Presented by The Civilians Written by Darrel Alejandro Holnes Directed by Victoria Collado Video Game created by Ché Lovell Rose & Jocelyn Short Produced by Ilana Becker Sound Design by Twi McCallum Featuring Christon Andell, Kyla Jeanne Butts, Starr Kirkland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Constance Fields, Phillip Patrick Wright, Michael Diamond, Mia Anderson, and Brandiss LaShai Seward.
YOUTUBE — BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME is a groundbreaking, online theatrical experience that explores love, neurodiversity, and the importance of Black feminism.
After a first date gone wrong, Jonas Jones (Christon Andell) is determined to find a way to win back his crush, Nicole (Starr Kirkland). As a biracial teenager with autism, Jonas broadcasts his life online as a means of connection, destigmatising autism, and becoming a filmmaker. Integrating live chat in the performance, Jonas asks audiences for advice on what he should do. While brainstorming, he finds an old gift from his mother; a video game that may lead a way to winning Nicole back. Continue reading →
Tah-Janay Shayoñe as Sally in SpeakEasy’s “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever”
Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company Written by James Ijames Directed by Pascale Florestal In Partnership with Boston Conservatory at Berklee Video Production by Wesley Verge Lighting Design by Aja Jackson Costume Design by Rachel Padula-Shufelt Sound Design & Music by David Freeman Coleman Choreography by Kira Cowan Troilo Featuring: Dru Sky Berrian, Jordan Pearson, Tah-Janay Shayoñe, Sadiyah Dyce Stephens, Jared Troilo
SpeakEasy Stage’s CONTENT ADVISORY: TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever contains scenes involving strong language, sexual harassment, slavery, and Black trauma. Viewer discretion is advised.
NETG Advisory: TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever also features an adult white man in academia who knows better making an absolute fool of himself to appear young and cool to attract a woman. If you’re offended by the portrayal of this character’s antics, you may know or be that white man. Get help.
Review by Kitty Drexel
VIMEO — Thomas Jefferson, US founding father, raped Sally Hemings. They weren’t in love. She wasn’t his mistress. Hemings was a slave without autonomy. She was raped repeatedly and mothered seven children by Jefferson. An owned person can’t give consent.
TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever put this #MeToo epidemic and holds it under a microscope of history by comparing it to Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of Sally Hemings. Play character Sally (Tah-Janay Shayoñe looking like Janet Jackson in Poetic Justicereincarnated) is a university fellow of smarmy university administrator TJ (Jared Troilo). TJ won’t let Sally’s “nos” get in the way of his orgasm. She is supported by her best friends and historic voices of reason Pam (Dru Sky Berrian) and Annette (Sadiyah Dyce Stephens). Meanwhile study buddy Harold (Jordan Pearson) is challenging the university’s legacy of slavery one protest at a time. These students are trying to get an education that includes them. TJ can’t understand he isn’t cool anymore. Continue reading →
MRT’s Content Alert: Based on real events, Until the Flood includes references to racism, bigotry, prejudice, and off-stage violence. The play contains strong adult content/language, including racial slurs. Recommended for ages 16 and older.
Critique by Kitty Drexel
STREAMING — The US police keep killing Black people. On Wednesday, April 28 a Collin County, Texas medical examiner ruled Marvin Scott III’s death a homicide. That was last night. Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police on April 22. Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing George Floyd on April 20. Nearly a year after the murder took place. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Aleah Jenkins, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown: I could go on and on. It’s no wonder that human rights lawyers from around the world have called for an investigation of the internationalcriminal court into the systematic murder of Black people in the US.
Until the Flood is a one-woman show about the stories we tell with our lives. On August 9, 2014 Darren Wilson, a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In response to the murder, Dael Orlandersmith interviewed Black and white people, compiled their stories and created this play. We are witness to a spectrum of views. Each monologue takes the viewer closer to Michael Brown and the events that formed the Black Lives Movement.Continue reading →
(Boston, MA) Have you heard the one about the chicken that crossed the road? Yes? What about the one regarding what came first, the chicken or the egg? Really? Okay. What about the one about Diogenes the Cynic who, when Plato called men “featherless bipeds,” plucked a chicken, brought it to Plato’s Academy, and shouted, “Behold! A man!” Because the last is a wonderful encapsulation of what Ken Ueno and Guerilla Opera have created.
The encore performance of Gallo: A Fable in Music in One Act uses animals to poke at mortal folly, to laugh at us and our flimsy hold on the order of the universe, at ontology, philosophy, and all the castles we build in culture that will one day fall into the sea. That particular anecdote is also a great definition of the show’s continued subversion of expectations, like the fact it takes place on a beach made entirely of Cheerios. Continue reading →
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.”
Presented by The Public Theater Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza Directed by Candis C. Jones Music composed by Delfeayo Marsalis Sound design by Palmer Hefferan Featuring Te’Era Coleman, Lizan Mitchell, Lance E. Nichols, Lori Elizabeth Parquet, Sunni Patterson, and Michelle Wilson.
PODCAST — Making its world premiere, SHADOW/LAND is a poetic force to be reckoned with. Mixing jazz and jook joint writing, Erika Dickerson-Despenza presents a vibrant play with a reckoning with the past.Continue reading →
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 →
Presented by Audible Originals & the Williamstown Theatre Festival Written by Dominique Morisseau Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson Sound design by Darron West Music composed by Kenny Rampton and Bill Sims Jr With André Holland, Kristolyn Lloyd, Simone Missick, Keith Randolph Smith, and Blair Underwood Williamstown Theatre Festival on Facebook
Audiobook is available at Audible.com on March 25 at 3 PM.
Review by Afrikah Smith
AUDIOBOOK — Rich, dynamic jazz fills my ears. Paradise Blue starts off with explosive keys, steady drums, a wailing trumpet solo, and a bang. The silence that followed piqued my curiosity until cymbals shook it off and the jazz picked up once again. We are whisked away to Paradise Club. The best place to hear jazz in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood.Continue reading →
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.
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 →
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).
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 →