Sep 22

Tribute to a Legacy: “Thurgood”

An historical image of Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre and Central Square Theater
Written by George Stevens, Jr.
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush
Starring Joshua Wolf Coleman

September 18 to 20 at 7:30PM
Starlight Square
84 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

Critique by Afrikah Smith

“The law is a weapon if you know how to use it.” – Justice Thurgood Marshall

Cambridge, MA  — In light of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, Thurgood reminds audiences of the obstacles BIPOC American citizens have overcome and continue to overcome every day, as we witness political events leading up to the 2020 elections.

Curious by how outdoor theatre was going to work, the thoughtful layout of Starlight Square surprised me. After checking in at will call, house staff escorted me to my seat following COVID-19 guidelines. Inside the space were socially distanced seating that met the gathering limit and made it more intimate. Although heaters are coming soon to Starlight Square, I recommend wearing warm layers. Continue reading

Sep 19

Free Soil Arts Collective Announces “Vital Voices”

Vital Voices Series
Presented by Free Soil Arts Collective
Moderated by Christa Brown
Free Soil Arts Collective on Facebook
FSAC on Youtube

Article by Kitty Drexel

LOWELL, MA – On September 10, the Free Soil Arts Collective announced that it will launch its Vital Voices digital series this month in presentation with Enterprise Bank. Vital Voices is a six-part series that features in-depth discussions with local artists of color. They will be moderated by Free Soil Founder Christa Brown. 

“Enterprise Bank is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Vital Voices – a unique digital series presenting our community’s artists of color,” said Enterprise Bank CEO Jack Clancy in the Free Soil Arts Collective press release. 

“There are so many amazing artists of color right here in our own backyard who are talented, dynamic, and eager to engage with a broader audience. Enterprise Bank’s support allows us to support these artists during this time,” said Christa Brown. 

Featured artists include (chronologically) Veronica Holmes, Illustrator & Storyteller (Lowell), Marlene Marmolejos, Co-founder & Motion Designer of Motion Mami (Lawrence), Henry Marte, Owner of Marte Media (Lowell), Sam Stevquoah, Creative Director at Mill City’s Finest (Lowell), Princess Moon, Poet (Lowell), and Thaddeus Miles, Author & Photographer (Lowell). 

Each episode of the Vital Voices series will air live on Facebook & YouTube via Zoom on the third Saturday of each month from September 2020 through February 2021, with the first episode airing on September 19th. Visit freesoilarts.org to RSVP.

The Lineup

SEPTEMBER – Veronica Holmes, Illustrator & Storyteller
OCTOBER – Marlene Marmolejos, Co-founder & Motion Designer of Motion Mami
NOVEMBER – Henry Marte, Owner of Marte Media
DECEMBER – Sam Stevquoah, Creative Director at Mill City’s Finest
JANUARY – Princess Moon, Poet
FEBRUARY – Thaddeus Miles, Author & Photographer

Other supporters to date include Studio 26 Associates and BRM Production Management. 
The Free Soil Arts Collective is an arts organization with a mission to amplify and strengthen the voices of local artists of color. Since January 2019, Free Soil leads these efforts by producing creative works, offering educational programming, and curating events. Free Soil operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. Learn more at freesoilarts.org
Sep 16

Have Pitch, Will Podcast: New Radio Drama for the Pandemic-Age

Orson Welles, 1938. Shown in rehearsal, standing, center background: director Orson Welles; seated, right: composer Bernard Herrmann NB: directing his Mercury Theatre of the Air troupe, such as created panic on the CBS radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, October 30, 1938

Article by Kitty Drexel

The pandemic has sparked a greater interest in radio drama.

In May, the New York Times shared a great article by Alexis Soloski that named multiple Broadway podcast radio shows called “For Your Ears Only: Broadway’s New Stage Is a Mic.” It references the Great Depression (as we head into another recession), quotes recording actors like James Monroe Iglehart, and then details their podcast projects.

