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 →
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 →
Showstopper Virtual Play Series Presented by New Rep Theatre Premieres by Alexis Scheer and Miranda Austen ADEkoje
November 21 – December 13, 2020 Performances will be audio described by Cori Couture on Saturday, 12/12 at 7:00pm and Sunday, 12/13 at 4:00pm. Over Zoom New Rep on Facebook
“A Very Herrera Holiday” By Alexis Scheer Directed by Sarah Shin With Amanda Figueroa
“[keyp-ing]” By Miranda Austen ADEkoje Directed by Dawn M. Simmons With Jasmine M Rush
Review by Kitty Drexel
ZOOM — New Rep’s “A Very Herrera Holiday” and “[keyp-ing]” are two plays about women who have had enough. In the former, Emma Herrera (Amanda Figueroa) uses her DIF crafting Youtube stardom to celebrate the holidays with a family recipe for coquitos. “[keyp-ing]” chronicles Monica Jenae’s personal fight against white supremacy as Boston-area freelance commercial producer. Continue reading →
The Lilac Players‘ First Annual 48hr Play Festival
Hosted by Meghan Joliffe Sunday, November 15, at 7:00pm Presented over YouTube
Disclaimer: Mrs. Drexel has a friendly relationship with many players involved with this festival. She believes that only an ass-hatted dinglehopper of a n00b would let petty human emotions interfere with a critique.
Critique by Kitty Drexel
ZOOM — There have been strikingly few play festivals since the quarantine began in March. Festivals are relatively easy to produce despite their many moving parts. Performance teams can schedule their own work hours and pace. Everyone comes together at tech rehearsal to complete the beast. Audiences are guaranteed even if it’s only made up of participants and their partners. And, as my massage therapist (a fringe theatre enthusiast) told me yesterday as they were vigorously massaging my shoulders in a darkened salon, it’s exciting to see a play come together, rehearsal to performance. The allure is strong.
The Lilac Players presented its very first 48-Hour Play festival on the evening of Sunday, November 15. It was a successful evening: nine plays were streamed over YouTube to their rowdy fans who expressed their appreciation through the live chat. Jokes were made. Fun was had.Continue reading →
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
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 bookA 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 →
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
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 →
Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company Dream Boston: A New Series of Audio Plays The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge McKim by Brenda Withers Overture by Kate Snodgrass By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez
Online now for free on the Huntington Theatre website
Huntington on Facebook, Twitter Please remember to donate! Donate now so theatre can still exist later.
Critique by Noelani Kamelamela
STREAMING – I appreciate theatre makers using online platforms to present pre-recorded work or livestream theatrical content. In these times, when it is prudent for people not to be in theatres or congregating outdoors for a concert, the creation of work that can be digested at home or even on a lunch break is a political act beyond taking general responsibility for the health and welfare of a community by cancelling in person productions.
Dream Boston is easy to digest in four separate audio plays and can be listened to with an internet connection on someone’s phone for less than ten minute stretches. The playwrights and the directors for Dream Boston are women. Continue reading →
“What do you call an anti-vaxxer in the 1920’s? …Dead!” – Edith Shlivovitz
Trigger warning: screen kissing
YOUTUBE — Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie opens on Edith Shlivovitz up to her elbows in household detritus for donation, ropes of pearls swinging around her neck, plastic-framed glasses matching perfectly her cheetah jumpsuit. Edith is a character: she won’t take any of your crap. She’s stir crazy and has no more fucks to give.
EVQ is what happens when a one-woman-show has reached peak performance. Edith, a widowed, Jewish, octogenarian housewife from New York who hasn’t left her apartment since March, is over the top archetype of old lady.
Miller’s character shoots through Zoom, past the door of your bedroom and into the street like porn on an iPhone at a family reunion. Edith is holding her tits, listening to “Memory” and quoting Deepak Chopra. As the late Joel Schumacher said of his movie disasters, “nobody pays to see under the top.”
