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By Bob Shuman

Theatremakers, who have decided to forgo political issues, such as immigration, refugees, radical Islam, Benghazi, and Trump’s wall, may want to consider the words of ninety-one-year-old Peter Brook, whose seventy-minute companion piece to his classic nine-hour 1987 Mahabharata (which is available on disk and YouTube) recently played at BAM’s Harvey Theatre (Battlefield ended October 9). Brook said he wanted his new work to “find something relevant for today” and, perhaps counter-intuitively, returned to the classic ancient Indian poem, not out of nostalgia, but because of its ability to see “all aspects of human existence”; it includes an apocalyptic war, which leaves ten million dead. “It could be Hiroshima or Syria,” Brook says, “When one watches the news one is angry, disgusted, furious.” So also may be the informed public, not just of today, but also those who will look back at what was being produced during our time and question why so many essential parts of the national dialogue were BleachBitted from our stages, despite a public disposal toward interest in history, demonstrated by the mega-hit Hamilton.

From left: Sean O’Callaghan; Jared McNeill; Ery Nzaramba & Carole Karemera in US Premiere of BATTLEFIELD C.I.C.T.—Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord Based on The Mahabharata and the play written by Jean-Claude Carrière Adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne selected scenes photographed: Wednesday, September 28, 2016; 3:00 PM at the BAM Harvey Theater; Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYC; Photograph: © 2016 Richard Termine PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine

From left: Sean O’Callaghan; Jared McNeill; Ery Nzaramba & Carole Karemera in US Premiere of
C.I.C.T.—Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Based on The Mahabharata
and the play written by Jean-Claude Carrière Adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
selected scenes photographed: Wednesday, September 28, 2016; 3:00 PM at the BAM Harvey Theater; Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYC;
Photograph: © 2016 Richard Termine
PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine

Battlefield is Brook in shorthand, overshadowed by the real theatre of the moment:  the American election. Nevertheless, he says he is speaking to power “in a space of concentration” regarding “what happens after the battle,” for both winners and losers. He knows who he specifically wants to appeal to, as well:  “Obama and his successor, Hollande and his successor, Putin, and all the presidents.” Are they actually listening?  Probably not, largely because arts leaders have allowed theatre to become inconsequential, overwhelming audiences with immature and merely entertaining work, but if art can instead be entertained, Brook’s modest piece might be taken as seriously as any. He has been in the public eye for approximately 70 years and although his techniques do not seem cutting edge, or dangerous, anymore, his stagings and his books, most famously The Empty Space (1968), are essential to understanding experimental theatre. Brook’s influence is seen everywhere, from Broadway to La Mama, both places which would be impossible to understand without him. With regard to The Mahabharata,  Brook has been accused of “exoticism,” by uprooting the sacred  text without understanding it as would an Indian—but he might also make a case about the appropriation of his own theatrical research and methods.  In his defense, in respect to the 200,000 line poem, he has said, “It is a failure of us to have spent so long to recognize that it [The Mahabharata] is for humanity.”

Straightforward, with a central black box as a focal point, Battlefield makes use of brilliantly hued fabric and bamboo sticks as props in a setting the color of blood. Its ancient story regards a blind king, who has lost his sons.  He is meeting his nephew, who does not know how to accept the responsibilities of having won a war. “The winners say ‘victory is a defeat’ and the ones who lost admit that ‘they could have prevented the war’.  More than asking for an imitation of behavior or psychological depth, Brook is most interested in storytelling—as was the American avant-garde he began influencing, including Ellen Stewart and Elizabeth Swados. Here, mortality seems to consume Brook most, even more than war:  “What you have planned to do tomorrow must be done today.  Only death is certain.  Readiness is most important.”  Wisdom, perhaps, from a creator who has been called “our greatest living theatre director,” having won Tonys and Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale and the Prix Italia. His four actors, in Battlefield (Carole Karemera, Jared McNeill, Ery Nzaramba, and Sean O’Callaghan), play for seventy minutes, telling folkloric parables, sometimes comically and from the point of view of animals, such as a snake, mongoose, worm, and monkey. The cast makes use of simple pantomiming, and is often staged in a circular pattern, accompanied by Toshi Tsuchitori (who performed in the original Mahabharata) on African drum—the co-director and co-adapter is Brook’s long-time collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne and the text is by the writer of the stage version, Jean-Claude Carrière. Brook, the impresario, went around the world to find the essence of theatre and some may say he found the ingredients of a good children’s play—what they forget is how difficult the proposition of simplicity is.

Those who saw Brook’s film of Lord of the Flies (1963)–and have read about his redefining, symbolic version of Titus Andronicus (1958)know of the director’s facility with horror, which infused the American avant-garde, along with Artaud and his Theatre of Cruelty. Lone Wolf Tribe’s  The God Projekt, a domestic history of God–from lifelike primordial spit to today’s suicide of the West–is close to a gross-out show, written by Kevin Augustine and Edward Einhorn (it closed at La Mama on October 16). The team follows similar concerns as those in Battlefield, including the idea of repeated apocalypses, interest in ancient civilizations, ingesting of another person, and even animals—in this case a monkey.  Kevin Augustine, the leading player (the show is virtually a monologue) displays a talent for disguise. He and Einhorn (with puppeteers Joseph Garner and Emily Marsh), are like pre-meds who have studied Darwin too long, sniffing formaldehyde, or like kids boiling a frog or eating worms; they’re politically incorrect heralds of the  grotesque tradition. Unlike Brook, however, they haven’t found minimalism, even if in terms of form, all find themselves telling large mythic tales.  Incorporated here are the stories of Adam, the Queen of Heaven, and even Christ—which, in a seeming counterculture template, move toward audience participation.  The God Projeckt may be an ur text, or part of one anyway, which holds the motherload of themes for the partnership. Of special interest is the anatomically correct and wet and squishy war between Christianity and Paganism: La Mama, Ellen Stewart herself, may have liked the emphasis on polytheism in The God Projekt, supplemented by bygone tunes such as “Isn’t It Nice to Have a Wife Around the house?” and “My Blue Heaven.” Such work might have inspired her to produce a new puppet Frankenstein—or Augustine’s and Einhorn’s own version of Titus, complete with internal organs.

Even if the title reference to theoretical physics is inflated, Simon Stephens’s Heisenberg, now playing at Manhattan Theatre Club until December 11, uses minimalism in set (two tables and two chairs) and props (virtually none) and confirms Brook’s notion that “if you [take] away the big scenery . . . we listen more purely.” He’s right–theatregoers will hear Stephens’s engaging script and be impressed by the tight acting of Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker (even if her pronunciation makes the character seem slow at the start).  The creative team, including director Mark Brokaw with scenic designer Mark Wendland, seem to be appropriating the technique of working with absence, as well as TV news alert scene starters, in order to make contemporary a vehicle, which in the 1960s, would have gone to Sandy Dennis. During that era, Stephens’s central male character did forget to write about Vietnam in his diaries, and the English playwright’s “average people” love story has chosen not to mention our own searing current events, except in a jab at Garden State Republicans, apparently in order to pander to Manhattan Theatre Club audiences.  Stephens’s work was especially raw in his short A Canopy of Stars, where a young English mother rages against the Afghanistan War—calling the Mideast country “a hole in the bottom of the world.”  Here he is less successful in finding his chatty Jersey girl’s idiom: how many women have you met from the state called Georgie, to begin with, and how often would you hear them say, that suits me “down to the ground”?  Even if Stephens doesn’t convince that he’s figured out how the American character translates abroad, there was appreciation for this two-hander in the house, which might recall the way people reacted to Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly.  Our section of the theatre was disrupted twice during the performance when a woman first exclaimed, “This is charming,” and, later, “This is fabulous.”  If commercial stage work can elicit this kind of on-the-spot euphoric word of mouth, then there really is no reason for a critic.  Whether one has left the theatre, “nourished by his own thoughts,” as Brook would hope, is subjective.


© 2016 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

Visit BAM: http://www.bam.org/  Press, Battlefield: BAM: Sandy Sawotka.

Visit La Mama: http://lamama.org/  Press, The God Projekt: La Mama: Miguel Mendiola/Sam Rudy.

Visit Manhattan Theatre Club: http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/join-mtc/  Press, Heisenberg: BBBway: Michelle Farabaugh and Melissa Cohen.



(Ben Brantley article appeared in The New York Times, 10/25.)

