Monthly Archives: December 2016

GIDEON IRVING: ‘MY NAME IS GIDEON—I’M PROBABLY GOING TO DIE EVENTUALLY’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

My Name Is Gideon—I’m Probably Going to Die Eventually is a traveling one-man magic act–with songs and stories. The evening, which closed at the Rattlestick on December 11,  is equal parts hippie medicine show–the music may remind of a Cat Stevens album–and German gothic tale.  Gideon Irving is the too-talented banjo-picking and harmonica-playing (sometimes both at the same time) cousin or uncle whom families send their kids to visit during holidays, while dinner is being prepared.  Sometimes these kinds of creatives get locked in the basement. Lately, they’ve caught grief from politicians for moving back home after college graduation—but it usually doesn’t stop their ingenuity.  Gideon’s opening song is actually one that was written by a five-year-old friend, Bella, called “Sea Lion Cow,” who, like the soloist himself, is also precocious. Gideon talks about his mother’s running away to the circus, grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies (they’re excellent), his brother’s absurdist disability, and his first girlfriend—interspersed with site-specific gags and tricks.  The imaginary carnival has been written largely to entertain new-found acquaintances, who have put the author up during his world travels over the past nine years. This home circus, or form of Jewish musicale, is inventive and showcases a talented artist who has taken production into his own hands. Theater goes on, even in inhospitable economic times and even if the audience is only a handful of people. Gideon proves that artistic types don’t need to be discovered or even be locked up in a basement—the urge to create happens everywhere and can’t be stopped.  In fact, it’s not too late to see Gideon–don’t be surprised to find the latest iteration of his show in your own living room.

Visit Gideon Irving’s Web site: http://www.mynameisgideon.com/

Press: Glenna Freedman

© 2016  by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

***** REPPE/MANLEY/CANNON: ‘BLACK BEAUTY’ (SV PICK, SCT) ·

(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/11.)

They should have called it Horse Play. This collaboration between Shona Reppe, Andy Manley and Andy Cannon is not so much an adaptation of the Anna Sewell novel as a free-associating theatrical gymkhana. A triumph of object-theatre stagecraft, it takes a rosette-worthy canter through a stableful of horse-themed gags, while paying touching testament to the value of resilience.

For a while, it looks as if it’ll have nothing to do with Black Beauty at all. Manley and Cannon play the Famous McCuddy Brothers, equestrian illusionists stranded on the outskirts of Edinburgh for want of employment in the pantomime-horse business. Not until they resort to selling their belongings do they start reading their late mother’s copy of the novel, enacting its most memorable adventures as they go.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/dec/11/black-beauty-traverse-theatre-edinburgh-review-anna-sewell

KIRK DOUGLAS AT 100: A ONE-MAN HOLLYWOOD MOUNT RUSHMORE ·

(Peter Bradshaw’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/9; via Pam Green.)

“I’m Spartacus!” – “I’m Spartacus!” – “I’M SPARTACUS!” Every film buff knows that moment, every panel-show comedian riffs on it. A mob of defeated slave rebels in the pre-Christian Roman empire is told their wretched lives will be spared, but only if their ringleader, Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), comes out and gives himself up to be executed. Just as he is about to sacrifice himself, one slave, Antoninus (Tony Curtis) jumps up and claims to be Spartacus, then another, and another, then all of them, a magnificent display of solidarity, while the man himself allows a tear to fall in closeup.

This variant on the Christian myth – in the face of crucifixion, Spartacus’s disciples do not deny him – is a pointed political fiction. In real life, Spartacus was killed on the battlefield. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, the blacklisted author who had to work under aliases and found no solidarity in Hollywood. Yet Douglas himself, as the film’s producer, stood up for Trumbo. He put Trumbo’s real name in the credits, and ended the McCarthy-ite hysteria.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/09/kirk-douglas-at-100-one-man-hollywood-mount-rushmore?CMP=share_btn_link

HOW A RURAL THEATER GROUP FIGHTS FOR TURKISH WOMEN’S RIGHTS ·

(Menekse Toyay’s article appeared on Al Arabiya English, 12/7.)

Born in 1957 to a family with 10 siblings in a small village in Turkey’s southern city of Adana, Ummiye Kocak had to drop out of formal education after primary school due to her family’s limited financial resources.

But, such hindrances never stopped her from expanding her knowledge. During her childhood, she began reading books and started with Maxim Gorky’s 1906 novel “The Mother” which tells the story of revolutionary factory workers.

Reading books in a village that had no library, for a lady whose name “ummi” means “illiterate” in Arabic, required great effort including asking people to lend her books.

