Sep 18

Your Religion Is A Lifestyle Choice: “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”

Elise Piliponis, Karen MacDonald, Jesse Hinson, Dayna Cousins, and Nathan Malin in Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Will Arbery
Directed by Marianna Bassham
Featuring Karen MacDonald, Dayna Cousins, Jesse Hinson, Nathan Malin, and Elise Piliponis

September 9 ⁠–⁠ October 8, 2022
The Roberts Studio Theatre in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
Boston, MA

This show runs one hour and 55 minutes with no intermission.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“…Yeah, they’re not even inviting us to this conversation. It’s this insane thing that they’re all getting hung up on, this small minority of confused people, but all the people, all the people like suddenly so defensive about using the word ‘they’ but ‘they’ doesn’t make any damn grammatical sense.”
– Justin, Holy Fool, from Heroes of the Fourth Turning by Will Arbery

“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
-Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman (1989)

BOSTON — Merriam-Webster primarily defines religion as “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” The definition branches off into sub-definitions: service and worship of God or the supernatural, commitment to religious faith, and a system of beliefs “held to with ardor and faith.” Alas, Merriam-Webster doesn’t tell us which religion will get one into Heaven (or if there even is a Heaven.) 

The antagonizing white, conservative, protagonists of Will Arbery’s Heroes of the Fourth Turning attack each other in the name of God’s perfect love. They use their Catholic faith and rigid dogmas to interrogate the each other in the name of friendship. They are insecure people sloppily looking for answers to life’s biggest questions: Why are we here? What is our purpose? Who will love me? If God loves all of us, why do I feel so alone? These Samaritans might identify as Catholic but, over the course of an evening, we discover each person expresses love differently. Continue reading

Sep 03

Anti-racist Discourse Can Feel Like an Attack: “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992”

Wesley T. Jones as Keith Watson and Elena Hurst as Hector Tobar in “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.” Photo: Lauren Miller

Presented by American Repertory Theater in association with Signature Theatre
Conceived, Written, and Revised by Anna Deavere Smith
Directed by Taibi Magar
Scenic Design by Riccardo Hernandez 
Costume Design by Linda Cho 
Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards 
Sound Design by Darron L. West 
Projection Design by David Bengali 
Movement Coach Michael Leon Thomas
Dialect Design by Amy Stoller
Sensitivity Specialist Ann James
Featuring Elena Hurst (she/her), Wesley T. Jones (he/him), Francis Jue (he/him), Carl Palmer (he/him), and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (she/her). 

Digital playbill
Digital guide & dramaturgy 
Runtime: Two and one half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Aug. 28 – Sept. 24, 2022
ASL Interpreted: 9/18 at 2PM & 9/21 at 7:30PM
Audio Described: 9/17 at 2PM & 9/22 at 7:30PM
Open Captioned: 9/17 at 2PM & 9/22 at 7:30PM
Relaxed: 9/24 at 2PM
Loeb Drama Center 
64 Brattle Street
Cambridge MA 02138

This production contains footage of extreme violence, instances of racialized and discriminatory language, and the sound of a gunshot.

Review by Kitty Drexel

I can’t forever dwell in darkness.
I can’t forever dwell in the idea,
just identifying with people like me,
and understanding me and mine.

  • Twilight Bey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 isn’t a conversation starter. It is the continuation of a centuries-long conversation. While my fellow white people are arguing about woke politics and sniffling about their fragile feelings, BIPOC and their allies live the negative effects of systemic racism. 

This play is about the violence perpetrated against Latasha Harlins, Soon Ja Du, Rodney King, and George Floyd. Graphic violence is depicted. Audience members see the moment when Latasha Harlins dies. We see LAPD police brutally and mercilessly beat Rodney King. Reginald Denny nearly died during the Los Angeles riots. This play is not for children.  Continue reading

Jul 29

Ritual, Community and Baring Your Soul with Strangers: “(Tr)auma Queen: Feeling Spilt Milk, OR a series of experimental poetry to escape the shape of doorframes, also known as, a ritual of lemons”

production poster found on FringePVD website. this poster is badass.

Presented by FringePVD and The Wilbury Theatre Group
By and Featuring Teddy Lytle and Bay McCulloch

July 21 – 23, 2022
The Waterfire Arts Center Back Lot
475 Valley St,
Providence, RI

45 minutes without intermission

Review by Nicole LaBresh

PROVIDENCE, RI – When I think of Fringe, at the forefront of the word salad it conjures is “vulnerability.” Fringe in particular brings out the most intensely personal, soul-baring works. It does so largely by allowing artists free reign to put on whatever show they want. It is, among other things, a festival of works from the heart.

For the uninitiated, the Fringe Festival is a theatre festival devoted to experimental or fringe theatre works. It got its start in Edinburgh, but now has chapters all over the world, including one in Providence presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group, now in its ninth year. At a Fringe, you will see works the likes of which you probably have never seen before and that you may never see again. The performances range from poetry to music, dance to clownery, and things that defy any categorization. After two years without a live Fringe Festival because of COVID-19, local artists have a ton of pent up expression ready to be unleashed. Continue reading

Jul 27

Radical Hope and Radical Change: “The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae”

Photos by David Weiland & Graceson Abreu Nunez.

