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Resistance is insistence© — My Word! née 2017 — Commenting

This is a drama that needs an ending, and soon:

We’ve got sort of shoot the messenger administration in power. Senator Durbin reports an appalling truth and he’s faulted for the fact that the Congress can’t pass DACA legislation. People who’ve contributed to America, and lived here for years are being deported, and surely we can’t blame Dick Durbin for regressive policies carried out by the administration and its cohorts. Clearly, it’s their racism that is responsible for failing to allow immigrants who dream of a better life and whose dreams have been fulfilled during nearly a lifetime in the United States to continue living the American dream.

Most Americans come from a long line of dreamers. We are descendents of men and women who came here to start over and to do better. Chances are that your grandpa was an immigrant, or that great grandma came through Ellis Island. An ancestor worked the railroads or participated in the gold rush of 1849. There may be a Revolutionary War veteran on your family tree; he came to America to escape persecution. Some came for economic opportunities. Others travelled across the seas to find a freer society.

Still others were forced here against their will, and lived here enslaved until the Emancipation Proclamation attempted to integrate them into American life.  Racism, then as now, worked to keep these newly minted citizens from enjoying their liberties and rights. Americans who were brought here in shackles have traversed a tougher road in becoming part of the fabric of this democracy.

The main agenda for the dominant party today is a kind of war against people of color. The urban poor are the principal targets of this unprincipled party line. The tax bill, immigration policy, the fight over healthcare, attacks on Medicaid and the defunding of CHIP,  the call to close the borders, all affect services. Education, transportation, housing, are all left to flounder and founder under the burdens of making the wealthy a lot richer. Tax cuts to businesses and their owners will not trickle down to citizens living in or on the boundaries of poverty.

The  predominantly white, rural poor may still support the underlying principles of a racist political regime. They are also financially at risk, but they may feel gratified that inequality takes precedence in our national life, and white supremacy is not just condoned but a guiding political ideal. Is having token representation reward enough for their loyalty?

Posted in film, riff, sci-fi, time travel, timeless tale, timely

Future think — Serendipity

Someone recently mentioned the innovative web browser, Mosaic, and so I binged it. Turns out, it was developed with the help of the Gore Bill in 1993 at the NCSA. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is based in Urban, IL, under the auspices of the University there and with support from the National Science […]

Future think — Serendipity

Posted in #classism, #critique, #dystopia, #immersive-theater, #pointofview, activists, adaptation, Aditya Rawal, allegory, avant garde, Baruch Performing Arts Center, based on a novel, Brandon Walker, dark drama, drama, dysfunction, ensemble acting, equality, Erin Cronican, Ethan E. Litwin, experiments in theater, farce, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Gwynn MacDonald, issue play, Jay O. Sanders, Kinding Sindaw Melayu, LaMama, Maryann Plunkett, off Broadway, opinion, play, political drama, politically inspired, politics, Potri Ranka Manis, premieres, refugees, riff, Siachen, storytelling, theater, theater for the common good, theatron or The Seeing Place, timely drama

All creatures, large and small

Theater can be distanced, ie by not breaking the fourth wall. It can be immersive, like Tamara at the Park Avenue Armory back in the day, or the McKittrick Hotel programs, Sleep No More or Woman in Black happening now. Audiences sit in the round, or follow the players from room to room, or sit in front of the proscenium, or on stage.

Form and presentation may contribute to the experimental nature of a play. Subject matters in making theater a relevant comment on our times.

These times need a healthy dose of cynical analysis and profound soul-searching. “All animals are equal,” George Orwell says in Animal Farm, “but some are more equal than others.” The Seeing Place, a ten year old theater collective, kicks off the season with a modern adaptation by Brandon Walker of Orwell’s novel.

The theme for this year is the Body Politic, and its Animal Farm focuses on drawing out the ways in which we are susceptible to the collective power of a group. The line between community and a folie à tous is subtle.

Executive Artistic Director, Erin Cronican says of TSP’s production; “By creating this play for just four actors playing 28 characters, we shine a spotlight on the malleability of people’s opinions and desires, which often depend upon who is in charge and what is promised to them.”

Another exploration of present day politics can be found in the works-in-process Siachen at Baruch Performing Arts Center, from April 30 through May 2. This anti-war play, written by Aditya Rawal, takes us to India’s disputed Kashmir region where a group of soldiers awaits rescue. Gwynn MacDonald directs.

George Bernard Shaw was a principled man, whose ideals of humanitarianism and universal human rights were a creed underpinning everything he wrote. His politics were always in evidence in his dramas. The Gingold Theatrical Group’s annual party, the Golden Shamrock Gala 2020, takes place on Monday, March 16th; they will be honoring Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and Ethan E. Litwin. The Gingold Theatrical Group creates theater in the activist spirit of GBS with regularly scheduled events through the year.

