May 09

Shenanigans & Monkeyshines: “Planet of the Grapes Live”

Presented by Toy Theatre and co-produced with Project Y Theatre Company 
Written, performed and created by Peter Michael Marino 
Directed by Michole Biancosino
Music by Michael Harren
Screen management by Genny Yosco 

Remaining dates: May 8 – 16, 2021
Streamed over YouTube
NYC
Toy Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — We heard about the Zoom science fiction parody play The Planet of the Grapes Live from this American Theatre article written by creator Marino. His article is a deep dive manifesto into his inspiration for the Grapes parody of Planet of the Apes. The movie is famously parodied by cherished agents of pop culture such as The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, Spaceballs, etc. 

Science fiction parodies make for great entertainment. I needed a good chuckle so I purchased a ticket.  Continue reading

May 04

BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME: A glimpse into the future?

Presented by The Civilians
Written by Darrel Alejandro Holnes
Directed by Victoria Collado
Video Game created by Ché Lovell Rose & Jocelyn Short
Produced by Ilana Becker
Sound Design by Twi McCallum
Featuring Christon Andell, Kyla Jeanne Butts, Starr Kirkland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Constance Fields, Phillip Patrick Wright, Michael Diamond, Mia Anderson, and Brandiss LaShai Seward.

April 27 – May 9, 2021
The Civilians
138 SOUTH OXFORD STREET #3C
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11217 
The Civilians on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

YOUTUBE — BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME is a groundbreaking, online theatrical experience that explores love, neurodiversity, and the importance of Black feminism.

After a first date gone wrong, Jonas Jones (Christon Andell) is determined to find a way to win back his crush, Nicole (Starr Kirkland). As a biracial teenager with autism, Jonas broadcasts his life online as a means of connection, destigmatising autism, and becoming a filmmaker. Integrating live chat in the performance, Jonas asks audiences for advice on what he should do. While brainstorming, he finds an old gift from his mother; a video game that may lead a way to winning Nicole back.  Continue reading

May 02

What About that 5-Ever?: “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever”

Tah-Janay Shayoñe as Sally in SpeakEasy’s “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever”

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Written by James Ijames
Directed by Pascale Florestal
In Partnership with Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Video Production by Wesley Verge
Lighting Design by Aja Jackson
Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt
Sound Design & Music by David Freeman Coleman
Choreography by Kira Cowan Troilo
Featuring: Dru Sky Berrian, Jordan Pearson, Tah-Janay Shayoñe, Sadiyah Dyce Stephens, Jared Troilo

April 30 – May 13, 2021
Streaming on Vimeo
TICKETS
SpeakEasy on Facebook, Twitter 

RUN TIME: 1 hour and 35 minutes

SpeakEasy Stage’s CONTENT ADVISORY: TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever contains scenes involving strong language, sexual harassment, slavery, and Black trauma.  Viewer discretion is advised.

NETG Advisory:  TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever also features an adult white man in academia who knows better making an absolute fool of himself to appear young and cool to attract a woman. If you’re offended by the portrayal of this character’s antics, you may know or be that white man. Get help. 

Review by Kitty Drexel

VIMEO — Thomas Jefferson, US founding father, raped Sally Hemings. They weren’t in love. She wasn’t his mistress. Hemings was a slave without autonomy. She was raped repeatedly and mothered seven children by Jefferson. An owned person can’t give consent

TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever put this #MeToo epidemic and holds it under a microscope of history by comparing it to Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of Sally Hemings. Play character Sally (Tah-Janay Shayoñe looking like Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice reincarnated) is a university fellow of smarmy university administrator TJ (Jared Troilo). TJ won’t let Sally’s “nos” get in the way of his orgasm. She is supported by her best friends and historic voices of reason Pam (Dru Sky Berrian) and Annette (Sadiyah Dyce Stephens). Meanwhile study buddy Harold (Jordan Pearson) is challenging the university’s legacy of slavery one protest at a time. These students are trying to get an education that includes them. TJ can’t understand he isn’t cool anymore.  Continue reading

Apr 30

Love is Everyone: “Until the Flood”

Maiesha McQueen in Until the Flood. Photo: Kathy Wittman

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Original music by Lindsay Jones
Film by Kathy Wittman
Performed with excellence by Maiesha McQueen

April 17 to May 2, 2021
Via video-on-demand only
TICKETS
MRT on Facebook

MRT’s Content Alert: Based on real events, Until the Flood includes references to racism, bigotry, prejudice, and off-stage violence. The play contains strong adult content/language, including racial slurs. Recommended for ages 16 and older.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — The US police keep killing Black people. On Wednesday, April 28 a Collin County, Texas medical examiner ruled Marvin Scott III’s death a homicide. That was last night. Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police on April 22. Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing George Floyd on April 20. Nearly a year after the murder took place. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Aleah Jenkins, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown: I could go on and on. It’s no wonder that human rights lawyers from around the world have called for an investigation of the international criminal court into the systematic murder of Black people in the US. 

