Mar 23

Book Release and Online Event:”There Must Be Happy Endings” by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is Released Today!

There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty
By Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Published by The 3rd Thing Press
Olympia, 2020
Available on Kickstarter with a $24.00 pledge
Paperback, 230 pages

LIVE ONLINE EVENT!
Megan Sandberg-Zakian in conversation with Melinda Lopez
March 23, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Free on the HowlRound website! More info below.
Event on
Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

“An ending doesn’t have to be happy to be satisfying. A good ending, happy or not, draws a line around the experience of story hearing and telling. It picks the story up, holds it in its hands, and offers it out, whole. It gives us the opportunity for a collective breath. A good ending is honest: a boundary we can feel, the knowledgable edge of a reliable container. It is a ritual threshold between story and not-story.” 

— Megan Sandberg-Zakian, “There Must Be Happy Endings,” There Must Be Happy Endings: On Theatre of Optimism & Honesty, 2020.

Somerville, Mass — There Must Be Happy Endings by Megan Sandberg-Zakian is an exploration in the personal dramaturgy of the mind and spirit. In her first book of essays, the author takes a deep dive into the works that have made a lasting impression upon her. They are an extension of her need to share stories through theatre. Whether by quoting Homer, The Dark Knight or Annie, these essays draw the reader into the author’s personal story by circumnavigating the landscape of the greater western narrative. She tells us why happy ends are important and why they are especially important to her. Her title essay isn’t demanding sappy closure but commanding a divine right to culminate our narratives with an end to the suffering within them.  Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Jun 14

Like A Bird Made of Light: “Yerma”

Nadine Malouf (Yerma). Photo Credit: T Charles Ericksonn© 

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Adapted and translated by Melinda Lopez
Based on the play by Ferderico Garcia Lorca
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Original music by Mark Bennett
Choreography by Misha Shields
Fight direction and intimacy direction by Claire Warden & Ted Hewlett

May 31 – June 30, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: sexual acts, hallucinations & mental illness

(Boston, MA) It is 2019 and the United States government is at war with its people. Laws that aim to control anyone with a uterus are rushing through courthouses at an unprecedented rate. They aren’t protecting life; they are punishing women for having sex. Cadavers have more agency than women. Meanwhile, the foster care services in these same states are overwhelmed with children that desperately need good homes. Saying that the Huntington’s production of Yerma is topical is an understatement. Yerma approaches childbirth not from an opposite standpoint but an adjacent one. The right to choose also means choosing to have a child. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Feb 11

“Mala” by Melinda Lopez Now available on Audible.com

“’Mala’ means ‘bad.’ Not that you have done something bad, but that you are, in your core, bad.” – Melinda Lopez, from Mala


Mala
By Melinda Lopez
Narrated by Melinda Lopez
Length: 1 hr and 17 mins
Regular price: $6.95

Review by Kitty Drexel

Melinda Lopez’s one-woman show, Mala is now available on Audible. The New England Theatre Geek previously critiqued Mala on January 26, 2018 and November 5, 2016. The New England Theatre Geek was given a download of Mala in exchange for this review. 

Audible is an app by Amazon that can be downloaded to phone or other internet accessible device. Mala can be purchased through the Audible app or through Amazon. Audible plays the narrated book or script while other apps are in use or on its own. Mala has naturally occurring pauses between scenes that will allow the listener to enjoy at their own pace.

Lopez narrates Mala with her usual candor and charisma. This recording gives her storytelling the NPR treatment: her consonants are crisp, her timbre lilting. It’s as if Lopez is speaking directly into your ear. This recording sounds like a private performance. It hits the heart like a live production. If you loved the stage play and also enjoy listening to recorded books and plays, Mala will be treat for your ears and heart. 

Please note: The passages of Mala originally in Spanish are retained and not translated into English. Monolingual listeners should fire up an online translator for the full experience.

Audible members will be able to enjoy listening to Mala for free during the month of February as part of the company’s Originals Member Benefit. Previous theatrical productions that have released on Audible for millions of listeners globally include Girls & Boys(Carey Mulligan), Harry Clarke (Billy Crudup), Feeding the Dragon (Sharon Washington), and After Anatevka (Alexandra Silber), all of which have been Audible bestsellers.

About the Author and Performer
Melinda Lopez is the playwright-in-residence at the Huntington Theatre Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Jan 26

Caregiver Vents and Mourns in “Mala”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower

Jan. 6 – Feb. 4, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “Dying doesn’t make you wise,” says Melinda Lopez, describing the death of her tough, stubborn mother. “Dying doesn’t make you generous.” The words could serve as the thesis of Mala, a story of a loyal daughter processing guilt and bitterness over the death of her elderly parents. Baked into the subject matter is a grim but gentle humor, one that picks at the coat of polish usually applied to recollections of the grieving process. Lopez’s pain, here, is visceral and true, not some softly lit movie set. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Mar 08

The Simple Beauty of “Grand Concourse”

Photo by Glenn Perry Photography; full stage with cast.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Heidi Schreck
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

March 3-April 1, 2017
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) While I try not to make a habit of going to see religious shows, there’s something about the themes of religion that is compelling. They bring people together and allow them to question anything from faith and love to forgiveness and existence. And while playwright Heidi Schreck’s Grand Concourse manages to tackle all of these, what’s captivating about the show is that it does so without forcing religious concepts. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Nov 05