Jake Gyllenhaal, you’ll be delighted to hear, can speak pointillism. Even more to the, uh, point, he can sing pointillism, which isn’t easy at all. It involves concentration and balance and order, not to mention being able to summon all those radiant flecks of color and light.

But when Mr. Gyllenhaal intones, “blue, blue, blue, blue,” in a bristling succession of notes, you could swear you hear dabs of paint turning into shimmer. With that moment, we’ve stepped with Mr. Gyllenhaal through the doorway of one man’s vision and into the empyrean summoned by his character, the 19th-century French painter Georges Seurat. It’s going to be a long and happy time before we have to return to our dimmer daily worldviews.

(Read more)




(from Sina English, 10/25.)

If “China speed” has become a synonym for ground-breaking and tremendous economic growth of the country since its reform and opening-up, then “Wuzhen speed” is very likely to become an epitome of the city’s ambitious changes in the field of culture and art in the future.

From October 13 to 22, the 4th Wuzhen Theatre Festival staged a total of 79 performances by 22 invited productions, half of which came from Europe, at 13 theaters, while also expanding its regular programs to include two exhibitions and five forums about theatrical art and the theater industry. Participants at the forums included members from the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC), 16 artistic directors from central and eastern Europe, as well as art festival directors and cultural officials from seven Arabian countries.

“How long will it take for the Wuzhen Theatre Festival to become the best theater festival in the world?” Yu Kwok-lit, executive director of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), asked Meng Jinghui, the artistic director of the Wuzhen festival in 2015 and 2016, at a producers’ forum hosted by WKCDA during the festival.

(Read more)





(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/23.)

You can see why Victor Hugo attracts the makers of musicals: his novels are almost excessively theatrical. After Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables and Lionel Bart’s Quasimodo, we now have a new version of L’Homme qui rit (1869), already twice filmed, with a score by Tim Phillips and Marc Teitler and a book by Carl Grose. Although it still needs work, it makes for a wonderfully weird, macabre musical.

The novel is specifically set in late 17th-century England which, in Grose’s version, becomes a mythical Bristol. The disfigured hero, Grinpayne, is employed as a fairground freak, is loved by a sightless girl and aches to learn how his face came to be lacerated.

(Read more)




Listen to ‘MARY ROSE’ at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0801l4v

JM Barrie’s haunting play about a sinister Scottish island and a girl who never grows up. A soldier sits staring into the fire in an empty, dark house while an unsettling and tragic history unfolds before him. Written in the aftermath of the First World War, Barrie’s play about loss and the mystery of life is by turns comic, eerie and heartbreaking.

Original music is composed and performed by Laura Moody, singer cellist. Laura was recently nominated for an Off-West End Theatre Award for her Sound Design of DREAMPLAY at The Vaults in Waterloo, London.



In previews. Opens Oct. 24.

A Life

In Adam Bock’s play, directed by Anne Kauffman, David Hyde Pierce plays a man who recovers from a breakup by looking for answers in astrological charts.READ MORE »

Playwrights Horizons



In previews. Opens Oct. 30.


Red Bull Theatre presents Shakespeare’s politically minded tragedy, directed by Michael Sexton and starring Dion Johnstone as the Roman general.READ MORE »

Barrow Street Theatre


In previews.

Dead Poets Society

Jason Sudeikis plays a nonconformist teacher at an all-boys school, in Tom Schulman’s adaptation of his screenplay for the 1989 film, directed by John Doyle.READ MORE »

Classic Stage Company



In previews.

The Death of the Last Black Man in…

Suzan-Lori Parks’s comedy, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, explores the archetypes of the African-American experience in absurdist vignettes.READ MORE »

Pershing Square Signature Center



Through Nov. 6.


SoHo Rep presents a new piece—part vaudeville, part gospel show—created by the performance artist Daniel Alexander Jones and featuring his soul-singing alter ego, Jomama Jones.READ MORE »



In previews.


James Lapine directs a revival of the 1992 musical, with a score by William Finn, in which an unconventional family navigates gay life, AIDS, and bar mitzvahs in Koch-era Manhattan.…READ MORE »

Walter Kerr



In previews. Opens Nov. 6.

Finian’s Rainbow

Melissa Errico stars in the 1947 musical, about an Irish father and daughter who escape to the Jim Crow South after stealing a pot of gold from a leprechaun.READ MORE »

Irish Repertory



In previews. Opens Oct. 20.

The Front Page

Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Sherie Rene Scott, Holland Taylor, and Robert Morse star in Jack O’Brien’s revival of the 1928 comedy, about Chicago newspapermen…READ MORE »




In previews. Opens Nov. 6.

Homos, or Everyone in America

Robin De Jesús and Michael Urie portray a couple whose life is complicated by a violent crime in Jordan Seavey’s play, directed by Mike Donahue for Labyrinth Theatre Company.…READ MORE »

Bank Street Theatre



Opens Nov. 2.

Kingdom Come

In Jenny Rachel Weiner’s play, directed by Kip Fagan for Roundabout Underground, two women venture under false identities into the world of Internet dating.READ MORE »

Black Box, Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre



In previews. Opens Oct. 30.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Janet McTeer, Liev Schreiber, and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen star in Josie Rourke’s revival of the Christopher Hampton drama, depicting the seductive games of aristocrats in pre-Revolutionary France.READ MORE »




In previews. Opens Nov. 7.

“Master Harold” . . . and the Boys

Athol Fugard directs his 1982 drama, set in a tea shop in South Africa in 1950, where two black men and a white boy face the cruelties of apartheid.READ MORE »

Pershing Square Signature Center



In previews.

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Josh Groban and Denée Benton star in Dave Malloy’s electro-pop adaptation of a section of “War and Peace.” Rachel Chavkin directs the immersive production, which originated at Ars Nova.…READ MORE »




Opens Nov. 2.

Notes from the Field

Anna Deavere Smith’s new solo work, based on more than two hundred and fifty interviews, explores issues of education, inequality, and criminal justice.READ MORE »

Second Stage


In previews.

Othello: The Remix

The Q Brothers (“The Bomb-itty of Errors”) perform their five-person, eighty-minute hip-hop retelling of the Shakespeare tragedy.READ MORE »





In previews.

Party People

The Universes ensemble stages this piece about the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, based on interviews with veterans…READ MORE »




In previews. Opens Oct. 20.


In David Leveaux’s revival of the David Hare drama, last seen at the Public in 1982, Rachel Weisz plays a British secret agent adjusting to everyday life after working…READ MORE »




Oct. 26-29.

Request Concert

At the Next Wave Festival, the Latvian director Yana Ross stages Franz Xaver Kroetz’s play, which consists of only stage directions and depicts a woman (Danuta Stenka) alone in…READ MORE »

BAM Fisher



In previews. Opens Oct. 31.

Sagittarius Ponderosa

The National Asian American Theatre Company presents MJ Kaufman’s play, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, in which a transgender man returns home to central Oregon as his father’s…READ MORE »

3LD Art & Technology Center



Oct. 24-26. Closing soon

Sunday in the Park with George

Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford star in a special concert performance of the 1984 Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical, to benefit New York City Center.READ MORE »

City Center



In previews. Opens Nov. 3.


Kate Whoriskey directs a new play by Lynn Nottage, about a group of friends from an assembly line who find themselves at odds amid layoffs and pickets.READ MORE »




In previews.

Terms of Endearment

Molly Ringwald stars in Dan Gordon’s play, based on the Larry McMurtry novel and the 1983 film, which follows a mother and daughter coping with love and tragedy over…READ MORE »




In previews. Opens Oct. 23.

Two Class Acts

A. R. Gurney premières a pair of short plays: “Squash,” about a college professor grappling with a student’s provocative take on Plato, and “Ajax,” in which an actress turned…READ MORE »




In previews. Opens Oct. 25.


Manhattan Theatre Club stages a play by Qui Nguyen, directed by May Adrales, about two Vietnam War refugees (based on the playwright’s parents) in a relocation camp in Arkansas.…READ MORE »

City Center Stage I



Opens Oct. 26.


En Garde Arts presents a multimedia piece about the pressures of addiction, trauma, and sexual identity, based on interviews with young adults and accompanied by a folk score.READ MORE »

Abrons Arts Center





(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Observer, 10/23.)

