The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, August 18, 2022

Theater professors are under the gun in 'Preparedness'
Lou Liberatore, left, holding Cat Blanchett and Tracy Hazas in the play “Preparedness,” in New York, Nov. 9, 2021. In this workplace comedy, beleaguered colleagues struggle to come together for an active-shooter training exercise. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Elisabeth Vincentelli

NEW YORK, NY.- Theater people and academics share two traits: They are convinced of their calling’s moral importance to the world, which can provide a feeling of superiority, but they also often feel misunderstood and beleaguered, which makes them defensive. As members of a university’s theater department, the characters in Hillary Miller’s new comedy “Preparedness” — presented by the Bushwick Starr and HERE — belong to both constituencies, which means that their shoulders slump under boulder-size chips.

That wariness is warranted, though, as their department is under attack from the university’s brass, which wants not just to cut their budget, but eliminate the program altogether.

Figurative and literal survival become entangled when an irrepressibly chirpy human resources representative, Kath (Alison Cimmet), turns up in the department’s shabby — and decidedly not chic — conference-slash-break room. If the teachers undergo state-mandated training on how to handle a potential mass shooting, they will have a better chance of surviving both a gunman and the dean’s delete button.

An assistant professor in the English department at Queens College and the author of books on theater, Miller is fluent in academia’s quirks and jargon, as well as interdepartmental rivalries — don’t get the theater professors started on their brethren in film and digital tech. She also nails bureaucracies’ love for acronyms, deployed here in a dizzying alphabet soup that includes MeRP (Mutual Respect Pledge), ACOST (Active Campus Operations Shooter Training) and GOHOHOF (Get Out, Hide Out, Help Out, Fight), as well as references to “FERPP requests” and “FULAP forms.”

Miller and director Kristjan Thor neatly sketch certain types that turn up in pretty much every group of educators. Most memorable are the beleaguered chairman, Jeff (Lou Liberatore), doing his darnedest to save his department, and Laurette (the wonderful Nora Cole, master of the haughty side eye), a grande dame prone to statement shawls and imbued with the authority that comes from charisma, experience and lofty ideals about her vocation. “We’re theater artists,” she says. “We create sacred spaces for a living!”

Just as familiar is the high-strung, humorless Haydée García-Shelton (Tracy Hazas), who seems to have a hard time gelling with her colleagues — she casually informs them that she got married over the weekend, as if it were no big deal — and shows disdain for musicals and their fans. “If you ask these people about my work, they’ll pretend to care, and then they’ll go right back to pushing their GoFundMe for bouffant wigs,” she says. One guess as to who will eventually use pepper spray.

Getting this motley bunch to agree on anything, especially an administrative injunction perceived as an imposition, is akin to herding cats — real ones, unlike Cat Blanchett, the department’s new robotic “Resilience Mascot,” a gesture meant to help improve the sinking morale.

Ultimately, though, Miller can’t resolve a central issue: Some of the professors’ refusal to undergo training is mystifying. It’s easy to understand resistance to HR, but a quick training session that both covers a very real concern — mass shootings in schools — and saves your funding feels like a gimme. And yet they bicker.

Having painted herself into a corner, Miller can’t figure out how to end the play. So she gives Laurette, who is retiring, the last word in the form of an address to her students. It is a good speech, and a dodge.


Through Dec. 11 at HERE Arts Center, Manhattan; Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Today's News

November 14, 2021

The show goes on, even after China tried to shut it down

A new exhibition reunites paintings and drawings by Peter Paul Rubens with the antiquities that inspired him

MOCA Toronto's online platform Shift Key launches new film and video offerings for 2021/22

Gladstone Gallery opens an exhibition of seven new landscape paintings Alex Katz

Gilcrease works on view across the country during museum's reconstruction

Lisson Gallery announces representation of Cheyney Thompson

Four months, 5,000 miles: A refugee puppet looks for home

Prada opens an exhibition by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg,

Graeme Edge, drummer and co-founder of the Moody Blues, dies at 80

Bettina Grossman, an artistic fixture at the Chelsea Hotel, dies at 94

The Centro Botín presents Itinerarios XXVI, a new engagement with the present state of contemporary art

Cornelius Annor's debut solo exhibition in the United States opens at Venus Over Manhattan

Saving the forgotten Connecticut farm that helped spark MLK's dream

Brazil's Instituto Inhotim to house the Museu de Arte Negra (Museum of Black Art)

Theater professors are under the gun in 'Preparedness'

Deep underground, a Chinese miner discovered poetry in the toil

A frenzy of book banning

Exhibition highlights representative works from the six decades long career of New York based Rakuko Naito

Pristine Lincoln ferrotypes from private collection featured in Heritage Auctions Americana & Political event

18th-century Tipu Sultan Throne Finial worth £1.5 million at risk of leaving UK

Pieces from prominent Texas estates sparkle and shine at Heritage Auctions' holiday jewelry event

Legendary novelist Wilbur Smith dies aged 88: publisher

'Be nice to tourists': New York's arts scene needs international visitors

A Bank of England Newcastle on Tyne £5 note to be sold by Dix Noonan Webb

The Ultimate Guide to the fall 2021 Fashion Trends

Seven Shopping Tips to Buy During the Sale Season in a Smart Way!


Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful