," "Woman of the
Year," and "Lena Horne"
among others.
Years ago, theater was
not such big business.
The average play cost
about $10,000 to produce
and top price for tickets
was $1.10 a seat. A show
that played 100 perform-
ances was considered a
hit.
Today it costs approx-
imately $750,000 to produce
a drama and a musical costs
over $1,500,000. Tickets for
these theatricals range
from $15 in the gallery to
$45 and $50 in the or-
chestra.
Musicals are in a special
category. These involve
many more salaried people,
from musicians, to vocal ar-
rangers, choreographers,
set, sound and costume de-
signers as well as electri-
cians, carpenters and crew.
Not a small item is the size
of the chorus.
Of great interest to a
reader of "Theatre Careers"
is the specialist who pre-
pares original music for the
show. Since the music is
completely new someone
must arrange the score for
the musical director, or-
chestra and music pub-
lishers who will print it.
Such a person is called a
"music copyist," and his
work must be done by hand.
"Tile finished score is
callea a "Green Book"
because of its green
covers. These become
collectors items and are
given to the composer

since they are the only
accurate record of the
original songs and music.
Mathilde Pincus has pre-
pared such "Green Books"
for more than 150 shows.
She has to her cretit "Evita,
"Nine," "Peter Pan,"
"Dream Girls" and many
others, winning a special
Tony Award in 1976. The
author's interview with
Miss Pincus is one of the
most interesting in the
book. -
For anyone aspiring to
work in theater production,
this first comprehensive
guide to non-acting careers
should be a great help.
However, the book is a fas-
cinating study for anyone
interested in theater. It af-
fords a look into the make-
believe world and an adven-
ture into fantasy.
After reading Jan Green-
berg's book, one gains a new
perspective regarding what
has transpired backstage
before the curtain goes up.
Ms. Greenberg's first
book was "Theatre Busi-
ness." Her experience
covers a wide range of
theater interests. In the
appendix, Ms. Greenberg
has listed organizations
which offer internship
and training programs
for aspiring theater pro-
fessionals. In addition,
she has included a list of
schools offering courses
in the theater arts.
Several pages are devoted
to publications featuring
backstage and show busi-
ness information. With her
advice and through her
books, Jan Greenberg has
rendered a great service.

State Dept. Mum on Alleged
Secret Aid Pact for Israel

WASHINGTON (JTA) —
The State Department re-
fused to comment on reports
that President Reagan has
signed a secret agreement,
including U.S. military aid
to Israel in 1986. However,
it stressed that the U.S. was
committed to maintaining
Israel's "qualitative mili-
tary edge."
Department spokesman
John Hughes noted that the
Administration is still
working on the 1985 budget
and has not even begun con-
sidering figures for the 1986
fiscal year.
"Of course, our commit-
ment to Israel's qualitative
edge in the region is well
known and we remain pre-
pared to make our best ef-
fort, subject to Congres-
sional authorization and
appropriation, to meet Is-
rael's military assistance
needs," Hughes said.
Israel Radio reported
that Reagan added a
secret annex to the Israel
aid requests promising to
"show understanding of
Israel's defense needs
and fix appropriate mili-
tary aid." The document
was given to Premier Yit-
zhak Shamir and Defense
Minister Moshe Arens
last week, according to
Israel Radio.
Both Israel and the U.S.

have denied any secret
agreement were made dur-
ing Shamir's visit to Wash-
ington at which the U.S.
and Israel agreed to have
closer military cooperation.
Israel is to receive $1.7
billion in military aid in the
1984 fiscal year which
began last Oct. 1, half of
which is a grant, and $910
million in economic aid, all
of it a grant. Israel will re-
ceive $1.4 billion in military
aid in the 1985 fiscal year,
less than this year, but all of
it a grant.
Egypt's Foreign Minister,
Kamal Hassan Ali, was in
Washington Monday, ap-
parently discussing the aid
question, too. Egypt is to re-
ceive $1.3 billion in military
aid this year, of which $450
million is a grant. It repor-
tedly will get $1.1 billion in
fiscal 1985, all a grant.

More Housing

TEL AVIV (ZINS) — Is-
rael recently completed
7,200 dwellings in seven
development towns. It ex-
pects to have opened an
additional 2,500 units in
Judea and Samaria by the
end of the year.
Last year, Israel aided
newlyweds to purchase
15,000 housing units. The
figure for 1983 is expected
to be 16,000.

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