May 02

Plague Drama from the Comfort of Your Own Home: “Nosferatu, The Vampyr”

Presented by Sparkhaven Theatre & Homesick Play Project
Written by by M Sloth Levine
Original music composed by Alissa Voth
Directed by Hannah Pryfogle
Musicians: Rebecca Elowe, Bri Tagliaferro, Andrew Gaffney

April 30, 2020
Streamed through HowlRound Theatre Commons 
The streamed version recorded for posterity (and to prove there were witnesses HERE)

Review by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: This review is a response to the experience of a Zoom performance of Nosferatu, The Vampyr.  

ONLINE, Everywhere — Nosferatu, The Vampyr, a play with original music about a mysterious plague with mysterious origins, is the dramatic queering that society needs. It was meant to run at Chelsea Theatre Works March 19 – 28, until the coronavirus, our factual plague, prevented its run. While it would have been brilliant to review Nosferatu, The Vampyr in real life, the Zoom version proves that great theatre can be created specifically for internet viewing with time, ingenuity, and some creative tweaking. Not all streamed theatre content is worth viewing. Nosferatu is.  Continue reading

Apr 21

Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera Release Schuller’s “The Fisherman and His Wife” 

Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera Release Schuller’s “The Fisherman and His Wife”  
Presented by Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Odyssey Opera
Gunther Schuller: The Fisherman and His Wife (#1970)
Opera by Gunther Schuller
Libretto by John Updike
Based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
Conducted by Gil Rose
Featuring: Sondra Kelly (mezzo-soprano), Steven Goldstein (tenor), David Kravitz (baritone), Katrina Galka (soprano), Ethan Depuy (tenor)

Release Date: April 7, 2020 
Available to purchase HERE

Review by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA — The opening bars of Gunter Schuller’s The Fisherman and His Wife sound like the scoring for an episode of the Stark Trek: The Original Series. Not the opening theme song famous for it’s 70s crooning lounge jam. The organ, shivering strings, and cacophony coming from the woodwinds remind me of composer Fred Steiner’s work in the episode, “The Corbomite Maneuver.” 

Gunter’s work doesn’t politely introduce its listener to his opera. We’re introduced to a dire world of conflict from the opening chords. The orchestra paints an uneasy ocean with low tones and dissonance.  We’re caught in a negative reverie until a forceful “Meow!” (Katrina Galka as the cat) breaks the atmospheric tension caused by the orchestra. This small world hides stark unhappiness that unravels toward the ear in rumbling phrases. Continue reading

Apr 06

Streamed Content to Prevent COVID-19 Brain Drain: April 2020 and All is Weird

Dear Readers,

Here is the latest list with online community happenings and be-ins.

Zoombombing is a threat. Please keep yourselves safe by implementing security measures against these fuckboi trolls.

Articles for context:
The Verge,”Zoom adds new security and privacy measures to prevent Zoombombing.”
The New York Times, “‘Zoombombing’ Becomes a Dangerous Organized Effort.”
Buzzfeed News, “Here Are 8 Quick Tips To Keep You From Getting “Zoombombed” By Trolls”

Keep washing your hands, stay at home, and know that you are necessary and loved,
Kitty Drexel
Queen of the New England Theatre Geeks

Boston Theater Marathon XXII: Special Zoom Edition – Boston Playwrights’ Theatre offers features free readings of ten-minute plays by New England playwrights in collaboration with New England theatres, via Zoom, April 1-May 17. They are excellent!

Central Square Theater – Central Square Theater is extending its online run of Pipeline! It’s available to watch until April 12. Get your TICKETS before it’s too late! 

HowlRound has oodles of online content by theatremakers to watch and it is FREE, whether streamed or recorded. Please go to the site for details. 

John J King/J-Rex Plays created a music video called, (Who Needs) Pants?! Featuring special guest star Ramona Rose King. 

