Category Archives: Theatre Week Review

THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, ON STAGE VOICES: 1/21/2024 – 1/28/2024 ·

The past week’s international stage highlights, brought to you via the world’s foremost journalism.  Bard, the large language model from Google AI, provided information, insights, and materials for this article (facilitated by Bob Shuman).

  1. LONDON CALLING: THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF “THE KING AND I”
  • Source:Dominic Cavendish, The Times (London), January 15, 2024
  • The Story:London’s West End witnessed a majestic revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved “The King and I,” captivating audiences with its opulent sets, soaring vocals, and Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s commanding performance as the King. Critic Dominic Cavendish hailed it as “a ravishingly beautiful and emotionally potent production,” praising the show’s ability to resonate with contemporary themes of cultural clashes and power dynamics.
  • Playing at:Dominion Theatre, until March 2nd, 2024
  1. BROADWAY BATTLES: A PHYLLIDA LLOYD DOUBLE BILL ROCKS NEW YORK (“NO MAN’S LAND,” “JULIUS CAESAR”)
  • Source: Jesse Green, The New York Times, January 22, 2024
  • The Story:Renowned director Phyllida Lloyd is shaking things up on Broadway with two contrasting productions: a witty revival of Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” starring Ethan Hawke and John Malkovich, and a bold, gender-bent take on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” featuring Okieriete Onaodowan as a female Brutus. Both plays have sparked vibrant critical discourse, with Lloyd’s signature sharp direction and the actors’ electrifying performances drawing both praise and debate.
  • Playing at:
    • No Man’s Land: Cort Theatre, open ended
    • Julius Caesar: Public Theater, April 16th – June 29th, 2024
  1. PARIS IN PUTSCH: CONTROVERSY ERUPTS OVER NEW PLAY ABOUT NAZI GERMANY “REICHSTAG”
  • Source: Fabrice Dupont, Le Monde, January 20, 2024
  • The Story:Parisian audiences are abuzz with the provocative new play “Reichstag,” which explores the rise of Nazism through the lens of an ordinary German family. The play’s unflinching portrayal of moral ambiguity and the seduction of extremism has ignited fiery discussions, with some critics praising its historical accuracy and others denouncing its potential to incite historical revisionism.
  • Playing at: Théâtre du Rond-Point, until March 1st, 2024
  1. BERLIN BECKONS: GLOBAL COLLABORATIONS TAKE CENTER STAGE (“LINGUA FRANCA”)
  • Source:Barbara Behrend, Der Tagesspiegel, January 24, 2024
  • The Story:Berlin’s Schaubühne theatre continues its tradition of pushing artistic boundaries with “Lingua Franca,” a multilingual experiment featuring actors from across the globe. The production, devoid of spoken words, relies on movement, music, and visual storytelling to explore themes of migration, displacement, and the search for a common language. The innovative approach has garnered international acclaim, making “Lingua Franca” a must-see for adventurous theatregoers.
  • Playing at:Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, January 21st – February 25th, 2024

  1. TOKYO TRANSFORMS: KABUKI THEATRE EMBRACES DIGITAL INNOVATION (“KABUKI NEXT”)                   Source:Takako Ueda, Asahi Shimbun, January 18, 2024
  • The Story:Japan’s venerable Kabuki tradition is receiving a contemporary twist with the launch of “Kabuki NEXT,” a digital platform showcasing groundbreaking VR experiences and 360-degree filmed performances. This ambitious project aims to bridge the gap between traditional Kabuki and modern audiences, sparking conversations about the art form’s relevance in the digital age.
  • Playing on: Kabuki NEXT platform, ongoing
  1. FROM CAIRO TO COPENHAGEN: THE POWER OF THEATRE TO BRIDGING DIVIDES
  • Source:Michael Billington, The Guardian, January 23, 2024 
  • The Story:Across the globe, theatre is proving its power to connect communities and foster understanding. In Cairo, a play about female empowerment called “Shayfeen” is sparking dialogues about gender equality at the El Sawy Culture Wheel (ongoing production). Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, a project titled “The Boys of Bethlehem” brings together young Palestinian and Israeli actors to challenge stereotypes and build bridges through shared artistic expression. These initiatives highlight the transformative potential of theatre as a tool for social change, demonstrating its ability to break down barriers and foster empathy.
  1. THE BARD BEYOND BARDS: SHAKESPEARE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES
  • Source:Alastair Sooke, BBC World News, January 25, 2024
  • The Story:From a pop-up performance of “Hamlet” in a Syrian refugee camp to a reimagining of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a Mumbai dance club, Shakespeare continues to transcend borders and cultures. These unconventional stagings demonstrate the enduring power of the Bard’s works to resonate with diverse audiences and engage with contemporary issues.
  • Examples:
    • “Hamlet” – Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan (January 2024)
    • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai (February 2024)
  1. THE SHOW MUST GO ON: THEATRE RESPONDS TO A CHANGING WORLD
  • Source: Charles McNulty, Variety, January 21, 2024
  • The Story:As the theatre industry grapples with the ongoing pandemic and rising costs, theatres are finding innovative ways to adapt and survive. Online streaming platforms, interactive audience experiences, and community outreach initiatives are just some of the strategies being employed to keep the curtain rising. This resilience and adaptability offer a glimpse into the future of theatre, one that is both dynamic and determined.
  • Examples:
    • National Theatre (UK) – streaming productions online
    • The Public Theater (NYC) – interactive “Mobile Unit” program
    • Berliner Ensemble (Germany) – community outreach workshops
  1. THE FUTURE IS FEMALE: WOMEN LEAD THE WAY ON AND OFF STAGE
  • Source:Sarah Hemming, The New York Times, January 27, 2024 
  • The Story:From playwrights and directors to actors and producers, women are making their voices heard and shaping the future of theatre. Initiatives like the Kilroy Prize for Playwrights and the Athena Festival are fostering gender equality and providing platforms for female artists to tell their stories. This shift in power dynamics promises a more diverse and vibrant theatrical landscape.
  • Examples:
    • Kilroy Prize for Playwrights – established in 2014 to honor the work of emerging female American playwrights
    • Athena Festival – founded in 2012, a biennial festival celebrating women in theatre
  1. LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: FILMMAKERS FALL FOR THE STAGE
  • Source: Wendy Ide, The Guardian, January 26, 2024 
  • The Story:The allure of the stage isn’t limited to live audiences. Filmmakers are increasingly turning to theatre for inspiration, adapting beloved plays and musicals into captivating cinematic experiences. From Joel Coen’s “Macbeth” to Stephen Frears’ “The Ferryman,” these adaptations offer fresh perspectives on classic stories and showcase the talent of both stage and screen actors.
  • Recent examples:
    • “Macbeth” (2021) – directed by Joel Coen, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand
  • “The Ferryman” (2019) – directed by Stephen Frears, starring Stephen Rea and Ciarán Hinds

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