theatre

https://playwritingworld.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/will-the-real-federico-garcia-lorca-please-stand-up/

WILL THE REAL FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA PLEASE STAND UP?

by Natalie Mann

Guest Writer

pLAywriting in the city

Walk down First Street in Boyle Heights and enter the “Lorca Room,” the poet’s fictional purgatory housed in Josefina Lopez’s theater, Casa 0101. Nilo Cruz’s Lorca in a Green Dress begins with the annunciation of the wordsmith’s death in the hands of fascist Spain and follows the newly deceased author through psychological labyrinths of encountering multiple selves. Each asserting that s/he is Federico García Lorca. Jennifer Sage Holmes’ interpretation transcends a potentially confusing text into a surrealist, nonlinear performance that parallels Dalí’s figurative dreamscapes alluded to in the play. Under Holmes’ direction, the multiplicities present within Cruz’s work are handled with deliberation. To the audience, Rajesh Gupie’s embodied voice of Lorca in a White Suit as Dalí declares his artistic quest for a “paranoiac reality,” a “transcription of reveries.” He yearns to create “[i]mages on top of images, layers in the details as if seen through a mirage.”The mirage is the search for a nonexistent singular truth buried behind multiple versions of reality, dreams and memory. There is no separate lens of the mind’s eye, but refractions contorting to time, place, emotion and condition. The first act of the play begins with two versions of Lorca’s assassination; decentering the power of an authoritative voice. Concrete significations elude as multiple Lorcas erupt.

In this circular, yet oblique, interpretation of Lorca as author and text, the cast and crew work together to breath life into this play. And, this viewer as author is reminded of what Jacques Derrida meant in “Ellipses” when he wrote: Death is at dawn, because everything has begun with repetition. Out of each interpretation of Lorca as memory, a new translation arises. Lorca’s identity and voice gives rise to Cruz’s creative analysis. After wafting through the lacuna that exists between production and audience, it is each viewer’s personal, mental discourse that gives revived spirit to the play.  Although death catalyzes Lorca in a Green Dress, the martyr is buried and the existential humanist endures.

Holmes masters the interplay of Lorcas with grace. The actors seamlessly move in and out of un/parallel realities that are at the core of Cruz’s play. Through Holmes’ precise vision, the performance washes over the audience like an undulating wave and repetitions with differences emerge. The minimalist set provides a blank canvas for the audience to un/consciously absorb the flow of intertextual, fragmented verbal and visual images. Within the play, Lorca’s poetic words intertwine with Cruz’s dialogue and gradations of green, beginning with the celestial lights at the start of the play, stream to keep the memory of the poet alive. Costume designer Monica French’s choice to outfit Lorca in a Green Dress, played by Alex Polcyn, in celadon – versus a vibrant green – illustrates this point. The greyish version of this secondary color not only signifies death, but also refers to the archaic name for languid swains, sighs and longings. Without hope, dreams die. Without love, there is nothing.

Gerardo Morales’s guitar improvisations and Alejandra Flores’ flamenco dancing conjure the image of roaming gypsies; yet ground the ethereal, unearthly production. However, there are times during the performance’s choruses that movement interrupts the audibility of the play’s stream of consciousness flow, muffling vocalizations. Thus, severing the audience from this simulated political and psychological urgency engendered by the historical backdrop of war. It is through these important segments that the viewer remembers that labels, such as poor, rich, liberal, socialist, communist, and homosexual, prevent people from seeing one another as human.  After all, no one can escape death.

Sometimes, but not often, the viewer’s unconscious mind allows the multicultural cast to merge into a single entity – most playing plural roles – slipping in and out of dialogue to create the multifarious dimensions of Lorca. However, Adrian Gonzalez, Lorca as Blood, congeals these various aspects of self in a corporeal, heartfelt way. Gonzalez epitomizes Lorca as human. He bleeds. True, everyone is a dreamer, a thinker, an artist. However Gonzalez nails the denial, anger and acceptance that characterize the cycle of mourning an existence displaced.

