U.K. EXAM BOARD ADDS NEW PLAYS BY WRITERS OF COLOUR TO DRAMA GCSE AND A-LEVEL ·

(Sally Weale’s article appeared in the UK Guardian, 4/27; The Empress by Tanika Gupta is one of four new plays added to AQA’s GCSE drama curriculum. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian.)

The Empress by Tanika Gupta among new additions in attempt to diversify AQA’s offering for drama students in England

Drama students will have the opportunity to study a more diverse curriculum at GCSE and A-level with the addition of four new plays by writers of colour.

AQA, the biggest examination board in England, says the texts are part of a range of measures to update and revise its qualifications to ensure they better reflect the diversity of students and their teachers.

The new plays at GCSE level will include a thriller by Francis Turnly which is based on the true story of Japanese citizens who were abducted by the North Korean regime in the 1970s and 80s.

The Empress by Tanika Gupta, which tells the story of Queen Victoria’s relationship with her servant Abdul Karim and an Indian nanny called Rani Das, will also be added to the GCSE curriculum.

The new A-level texts include a reworking of Chekhov’s Three sisters by Inua Ellams, located in 1960s Nigeria, and Danai Gurira’s The Convert, which tells the story of a young Shona girl who flees an arranged marriage by converting to Christianity.

The exam board’s GCSE drama qualification already includes the well-known stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, which reverses traditional racial stereotypes and shows racial prejudice from a different perspective.

The texts will be available to study from September, with examinations taking place two years later. AQA is scheduling free online training events to give teachers a practical toolkit to prepare for and teach the new texts.

The exam board will also provide information about the social and historical backgrounds of each text, and cover topics such as stereotypes, accents and casting. It will also look at how to teach texts currently on the curriculum, with a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion.

Sandra Allan, AQA’s head of curriculum for creative arts, said: “We’ve chosen these plays because of the rich opportunities they’ll offer our teachers and students to explore a diverse range of themes including race and social issues.

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TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS POSTPONED BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS DELAYS ·

(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/22/22; via Pam Green;   The Tony Awards ceremony will return to Radio City Music Hall on June 12, after being presented at the Winter Garden Theater in September 2021. Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.)

The nominations will now be announced May 9, but the awards ceremony will remain, as scheduled, on June 12.

This year’s Tony Award nominations will be delayed by nearly a week, administrators of the awards said Friday, because enough actors have been out with coronavirus cases that it has become difficult for awards nominators to see all the eligible performances.

The Broadway League and the American Theater Wing, who present the awards, said nominations would now be announced on May 9, instead of May 3. The awards ceremony itself will remain, as scheduled, on June 12.

The change reflects the extraordinary disruption the coronavirus pandemic has caused to this theater season. Multiple shows — on Broadway, Off Broadway, around the country, and in Britain, Canada and elsewhere — have been forced to cancel performances and shift schedules because of coronavirus cases.

On Broadway several shows have been scrambling to open before the eligibility deadline, which was scheduled to be April 28, but will now be May 4. Four shows — “Paradise Square,” “Macbeth,” “Plaza Suite” and “A Strange Loop” — canceled multiple performances because of coronavirus cases. (Among those testing positive were the “Macbeth” star Daniel Craig and the “Plaza Suite” stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.)

Even now, when all shows are running, some actors are still out. That has made it hard for the nominators to see all the eligible shows with all eligible performers onstage.

There are six shows scheduled to open next week, including “Funny Girl,” “The Skin of Our Teeth,” “A Strange Loop,” “POTUS,” “Mr. Saturday Night” and “Macbeth.”

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JAMIE LLOYD’S MINIMALIST HIP-HOP “CYRANO DE BERGERAC”   ·

(Alexandra Schwartz’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 4/28/ 22; The mania and melancholy of James McAvoy’s Cyrano disguise a desperate rage.Illustration by Matt Williams.)

A new staging, starring James McAvoy, gives us rappers instead of rapiers.

