Category Archives: Current Affairs

TONEELGROEP AMSTERDAM AT BAM: ‘THE FOUNTAINHEAD’ BY AYN RAND, ONLY 11/28-12/2 (NEXT ON THE STAGE VOICES CALENDAR) ·

US PREMIERE

The Fountainhead

NOV 28—DEC 2, 2017 

THEATER

Based on the book by Ayn Rand
Toneelgroep Amsterdam
Directed by Ivo van Hove

The 2017 Richard B. Fisher Next Wave Award honors Ivo van Hove and the production of The Fountainhead.

Part of the 2017 Next Wave Festival

Its controversy precedes it: Ayn Rand’s notorious 700-page paean to radical individualism, wrapped in a saga of sex, architecture, and skybound ambition. In this brutal reexamination, Belgian director Ivo van Hove updates the action to a buzzing co-working loft, where egos collide over mobile drafting tables and stiff drinks. Blueprints come and go, as idealist New York architect Howard Roark—determined not to conform to public taste—vies with pandering colleagues while navigating the desires of the elusive Dominique Francon. As overhead cameras voyeuristically capture creative and carnal acts from above, Van Hove unravels a bête noire of the left, letting the audience decide where to cast its stones.

 

Translation by Erica van Rijsewijk, Jan van Rheenen
Adaptation by Koen Tachelet
Dramaturgy by Peter Van Kraay
Set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld
Music by Eric Sleichim
Video design by Tal Yarden
Costume design by An D’Huys

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand used by permission of Curtis Brown Ltd. Copyright © 1943. All Rights Reserved.

PERFORMANCES

  • Tue, Nov 28 at 7pm
  • Wed, Nov 29 at 7pm
  • Thu, Nov 30 at 7pm
  • Fri, Dec 1 at 7pm
  • Sat, Dec 2 at 7pm

LANGUAGE

In Dutch with English titles

RUN TIME

Approx 4hrs with intermission

VENUE

Peter Jay Sharp Building

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House

TICKET INFO

TICKETS START AT  $35

Buy 4 or more events and save 15—30%

Major support provided by Edward Jay Wohlgemuth.

“… [an] awesome, air-clearing thunderclap brought about by Ivo van Hove’s mammoth production …”

— THE GUARDIAN (UK)

“… [Ivo van Hove] creates electrifying theatre in which word and spectacle find a perfect, symbiotic balance.”

— THE GUARDIAN

Photo:  BAM.org

Visit BAM: https://www.bam.org/theater/2017/thefountainhead

EARLE HYMAN, REST IN PEACE (1926-2017) ·

(George M. Johnson’s article appeared in Broadway Black, 11/18; via Pam Green.)

October 11, 1926 – November 16, 2017

It is with heavy hearts that we report television actor and theater great Earle Hyman passed away* late evening November 16th, 2017, at the age of 91. Hyman was born October 11th, 1926 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, of African-American and Native American ancestry. Hyman’s parents, Zachariah Hyman (Tuscarora) and Maria Lilly Plummer (Haliwa-Saponi/Nottoway), moved their family to Brooklyn, New York, where Hyman primarily grew up.

According to an interview in The Villager, Hyman’s interest in theater started at the age of 13 after seeing a production of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts.

(Read more)

http://broadwayblack.com/tony-emmy-award-nominated-cosby-show-actor-earle-hyman-passes-91/

Photo: CNN.com

LLOYD WEBBER/RICE: ‘EVITA’  (REVIEW FROM LONDON) ·

By Marit E. Shuman

 Rainbow High or Rainbow Low?

In the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, at the Phoenix Theatre in London, panache seems to overtake sincerity in this gilded, but nonetheless, enjoyable production. Title-role: Emma Hatton, no stranger to the West End (her credits include Elphaba in Wicked) or to the world of jazz and blues, seems to rely heavily on the latter in the delivery of her performance.

A vocally taxing role, Evita swoops from dusky, barely audible low notes all the way up to belted passagio, and then some. To quote Patti LuPone, originator of the role of Evita on Broadway, “There’s a couple of notes that aren’t as strong as your top notes or your bottom notes and that’s exactly where the score sits.” Where LuPone punched through the Es, Fs, and Gs, that characterize the vocal line (at the cost of her vocals, to be fair), Hatton backs down and floats them, in a breathy, bluesy manner. This approach adds a layer of sensitivity to Evita, by the addition of more dynamic contrast, but at what cost? Some of the strength, drive, and fearlessness of Eva Perón seem to be lost.

 

Playing opposite Hatton, making his West End debut in the role of Che, is Gian Marco Schiaretti.  Extremely handsome, he moves about the stage with ease and confidence.  Classic Che beard tightly clipped, army reliefs tightly fitted, and vibrato tightly coiled, this “boyband Che” brings charisma to the role, and, when he moves to his higher register and gives up trying to speak-sing, reveals an expressive and powerful voice. Unfortunately, the honesty and gravity of Che, as narrator, are glossed over by all the glitz.

Whereas the roles of Evita and Che seem to be lacking something, in terms of integrity, so too does the music. As is the norm nowadays, with theatres trying to cut costs, the orchestra that Webber’s iconic songs were written for consists of three keyboards–playing the parts of various instruments, such as strings and harps–a couple of trumpets, and a guitar.

All in all, a fun production but fluffy–ephemeral and insubstantial.

© 2017 by Marit E. Shuman.  All rights reserved.

Photos: Pamela Raith

AFTER A NOMINATOR IS DENIED ACCESS, ‘1984’ IS INELIGIBLE FOR TONYS ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/10; via Pam Green.)

This year’s Broadway production of “1984” will be ineligible for Tony Awards because the production refused to allow the journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is a member of the nominating committee, to see the play.

 The play’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, did not explain why Mr. Vargas was denied access, and neither Mr. Rudin nor Mr. Vargas immediately offered any comment. Another lead producer, Sonia Friedman, said, “I don’t have a comment on the matter other than I am disappointed with the outcome.”

The Tony Awards administration committee made the unusual decision to disqualify “1984” during a meeting on Thursday. The awards rules require that producers invite all members of the Tony nominating committee — there are currently 49 — to a performance.

“It was determined that not all elements of the required eligibility were fulfilled,” the awards administrators said in a statement Friday. “Both the production and the committee have discussed the matter in private. While all parties involved do not necessarily agree on the outcome, all parties agree that the issue was handled properly.”

A Tonys spokeswoman would not confirm that Mr. Vargas was denied access to the play, but several theater industry leaders confirmed that he was the excluded nominator. Last season, his first as a Tony nominator, he recused himself from voting.

Continue reading the main story

CHARLES LUDLAM: ‘CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE  OR WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE’ (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

By Bob Shuman

Theatregoers looking for an artistic reflection of the age of Harvey Weinstein might sit in on Conquest of the Universe or When Queens Collide, written by Charles Ludlam, a 1967 work from the Theatre of the Ridiculous, now playing at La MaMa until November 19.  Superficially, the comedy is about the takeover of the solar system, a retelling of Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine—there, the conqueror subjugates the Arab world–but elements of Hamlet, Candide, and Titus Andronicus, to name three, are also apparent.  Offering a premonition of today, Ludlam’s unfeeling characters manipulate, objectify, and abuse subordinates in their lust for power and sex. Unlike the sickening Titus Andronicus, however, Ludlam’s pileups of abuses aren’t shocking or alarming–and no one needs to leave the theatre feeling queasy. 

Much like listening to what is coming out about Hollywood and show business, those in the play know offenses are happening, but they’re too self-involved and power hungry to notice.  Shakespeare might think the elements in Conquest of the Universe should add up to tragedy but Ludlam’s characters only see momentary diversions and opportunities for histrionics.  Although this makes the cast difficult to distinguish—actors might play the opposite sex or take multiple parts—perhaps what is most important to emphasize is that, in this world, no one is in real pain–they can no longer feel it and they’re too busy anyway.  Virtually all the assembled components stand in the way of finding what’s human:  loud and garish sets and props (blacklight planets, huge plastic phalluses, and even a seashell worthy of Bette Midler); costumes of neon green, orange, red, silver, and blue; scene structuring with no builds or modulation; as well as the artificiality of the language: “I free mankind from the yoke of reason, which weighs upon it.  Rape and behead them.”

Identification with real, nuanced emotional distress is a point that recently flummoxed Alec Baldwin and made him shut down his twitter account—he couldn’t see that anyone was being hurt in the sex-to play schemes of the entertainment world.  Despite her own protests regarding her rape, Rose McGowan believes, “no one cared.”  Being ignored, but used, is captured in the lively, blaring, attention-grabbing, “anti-moral” Theatre of the Ridiculous–perhaps this is its point–evidenced by what was happening during the time in which it was born: deep discrimination against gays and minorities, the Vietnam War, and to come, the AIDS epidemic. America, in the ‘60s, would probably be seen as rather heartless compared to what is politically correct today—and the Weinstein story is a holdover from years when many felt they had to accept the unacceptable (in fact, felt they had to be tough enough to take it).  Like a 3,000-year-old shark with razor-sharp teeth, dredged up from the bottom of the sea, Weinstein reminds us of what’s inhuman, in a hypercompetitive business, ironically one about feelings.  

Like a three-dimensional Drudge Report, Ludlam’s theatre demonstrates why society is too preoccupied to care.  The playwright offers distractions, from blood-craving stories of the Renaissance to dirty jokes and puns from below Fourteenth Street; from discussion of the conflict in Indo-China (“Life is a war that never ends”) to references to Elmer Fudd and the Three Stooges; from poetry, stylized or lewd, to the tough talk of the city and boroughs.  Conquest of the Universe is an allegory about the Weinstein era, written long before anyone ever heard of him.  Entertaining as it is, the play also shows the significance of Ludlam’s vision and work.  Like a Rorschach, important art can announce itself without being premeditated—it simply describes where we are, now.  At the end of the play, Ludlam explains it is time to stop: a witch says: “Life is but a lying dream.  He only wakes who casts the world aside.”  Previous to this, the author has been temporally prescriptive:  “The vast majority of men as well as women are sexually disturbed. . . .  What is necessary, therefore, is the establishment of a sufficient number of clinics for . . .  treatment.”  Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers might have been listening.  As many know, the tyrannical producer was booked into an Arizona sex addiction clinic–for a week.  

Ridiculous?

As it was, he missed counseling.

© by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.  

Visit La MaMa: http://lamama.org/

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Charles Ludlam was an American actor, director, and playwright. Ludlam joined John Vaccaro’s Play-House of the Ridiculous, and after a falling out, became one of the founders of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York City in 1967. He taught or staged productions at New York University, Connecticut College for Women, Yale University, and Carnegie Mellon University. He won fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. He won six Obie Awards, the Rosamund Gilder Award for distinguished achievement in the theater in 1986 and in 2009, Ludlam was inducted posthumously into the American Theater Hall of Fame. He wrote nearly 30 plays, some of which include: Turds in Hell, an adaptation of The Satyricon (1969); Bluebeard (1970), an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s TheIsland of Dr Moreau; Corn (1972); Camille (1973); Der Ring Gott Farblonjet (1977), an adaptation of The Ring Cycle; The Enchanted Pig (1979); Exquisite Torture (1982); The Mystery of Irma Vep (1984); Galas (1983), inspired by the life of Maria Callas; and The Artificial Jungle (1986)

Everett Quinton recently directed Charles Ludlam’s, THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE with Theater Breaking Through Barriers.  Everett also directed IN THE BAR OF A TOKYO HOTEL by Tennessee Willliams with Theater 292 and THE WINTER’S TALE by William Shakespeare with Yorick Theater. As an actor Everett recently appeared as Enobarbus and one of five Cleopatras in Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.  Everett also appeared as Paulina and Autolycus in THE WINTER’S TALE, and Idris Seabright in DROP DEAD PERFECT, to name a few. Everett is a long time member of THE RIDICULOUS THEATRICAL COMPANY where he appeared in Charles Ludlam’s CAMILLE, BLUEBEARD AND THE SECRET LIVES OF THE SEXISTS.  Georg Osterman’s DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and BROTHER TRUCKERS.  As well as his own plays, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, LINDA AND CARMEN.

CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE cast includes: Everett Quinton, Géraldine Dulex,
Beth Dodye BassGrant Neale, Jeanne Lauren SmithJohn GutierrezLenys SamáSommer CarbucciaShane Baker, Brian Belovitch & Eugene the Poogene.

Production images by Theo Cote

(from top):  Shane Baker, Beth Dodye Bass and Everett Quinton

production postcard

Shane Baker and Everett Quinton

Ludlam photo: Pig Iron Theatre Company

 

“CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE OR WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE” BY CHARLES LUDLAM–ONLY UNTIL 11/19 AT LA MAMA ·

LA MAMA

In Association with HOWL ARTS

Proudly Presents

“CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE OR WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE”

By Charles Ludlam

The 50th Anniversary Production

 

Strictly Limited Engagement // November 2nd – 19th, 2017

Opening Night: Monday, November 6 at 8pm

CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE OR WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE – which marked the birth of the The Ridiculous Theatrical Company, co-founded by the late groundbreaking playwright and performer Charles Ludlam in 1967 – will return on the occasion of the play and the company’s 50th anniversary with a production, starring and directed by Everett Quinton, a long-standing member of RTC who assumed leadership as Artistic Director when Mr. Ludlam died 30 years ago, in 1987.  With previews starting November 2 prior to an official press opening on Monday, November 6 at 8pm, CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE OR WHEN QUEENS COLLIDE is presented by La MaMa in association with Howl Arts at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) in Manhattan.

CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE is an epic collage inspired by Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great that is as outrageous and timely today as it was when first performed in 1967. It’s a futuristic tale of war across the universe. Tamburlaine, President of Earth, proceeds from planet to planet, capturing and enslaving Bajazeth and Zabina-King and Queen of Mars-Venus, and Natolia, Queen of Saturn, among others. Cosroe-a Martian prince and twin brother of Zabina-leads the rebel forces against Tamberlaine in Ludlam’s mind-bending experimental classic, his theater of “sexual, imperialistic war.” Literary, film, and dramatic treasures are ransacked and pillaged, resulting in hilarious dialogue and multiple ts in this original, humorous tale of unbridled space queens!

The play embodies Mr. Ludlam’s core belief, and the mandate for The Ridiculous Theatrical Company:  that every play/production was an experiment.  According to Mr. Quinton, even Ludlam’s breakout ‘commercial’ success – THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, a long-running hit at the Sheridan Square Theatre – was totally abstract and as such, an experiment.  Mr. Quinton adds that RTC and its trademark outlandishness resulted as a reaction to the cultural upheaval of the 50’s and 60’s and the perceived Fascism during that time. 

“There was much to rage at in the 60’s,” Mr. Quinton states.  “And the theater of rage often made good company with the high comedy.”

Performance Schedule

November 2 through 19:  Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM; Sunday at 4:00 PM and Monday, Nov. 6th at 8:00 PM.

VENUE: The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La Mama, 66 E. 4th St., NYC

TICKETS: All tickets $30 // $25 students and seniors

To purchase, please visit: www.lamama.org or call OvationTix at: 212-352-3101

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Charles Ludlam was an American actor, director, and playwright. Ludlam joined John Vaccaro’s Play-House of the Ridiculous, and after a falling out, became one of the founders of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York City in 1967. He taught or staged productions at New York University, Connecticut College for Women, Yale University, and Carnegie Mellon University. He won fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. He won six Obie Awards, the Rosamund Gilder Award for distinguished achievement in the theater in 1986 and in 2009, Ludlam was inducted posthumously into the American Theater Hall of Fame. He wrote nearly 30 plays, some of which include: Turds in Hell, an adaptation of The Satyricon (1969); Bluebeard (1970), an adaptation of H. G. Wells’s TheIsland of Dr Moreau; Corn (1972); Camille (1973); Der Ring Gott Farblonjet (1977), an adaptation of The Ring Cycle; The Enchanted Pig (1979); Exquisite Torture (1982); The Mystery of Irma Vep (1984); Galas (1983), inspired by the life of Maria Callas; and The Artificial Jungle (1986)

Everett Quinton recently directed Charles Ludlam’s, THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE with Theater Breaking Through Barriers.  Everett also directed IN THE BAR OF A TOKYO HOTEL by Tennessee Willliams with Theater 292 and THE WINTER’S TALE by William Shakespeare with Yorick Theater. As an actor Everett recently appeared as Enobarbus and one of five Cleopatras in Shakespeare’s ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.  Everett also appeared as Paulina and Autolycus in THE WINTER’S TALE, and Idris Seabright in DROP DEAD PERFECT, to name a few. Everett is a long time member of THE RIDICULOUS THEATRICAL COMPANY where he appeared in Charles Ludlam’s CAMILLE, BLUEBEARD AND THE SECRET LIVES OF THE SEXISTS.  Georg Osterman’s DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and BROTHER TRUCKERS.  As well as his own plays, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, LINDA AND CARMEN.

CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE cast includes: Everett Quinton, Géraldine Dulex,
Beth Dodye Bass, Grant Neale, Jeanne Lauren Smith, John Gutierrez, Lenys Samá, Sommer Carbuccia, Shane Baker, Brian Belovitch & Eugene the Poogene.

About La MaMa

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.

Our 56th season reflects the urgency of reaffirming human interconnectedness. Our stages will embrace diversity in every form and present artists that persevere with bold self-expression despite social, economic, and political struggle.

MEMBERSHIPS — La MaMa continues its popular Experimental Theatre Club Memberships, offering $10 Tickets to all shows and other perks to members for the full season. Memberships start at $56.

www.lamama.org

 

***** IVO VAN HOVE/LEE HALL: ‘NETWORK’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 11/13.)

I am normally wary of people ransacking the movie archive to make plays, but this version of the Oscar-winning Network is an almost total triumph. Lee Hall has kept the best of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 script while excising its excesses. Bryan Cranston, best known for the hit series Breaking Bad, brings a wiry magnetism to the role of the TV news anchor, Howard Beale. Ivo van Hoveand his designer, Jan Versweyveld, have also transformed the National Theatre’s normally inflexible Lyttelton stage into an extraordinary blend of television studio and public restaurant.

The most obvious point to make about the Chayefsky script is how uncannily prophetic it seems. It is famously based on the idea of a veteran newsman experiencing a public breakdown. Having first threatened to kill himself on air, he launches a series of on-screen jeremiads, which turn him into a pop Savonarolaand rescue a failing network by achieving astronomical ratings.

As a satire it hits several targets dead centre. It imagines a world where news becomes a branch of show business, where profit margins dictate editorial content and where nation states are subordinate to “a college of corporations”. But Beale’s success lies in articulating public rage and persuading people to open their windows and shout: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.” Even if the internet has now replaced network television as the new reality, Chayefsky foresaw how power could be achieved by tapping into popular anger. While preserving the original’s insights, Hall has subtly altered the balance of the story.

Read more

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/nov/13/network-review-bryan-cranston-lyttelton-national-theatre-lee-hall

Photo: The Stage

SHAKESPEARE AND WAR: STEPHAN WOLFERT ·

(from the Folger Shakespeare Library; via Pam Green.)

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 81

In his one-man show Cry Havoc! actor Stephan Wolfert, a US Army veteran, draws together lines in Shakespeare’s plays spoken by soldiers and former soldiers—including MacbethOthello, and Richard III.

He puts those words to the task of explaining the toll that soldiering and war can take on the psyches of the men and women who volunteer for military duty. Wolfert also runs free weekly veterans-only acting classes aimed at helping them readjust to life as civilians.

He is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published September 5, 2017. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This episode, To the Battle Came He, was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had help from Beth Emelson, Associate Artistic Producer of Folger Theatre; Eric Tucker, Artistic Director of Bedlam; Melissa Kuypers at NPR-West in Culver City, California; and from Ray Cruz at Hawaii Public Radio.

For more information on Cry Havoc!, or to find one of the acting classes Wolfert offers for veterans, visit decruit.org.

(Read more)

https://www.folger.edu/shakespeare-unlimited/war-stephan-wolfert

Photo: Berkshire On Stage

 

YAZBEK/MOSES: ‘THE BAND’S VISIT’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/9; via Pam Green.)

Breaking news for Broadway theatergoers, even — or perhaps especially — those who thought they were past the age of infatuation: It is time to fall in love again.

One of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by opened on Thursday night at the Barrymore Theater. It is called “The Band’s Visit,”and its undeniable allure is not of the hard-charging, brightly blaring sort common to box-office extravaganzas.

Instead, this portrait of a single night in a tiny Israeli desert town confirms a lyric that arrives, like nearly everything in this remarkable show, on a breath of reluctantly romantic hope: “Nothing is as beautiful as something you don’t expect.”

With songs by David Yazbek and a script by Itamar Moses, “The Band’s Visit” is a Broadway rarity seldom found these days outside of the canon of Stephen Sondheim: an honest-to-God musical for grown-ups. It is not a work to be punctuated with rowdy cheers and foot-stomping ovations, despite the uncanny virtuosity of Mr. Yazbek’s benchmark score.

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/theater/the-bands-visit-review-broadway-tony-shalhoub.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Fben-brantley&action=click&contentCollection=undefined&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

MURIELLE BORST-TARRANT: ‘DON’T FEED THE INDIANS’ AT LA MAMA (REVIEW FROM NEW YORK) ·

 

By Bob Shuman

Don’t Feed the Indians, a comedy revue now playing at La MaMa until November 19, doesn’t get around to ascertaining the politics of the horrific 2016 dog attacks on Native Americans, at the Dakota Pipeline, defending sacred burial ground.  The show also doesn’t mention the issues being raised by Idle No More, the Canadian grassroots movement protesting neo-colonialism. Instead, Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective Projects’ divine comedy pageant embraces the Broadway and Tin Pan Alley versions of aboriginal lives, as caricatured in Peter Pan, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific and Good News—without much outrage. Muriel Borst-Tarrant, humorous, tough, and tart, might be at home in an early talkie, (“Hello, happy Caucasians”). She’s a stand-up comedienne, not exactly sanguine about European settlers having had the chutzpah to ask Native Americans to give up the “rights to all your resources.” But she’s over it: “Get it?  Got it?  Good.” 

 

Perhaps part of the point in Don’t Feed the Indians is that Native Americans feel so integrated into American mainstream culture that their invisibility is on par with Danish-Americans or Swiss-Americans.  Perhaps also, the Broadway versions of indigenous peoples acted as ways to have an identity in popular culture—the shtick was held onto, no matter how inauthentic.  The eight Native-American actors in Don’t Feed the Indians know they’re in a “shitty show,” but they can’t figure out how to get out of it—and as standards go, rolling out “Pass That Peace Pipe” and “Bali Ha’i” isn’t too shameful. 

The script doesn’t find appropriation offensive or the stereotypes less than comic.  In fact, the pageant seems to want to learn from musical comedy, as in a distressing speech about the winner of a National Native-American Poetry Contest, reminiscent of Sammy Williams’s gay-themed monologue in A Chorus Line (performed well by Nic Billey).  The easy history lesson and wigwam wiggling might be part of a road company that remembers the days of Gypsy: old-fashioned,  unoriginal, inoffensive vaudeville—certainly lacking contemporary edge or passion.  On the way out of the play, theatregoers next to me were mentioning seeing Buffy Sainte-Marie in the Seventies.  Don’t Feed the Indians has a retro feel, presenting indigenous people as having the same issues as those in mainstream American society (“I’m an Indian, too”). Show business may be being used to buffer painful issues in the Native American community—and, thankfully, Sainte-Marie is still out there.  Are Native Americans living in a time warp?  In Don’t Feed the Indians, the audience isn’t asked to investigate or witness an alternative.

© 2017 by Bob Shuman

World Premiere

‘Don’t Feed the Indians—A Divine Comedy Pageant’

 

Visit La MaMa: http://lamama.org/dont_feed_the_indians/

Conceived, Written and Directed by Murielle Borst-Tarrant [Kuna/Rappahannock Nations]
Musical Direction by Kevin Tarrant [Hopi/Hochunk Nations]

A Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective Project

CAST

Henu Josephine Tarrant
[Hopi/ Hochunk/ Kuna/ Rappahannock Nations]

Nic Billey
[Choctaw/ Delaware/ Creek Nations]

Danielle Soames
[Mohawk]

John Scott-Richardson 
[Haliwa-Saponi Nation]

Press: David Gibbs, DARR Publicity

Photos, from top, by Maya Bitan:  

Danielle Soames (Mohawk/Kahnawake Nations);

John Scott-Richardson (Haliwa-Saponi Nation), Danielle Soames (Mohawk/Kahnawake Nations), Kevin Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-Chunk Nations), Nicholson Billey (Delaware/Choctaw/Creek Nations), George Stonefish (Delaware/Chippewa Nations) 

Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Kuna/Rappahannock Nations), Nicholson Billey (Delaware/Choctaw/Creek Nations)

Henu Josephine Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-Chunk/Kuna/Rappahannock Nations), Danielle Soames (Mohawk/Kahnawake Nations), Nicholson Billey (Delaware/Choctaw/Creek Nations)