To be truthful, it is easy to get contemplatively lost in the poetic beauty of the play; including allusions, philosophical discourse, and transcendence through time, space and memory. But in a sense, Holmes’ adaptation of Cruz’s piece serves as a contemporary meditation where a truth is found through self-examination, acceptance, compassion and universal love.Verde is Spanish for Om.

Lorca in a Green Dress by Nilo Cruz is presented by Casa 0101 Theater and The Center for Collaboration with the Arts at Whittier College. The theater is newly located at 2102 E. First Street in Boyle Heights, CA 90033.  The play runs until August 26th: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information visithttp://www.casa0101.org/.

https://playwritingworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/three-views-cubed/

THREE VIEWS CUBED

by Natalie Mann

Guest Writer

pLAywriting in the city

The play’s title fits: Three Views of the Same Object.  The number three is powerful – representing past, present, future or body, mind, spirit; even birth, life, death. Love and death are themes throughout the play that incite the question: What does it mean to live, age and die with dignity? There is no singular, idealized answer. Under the direction of John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune and Hollace Starr, Henry Murray’s piece multiplies love, dilemma, and death to the power of three.  Three versions of the play’s married protagonists, Jesse and Poppy, intertwine to explore the philosophical and pragmatic questions that arise in the process of aging.

Sitting in the Rogue Machine Theatre, one feels like a fly on the wall watching the unraveling of a cubist text. Through Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s vision, the stage design feels familiar with its modernist, Eames-esque allure. This could be the home of a friend, aunt or parent who never gave into shiny, new materialism beyond the mid-century mark. The opening scene between Anne Gee Byrd’s Jesse 1 and Allan Miller’s Poppy 1 seems ordinary. She sleeps on the couch. He reads on his chair. Jesse awakens. And, the conversation that bends toward familiarity teems with piquant wit. This is the point. This could be anyone. Anywhere. Replace Poppy’s book with Soduko.

There is nothing uncommon about the topics that Murray tackles. When K Callan’s Jesse 2 addresses her incontinence, Shelly Kurtz’s Poppy 2 responds: I like my women wet.  Through use of dialogue and fresh perspective, Murray challenges how American culture views growing older as a secretive, shameful process. Aging is not a sickness. Not addressing it is. Revealing the unspeakable is a step toward questioning how our culture views mores surrounding one’s individual right to die with dignity when the body begins to fail. At one point Nancy Linehan Charles’ Jesse 3 laments, “What a blessing Alzheimer’s would be.” This illustrates the thrust of the play. In a very Foucauldian sense, her cry questions the construction of normalizations. For whom is Alzheimer’s a burden? The absent daughter alluded to in the play?

In his Los Angeles Times review of Three Views, David C. Nichols expresses a yearning for “[t]he unseen daughter” to be “clarifi[ed].” However, this would detract from the aesthetic of Murray’s work as a “cubist” piece that poses multitudes of questions. The beauty of Three Views is that it pulls the audience in, while keeping the viewer at a distance. Yes, the viewer – young and old – can relate on different levels to the personal, societal and philosophical issues that play engenders. However, the vacancy of certain specifies prevents the viewer from establishing false authority over the discourse of the characters’ lives. There is only so much the audience, as other, can know.

THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME OBJECT runs Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm through October 28t, 2012. Rogue Machine Theater is located at 5041 Pico Blvd. LA, CA 90019. Tickets are $30. Reservations: (855) 585 – 5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com

 

https://playwritingworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/take-me-to-the-red-and-brown-water/

TAKE ME TO THE ‘RED AND BROWN WATER’

by Natalie Mislang Mann
Staff Writer

In the Red & Brown Water_1

Kinetic energy charged with emotion. That describes Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Los Angeles premiere of In the Red and Brown Water presented by The Fountain Theater. The location of this acclaimed, vibrant, nonprofit performance space in a humble Los Angeles neighborhood foreshadows the economic reality of the play’s kaleidoscopic mix of characters traversing the stage. In this context, McCraney’s play represents a microcosm of shattered dreams and unrealized potential within the larger world.

Treading In the Brown and Red Water, the audience descends into the protagonist’s depths. Set in an impoverished section of the fictional San Pere, Louisiana, Diarra Kilpatrick’s Oya is a passionate runner who abandons a college track scholarship to take care of her dying mother, Mama Mojo, played by Peggy A. Blow. In the process of losing her dreams, she escapes into a fiery relationship with Gilbert Glenn Brown’s Shango and relinquishes the one man, Ogun, who declares his heartfelt love. As Ogun, Dorian Christian Baucum exudes an honest, inner-strength that contrasts with Shango’s impulsive personality.

On a superficial level, the plot reads formulaic: Tragedy hits girl. Girl turns to wrong man. Girl finds herself alone. However, McCraney’s vision is anything but banal. The onstage interactions between Oya and the characters with Yoruba deity names evoke the transcendental belief that spirits interact with humans in the everyday world. Through Oya’s relationships, the audience begins to explore not just socio-economic realities, but the human desire to survive. Simultaneously visceral and intellectual, this “circular” ode to human spirit emerges then concludes in similar yet distinct ways.

In the Red & Brown Water_2

Peeling away In the Red and Brown Water’s stratum is akin to unraveling textual and historical layers of aSorrow Song. Within this context, McCraney’s drama illustrates civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois’ analysis of slave songs as “the music of unhappy people, of the children of disappointment [which] tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wonderings and hidden ways.” Through the allusion to Yoruba deities, McCraney echoes aspects of African American culture that used to remain hidden. His knowledge of Yoruba Diaspora adds to the dialogue of African American art.

While prominent art historians, such as Robert Ferris Thompson, have examined the spiritual and practical aspects of West African culture brought to the Americas through the slave trade, In the Red and Brown Water pushes beyond enumerating bodies of work which focus on elevating African American folk art from obscurity to cultural center. McCraney indirectly asks: Why stop there? He bridges the aesthetic, spiritual and socio-political gap that encompasses not just race, gender, class and sexual identity, but – most importantly – the psychological self, the whole self affected by poverty onset by institutionalized human bondage.

During the ensemble’s performance, parallels between In the Red and Brown Water and choreographerAlvin Ailey’sRevelations arise. Known for drawing on the emotional and spiritual experience of African Americans rooted within a rich musical tradition, Ailey, who McCraney cites as one of his influences, connected the past to the present. Traces of Ailey’s influence emerge as drumbeats pulsate through the heart of the play, interweaving through spiritual scores and contemporary beats. The connection between past and present compounds in an agonizing scene. In the midst of electronic house music, Oya breaks down. Tapping into her primal emotions, she ruptures into African dance, which emphasizes the beauty of African American culture ingrained within the realities of personal struggle.

Shirley Jo Finney’s discerning direction coalesces the multidisciplinary facets of Peter Bayne’s talents as composer/sound designer and Ameenah Kaplan’s choreography to evoke the presence of Yoruba culture within a contemporary play. Although Frederica Nascimento’s minimalist set appears stark, she places attention on every detail: From what resembles adivination bowl sitting under the porch to the assorted water vessels on stage. Even the plastic water bottle turned percussion instrument summons the spirit of San Pere. In the Red and Brown Water conjures ancestral spirit as literal, figurative and mystical dreams appear.

* * *

In the Red and Brown Water
by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Performances: October 20 through December 16 – EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 24TH
Thursdays – Saturdays 8 pm; Sundays 2 pm

The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029

Tickets: (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com

https://intimateexcellent.wordpress.com/?s=natalie+mislang+mann

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: REVELATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE IN ‘IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER’

"In the Red and Brown Water" (photo by Ed Krieger)

by Natalie Mislang Mann

Kinetic energy charged with emotion. That describes Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Los Angeles premiere of In the Red and Brown Water presented by The Fountain Theatre. The location of this acclaimed, vibrant, nonprofit performance space in a humble Los Angeles neighborhood foreshadows the economic reality of the play’s kaleidoscopic mix of characters traversing the stage. In this context, McCraney’s play represents a microcosm of shattered dreams and unrealized potential within the larger world.