Kelli O’Hara, Annaleigh Ashford, Iglehart, and others answer pertinent questions such as “How do you develop a character using just your voice?” Their answers are excellent advice to actors making podcast theatre during the pandemic. It’s a good read. Continue reading

Sep 09

The pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it: Player’s Ring Theatre Reopens

Player’s Ring building; performances are indoors

Produced by the Player’s Ring Theatre
An original play by Irene Kelleher
With Emily Karel
Directed by Peter Josephson
Presented by Glass Dove Productions

October 2 – 11, 2020
105 Marcy Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Player’s Ring on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Portsmouth, NH — According to an email press release from Player’s Ring Theatre in New Hampshire sent on September 8, the company will open its doors to the public beginning on October 2 for its production of Mary and Me by Irene Kelleher.

The company closed its doors in March due to the pandemic. It is reopening for live performance after making adjustments for audience safety. These include a new air handling and ventilation system, reduced capacity, social distancing at six feet, a health check at the door, and a mandatory mask policy.

The theater seats 75 patrons at capacity but only 33 seats are for sale to ticketholders. Only bottled drinks will be for sale. Seat assignments will be allocated by the Player’s Ring box office.

Production manager Margherita Giacobbi said in the press release, “Our number one priority in our decision to reopen has been the safety of our artists, volunteers, and audiences. We are following all State and CDC guidelines to ensure a safer environment (emphasis mine).”

Continue reading

Aug 25

Make the World Better: “I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone”

Image via http://www.judithkalaora.com/i-now-pronounce-you-lucy-stone.html. Kalaora looked as luminous during the performance as she does here. 

Presented by History at Play’s Pay-Per-Hap program
Researched, written, produced and performed by Judith Kalaora
Music by Deborah Goss
Friday, August 21, 7:30 – 9 PM

Livestreamed on Facebook
History At Play on Facebook
An Upcoming Schedule of Performances

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Apologies to Judith Kalaora and the History At Play team for the tardiness of this post – we were without internet for five days and unable to post this review. 

FACEBOOK LIVE — The one-woman show, I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone, began with a light, off-camera folk song performance minutes before 7:30 PM on August 21. Stone’s (Judith Kalaora) vibrant, full-bodied voice was heard as she puttered just offstage. As we learned, she had a lot to prepare for. MA native Lucy Stone fought for women’s right to vote in the 1840s. She nearly did it too. Unfortunately for all female-identifying individuals, women would have to wait another 80 years before wringing the privilege from men’s totalitarian grasp.  Continue reading

Aug 18

“Knoxville: Summer of 1915” and the Voyage of Nostalgia

Soprano/Vocals by Sarah Moyer
Piano by Timothy Steele
Artistic Direction by Ryan Turner
Composed by Samuel Barber
Based on prose poem by James Agee

Emmanuel Music
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
YouTube

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — You are here and you are not here. You are waiting in your bedroom for your next Zoom meeting to start, you are in the shower taking fifteen minutes for yourself away from your kids, or you are putting on your mask, ready to head into work where you’re considered essential staff, but not essential enough for customers to remember to wear their masks when you take their order.

Simultaneously, your mind is thinking about your family road trips to Iowa, the raucous laughter of your friends in eighth grade, and traveling, once, to Paris. It’s been months since you’ve seen your family all in one place. You’re in your body, living through a strange time and a terrifying plague, simultaneously overwhelmed and bored while sitting in your room for the ninth hour in a row, feeling the spray from the showerhead, or sitting as far as you can from other masked people on the T, some of whom let their masks sit beneath their nostrils because, apparently, the smell of the train is that important. But you’re also encapsulated in your memories.