Liars & Believers – LAB is sharing The Huns: a radio play by Peter Papadopoulos. Directed and edited by Jason Slavick. The Huns is twelve minutes long and the silliness we need in these dire times. 

Luminarium  Dance Company– Artistic Director Merli V. Guerra’s The One I Keep (2013), performed by long-time company member Jessica Chang, is now available to watch online via YouTube. 

New England New Play Alliance – New Play Alliance has a newsletter with information on local New England playwrights, podcasts, online events, and giveaways! Subscribe HERE.

Rockettes Dance Class: The Radio City Rockettes offer live dance classes on Instagram every week beginning on April 2 at 12PM EST. Additional classes will take place on successive Thursdays at noon. 

Trinity Repertory Theatre – Rhode Island’s Tony Award-winning theater is generating digital content and creating virtual events and classes, so that “the show goes on.” Content is being delivered through its social media channels and is aggregated at 

*Registration for all adult and kid’s classes and/or the knitting circle can be found HERE

*Streaming of the movie I Am A Seagull by directors Brian Mertes, Melissa Kievmanis, and The Chekhov Project is available to steam until April 15 by clicking HERE.

*Virtual tickets are available here for a streamed version of Asolo Rep’s production of Into the Breeches!, which had its world premiere at Trinity Rep in 2018. Available through April 14.

TCG (Theatre Communications Group) – TCG has assembled resources relating to Coronavirus and has held a Webinar that you can access here. Dispatches From Quarantine will be a quick-response way for theatre folks to share thoughts, feelings, griefs, hopes, and strategies for getting through this fraught and disorienting moment.

WGBH, ArtsEmerson, Huntington Theatre Company – WGBH will present a special broadcast of Mala, a poignant drama written and performed by local playwright and performer Melinda Lopez. This award-winning play will air on WGBH 2 and YouTube TV on Thursday, April 9 at 9 p.m.

Following the broadcast, ArtsEmerson will host a pre-recorded online conversation between playwright/performer Melinda Lopez and director David Dower at ArtsEmersonBlog.org.  

Mar 23

Book Release and Online Event:”There Must Be Happy Endings” by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is Released Today!

There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty
By Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Published by The 3rd Thing Press
Olympia, 2020
Available on Kickstarter with a $24.00 pledge
Paperback, 230 pages

LIVE ONLINE EVENT!
Megan Sandberg-Zakian in conversation with Melinda Lopez
March 23, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Free on the HowlRound website! More info below.
Event on
Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“An ending doesn’t have to be happy to be satisfying. A good ending, happy or not, draws a line around the experience of story hearing and telling. It picks the story up, holds it in its hands, and offers it out, whole. It gives us the opportunity for a collective breath. A good ending is honest: a boundary we can feel, the knowledgable edge of a reliable container. It is a ritual threshold between story and not-story.” 

— Megan Sandberg-Zakian, “There Must Be Happy Endings,” There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty, 2020.

Somerville, Mass — There Must Be Happy Endings by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is an exploration in the personal dramaturgy of the mind and spirit. In her first book of essays, the author takes a deep dive into the works that have made a lasting impression upon her. They are an extension of her need to share stories through theatre. Whether by quoting Homer, The Dark Knight or Annie, these essays draw the reader into the author’s personal story by circumnavigating the landscape of the greater western narrative. She tells us why happy ends are important and why they are especially important to her. Her title essay isn’t demanding sappy closure but commanding a divine right to culminate our narratives with an end to the suffering within them.  Continue reading

May 07

“black odyssey boston”: Greek Myth Meshes Beautifully with African Diaspora

Brandon G. Green & Johnny Lee Davenport. Photo: Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by by The Front Porch Arts Collective & Underground Railway Theater
Written by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush
Choreographed by Melissa Alexis
Music Directed by Alyssa Jones

