Ahmadinejad in the stage version of “Disclaimer.” Photography by Maria Baranova.
Presented by the The Public Theater The Under the Radar Festival Written by Tara Ahmadinejad Created by Piehole Co-directed by Tara Ahmadinejad and Jeff Wood Dramaturgy by Heidi Davis Performed by Tara Ahmadinejad with Hassan Nazari-Robati with special guests Other credits
January 11 – January 17, 2021 Via the Public Theater YouTube channel Public Theater on Facebook
My sincere apologies to The Public and to Piehole for this review’s tardiness. Personal tragedy prevented me from completing my review in a timely manner.
Review by Kitty Drexel
Disclaimer: This LIVE in-Zoom event contains propaganda, vague promises of Persian food, minimally invasive audience participation, and (gasp) MURDER.
ZOOM — Piehole’s Disclaimer is a new work only in that it has never been performed over Zoom. It lived onstage last year for the 2020 Under the Radar Festival in New York City. It was workshopped in 2019.
Disclaimer is a live-cooking tutorial over Zoom. Chef Nargis (Tara Ahmadinejad) and Sous chef “juuls are cuul” Hassan (Hassan Nazari-Robati) teach their audience to make Sabzi Polo, a yummy sounding Iranian rice dish made with butter, dried fenugreek leaves, garlic, saffron, and other ingredients. Our chef tells us about Iranian family life, culture, and plunges down a rabbithole of Iranian/US politics as she cooks.
The cooking doesn’t go as intended. Chef Nargis is distracted by the state of Iran’s tenuous relationship with the US despite Hassan’s gentle yet insistent redirecting back to the recipe. Nargis is worried that the US will go to war with Iran. It is never the politicians who make war who suffer. No, it is the people of the land who pay the price when demagogues play King. Continue reading →
Via the Under the Radar Festival 2021 Conceived, arranged, and performed by Alicia Hall Moran Presented by Joe’s Pub Part of Joe’s Pub New York Voices Commission Executive Producer: Thomas O. Kriegsmann / ArKtype Featuring: Thomas Flippin (guitar), Steven Herring (vocals), Barrington Lee (vocals), Jason Moran (piano), and Reggie Washington (bass) in collaboration with choreographer Amy Hall Garner
Twelve years ago I took an audition course at London’s ArtsEd summer school as part of my then year-long transition from singing opera to musical theatre. On the first day, like with so any courses of its ilk, the instructors had the students sing for each other. I sang a Kurt Weill piece to show off my legit voice with the intention of following up with a mixed belt/character piece should the instructors request it. Continue reading →
Presented by the Public Theater A part of the Under the Radar Festival By Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall Directed and Produced by Taibi Magar & Tyler Dobrowsky Original text and music, Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall Director of photography: Jess Coles Editing by Josiah Davis, Lowell Thomas Sound design by Broken Chord, Lee Kinney
January 6, 7:00PM – January 17, 11:59 PM EST The Public Theater on YouTube New York, NY 10003 Public Theater on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel
YouTube – The emotional violence inherent in White & Kendall’s pandemic-diary, fringe film Capusule reminds me of the car crash scene from 1975’s Mahagony. Diana Ross and Anthony Perkins (of Psycho fame) star in this movie about haute fashion, modeling and the heart’s desires. Perkins, a narcissistic photographer with mommy-issues, crashes a cherry red convertible into a construction site with the incomparable Ross and he in it. She, our hero, eventually leaves Perkins and her promising career for a politician played by Billy Dee Williams. The writing in this movie is not clever.
AUDIBLE — Williamstown Theatre Festival and Audible present Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour beginning on December 17. Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack is available starting tomorrow, December 29. We were given access to both early in order to write these reviews.
Thank you to the Williamstown Theatre Festival for the advanced access!
Happy New Year, everyone! We’ll see you in 2021.
