Tag Archives: theater

11th Hour Chutzpah & Obamacare Exchange Enrollment Begins Anyway

1 Oct

18 times over the last 6 months, Senate Democrats have asked House Republicans to start a budget conference in order to work out differences and compromise on differences the two bodies have with respect to the federal budget and continuing resolutions to fund the government. 18 times over the last 6 months, House Speaker John Boehner has refused. A conference committee could only lead to compromise, and compromise is strengstens verboten in tea party dogma.

So, yesterday there was a grand theater, mostly orchestrated by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has insisted all week that Obamacare has been a failure,  despite the fact that open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges commences today, whereby the House sent the Senate a continuing resolution that would delay implementation of the individual health insurance mandate for one year. 

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in political science to figure out that the Republicans don’t really want the mandate delayed a year – if they were to secure a delay (which, on its face, sounds reasonable) – they get another year to demagogue what Obamacare is, and another year to sell people on a full repeal. Why, we might even get another 10 – 20 House repeal votes on top of the 40+ that have already taken place. Take Obamacare implementation into 2014, and the Republicans get a whole year to run on Obamacare repeal and get a fourth bite at the apple of undoing a law that was duly and legally enacted in 2010. 

The House refused to send the Senate a “clean” continuing resolution that contained no effort to delay Obamacare, despite the fact that Obamacare is unaffected by a shutdown. It was all for show.

Senator Reid held up a Medicare-related artifact

So, after several attempts to send the Senate an unacceptable continuing resolution, Boehner sought a conference committee with the Senate. If House Republicans were remotely serious about governing, rather than shutting down the government, they could have done this months ago. Weeks ago. Even days ago. 

So, as 800,000 federal workers get furloughed (which will adversely affect the economy), and after all of this utterly needless drama, the Obamacare health exchanges are up and running for open enrollment today for coverage starting January 1st.  If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, nothing changes. If you have coverage through your employer, nothing changes (although you now have more consumer protections and wider mandatory coverage for preventative care). If you have no coverage, you can check healthcare.gov and find out what your options are. More specifically, go to http://healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov/ and find out what is available for you here in New York. 

Happy Obamacare day, everybody. Even the cretins’ shutdown-for-show couldn’t stop it. 


Avenue Q's Billboard

16 Mar

On the 33, right before the Jefferson exit going westbound, there’s a billboard advertising Avenue Q, which is coming to Shea’s in April.

The image on the billboard is best described as puppet cleavage.

Better still, the character shown is “Lucy the Slut“.

I might actually go to this show when it comes around. The point of this post, however, is – how long before someone complains about Lucy’s puppet cleavage? I can just see the local TV get all over that.

Studio Arena Theater – Canary In The Coalmine?

16 Dec


A couple of weeks ago, Colin Dabkowski of The Buffalo News wrote about the ongoing financial troubles of Studio Arena Theater.

Two weeks ago, in the face of an unthinkable closure, an emergency fundraising effort managed to pull in about $225,000 from a combination of foundations, theater board members and local banks, according to Studio Arena board President Daniel A. Dintino.

That money, according to Dintino and CEO and artistic director Kathleen Gaffney, will ensure that the theater produces at least its next two shows: the family-friendly Christmas play “Indian Blood,” which is scheduled to begin in previews Tuesday, and January’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“This kind of operation, even with the cuts that I made throughout last year, having [only] one set designer and so forth, it’s still too expensive,” she said. “And the audience is just not, they’re not coming.”

Of course, this begs the question; Why aren’t the audiences coming? After sitting through a tedious and mediocre performance of A.R. Gurney’s “Indian Blood”, a play designed to appeal to the “Old Buffalo” set, I had my own ideas. I had intended to write about them last week, but time got away from me…

This morning, as I was flipping through my Sunday edition of The Buffalo News, I came across two letters to the editor on this issue. The first letter directly blames Ms. Gaffney for the current troubles of the theater:

Gaffney’s choices during her tenure have left my husband comatose. The beautiful and imaginative sets have been replaced with “artsy” attempts at social and emotional lectures. There’s a reason Gaffney doesn’t have a contract. There must be many others who feel as I do, and we have shown our displeasure by withholding our presence and our money.

The second letter blames the selection of plays (something for which Ms. Gaffney is also responsible):

I have been attending plays at Studio Arena since it was on Lafayette Avenue, and I cannot remember ever attending just one play in any given season, as I am doing this season — A.R. Gurney’s play. And it isn’t because of a cutback in the marketing department staff, but the lousy selection of plays that I assume Gaffney had some responsibility for. For Gaffney, the CEO and artistic director, not to realize this, and to blame it instead on the theatergoing public like myself, for “not showing up for the shows,” is ridiculous. I believe it is time for Gaffney to exit left, before it is too late.

Is it the selection of plays that is the reason for the massive drop in attendance? Is it the reduced funding from public revenue sources? After all, looking at the IRS Form 990 for Studio Arena Theater’s 2006 tax year is an education in the trouble the theater finds itself.

Might it be that the local economy is incapable of supporting a local theater company at $52 per ticket?  Might it be not the play selection or the activities of the CEO/Artistic Director that have lead to the marginalization of the theater but rather the moribund local economy on the whole?  There are numerous local theaters that rely on private and foundation donors and the dwindling corporate patrons pay the excessive “Buffalo Tax” of supporting hundreds of worthy non-profit corporations.  Perhaps these funding sources are stretched to the limit?  Has the market of supply and demand spoken and that we perhaps have one too many local and regional theaters?

A show at the Irish Classical Theater or Alleyway features many of the same local actors and actresses and a ticket can be had for much less money.  Shea’s brings in the bombastic national shows that titillate the untraditional theater crowd which leaves Studio Arena outcornered on price by the lower end theaters and outclassed by its neighbor on Main Street at Shea’s.

What can be done to save the theater?  Does it need to be “saved”?  Is our local theater scene a reflection of the region on the whole or is it simply incompetent management that has doomed Studio Arena to begging for handouts?