“The Surrealist Cabaret” by The Royal Frog Ballet. Image from Frog Ballet/Facebook
The KO Festival of Performance FLUSHING: Make Room for Someone Else
Presented by Sandglass Theater and Parris-Bailey Arts
Written and Performed by Linda Parris-Bailey and Eric Bass
Directed by Kathie deNobriga
Puppets by Ines Zeller Bass
July 22 – 24, 2022
EZELL: Ballad of a Land Man
Presented by Clear Creek Creative
Written and Performed by Bob Martin
Directed by Nick Silie
Hampshire College, Amherst MA
July 29 – 31, 2022
Western Mass — Theatre artists should be experts in grief: we build sets with the knowledge that we will strike them in a few brief months; we play trust games and cultivate micro-communities, only to part ways once our contracts end; we witness our art fade from memory as quickly as it’s brought to life. We are peddlers in ephemera. And yet, when it comes time to bid farewell to a process or project, it is sometimes nigh-impossible to release our white-knuckled hold on what-was.
This year, two long-standing Western Massachusetts theatre companies – both dedicated to producing work that is fresh, surprising, and even strange – reckoned with their own relationships to endings, grief, and release.
The KO Festival of Performance staged its 31st and final season this summer around the theme of “Stepping Up / Stepping Back.” KO has a storied history of producing original work, supporting local and visiting artists, and cultivating a sense of community through post-show discussions and workshops. Continue reading →
PROVIDENCE, RI – When I think of Fringe, at the forefront of the word salad it conjures is “vulnerability.” Fringe in particular brings out the most intensely personal, soul-baring works. It does so largely by allowing artists free reign to put on whatever show they want. It is, among other things, a festival of works from the heart.
For the uninitiated, the Fringe Festival is a theatre festival devoted to experimental or fringe theatre works. It got its start in Edinburgh, but now has chapters all over the world, including one in Providence presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group, now in its ninth year. At a Fringe, you will see works the likes of which you probably have never seen before and that you may never see again. The performances range from poetry to music, dance to clownery, and things that defy any categorization. After two years without a live Fringe Festival because of COVID-19, local artists have a ton of pent up expression ready to be unleashed.Continue reading →
Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre & (zero-G) Lab Conceived, adapted, and directed by Igor Golyak Based on The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, as translated by Carol Rocamora With new material by Igor Golyak Robotics designed by Tom Sepe Music composition by Jakov Jakoulov Emerging technologies design by Adam Paikowsky American Sign Language direction by Seth Gore Translations by Carol Rocamora Full creative crew credits are HERE Featuring Jessica Hecht, Juliet Brett, Darya Denisova, Elise Kibler, John McGinty, Nael Nacer, Mark Nelson & Ilia Volok Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov and Firs
June 16 – July 3, 2022 The Orchard is a hybrid piece of theater and can be seen in two formats: Live & In-Person Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC & Virtual Experience, Online (zero-G) Lab
The show runs just under 2 hours, with no intermission.
Review by Kitty Drexel
This review is of the virtual performance of The Orchard on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
New York & Online — The Arlekin Players are no strangers to the digital theatre. Their productions of chekhovOS / an experimental game/, Witness, and State vs. Natasha Banina were wildly successful. chekhovOS / an experimental game/ and Witness were both live and audience-interactive in ways that the theatre community hadn’t seen before. These shows navigated the new frontier of digital theatre by showing artists and audiences what is possible.
Prospero (Juliet Bowler) welcomes you! Photo via Flat Earth Theatre.
Presented by Flat Earth Theatre New plays by Sari Boren, Hortense Gerardo, Gabriel Graetz, MJ Halberstadt, Michal Lin, Cliff Odle, Kelly Smith Directed by Jessica Ernst, David R. Gammons, Lee Mikeska Gardner, Shira Helena Gitlin, Johnny Nichols, Jr., Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez, LaToya T. Robinson “Prospero” by Amy Lehrmitt; directed by Lindsay Eagle; performed by Juliet Bowler.
Aesthetics Designs by Michael Clark Wonson Sound by Kyle Lampe Costumes by Zane Kealey Props & special effects by S Ayala Showrunner: Amy Lehrmitt Dramaturgy by Betsy Goldman
Full cast of actors: Sydney Roslin, Kira Helper, Kristen Heider, Michael Lin, Sharmarke Yusuf, Shanelle Villegas, Kalee Burrows, Olivia Dumaine, Naomi Ibasitas, Evan Turissini, Jo Michael Rezes, Blair Nodelman, Lorraine Kanyike, and Miles Wheeler II.