The long-held suggestion that Christopher Marlowe was William Shakespeare is now widely dismissed, along with other authorship theories. But Marlowe is enjoying the next best thing – taking centre stage alongside his great Elizabethan rival with a credit as co-writer of the three Henry VI plays.

The two dramatists will appear jointly on each of the three title pages of the plays within the New Oxford Shakespeare, a landmark project to be published by Oxford University Press this month.

Using old-fashioned scholarship and 21st-century computerised tools to analyse texts, the edition’s international scholars have contended that Shakespeare’s collaboration with other playwrights was far more extensive than has been realised until now.

(Read more)





(Via David Gibbs, DARR Publicity)


New York, NY – The Amoralists has announced their 2016-2017 season, which will include the world premiere of Ken Urban’s NIBBLER, directed by Benjamin Kamine, and ‘Wright Club’s ‘Wright Nights, featuring six new authors in the company’s year-long playwright development program.

NIBBLER runs from February 23 – March 18, 2017 in a limited engagement at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, located at 224 Waverly Place between Perry & West 11th Streets in New York City. Previews begin February 23 for a February 27 opening. Tickets will go on sale in January 2017 at http://www.TheAmoralists.com or by calling 1-866-811-4111.

In the summer of 1992 in Medford, New Jersey, Adam and his gang of friends face life after high school. But when the fivesome encounter a mysterious visitor from another world, their lives are forever changed. A dark comedy with music about that time when everything and nothing seems possible.

The cast and design team for NIBBLER will be announced at a later date.

‘Wright Club is The Amoralists year-long playwright development program, in which six authors face off with their harshest critics, themselves, through guided artistic challenges and structured peer support. They are a community of playmakers bound by the principles, and strengthened in the practice, of courageous vulnerability.

The Amoralists ‘Wright Club mission is to build a community of artists, focusing primarily on writers for the theatre; To deepen authors’ understanding of their own process through production; And to broaden the theatre community’s conversation about playmaking.


This season’s six authors include Lawrence Dial, Tanya Everett, Jessica Hinds, Stacey Rose, Becca Schlossberg and Lizzie Vieh.

All ‘Wright Club ‘Wright Night events begin at 7pm and are free to the public. For venue information and to reserve seats visit http://www.TheAmoralists.com.


Monday, November 21 – ‘Wright Night 1: CIRCLE MIRROR ALTERCATION
Monday, January 9 – ‘Wright Night 2: ABRASION IN THE SUN
Monday, March 6 – ‘Wright Night 3: ‘FIGHT, MOTHER
Monday, April 17 – ‘Wright Night 4: HOW I LEARNED TO PILE-DRIVE
Monday, June 5 – ‘Wright Night 5: IN THE NEXT ROUND, or THE FLY-WEIGHTER PLAY
Monday, July 17 – ‘Wright Night 6: KUNG FU AND HER FRIENDS

Dedicated to an honest expression of the American condition, THE AMORALISTS produce work of no moral judgment. From New York Times’ Critics’ Pick productions and world premiere work from writers including Adam Rapp, Emily Schwend and Ken Urban, THE AMORALISTS bring audiences stories that are incisive, at times outrageous, and always entertaining. With a cadre of artists known for their raw and visceral performance style, “nobody else weds old-fashioned realist structure to working-class-hero lunacy quite this way” (Time Out New York).

Now in their tenth season and third residency at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, “THE AMORALISTS have cemented their reputation as the most promising, crowd-pleasing ensemble to emerge downtown” (The New York Times). For info visit http://www.TheAmoralists.com, Like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/TheAmoralists, and follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheAmoralists and Instagram at https://www.Instagram.com/TheAmoralists.



Ken Urban is a playwright and screenwriter based in New York. His plays have been produced Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 59E59 Theatres, The Summer Play Festival at The Public, and Studio 42. He has developed new work at a number of theaters including Playwrights Horizons, Huntington Theatre Company, Theatre @ Boston Court, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Donmar Warehouse (London) and Primary Stages. In 2015, A Future Perfect received its World Premiere at SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston. Sense of an Ending opened in London at Theatre503 in May, then in New York at 59E59 Theatres in August. He wrote the screenplay for The Happy Sad, which screened internationally at over 25 film festivals, and is now available on iTunes and Amazon. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service in the United States and Methuen in the United Kingdom and Europe. Awards include the Weissberger Playwriting Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Playwriting, Huntington Theater Playwriting Fellowship, Headlands Artist Residency, Djerassi Artist Residency, Dramatist Guild Fellowship, and MacDowell Colony Fellowships. He is a member playwright at New Dramatists in New York, and a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.