April 25 – May 19, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
black odyssey boston on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Brandon G. Green is Ulysses Malcolm Lincoln, a soldier who’s unmoored. Not just unmoored on the sea, but unmoored in time, place, and personhood. We follow him on a journey as episodic as The Odyssey with as much raw, mythic power. The classic epic has been broken down and rebuilt with a mosaic of African diaspora culture. black odyssey boston is truly an epic in that it is three hours of fantastical and strange adventures. It finds its way home, however, not when it tries to piece together every popular touchstone it can lay its hands on, but when it focuses on the human relationships of its characters. Continue reading

Apr 29

“American Moor”: The Black Man And The Play

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written and Performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb
Directed by Kim Weild
Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards

April 10 – 21, 2019
Emerson Paramount Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American Moor is a masterpiece of a one-man show. Written and performed by accomplished actor Keith Hamilton Cobb, the 90 minute monologue portrays the interior narrative of an overqualified black actor as he goes through yet another disheartening audition to play Shakespeare’s Othello for yet another clueless white Director (Josh Tyson). The descriptive prowess of Cobb’s blow-by-blow detail plays out like The Old Man and the Sea. His impressive acting chops create some of the most intense, emotionally raw, and true to life moments I’ve ever seen on any stage, including The Globe Theater in London.
Continue reading

Apr 22

A Bone to Pick with “Sylvia”

Photo by David Costa; L/R: Allan Mayo (Greg) and Shana Dirik (Sylvia)

Presented by Theater UnCorked
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon
Written by A.R. Gurney

April 18-21, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Theater UnCorked on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) You need to know that I really love dogs. I watch videos on YouTube of dogs playing, ashamed of chewing through things, and mindlessly devoted to various owners as they try to follow them to work. But in watching Sylvia, I couldn’t make space in my heart for it the way I have done for pitbulls, goldens, and mutts. The story is just that the dog’s played by a lady (Shana Dirk) and the man who adopts her, Greg (Allan Mayo, who has a gentle, nervous presence), adores her while the put-upon, uptight wife, Kate (the formidable Kim McClure), is jealous. Repeat joke until end of play. Curtain. And folks who want just that out of their theater experience will be satisfied. Continue reading

Apr 22

Sometimes God Eats People: “Caroline or Change”


L to R: Pier Lamia Porter* as “The Washing Machine”, Davron S. Monroe* as “The Dryer” and Yewande Odetoyinbo* as “Caroline Thibodeaux” ; Photograph: Sharman Altshuler

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Score by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat
Music directed by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo

April 20 – May 11, 2019
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Moonbox on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It isn’t true that money can’t buy happiness. Science, as dressed in commercially digestible articles from Time or Entrepreneur, told us in 2017 that happiness begins at an income that covers payment of non-negotiable needs such as food, rent, and other expenses. That amount was approximated between $50,000 – $75,000. Anything less or more than fiscal solvency lowers our quality of life. Minimum wage is still $7.25. And the 1% wonder why the 99% are angry all the time.   

Caroline or Change is about a poor, Black woman raising four kids on her own in 1963 at the peak of the Civil Rights movement in Louisiana. She’s a maid in the Gellman household where she makes $30 a week (roughly $250/week in 2019) and it’s not enough. Caroline Thibodeaux (Yewande Odetoyinbo) isn’t paid enough to deal with any of the nonsense like throws at her but she does it anyway.  Continue reading

Apr 09

The Knocking is Coming from Inside the Cabin: “Macbeth”

Presented by the Underlings Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Thomas Blackwell
Fight direction by Lauren Squier
Dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar

April 5 – 13, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts Blackbox Theater
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA
Underlings on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) There is much to learn from the Underlings production of Macbeth currently open at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown. The cast and crew took some risks: some of them paid off, others did not. What is most important to glean from this production is that the Underlings boldly proceed towards their artistic goals for Macbeth. Risk taking theatre is by far more laudable than theatre that plays it safe no matter the outcome. Not everyone will agree with the risks that the Underlings took but, at the very least, the Underlings can boast that they performed their version.   Continue reading

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
Facebook
Twitter

(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.