Kitty Drexel, the Queen Geek
Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour Directed by Whitney White sound design by Fan Zhang Assistant direction by Tyler Thomas Featuring: Madeline Brewer (Coleen), Jason Butler Harner (Henry), William Jackson Harper (Yaw/Jason), and Aja Naomi King (Lydia)
Summary: Lydia (Aja Naomi King) and Henry (Jason Butler Harner) and their dinner guests Colleen & Yaw/Jason (Madeline Brewer and William Jackson Harper) are having a contentious evening. They’re constantly arguing about minor details, fragile egos are consistently bruised, and the wine bottle remains uncorked. Unspoken insecurities and dark secrets are revealed after Henry proposes to Lydia. Animals attempts to examine why marriage and relationships bring out the best and worst in people. This play has themes of race, class, gender, cancel culture, identity, and familial bondage.Continue reading →
“To Bed To Bed” & Vasalisa The Blessed” written by Rachel Wiese “Malka and the Behema” written by Jesse Garlick Directed by Jason Slavick Costume design by Kendra Bell Puppet design by Faye Dupras Shadow puppet design by Rebecca Lehrhoff Mask design by Becca Jewett Video editing by Sam Powell Original music by Carlos Odria Featuring: Rachel Wiese, Rebecca Lehrhoff, Glen Moore, Jesse Garlick, Cynthia Hu, Carlos Odria, Singer Mali
EMAIL — The good, creative folks at Liars & Believers held two preview workshops of their upcoming production Beyond a Winter’s Day on December 17 and 20. They generously answered some questions over email about their work, the pandemic, and their hopes for the New Year. Please keep reading for responses.
Thank you Jason, Jesse, Glen, Cynthia, Rebecca, and Rachel! We look forward to Beyond A Winter’s Day in January. We hope all of your New Year wishes are liberated into being with bright joy, cheer and grace.
Queen Geek:Please talk about your role in the show.
Jason – I’m Jason Slavick, the Artistic Director of Liars & Believers, and the director of the show. I provide the guiding vision for the whole project and I shape each individual element. I’m much like a conductor in an orchestra. The individual artists play their parts, but I shape the tempo, the tone, and the overall feel. I try to create opportunities for the other artists to express themselves. And I try to help them do their best work. My biggest job is to make sure you in the audience feel engaged and understand what’s going on.
Jesse- I’m Jesse Garlick, an artistic associate with Liars & Believers as well as being the company’s director of education. I wrote Malka and the Behema as well as performing with the puppets in the piece. I also perform in the final piece, To Bed To Bed, as Rabbit. And lastly I play Stanislov in the interstitial pieces.
Glen- I’m Glen Moore an artistic associate with Liars & Believers. I helped to devise and build content for the original production of “A Story Beyond” which was the inspiration for this online version. In this zoom production I play the storyteller Fargus, perform puppetry in the story Malka and the Beheyma, and lastly I don the mask of Bear in the story To Bed To Bed.
Cynthia – I’m Cynthia I am the zoom master of the show. I control all the tech behind what you see and make sure “the magic” happens on time. Outside of the show I’m an actor and I’m pursuing my MFA in acting at The Actors Studio Drama School.
Rebecca- I’m Rebecca Lehrhoff, an Artistic Associate with Liars & Believers. I’ve worked with the company since 2014. I helped devise the content for both “Beyond A Winter’s Day” as well as the original 2018 production the show is inspired by, “A Story beyond.” In addition to playing Mishka and the mole, I designed, created and performed (along with Rachel Wiese) the shadow puppetry for Vassilisa the Blessed.
Rachel- And I’m Rachel Wiese, an Artistic Associate with LAB. I worked on writing and devising the original “A Story Beyond” and performed as Isabel in that production. For Beyond a Winter’s Day, I again portrayed Isabel as well as Condor and puppeteered (along with Becca) Vasalisa the Blessed. I wrote Vasalisa the Blessed and To Bed, To Bed. I had lots of fun scouting the location for To Bed, To Bed which we shot on Worcester Trust Land near my home in Worcester, MA. Continue reading →
Presented by Boston Lyric Opera Hosted by reigning Miss Massachusetts Sabrina Victor Directed by Nathan Troup Zaira Meneses, Classical Guitarist Gabriella Reyes, Soprano Brett Hodgdon, Pianist
Recorded at the Trustees’ Castle Hill at the Crane Estate, in Ipswich, MA Available on Operabox.tv and the BLO website
Critique by Kitty Drexel
OPERABOX — Gabriella Reyes has a gorgeous dramatic soprano voice. Reyes sings repertoire favorites from Puccini and Strauss, traditional Christmas songs, and art song in Spanish. Her concert is a delight and anyone who can should watch it to support her.