Treading In the Brown and Red Water, the audience descends into the protagonist’s depths. Set in an impoverished section of the fictional San Pere, Louisiana, Diarra Kilpatrick’s Oya is a passionate runner who abandons a college track scholarship to take care of her dying mother, Mama Mojo, played by Peggy A. Blow. In the process of losing her dreams, she escapes into a fiery relationship with Gilbert Glenn Brown’s Shango and relinquishes the one man, Ogun, who declares his heartfelt love. As Ogun, Dorian Christian Baucum exudes an honest, inner-strength that contrasts with Shango’s impulsive personality.

Diarra Kilpatrick and Gilbert Glenn brown in "In the Red and Brown Water"

On a superficial level, the plot reads formulaic: Tragedy hits girl. Girl turns to wrong man. Girl finds herself alone. However, McCraney’s vision is anything but banal. The onstage interactions between Oya and the characters with Yorubadeity names evoke the transcendental belief that spirits interact with humans in the everyday world. Through Oya’s relationships, the audience begins to explore not just socio-economic realities, but the human desire to survive. Simultaneously visceral and intellectual, this “circular” ode to human spirit emerges then concludes in similar yet distinct ways.

Peeling away In the Red and Brown Water’s stratum is akin to unraveling textual and historical layers of a Sorrow Song. Within this context, McCraney’s drama illustrates civil rights activist W.E.B Du Bois’ analysis of slave songs as “the music of unhappy people, of the children of disappointment [which] tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wonderings and hidden ways.” Through the allusion to Yoruba deities, McCraney echoes aspects of African American culture that used to remain hidden. His knowledge of Yoruba Diaspora adds to the dialogue of African American art.

Mama Moja

While prominent art historians, such as Robert Ferris Thompson, have examined the spiritual and practical aspects of West African culture brought to the Americas through the slave trade, In the Red and Brown Water pushes beyond enumerating bodies of work which focus on elevating African American folk art from obscurity to cultural center. McCraney indirectly asks: Why stop there? He bridges the aesthetic, spiritual and socio-political gap that encompasses not just race, gender, class and sexual identity, but – most importantly – the psychological self, the whole self affected by poverty onset by institutionalized human bondage.

During the ensemble’s performance, parallels between In the Red and Brown Water and choreographer Alvin Ailey’sRevelations arise. Known for drawing on the emotional and spiritual experience of African Americans rooted within a rich musical tradition, Ailey, who McCraney cites as one of his influences, connected the past to the present. Traces of Ailey’s influence emerge as drumbeats pulsate through the heart of the play, interweaving through spiritual scores and contemporary beats. The connection between past and present compounds in an agonizing scene. In the midst of electronic house music, Oya breaks down. Tapping into her primal emotions, she ruptures into African dance, which emphasizes the beauty of African American culture ingrained within the realities of personal struggle.

Shirley Jo Finney’s discerning direction coalesces the multidisciplinary facets of Peter Bayne’s talents as composer/sound designer and Ameenah Kaplan’s choreography to evoke the presence of Yoruba culture within a contemporary play. Although Frederica Nascimento’s minimalist set appears stark, she places attention on every detail: From what resembles adivination bowl sitting under the porch to the assorted water vessels on stage. Even the plastic water bottle turned percussion instrument summons the spirit of San Pere. In the Red and Brown Water conjures ancestral spirit as literal, figurative and mystical dreams appear.

Natalie Mislang Mann has a Master of Arts in Humanities from San Francisco State University and writes for Playwriting in the City.

In the Red and Brown Water  Must End Feb 24th  (323) 663-1525   More

https://playwritingworld.wordpress.com/?s=observing+tribes

OBSERVING TRIBES

By Natalie Mislang Mann

Staff Writer

Tribes Photo 3

The setting appears lonely, abandoned. A wooden farmer’s table stands toward the front of the stage as books slide from their upright positions on a back wall shelf. To the right is a chalkboard, where a piano sits in front. The curious viewer wonders if the space’s occupants fear that chalk dust might ruin the instrument. Would they notice the polluted notes? Enter discord as a clamorous British family crosses the stage. Welcome to the Barrow Street Theatre’s production of tribes at the Mark Taper Forum, where a sensory, impressionistic journey alternates between what is heard and unheard.

