Apr 04

Mass Cultural Council Presents Communication Access in Plymouth, April 9, 2019

Join the Mass Cultural Council for a Community Conversation on the use of captions in theatre and performance!

Access to Theatre: Captions and Communications
Plymouth Library:  Tuesday April 9; 5:30-7:30pm
Please RSVP

massculturalcouncil.org
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(Plymouth, MA) Access is more than ramps and bathrooms.  Communication access is an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you are a patron of the arts, have you simply stopped going to events? If you are a producer of theater, what do you know about captioning? This community conversation is for all of us on both sides of the experience.

Captioning can engage new audiences as well as re-engage old audiences.  Our discussion will address institutional obligations, effective messaging, captioning software, and funding resources; as well as the BIG aspirational principles of “access” when striving for robust audience engagement.

Join us for a Community Conversation on effective accessible communication practices in theatre and live performance!

The Plymouth Public Library is located at 132 South Street in Plymouth MA 02360. 1-508-830-4250. RSVP or Sandy Spekman at sspekman@gmail.com

This event is sponsored by the Hearing Loss Association of America, Plymouth Chapter (HLAA), and the Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Initiative. This event will be captioned in Real Time (CART). The library is physically accessible.

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Apr 01

He’s Asking For It: “Extremities”

Photo credit: Ashley Yung; Alissa Cordeiro (Marjorie)

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
In partnership with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc)
By William Matrosimone
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone

March 28 – April 13, 2019
First Church Cambridge
11 Garden St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: assault, sexual assault, gas lighting, victim blaming

(Cambridge, MA) It’s a cruel and unusual punishment to be found at guilty of assault when protecting oneself from attacker. Cyntoia Brown served 15 years in prison for murdering a man who bought her for sex so she could flee. At 16 years old, she was tried her as an adult and sentenced to 51 years in prison without parole. She has only recently received clemency for her unreasonably harsh and unjust sentencing. Also Known As Theatre’s production of Extremities puts into stark relief just how easy it is for the US legal system to turn on women for not performing victimhood to exacting standards. Brown is receiving a modicum of justice but how many women will not? Continue reading

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Mar 26

“Not Medea”: Scorned Woman Gets Her Say

Photo by Jake Scaltreto. Who is their right mind double-crosses a half goddess, dark sorceress capable of patricide on a whim? That idiot, Jason.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by Allison Gregory
Directed by Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez

March 15 – 30, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA)  The myth of Medea is a story of betrayal and fury, where Jason of the Argonauts takes a sorceress wife for material gain and is deeply surprised when she takes her vengeance out on him and their children. Here, the myth of a child-killing witch fits roughly over a more contemporary story of an overworked nurse in pediatric oncology as she takes a night for herself to recount a bitter divorce with humor and then with searing rage. In mainstream culture, the Classical myth of Medea has become known as the story of a mother so cartoonishly evil, it’s difficult to feel the full impact of the horror her narrative contains without exploring each bloody layer. Luckily, the audience of Not Medea has been blessed with both the intimacy of a stripped-down theater experience and the raw passion of actress Juliet Bowler as the titular-woman-who-is-not-Medea-though-she-also-plays-Medea.

Not Medea appears to be a combination of genres, a one-woman show fused with a Classical play, complete with Chorus (Cassandra Meyer). There’s a late reveal that further opens the story into discomfort and parental Hell, but the melodrama keeps the bones of a Greek tragedy by centering a character’s terrible trauma and the wisdom she gains from it. Bowler as the Woman and director Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez make remarkable choices in humanizing a character who’s not a clear-cut heroine.

Bowler, as always, brings grit to her role, and, here, sympathy. She plays Medea and the Woman with the same tumult of anger, lust, and hurt, even if their actions aren’t quite identical. We get the sense of this stressed, tough as nails nurse seeing this play and hating how much she sees herself in it. Certainly, as an audience, we are asked to judge each character presented in the show, like Gene Dante as the heroic Jason with a selfish surfer dude’s dimwitted edge, but we are never made to regard them with the inhumanity and scorn that so many versions of Medea heap on these characters.