Kinding Sindaw – Photos by Josef Pinlac
.

LaMaMa, the mother of experimental theater, hosts a play appropriate for our time. Pananadem (Remembering) is about refugees brought to these shores by the Filipino troupe Kinding Sindaw. Potri Ranka Manis, the Founder and Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw is the creative and choreographer behind this production, running from March 12th through March 15th in a New York premiere. The work uses the tradition of myth to capture the experience of the displaced.

Posted in #dystopia, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bonobo, Chilean experimental theater group, George Bernard Shaw, GTG Project Shaw, J.M. Barrie, new work, politically inspired, politics, Shakespeare, Theater Resources Unlimited, troubled times, Tu Amaras, turmoil

Theater for troubled times

This is not the first era in history that has found itself in one or another kind of turmoil. Trouble, as often as not, is the friend of art. It provides the inspiration for high drama or low comedy. But… it often takes a perspecive to really examine our own times.

Shakespeare used his history plays to comment about Elizabethan mores, as well as display them in the context of history, power and politics. Not his most famous quote, but one I like for our times, is from Measure for Measure:

“We must not make a scarecrow of the law, setting it up to fear the birds of prey, and let it keep one shape till custom make it their perch and not their terror.”

Or perhaps in the midst of the impeachment dramedy we might look to Julius Caesar‘s Brutus when he mulls Caesar’s rise “Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.” Or, lastly, since our current emperor lives in such delusion, we can quote Kent from King Lear “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak when power to flattery bows? To plainness honor’s bound when majesty falls to folly.”

May our playwrights continue to “speak truth to power” and let the voice of reason prevail for the 21st century. Or at least let that voice ring out clearly against all the “fake-news” conspiratorials that are invoked by those who seek to oppress and conceal truth. Amen.

Project Shaw, the Gingold Theatrical Group’s ongoing one-nighters looks to the works of George Bernard Shaw (and contemporaries) for a “montly guide to reason.” The theme for their 2020 season is “seeing clearly through art.” Next up on the schedule is the February 24th concert reading of J.M. Barrie’s What Every Woman Knows. On May 18th, they turn to Shaw’s Saint Joan for an inspiration of commonsense. For the full 2020 schedule, visit the GTG website.

Playwrights looking to develop their “voices” can turn to Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) for their 21st Annual TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series . The call for submissions is by January 31, 2020.. TRU is a twenty-seven-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit network established for the purpose of helping those involved in the theater understand and navigate the business of the arts

For the 2020 TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series, which will take place in June 2020, TRU will help pay for the developmental reading of new plays, connect finalists with producers, and assist in finding venues.

Please note that all links to shows in this “review” of theater for the disaffected, for the dystopia of our times, for progressives are for past dates except for the GTG schedule of Project Shaw. The dates for and info on TRU New Voices is also current.


By way of postscript: Dystopia takes many forms. The state of depravation and oppression can be answered by the comic as well as the tragic. For the experimental theater troupe from Chile, Bonobo, it takes a sci-fi turn.

In Tú Amarás (You Shall Love), doctors attending a conference on Prejudice in Medicine find the subject of their program disrupted by a group of extraterrestials seeking asylum after a genocide against them.

Bonobo developed the play during its residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, where it will get the U.S. premiere in Spanish with English supertitles, Thursday, February 13, through Saturday, February 15.

Posted in Uncategorized

The short list: Coming up

It’s so easy to get excited about things theatrical. It is particularly easy to get thrilled by events like a new iteration of a work by Lynn Nottage, or a new work at the Mint Theatre.

The frequently recurring Gingold Theatrical Group presentations of Project Shaw always gets our attention. On Monday, January 20th, the play in question is the well-known Major Barbara. On February 24th, GTG will present What Every Woman Knows by J.M. Barrie.

If you are like me, you are enticed by a work in progress. The series at the Guggenheim, Works & Process has an extreme appeal. One such, is the upcoming Company with Tony-winning director Marianne Elliott on February 3, 2020 at 7:30pm. Ms. Elliott gives insights into her “process” in directing the Sondheim-Furth revival. Patti LuPone and Katrina Lenk, both Tony winners, are her co-panelists; members of the cast will perform high-lights from the show. Company premieres on Broadway on March 22nd in a gender-swapped version.

Lynn Nottage with Ricky Ian Gordon

You have only to wait a few days before going back for more from the Works & Process folks when on February 9th they present Lincoln Center Theater: Intimate Apparel by Ricky Ian Gordon (music) and Lynn Nottage (libretto) with Bartlett Sher (direction.) The occasion for this panel, moderated by Paul Cremo, is the chamber opera Mr. Gordon has generated from Ms. Nottage’s play. Cast members perform highlights from the opera ahead of its February 27th opening.

