Aug 18

Mockumentary, not Mockery? Or, The Kids are Alright?: “Theater Camp”


Theater Camp the film
Directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman
Written by Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt
Featuring Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Jimmy Tratto, Nathan Lee Graham, Amy Sedaris

Review by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

Find Your Local Listing — Like virtually every movie-about-theater that has come before it, Theater Camp features an audition montage. The young performers have barely unpacked for their summer at AdirondACTS (a rundown summer camp in upstate New York) when, one by one, they file onstage to determine their fates for the next three weeks. Stage lights in their eyes and Broadway dreams in their hearts, they begin to belt.

Watching the movie last week, I braced myself for secondhand embarrassment.

And yet, against every precedent set by other films in the mockumentary genre, no embarrassment came. Instead, I found myself beaming with joy. These kids are good, I thought. Nerdy and not great at choosing audition songs, but good. I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was this early audition montage that convinced me that Theater Camp is unique. Theater Camp plays with the expected mockumentary tropes, particularly in its characterizations: everyone at AdirondACTS is a caricature of a theater person, from Rebecca-Diane and Amos (Molly Gordon and Ben Platt), the overly serious co-writers of the summer’s original musical, to Glenn, the thankless stagehand with a secret dream to be in the spotlight (Noah Galvin). Continue reading

Jul 23

Application Opens for the 2023 Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism

NEW YORK: On July 10, the American Theatre Critics Association opened applications for the second annual 2023 Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism on its website, https://americantheatrecritics.org/edward-medina-prize/. The application will close on August 11, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

APPLY HERE

All applicants will be notified of their application status by October 1, 2023. The Medina Prize will be presented in November 2023.

Edward Medina

The ATCA website says the Edward Medina Prize for Excellence in Cultural Criticism is an award for reviewers, critics, and journalists in the U.S. from under-represented groups (women, people of the global majority, trans, and non-binary) who write about theater and its role in highlighting people from various cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.

The prize is meant to cultivate relationships between ATCA and diverse critics, to increase readership of cultural criticism by diverse writers, and to financially support critics from under-represented groups. Continue reading

Jul 17

Every Story is a Galaxy of Stars: “The Boy Who Kissed The Sky”

Presented by Company One Theatre in partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Arts and Culture
By Idris Goodwin
Music by Divinity Roxx and Eugene H. Russell IV
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Music directed by David Freeman Coleman
Choreography by Victoria Lynn Awkward
Dramaturgy by afrikah selah

The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Rd
Boston, MA 02125

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The cast of The Boy Who Kissed the Sky performed admirably on Saturday evening despite technical difficulties and intense heat. The beloved Strand Theatre is old and, despite its renovations, failed under the extreme heat. The actors and band met the moment with indomitable will and aplomb. 

Idris Goodwin’s The Boy Who Kissed the Sky is a fantasy on the childhood of Jimi Hendrix in music, dance, and color. A Boy (Errol Service Jr.) lives with his father (Cedric Lilly) in Seattle. The Boy imagines universes across a history of rock music with pencil set to paper as he strums a broom that bleeds corn bristles.

His multidimensional, intergenerational guide and musical conscience is J. Sonic (Martinez Napoleon). Together with the groovy Feedbacks (Yasmeen Duncan, Kiera “Kee” Prusmack, James Turner, and Adriana Alvarez) they witness a world of experiences so the Boy can find his own rock n roll voice.  Continue reading

Jul 03

Beyond Brotherly Bickering to Mutual Respect: “619 Hendricks”

Victor Hugo Hart, Cristhian Mancinas-Garcia, and Juan Carlos Pinedo Rivera in “619 Hendricks.” Photo from Teatro Chelsea’s Facebook page.

Presented by Teatro Chelsea
Written by Josie Nericcio
Directed by Armando Rivera
Fight choreography by Matthew Dray

June 15-July 1, 2023
Chelsea Theatre Works
181 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150

This play was a finalist in Teatro’s 3rd Annual A-Tipico Latinx New Play Festival.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CHELSEA, Mass. — Teatro Chelsea’s production of Josie Nericcio’s 619 Hendricks ran at Chelsea Theatre Works through July 1. The run is over but maybe, if we ask nicely, it will play somewhere else soon. Massachusetts needs to celebrate more quality theatre like 619 Hendricks.

The general rule, when it comes to family or friends and money, is don’t lend. Give. That money is already gone and will never be paid back once it changes hands. Humans have a short memory for gratitude.  

In Laredo, Texas, two brothers mourn the death of their mother. Mama has left them her house in her will. The eldest, Nesto (Juan Carlos Pinedo Rivera), wants to sell right away to a big developer in town. Richie, a fancy Hollywood writer, (Cristhian Mancinas-Garcia) wants to wait. They stubbornly refuse to discuss why they feel this way. Their inability to talk leads to a war for the house and for their pride.  Continue reading

Jun 30

Breadth without Depth: “The Lehman Trilogy”

Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Presented by The Huntington
By Stefano Massini
Adapted by Ben Power
Directed by Carey Perloff
Featuring Joshua David Robinson, Steven Skybell, Mayer Lehman
Music performed by Joe LaRocca
Dramaturgy by Julie Felise Dubiner

June 29 – July 23, 2023
264 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

Update: This article previously credited Carey Perloff as the former artistic director of the incorrect institution. Perloff was the AD of American Conservatory Theater.

BOSTON, Mass. — If the playbill for The Lehman Trilogy is any indication, The Huntington artistic team knows that are dealing with a flawed, if renowned, play. The three-and-a-half-hour epic has a developmental history of international proportions: Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s play about Jewish-American bankers was adapted by British playwright Ben Power, then enjoyed critical acclaim on the West End before transferring to Broadway and winning the 2022 Tony Award for Best Play.

The production was a critical darling, but never without its skeptics. Think-pieces abound have accused the play of a) pandering in antisemitic tropes and b) sidestepping the centrality of slavery in the Lehman brothers’ (and more broadly, capitalism’s) rise to power. Continue reading

Oct 17

A Season of Farewells in Western MA: KO Festival of Performance and the Royal Frog Ballet

“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
Hampshire College
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

The Royal Frog Ballet
Surrealist Cabaret
Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA
October 7 – 8, 2022

Review by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

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

Jul 29

Ritual, Community and Baring Your Soul with Strangers: “(Tr)auma Queen: Feeling Spilt Milk, OR a series of experimental poetry to escape the shape of doorframes, also known as, a ritual of lemons”

production poster found on FringePVD website. this poster is badass.

Presented by FringePVD and The Wilbury Theatre Group
By and Featuring Teddy Lytle and Bay McCulloch

July 21 – 23, 2022
The Waterfire Arts Center Back Lot
475 Valley St,
Providence, RI

45 minutes without intermission

Review by Nicole LaBresh

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

Jun 16

Liminal Spaces for Desettlement: “The Orchard”

The Making of THE ORCHARD Virtual Experience from Igor Golyak on Vimeo.

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. 

They were also super cool to watch.  Continue reading

Aug 02

One Percenters Gone Wild: “7 Rooms: The Masque of the Red Death”

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.

July 28 – August 15, 2021
Steamed on Zoom 
Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can
Flat Earth on social media: @FE_theatre

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

Aug 01

Mní Wičóni.Water Is Life: “Moving Water”

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