Aug 14

Burning Down the Establishment One BIPOC Critic at a Time: A Profile of Pascale Florestal

Florestal, image from www.pascaleflorestal.com

Profile by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON/ZOOM — Boston’s theatre journalism scene is a barren wasteland of white maleness. The desperate cries of BIPOC performing artists and designers for accurate representation are carried by winds off of the Atlantic ocean to diversity-parched cities and towns across New England: where are the critics of color?

Critiquing and reviewing circles have remained steadfastly white for the last few decades. Out of the current eleven members of the Boston Theater Critics Association, six are white men, five are white women.

The Front Porch Arts Collective launched the Young Critics Program in spring 2019 in partnership with WBUR the ARTery. It is the only independent training opportunity specifically geared towards young BIPOC journalists in New England. Boston-based director, dramaturg, educator, writer, and collaborator Pascale Florestal is the woman in charge. Continue reading

Aug 11

The Work Begins with Empathy: “A Kids Play About Racism”

Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre with the Gottabees 
Lead Producers Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre
Adapted & Directed by Kahlia Davis
Lyrics by Davied Morales
Music by Justin Ellington
Based on the book by Jelani Memory
More information at akidsplayabout.org

Streamed through August 7 on Broadway On Demand
Wheelock Family Theatre
Boston, MA 02215
Wheelock on Facebook
The Gottabees on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BROADWAY ON DEMAND — The Wheelock Family Theatre and the Gottabees collaborated with 41 Theaters for Young Audiences across the United States to present the world premiere, online theatrical experience of A Kids Play About Racism.

The Zoom play based on the children’s book A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory explains what racism is on a level that kids of all ages can understand and appreciate. A Kids Play About Racism is intended for ages 5+ but has a lot to offer adults too. It simplifies abstract concepts like white supremacy, microaggressions, Black culture, and emotional labor into digestible nuggets of truth. All viewers will be able to take away something valuable – even if it’s remembering that dismantling racism is strenuous; it’s okay to take a short rest before getting back to work.  Continue reading

Aug 10

“Chelsea People”: Getting to Know Your Community Through Theatre

Jessica Armijo Sabillon, right, with her family at O’Malley State Park in Chelsea. (L-R) Daughter Michelle, 13, her husband Reymer and daughter Adriana, 17. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Produced by Apollinaire Theatre Company
Part of Apollinaire in the Park 2020 (Online Edition): Chelsea People
Directed by: Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Music directed by David Reiffel
Composition by Allyssa Jones, David Reiffel, and David Rivera

August 8th 2020 at 8PM
The Chelsea Collaborative – Jessica L. Armijo
Apollinaire on Facebook
Chelsea Collab on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

ZOOM — How well do you know your community? Your neighbors? Friends? In our daily interactions, or lack thereof, we each hold a story within us worth telling, waiting for the right moment, or perhaps, the right people to tell.

In Apollinaire in the Park 2020: Chelsea People, the theatre challenged itself to create original plays and music based on interviews by community members nominated by the city’s leading community organizations: GreenRoots and the Chelsea Collaborative. The series ended with the story of Jessica Armijo. Continue reading

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 13

“Pride Marches On” is a Digital Showcase

Presented by Company One Theatre
Hosted by (and Featuring a Performance By) Neon Calypso
Poetry by Nico Pang
“Permission” Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden
Performed by Tatiana Isabel Gil & Hayley Spivey
Technical Production by Mads Massey

Performance on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOyjh79VsEo
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/companyone/

Review by Chloé Cunha

YOUTUBE — Pride – and just about everything else – may have been canceled this year, but leave it to the queer community to rally anyway and keep the show going. “Pride Marches On” is a digital showcase of a few different art forms, featuring poetry from Nico Pang, a play by Kirsten Greenidge, and a drag performance from Neon Calypso, who doubles as host for the show. It’s a short, fun and politically engaging piece of media for anyone who needs a break from their Netflix binge (be honest, you’re probably getting into some obscure territory by now anyway). Continue reading

Jul 07

Socially Isolated with “Macbeth”

Presented by Liars & Believers
Directed by Jason Slavick
Original Music and Sound Design by Jay Mobley
Additional Video by Sam Powell

June 18, 2020 – Present (Weekly)
https://www.liarsandbelievers.com/show/pandemicplay/

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — Liars & Believers slices off bite sized pieces of the Scottish Play for serialized consumption! In a world that demands us to simultaneously be far apart while empathizing with each other’s difficulties, we revisit a cautionary tale of a man whose name has become synonymous with backstabbing cruelty. In serializing Macbeth, we watch a show that absorbs the changes and horrors of our contemporary headlines and sense of unease each passing week. Continue reading