Death is Not A Fight You Win: MALA

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower
Dramaturgy by P. Carl

Oct 27 – Nov. 20, 2016
Audio Described Performance: SAT, NOV 12 @ 2PM
American Sign Language Performance: SAT, NOV 19 @ 2PM
Emerson/Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Forgiveness is a conscious act of releasing pain. To forgive oneself is to choose to unburden purposeful self-torment. It’s one of the hardest gifts to give ourselves and the most necessary. Mala is not a show about a woman who has forgiven herself for the role she played in her parents deaths. It is about a woman so torn up that she must relive her role in them with each performance. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Feb 14

After so long, we’re still back to this: BACK THE NIGHT

2/3/14 Boston Playwrights' Theatre presents 'Back the Night' By Melinda Lopez. Directed by Daniela Varon. February 4-28-2016. With violence on campus rising to epidemic proportions, Em is in total denial. But when her best friend Cassie gets assaulted, Em makes some unexpected personal discoveries. Sometimes you do the wrong thing for the right reason. 2016-02-03_BACKTHENITE_002.jpg - Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by Melinda Lopez
Directed by Daniela Varon

February 4-28, 2016
Boston Playwright’s Theatre
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

Trigger warnings: sexual assault and physical violence, sexual situations, adult language, suicide, mental health, activism

(Boston, MA) Institutional support of criminals and criminal behavior either through incompetence or genuine ignorance is common. Although a college campus is the setting of Melinda Lopez’s Back the Night, it could be a stand-in for a fancy secondary school or any urban space. It is both cheaper and simpler in these forums to blame the victim than actually pursue justice.

Em, Sean and Cassie pit themselves against assault on campus after Cassie is injured one night. Em is the pre-med Nancy Drew who likes putting things into proper boxes and Melissa Jesser portrays her with an intensity that simmers just below the surface. Cassie (Amanda Collins), long an ardent anti-violence advocate, is finally putting a lot of her principles to the test. Sean just wants everyone to make it to graduation alive. Along the way, the undergraduates realize that intentions aren’t pure on any side of the issue. The set served as both metaphor and scenery, with decaying infrastructure and dorm furniture offset by autumn leaves and warm lighting.

When I attended, the audience of mostly college aged students and a few older attendees were both amused and engaged. Although the play is a new work, the topics have been stewing in higher education for some time. Local universities such as Boston University responded in the past three years to federal investigations related to sexual harassment under Title IX by leveraging pre-existing resources and coordinating new sets of training for incoming and ongoing students, staff and faculty. For survivors as well as for those who work at or attend a university, the transitions toward justice seem insignificant and much less than what was promised.

To be fair, there are a lot of great sea changes still occurring: a queer character like Sean, played by a bouncy Evan Horwitz, or a non-white character like Em can exist on a campus, which is a sign of progress. Authorities can’t produce those specific, permanent and positive transitions in a vacuum. Rallying and other forms of pressure by non-authorities as well as pushback, then, is more like a dance: there is movement over time, even if there is no easily discernible direction. Also, dances end, and it can take time before a different dance begins.

Lopez gets the internet’s impact on survivor’s rights in many ways: frequently the ability to reach lots of potential activists doesn’t lead to the revolution, especially since the internet reaches not only sympathetic minds, but also perpetrators and victim-blamers who are all too willing to sit on the sidelines and throw stones. At the very least, perpetrators are not given a forum in the play. There’s still lots of meat to chew on. Even when your friends are a mirror or an inspiration, they can still misunderstand and make demands on your sanity that can be almost as terrible as physical trauma. At a fairly short hour and a half, humor between the three friends lightens the frustration, exhaustion and constant questioning. Lopez has captured the voice of modern undergraduates and also provided a snapshot of the strained relationships of students to the adults who are supposed to guide and shield them.

Next on deck for Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is Rhinoceros a co-production with Suffolk University written by Eugene Ionesco at the Modern from February 25-March 13.

Share with Your Audience
Apr 29

Richly Developed Heroines: BECOMING CUBA

Presented by Huntington Theatre Co
Written by Huntington Playwright-in-Residence Melinda Lopez
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

March 28 – May 3, 2014
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington Co on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Becoming Cuba at the Huntington Theatre is about blood origins. It is about the effect blood-ties have on our decisions, and the indirect way our origins affect the world around us. Specifically, it is about sisters Adele (Christina Pumariega) and Martina (Rebecca Soler) who run a pharmacie in Spanish-occupied Cuba. Adele attempts to remain neutral as war threatens the country she loves: her family fights in the rebellion; her husband died fighting for Spain. As Adele cares for the people of Havana, she comes to understand that loyalty is a complex beast. Love and loyalty can be divided while still remaining whole. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Sep 24

Redemption in the Motherf**cker with the Hat

Photo Credit: SpeakEasy Stage Company

by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by David R. Gammons

presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
539 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company Facebook Page
September 14 – October 13, 2012

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) Speakeasy Stage’s The Motherf**ker with the Hat is a dark comedy that never quite tips over into bleak. Its main characters are addicts, recovering and otherwise, but they either have a sense of humor about it or have learned to accept their shortcomings. Fresh out of jail, Jackie (Jaime Carrillo) tries to break the tight circuit of repeating behaviors that has him locked into a pattern of loving, drinking, and messing up. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience