Dec 28

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “Animals” & “Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club” on Audible.com


Williamstown Theatre Festival 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/wtfestival
Insta: www.instagram.com/wtfestival
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Audible/theater titles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audibletheater
Insta: www.instagram.com/audibletheater
Twitter: www.twitter.com/audibletheater

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

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.

Best,
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

Dec 22

A Punk Holiday Cult Classic in the Making: “Mary’s Dark Christmas”


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

Premier on December 17, 2020
Eternally on YouTube

Review by Kitty Drexel

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

Dec 18

Williamstown Theatre Festival Releases “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Photograph 51” on Audible.com

Williamstown Theatre Festival 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/wtfestival
Insta: www.instagram.com/wtfestival
Twitter: www.twitter.com/wtfest

Audible/theater titles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/audibletheater
Insta: www.instagram.com/audibletheater
Twitter: www.twitter.com/audibletheater

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

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.

Happy Streaming!

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

Dec 18

Where do we go from here?: “Live Town Hall with the Davids: In Conversation With Claudia Rankine”


Live Town Hall: In Conversation with Claudia Rankine
Presented by ArtsEmerson 
Hosted by David Dower and David Howse

December 14 2020
Streamed live on Zoom via Youtube
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

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

Dec 14

Tweeting Truth to Power: How Far Has Cyrus Come?


Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel and Boston Cultural Council
By Cyrus McQueen

Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020, 7 PM
Streamed Live via Youtube
Boston Cultural Council on Facebook
FPTC on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

YOUTUBE–Cyrus McQueen used to be just your everyday standup comedian of Last Comic Standing fame. In the Age of Trump, he’s also become Twitter-famous as a cultural critic, offering race and politics analyses and wisecracks 280 characters at a time. He’s developed his experiences over the last four years into a first book, Tweeting Truth to Power: Chronicling our Caustic Politics, Crazed Times, & The Great Black & White Divide, which is supposed to be equal parts memoir and political discourse. Continue reading

Sep 28

A Handy History of Mount Auburn Cemetery: A Book Review of “The Mount Auburn Plays”

The Mount Auburn Plays
By Patrick Gabridge
Friends of Mount Auburn
2020
198 pgs
Paperback (color)
Digest (5.5 x 8.5 in / 140 x 216 mm)
ISBN: 978-0-9986982-4-3
$21.95
Purchase HERE

Mount Auburn Cemetary
580 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Virtual Book Launch with Playwright Patrick Gabridge
September 30 @ 6:00 pm
Registration is FREE!
(donation suggested)

Review by Kitty Drexel

Watertown, MA — This review is to support the Sept. 30 virtual book launch of The Mount Auburn Plays by Patrick Gabridge. I was gifted a copy of the book by Gabridge (with a fancy author’s signature. This means I can sell my copy for bazillions of bitcoins in approximately 30 years when it’s no longer in print). It’s good to be the Queen.

This book is a collection of Patrick Garbridge’s plays inspired by Mount Auburn Cemetary written during his 2018-2019 artist residency: The Nature Plays, The America Plays, and Moonlight Abolitionists. Before each play, there is a handy history of the play with casting, audience, and location information. Color production photos placed between. 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

Aug 03

10 Minute Stretch Breaks: “Dream Boston”

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

Jun 02

Sounds of Ethereal Violence: John Aylward’s “Angelus”

New Focus Recordings presents John Aylward’s Angelus 
Conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz
Release Date: April 24, 2020
Genres: Classical, Contemporary Chamber Music
Text translations and adaptations by John Aylward.

Performed by Ecce Ensemble: Nina Guo, voice; Emi Ferguson, flutes; Hassan Anderson, oboe; Barret Ham, clarinets; Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; Sam Budish, percussion

Disclaimer: Classical music is #whiteculture. While reading this critique please consider the impact white culture has on Black and Brown bodies. Right now is an excellent time for we white artists to figure out how to even the playing field. Black lives still matter during times of peace.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Digital Recording/Streaming — On the cover of Ecce Ensemble’s recording of Angelus is a reprinting of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus. A glorified stick figure in beige and mulled yellow, this humanoid seraph bares conical, gapped teeth at observers that look ready to snap. Its wings are elongated fingers with nail beds. Its feet are stunted three-pronged talons. Klee’s angel is no sentimental rendering of a chubby baby in sheets. It is more Biblical destroyer than Anne Geddes. This image prepares the listener for the ethereal violence of Aylward’s work. Continue reading