I like how brave the play is in addressing the fallibility of mothers. It’s something I’ve been delighted to see in few other shows where women who have children are not portrayed as goddesses or people always able to see the best in their kids, but fallible individuals with their own sources of pain. Yes, facing the imperfection of mothers can be a tough sit, but the way this show explores all the troubles and regrets of motherhood is deeply refreshing.

Even the Chorus seems to have some internal struggles regarding her relationship to the story. Meyer repeatedly nears the end of the stage with fear, unable to leave. She also, memorably, seems furious with the Woman for addressing the audience directly–obviously the Chorus’s job, and a delicious meta moment in the narrative.

Not everything works for me. Playwright Allison Gregory’s makes some distracting choices. The sections of the play that more strictly adhere to the source material often become repetitive, jarring with the contemporary ebb and flow of Not Medea’s other, less Classical scenes. I think there are story elements in the show that would have packed a firmer punch with some careful editing. Also, I found Gregory’s choice in names for the Woman’s offspring just a little too on-the-nose.

Ultimately, the play succeeds in what it seems to set out to do: exploring the layers of a Classical myth with understanding and thought. Like the queen goddess Hera angry at her husband for his many dalliances or the punishment Aphrodite earns for not being loyal to a husband she was made to marry in the first place, popular Greco-Roman mythology has been filtered through a lens that dismisses female anger. Not Medea leans into that fury and, like many Greek tragedies, comes out the other side wiser for it.


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Mar 20

Her Name is Dr. Franklin, You Git: “Photograph 51”

Pictured: Stacy Fischer; Photo by Maggie Hall

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production
The Brit d’Arbeloff Women in Science Production Series
Written by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
Voice and dialect coaching by Rebecca Schneebaum

March 14 – April 14, 2019
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
CST on Facebook

Trigger warnings: vintage sexism, gaslighting, victim blaming

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) Photograph 51 is depressing – not because it’s a depressing play, but because it tells us (STEM researchers, women, women within STEM, etc.) how little progress towards gender equality we have made since Dr. Rosalind Franklin discovered the structure of DNA. Her work, her words went largely ignored and men took all of the credit for her work. This is disturbing. That women in STEM are still silenced is even more so.   Continue reading

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Mar 15

Eat the Rich: the National Theatre’s “An Inspector Calls”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
By The National Theatre of Great Britain
Written by JB Priestly
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Music by Stephen Warbeck
Fight direction by Terry King

March 14 – 24, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) An Inspector Calls forces its audience to confront issues of socio-economic depravity as symbolized by the neglectful behaviors of one upper middle-class English family. It’s arrival in Boston coincides with the news of an elaborate college admissions scam. The rich, powerful and entitled have been flaunting their capacity to harm for centuries. An Inspector Calls is not for the politically avoidant. Continue reading

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Mar 14

Loins of Pain: “The Rape of Lucretia”

The morning after. Lucretia (Kelley O’Connor, kneeling) and Bianca (Margaret Lattimore,). Photo by Liza Voll.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Benjamin Britten
Libretto by Ronald Duncan
After the play by Andre Obey
Music direction by David Angus
Stage direction by Sarna Lapine
Dramaturgy by John Conklin
Movement/intimacy direction by Yury Yanowsky

March 11 – 17, 2019
Artists for Humanity Epicenter
100 West 2nd Street
Boston, MA 02127
BLO on Facebook

Sung in English with English supertitles

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: sexual violence

(Boston, MA) The Rape of Lucretia is about how a sexual assault turned into a war. It’s a timely message… But it’s always been a timely message. Women die at the hands of their abusers everyday. They will continue to do so until society values the lives of women as much as it does power. Boston Lyric Opera partners with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Casa Myrna to discuss Britten’s opera about rape and politics.   Continue reading

