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 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 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

Mar 20

A Spanish/English Duel: “Romeo & Julieta”

The first kiss. Gorgeous artwork by Eric Davila.

ROMEO Y JULIETA
Presented by The Public Theater
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Saheem Ali & Ricardo Pérez González
Based on the Spanish Translation by Alfredo Michel Modenessi
Directed by Saheem Ali
Bilingual podcast to be presented in partnership with WNYC Studios
Featuring Carlo Albán (Benvolio), Karina Arroyave (Apothecary), Erick Betancourt (Abram), Michael Braugher(Balthasar), Carlos Carrasco (Lord Montague), Juan Castano (Romeo), Ivonne Coll (Nurse), John J. Concado(Peter), Hiram Delgado (Tybalt), Guillermo Diaz (Gregory), Sarah Nina Hayon (Lady Montague), Kevin Herrera(Ensemble), Modesto Lacen (Prince Escalus/Capulet’s Cousin), Florencia Lozano (Capulet), Irene Sofia Lucio(Mercutio), Keren Lugo (Sister Joan), Benjamin Luis McCracken (Paris’s Page), Julio Monge (Friar Lawrence), Javier Muñoz (Paris), Lupita Nyong’o (Julieta), and David Zayas (Sampson).

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

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: Romeo Y Julieta is an audio recording. It does not include video.

PODCAST ETHER — There’s always one theatre company or other doing Shakespeare. Take your pick: community, fringe, professional – someone, somewhere is producing a four-hundred-year-old play for an audience absolutely arm-wavingly, script humpingly horny for The Bard. I don’t get it. 

I don’t hate Shakespeare but I don’t get the hype either. His plays are performed so often – as intended and in experimental styles. No matter how a theatre dresses them up, they’re still the same stories. I think it gets old. Others strongly disagree. 

What is it about this dead poetry dude who hasn’t had a new idea in centuries that appeals so strongly to my fellow theatre practitioners? I don’t have to understand Shakespeare-mania to critique Shakespeare’s plays but understanding the obsession helps me interact with that population. Understanding a creator’s intentions is part of a critic’s gig.   Continue reading

Mar 17

A Review in Which the Magic Tricks Aren’t Described: “The Conjurors’ Club”

Geoff Kanick performs in ‘The Conjurors’ Club.’ Photo courtesy of A.R.T.

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
Created by Vinny DePonto and Geoff Kanick
Original Music by Alex Harris
Voiceover work by Artist Isuri Wijesundara
Opening Video by Gabe Jacobs
Video Voiceover by Isabela Salgado
Technical Consultancy by Joshua Samuels
Web Design by Eleanor Philips
Zoom Wizardry by Alycia Marucci and Sumner Ellsworth
Scenic/Background Consultancy by Heather Morris
Costume Consultancy by Alma Reyes Burgos
Lighting Consultancy by Joseph Lorenzen
Digital Systems Programming by Justin Paice & Michael Policare

March 12 – April 11, 2021
A virtual event
Stream HERE
Follow @TheConjurorsClub on social media

Disclaimer: This review contains minor spoilers. 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — The Conjurors’ Club starts long before the Zoom room opens with a brown 8.5 x 11 envelope with a stamp from Jean Eugene’s Fine Watches. This envelope arrives within another envelope from the American Repertory Theatre. Don’t open it! Its contents are a surprise. Continue reading

Mar 16

Another Day, Another Destiny: “Winter Panto 2021: The Panto Games”

Tributes in the Arena. Photo credit imaginary beasts.

Presented by imaginary beasts 
Directed by Matthew Woods 
Written by Matthew Woods & Noah Simes 
Costumes: Cotton Talbot-Minkin 
Visual Design & Illustration: Lillian P.H. Kology 
Production Stage Management: Sophia Nora Giordano 
Video Editing & Design: Sophia Nora Giordano 
Technical Direction: Bob Mussett 
Puppet Design & Construction: Sophia Nora Giordano & Jamie Semel 
Cast: Michael Chodos, Laura Detweiler, Molly Kimmerling, Catherine Luciani, Tara Harbert,  Colin McIntire, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Elizabeth Owens, Jill Rogati, Kiki Samko, Jamie  Semel, Noah Simes, Derek Smith, Jennifer Taschereau, and Matthew Woods with Sara Kenney  and Hannah Uher 

March 13, 14, 20 at 4:00 pm ET and March 19 at 7:30 pm ET on Zoom 
New show added! March 21 at 4 pm!
Tickets: imaginarybeasts.eventbrite.com 
All tickets are Pay What You Wish with a $0 minimum
imaginary beasts on Facebook 

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — The imaginary beasts yearly panto is a Massachusetts theatre institution. It doesn’t feel like wintertime without it! So thank goodness the beasties rallied and produced their February family-show in March.  Continue reading

Mar 12

This Just In: “Home Office: Season 2” & “Mr. Parent”

Home Office
Created & Written by John J King & Ramona Rose King
A J-RexPlays Production
Quick, Fun & Dirty, for the People
www.J-RexPlays.com
Venmo: @JRexPlays

Review by Kitty Drexel

ASTORIA , NY — Creators and Boston community members John J. King and Ramona Rose King moved to New York City! During a pandemic! Home Office: Season Two follows their adventures in their new city. They find work, new friends, and opportunities all within a two-block radius. 