A confession, and a sheepish one for a Francophile to make: my heart does not thrill to the prospect of sitting through “Cyrano de Bergerac.” This may be the fault of my Anglophone ear, which is too clumsy to pick up the rapid-fire panache of Edmond Rostand’s rhyming Alexandrine couplets as they fly by in the original, and English translations have a way of starching the esprit right out of the language. Fairly or not, I have come to associate the play with an aura of whipped-cream foppishness, heavy on swordplay, swishing capes, and swelling bosoms, like the ones in Joe Wright’s recent film adaptation of Erica Schmidt’s musical version. Wright, who cast Peter Dinklage in the title role, traded a big schnoz for small stature as his hero’s signature weakness, a fine idea, but not enough to make up for the general corniness.

I offer such prejudice as an overture to praise for the English director Jamie Lloyd’s dazzling, feral take on “Cyrano,” which has finally arrived at bam, after a celebrated pre-pandemic run in London. This is not Lloyd’s first Rostand rodeo. In 2012, he directed a production of the play on Broadway—a traditional affair of boots, bodices, and feathered hats. The balcony scene had a balcony; verisimilitude carried the day. Since then, Lloyd has converted to minimalism. The set for his 2019 production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” basically consisted of two chairs. Now he has blasted away “Cyrano” ’s damask-draped tropes, and what’s left is little more than a bare stage lit by harsh white fluorescents, a fitting backdrop for a strictly formalist mise en scène, all lines and triangles.

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NEW EVIDENCE SUGGESTS SHAKESPEARE MAY HAVE STOLEN THE PLOT OF CYMBELINE ·

(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Observer, 4/24; PhotoTom Hiddleston as Posthumus and Jodie McNee as Innogen in Cymbeline at the Barbican in 2007. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian.)

Notes from a 1533 book put Sir Thomas North in the frame for one of the bard’s later plays

A rare 16th-century book offers “compelling evidence” that William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline was inspired by a now-lost play by Sir Thomas North, an Elizabethan courtier and writer, new research claims.

A 1533 edition of Fabyan’s Chronicle, a compendium of British and French history from Roman times to Henry VII, bears notes in the margin in North’s hand that have been linked to the plot and other details of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy, set in Roman Britain.

Michael Blanding, who unearthed the book in Harvard University’s Houghton Library, said the marginalia could not have been based on Shakespeare’s play because North died about six years before the conventionally accepted date of its first performance, 1609-10.

“It is a revolutionary discovery that is hard to interpret in any other way than that North used the book to write notes for his own play, which Shakespeare later adapted,” he said.

The marginalia have been analysed by an independent researcher, Dennis McCarthy, who since 2005 has used plagiarism software to reveal links between Hamlet, among other plays, and North’s writings. His research inspired Blanding’s book North by Shakespeare, published by Hachette last year and to be released shortly as a paperback, retitled In Shakespeare’s Shadow.

Since then, Blanding has tracked down dozens of 16th-century books once owned by the North family. Several bear North’s marginalia.

Blanding said that, while North is known as the translator of Plutarch’s Lives, a recognised source for Shakespeare’s Roman plays, the marginalia in Fabyan’s Chronicle “often provides a point-by-point correspondence with the historical plot of Cymbeline”.

“For example, both the marginalia and the play refer to Julius Caesar’s repeated attempts to invade Britain, and display an obsessive focus on the theme of tributes being paid to Rome by British kings,” Blanding said. “In addition, both focus on Cymbeline’s sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, include a strategy of a character disguising himself to kill an enemy, and incorporate a battle by a ‘wall of turfs’, historically fought in Scotland.”

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***** HENRY VI: REBELLION / WARS OF THE ROSES REVIEW – THRILLING GAMES OF THRONES ·

(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/21; Photo: Frail body, strong mind … Mark Quartley in Henry VI: Rebellion at the Royal Shakespeare theatre. Photograph: Ellie Kurttz/RSC.)

