- Aislesay: The Internet Magazine Of Stage Reviews And Opinions, and: The Playwriting Seminars: An Opinionated Web Companion On The Art & Craft Of Playwriting, and: The Voice+speech Source, and: The Ring Of Steel Theatrical, Stage And Film Combat, and: Kabuki For Everyone
The five sites under review here were chosen because they fit the general criterion of being useful to theatre educators and students who are practitioners as well as scholars. They are the result of a process of sampling rather than of a comprehensive sweep of the Internet. Still, each site has demonstrated a certain longevity, which is as close to a peer review as one is likely to get on the web at present; they are for the most part well-organized, with easy access to information and unencumbered by gimmicky design elements; and they fulfill their stated purposes in a comprehensive and creative way.
AisleSay: The Internet Magazine of Stage Reviews and Opinions is in its fourth year, offering performance reviews from eleven major market areas in the US and Canada; it is updated every week. Some of its reviews are also published in local newspapers, but most are written especially for AisleSay by its own cadre of writers. In nearly every case, the productions are reviewed by competent, intelligent, articulate writers whose work equals or surpasses that of the average newspaper reviewer—although, it should be stated, the site does not aspire to produce performance reviews of the depth that appear in scholarly journals. AisleSay also offers recording and book reviews, as well as a special features section that contains a few interviews and reports on special events—for example, The MAC & ASCAP Songwriter’s Showcase and the National Puppetry Conference. Its monthly feature OOBR: The Off-Off-Broadway Review was so successful that it has spun off onto its own site, which is a measure of some success. One way in which the site might be improved is to have a wider range of opinions that more reviewers could provide, especially in the New York area. Another improvement would be to date and archive the reviews, and in general provide better access tools. Still, to find out how the theatre is doing in professional and regional venues, AisleSay presents a good overview.
For those who aspire to write plays, an excellent site is Richard Toscan’s The Playwriting Seminars: An Opinionated Web Companion on the Art & Craft of Playwriting. This site is updated regularly and has been around since 1995. (Note: Toscan’s site constitutes a major presence on Charles Deemer’s Screenwriters & Playwrights Home Page <www.teleport.com/~cdeemer/scrwriter.html> which itself has proved to be an excellent site since its inception in 1994.) The Playwriting Seminars is a treasure-trove [End Page 474] of information, philosophy, and inspiration as well as the nuts-and-bolts of structure and analysis. On the surface, The Playwriting Seminars seems to have been written for the novice who is considering writing a play, or possibly as an aid to a beginning playwriting course—there is much here that seems obvious to the well-seasoned playwright. Still, there are surprises: Toscan has compiled an impressive collection of quotations from playwrights, and he very effectively cites examples from films and plays to explain theoretical points—transcripts from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Marsha Norman’s ‘Night Mother to illustrate subtext, for example. He is able, moreover, to make his points accessible without degenerating into that familiar “cheery” tone so common on the Internet. Toscan’s treatment of the subject is excellent, and his Playwright on the Job...