A summary from YouTube: Home Office returns for a second season, following Mona and Jonathan as the couple moves to New York City mid-pandemic and struggles to get jobs, forge friendships, and take on their most collaborative project yet.

The second season is brief. It’s five episodes. The first season was was twelve. The stakes are higher but the circumstances are just as twee. Watch them navigate their relationship in a minuscule Astoria apartment without killing each other. As John says in episode three, “It’s nice!”

Also available to stream:

Mr. Parent presented by Theaterworks Hartford 
Based on stories from Maurice Parent
Playwright: Melinda Lopez
Conceived with and directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Video Multimedia Production Jared Mezzocchi
Associate Video Editor Katerina Vitaly
ASL Video Editor Cassandra Saulski
Audio Mix/Mastering Matt Berky, Massive Productions

Streaming On Demand
March 7— 26, 2021
Hartford, CT 
Theaterworks of Facebook

Mar 09

Ma, Look It Up: “The Pink Unicorn”

Stacy Fischer pretty in pink as Trisha Lee in “The Pink Unicorn.”

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
Written by Elise Forier Edie
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
Featuring Stacy Fischer
Video production design by Ari Herzig
Music by John-Allison Weiss
Dialect coaching by D’Arcy Dersham

Post-show Panel: “Learning the Impact of Language”
Panelists: Taj M. Smith (he/him), Katie Omberg (she/they), Mx. Chris Paige (they/them), Leo Austin-Spooner (he/they)

March 5-18, 2021
The performance is available to stream
RUN TIME: 80 minutes, followed by a post-show panel discussion exploring the themes of the play
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

SpeakEasy Stage’s Content Advisory: “The Pink Unicorn follows one mother’s journey to accept her genderqueer teenager. In telling this story, this play contains multiple instances of transphobia and misgendering as well as ableist and fatphobic language.” 

VIMEO — If it takes a white person to reach a white person on issues of racial inequity (it does), then one could reason that it takes a cis-hetero person to reach a cis-hetero person on issues of gender diversity. I’m not saying that these issues are at all equal. Hardly. What I am saying is that the compassionate tactics of one righteous cause will work on another equally as valiant cause.

SpeakEasy presents The Pink Unicorn through March 18. It is about a mother, Trisha Lee (Stacy Fischer in an endearing performance), coming to terms with her teenager’s genderqueer identity. Trisha is sharing her story through the virtual family and faith summit series, Walking Together. She sits at her kitchen table, sips tea and tells the anecdotes that culminate in her acceptance of her beloved child, Jo.   Continue reading

Feb 24

Semaphore Flags of Tension: “Solitaire Suite”

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
Written by Trent England 
Directed by Daniel Bourque
Stage management by  Madeline Hartrich
and Kelsey Whipple
Sound Design by Kyle Lampe
​Digital Design by Justin Lahue

Feb 20 – Feb 27 2021
Youtube Presentation
Boston, MA 02116
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — Anxiety is a feminist issue. Women are told they are too emotional, too sensitive, and too fragile. Our responses to stimuli are so criticized that we disbelieve our own experiences. We distrust our own instincts – no matter how perceptive. 

Believing women is the basis for the #MeToo movement. Trust women, we say. The message should carry a caveat to emphasize that society must grant women the benefit of the doubt in all situations. Believe us when we’ve been assaulted and at other times, too. Believe us all the time.  

Hub Theatre premiered Solitaire Suite by Trent England on February 20. Marty Mason is Celeste, a conscientious mother on a car ride with her husband Pete (Cristhian Mancinas) and their son, Tiger (Michael Lin). Celeste tells the viewer about how her family came across an unidentified flying object on their way home from retrieving Tiger from a failed sleepover. The family follows the UFO and has an unexpected engagement with the unknown.    Continue reading

Feb 20

Letting the Days Go By: “Giver of Light”

Presented by Guerilla Opera
Based on the life of Rumi 
music and libretto by Adam Roberts 
Stage direction by Andrew Eggert 
Electronics Composition by Anıl Çamcı
Sung in English 
75 minutes

Feb 18, 7:00 PM EST – Mar 18, 7:00 PM EDT

Sparrow Live

This production originally commissioned and performed in 2013 at the Boston Conservatory Black Box Theatre.  
GO on Facebook 
Sparrow Live on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“now even the heavens
are thankful that
because of love
i have become
the giver of light”
– Excerpt from “i was dead” by Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, the Sufi mystic and poet. 

“And you may ask yourself, ‘How do I work this?’
And you may ask yourself, ‘Where is that large automobile?’
And you may tell yourself, ‘This is not my beautiful house’
And you may tell yourself, ‘This is not my beautiful wife'”
-Excerpted from “Once In A Lifetime” by The Talking Heads

SPARROW LIVE — This critique of Guerilla Opera’s 2013 performance of GIver of Light will not critique the performance. The Boston Classical ReviewBoston Musical Intelligencer, and the Boston Globe reviewed Giver of Light while it was in production.  

I am instead responding to the watch party held on February 18 on Sparrow Live. Sparrow Live’s About section on its website says, “(Our) mission is to democratize access to the arts by connecting artists with their audiences through high-quality experiences. Sparrow Live’s vision is a barrier-free relationship of equals between artists and audiences.” Continue reading