Jul 05

New Frontiers for Community Opera: “The ZOOMpresario”

Presented by Opera Del West
Based on The Impresario, A Comic Opera in one Act 
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
German text by Gottlieb Stephanie, Jr.
Additional English text and lyrics by Dan Shore
Video, stage direction by Brenda Huggins
Music direction by Eve K Budnick
Video engineering by Larry Budnick

Debuted to the internet on July 3, 2020
Available now on Youtube at https://youtu.be/4oEc6a8ORhs
Opera Del West on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Based purely on the self-deprecating tones of Music Director Eve Budnick and Lyricist Dan Shore during the performance’s live pre-show, I was expecting The ZOOMpresario to be of poor quality and unenjoyable. I was happy to be wrong. 

Both Budnick and Shore discussed the abundance with great confidence about their inexperience with virtual software and video. This is the antithesis of how artists are taught to present themselves. They could have been impressing us with their performers’ adaptability in the times of quarantine. They could have been discussing how they molded Mozart’s one-act opera to modern times. Instead, we were lead to believe that The ZOOMpresario’s creators weren’t suited to their task by their own words.  Continue reading

Jun 29

New Medium, Classic Story: FPTC’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, a Virtual Staged Reading from dayenne walters on Vimeo.

Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel
Written by Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Audrey Seraphin
Music Composed by Akili Jamal Haynes

Virtual Staged Reading, June 23-26, 2020
Tickets on http://vimeo.com/ondemand/longdaysjourney
$10 for a 24-hour rental
FPTC on Twitter: @fortpointtc

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Theatre created in corona-times is theatre that can be preserved for future generations. Those generations will look back on our work and express amazement at the simplicity of our tech and the universality of the human condition. Fancypants stage technology can embellish a performance, but it isn’t necessary when the foundational elements of a performance are of superior quality. Fort Point Theatre Channel’s Zoom reading of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night captures both the rigidity of Zoom’s limitations while highlighting the subtle creativity of Fort Point Theatre Channel’s artists. Continue reading

May 27

They stole her body and the pants off a white man: “Our Lady of 121st Street”

image via https://www.facebook.com/LABTheaterCo

Presented by LAByrinth Theater Company
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Elizabeth Rodriguez
Stage Directions read by David Deblinger

Performed on Saturday, May 23 @ 8PM
A Zoom performance

LAByrinth Theater Company
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
New York, NY 10014
LAB on Facebook
LAB on Instagram

Holy cats, DONATE!

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Hang on because it’s gonna be dope.” – From the pre-performance speech by Elizabeth Rodriguez.

ZOOM — This production is made available to viewers as a part of LAByrinth Theater Company’s desire to continue existing past the coronavirus pandemic. If you viewed this production and you are able, please donate to LAByrinth Theater. Donate now so theatre can exist later.

Directors must stop apologizing for their Zoom readings. Our Lady of 121st Street’s triumphant director Elizabeth Rodriguez is not the first to apologize to a Zoom audience. If I had my druthers, she would be the last. It’s unfair to the cast and crew who have put so much energy into the performance. Now is not the time to apologize for variables spinning mundanity far beyond our control. There is no set precedent for corona-times streaming theatre.  We’re inventing the genre. Mistakes and minor emergencies are part of the fun of live theatre. Continue reading

May 20

You’re Very Cute When You Say ‘Snacks’: A Virtual Presentation of “Eyes Shut. Door Open.”

A virtual presentation over Zoom 
May 18, 2020, 7:30PM
A fundraiser and awareness campaign for The Phoenix Sober Community
Please donate to the campaign HERE

Written by Cassie M. Seinuk
Directed by Christopher Randolph
Sound design by Patrick Greene
Turner played by Michael Underhill
Johanna played by Melissa deJesus
Palmer played by Eliott Purcell
Stage Directions by Alex Leondedis

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — I reviewed Eyes Shut. Door Open. four years ago at Warehouse XI in Somerville, MA. This response to the May 18 reading does not supersede the 2016 critique. It exists in addition to it. It is critical to examine theatre’s adaptation to online performance.

One of the new rules of Zooming is to make your bed. If you insist on streaming from your bedroom, make your bed. Anyone watching you is already judging you on your household aesthetics (or lack thereof). Inviting viewers into your bedroom means sharing an intimate part of you. They will imagine you in that naughtily unmade bed. They will see your unwashed sheets and rumpled comforter and judge your hygiene. Better to make your bed than to feed the trolls. Never feed the trolls.

Speaking of rules. Necessity is forcing actors to develop new techniques for online streaming. Monday’s performance of Eyes Shut. Door Open revealed some mighty useful technical skills in its performers and sound technician. There was a lot to learn from this reading. Continue reading