Posted in #whatdoyouthink, actors, African-American playwrights, artist, based on a novel, based on a true story or event, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, brutality, chronicle, deep South, empowerment, ensemble acting, famous, film, Fox Studios, historical drama, history, honky, husbands and wives, KKK, meditation on life, movie, new work, opinion, poignant, race, racism, riff, sci fi, serious, serious subject, showcase, timely, TV, Valentine's Day

Serially entertaining

Actors and screen-writers are busier these days than they have been in some time. There are “streaming” shows, 100s of cable outlets producing both series and movies, and of course Hollywood and the Indie scene all requiring their talents and services.

We are the beneficiaries of all this production. We will be enlightened, entertained and excited by the films they produce.

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than binge watching Divorce?

Gifted, the movie with Chris Evans and Mckenna Grace, and not so incidentally Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, and Elizabeth Marvel, is touching without being maudlin. It is generally intelligent, with a sterling performance by young Ms. Grace, and until we saw it last night on HBO, I had not heard much about it.

The assignment for Black History Month can include the excellent Get Out, Jordan Peele’s genius defies and reinvents the “horror” genre. It should also feature a viewing of Birth of a Nation, perhaps both in its regressive D.W. Griffith 1915 version and Nate Parker’s 2016 “remake.” The contrast between a paen to the Ku Klux Klan and to Nat Turner’s slave rebellion may prove edifying. Add Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (although not our personal favorite) to your list of films for 2018. (In the New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham expresses a different view, especially of Parker’s film.)

Art is meant to engender controversy, stimulate and even incense and enrage. We should not be passively diverted in its presence. It is here to help us ponder life’s (and history’s) biggest issues.

Thanks to films and serial dramas we have a lot to consider and enjoy. And we are treated to some terrific performances in the bargain.

Posted in 6 extremely short plays, absurdist, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012, Neil La Bute, politically inspired, serious, theatre with a lofty and worthy goal, tragi-comic, Victor Sloezak

Protesting on Stage in "Theatre Uncut"

250 groups in 17 countries have put on “Theatre Uncut” productions.

Moving, intelligent, tightly-written, politically-inspired and inspiring art is not commonly to be found.

In “Theatre Uncut,” in a Traverse Theatre Edinburgh production courtesy of The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation at the Clurman on Theatre Row through February 3rd, the emphasis is on art.

World-wide fiscal crises and budget cuts for social services are the impetus for “Theatre Uncut,” an international movement of stage professionals, dubbing themselves “Theatre Uncutters.”

“Theatre Uncut” are plays of protest.

The fantastic U.S. cast all volunteered their time, artistry and talent to perform the six short works on the program.

“In the Beginning” by Neil LaBute. Gia Crovatin and Victor Slezak  Photo by Allison Stock

As might be expected from Neil La Bute, his “In The Beginning” does not tow strictly to a line. He examines the Occupy Movement as it might play out in the living room of an occupier (Gia Crovatin and her well-heeled dad (Victor Slezak.) La Bute questions, and does not come up with any easy answers. “In The Beginning” is thought-provoking and not in the least polemical.

Not that any of the other excellent playlets are polemical.

In Clare Brennan’s “Spine,” Amy (Robyn Kerr) befriends a brilliantly dotty old lady whose library is appropriated from the stacks of all the closed libraries in the district.

“This situation,” says Jack (Brian Hastert) in “Fragile” by David Greig, “is all fucked up and it has to stop.” Greig addresses the financial issue in the prologue to his piece (read by Robyn Kerr.) For budgetary reasons, “Fragile,” under the direction of Catrin Evans, written for two characters– Jack and Caroline– is performed by only one. The audience will cue Jack by reading Caroline’s lines.

Tyler Moss in “The Birth of My Violence” by Marco Canale Photo by Allison Stock

“The Price” by Lena Kitsopoulou paints an absurdist tragi-comic picture from the Greek economic meltdown. A Man (Carter Gill) and his wife (Shannon Sullivan) argue over every drachma — now in Euros– of expenditure while shopping in a gulag-like supermarket.

The playbill suggests that one request the works for private reading but that would not be half as much fun as watching these superb actors.

Go see “Theatre Uncut” during its short stay. Enjoy the performances in these short offerings. Along with those actors already mentioned, there’s Tyler Moss as a disaffected writer in Spain in Marco Canale’s “The Birth of My Violence,” directed by Cressida Brown, as are both “The Price” and “Spine.” Lou (Ali Ewoldt) and Ama (Jessika Williams) are reluctant escapees in “The Breakout” by Anders Lustgarten, and directed by Emily Reutlinger, who also directed “In The Beginning.”

The run at the Clurman is a preamble for the “Theatre Uncut 2013 week of international action” scheduled for November. 250 groups in 17 countries have put on this show case of protest everywhere from stages to kitchens.

“The idea began in the U.K. in October 2010, as the Coalition government announced the worst cuts to public spending,” co-Artistic Directors Emma Callander and Hannah Price, say in the program notes,” since WW2. Fast forward to 2013. Austerity is a buzzword.”

To learn more about “Theatre Uncut” or to join the “Uncutters,” go to www.theatreuncut.com or email getinvolved@theatreuncut.com. Tickets are available at the Clurman box office at Theatre Row on 42nd Street.