Posted in based on a Shakespeare play, comedy, comedy about a serious subject, comedy-drama, drama, Shakespeare

Idyll

1William_Shakespeare.
A portrait of William Shakespeare,

This is not what might be described as a utopian moment in history. The arts, including theater, of course, have found the need to protest the political climate. Sometimes, their response has been by providing us with dystopian visions of a world gone awry. 1984, for example, is one such production. The recently closed revival of Fucking A by Suzan-Lori Parks is another.

Arden/Everywhere, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center from October 8th to 28th, based on Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, takes aim at the dangers that face a democracy.  Jessica Baumann and her creative team see their work as a “reframing” of the original text. Their story purports to be about exile and banishment and does not want to center on the romance in this pastoral comedy.

In fact, the text for Arden/Everywhere is Shakespeare’s, embellished by references to immigrants and the plight of refugees. To that end, in its opening sequence, every greeting is a parting, and every hug and handshake bodes a separation.

The likeable cast present Shakespeare’s words with great authority and make the plot both clear and easy to follow. The principals, Rosalind (a very charming Helen Cespedes), Orlando (Anthony Cason, Jr.), Oliver (Kambi Gathesha) and Celia (Liba Vayneberg) are outstanding.

For more information and tickets, please visit Arden/Everywhere.

 

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Posted in based on a Shakespeare play, dark drama, drama, Shakespeare

When Will We Three Meet Again?

Source: When Will We Three Meet Again?

In honor of their 20th anniversary, Dzieci Theatre will reinstate its Gypsy-infused production of Macbeth, MAKBET for a 5-Week run starting on September 6 at Bushwick’s Sure We Can. Our guest reviewer, Mari S. Gold had a chance to see it in October 2015.

Posted in #critique, dark drama, drama, historical drama, Marlowe, political drama, Shakespeare, tragedy

“Tragedy, tonight!”

1William_Shakespeare.
A portrait of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe‘s better known contemporary.

Politics and drama are disparaged, especially by those who feel the sting of the tragedies presented.

Sometimes, even if the message is on point, the admixture has an oddly inappropriate tastelessness.

Nonetheless, as I  have often said, it is the role of art to clarify matters and comment on our foibles and the errors of our ways.

We are often led astray on the roads of life, so we should be grateful to plays, playwrights and the traditions of our theatrical history for helping to put us back on track.

Here is a plot I propose:

Tamburlaine in triplicate or triptych: played alternately by North Korean President Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin and the US President, with Benjamin Netanyahu coming in as a pinch hitter.

In the movie version of the shenanigans surrounding the recent election– the movie from my youth– the big guy is carted away in cuffs. Also, the good people of Montana go to the homes of every single Jewish family that was targeted by Richard Spencer’s crew to make sure they are protected. This is so because in 1950’s America Americans played by the rules, were patriotic and did the right thing.

June 25th addendum: The toddler in big boy pants whose got DC as his playpen may be onto something. He doesn’t care for poor folks (note to those who helped elect him–be careful what you wish for is a real thing). Is there a reality show called Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown?

Posted in 2017 Tony Nominations, DC politics, drama, drama based on real events, historical drama, historical musical drama, historically-based musical, Ibsen, Ibsen adaptation, Kristen Childs, Playwright, Musical drama, political drama, politically inspired, politics, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, The Tony Awards, Tony, Tony Awards

Tidbits, tall tales, and short truths

EnemyPeople_IMG_1355
From The Wheelhouse Theatre’s production of An Enemy of the People, playing through June 24th. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Theatricality is a fraught concept. It can just be dramatic and thought-provoking, or it can be over-the-top, dramatic and thought-provoking. Kristen Childs has written a musical that is theatrical to the nth degree. Bella: An American Tall Tale also gives us a little slice of African-American history mixed in with the fable.

In other theatrical news, not as dramatic, I believe that Cynthia Nixon and Laurie Metcalf ruined my perfect record of being wrong on the Tonys. Ah well, maybe next year.
 
