Oct 09

Upstaged By A Wandering Mouse: “Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light”


Presented by Central Square Theatre 
In partnership with City of Cambridge Citizens’ Committee on Civic Unity & YWCA Cambridge.
Written and performed by Dr. Billie Jean Young 

October 7, 2020, at 7PM
A virtual event over Zoom 

Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
CST on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM/Cambridge, MA — Central Square Theatre’s presentation of Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light was a hot and sticky mess. This event didn’t have technical difficulties; it had technical catastrophes. An evening that should have been about civil rights warrior Hamer was rife with distractions instead. 

The audience was told at the beginning of the event that Dr. Young wouldn’t be able to perform for us that evening but that a recording of her performance would be played. While this was unfortunate, we could sympathize with Dr. Young. Her body is her instrument and instruments can be fickle. The Women’s Vote Centennial Panel would continue as scheduled.  Continue reading

Sep 09

The pandemic isn’t over just because you’re over it: Player’s Ring Theatre Reopens

Player’s Ring building; performances are indoors

Produced by the Player’s Ring Theatre
An original play by Irene Kelleher
With Emily Karel
Directed by Peter Josephson
Presented by Glass Dove Productions

October 2 – 11, 2020
105 Marcy Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Player’s Ring on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Portsmouth, NH — According to an email press release from Player’s Ring Theatre in New Hampshire sent on September 8, the company will open its doors to the public beginning on October 2 for its production of Mary and Me by Irene Kelleher.

The company closed its doors in March due to the pandemic. It is reopening for live performance after making adjustments for audience safety. These include a new air handling and ventilation system, reduced capacity, social distancing at six feet, a health check at the door, and a mandatory mask policy.

The theater seats 75 patrons at capacity but only 33 seats are for sale to ticketholders. Only bottled drinks will be for sale. Seat assignments will be allocated by the Player’s Ring box office.

Production manager Margherita Giacobbi said in the press release, “Our number one priority in our decision to reopen has been the safety of our artists, volunteers, and audiences. We are following all State and CDC guidelines to ensure a safer environment (emphasis mine).”

Continue reading

Aug 25

Make the World Better: “I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone”

Image via http://www.judithkalaora.com/i-now-pronounce-you-lucy-stone.html. Kalaora looked as luminous during the performance as she does here. 

Presented by History at Play’s Pay-Per-Hap program
Researched, written, produced and performed by Judith Kalaora
Music by Deborah Goss
Friday, August 21, 7:30 – 9 PM

Livestreamed on Facebook
History At Play on Facebook
An Upcoming Schedule of Performances

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Apologies to Judith Kalaora and the History At Play team for the tardiness of this post – we were without internet for five days and unable to post this review. 

FACEBOOK LIVE — The one-woman show, I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone, began with a light, off-camera folk song performance minutes before 7:30 PM on August 21. Stone’s (Judith Kalaora) vibrant, full-bodied voice was heard as she puttered just offstage. As we learned, she had a lot to prepare for. MA native Lucy Stone fought for women’s right to vote in the 1840s. She nearly did it too. Unfortunately for all female-identifying individuals, women would have to wait another 80 years before wringing the privilege from men’s totalitarian grasp.  Continue reading

Jul 23

Coronavirus Take Me: “Edith VS. Quarantine”

Edith in all her glory.

​Presented, performed, and written by Amanda Erin Miller
Featuring: Rachel Evans, Melissa Shaw, Shawn Shafner, Lorin Taylor
Produced by FringePVD

Performed July 21, 2020 at 7:30PM
Website: How to Suffer Better, The Jew in the Ashram
Amanda Erin Miller on social media: 
Facebook
​Twitter
Venmo

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“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 festival HERE
FringePVD on Facebook

Jul 23

Faster than Eight Tiny Reindeer on Uppers : “Get Thee Behind Me, Santa”

Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: An Inexcusably Filthy Children’s Time-Travel Farce for Adults Only
Presented by Maximum Verbosity
Produced by FringePVD
Written and performed by phillip andrew bennett low

Performed on July 20, 2020 at 9PM
Website: Maximum Verbosity
Maximum Verbosity on Facebook 
Venmo
PayPal

Critique by Kitty Drexel

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

Jul 22

Klaatu Barada Nikto: “The Puritans”

Produced by Sparkhaven Theatre Company
Part of the Camp Strangewood Series
Written by Phaedra ​Michelle Scott
Directed by Hannah Pryfogle
Compositions by Alissa Voth

July 19, 2020 at 8PM
To watch with captions during the live broadcast, head to sparkhaventheatre.com/watch-strangewood.
Sparkhaven on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — The Sparkhaven Theatre Company’s anticipated series Camp Strangewood opened last Sunday, July 19 at 8PM. It’s fans gathered on YouTube to watch the first installation, The Puritans. Similar to Sparkhaven’s previous endeavors, it was spoopy, silly and uncannily relatable.  Continue reading

Jul 18

More Entitled than a Cis, White Man on the T at Rush Hour: “Incredibly Annoying Women”

Produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons
Presented by Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston (AATAB)
By Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro
Directed by Mallika Chandaria
Stage Managed by Karin Naono

Originally streamed on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 PM EDT
AATAB on Facebook
Featuring: Roxanne Y. Morse, Kendra Jain, Lisa Yuen, Vijaya Sundaram, Emily Kuroda

