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Jonathan Mandell

Jonathan Mandell has written about the theater as a critic and journalist for a range of publications, including Playbill, American Theatre Magazine, the New York Times, Newsday, Backstage, NPR.com and CNN.com. He currently blogs at New York Theater and tweets as @NewYorkTheater.

The Trump Effect
Essay

The Trump Effect

1 December 2016

Jonathan Mandell asks how perceptions of theatre have changed since November 8 and if and how theatre itself will change as a result of the new regime.

Death and Disenfranchisement
Essay

Death and Disenfranchisement

Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field

8 November 2016

Jonathan Mandell reviews Anna Deavere Smith’s latest solo performance piece, which presents seventeen real-life characters to establish a connection between school failure, the prison system, and police killings.

Politics and Theatre
Essay

Politics and Theatre

Does Each Serve the Other? Presidential Candidates on Stage

6 October 2016

Jonathan Mandell looks at some recent plays that explore this wackiest of election seasons in novel ways, and asks: Is mockery proper...or even possible?

Picture from Pryor Truth.
Black Fringe
Essay

Black Fringe

1 September 2016

Jonathan Mandell on the wealth of offerings of African-American theatre at the twentieth New York International Fringe Festival. 

Broadway for Black Lives Matter…and Off-Off Broadway Too
Essay

Broadway for Black Lives Matter…and Off-Off Broadway Too

4 August 2016

Jonathan Mandell on “Broadway for Black Lives Matters,” the Theatre of the Oppressed NYC production of Apprehension, and the role of theatre in protest and human rights movements.

Runaways by Elizabeth Swados Four Decades Later
Essay

Runaways by Elizabeth Swados Four Decades Later

7 July 2016

Jonathan Mandell looks at the new production of Runaways, thirty-eight years after the first, and asks: Should a work of theatre allow us to escape from, or force us to engage in, the world?

Sung-Through
Essay

Sung-Through

Real American Musicals or Concerts with Benefits?

2 June 2016

Jonathan Mandell on the recent spate of sung through musicals, including HadestownThe Total BentEvening 1910, and Hamilton.

Men vs. Women on Broadway This Season
Essay

Men vs. Women on Broadway This Season

12 May 2016

Jonathan Mandell explores the gender politics of Broadway offerings such as American PsychoWaitressEclipsedThe Color Purple, and more.

Could A Play Stop A Demagogue? Theatre and Electoral Politics
Essay

Could A Play Stop A Demagogue? Theatre and Electoral Politics

7 April 2016

Have jokey depictions of elections on stage and screen helped cause a joke of a real-life presidential campaign?  Jonathan Mandell visits two experimental theatre projects that are tackling this year’s presidential election in serious and intriguing ways.

In Praise of The Civilians at Fifteen
Essay

In Praise of The Civilians at Fifteen

3 March 2016

Jonathan Mandell writes about the work of The Civilians, which he says "may be the most vibrant socially conscious, avant-garde, investigative theatre company in the country."

Immersive Theatre, Defined
Essay

Immersive Theatre, Defined

Five Elements in Sleep No More, Then She Fell, and More

9 February 2016

Jonathan Mandell explores five common elements in immersive theatre, and what makes immersive theatre successful.

WTF?! How necessary is clarity in the theatre?
Essay

WTF?! How necessary is clarity in the theatre?

7 January 2016

Jonathan Mandell, unable to understand several recent plays, goes to the source to explain them, and then humorously debates how important it is for theatre to be coherent. 

Discovering The Theatre
Essay

Discovering The Theatre

Lessons of The Fall Season from A Class Of New York Newcomers

22 December 2015

Jonathan Mandell reflects on the Fall season of New York theatre through the lens of Erin Mee’s “Drama and Performance” class at NYU, in which students see and discuss sixteen shows throughout the semester.

Invisible Thread
Essay

Invisible Thread

Turning Well-Meaning into Well-Done

3 December 2015

Jonathan Mandell reviews the Second Stage production of Invisible Thread, a musical based on the real-life experience of theatre artists Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews creating a charity in Uganda.

Five Lessons The Grateful Dead Can Teach Live Theatre
Essay

Five Lessons The Grateful Dead Can Teach Live Theatre

15 November 2015

Jonathan Mandell reflects on a recent experience at a Grateful Dead concert, and asks if theatres can adopt some similar strategies for audience engagement.

History vs. Theatre
Essay

History vs. Theatre

Hamilton, Perfect Arrangement, Who’s Your Baghdaddy? and More

5 November 2015

Jonathan Mandell explores how several recent works on New York Stages portray history and the questions they raise. 

Three Reasons To Cheer Deaf West's Spring Awakening, and One Thing To Hope for the Future
Essay

Three Reasons To Cheer Deaf West's Spring Awakening, and One Thing To Hope for the Future

1 October 2015

Jonathan Mandell on the Deaf West Broadway production of Spring Awakening

In Praise of Cell Phone Users
Essay

In Praise of Cell Phone Users

3 September 2015

Jonathan Mandell looks at the recent cell phone fury, especially among prominent performers, and offers a different take on theatre etiquette.

Fringe NYC
Essay

Fringe NYC

From Silly Titles to Serious Issues

6 August 2015

Jonathan Mandell on the serious fare on display at the forthcoming New York International Fringe Festival.

Who’s An Amateur? Shows for Days and The Evolving Definition of “Professional”
Essay

Who’s An Amateur? Shows for Days and The Evolving Definition of “Professional”

21 July 2015

Jonathan Mandell on Douglas Beane’s Shows for Days, and the shifting definitions of "professional theatre" and "theatre professional."

Tom Kirdahy on Love, Law, Marriage, Producing Theatre, and Making a Difference
Essay

Tom Kirdahy on Love, Law, Marriage, Producing Theatre, and Making a Difference

1 July 2015

Jonathan Mandell talks with Producer Tom Kirdahy about celebrating a marriage three times and how theatre can make a difference.

Violence on Stage
Essay

Violence on Stage

Healing or Titillating?

25 June 2015

Jonathan Mandell explores the use of violence on stage, and how theatremakers use the stage to respond to violence.

In Defense of Broadway. Plus 2015 Must-See (And Can-Afford) Shows
Essay

In Defense of Broadway. Plus 2015 Must-See (And Can-Afford) Shows

4 June 2015

Jonathan Mandell on  the intersection of not-for-profit and commercial  theatre, and how to  affordably see  Broadway's best  of 2015. 

Can Theatre Change the World?
Essay

Can Theatre Change the World?

10 May 2015

Jonathan Mandell asks artists at the Drama Desk Awards if theatre can change the world, and compiles their answers into a video.

Should Torture Taste So Good? Belarus Free Theatre’s Trash Cuisine
Essay

Should Torture Taste So Good? Belarus Free Theatre’s Trash Cuisine

7 May 2015

Jonathan Mandell on Belarus Free Theatre's Trash Cuisine, playing through May 17 at La Mama ETC in New York City.