Category Archives: Theater

Dick Gregory’s Searing Humor is Brought to Life in Turn Me Loose

By Michael Lorenzo Porter

“It was in the New York Times that there are 1.5 million black men missing. They are not in jail. I couldn’t imagine where they went until I saw the movie Get Out.”  

That’s Dick Gregory from his September 2017 biography, Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies, who, with his acerbic humor, became one of the preeminent comedic voices of the civil rights era. Continue reading

Talking with Playwright Dan O’Brien About His Haunting Collection

By Tim Cummings

In his review of the 2017 World Premiere production of Dan O’Brien’s The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage (The Theatre @ Boston Court), which LARB also reviewed, critic Jonas Schwartz stated:

Dan O’Brien has written an American gothic tale on a par with Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard’s best works. Like many of the characters in Shepard’s plays, the protagonist seeks the truth, but the answers will not assuage his guilt or pain. Continue reading

Shedding the Light — The House in Scardale: A Memoir for the Stage

By Dinah Lenney

“I’ve been trying to write about my family. Our family. Like it’s a mystery, which it is to me. Trying to answer the question of, you know — What happened?
– Dan, in The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage

I’m trying to answer a question, too — the question of, you know, why do I love this play as much as I do? What makes this play — now running (in its world premiere) at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena — so moving? So exciting, so engaging, so affirming, so, so, so — so goodContinue reading

The Zoo, Revisited

By Ian MacAllister-McDonald

The second act of Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo was originally a self-contained one-act called The Zoo Story, written in 1958. In it, a laconic textbook editor named Peter is approached in Central Park by Jerry, a disheveled hustler who’s spent his life on the fringes and is desperate for a meaningful human connection. If you have had a homeless person approach you and start talking in a way that doesn’t make perfect sense, then you can imagine Peter’s unease. Likewise, if you’ve ever been surrounded by people, but still somehow managed to find yourself deeply, suffocatingly lonely, then you can imagine Jerry’s desperation. The play is about these two men: one who wants to mind his own business and the other who needs someone to talk to, and how they reach the worst kind of compromise. Laugh-out-loud funny at times and heart-wrenchingly sad at others, The Zoo Story is an almost-perfect short play. Continue reading

Breakup Sex in a Hamlet-Mobile

By John W. W. Zeiser

We climbed onto pillows, pushed up against the back of the driver’s and passenger’s seats, as the doors to the van closed. Hamlet lay on the floor, drinking a beer and wearing sock garters that I don’t think were holding anything up. He didn’t speak. Was he sizing us up, maybe waiting to see if we would say something first? Or was he just catching his breath? He was halfway through a three-hour marathon of performing the same 15-minute show on repeat; perhaps all his psychic energy had been drained by our 9:30 slot. Continue reading

Reading Plays

By Ian MacAllister-McDonald

The first time script I ever read was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston. I played the role of the Count himself in my Catholic high school production back in 2001. The production was about what you would expect out of a group of American teenagers pretending to be European adults. I was mortified when, as I stood on stage during the final dress rehearsal in my dopey cape and fangs and white face paint, watching as the actress playing Mina asked — as politely as she could — if we could please change the scene at the end of Act One where Dracula kisses Mina on the lips. We’d rehearsed it a dozen times already, always stopping just short of the kiss, which, as a bookish teenager in the theater club was about as close to girls as I generally got. The director looked at my co-star, registering her shame and terror, and conceded. Perhaps, he suggested, Dracula could kiss her on the neck? No, that wouldn’t work. Perhaps bite her neck….? She hadn’t even stopped shaking her head. “Okay, he can start to bite your neck, but we’ll drop the curtain before he makes contact. How’s that?” The actress winced, then gave a deep shuddery sigh and nodded, eyes locked in a thousand-yard stare. A true professional. In the end, the scene played out much as Mr. Stoker had surely imagined it, with a 17-year-old Count Dracula almost maybe probably going to bite the neck of a noticeably grossed-out Mina. The scene was taught, real, and very powerful. Continue reading

Out Of Body: Freedom, Chaos, and Puppetry in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Emily Hunt

My first experience with A Midsummer Night’s Dream was watching Michael Hoffman’s 1999 film production. I’m sure the visually gorgeous cast had something to do with it – what 12-year-old girl can ignore the charms of Michelle Pfieffer, Rupert Everette, and Christian Bale? – but it was more than that: something entirely new had taken place on the screen. For the first time in my adolescent life, a work of art had induced a feeling of liberation, a distinct, excited sense of possibility.

Every production I’ve seen since has been aesthetically unique. With its magic, fight scenes, fairies, the backdrop of a seemingly opaque forest, and the changeable world of its play-within-a-play, – A Midsummer Night’s dream begs reinvention, much as its mercurial characters change while they delightfully, aimlessly wander through the woods. Nothing is definite: the four young Athenian lovers — Helena, Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander — speak in absolutes yet are characterized by anything but. They escape into the forest in the middle of the night, where Titania, a righteous and strong fairy queen, is duped into falling in love with an ass, part of a magical revenge plot by the seemingly heartless fairy king Oberon, so touched by the unrequited love of Helena that he attempts to enchant Demetrius, her wayward lover, into returning her affections. The mischievous sprite Puck mixes everything up, and the rampant, secret love affairs that drive the foursome into the forest devolve into a brawl.

And yet, somehow, in traditional Renaissance fashion, we wind up with a wedding-and-a-marriage happy ending. Continue reading