High viewing numbers will also encourage the BLO to produce similar concerts. There are many talented, over-educated opera singers in the Boston-area that would stab your grandmother for the chance to perform one of these concerts. I used to be one of them. It’s in everyone’s vested interest for this concert to do well… And, it also happens to be lovely. Continue reading →
Written by Hayley Spivey
Music & Lyrics by Abbie Goldberg, Aaron Goodwin, Haley Spivey
Toy piano playing by James LaBella
Directed & edited by Andrew Child
Art direction by Andrew Child
Puppet knitwear & opening sequence artwork by Sara Kenny
Reindeer & snowman puppet by Joe Wood
Exterior of Mary’s House by Hayley Spivey
Ink & watercolor images by Lou Lim
Featuring: Ben Astrachan, Alex Casillas, Ethan Child, Becky Ittner, Dylan Scott, Kayla Shimizu, and Michael Herschberg
YOUTUBE — Punk is not dead. Mary’s Dark Christmas is the most hardcore thing I’ve seen this year, and my housemate had COVID-19 before we knew what caused it or how it was spread.
In this deep dive into the twisted depths of Spivey’s conscious mind, third-grader Mary Christmas (Becky Ittner) goes on a bender of junk-punching tantrums because Santa (as himself) cancels Christmas. Jeff Bezos (Jack Brewer) swoops in to save capitalism with his Naughty or Nice program™. He believes “that everyone has the right to infect and kill their grandparents so they can see a few presents under their tree.” Continue reading →
AUDIBLE.COM — In April, the Williamstown Theatre Festival announced that it was presenting its seven productions planned for its 2020 season in partnership with Audible, the Amazon streaming service. Below are reviews for A Streetcar Named Desire and Photograph 51.
Additional reviews of Animals by Stacy Osei-Kuffour and Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club by Shakina Nayfack will post next week.
A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Robert O’Hara
Assistant directed by Nicholas Polonio
Sound design by Lindsay Jones
Dialect coaching by Dawn-Elin Fraser and Deborah Hecht
Intimacy direction by Claire Warden
Featuring: Joel Reuben Ganz (Doctor), Joe Goldammer (Steve Hubbell), Carla Gugino (Stella Kowalski), Carmen M. Herlihy (Eunice Hubbell), Sullivan Jones (Harold Mitchell), Brian Lucas (Young Collector), Audra McDonald (Blanche DuBois), Stacey Raymond (Nurse), Cesar J. Rosado (Pablo Gonzales), and Ariel Shafir (Stanley Kowalski)
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for a play that first premiered on Broadway in 1947. We assume that readers will have a working knowledge of this Tennessee Williams classic.
This radio drama version of Streetcar requires a listener to engage with it. It’s not something to listen to while driving or finishing a project. The listener will miss out on the actors’ subtleties and new takes on this classic. Audra McDonald, Carla Gugino, and Ariel Shafir use their voices as instruments. They fill silence with artistic nuance. Doing anything more complicated than idle hobby work will take away from the experience of their performances. Continue reading →
ZOOM — In the “Live Town Hall with the Davids: In Conversation With Claudia Rankine,” ArtsEmerson artistic director David Dower and executive director David Howse discuss with Claudia Rankine her latest publication Just Us: An American Conversation. They unpack the issues of normalizing whiteness, staying in the room, and the importance of holding conversations around human problems. A lot is said about the current politics in the theatre world that Boston area theatres and artists can benefit from by listening.Continue reading →
ZOOM — Have you ever had the wild urge to play a first-person shooter and hefting a gun that ends the lives of digital characters? No? What about being granted the power to give or take away their livelihood? With The Race, a piece workshopped earlier this month by The Wilbury Theatre Group, you’re given almost all the abilities of a faceless tribunal to do just that! It’s an engaging work of theater constructed to utilize Zoom. It’s also difficult, upsetting, and timely.Continue reading →