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Showing posts from July, 2019

Review: "Go Puck Yourself" Dreams a Queer Midsummer Night's Dream

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Go Puck Yourself: A Shakesqueer Comedy Adapted by Chris Weigandt and Genny Yosco Directed by Genny Yosco Presented by FRIGID New York and Sour Grapes Productions at The Kraine Theater 85 E 4th St., Manhattan, NYC July 18-August 4, 2019
When people think of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, most likely to come first to mind are faeries or a man with the head of a donkey. What looms less large in the popular imagination is the threat in the play's opening scene by Theseus, Duke of Athens, to execute Hermia or banish her to a convent if she does not obey patriarchal dictates regarding whom she should marry: "To you your father," Theseus tells her, "should be as a god" (The Norton Shakespeare, 1.1.47). In a new adaptation by Sour Grapes Productions, this attempted regulation of sexuality serves as a resonant analogy for queer oppression, despite Hermia's father, Egeus, becoming her mother and not least because queerness remains criminaliz…

Review: "Queen of Hearts" Conjures a Decadent Wonderland

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Queen of Hearts Conceived, choreographed, and directed by Austin McCormick Presented by Company XIV at Théâtre XIV (21+ only) 383 Troutman Street, Brooklyn, NYC July 25-November 2, 2019
Queen of Hearts begins its first chapter, "Lady Alice," with Alice (LEXXE) installed on a bed set before a trio of mirrored wardrobes, pausing to regard herself in a handheld looking glass or to accept or wave away dainties and other offerings from servants. Soon enough, though, she is off down the rabbit hole, losing her baroque wig and eighteenth-century dress in the process. From there, Austin McCormick and Company XIV reimagine the major characters and events of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a stunning, heady fusion of cabaret, carnival, dance theater, and burlesque.
McCormick, a Drama Desk Award nominee whose credits include choreography for Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and Theatre for a New Audience, is the founder and Artistic Director of Company …

Review: PTP/NYC's "Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth" is Spectacular Stoppard

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Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth Written by Tom Stoppard Directed by Cheryl Faraone Presented by PTP/NYC at Atlantic Stage 2 330 W. 16th St., Manhattan, NYC July 9-August 4, 2019 One semester, a college where one of us was working held a meeting in which a student demonstrated to the campus writing tutors how to make an origami crane. The catch was that the student spoke only in Japanese, and the intention was for the table full of people with advanced degrees in English to feel what it was like for the English Language Learners with whom they worked. A similar feeling of linguistic dislocation befalls delivery driver Easy (Matthew Ball)—along with the audience—in the first half of Tom Stoppard's two-in-one play Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth as his attempt to deliver some "blocks 'an that" is complicated by everyone else speaking only a language called "Dogg," made up of English words but not English. Playing in repertory with Havel: The P…

Review: Big Issues, Tiny Set in Amina Henry's "Rent Party"

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Rent Party Written by Amina Henry Directed by Gretchen Van Lente Presented by Drama of Works at The Tank 316 W. 36th St., Manhattan, NYC July 12-21, 2019 “Ain’t no party without darkness and song.” –The Cat

People associate New York with many things. High rents top anyone’s list. Exorbitantly high rents in the city are a relatively new thing, though. One could find an apartment in many neighborhoods for just a few hundred, or even double digits, a month for most of the twentieth century. However, tenants’ relationships with landlords have always been sticky in the city—especially in Harlem. African Americans have faced more challenges regarding rent in NYC given that they were allowed (socially and for a time legally) to live only in a few areas of the city, and landlords took advantage of that. Enter the rent party. The burst of artistic activity in Harlem in the 1920s including poetry, fiction, music, drama, and visual art has given rise to all sorts of theories of origins. One ori…

Review: Don't Miss Your Chance to Czech Out "Havel: The Passion of Thought"

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Havel: The Passion of Thought Works written by Harold Pinter, Václav Havel, and Samuel Beckett Directed by Richard Romagnoli Presented by PTP/NYC at Atlantic Stage 2 330 W. 16th St., Manhattan, NYC July 9-August 4, 2019 Authoritarianism is having something of a global renaissance these days. That dispiriting fact makes this a fitting time for PTP/NYC's staging of a trio of works by Václav Havel (1936-2011). Havel was a Czech dissident, writer, and repeated political prisoner during communist rule in his native country, and, after 1989's demonstration-fueled Velvet Revolution brought an end to the totalitarian government, Havel served as the final President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993-2003). With Havel: The Passion of Thought, PTP (Potomac Theatre Project, associated with Vermont's Middlebury College) fruitfully frames three of Havel's four "Vaněk plays" (the fourth, Dozens of Cousins, was written far after…

Review: There's More to "Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid" Than Meets the (Private) Eye

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Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid Written by Gina Femia Directed by Janelle Zapata Castellano Presented by Step1 Theatre Project at The Tank 312 W 36 St., Manhattan, NYC July 8-11, 2019 Looking is an important throughline in Gina Femia's genre-bending play Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid, and the production fittingly makes an immediate and striking visual impression with the entrance of its first character, Jimmy Jones (Xavier Rodney). Jones enters clad in black and white from head to toe, including black gloves and white face paint. As other, similarly monochrome actors (Lara Fox, Sylas Barrett, and Rachel Weekley) emerge and mime a variety of New York City pedestrians behind him, Jones talks about the innumerable "blind" and "zombie" eyes of the city, made deliberately unseeing as people go about their business in order to shut out the potentially overwhelming volume of humanity that courses through the city's spaces …

The Kilroys Release Vetted List of Un- and Under-Produced New Plays by Women, Trans, and Non-Binary Writers

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The Kilroys, an independent, Los Angeles- and New York City-based playwright, director, and producer collective, have announced their 5th annual THE LIST of industry-recommended new plays. THE LIST serves as a resource for producers and theaters committed to gender parity, and The Kilroys have partnered with the New Play Exchange to provide interested parties fast and easy access to THE LIST plays.

The Kilroys seek to focus attention on underrepresented voices as a powerful means of overcoming the systemic and implicit biases that create exclusion. Historically, women and trans writers face more discrimination than other groups. Through these efforts, attention on underrepresented voices has increased visibility and opportunity. THE LIST 2019 represents this mission and continues the fight to achieve gender parity in the American Theater.
The Kilroys created THE LIST survey in 2014 in response to systemic gender bias in theater programming. The vetted collection of industry-recommen…