The Curtain: 2020 Year-in-Review

Also: The Best Things of the Year (an amorphous list)

I’m Gus Cuddy and this is The Curtain, a newsletter about the intersections of arts, culture, the internet and the future. New reader? Subscribe for free.


Hello all,

I’m writing this from the Finger Lakes in Western New York, where I’m with family for the first time since pre-pandemic. We all quarantined and got tested, but it feels foreign to be with others. Like we’re doing something wrong. Many of us are growing alien-like in our faintly-used person-to-person interaction skills.

This will be the last issue of The Curtain this year. I’ll be taking a short break from it for the holidays, and will be back in January with a fresh new Season. As always, thanks for reading through the weird and scary year that was 2020.


What I Published This Year

I’m now 88 weeks into publishing this newsletter. It’s been a fun time, but I’m still learning. Last year I did a year-in-review of what I wrote, and it felt nice. Honestly, I wanted to write more longform pieces and work steadily on some other writing projects this year. But despite the free time, I found it difficult to get anything done at all! Yet I did manage to send out something here every week. Here are some of my favorites, organized by theme:

culture

minimalism series

I wrote a couple critiques of minimalism early this year:

theatre & film

internet and media


The Best Things from a Hellish Year

In spirit of the amorphousness of time, content and form this year, and in lieu of typical “best of” lists, here’s an amorphous list of my favorite things of the year:


Notes from the Week

WTF is happening with this ratatouille musical

It started as a joke, and here we are: 2020 winner Jeremy O. Harris is producing a benefit reading of the TikTok Ratatouille musical, which is being adapted by Circle Jerk creators Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, choreographed by Ellenore Scott, directed by Lucy Moss. Original video creators are involved too. I think this is a fitting end to the year in theatre for 2020: pure chaos, plus TikTok.

Speaking of Jeremy O. Harris…

he also produced a fashion collection with SSENSE.


Not Writing

Absolutely loved this vulnerable piece from playwright Clare Barron (Dance Nation) on her non-writing process. It’s refreshing to see a “successful” writer deep dive into her inability to write right now, and also analyze (with a critical eye) the privilege of her success at a young age.


On TAP

I just recently discovered “On TAP: A Theatre & Performance Studies Podcast”, which I recommend to anyone interested in theatre and form. Their recent episodes have been excellent, with a rotating panel discussing performance in 2020.


The New York Times Retracted Caliphate

After a lengthy review, The New York Times announced that they’re retracting their popular podcast on ISIS called Caliphate, from 2018, because of poor information and bad reporting. Oh!


The web is all form

Liked this quote from writer Robin Sloan, on how he thinks about creating writing and media on the internet:

I learned from using those Macs early on that form is always malleable. This became even more apparent when the web came into the picture. Think about it: there’s no way to make a web page or a blog that is not an act of playing with its form at the same time as you’re creating its content. So it just seemed natural: the world was always telling me that you worked on those two things – the container and its contents – together.

via


❄️ end note

Thanks so much for reading this year. I wish you a safe, healthy, and healing end of the year.

⫷⫸

The number 1 best thing you could do to help me out is to forward this newsletter to a friend you think would like this kind of thing!

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You could also even gift it to someone! What an amazing gift that would be!

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New reader? The Curtain is a weekly digital letter sent by Gus Cuddy. You can subscribe for free here, or browse the archives here. Follow me on Twitter @guscuddy.

See you in 2021 (holy shit!),

-Gus