You are inside a refuge of the mind, the kind Knoxville: Summer of 1915 invokes with Sarah Moyer’s voice and the parred down instrumentation of Timothy Steele. Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is performed as part of a series called Summer Sessions from Emmanuel Music. Continue reading

Aug 16

Respect the Rules or Stay Home or, Live Theatre Once Again: “Judy Punches Back”

Image via https://www.centralsquaretheater.org/shows/judy-punches-back/

Presented by Central Square Theater and Puppet Showplace Theater 
Written, directed, and performed by Sarah Nolan 

August 13 & August 14 at at 8PM
Starlight Square
84 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139
Puppet Showplace on Facebook
CST on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Cambridge, MA — Starlight Square is the brand, heckin’ new stage within Central Square intended for public performance, art and community brought to us by the Central Square Business Improvement District, Flagg Street Studio, and Boyes-Watson Architects. The performances are FREE thanks to their sponsors (although some dance classes are at a fee because teaching artists deserve to get paid). On Friday, August 14, we masked our faces and girded our loins to attend Sarah Nolan’s Judy Punches Back.  Continue reading

Aug 14

Burning Down the Establishment One BIPOC Critic at a Time: A Profile of Pascale Florestal

Florestal, image from www.pascaleflorestal.com

Profile by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON/ZOOM — Boston’s theatre journalism scene is a barren wasteland of white maleness. The desperate cries of BIPOC performing artists and designers for accurate representation are carried by winds off of the Atlantic ocean to diversity-parched cities and towns across New England: where are the critics of color?

Critiquing and reviewing circles have remained steadfastly white for the last few decades. Out of the current eleven members of the Boston Theater Critics Association, six are white men, five are white women.

The Front Porch Arts Collective launched the Young Critics Program in spring 2019 in partnership with WBUR the ARTery. It is the only independent training opportunity specifically geared towards young BIPOC journalists in New England. Boston-based director, dramaturg, educator, writer, and collaborator Pascale Florestal is the woman in charge. Continue reading

Aug 11

The Work Begins with Empathy: “A Kids Play About Racism”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre with the Gottabees 
Lead Producers Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre
Adapted & Directed by Kahlia Davis
Lyrics by Davied Morales
Music by Justin Ellington
Based on the book by Jelani Memory
More information at akidsplayabout.org

Streamed through August 7 on Broadway On Demand
Wheelock Family Theatre
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook
The Gottabees on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BROADWAY ON DEMAND — The Wheelock Family Theatre and the Gottabees collaborated with 41 Theaters for Young Audiences across the United States to present the world premiere, online theatrical experience of A Kids Play About Racism.

The Zoom play based on the children’s book A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory explains what racism is on a level that kids of all ages can understand and appreciate. A Kids Play About Racism is intended for ages 5+ but has a lot to offer adults too. It simplifies abstract concepts like white supremacy, microaggressions, Black culture, and emotional labor into digestible nuggets of truth. All viewers will be able to take away something valuable – even if it’s remembering that dismantling racism is strenuous; it’s okay to take a short rest before getting back to work.  Continue reading

Aug 10

“Chelsea People”: Getting to Know Your Community Through Theatre

Jessica Armijo Sabillon, right, with her family at O’Malley State Park in Chelsea. (L-R) Daughter Michelle, 13, her husband Reymer and daughter Adriana, 17. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Produced by Apollinaire Theatre Company
Part of Apollinaire in the Park 2020 (Online Edition): Chelsea People
Directed by: Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Music directed by David Reiffel
Composition by Allyssa Jones, David Reiffel, and David Rivera

August 8th 2020 at 8PM
The Chelsea Collaborative – Jessica L. Armijo
Apollinaire on Facebook
Chelsea Collab on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

ZOOM — How well do you know your community? Your neighbors? Friends? In our daily interactions, or lack thereof, we each hold a story within us worth telling, waiting for the right moment, or perhaps, the right people to tell.

In Apollinaire in the Park 2020: Chelsea People, the theatre challenged itself to create original plays and music based on interviews by community members nominated by the city’s leading community organizations: GreenRoots and the Chelsea Collaborative. The series ended with the story of Jessica Armijo. Continue reading