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM/HowlRound — The characters in Incredibly Annoying Women by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro are unapologetic. These women take up space with their bodies and emotions like a cis man on the T at rush hour: legs sprawling to the left and right, arms resting on seat backs, backpack taking up a fourth seat. They aren’t inherently annoying but their unfounded entitlement is. Continue reading

Jul 10

What We Mean When We Say Black Lives Matter

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 10th Anniversary Ribbon Cutting: (L-R) BCA Chairman Philip W. Lovejoy, Huntington Trustees Gerald and Sherryl Cohen, Calderwood Charitable Foundation Trustee John Cornish, former Huntington chairman J. David Wimberly, (behind) Paul Grogan of The Boston Foundation, BCA Executive Director Veronique Le Melle, Huntington Chairman Carol G. Deane, (behind) former BRA member Harry Collings, former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Bank of America Massachusetts State President Robert Gallery, Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois, (behind) former Huntington president William P. McQuillan, Huntington President Mitchell J. Roberts, Nancy Roberts, Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso, photo: Paul Marotta

Article by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — The July 9 press release said, “Huntington Theatre Company announces the election of 4 new board members and the promotion of two Huntington Advisors to Trustee level. The election took place during the Huntington’s year-end meeting of the Board of Trustees and Advisors on June 8, 2020.”

The headliner of the press release, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner, director of Huntington productions, and historically relevant badass Billy Porter is a new trustee of the Huntington. Porter and global businessman Professor George Yip are the only two people of color added to the Huntington’s snowflake white board leadership. Three of the six promotions are white women. The other is, of course, a rich, cis, white male.

While we congratulate all of the new board and trustee members, we can’t help but notice the Huntington’s hypocrisy. The theatre penned and posted a Black Lives Matter solidarity statement on its website. The election of four white people flies in the face of that solidarity statement. Continue reading

Jun 11

#BlackLivesMatter #BIPOCLivesMatter – A Starter Pack for White People

The New England Theatre Geek asserts that Black Lives Matter, BIPOC Lives Matter, Immigrant Lives Matter. 

These lives matter now that it’s popular and convenient for white communities to pledge that they matter.  These lives will continue to matter to us when it’s inconvenient and the Black Lives Matter movement is no longer popular in mainstream journalism. The New England Theatre Geek pledges to widen its activism and remain vigilant. 

Racism isn’t something white people with comfortable lifestyles can solve in a few months during quarantine when we’re all at home anyway with a couple of Twitter posts and a simple website banner (that a Black person made anyway).  Racism is systemic; it is aggressive; it is subverted. Deconstructing systemic racism requires equally aggressive, daily practice, and vigilance.  We pledge ourselves to this daily practice. 

It’s a list. It’s a start that should lead to one’s own personal research.  

Racism is an inherent system that affects everyone existing in society. Perpetuating racism isn’t conscious or explicit; it isn’t rational. You can’t choose to live outside of racism. You can be a “good/nice person” and be racist. Racism is a social reality for all.

White people, you will mess up. You will say and do racist things accidentally. Don’t get defensive. Messing up doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a person. Thank the person of color who corrects you (if you’re lucky enough to have a relationship with someone who will) and keep educating yourself.

Don’t ask Black people to explain race/racism to you. That’s not their job. Not even if they’re your friends/colleagues. Attend a training or workshop. Contact your HR. Read a book. Google it. Read the room.

You can have conversations about race/racism with your Black friends if your relationship is conducive to that dialogue. Ask for consent first. If you don’t know why it’s important to ask for consent, you are not ready to have this conversation with your Black friend/s.

Do have conversations with other white people about whiteness/race. Our skin has a color; it affects the world around us. We need the conversational practice.

Don’t try to be the “cool white person.” BIPOC will not see you that way.

White people love to think that racism is something that only exists in history, that it isn’t something we do now. Racism evolves as people do.

Race might not be real but racism is. It will take your entire life to deconstruct your inherent beliefs about white supremacy. Keep going. 

Happy Pride! 

This conversation continues on Facebook and Twitter. More links and resources are posted there. Twitter: https://twitter.com/netheatregeek
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandTheatreGeek/

Jun 02

Sounds of Ethereal Violence: John Aylward’s “Angelus”

New Focus Recordings presents John Aylward’s Angelus 
Conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz
Release Date: April 24, 2020
Genres: Classical, Contemporary Chamber Music
Text translations and adaptations by John Aylward.

Performed by Ecce Ensemble: Nina Guo, voice; Emi Ferguson, flutes; Hassan Anderson, oboe; Barret Ham, clarinets; Pala Garcia, violin; John Popham, cello; Sam Budish, percussion

Disclaimer: Classical music is #whiteculture. While reading this critique please consider the impact white culture has on Black and Brown bodies. Right now is an excellent time for we white artists to figure out how to even the playing field. Black lives still matter during times of peace.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Digital Recording/Streaming — On the cover of Ecce Ensemble’s recording of Angelus is a reprinting of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus. A glorified stick figure in beige and mulled yellow, this humanoid seraph bares conical, gapped teeth at observers that look ready to snap. Its wings are elongated fingers with nail beds. Its feet are stunted three-pronged talons. Klee’s angel is no sentimental rendering of a chubby baby in sheets. It is more Biblical destroyer than Anne Geddes. This image prepares the listener for the ethereal violence of Aylward’s work. Continue reading