Until the Flood is a one-woman show about the stories we tell with our lives. On August 9, 2014 Darren Wilson, a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In response to the murder, Dael Orlandersmith interviewed Black and white people, compiled their stories and created this play. We are witness to a spectrum of views. Each monologue takes the viewer closer to Michael Brown and the events that formed the Black Lives Movement. Continue reading

Apr 29

Contemplation, Charm, and Chickens in Gallo: A Fable in Music in One Act – Encore Performance

Presented and Commissioned by Guerilla Opera
Music and Libretto by Ken Ueno
Directed by Sarah Meyers
Set Design by Julia Noulin‐Mérat 

Live Watch Party April 23, 2021 8pm EST 
Video on Demand April 24 – May 16, 2021 
Filmed from a live performance on May 23, 2014 in the Zack Box at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Tickets available until Sunday, May 16, 2021
Guerilla Opera on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Have you heard the one about the chicken that crossed the road? Yes? What about the one regarding what came first, the chicken or the egg? Really? Okay. What about the one about Diogenes the Cynic who, when Plato called men “featherless bipeds,” plucked a chicken, brought it to Plato’s Academy, and shouted, “Behold! A man!” Because the last is a wonderful encapsulation of what Ken Ueno and Guerilla Opera have created.

The encore performance of Gallo: A Fable in Music in One Act uses animals to poke at mortal folly, to laugh at us and our flimsy hold on the order of the universe, at ontology, philosophy, and all the castles we build in culture that will one day fall into the sea. That particular anecdote is also a great definition of the show’s continued subversion of expectations, like the fact it takes place on a beach made entirely of Cheerios.  Continue reading

Apr 15

“A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival”: Theatre is Therapeutic, Not Therapy

A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival
Presented by Teatro Chelsea
A Resident Artist at the Black Box Theatre through Apollinaire Theatre Company’s Resident Artists at the Chelsea Theatre Works
Artistic Associate: Carla Mirabal Rodríguez
Program Director: Armando Rivera

Featured Works:
All performances start at 7 PM
Performances in Spanish will not be subtitled for English-only speakers.
April 9, Before We Focus On Others by Diego Lanao
April 10, Malas Mañas by Alejandra Ramos Riera
April 15, Anormales by Fernando Vieira, and SAA (not that one) by Luis Roberto Herrera
April 16,  Binary Star by Guadalupe Flores
April 17,  Flood by Alicia Margarita Olivo

April 9-17, 2021
Streamed via Zoom at 7 PM
Chelsea, MA 02150
Teatro Chelsea on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Teatro Chelsea presents two weekends of play readings in A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival with English, Spanish and bilingual performances through April 17. 

I was told by program director Armando Rivera that the reading of Before We Focus On Others by Diego Lanao on April 9 was still “in development.” Plays involved in this festival are performed for audience feedback. I watched with the understanding that this play and its characters were still in their nascent phases. There is always room for compassion in a critic’s response. 

So color me surprised when the cast of Before We Focus On Others gave us a performance-ready show over Zoom on April 9. The cast* had great chemistry: they worked well off of each other, gave excellent facial cues; their dialogue was believable and sincere sounding; I could imagine these characters as real people off of the page. 

Before We Focus On Others is about marriage counseling from the perspective of a husband and wife involved in the counseling profession. Lanao’s research is credible. The dialogue between the husband, wife, and psychologist is realistic. Lanao takes great care to give equal weight to both the men and women in this script: it’s thoughtful, intersectionality feminist, and sympathetic to all sides.

This is a bilingual play but anyone with basic Spanish skills should understand the characters’ intentions when Spanish is spoken. The actors’ motives were clear. Lanao’s used Spanish sparingly but to embellish a scene’s drama. To complain about the Spanish in this play is to reveal one’s racism. 

Only the active Zoom chat brimming with missives of love and joy from friends and family gave away the reading’s intentions for feedback. Actors don’t receive the same feedback over Zoom as they do from a live audience.  An open chat alleviates the weight of performance insecurity. 

It is super duper exciting that Boston finally gets its own festival of Latinx plays! I hope there is more, much more where this came from. 

A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival continues this weekend:
Performances in Spanish will not be subtitled for English-only speakers.
April 15 @ 7 PM, Anormales by Fernando Vieira, and SAA (not that one) by Luis Roberto Herrera
April 16 @ 7 PM,  Binary Star by Guadalupe Flores
April 17 @ 7 PM,  Flood by Alicia Margarita Olivo
Tickets are HERE

About A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival from the Teatro Chelsea website:
“In the American theatre space, the Latinx narrative reflected on stage can tend to revolve around narrow topics like the “border” or “disaster” play. While shedding light on the ongoing crisis on the Mexican-American border and the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico are narratives deserving of attention, these stories can overly narrow the breadth of Latinx experiences in the United States. Teatro Chelsea’s new Latinx play festival, A-Típico, aims to showcase and expand the focus on underrepresented Latinx stories.”

