Sep 26

“Faceless”: Humans discriminate, terror is indiscriminate.

Ashley Risteen as Susie Glenn in Zeitgeist Stage Company’s production of Faceless by Selina Fillinger.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
Written by Selina Fillinger
Directed by David J. Miller

September 15 – October 7, 2017
Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA, 02116
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) The long speeches, the scrutinization of evidence, the dissection of a person’s moral fiber in front of a live audience of 12 judging strangers, the theatrics of the courtroom have long delighted us on the stage. From Shakespeare’s Measure to Measure to Law & Order, the delicious synchronicity between real-life and make-believe contained within the courtroom keeps audiences coming back for more and more. Fellinger however breathes new life into this well-worn genre with

Faceless is the story of the “little white girl” Susie Glenn (Ashley Risteen) as she is on trial for joining ISIS and attempting to commit acts of terrorism against the United States of America. The added bonus, the prosecuting lawyer Claire Fahti (Aina Adler) is a devout Muslim, who is determined to stop Susie becoming the (white) face of Islam. Zeitgeist Stage Company have lived up to their name, in this topical and heart-wrenching tale that sheds light on the lurking threat of terrorism behind every screen. Continue reading

Sep 18

Revising History for Most, Not Others: “Men On Boats”

The cast of Men On Boats. Photo by Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co.
By Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Assistant directed by Sloth Levine

Sept. 8 – Oct. 7, 2017
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) SpeakEasy took some risks in putting up Men On Boats. Boston audiences are composed of plenty of folks that consider themselves liberal until it’s inconvenient. For example, Bernie Bros were all about feminism and other equalities until Hillary became a real threat. Then the silk gloves of human decency came off. Boxing gloves went on. MOB is the kind of show that will test its audience. The characters portrayed are real but the actors onstage do not strictly identify as men. There’s plenty of unlady-like and un-white-like behavior up there. It’s bound to ruffle some “erasing our history” feathers. Continue reading

Aug 29

Sing the Sky Her Sailor’s Song: PLANK

With Liz Adams, Adam Lokken Barrameda, Poornima Kirby and Sydney T Grant. Photo by Joan Mejia.

Presented by Alley Cat Theater
Written by John Grenier-Ferris
Directed by Megan Schy Gleeson
Original music by Peter Warren & Matt Somalis

Aug. 26 – Sept. 16, 2017
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Deane Hall
Boston, MA
Alley Cat on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Plank is an allegory for life. The ocean can be kind but it is often cruel. Those with fears of open water, or an unmoored life may want to meditate on this before viewing. Continue reading

Aug 22

A Letter to the Boston Theatre Community from One of Our Own: E.J. Speaks His Truth to Power

Preface: Boston prides itself as an epicenter of progression and equality. In specific, its theatre community enjoys patting itself on the back for having open-minded discussions on justice matters. The reality for those of us identifying as minorities is this: Boston loves to talk but it is slow to act. Whether we be people of color, women, disabled/differently abled, plus sized, a senior citizen, or on the LGBTQIA+ gender spectrum, we feel left behind and/or ignored. Niche groups exist but we don’t want to exist as a niche. We want equal consideration for the opportunities our white, cis, hetero, fully abled, svelte, frequently male colleagues take for granted. We demand representation in the stories about us.

Below is a letter from E.J., an artist in our community. Please read his words and reflect upon how they effect our community. It is my hope that this letter is the first in a series of posts that confront Boston’s slow reaction to the activism it claims to embody.

Boston Theatre Community, it’s time to make your feet walk the walk you’re so good at talking about. None of us are free until we are all free.

Best regards,
Kitty, The Queen Geek

End Preface


Photo by Kippy G.

My name is Elbert Joseph, known as E.J.  I am Black/Caribbean American, deaf/Hard of Hearing and a gay male.

My name is Elbert Joseph, I was raised in Boston and lived most of my life here. My dream is to be an actor because I want to transform lives and inspire the world through my craft.

My name is Elbert Joseph, I have cultures in me, Because of experiences and battles; I have learned to be strong. I live in cultures where I have to pick between a community and the chance to fit in. I have been fighting; lost and unhappy. I don’t have an identity for me. Who is Elbert Joseph? I won’t know until I find a heart –  a home – a community in Boston theatres.

I am constantly called to break down barriers. Just when I think I have broken down the last wall, I am pushed three steps back. Why is that? Is it because of my demeanor or my attitude?

Is it because I need more training or my need to further my network? If so, who are the teachers, and where are the opportunities for deaf/hard of hearing actors?

I have been acting for almost 23 years. I have my own fires to fan, and my own battles to fight. Now, I am writing this letter; baring my heart and soul. At some point I have to say, “Enough is enough!” However, this doesn’t mean I have given up.

Ever since I can remember, the career advice I have been given was that I should work at the grocery store, on a computer, or as a Deaf Interpreter. That was the highest that people would strive for me. How do they know? Why was the bar set so low? Don’t they see how unhappy I am?

Where is the support from the Boston theatre community to engage and encourage the diversity of artists? How can those with disabilities grow their crafts and skills in professional performances, both backstage and onstage? Yes, the accessibility is getting there, but we are not there yet – fully, equally. How does the Boston theatre community celebrate inclusion? Why are we constantly an afterthought or pushed aside? Discussion of equality is not enough. We deserve action.

Last summer, I talked with panelists at the StageSource conference about casting approaches. I spoke about how the process of casting is elitist and a breeding ground for audism. I touched on how theatre, supposedly, is about immersing oneself in the visions, feelings, tastes and smells of the world the show is portraying. Being able to hear is not a prerequisite to being a skilled actor or a good fit for a role. Are casting and ‘hearing’ directors willing to change their perspective regarding casting and their understanding of what makes an actor “qualified?” Where is the forward momentum? Where is the action plan? Where are the changes we discussed at length? So far, the answer I have received is “no.”