Accessibility Notes: This online event offers captioning. Instructions are available before, and during the live-stream.
Review by Kitty Drexel
Content Warnings: Blood, strong language, abuse of white privilege, mentions of cannibalism
ZOOM — Flat Earth Theatre’s 7 Rooms: The Masque of the Red Death is a massive undertaking of considerably wide and deep proportions that will impress even the most nihilistic of digital theatre naysayers. 7 Rooms will tantalize; it’ll tease; it’ll entreat you to shake your booty.
Running July 28 – August 15, audience members are invited to attend a party at Prospero’s (Juliet Bowler) extravagant mansion. There’s no need to rabble rouse with dirty plebes sick with the plague. Not when there’s a fancy ball to attend! Continue reading →
KERMIT DUNKELBERG, XIMENA CALDERÓN, WILL SWYERS: image from a rehearsal.
Presented by the Ko Theatre Festival a devised theatre production by Serious Play Theatre Ensemble written by Eric Henry Sanders original music by Jonny Rodgers directed by Sheryl Stoodley Cast: Kermit Dunkelberg, Ximena Salmerón, Will Swyers Video design and technical coordination/operation by Robin W. Doty Dramaturgy and visual inspiration by Rosalyn Driscoll Lighting design by Sabrina Hamilton
Here is a list of activism resources made available on the Ko Fest website.
July 30 – August 1, 2021 Streamed Online via Vimeo Ko Fest social media: @Kofest
In-person performances: July 22-25 33 Hawley Street Northampton, MA
In English & Spanish with supertitles.
Review by Kitty Drexel
Northampton, Mass. — July 30 – August 1, Moving Water is available to stream as part of the Ko Theatre Festival out of Northampton, MA. It is a devised theatre production with dance, multi-media projection, and original music by the Serious Play Theatre Ensemble.
Press materials said, “Moving Water îs centered on the global water crisis, and endeavors to bring audiences into a deeper understanding of our human relationship to water.” Here is a list of activism resources and reading list made available on the Ko Fest website. Continue reading →
ZOOM – When we last left our antiheroes, Macbeth (Jesse Garlick) found his ambitions for the throne awoken by three, soothsayer witches (all played by Rebecca Lehrhoff in different registers and Instagram filters) and Lady Macbeth (Rachel Wiese) decided to do whatever was in her power to climb the hegemonic ladder and stomp on every person who got in their way as bloodily as possible. Betrayal has yet to visit ruin and mental anguish on their lives. Continue reading →
Produced by Irish Repertory Theatre
By Conor McPherson
Directed by Ciaran O’Reilly
Video Editor – Sarah Nichols
Sound Designer – M. Florian Staab
Assistant Director – Jeff Davolt
Production Assistant – Simon Geaney
YOUTUBE — Live theatre seems to be lingering in rebroadcast and livestream purgatory. On the one hand, this does increase accessibility in various directions, but on the other hand, quality varies. Irish Rep’s production of McPherson’s modern Irish classic The Weir is definitely on the higher end of the scale. Continue reading →
“What do you call an anti-vaxxer in the 1920’s? …Dead!” – Edith Shlivovitz
Trigger warning: screen kissing
YOUTUBE — Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie opens on Edith Shlivovitz up to her elbows in household detritus for donation, ropes of pearls swinging around her neck, plastic-framed glasses matching perfectly her cheetah jumpsuit. Edith is a character: she won’t take any of your crap. She’s stir crazy and has no more fucks to give.
EVQ is what happens when a one-woman-show has reached peak performance. Edith, a widowed, Jewish, octogenarian housewife from New York who hasn’t left her apartment since March, is over the top archetype of old lady.
Miller’s character shoots through Zoom, past the door of your bedroom and into the street like porn on an iPhone at a family reunion. Edith is holding her tits, listening to “Memory” and quoting Deepak Chopra. As the late Joel Schumacher said of his movie disasters, “nobody pays to see under the top.”