More from Teatro Chelsea.

Apr 14

SHADOW/LAND: A poetic force reckoning with the past

Presented by The Public Theater
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Directed by Candis C. Jones
Music composed by Delfeayo Marsalis
Sound design by Palmer Hefferan
Featuring Te’Era Coleman, Lizan Mitchell, Lance E. Nichols, Lori Elizabeth Parquet, Sunni Patterson, and Michelle Wilson.

The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
(at Astor Place)
New York, NY 10003
The Public Theater on Facebook 

Review by Afrikah Smith

PODCAST — Making its world premiere, SHADOW/LAND is a poetic force to be reckoned with. Mixing jazz and jook joint writing, Erika Dickerson-Despenza presents a vibrant play with a reckoning with the past. Continue reading

Apr 06

Keep Going, She Said: “The Catastrophist”

The Catastrophist TEASER from Marin Theatre Company on Vimeo.
Presented by Trinity Repertory Company
Coproduced by Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre
Written by Lauren M. Gunderson
Based on the life of virologist Nathan Wolfe
Directed by Jasson Mindakis
Performed by William DeMeritt

March 18 – May 31, 2021 
Trinity Rep and other theaters are streaming this production to their audiences in collaboration with the Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre.
Trinity Rep on social media: @trinityrepertorycompany

Critique by Kitty Drexel

STREAMING — Actor William DeMeritt is not virologist Nathan Wolfe. DeMeritt plays Wolfe with startling humanity, humor, and confidence. DeMeritt and Wolfe look similar in appearance: they both have medium complexions, curly kinks in their hair, and tall statures. Lest one falls into the trap of assuming that an actor is their character, we must establish that these two men are not the same person. DeMeritt only plays a virologist on screen.  Continue reading

Mar 25

“Paradise Blue”: Rich and dynamic audio play

Presented by Audible Originals & the Williamstown Theatre Festival
Written by Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Sound design by Darron West
Music composed by Kenny Rampton and Bill Sims Jr 
With André Holland, Kristolyn Lloyd, Simone Missick, Keith Randolph Smith, and Blair Underwood
Williamstown Theatre Festival on Facebook

Audiobook is available at Audible.com on March 25 at 3 PM.

Review by Afrikah Smith

AUDIOBOOK — Rich, dynamic jazz fills my ears. Paradise Blue starts off with explosive keys, steady drums, a wailing trumpet solo, and a bang. The silence that followed piqued my curiosity until cymbals shook it off and the jazz picked up once again. We are whisked away to Paradise Club. The best place to hear jazz in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood. Continue reading

Mar 22

Cry On Your Own Time: “A Fate Worse Than Death” #AFWTD21

Presented and Written by The Messy Theater Co. AFWTD Cast
Conceptualized and Directed by Billie Hassebrock
Assistant Directed by Stefan James
Stage Managers: Anika Nayak & Olivia Browne
Playwriting Consultant – Nick Freedson
Social Media Consultant – Sophia Schweik
Media Editor – Frank Mohler III
Featuring: Aaron Arpon, Alexandra Montalbano, Casey Corona, Curtis Andersen, Gloria Huang, Kristen Grace, Leo Goodman, Olivia Rose Nathan, Rhikki Cook, Sierra Hastings, Thomas Anawalt, and Tyler Davidson.

The online program is HERE

March 19-28, 2021
Streamed Online
All performances are FREE
Donations go to support the artists involved in this project.
Messy Theater Co on Instagram
#AFWTD21

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a toll-free national network of crisis centers in the US. Under the Lifeline website’s “Get Involved” tab, anyone can download Lifeline logos, get brochures, and read recovery stories. It even has an Instagram-specific toolkit. All of this can be accessed without making a donation. Using this information is gloriously free of charge. Interested parties can learn how to support Lifeline’s work via the “Participate” tab.  

To speak to someone at Lifeline, please call 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline on Twitter: @800273TALK, on Facebook, chat line

A Fate Worse Than Death by the Messy Theater Company is a show that includes strong themes of suicide and suicide prevention at the expense/ridicule of social media influencers. As of now, the show doesn’t communicate to its audience that it supports suicide prevention. Their website needs to include a logo, the name of the suicide prevention organization, quick links to resources, a suicide prevention organization donation button, and a phone number to call in an emergency. Just the phone number flashed briefly to the audience with a blurb at the end of the show isn’t enough. Continue reading