Billy, played by Russell Harvard, is deaf and never learned to sign. Billy, the self-described familial mascot, lip-reads and binds the other familial members to their caricatured bohemian identities. So wrapped up in their personas and aspirations, the members of Billy’s family do not see beyond themselves. Billy’s mother, Beth (Lee Roy Roger’s) is a kimono-clad writer working on her first novel that contains no concrete plot. His father, Christopher (Jeff Still) portrays an obnoxious, dogmatic academic-turned-writer who philosophizes on language. Christopher’s musings are esoteric.  At one point, he pronounces that art puts feelings into words. Even Billy’s brother, Daniel (Will Brill), and sister, Ruth (Gayle Rankin), have academic and artistic ambitions. Daniel works on his thesis, while Ruth yearns to be a singer. Unlike the rest of his family, Billy has no artistic or academic role. He sits at the kitchen table, as banter between the other family members oscillates between coarse, injurious and witty.  They speak too fast for him to watch their lips form the words that come out of their mouths. When an agitated Christopher complains that all of his kids have returned home, Billy asks what happened. Daniel supplies an abbreviated response.  Dad is being annoying, again.

When Billy meets Sylvia (Susan Pourfar), his life begins to change. Through Sylvia, who is losing her hearing, Billy learns sign language and gains agency by moving out from his family’s home. He refuses to speak to any of them until they learn how to sign. Beth finds this defiance selfish and asks Billy to put herself in her position. Billy tells Beth to put herself in his. For the first time, Ruth speaks to the family’s self-centeredness toward Billy: We are all egotists!

Sometimes Raine’s characters seem over the top. In one scene, a self-pitying Ruth holds a BB gun to her head and shoots several times. Nothing fires. However, Raine’s interplay of high and lowbrow action underpins how the remaining members of the family need to be the center of attention, while depreciating Billy’s value.

Tribes Photo 5

Under the direction of David Cromer, the integration of Scott Pask’s scenic design, Keith Parham’s lighting design, Daniel Kluger’s sound design and Jeff Sugg’s projection design transport the play’s narrative through emphasizing the senses. WhileTribes’ dialogue is rapid, image and sounds bolster the fleeting conversations. There is no coincidence that Mark Farina’s Dream Machine plays in the background, when Billy meets Sylvia at an art opening for the first time. He begins to think of possibility. Abiding to the land of “what happened” no longer remains an option. Nonspeaking moments, also, stick in the audience’s mind. When Billy and Sylvia sign, words project above the stage or onto walls to flip the experience of the hearing audience; a reminder that closed captioning was initially used to assist the deaf.

Yes, there were times in which the rapid, spoken dialogue came across like an annunciated muffle. At first, this annoyance was like an axe cutting through the performance. The man next to me expressed a similar sentiment. I concurred when he stated that Tribes was written for a more intimate space. Upon reflection, I realized that this would detract from the meaning behind the piece. It is easy to go through life yearning to examine every gesture and nuance from a personal, contrived lens. While these moments could keep the audience at bay, Tribes’ beauty evolves through the total experience. Watching the moments when Beth surrenders to her husband’s request to wear the kimono to Daniel sitting atop the kitchen table as he stares at the moon through the kitchen skylight offers the audience a soft resignation. Raine commands the audience to surrender without imposing language and to look with heart. Seeing Tribes is not just watching a play. It is a process of discovery. Perhaps, sometimes, it is better to just observe.

* * *

Tribes
Written by Nina Raine

Performances
Continues through April 14 at the Mark Taper Forum located at 135 N. Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center.
Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m.;  Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.;
No performance on Mondays.
No public performances March 19–22 (student matinees only)
No 6:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, April 14.

Tickets
www.CenterTheatreGroup.org
213.628.2772
In person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Music Center
Group Sales: 213.972.7231

TDD 213.680.4017 for Deaf community information and charge.

 

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