Even after the Elliot Norton Awards and other conversations in the theatre community, I continue to hear the call for diversity, yet I don’t feel as if the message is coming across. Diversity should not be limited to the color of the actors’ skin (edited to add: or gender). The concept of diversity means inclusion for all. Inclusion is diversity. The call for diversity should not be hollow. What more will it take for our allies to act? That’s what I would like to know.

I truly believe diversity, inclusion and equal accessibility makes the theatre a welcoming place for all. It is our social responsibility to be supportive of equal access and when the theatre community celebrates diversity and accessibility, it creates a culture of inclusion and support.

My name is Elbert Joseph, known as E.J., I am Black/Caribbean American, I am deaf/Hard of hearing and I am a gay male. I wonder what is it that the Boston theatre community sees when they look at me.  I am hurt, full of frustration, angry, saddened and disappointed that this community has let me down.

I have been a strong advocate for myself but self-advocating is not enough. I have been on my own to improve my articulation and diction, for the sole purpose of equalizing myself to my hearing peers. I combat hearing privilege in theatre community, working twice as hard for my skill and talent to be seen and appreciated. The disabled community needs the help of its allies.

I have broken down walls of oppression and opened the doors for future actors who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. I have a passion for this community and I will be tenacious and continue to break down barriers that keep out the less privileged. When is it my turn to have the privileges from this community that I have supported and worked so hard to help succeed?

Thank you,
EJ

 

Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

TCG has a list of things you can do to help.

#blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #brownlivesmatter #yellowlivesmatter #lgbtqialivesmatter #immigrantlivesmatter #muslimlivesmatter #disabledlivesmatter #theatreartsmatter

Jul 17

“Waiting for Waiting for Godot”

Photo by Tim Gurczak; costumes and puppy by Chelsea Kerl; the corgi isn’t part of it but she should be.

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
Written by Dave Hanson
Directed by Paula Plum

July 14 – 29, 2017
Club Cafe
209 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: bathroom use without washing hands

(Boston, MAWaiting for Waiting for Godot (WfWfG) is Beckett fanfiction through the lense of a Durang play. It’s confusing, absurd, and ultimately very funny. Hub Theatre Co of Boston does a fine job with Dave Hanson’s script. Continue reading

May 10

Canary in the Mine: “Yellow Bird Chase”

Photo by Chris McIntosh; the cast.

Presented by Liars and Believers
Conceived and Directed by Jason Slavick
Written by the LAB Ensemble
In Collaboration with Luminati led by Johnny Blazes

May 4th – 21st, 0217
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
LAB on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston, MA) Every now and again, a piece comes along that’s so far out of the box it defies most reasonable explanation.  Liars & Believers has a history of creating such pieces, integrating clowning with storytelling and adventure in original works that thrill and excite. Yellow Bird Chase is a creative and vibrant exploration of the imagination.  For that, I found the piece a bit confused (and confusing). Continue reading

May 03

The MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players present “Yeoman of the Guard”

Presented by The MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players 
Stage Direction by Cailin Doran
Music Direction by Lorraine Fitzmaurice
MITGSP on Facebook

All performances take place in La Sala de Puerto Rico Ballroom in the MIT Stratton Student Center

The Yeomen of the Guard
​September 1940. Under the relentless blitzkrieg of German bombers, everyday life around the Tower of London is threatened daily. In a new exploration of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic The Yeomen of The Guard, Londoners prove they can “Make Do And Mend” no matter the cost. Featuring Sullivan’s grandest score and Gilbert’s razor sharp wit, Yeomen jibes and jokes while offering a glimpse into how much we are willing to sacrifice for a cause.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:
Friday, May 5th at 8:00 PM
Saturday, May 6th at 8:00 PM
Sunday, May 7th at 2:00 PM
Thursday, May 11th at 8:00 PM
Friday. May 12th at 8:00 PM
Saturday, May 13th at 2:00 PM

TICKETS:
Reservations can be made using the following link:
http://gsp.mit.edu/reservations/
$15 – General Public
$10 – Students, Seniors, and MIT/Wellesley Community
FREE – MIT/Wellesley Students (with ID) Continue reading

Apr 18

Geeks Read Books: Recent Plays from TCG

Reviews by Kitty Drexel

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) recently released plays, Evening at the Talk House by Wallace Shawn, Ripcord by David Lindsay-Abaire, and The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adley Guirgis. These books were offered in exchange for an objective, unbiased review. They were all pretty good. Two of the three will appeal more to Boston-area actors and theatre than the other. I’ll let you guess which ones are which.  Continue reading

Apr 14

Interrupted Lives: “Chill”

Kim Fischer, Maria Jung, Monica Giordano, and Danny Bryck. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Megan Sandburg-Zambian

March 22-April 16, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Kate Lew Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Maybe you’ve been wondering what your teenaged Millennial child or grandchild was doing while hanging in a basement with friends, or perhaps you’re a nostalgic Millennial looking to recapture that just-before-graduation feeling. Either way, here is your chance, because “Chill” now playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre is the perfect opportunity. Continue reading

Mar 08

The Simple Beauty of “Grand Concourse”

Photo by Glenn Perry Photography; full stage with cast.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Heidi Schreck
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

March 3-April 1, 2017
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) While I try not to make a habit of going to see religious shows, there’s something about the themes of religion that is compelling. They bring people together and allow them to question anything from faith and love to forgiveness and existence. And while playwright Heidi Schreck’s Grand Concourse manages to tackle all of these, what’s captivating about the show is that it does so without forcing religious concepts. Continue reading