Sep 18

On “The Akhmatova Journals,” part of the October 2019 That’s What She Said program at Central Square Theater

That’s What She Said presented by The Nora Theatre Company.
Coming to the Central Square Theater in October 2019!
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Article by Kitty Drexel.

Playwright Ginger Lazarus; photo via www.gingerlazarus.com.

(Cambridge, MA) Playwright Ginger Lazarus said the journey to write her drama “The Akhmatova Journals” began in 1993 while visiting St. Petersburg, Russia.

Lazarus was completing a semester abroad in Moscow through the O’Neill Center’s National Theater Institute when fellow students invited her to visit the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House with them. She said during a phone interview in late July that she planned on meeting her classmates there that afternoon but a sudden, touristy apathy convinced her to spend the afternoon sipping espresso in a cafe instead.

“I still kick myself for not going,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus’s play “The Akhmatova Journals” is scheduled for a dramatic play reading as part of the That’s What She Said program held by the Nora Theatre Company at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. Continue reading

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Jun 17

Close Your Eyes and Think of England: “Cloud 9”

Cast of “Cloud 9”
Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Voice and Music direction by Caitlin Gjerdrum
Dramaturgy by Sophie Gore
Text and dialect coaching by Allison Olivia Choat

June 6 – 30, 2019
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Warning: this post contains spoilers. The spoilers are necessary to the conversation.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, mentions of domestic violence, racism, sexism, creepy dolls

Satire: (noun) sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r
Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly – Per the Merriam-Webster online dictionary

(Cambridge, MA) Satire doesn’t have to be funny. Most satire is funny, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Much of comedy is found funny because of its treatment of serious topics. For example, jokes about the Boston Str8 Pride Parade* will get a laugh in some situations. In other situations, the jokes don’t land because this parade represents unadulterated hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. We understand why your jokes are “funny,” but it’s our lives those neo-nazis are protesting. The protest might be funny if it were satire – But it isn’t. It’s real. We’re real too. 

I mention this because the themes that Caryl Churchill attacks in Cloud 9 are real too. Heteros still think that the LGBTQ+ community is asking for extra protections. People of Color (POC) are being massacred in the US for their audacity to take up space. These things aren’t funny but jokes about them can be if told properly. Cloud 9’s themes are still relevant. Continue reading

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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

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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 05

Not That Kind of Review: Bedlam’s “Pygmalion”

The cast; Photo by Nile Scott Studios

Presented by Bedlam Theatre Company
Directed by Eric Tucker
Written by George Bernard Shaw

January 31, 2019 – March 3, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Cambridge, MA) Central Square Theatre hosts New York City’s Bedlam Theatre Company in their revamped version of Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw. This is the classic story of English phonetician Henry Higgins (Eric Tucker) discovering and training working class waif Eliza Doolittle (Vaishnavi Sharma) on the speech and manners of a proper English lady, to the ultimate folly of both. Bedlam’s new interpretation returns to Shaw’s original feminist conception of Eliza and Henry’s fraught relationship and also changes the Doolittle family to Indian immigrants, ostensibly to reflect modern day issues of gender, class, and immigration in the US. It was a very well done production, and I’m sure there will be many reviews which praise all its various technical merits. This review isn’t one of them. Continue reading

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Oct 11

Frankenstein was the Monster: “Frankenstein”

Produced by The Nora Theatre Company & Underground Railway Theater; A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production; Design by Bird Graphics.

Presented by Central Square Theater
Produced by The Nora Theatre Company & Underground Railway Theater
By Nick Dear
From the novel by Mary Shelley
Directed by David R. Gammons
Dramaturgy by Hilary Rappaport
Ensemble: Remo Airaldi, Omar Robinson, John Kuntz, Ashley Risteen, David Keohane, Debra Wise

Oct. 4 – Nov. 4, 2018
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Trigger warning: rape, violence, body horror, strobe effects, spoilers

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind. For his indiscretion, Zeus condemned the Titan to an eternity of epic liver failure (a complication of eagle hunger). Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus warns a relatively modern audience not to play with fire lest one get burned. It plays out similarly in contemporary Halloween favorites such as The Rocky Horror Show and Prometheus that frustrating movie by Ridley Scott. It takes new form as Central Square Theater’s current production. As long as there is science, there will be humans poking around where they shouldn’t be poking. Continue reading

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Jun 05

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses”: When You Play the Game of Patriarchy, Everyone Loses

Jaime Carrillo (Volanges), Greg Maraio (Merteuil), Dan Whelton (Valmont) & Stewart Evan Smith (Danceny). Photo: Jorden Photography.

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Adapted by Christopher Hampton
Novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

May 31st – July 1st, 2018
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Content Warning: (In the show’s own words.) Full nudity, sexual content, violence, and a damn good sword fight. Suggested age: 18 and over.

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) When dividing the population into a binary construct where one group is viewed as perpetually in danger of committing sexual indiscretions and possessing virtue that they may only give to certain people, and the other group is seen as committing indiscretions and betrayals because they can’t help themselves, yes, some awful dynamics are at play. In this production, the source material of Les Liaisons Dangereuses is not much altered, but the way it’s performed is. The players all appear to be male without makeup, dresses, or distinctive cosmetic traits, beyond the apparently random distribution of a few bits of jewelry, rosary beads, and gloves. To clarify, this is a faithful adaptation of a story where two manipulative, almost-lover aristocrats spend their time “ruining” innocence. The gender of the characters remains the same as it was in Pierre Choderlos de Laclos 1782 novel. The gender of the actors just doesn’t always conform to those of their characters. In having an all-male cast, gender is shown as the flimsy construct it is, and adherence to stringent, narrow roles reproduce only an eventual misery in everyone. But just because the proud Vicomte de Valmont (Dan Whelton) and perceptive Marquise de Merteuil (Greg Maraio) seem to see the pieces of the social contraption in which they move doesn’t mean they can escape the trap. Continue reading

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May 08

Fear Not the Creative Mind: “The Women Who Mapped the Stars”

Sarah Newhouse as Annie Jump Cannon, Christine Power as Antonia Maury, Becca A. Lewis as Williamina Fleming and Sarah Oakes Muirhead as Henrietta Swan Leavitt. (Courtesy A.R. Sinclair Photography)

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
By Joyce Van Dyke
Directed by Jessica Ernst

April 19 – May 20, 2018
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Now, there was a time/ when they used to say,
that behind ev’ry great man/ there had to be a great woman.
But oh, in these times of change/ you know that it’s no longer true.
So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen/ ’cause there’s something we forgot to say to you.
We say, Sisters are doin’ it for themselves”
-The Eurythmics with Aretha Franklin, “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”

(Cambridge, MA) It’s been a good few years for female scientists. Sally Ride came out posthumously in 2012. Hidden Figures rocked the box office in 2016/2017. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Goble/Johnson and the other human computers are finally receiving their due accolades. Women are entering STEM fields at increasing rates. Local company, Flat Earth Theatre produced Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky in March 2017. The Nora Theatre Company is playing The Women Who Mapped the Stars right now. There are many more successes, but it won’t be enough until women and other minorities receive the equal success as men. Continue reading

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Jan 25

Subvert Everything; 1 Critique and 1 Op-Ed: “Proof”

Photo: Forden Photography. Design: Bird Graphics; Featuring Michael Tow & Lisa Nguyen.

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
Written by David Auburn
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon

Jan. 18 – Feb. 18, 2018
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Introduction: Below are two pieces in response to The Nora Theatre’s production currently playing at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. First is my critique of the production. The second is an opinionated response from fellow Geek Noelani Kamelamela. I asked Noelani to write a response to the production because representation is important. Three out of four cast members of Proof are Asian-American. This is significant because David Auburn didn’t factor race into his writing process. This means white was his default. No one gets extra credit for treating people of color like human beings. The Nora does get kudos for subverting the racial paradigm.

Review by Kitty Drexel

“In a good proof there is a very high degree of unexpectedness, combined with inevitability and economy. The argument takes so odd and surprising a form; the weapons used seems so childishly simple when compared with the far-reaching consequences; but there is no escape from the conclusions.”  – G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology

(Cambridge, MA) The stigma around mental illness remains sharp. The Nora Theatre’s production of Proof doesn’t tackle this stigma so much as wait until the audience is pliable and then viciously assault it. It isn’t gentle but it is effective.   Continue reading

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Sep 12

Hoping That the Next Leap Will Be Their Leap Home: “Constellations”

Nael Nacer & Marianna Bassham in CONSTELLATIONS. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography

Presented by Underground Railway Theater
Written by Nick Payne
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Sept. 7 – Oct. 8, 2017
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
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Go here to learn more about how humans are killing bees at an alarming rate
MassBee.org
Follow the Honey for delicious local and beyond honey products

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) The ancient Greek believed that bees were the messengers of the Gods. Bees could divine the future, and acted as emissaries to Olympus. Keeping bees was and still is a sensitive vocation. It requires a gentle hand and a hardy constitution. Human beings require bees to live, but not vice versa. Continue reading

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