Then she got married and moved to a small remote village on the outskirts of the southern city of Mersin in the midst of the Taurus mountains. One day, a mobile theatre group stopped by the village. After the play ended, she asked an actor his name and she was surprised to realize that his real name was not the same as his stage name.

(Read more)

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2016/12/07/How-a-rural-theater-group-fights-for-Turkish-women-s-rights.html

Photo: Yeni Marmara Gazetesi

MAXWELL ANDERSON: ‘WINTERSET’ (SV PICK, CHI) ·

ct-winterset(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times, 11/30.)

Before anything can be said about Griffin Theatre’s ambitious production of Maxwell Anderson’s rarely revived 1935 play, “Winterset,” a bit of background about the case of Sacco and Vanzetti — often seen as an example of the American justice system at its most flawed and prejudicial — is essential.

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian-American anarchists and immigrants who were convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during the armed robbery of a Massachusetts shoe company in 1920. Their case attracted international attention, for despite appeals in which recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery all suggested the accused men were innocent, the two were sent to the electric chair. The question at hand: Did the social and political prejudices of the time result in the miscarriage of justice?

(Read more)

http://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/winterset-a-tale-of-guilt-innocence-and-justice-denied/

(Photo: Chicago Tribune)

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ARENA STAGE (D.C.) UNVEILS A 25-PLAY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES ·

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Actress and V-Day Founder Eve Ensler speaks onstage at the 3rd Annual One Billion Rising: REVOLUTION at Hammerstein Ballroom on February 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage for V-Day)

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 07: Actress and V-Day Founder Eve Ensler speaks onstage at the 3rd Annual One Billion Rising: REVOLUTION at Hammerstein Ballroom on February 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage for V-Day)

(Joshua Baron’s article appeared in the New York Times, 12/1; via Pam Green.)

Washington, D.C., already the nexus of political theater, will be the home of a new series of 25 plays that tell the history of politics and power in the United States.Arena Stage, one of the country’s leading regional theaters, will commission and develop 25 plays — one for each decade of American history — over the next 10 years in an initiative it calls “Power Plays.”

(Read more)

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/Pam+Green/158cc6c577d624ba

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‘THE NEW YORKER’ THEATRE LISTINGS, 12/12 PLAYDECK ·

In previews. Opens Dec. 5. Closing soon

The Babylon Line

Richard Greenberg’s new play, set in 1967, follows a Greenwich Village writer (Josh Radnor) who connects with a student (Elizabeth Reaser) while teaching an adult-ed class in Levittown.…

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Mitzi E. Newhouse

Uptown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 8. Closing soon

The Band’s Visit

David Cromer directs a new musical by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses, based on a 2007 Israeli film about an Egyptian orchestra that gets stranded in the Negev Desert.

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Atlantic Theatre Company

Chelsea

In previews. Opens Dec. 8. Closing soon

The Dead, 1904

Kate Burton stars in Paul Muldoon and Jean Hanff Korelitz’s adaptation of the Joyce tale; the Irish Rep’s production roams three floors of a historic town…

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American Irish Historical Society

Uptown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 4.

Dear Evan Hansen

Ben Platt plays an antisocial teen-ager who finds himself in a moral quandary after a classmate’s death, in a new musical by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven…

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Music Box

Midtown

 

Opens Dec. 7. Closing soon

Elements of Oz

The Builders Association’s multimedia piece, written by James Gibbs and Moe Angelos, uses augmented-reality technology to tell the stories behind the film “The Wizard of Oz.”

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3LD Art & Technology Center

Downtown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 13.

His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley

Jake Broder wrote and stars in this tribute to the mid-century comedian, who drew on bebop rhythms to create an outré countercultural persona.

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59E59

Midtown

 

Opens Nov. 25. Closing soon

The Illusionists: Turn of the Century

The magicians’ showcase returns, this time with performers including Thommy Ten and Amélie van Tass, of “America’s Got Talent,” and the theme of magic’s early-twentieth-century golden age.…

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Palace

Midtown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 11.

In Transit

This new a-cappella musical, directed by Kathleen Marshall and written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth, traces the intertwining lives of New York commuters.

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Circle in the Square

Midtown

 

Through Dec. 11. Closing soon

Longing Lasts Longer

The downtown fixture Penny Arcade performs a piece about the gentrification of New York City and the effects of capitalism on creativity.

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St. Ann’s Warehouse

Brooklyn

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 12.

Othello

David Oyelowo plays the title role in Sam Gold’s production of the Shakespeare tragedy, opposite Daniel Craig’s Iago.

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New York Theatre Workshop

Downtown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 6. Closing soon

Rancho Viejo

In Dan LeFranc’s comedy, directed by Daniel Aukin, the residents of a Southwestern suburb gossip and fret over the separation of an unseen married couple.

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Playwrights Horizons

Midtown

 

In previews. Opens Dec. 13.

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

The National Theatre of Scotland stages this immersive musical fable at the home of “Sleep No More,” transforming its speakeasy space, the Heath, into a Scottish pub.

READ MORE »

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MICHAEL BILLINGTON: TOP TEN 2016 THEATRE U.K. ·

(Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/6.)

  1. The Flick
    National Theatre, London

Peter Brook once argued that the acid test of any play was the image it leaves behind. No question about the abiding memory of Annie Baker’s astonishing play: a run-down movie auditorium, rows of empty seats, a projection booth. But this was simply the setting for a play about the quiet desperation of three lonely people intoxicated by film. Sam (Matthew Maher) was a burly cleaner aching with unexpressed love for Rose (Louisa Krause), the wraith-like projectionist. She, in turn, was besotted with Avery (Jaygann Ayeh), a 20-year-old African American on a break from college.

For some, since it ran three-and-a-quarter hours, the triangle seemed eternal, but I loved everything about the play. The long silences. The way passion, as in the work of Racine, was constantly beating against the restraints of a decorous framework: at one point, Sam registered his sexual jealousy by quietly emptying a bag of popcorn for Avery to clean up. Above all, this was a play about work, about the fact that running an old-style movie house is as much concerned with sweeping away the debris as resisting the trend towards digitisation.

As one of the few theatre critics to have worked as a cinema usher, I could even vouch for the accuracy of a time-honoured scam concerning the resale of old ticket stubs. Sam Gold’s unhurried production, imported from New York, was a miracle and the acting was marvellous. But the main credit belongs to Baker, for making moving drama out of a trio of lost souls and for creating the year’s most unforgettable theatrical image. Read the full review

  1. Oil
    Almeida, London

Ambitious and bold … Oil. Photograph: Richard H Smith

In a breakthrough year for female dramatists – and a modest one for men – Ella Hickson’s play stands out. It spanned 150 years and covered a vast range of subjects: the exploitation and exhaustion of the world’s oil resources, the links between the energy industry and imperialism, the social progress made by women and the unresolved problems of parenting. It was a lot to cram in, but I was awed by the boldness of the conception. Anne-Marie Duff as the time-transcending May also caught brilliantly the pain that accompanied a pathfinding woman’s gain. Read the full review

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/dec/06/top-10-theatre-of-2016-michael-billington

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SAM SHEPARD: ‘TINY MAN’ (FICTION) ·

Sam Shepard

(from the New Yorker, 12/5)

Early morning: They deliver my father’s corpse in the trunk of a ’49 Mercury coupe, dew still heavy on the taillights. His body is wrapped up tight in see-through plastic, head to toe. Flesh-colored rubber bands bind it at the neck, waist, and ankles — mummy style. He’s become very small in the course of things — maybe eight inches tall. In fact, I’m holding him now, in the palm of my hand. I ask them for permission to unwrap his tiny head, just to make sure he’s truly dead. They allow me to do this. They all stand aside, hands clasped behind their tailored backs, heads bowed in a kind of ashamed mourning, but not something you would question them on. It’s smart to keep on their good side. Besides, they seem quite polite and stoic now.

(Read more)

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/12/05/tiny-man

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ONG KENG SEN’S SPELLBINDING TAKE ON ‘RICHARD III’ (JAPAN) ·

(Mike Eglinton’s article appeared in the Japan Times, 11/22.)

He is one of Asia’s foremost theater directors, and Ong Keng Sen looked to be enjoying his latest challenge when we met in Tokyo in March during rehearsals for “Sandaime Richard,” Japanese dramatist Hideki Noda’s iconoclastic adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”

The Singaporean dramatist was preparing to stage the famously complex play two months later at the annual World Theatre Festival Shizuoka — where, he said, he was intent on pursuing his longstanding focus on what he calls “New Asia” by weaving its multiple realities and hybrid identities through Noda’s “machine-gun” Japanese script.

In practice, he was transforming Noda’s radical reworking of the Bard’s original into a multilingual, cross-cultural and hypermodern play involving Japanese, Singaporean and Indonesian performers trained in different disciplines and traditions.

As Ong — who is also artistic director of the performance company TheatreWorks (Singapore) and director of the Singapore International Festival of Arts — went on to explain, “With this year being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we’re putting him on trial via Noda’s illuminating work he wrote and first performed in 1990.”

(Read more)

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture_category/stage/

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