Dec 03

The Status of Post-quarantine Community Theatre in Eastern Massachusetts: An Interview with Kai Chao

Headshot of Kai Chao.

Interview by Kitty Drexel

EMACT website

Boston’s indoor mask mandate was lifted on March 5, 2022 according to the City’s government website. Residents and visitors to Boston are not required to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as gyms, bars and restaurants, museums, and entertainment venues.

Many Boston theatre companies still require their patrons to wear face masks when attending professional, live theatre events. Professional theatre companies are guided by union rules but are free to establish their own masking requirements.

The Huntington in Boston strongly encourages masks at evening performances and requires them at matinees. A few blocks away, The Lyric Stage Company encourages masks but doesn’t enforce them. One mile farther, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre requires masks at all performances.

Community theatre companies are not obligated to follow the rules of the Actors’ Equity Association. Director, choreographer, and photographer Kai Chao is the President of Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres (EMACT). He graciously agreed to discuss the state of our post-quarantine community theatre in New England.

Please note: this interview has been edited for length, clarity, and grammar. Continue reading

Nov 18

Emotional Complexity on a Beige Stage: THE TROJAN WOMEN

trojan ladiesPresented by Theatre@First
Written by Euripides
Translated by Edith Hamilton
Directed by J. Deschene

Nov. 14-22, 2014
Unity Church of Somerville
Somerville, MA
T@F on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel
In the interest of full disclosure and transparency, I did audition for this play and was not cast. It is my firm belief that only a narcissistic ass would allow this to taint their review.


“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

Margaret Atwood

(Somerville, MA) The Trojan Women was first produced in 415 BCE but might as well have been written last year. In it, the women of Troy (now Turkey) are grieving over their beloved fallen city, and the men who have died defending the city from the Greeks. Euripides so captured the trauma of a country torn by war, that his play has been made into a very famous 1971 film (featuring the alluring Katharine Hepburn as Hecuba, a brave and unusual choice) and has survived several adaptations and manipulations. The translation by Edith Hamilton remains the most popular for staging. The movie featuring Hepburn, Irene Papas, and Vanessa Redgrave, etc. is a classic. Continue reading

Sep 20


Honoring National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month in Somerville
Portion of the proceeds to benefit the local anti-bullying work of Teen Empowerment
Directed by Jeanné Callinan

October 23-24 @ 7pm
The Somerville Theatre
Davis Square, Somerville, MA
Order tickets now via Vendini:
Theatre@First on Facebook

(Somerville) For first time director Jeannè Callinan, the hardest thing about her son being bullied was “the terrible feeling of being alone.” After members of her community rallied around her teenaged son and supported the family through their crisis, Callinan was compelled to let others know that they are not alone. On October 23rd and 24th at 7pm, Theatre@First presents The Bully Plays at the Somerville Theatre. Directed by Callinan as part of National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, The Bully Plays will donate a portion of its proceeds to benefit the local anti-bullying work of Teen Empowerment ( Callinan is not the only production member turning negative experiences into positive engagement. Jason Hair-Wynn, an ensemble member who experienced bullying as a teenager, credits his family, specifically his mother and various local LGBT groups such as BAGLY for helping him in the face of harsh, anti-gay bullying that escalated into physical violence. A survivor of a hate crime in high school, he moved on to run workshops on making schools safer for all students. The ten one-acts chosen from the anthology The Bully Plays focus on kids within the American school system to force us to confront bullying as it happens: to our faces, behind our backs, across our social media, through our phones, and into our heads. Methods to combat aggression are brought to light on stage,often from a younger perspective than one would typically find in local community theatre.

The Bully Plays

Since 2003, Theatre@First has drawn on community talents and resources to offer thought-provoking entertainment, and to address issues of local concern through the universal language of theatre. This multi-faceted production encourages people to talk about difficult situations and come up with their own
strategies, perhaps by connecting to resources or simply by speaking with sympathetic listeners. Youth
activists from Teen Empowerment and a therapist will be available to talk after performances. Students,
teachers and parents are especially encouraged to attend. Group discounts are available for parties of six
or more by emailing groups AT

The Plays:
Alex by José Casas
Blu by Gloria Bond Clunie
The Bully Pulpit by Dwayne Hartford
Bully There Be by Lisa Dillman
Bystander Blues by Trish Lindberg
Conundrum by Brett Neveu
Downhill by Eric Coble
Final Testimony of Henry Sampson by Y York
Nobody Nose by Barry Kornhauser
“Send” by Linda Daugherty