EVQ is a an emotional journey. Folx who don’t enjoy a bit of the absurd with their raunch won’t get this show. Edith’s antics read like a peculiar Only Fans site for gawkers with very particular kinks. Edith references her dead husband Winston, chats with her taxidermied cat Clementine, and reenacts her favorite scenes from the thee-atre.
Edith treats you, her guest, to several photo montages. She pitches her app idea, quotes Anaïs Nin’s erotica, and segues to her reality TV show. That’s what I remember from before I blacked-out from the silliness.
Edith VS. Quarantine is not high art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, either. It is a character sketch that depicts one woman going as far as she can go because the rules no longer apply. These are unprecedented times, and Edith is no longer at the mercy of society’s rules. If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.
My sincere apologies to Miller re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.
Next performance of Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie: Friday 7/24 at 7:30pm
FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020 Information about the 2020 festivalHERE FringePVD onFacebook
My sincere apologies to low re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.
ZOOM — Maximum Verbosity presents a holiday allegory to beat that tired one told every single Christmas. Get Thee Behind Me, Santa features cursing, sexuality, blasphemy and other microaggressions.
Get Thee Behind Me, Santa is an exceedingly fast-paced holiday allegory with an occasional rhyme scheme that pulls no punches. Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Nick, two angels with a greater appreciation for the physical form and a cast of other characters are determined to live in a better timeline, a timeline without a Santa cult.
It makes fun of the Da Vinci Code but it’s more similar to the popular 2003 mystery novel than it isn’t. GTBM,S jumbles together art, religion, science fiction, film noir, and other seemingly incongruent references into one tale. Therein lies the intended humor.
In humorous narratives of this ilk, the jumble of references is the point. Lists are par for the course. Except, GTBM,S is told at such breakneck speed that we aren’t able to absorb all of phillip andrew bennett low’s puns and scenes. They aren’t funny if we can’t savor them. The image of elves with super soakers is funny but, with low’s telling, blink and you’ll miss it. The same goes with many of the other clever bits concerning the Bible, popular soft drinks, and the Mayan civilization.
The funniest moments of GTBM,S are when low pauses after a character’s one-liner. Jesus said, “Howdy-do?” Low gave us time to react, so I did; I laughed.
Someone said (I couldn’t catch the character’s name), “I am amazed at how useless I find your vowels.” Low paused again; I laughed again.
I was able to respond in real-time to low’s work. It felt amazing. Audiences of artists want to respond to an artist. Please let us.
Theatre shouldn’t be a race to the finish… Unless it is. If the point of GTBM,S was to impress the audience with how quickly and how much low can spit a monologue, low succeeds. But, we couldn’t tell that this was his goal. He needs to indicate this to us.
Some of this can be excused by the medium of Zoom. A one-person show without an audience is torture for an artist. We create with the presumption that an audience will share the room when we perform. Without the audience, we fly by the seat of our pants. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. We can only hope for the best.
Based on the GTBM,S trailer from the 2019 Minnesota Fringe, I’m going to make an educated guess that low’s speed is intentional. If low’s intent truly was to tell a convoluted story overflowing with references across modern and archaic world history while ripping Christianity a new one, he needs to slow down so the audience can receive the story.
Storytelling can be as alinear as the space time continuum but, if it’s for an audience, it also has to be available to that audience. Artists need to perform at the same speed that an audience listens. Anything else is masturbatory.
Next performance of Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: Friday 7/24 at 9:00pm
FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020 Information about the 2020 festival HERE FringePVD on Facebook
ZOOM/HOWLROUND — Let’s be clear: Waiting For Kim Lee is not a play; it’s a rant, forced into a dialogue. I hate it when people screech from the steps of a soapbox and call it art (David Mamet* comes to mind). I also hate the superficial media representation-discussion that seems to be the only thing Asian American artists ever talk about.
That was fine in 2016, but right now, we’re dying of COVID-19 at higher rates than the national average and getting hate-crimed for America’s pathetic epidemic response. We’re struggling to keep our businesses afloat, and protesting for our right to exist, and for Black lives. Complaining about parents and how many auditions you’re getting right now seem like outdated and out of touch problems.
It would be one thing if Waiting for Kim Lee had anything especially insightful or new to say about it, but this play just recycles the same few talking points that have already been rehashed by every Buzzfeed article for the last five years. Not only are they stale, but they are also narrow-minded and miss the point. Continue reading →