Apr 23

God Is Change: “Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon
Co-Directed by Eric Ting & Signe V. Harriday 
Music and Lyrics by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon 
Music Direction by Toshi Reagon  
Choreography by Millicent Johnnie 
Movement Director: Yasmine Lee 
Performed by Marie Tatti Aqeel, Alina Carson, Helga Davis, Kyle Garvin, Jared Wayne Gladly, Toussaint Jeanlouis, Karma Mayet Johnson, Morley Kamen, Alexandra Koi, Josette Newsam, Shelley Nicole, Toshi Reagon, Noah Virgile, Evie Schuckman Orchestra Monique Brooks Roberts, Zach Brown, Bobby Burke, Fred Cash, Jr., Chogyi, Matt Graff 
Orchestra: Monique Brooks Roberts, Zach Brown, Bobby Burke, Fred Cash, Jr., Chogyi, Matt Graff

April 21 – 24, 2022  
Open Captioning: Fri, April 22 @ 8:00 PM
American Sign Language: Sun April, 24 @ 2:00 PM
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre 
219 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116

Recommended for Ages 13+  

Running Time: 120 minutes, no intermission 

Please Note: Proof of vaccination or a negative test is required for entry

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God
Is Change.”
Earthseed, Lauren Olamina in The Parable of the Sower

BOSTON, Mass. — The audience was small on Thursday night but grateful. We’d waited over two years to see Toshi Reagon’s Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower. The air was palpable with anticipation. We had each other to talk to and other excited conversations to easedrop on. When the theatre held the house lights for an extra 20 minutes to allow late audience members to straggle in, we were okay with it. 

When the lights finally dimmed to signal the start of the show, a hush fell over us. Finally, after all this waiting, it was time for church. 

Octavia E. Butler’s The Parable of the Sower is an opera adapted by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon from the Afro-futurist science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler’s novel The Parable of the Sower.  The ArtsEmerson website says it is “a genre-defying, modern congregational opera that celebrates two centuries of Black music.”  Continue reading

Apr 17

Stop Wasting Food: “BURGERZ”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written & performed by Travis Alabanza
Produced by Hackney Showroom
Directed by Sam Curtis Lindsay
Movement by Nando Messias
Dramaturgy by Nina Lyndon

April 13 – 23, 2022
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theater
Boston, MA 
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Noe Kamelamela

Content warning:  gender-based violence and transphobia are discussed in this review and also in BURGERZ.

BOSTON, Mass. –In the time before the COVID pandemic started here in the States, the danger of being visibly queer felt risky and fun to me, heading to the strip mall eager to anger gender essentialists a bit like poking caged bears, a way to appease my past teenaged, quieter, closeted self. I was armed with keen attention to exits and entrances, always ready to leave. I would relate scenes to friends about children asking me what it was to be different.  Or people – rude people, very rude – being weird to me about what bathroom I went to, regardless of whatever I wore or which bathroom I used it was always wrong. Continue reading

Apr 12

Women Gone Wild: “Beasts” at BPT

Clara Francesca, Caroline Emily Calkins; Photos by Stratton McCrady

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
by Cayenne Douglass
Directed by Kelly Galvin
Fight choreography by Ryan Winkles
Online Playbill 

April 7-17, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — There is nothing more hardcore than birthing a baby (sorry BASE jumpers). It’s not “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced” as my own father put it. Babies are metal AF. 

Just like many other XXXtreme tasks, delivering and rearing a baby doesn’t come naturally to many mothers. Maternal instincts require hard work: research, doctor visits, mommy groups, prenatal yoga, therapy, emotional and physical labor. Beasts by Cayenne Douglass explores the psyche of pregnancy. It takes a deep dive into what it means to be gestating a human parasite.  Continue reading

Mar 22

Loves, Losses and Transformations: “The Raft”

Curtis and Bellingham

Presented by Club Passim
Written by Rebecca Bellingham
Music by Catie Curtis
With special guest Rose Polanzani

Live and Streamed: April 20, 2022
Club Passim
47 Palmer St
Cambridge, MA 02138

Review by Maegan Clearwood

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The marketing language for the musical The Raft likens Rebecca Bellingham’s writing process to piecing together a tapestry: 25-years’ worth of threads, from journal entries to emails to text messages, woven into a singular, sprawling story. But the more-or-less finished product, presented as a workshop reading at Club Passim, feels more like a quilt: distinct stories from two distinct lives that aren’t so much intertwined as they are lovingly stitched at the seams. Continue reading

Mar 19

I Need Your Hand on My Heart: “Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends”

Presented by ArtsEmerson and Sleeping Weasel
Written by Charlotte Meehan
Directed by Tara Brooke Watkins
Choreographed by Peter DiMuro
Videography by Lee Francois
Original composition “Alone Together” by Kirsten Volness

Live: March 12 – March 27, 2022
Streamed: April 1 – 10, 2022
Emerson Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends by Charlotte Meehan is about people. People are confusing, leaky, wonderful, breakable creatures capable of great love and harrowing despair. 

This play is also about disability. We are introduced to Meehan’s characters and their relationships, and then we learn about their relationships to Parkinson’s Disease. People with disabilities are human first so it is right that we learn the world of the play in this order. 

In Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends, three imperfect couples navigate their relationships. We watch them live with Parkinson’s Disease. The persons with PD are surviving. The caretakers are too. Survival means something different to each couple. We learn what survival means at the same time they do.  Continue reading

May 04

BLACK FEMINIST VIDEO GAME: A glimpse into the future?

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.

April 27 – May 9, 2021
The Civilians
138 SOUTH OXFORD STREET #3C
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11217 
The Civilians on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

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

Apr 30

Love is Everyone: “Until the Flood”

Maiesha McQueen in Until the Flood. Photo: Kathy Wittman

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre 
By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Timothy Douglas
Original music by Lindsay Jones
Film by Kathy Wittman
Performed with excellence by Maiesha McQueen

April 17 to May 2, 2021
Via video-on-demand only
TICKETS
MRT on Facebook

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 international criminal 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

Apr 29

Contemplation, Charm, and Chickens in Gallo: A Fable in Music in One Act – Encore Performance

Presented and Commissioned by Guerilla Opera
Music and Libretto by Ken Ueno
Directed by Sarah Meyers
Set Design by Julia Noulin‐Mérat 

Live Watch Party April 23, 2021 8pm EST 
Video on Demand April 24 – May 16, 2021 
Filmed from a live performance on May 23, 2014 in the Zack Box at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee
Tickets available until Sunday, May 16, 2021
Guerilla Opera on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(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

Apr 15

“A-Típico: A New Latinx Play Festival”: Theatre is Therapeutic, Not Therapy

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.”

More from Teatro Chelsea.

Apr 14

SHADOW/LAND: A poetic force reckoning with the past

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.

The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
(at Astor Place)
New York, NY 10003
The Public Theater on Facebook 

Review by Afrikah Smith

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