Benjamin Kamine is a Manhattan-based stage director with a focus on new work. His recent credits include the world premieres of Carlyle by Thomas Bradshaw (Goodman Theatre) and A Comedy of Manors by Zoe Samuel (Adirondack Theatre Festival), the New York premiere of Washer/Dryer by Nandita Shenoy (Ma-Yi Theatre Company), and the world premiere of a cautionary tail by Christopher Oscar Pena (Flea Theater). Kamine is an Associate Artist at The Flea Theater and the Resident Director at the Jewish Plays Project. He has developed new work with Ars Nova, Berkeley Rep, Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Civilians, Ensemble Studio Theater, the Goodman Theatre, the Lark, Ma-Yi Theater Company, New York Theatre Workshop, PlayPenn, Playwrights Realm, Primary Stages, and Soho Rep among many others. Kamine has been a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, the 15-16 and 16-17 Civilians R&D Group, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and he is a 16-17 LABA Fellow.

Photo of Ken Urban:  Credit Kevin Thomas Garcia.  All rights reserved.



Listen on BBC Radio 4 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07zyg5p

Following on from Alan Bennett’s bestselling, award-winning prose collections Writing Home and Untold Stories, Keeping On Keeping On is a newly-published third anthology featuring his unique observations, recollections and reminiscences.

In these entries, covering the years 2005 to 2014, Bennett looks back on a packed decade that included writing four highly-acclaimed plays – The Habit of Art, People, Hymn and Cocktail Sticks, all of which premiered at the National Theatre – as well as the screenplays for the hit films of The History Boys and The Lady in the Van.

In addition, he reflects on his 25 years of friendship and collaboration with director Nicholas Hytner, life with his partner Rupert Thomas and, radical views notwithstanding, his status as ‘kindly, cosy and essentially harmless’ – a view which these diaries do their best to disprove.

Today, Alan’s play The History Boys has its last production at the National Theatre and he laments the many abandoned pieces he has written.

Abridged and produced by Gordon House.



(Kate Taylor’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/14; via Pam Green.)

Anna Deavere Smith is coming home.

The protean actress and playwright has spent her career interviewing and then embodying people of different races and divergent points of view — “chasing that which is not me,” as she put it in a recent interview. But her new play, “Notes From the Field,” a prolonged meditation on education and criminal justice, is different.

“This piece,” she said, “is about me.”

That may not be obvious to the audience. Like her previous work, including her most famous one-woman plays, “Fires in the Mirror,” about the 1991 race riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,”about the Rodney King riots, “Notes From the Field” is based on scores of interviews.

Ms. Smith plays 19 characters, including Linda Wayman, the dedicated principal of a struggling high school in Philadelphia; Kevin Moore, the deli worker in Baltimore who videotaped police officers dragging Freddie Gray into a police transport van; and Niya Kenny, the high school student in Columbia, S.C., who videotaped a sheriff’s deputy slamming a 16-year-old girl on the floor in an effort to extract her from her desk.

(Read more)




(Callow’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/22.)

The first I heard about Amadeus was a characteristically vivid telephone call from the legendarily foul-mouthed director John Dexter (at that time head of productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York). “Callow? What d’you know about Mozart?” “Well, er, I …” “You’d better find out, hadn’t you, because you’re about to fucking well play Mozart in Peter fucking Shaffer’s new play, aren’t you?” An hour later it was in my hands, in my bedsit in Hampstead.

I read the play with some surprise. I was not taken aback by the story of Mozart’s alleged poisoning at the hands of Antonio Salieri (which I knew from Rimsky-Korsakov’s operatic setting of Pushkin’s play on the same theme), nor by the scatological language; what amazed me was what I took to be the crudeness of the dramaturgy. Mozart appeared to be defined by his giggle; the emperor Joseph II – the most powerful monarch of the second half of the 18th century – simply repeated his catchphrase (“Well, there it is!”); and Mozart’s wife, Constanze, used words such as “delish”.

(Read more)