EVQ is a an emotional journey. Folx who don’t enjoy a bit of the absurd with their raunch won’t get this show. Edith’s antics read like a peculiar Only Fans site for gawkers with very particular kinks. Edith references her dead husband Winston, chats with her taxidermied cat Clementine, and reenacts her favorite scenes from the thee-atre.
Edith treats you, her guest, to several photo montages. She pitches her app idea, quotes Anaïs Nin’s erotica, and segues to her reality TV show. That’s what I remember from before I blacked-out from the silliness.
Edith VS. Quarantine is not high art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, either. It is a character sketch that depicts one woman going as far as she can go because the rules no longer apply. These are unprecedented times, and Edith is no longer at the mercy of society’s rules. If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.
My sincere apologies to Miller re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.
Next performance of Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie: Friday 7/24 at 7:30pm
FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020 Information about the 2020 festivalHERE FringePVD onFacebook
My sincere apologies to low re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.
ZOOM — Maximum Verbosity presents a holiday allegory to beat that tired one told every single Christmas. Get Thee Behind Me, Santa features cursing, sexuality, blasphemy and other microaggressions.
Get Thee Behind Me, Santa is an exceedingly fast-paced holiday allegory with an occasional rhyme scheme that pulls no punches. Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Nick, two angels with a greater appreciation for the physical form and a cast of other characters are determined to live in a better timeline, a timeline without a Santa cult.
It makes fun of the Da Vinci Code but it’s more similar to the popular 2003 mystery novel than it isn’t. GTBM,S jumbles together art, religion, science fiction, film noir, and other seemingly incongruent references into one tale. Therein lies the intended humor.
In humorous narratives of this ilk, the jumble of references is the point. Lists are par for the course. Except, GTBM,S is told at such breakneck speed that we aren’t able to absorb all of phillip andrew bennett low’s puns and scenes. They aren’t funny if we can’t savor them. The image of elves with super soakers is funny but, with low’s telling, blink and you’ll miss it. The same goes with many of the other clever bits concerning the Bible, popular soft drinks, and the Mayan civilization.
The funniest moments of GTBM,S are when low pauses after a character’s one-liner. Jesus said, “Howdy-do?” Low gave us time to react, so I did; I laughed.
Someone said (I couldn’t catch the character’s name), “I am amazed at how useless I find your vowels.” Low paused again; I laughed again.
I was able to respond in real-time to low’s work. It felt amazing. Audiences of artists want to respond to an artist. Please let us.
Theatre shouldn’t be a race to the finish… Unless it is. If the point of GTBM,S was to impress the audience with how quickly and how much low can spit a monologue, low succeeds. But, we couldn’t tell that this was his goal. He needs to indicate this to us.
Some of this can be excused by the medium of Zoom. A one-person show without an audience is torture for an artist. We create with the presumption that an audience will share the room when we perform. Without the audience, we fly by the seat of our pants. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. We can only hope for the best.
Based on the GTBM,S trailer from the 2019 Minnesota Fringe, I’m going to make an educated guess that low’s speed is intentional. If low’s intent truly was to tell a convoluted story overflowing with references across modern and archaic world history while ripping Christianity a new one, he needs to slow down so the audience can receive the story.
Storytelling can be as alinear as the space time continuum but, if it’s for an audience, it also has to be available to that audience. Artists need to perform at the same speed that an audience listens. Anything else is masturbatory.
Next performance of Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: Friday 7/24 at 9:00pm
FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020 Information about the 2020 festival HERE FringePVD on Facebook
YOUTUBE — The Sparkhaven Theatre Company’s anticipated series Camp Strangewood opened last Sunday, July 19 at 8PM. It’s fans gathered on YouTube to watch the first installation, The Puritans. Similar to Sparkhaven’s previous endeavors, it was spoopy, silly and uncannily relatable. Continue reading →