The three plays about King Henry VI rank low in the Shakespearean canon for character and poetry but paradoxically have the heaviest popular culture presence, as an acknowledged source for the regicidal TV epic Game of Thrones. The middle drama also contains one of Shakespeare’s most quoted lines, “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” spoken by an ally of Jack Cade, the populist demagogue who, as proxy for the Yorkists, threatens the House of Lancaster’s hold on the throne.

The production by Owen Horsley (RSC boss Gregory Doran, on compassionate leave, is “consultant director”) imposes no strenuous topicalities but is alert to the fact that a wobbling monarchy and the vulnerability of a populace to muscular false promise particularly chime with this revival. Shakespeare covers most human and political possibilities and, through Cade, skewers the year zero egotists of which Boris Johnson is the latest exemplar.

“Burn all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the parliament of England,” declares the self-glorying rebel during a campaign based on denigrating the French and pledging unlimited state expenditure. Warned that he has said something “false”, Cade shrugs: “Ay, there’s the question; but I say ’tis true.”

Aaron Sidwell’s swaggering braggart, giddied by the possibility of tyranny as success swells him, directly references no current public mannerisms, but those who watched prime minister’s questions on their phones just before the 1pm start at the Royal Shakespeare theatre marvelled anew at Shakespeare’s historical prescience.

What academics call the H6 plays are staged rarely and, even then, in mashups of the English history cycle. Horsley and Doran create Henry VI: Rebellion from the first four acts of part two and join the remaining scenes to part three to create Wars of the Roses.

Such reshaping reflects that these are early plays, the dramatist sketching scenes of witchcraft, a deranged exiled king, women who out-power their men and the dynamics of popular power that will mature in Macbeth, King Lear and Coriolanus.

Another complication is that the bloodlines and fault lines between the founding fathers of Yorkshire and Lancashire, thickened by French intermarriage, can seem impossibly convoluted: this version helps by giving characters white or red roses on their costumes like November poppies, and using live video capture on a downstage screen to underline those being mentioned or remembered.

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LIZA MINNELLI:  STOP TRYING TO HUMILIATE HER AT THE OSCARS—FIRST, ELLEN–NOW, THE CHAIR ·

(Brian Marks’s article appeared in the Daily Mail, 4/19; via Pam Green.) 

FRAIL LIZA MINNELLI, 76, FELT ‘SHAKEN’ AND ‘SABOTAGED’ AFTER BEING FORCED ON STAGE IN WHEELCHAIR AT OSCARS INSTEAD OF SEATED IN DIRECTOR’S CHAIR AS PLANNED, CLAIMS HER FRIEND

  • Singer Michael Feinstein claimed that Minnelli was suffering from ‘back trouble’
  • He said she wanted to sit in a director’s chair at the Oscars so as not to ‘limp’
  • After Will Smith’s shocking slap, she was told to use a wheelchair at last minute
  • Feinstein said she was ‘nervous’ and ‘shaken’ because of the switch-up
  • Viewers worried that the actress appeared frail next to Lady Gaga

Liza Minnelli‘s friend Michael Feinstein has come to her defense after viewers worried that she looked frail and out of it when she presented Best Picture at the 2022 Academy Awards with Lady Gaga.

During an appearance Monday on SirusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Feinstein, 65, claimed that the 76-year-old acting and singing legend had been ‘sabotaged’ by Oscars organizers at the last minute.

He said the plan had been for Minnelli to appear seated in a director’s chair, but that she was forced to use a wheelchair at the last minute, which left her flustered and ‘discombobulated.

Feinstein, an acclaimed jazz singer who focuses on standards, said he was in attendance at the Oscar with Minnelli. He claimed that she had wanted to do her presentation sitting down due to back pain issues.

‘You know, that whole thing was, she was sabotaged. That’s the terrible word to use, but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she would be in the director’s chair, cuz she’s been having back trouble,’ he explained.

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OVER THE BRIDGE, ONCE A BRIDGE TOO FAR FOR THE BELFAST ESTABLISHMENT, IS BACK ·

(Connal Parr’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 4/18; The cast of the new production of Over The Bridge; Photo:  The cast of the new production of Over The Bridge. )

Sam Thompson’s classic play about sectarianism in Belfast’s shipyards is back in Dublin

n celebration of the 60th anniversary of its first production, Over the Bridge – the powerful play that almost did not see the light of day – returns to Dublin. It was the Dublin-based Findlaters & Company that guaranteed the initial production nearly nine months after the attempt to silence Sam Thompson’s “authentic voice of the shipyard”. In this attempt at unofficial censorship the establishment had unsuccessfully sought to prevent the play, and its uncomfortable truths, from being staged at all.

Over The Bridge engages with challenging themes of sectarianism in the Belfast shipyards, groundbreaking in the 1960s in the run-up to the Troubles, and still hugely relevant in 2022. The play invites audiences to confront this sectarianism – without presenting simplistic narratives – by portraying different perspectives and experiences of the shipyard workers and through their engagement with the trade union and Labour movement.

Based on a real-life shop steward, Over the Bridge’s central character Davy Mitchell represents the labour movement’s spirit of comradeship across all borders. During the sectarian dispute that anchors the play, Catholic Peter O’Boyle has been told to leave his workplace by Protestant workers. Davy – who is of the same religion as the mob – stands with him, defending a workmate’s right to work, insisting: “If I refuse to go out there and stand alongside my mate at the bench, everything I have ever fought for or believed in has been nothing.”

To understand this solidarity, we must go back to the beginning. Sam Thompson was born in 1916 and left school at 14 to be apprenticed as a painter at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard. Though his father had been a lamplighter and part-time sexton of St Clement’s Church of Ireland Church, shielding his family from the more severe poverty of the era, Thompson recalled hardship from his childhood and later when he faced unemployment. He joined the Painters Union and the National Council of Labour Colleges, leading him to Paris and the Soviet Union before the second World War.

Thompson had witnessed sectarian violence on the Castlereagh Road in east Belfast in the mid-1930s, and it was this recollection that gave rise to Over the Bridge, which he crafted at night when he came home from work.

In March 1959, Thompson accosted Jimmy Ellis, a talented young actor and director from a similar background, in the centre of Belfast. Thompson marched up to Ellis brandishing the manuscript of his first stage play: “I have a play here you won’t touch with a barge-pole.”

Ellis took the play to his father, whose judgment was crucial to the young director, as he had spent his entire working life in the shipyard. He stayed up reading the script before delivering his verdict: “This is our play, son, you must do it.” As artistic director of Belfast’s Group Theatre, Ellis prepared to produce it later that year.

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DAVID SERERO STARS AS MOSES IN THE U.S. PREMIERE OF ‘THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, THE MUSICAL’—MAY 5TH (3PM), 8TH (6PM – PREMIERE), 10TH AND 12TH (8PM), AND THE 15TH (6PM) ·

(via The Culture News news@theculturenews.com

LET’S GO!

Under star and director David Serero, the French musical The Ten Commandments, finally in English–based on the biblical story of Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince who becomes the deliverer of his true brethren, the enslaved Hebrews, by leading their Exodus–will  open Off-Broadway, MAY 5TH (3PM), 8TH (6PM – PREMIERE), 10TH AND 12TH (8PM), AND THE 15TH (6PM).  Along with Serero, as Moses, the cast of twelve includes theatre and operatic talents, including: DaShaun Williams (Ramses), Stephanie Craven (Sephora), Brooke Myers (Jochebed), Lisa Monde (Bithia), Cale Rausch (Joshua), Zachary Harris Martin (Aaron), Kristyn Vario (Myriam), Shane Patrick Watson and Julia Anne Cohen (Various roles and U/S).

WHERE: This limited engagement will be performed at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street, New York NY 10011)

TICKETS: Available on thetencommandmentsthemusical.com or 1.800.838.3006 for $26 and $36.

Serero is a critically acclaimed, award-winning opera singer, actor, director, and producer, who has performed more than 2,500 performances in more than 45 countries. He has directed and produced nearly 100 theatrical productions, starred in over 100 films and T.V. series, recorded and produced over 100 albums, and played more than 50 leads and title roles (in several languages) from opera, theatre, and musical repertoire. In New York, he starred Off-Broadway in iconic roles such as Shylock, Cyrano, Othello, Barabas, Yiddish King Lear, Don Giovanni, Figaro, Romeo, Nabucco, as well as in new works such as Napoleon by Kubrick, Queen Esther, and Anne Frank a Musical, among others. In his native Paris, he also starred as Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha) and Happy Mac (Beggar’s Holiday by Duke Ellington). He entered the prestigious Who’s Who America for demonstrating outstanding achievements in the entertainment world and for the betterment of contemporary society. In 2019, he received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, the Morocco Day Distinguished Achievement Award, the Trophy of the Culture of Morocco, and was named among the fifteen most influential Moroccans worldwide by Morocco’s airline Royal Air Maroc.

David is a member of the Recording Academy and the Television Academy and a voting member of both the Grammys and Emmys. In 2020, David Serero received the UNESCO Award for Diversity in Paris and became an Honorary Member of the United Nations of Arts and Science. In 2021, he won 4 Broadway World Awards for Best Performer of the decade, Best Producer of a Musical of the decade, Best Producer of a Play of the decade, Best Opera singer of the Year. He was awarded the Certificate of Recognition by the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, for his contribution to the City’s dynamic cultural landscape, enriching the vibrant performing arts sector, and uplifted and inspired diverse New Yorkers. His first documentary film on fashion designer Elie Tahari won dozens of awards (including Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Producer) and received over 100 film festivals selections. www.davidserero.com

More:

France’s The Ten Commandments, (Les Dix Commandements) announces its upcoming U.S premiere—and  releases its first single in English.
 
Almost 20 years after its opening, “The Ten Commandments” is coming to America and will be presented in English–below,  listen to the first single from the Cast Album,  created by the filmmaker Elie Chouraqui, with music by Pascal Obispo and lyrics by Lionel Florence and Patrice Guirao.  The show has already played to over 3 million spectators in Europe alone.

The revival recording and stage adaptation are the ideas of star baritone (playing Moses) and producer David Serero, who wrote the English language adaptation for American theatrical productions. The first single from the upcoming Cast Album Recording, titled “The Maximum Pain (La Peine Maximum),” has been released on all platforms. The first series of Off-Broadway performances will take place in May 2022 in New York.  Tickets and additional information will soon be available.

First presented in October 2000, the musical was an instant hit, equaling in success another famous French musical: Notre Dame de Paris. The musical carried such radio hits as “L’envie d’aimer,” performed by Daniel Levi. The shows original stars included Yael NaimAhmed Mouici, and more. Sonia Rykiel designed the original costumes, and Kamel Ouali  created the choreography.
 
Serero explains “I have carried this masterpiece in my heart since its first day of creation. This unique collaboration between two masters, Elie Chouraqui and Pascal Obispo, will forever remain in the history of French musicals. The original French lyrics were by Lionel Florence and Patrice Guirao.”   

Creator, Elie Chouraqui, comments: “I am thrilled and honored that my show, “Les Dix Commandements” (The Ten Commandments) with the gorgeous music by Pascal Obispo, has finally been adapted for New York, the capital of musicals. After playing it in France, Europe, and Asia, America is a lifetime achievement. I must thank David Serero for his enthusiasm, strength, and unquenchable desire to bring this musical to Broadway.”

Elie Chouraqui is a French filmmaker born in 1950. Among others, he is known for the films Ô Jerusalem,  Harrison’s Flower, starring Andie MacDowell, Adrien Brody, Gerard Butler, and Brendan GleesonMan on Fire with Joe Pesci, Scott Glenn, and Jonathan Price. And several French film classics starring iconic French actors, such as Jean-Hughes Anglade, Christophe Lambert, Richard Anconina, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and many more. 

Pascal Obispo is one of the most successful singer/songwriters in the genre of French pop, who released numerous commercial blockbuster albums, scored Top Ten hit singles with regularity, embarked on multiple sold-out concert tours, wrote songs for a musical of his own creation, and collaborated with a long list of French pop stars. The lead single of  The Ten Commandments, “L’envie d’aimer,” was also recorded in English by Celine Dion.

“The Maximum Pain” is performed by Lawrence Neals, with background vocals by Lisa Monde, Mackenzie Tank, and Kristyn Vario. English adaptation and production are by David Serero. The music is composed by Pascal Obispo, and the original French lyrics are written by Lionel Florence and Patrice Guirao.

The Maximum Pain is available to listen to on:
YouTube: https://youtu.be/JJ8wAxkFbGs
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/5El2zq7t64kbaJ7XwCNoqX?si=92afc56325c34da3
iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-maximum-pain-from-the-ten-commandments/1591325748

 

A “HAMILTON” FOR THE SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT ·

(Alexandra Schwartz’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 4/11; Illustration: “Suffs” braids the tangled history of the American suffrage movement into drama. Illustration by Kati Szilágyi.)

Shaina Taub’s new musical follows Alice Paul’s tireless quest to win American women the vote.

Have you heard of the juggernaut musical about the young, scrappy American revolutionary with a surplus of political genius, who’s determined to change the course of history with the help of a gang of committed cronies? No, not “Hamilton”—I’m talking about “Suffs,” an ambitious new show (directed by Leigh Silverman, at the Public) that sets out to do for the suffragist Alice Paul what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander H. The show’s thirty-three-year-old creator, Shaina Taub, wrote the music, the lyrics, and the book, and she stars as Paul, who surely counts as one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable figures, if not—yet—one of its household names. “Suffs,” which sold out its run well before opening, features a strong female and non-binary cast, an inspiring story, and songs that stick in the head for days. Paul has already been featured onscreen, in the 2004 film “Iron Jawed Angels.” Soon she may find herself hoofing it on Broadway, a founding mother to beat the band.

Paul was born, in New Jersey, in 1885. Her family were Quaker, a faith that champions sexual equality, and she was able to obtain the kind of topnotch education that wasn’t readily available to most women of her day. She studied biology at Swarthmore and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, then crossed the Atlantic to attend the University of Birmingham, where she encountered the militant suffragist Christabel Pankhurst and was immediately converted to the cause. From Christabel and her famous mother, Emmeline, Paul learned the principles of direct action and civil disobedience. She marched, protested, and was repeatedly arrested; in jail, she went on hunger strike, which resulted in torture by force-feeding. Physically weakened but spiritually undaunted, Paul returned to the United States, determined to use her organizational expertise to win American women the vote.

That is where Taub picks up the story. It’s 1913, and popular sentiment toward the suffragist struggle is not exactly surging. On a stage dominated by the wide steps and looming columns of the Capitol (the set, designed by Mimi Lien, is male power incarnate), the cast, equipped with false mustaches, mug about in the guise of incensed men. Tossing around era-appropriate yuk-yuk jokes (“What do a good woman and a good picture show have in common?” “They’re both silent!”), these petty gents ridicule what they fear and despise, a strategy that “Suffs,” armed with history’s hindsight advantage, turns right back on them.

We first see Paul when she bursts breathlessly into a meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, whose members are determined to conduct themselves with all the dignity their detractors lack. The organization’s seasoned head, Carrie Chapman Catt (Jenn Colella), is convinced that only polite, ladylike persuasiveness will carry the day. nawsa has helped win women’s suffrage in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Kansas, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, and California, a record that Catt recites with pride, but Paul is unimpressed. Only eleven states out of forty-eight? Catt’s incremental approach is too cautious for this fast-talking big thinker. Woodrow Wilson is about to take office, and Paul wants Catt to join her in demanding the new President’s support for a constitutional amendment that will grant suffrage throughout the land. She’s planning a protest march, the first of its kind, for the day before the Inauguration: thousands of women from all over the country parading down Pennsylvania Avenue, dressed in white so that they’ll stand out in newspaper photographs.

The gall of Paul! Catt, dismayed, turns the upstart down, but there’s no spur to the young like the doubt of the old, and Alice sprints off to assemble a crack team of her own. First to join up is Lucy Burns (Ally Bonino), a devoted school friend, who is followed by Inez Milholland (Phillipa Soo), a beautiful radical with high-society connections and a law degree, whom Alice recruits to legitimize, and glamorize, the march. (Inez proposes that she lead the marchers atop a white steed: the woman knows from optics.) Rounding out the group is Ruza Wenclawska (Hannah Cruz), a Polish immigrant who cut her teeth organizing fellow factory workers, and an eager young graduate, Doris Stevens (Nadia Dandashi, earnest and funny), who is enlisted as the group’s secretary. “How will we do it when it’s never been done?” the women ask themselves. Paul knows only that she must “find a way where there isn’t one.”

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AT A CONTEMPORARY DRAMA FESTIVAL, STAGING THE FRIGHTENINGLY REAL ·

(A.J. Goldmann’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/7/22; via Pam Green;  Photo: The ensemble in “Oasis de la Impunidad” (“Oasis of Impunity”), directed by Marco Layera, at the Schaubühne’s Festival International for New Drama, or FIND.Credit…Gianmarco Bresadola.)

At Berlin’s FIND festival of new international drama, several productions use transcripts to explore questions of state power and identity.

BERLIN — Outside a small stage at the Schaubühne theater here on Tuesday evening, a sign cautioned that the Chilean production “Oasis de la Impunidad” (“Oasis of Impunity”) featured strobe lights and onstage nudity.

In retrospect, that caveat seemed comical, a bit like warning viewers that a Tarantino film might be somewhat bloody. Over the play’s 90-minute run time, the audience sat in stunned silence as a band of eight performers enacted a macabre and ritualistically precise examination of violence’s corrosive effect on the individual and the social body. Scenes of torture and violence, including sexual violence, tumbled forth with balletic elegance. The production’s delicacy of feeling and theatrical finesse were disturbingly at odds with the horrors it depicted.

Created by the director Marco Layera and his company La Re-Sentida, “Oasis de la Impunidad” is a harrowing artistic response to Chile’s recent wave of social unrest, which has been described as the country’s worst since the end of the Pinochet regime. Like the other standout productions at the Schaubühne’s Festival International for New Drama, or FIND, “Oasis” takes nightmarish and surreal contemporary events as starting points for provocative theatrical explorations.

In late 2019, Chile was convulsed by social unrest after a fare hike on the Santiago subway inspired mass demonstrations and riots against rising inequality. The government declared a state of emergency and deployed the army to restore law and order. In the first weeks of unrest, 18 people were killed and nearly 3,000 detained, including hundreds of women and children, according to a report issued by the National Institute for Human Rights. Since then, there have been numerous reports of security forces torturing and raping protesters.

To develop “Oasis,” Layera held a series of theater labs and workshops in Chile. Two hundred people participated, including many survivors of state-sponsored repression and brutality. The resulting show, described as “an investigation into the origins and mechanisms of violence,” is a series of sinister and menacing episodes laced with dark comedy.

At the Schaubühne, the actors, a mix of professionals and nonprofessionals, pulled on their genitalia, pinched their teeth and flesh with tools, erupted into paroxysms of hysteria and grief, and lovingly exhibited broken, bloodied bodies in a fun house of horrors. After its world premiere in Berlin, the show will travel to Santiago, Chile, in late May.

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