Presented by Double Edge Theatre
A response to The Bacchae by Euripides
Conceived, directred, and designed by Stacy Klein
Co-created and adapted with Milena Dabova, Jennifer Johnson, Travis Coe, and Carlos Uriona
Musical compositions and direction by Amanda Miller

Wed – Sun, July 20 – July 31 at 8pm, August 3 – 6 at 7:30pm
The Farm
948 Conway Road
Ashfield, MA 01330
Tickets

Review by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

ASHFIELD, Mass. — Driving along the twisted back roads to Ashfield, Massachusetts, my friend and I were in high, hopeful spirits. Double Edge Theatre, now in its 40th year, has crafted a foolproof yet ever-surprising mode of experiential performance. Season after season, it guides wide-eyed audiences through a labyrinth of natural scenic tableaus: dancers weave spiral paths through waist-high grasses; actors spin poetry from atop boulders, trees, ladders, canoes, and stilts; aerialists swoop across the rafters of the warm wooden barn. And, so my friend and I joyfully trekked 40-plus minutes to a remote stretch of farmland, expecting an evening of unexpected delights.

But the most delightfully unexpected element of The Hidden Territories of the Bacchae was not at the behest of the artistic team, but was instead a brilliant creative choice from Double Edge’s most important collaborator: the weather. About 40 minutes in, dark storm clouds started to impede our otherwise picturesque dusky tableau. Dionysus’ (played by both Travis Coe and Milena Dabova) braggartly claims of godlike power took on awe-inspiring meaning, and the performers leaned into the new subtext. We in the audience chuckled at the sky’s clever dramaturgical timing, but nervously so. We were not only at the mercy of the elements, but of our Double Edge guides, and we could only hope that our trust in them was not unfounded. Continue reading

Jun 16

Liminal Spaces for Desettlement: “The Orchard”

The Making of THE ORCHARD Virtual Experience from Igor Golyak on Vimeo.

Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre & (zero-G) Lab
Conceived, adapted, and directed by Igor Golyak
Based on The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, as translated by Carol Rocamora 
With new material by Igor Golyak 
Robotics designed by Tom Sepe
Music composition by Jakov Jakoulov
Emerging technologies design by Adam Paikowsky
American Sign Language direction by Seth Gore
Translations by Carol Rocamora
Full creative crew credits are HERE
Featuring Jessica Hecht, Juliet Brett, Darya Denisova, Elise Kibler, John McGinty, Nael Nacer, Mark Nelson & Ilia Volok
Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov and Firs

June 16 – July 3, 2022
The Orchard is a hybrid piece of theater and can be seen in two formats:
Live & In-Person
Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC
&
Virtual Experience, Online
(zero-G) Lab

The show runs just under 2 hours, with no intermission.

Review by Kitty Drexel

This review is of the virtual performance of The Orchard on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

New York & Online — The Arlekin Players are no strangers to the digital theatre. Their productions of chekhovOS / an experimental game/, Witness, and State vs. Natasha Banina were wildly successful. chekhovOS / an experimental game/ and Witness were both live and audience-interactive in ways that the theatre community hadn’t seen before. These shows navigated the new frontier of digital theatre by showing artists and audiences what is possible. 

They were also super cool to watch.  Continue reading

Apr 17

Stop Wasting Food: “BURGERZ”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written & performed by Travis Alabanza
Produced by Hackney Showroom
Directed by Sam Curtis Lindsay
Movement by Nando Messias
Dramaturgy by Nina Lyndon

April 13 – 23, 2022
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater
Boston, MA 
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Noe Kamelamela

Content warning:  gender-based violence and transphobia are discussed in this review and also in BURGERZ.

BOSTON, Mass. –In the time before the COVID pandemic started here in the States, the danger of being visibly queer felt risky and fun to me, heading to the strip mall eager to anger gender essentialists a bit like poking caged bears, a way to appease my past teenaged, quieter, closeted self. I was armed with keen attention to exits and entrances, always ready to leave. I would relate scenes to friends about children asking me what it was to be different.  Or people – rude people, very rude – being weird to me about what bathroom I went to, regardless of whatever I wore or which bathroom I used it was always wrong. Continue reading

Apr 12

Women Gone Wild: “Beasts” at BPT

Clara Francesca, Caroline Emily Calkins; Photos by Stratton McCrady

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
by Cayenne Douglass
Directed by Kelly Galvin
Fight choreography by Ryan Winkles
Online Playbill 

April 7-17, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — There is nothing more hardcore than birthing a baby (sorry BASE jumpers). It’s not “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced” as my own father put it. Babies are metal AF. 

Just like many other XXXtreme tasks, delivering and rearing a baby doesn’t come naturally to many mothers. Maternal instincts require hard work: research, doctor visits, mommy groups, prenatal yoga, therapy, emotional and physical labor. Beasts by Cayenne Douglass explores the psyche of pregnancy. It takes a deep dive into what it means to be gestating a human parasite.  Continue reading

Jan 25

Poverty is Expensive: Rattlestick’s “Addressless”

A screen grab from “Addressless.” The cast discusses their options.

Presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
Community partnered with Urban Pathways, Community Access
Adapted from
STEREO AKT‘s and Lifeboat Unit’s Hungarian production of Addressless.
Created & directed by Martin Boross
Written by Jonathan Payne
Script consultants: Hope Beaver, Cassie Desalines, Shams DaBaron aka “Da Homeless Hero”
Video editing by Matthew Russell
Graphics & animation by Maiko Kikuchi
Streaming technician: Keenan Hurley
Featuring: Joey Auzenne, Hope Beaver, Shams DaBaron a.k.a. “Da Homeless Hero,” & Bianca Norwood

Thursday, January 13 – Sunday, February 13, 2022
Presented over Zoom
Tickets
Digital Program
Rattlestick on Facebook

Content warnings: Addressless discusses at length issues faced by the unhoused community such addiction and sobriety, bigotry, sex trafficking, shame, government benefits programs, and other forms of abuse. This show can be intense. It may not be appropriate for children under 12. 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Addressless is heart-breakingly honest digital theatre. If you’re looking for something to take you out of the monotony of COVID-living, creators Boross and Payne have a solution for you. Their two-hour, interactive, roleplaying theatre game is a reminder that life’s struggles don’t end just because there’s a pandemic at your door. 

This production begins like any other over Zoom: the host invites attendees in, we wait patiently for the show to start. Addressless is slightly different because it asks attendees to fill out a survey via a link in the chat. The survey asks participants personal questions about their identity, financial situation, and if they’ve ever been unhoused. Have you lived on the streets? For how long?  Continue reading

Jan 18

Softness, Compliance, Forgiveness, Grace: The Lyric presents “Mr. Parent”

Maurice Emmanuel Parent in “Mr. Parent.” Photo by Mark S Howard.

Presented by Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Written by Melinda Lopez
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Public education consultant – Neema Avashia
Original music and sound design by Arshan Gailus 
Featuring Maurice Emmanuel Parent

January 13 – February 6, 2022
14 Claredon St, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 
The Lyric on Facebook
Homework for Audiences

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Theatreworks Hartford streamed a version of Mr. Parent in March 2021. The Lyric’s live, in-person production is a different beast from TheatreWorks Hartford. While both versions tell the same story, the current production of Mr. Parent at The Lyric evolved for the stage. 

Maurice Emmanuel Parent is compassionate, generous, kind, and funny as Hell in Mr. Parent. The play’s story begins in New York City. Parent is a wide-eyed theatre professional seeking his fortune on Broadway and beyond when his agent sends him to Boston to audition for Angels in America. He gets the gig.

A miserable union salary and 2006 Boston rent prices force Parent to find a second job. He becomes a cluster substitute teacher in a Boston public school. His cluster-job was a clusterfuck of joys and frustrations.  Continue reading

Dec 15

No Room at the Inn: “Witness”

WITNESS: A new virtual documentary theater piece

A screen capture of the online platform.

Presented by Arlekin Players’ (Zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab
Conceived and directed by Igor Golyak
Written by Nana Grinstein with Blair Cadden & Igor Golyak
Scenography & Costume Design by Anna Fedorova
Virtual Design by Daniel Cormino
Sound Design by Viktor Semenov
Produced by Sara Stackhouse
Dramaturgy by Blair Cadden 
Featuring the Arlekin Acting Company

December 10, 2021 – January 23, 2023
Over the Arlekin (zero-G) virtual Theater Lab platform
and Zoom
Arlekin Players on Facebook
Playbill

Review by Kitty Drexel

“It doesn’t feel virtual; it feels real.” 

– Talkback moderator Inessa Rifkin, a founder of the Russian Jewish Community Foundation and a founder of the Russian School of Mathematics, after the December 13 performance of Witness.  

ONLINE/Zoom  — It’s almost Yule! Here’s a Christmas story: In May 1939, the MS St. Louis carried 937 passengers from Nazi-occupied Germany to Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government refused the ship. Its passengers remained onboard; the ship didn’t dock. Cuba had cancelled the immigration papers of the onboard immigrants without notifying them. 

The United States refused the ship too. The US had space to put the passengers but our politicians let money and immigration law stop them from welcoming the passengers. We made a 1976 secular movie about it called “Voyage of the Damned” with Faye Dunaway. How American of us. 

The Jewish passengers were finally allowed some succor when the ship returned to Europe that June.  254 of the passengers died in the Holocaust: 84 in Belgium; 84 in Holland, and 86 in France. There was no room at the inn or the stable with Mary and Joseph. 

Witness by Arlenkin Players is about the fluffy talent show that the passengers held to boost morale. Local New Englanders who are also immigrants play passengers on the boat. It’s about the stark tragedy that our country, a nation that says it welcomes immigrants at its front door on the East Coast, decided that Jewish immigrants fleeing for their very lives should go elsewhere. Popup text boxes invite us to learn about who the passengers were and if they survived the ship. It’s about the multigenerational fight against anti-Semitism in the US. The Arlekin Acting Company portrays Jewish characters from across the decades. Continue reading