Politics and theater are getting a bad rep. Actually politics and their practitioners have had a reputation for honesty meaning any means that is necessary, aka I’ll lie if I have to, and theater has always been a forum for exposing truths. Ms. Nixon stirred the political pot a tiny bit in her acceptance speech at the 2017 Tony Awards Ceremonies. Now, it is the mixing of politics into theater that has caused quite the controversy (see what is happening with The Public’s Julius Caesar for instance.) It is unwarranted. Art is meant to comment on our realities.
At any rate, one of those realities, Lost and Guided, a play by Irene Kapustina about Syrian refuges in their own words, is on view at Conrad Fischer and The Angle Project, at Under St Marks (94 St. Marks Place, from August 3 through 27th. For tickets, click here.
A similar but perhaps more intitmate project is The Play Company’s Oh My Sweet Land another look at the Syrian refuge crisis. The play is due to launch this fall in private homes and communal spaces where people have been invited to host this  multi-sensory experience. Those wishing to participate by providing a venue can do so by filling out the questionnaire here. Nadine Malouf stars, perhaps in your own kitchen, in Oh My Sweet Land, a play developed by Amir Nizar Zuabi with German-Syrian actor Corinne Jaber.
Shakespeare wrote plays reflecting timely events, for his time and all times. This may explain why The Public is in such hot water over their production of Julius Caesar. The brouhaha, perhaps like the staging, is way out of proportion. In Measure for Measure, Shakespeare also explores issues to do with power and justice. Theatre for a New Audience is presenting a new modernized staging by Simon Godwin from June 17th through July 16th. Tickets for this show which will be held at Polansky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn are available at TFANA’s website.
Henrik Ibsen had his own take on both the personal and the political. For instnace, Ibsen’s drama, An Enemy of the People is a play about populism and its discontents.
An Enemy of the People comes to us from the Wheelhouse Theater Company under the direction of Jeff Wise, at the Gene Frankel Theater, beginning June 9th and running through June 24th is conceived as a meditation on the “tyranny of the majority.”
Following on the success of Ibsen’s feminist tale as revisited by Lucas Hnath in A Doll’s House, Part 2, see the US Premiere of Victoria Benedictsson’s 1887 Swedish original, The Enchantment in a  new English translation and adaptation by Tommy Lexen. Ducdame Ensemble introduces us to the woman behind Ibsen’s Nora; Benedictsson, who wrote under the pen name Ernst Ahlgren, was not only Ibsen’s inspiration but also Strindberg’s for Miss Julie. The Enchantment opens at HERE on July 6th, with previews beginning June 28th.
Dystopia is the normal atmosphere of an Ibsen play. It is poignantly a main event in the classic 1984. George Orwell’s novel in which Big Brother government controls its citizens has been turned into a play by the same name. The play by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan was first performed in 2013 at England’s Nottingham Playhoouse.
1984 , a place where mind control involves convincing us that up is down, “freedom is slavery,” is now at Broadway’s newly renovated Hudson Theatre, with an opening on June 22nd, and starring Olivia Wilde and Tom Sturridge.
Posted in Daily Prompt, Marlowe, Shakespeare

Outsiders

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

1William_Shakespeare.
A portrait of the Bard, William Shakespeare.

There has long been a convention of making the outsider the hero on stage and in film. In theater, we can find the anti-hero in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and his Lady, in Marlowe’s less well- known Tamburlaine. Othello, King Lear, in fact most of the Bard‘s tragedies all center around figures of some ignominy. More to the point here, each is an outlier.

In mathematical terms, they are data points distinct from the rest which may or may not, thanks to robust statistics, affect the outcomes. In dramatic terms, the outlier is the outsider whose infamy determines his fate; this definitely affects the outcomes in the play.

There is an innate attraction to the maverick who lives in society but apart from his.peers.
As it happens, sometimes the notoriety surrounding a protagonist is made up of difference in point of view. Those who benefit from Robin Hood’s assistance see him as an unalloyed hero. Those who suffer from
his philanthropy, consider him a criminal.

Nuances are everything, and they make for excellent dramatic effect. We are on the fence along side Hamlet as he wrestles with treachery and commits murder.

As often as not, it is the theater artists creating the works who are to some extent the outliers in society. Their message is to elevate the conversation and help us see a truer world.

Posted in comedy, drama, Marlowe, Marlowe in the Park, Shakespeare, Shakespeare in the Park, tragedy

This is mine, and this is…

The Source: This is mine, and this is…

128px-Marlowe-Portrait-1585
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1872676

Christopher Marlowe had a way with words. Underappreciated, compared to his contemporary, Shakespeare, whose greatness is undisputed and whose popularity remains unrivalled.

1. George_Cruikshank_-_The_First_Appearance_of_William_Shakespeare_on_the_Stage_of_the_Globe_Theatre_-_Google_Art_Project
By George Cruikshank – AwFKhI771c3bow at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22008301

Marlowe’s plots, like Shakespeare’s, drew from history and built on themes both personal and universal. His Tamburlaine the Great is one example of a tragedy with great umph. It is the ultimate tale of an over-reaching hero.

The Jew of Malta is the lesser-known Marlowe version of The Merchant of Venice, well sort of….. It was certainly an inspiration.

Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe were contemporaries, both great Elizabethan dramatists. In fact, Marlowe was considered the greatest tragedian of his era, but somehow Will has outlasted him. Marlowe’s plays are not revived; there is no annual “Marlowe Festival” nor “Marlowe in the Park” to honor his works. There are also no commemorative postcards from Russia for Marlowe, as there are for William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is known now as The Bard, and Marlowe is an obscure reference.

1William_Shakespeare.Can Marlowe’s works ever get the scrutiny they deserve? Can he someday share equal billing with Shakespeare? Is there a “market” for a Marlowe retrospective? Would a production of Marlowe’s works meet with audience approval and critical acclaim?

Marlowe met his untimely death in an as yet unresolved murder while his personal reputation was suspect. He had been called to the Privy Council for alleged blasphemies, so perhaps you might say his professional reputation was on the line when he was stabbed to death at the end of May 1593.

 

Posted in African-American playwrights, dining, dinner, musical theater, Shakespeare, short play festival, theater

Dinner and a show OffBway Edition

Source: Dinner and a show:

With Off-Broadway Week 2-for-1 overlapping by a few days with Restaurant Week (the former starts Feb 1 and the latter ends Feb 2), you can take your sweetie out for an evening for around $100pp. Consider it nycgo.com‘s pre Valentine Day treat. We are making a few suggestions, not necessarily from the nycgo list.

Broadway and The Bard, produced by Amas Musical Theatre at The Lion on Theatre Row from January 28th through March 6th, unfortunately is not a 2-for-1 option this go round. This should not deter you from catching the wonderful stage and screen veteran Len Cariou anyway.  Combining his two great loves – Shakespeare and American Musical Comedy – into one rich and diverse tapestry; Cariou pairs classical soliloquies and sonnets with inventive musical numbers from the great repertoire of the Great White Way.

Two shows you will find in the 2-for list are Daddy Long Legs and Trip of Love. Both, like Broadway and the Bard, are conveniently located in the theater district where there are lots of $38pp dinner options– from Aureole’s Liberty Room to The View in the Marquis.

In midtown west, Maurice Hines’ Tappin’ Thru Life, at New World Stages has been added to the 2-fer list at nycgo. Grab a bite at 21 Club (Bar Room Pre-Theatre saves you $10 during Restaurant Week) and then head over toward 8th Avenue for the show.

Downtown, at the Kraine Theater there’s a The Fire This Time 10-Minute Play Festival directed by Nicole A. Watson that opened on January 18th and runs to February 6th. Like Broadway and the Bard, you won’t find this short play Festival on the 2-for-1 list. Go there and accompany your visit with a meal at say Root & Bone or Miss Lily’s 7A nearby.

The Festival, now in its 7th season, is a forum for emerging African-American playwrights whose talents and interests are represented in the short plays on the calendar. The program is diverse:

  • Pride by Tanya Everett explores how pride inhibits our relationships and ability to connect with another.
  • Keelay Gipson in Time in the Penn looks at how media affects mob mentality.
  • God Will Know The Difference by Jiréh Breon Holder looks at how identity, family and love can collide to shatter or unite.
  • In Hard Palate,  Roger Q. Mason wonders if the old stigmas about gays still apply in the age of dating apps and PrEP.
  • In Slavesperience by Stacey Rose, a progressive young white woman gets a better understanding of life in Black America from two professional slaves for her 30th birthday.
  • clarity by Korde Arrington Tuttle has a man questioning his impending marriage.
  • You Mine by Nia O. Witherspoon nightmarishly takes place in a senior-living facility in which an Alzheimer’s patient believes her caregiver is actually her slave.

The immersive theater event from the Third Rail Projects, The Grand Paradise is likely to have a long run if their earlier projects like Then She Fell is any indication. The Grand Paradise, previewing January 28th and selling tickets through the end of March in Bushwick,  takes you into a fountain of youth destined to quench all your desires.

Dine at some of the nearby Williamsburg establishments, like MP Taverna Brooklyn or Esh Restaurant and Bar as part of your evening.

The Foundry Theatre offers up an inspiring manifesto for transformative theatrical experiences. The Foundry Theatre’s O, Earth by Casey Llewellyn takes us back to Manhattan where it plays in the HERE space from January 23rd through February 20th.
O,Earth is an inclusively celebratory re-mix of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town as seen
through the lens of queer and trans culture and history.

In Soho, you’ll find the well-represented Dos Caminos chain offering Restaurant Week menus, as well as David Burke’s Kitchen, Mercer Kitchen and The Dutch, to name just a few, offer both lunch and dinner,  but most Restaurant Week participants exclude Saturday evenings.

 

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