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Mar 09

“When Angels Fall”: El Greco Would Be Proud

When Angels Fall – Photo Credit: Georges Ridel

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Direction and Choreography by Raphaëlle Boitel
Artistic Collaboration, Set and Light Design by Tristan Baudoin
Original Soundtrack and Sound Design by Arthur Bison
Costumes by Lilou Hérin
Rigging, Machinery and Set Design by Nicolas Lourdelle

February 20 – 24, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) When Angels Fall melds dance, aerial circus, slapstick humor, cinematic visual arts and more to weave a fantastical tale of fallen angels (or humans) trying to make sense of their harsh dystopian landscape and their places within (or without) it. As a synthesis of disparate disciplines, director and choreographer Raphaëlle Boitel has crafted a truly original new performance art, and this is a major artistic accomplishment in and of itself. 

Continue reading

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Feb 14

Raise A Glass to Broadway, 2 Critiques: “Spamilton”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Created, written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini
Musical direction by Curtis Reynolds
Choreography by Gerry McIntyre 

Feb. 12 – April 7, 2019
South End
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Trigger warning: potentially offensive racial humor, disrepecting Sondheim

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Holy crap, go see Spamilton. Seriously, I mean it this time: go see Spamilton. Parody musicals aren’t for everyone but almost everyone loved Hamilton and Spamilton takes all of the great parts of Hamilton and makes them funny on purpose. Spamilton is a good laugh – even for the people who hate Hamilton.

Continue reading

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Feb 12

Keep Going, Sincerely:”Still Standing”

Featuring Anita Hollander. Photos by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Written and Performed by Anita Hollander

Feb. 9 – March 3, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) I cannot begin to explain what a revelation it is to watch Anita Hollander perform Still Standing. It is still unique for a disabled performer to play a disabled character or to just be themselves onstage. The standard for theatre productions are abled performers playing every role. Audiences are not accustomed to too much truth in their art. There was a time when I thought I’d never see people with experiences like mine grace the stage.  
Continue reading

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Feb 11

“Mala” by Melinda Lopez Now available on Audible.com

“’Mala’ means ‘bad.’ Not that you have done something bad, but that you are, in your core, bad.” – Melinda Lopez, from Mala


Mala
By Melinda Lopez
Narrated by Melinda Lopez
Length: 1 hr and 17 mins
Regular price: $6.95

Review by Kitty Drexel

Melinda Lopez’s one-woman show, Mala is now available on Audible. The New England Theatre Geek previously critiqued Mala on January 26, 2018 and November 5, 2016. The New England Theatre Geek was given a download of Mala in exchange for this review. 

Audible is an app by Amazon that can be downloaded to phone or other internet accessible device. Mala can be purchased through the Audible app or through Amazon. Audible plays the narrated book or script while other apps are in use or on its own. Mala has naturally occurring pauses between scenes that will allow the listener to enjoy at their own pace.

Lopez narrates Mala with her usual candor and charisma. This recording gives her storytelling the NPR treatment: her consonants are crisp, her timbre lilting. It’s as if Lopez is speaking directly into your ear. This recording sounds like a private performance. It hits the heart like a live production. If you loved the stage play and also enjoy listening to recorded books and plays, Mala will be treat for your ears and heart. 

Please note: The passages of Mala originally in Spanish are retained and not translated into English. Monolingual listeners should fire up an online translator for the full experience.

Audible members will be able to enjoy listening to Mala for free during the month of February as part of the company’s Originals Member Benefit. Previous theatrical productions that have released on Audible for millions of listeners globally include Girls & Boys(Carey Mulligan), Harry Clarke (Billy Crudup), Feeding the Dragon (Sharon Washington), and After Anatevka (Alexandra Silber), all of which have been Audible bestsellers.

About the Author and Performer
Melinda Lopez is the playwright-in-residence at the Huntington Theatre Continue reading

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