The Mint Theatre is a destination venue for any theater-goer who is intrigued by the masters of the form. There upcoming production is a little off the usual path with a CHEKHOV/TOLSTOY:
Love Stories
adapted for the stage by Miles Mallesondirected by Jonathan Bank & Jane Shaw. Performances begin January 23.

Posted in #festivital, 1st Irish Origins Festival, comedy-drama, dark comedy drama, festival, Festivals, Irish, Irish drama, Irish theatre, one-woman show

Irish Feast

The 8th written and directed by Seanie Sugre. Photo by Reiko Yanagi

Or that should be fest, as in the 12th Annual Competition in the  2020 Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival which includes six mainstage productions across various venues across town. This is the only festival dedicated exclusively to producing the plays of contemporary Irish playwrights from around the globe.

The locales in which the productions from playwrights from from Belfast, Dublin, Wexford, Manhattan and Queen will be presented include the Irish Repertory Theatre, 59E59 Theaters, The NY Irish Center, The Secret Theatre, and The Alchemical Studios. 

In addition to the competing productions, there are 9 special events during this festival–concerts, readings, talks, screenings. These out of competition events will take place at The American Irish Historical Society; Scandinavia House; A.R.T. New York; The National Arts Club; The Cutting Room; Symphony Space, Torn Page and The Irish Consulate. A total of 15 contemporary Irish writers are represented with work in the Festival.

Eva O’Connor’s acclaimed Maz and Bricks gets an American premiere and opens the festivities, running from January 7th through February the 2nd at 59E59. The provocative comedic drama is directed by Jim Culleton, and features Ciaran O’Brien and Eva O’Connor.

Also kicking off the Festival on January 7th is the he world premiere of The 8th, a new play written and directed by Seanie Sugre. Produced in New York by Locked in the Attic Productions with Five OHM Productions, the play stars Julia Nightingale (“The Ferryman” on Broadway), Una Clancy, and Gerard McNamee.  The 8th, referring to Ireland’s 8th Amendment, since repealed, outlawing abortion, ran through January 18th at The Secret Theater.

The Irish Rep’s production of Dion Boucicault‘s London Assurance, directed by Charlotte Moore opened on December 6th and runs through January 26th. The classic farce, which premiered in London in 1841, is given a classy treatment at the Irish Repertory.

Another American premiere, The Scourge, is written and performed by Wexford native Michelle Dooley Mahon and directed by Ben Barnes, former artistic director of The Abbey. The solo show detailing her mother’s slide into Alzheimer’s is produced by the Wexford Arts Centre in association with the Irish Repertoy where it will run from January 22nd through February 2nd.

Honor Molloy’s Round Room, directed by Britt Berke, with music by the Grammy Award-winning Irish singer/songwriter Susan McKeown is a play in development. It will be presented in three performances on January 27-28 at The Alchemical Studios. The New York-based cast features Gina Costigan, Brenda Meaney, Rachel Pickup, Maeve Prive, Zoe Watkins, and Aoife Williamson. 

On January 27th, Dublin’s Gúna Nua presents another American premiere with Sarah-Jane Scott’s dark comedy Appropriate at the NY Irish Center, running through February 1st. The story addresses the sports obsessive in a funny and timely manner.

For all Festival info visit www.origintheatre.org.

Posted in riff

What’s in a like? — Take Note

or in a like it alot? Our household has a favorite film which we have now watched dozens of times, and that fact has me wondering why? Why that particular film? We have a couple of other must-sees, like Connie and Carla, or Barefoot in The Park, or Moonstruck too. What draws us to these […]

What’s in a like? — Take Note
Posted in based on a movie, classic, musical, musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein

Toot toot Tootsie, don't cry!

thanks to Cafe Press for the t-shirt logo.

Before he was Mrs. Doubtfire, he was a very personable Charlie Chaplin. Rob McClure is said to be doing wonders with this new musical transferring from a Seatlle run in 2020, just as he did marvels in the earlier Chaplin, The Musical.

McClure’s Scottish nanny has taken over for Santino Fontana’s Tootsie which is set to end its run on January 5th in the category of older women impersonations.

We’ll have to wait til March to see Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick’s Mrs. Doubtfire, another plucked from the screen project. (Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farell who collaborated on the book, here, along with Wayne Kirkpatrick, also were responsible for a favorite of ours, Something Rotten!, a Tony-“loser” from 2015.)

I am playing a replacement game with you in this post, so let’s take Oklahoma, closing on January 19th, and go to Ove Van Hove’s de-construction of another classic from the same canon, West Side Story. Currently in previews, it opens on February 6th. This musical has a revised book and some of the music as I understand it, has been cut. There is also new choreography, replacing Jerome Robbins’ original, by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Intriguing!