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Gloria A Life, Pics and Review. Gloria Steinem and the Women’s Movement.

Gloria Steinem herself came out in the last twenty minutes of Gloria: A Lifeto lead the “talking circle,” an unscripted conversation with the audience. This was the officially designated Act II of a moving, enlightening and inspiring show whose 100-minute Act I starred Christine Lahti in Emily Mann’s script about the life and work of the famous feminist, journalist, activist, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and one-time Playboy Bunny.

The presence of this Act II helps drive home how beside the point it would be to assess Gloria as if it were a conventional bio-drama. It isn’t. It’s half storytelling, half consciousness-raising — a support group in trying times. “Social justice movements start with people sitting in a circle, like this,” Lahti says at the outset, indicating the in-the-round stadium seating.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged and read the caption.
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Are Actors’ Bodies Part of the Show, Or Off Limits?

Yet again, a drama critic has been attacked for making comments about actors’ bodies.

The new headlines were generated by a 1991 review of “Will Rogers Follies” on Broadway. Why was this old review suddenly turned into a current issue? The reviewer was Beto O’Rourke, now a candidate to represent Texas in the United States Senate, then a 19-year-old undergraduate writing for the campus newspaper at Columbia, the Spectator.
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I Was Most Alive For You — Accessible For The Deaf…And Complicated

As the family gathers for a Thanksgiving right before everything starts to fall apart, Knox (Russell Harvard) gives thanks for “three things I used to think weren’t gifts at all: Deafness… Being gay…. Addiction. They are gifts… Each brought me to great clarity.”
Clarity is the great aim of Playwrights Horizons’ production of “I Was Most Alive With You,” Craig Lucas’s play about a family that suddenly must cope with a series of calamities. But it’s an unusual kind of clarity for the theater – clarity for deaf people.
As I point out in my article for TDF Stages, 14 actors are performing the play divided into two casts playing the same seven roles: Russell Harvard, Lois Smith and five other actors portray the characters on stage, while simultaneously seven other actors use ASL to portray the same characters from a balcony above. “We’re not just interpreting, we’re part of the story,” signs Anthony Natale, one of the seven “shadow cast” members in the balcony.
If that’s not complicated enough, two of the five characters are deaf. One of them is portrayed by Harvard, who is himself deaf. best known for his performances in Tribes and in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway.
He delivers that Thanksgiving speech in ASL (with supertitles projected onto a screen on the stage.)  But sometimes Knox speaks in English; then Harold Foxx, who is the “Shadow Knox,” performs the same dialogue in ASL on the balcony.
“It’s been enormously challenging and complicated,” says director Tyne Rafaeli. “It is also very deep and important. The play is about how we tell the story of our lives — what language we use, how we struggle to communicate. Having people on different levels in different languages is a lot for the human brain to take in. The audience has to work hard — and I don’t think that is a bad thing.”
More on TDF Stages

 

THE AЯTS: The beautiful, bold and Constitutional case for public funding

The Culture Wars in America began on May 18, 1989, according to a new show entitled “THE AЯTS” that launches the new season at La MaMa, when Senator Al D’Amato of New York ripped up an art gallery catalogue on the floor of the Senate, and Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina called artists jerks.

They were attacking individuals such as performance artists Karen Finley and David Wojnarowicz, and photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, because the National Endowment for the Arts had funded their provocative work.

“Something happened to us after that,” says Kevin Doyle.  “We’ve forgotten the bold, beautiful arguments that created the NEA and the NEH [National Endowment for the Humanities] in the first place.”

Doyle is the playwright and director of “THE AЯTS,”  a theatrical documentary collage that makes the case for public funding for the arts by looking at its history and the lasting effects of the attacks.  The “R” in the title is backwards, Doyle says, “because we’re talking about the precarious position artists are in, and how we got here.”
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Plays for Labor Day. In praise of theater about unions, workers and workplaces.

It was while attending the current revival of Lillian Hellman’s 1936 play “Days to Come,” which is set during a strike at a brush factory in Ohio,  that I suddenly wondered: Where are the American plays about unions, or workers, or even just workplaces?

It seems an apt question for Labor Day, which, contrary to what may be public perception, was not created to promote barbecues. Congress passed a law making Labor Day a legal holiday in 1884 to celebrate the labor union movement, a holiday first proposed by a labor union official

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How Broadway Responded to #MeToo, #NeverAgain, The Past, in 2017-2018 Season

Some theatergoers objected to the changes in “My Fair Lady,” which made it more in line with the #MeToo era — Eliza more independent, and neither she nor Henry Higgins romantically inclined toward one another. Others objected that “Carousel” didn’t change enough — there’s still that abusive relationship between Billy and Julie

In my article in HowlRound, Broadway in a Year of Reckoning,
I look at these and six other shows that opened on Broadway during the 2017-2018 season, and how they adjusted (if at all) to our current age of reckoning, which goes beyond #MeToo, to gun violence (#NeverAgain) and racism (#BlackLivesMatter.) Indeed, we as a society are engaged in a reckoning with a range of stubbornly antiquated values that don’t (yet?) even have a #hashtag.

Full article:  Broadway in a Year of Reckoning

 

Children of a Lesser God Review: Deaf Rights and Romance, Four Decades Later

The first Broadway revival of “Children of a Lesser God,” the award-winning, boundary-breaking 1980 play by Mark Medoff about the romance and eventual marriage between a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf and a deaf graduate, is the only show on Broadway whose creative team includes a “director of artistic sign language.” It is the only show on Broadway to project supertitles of the entire script at EVERY performance, and to schedule sign language interpreters regularly. And, above all, it is of course the only show that marks the stunning Broadway debut of Lauren Ridloff, who portrays Sarah Norman, whose language (like the actress’s) is American Sign Language.
These are reasons enough to welcome this production, and to consider it pioneering, even as the play it’s remounting feels dated.
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This Flat Earth Review: Another School Shooting, and Two Teens Reel

In “This Flat Earth,” 13-year-old Julie (Ella Kennedy Davis) doesn’t understand why the newspaper article about the school shooting that killed nine of her classmates has the word “Another” in the headline.

“Has this happened before?”

Her father Dan (Lucas Papaelias) reluctantly informs her that it has.

“If this has happened before, why would everybody be acting so shocked?…Why don’t the grown-ups just fix it?”
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Amy and the Orphans Review: The truth about Down Syndrome, packaged in a familiar comedy

Amy, a movie lover with Down syndrome, is able to quote the most well-worn lines from the most familiar movies – “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody” – and own them as her own, turning them fresh.

“Amy and The Orphans,” Lindsey Ferrentino’s play about Amy, itself quotes some of the well-worn formulas of several comedy genres, but it doesn’t make them fresh.

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Mass Shootings on Stage: Healing or Titillating?

The mass shooting on Valentine’s Day at a Florida high school is the latest in a long line of school shootings, some of which are instantly identifiable: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook.

Each of these has been the subject of plays, as have some of the other most notorious mass shootings in the United States.

Other dramas about shooters or shootings don’t dramatize specific events, but take their inspiration from what one can call, horribly, the trend.

Below are some examples — the good, the bad and the ugly — and they pose a question. As I put it in the title of a piece I wrote for HowlRound in 2015:  Violence on Stage: Healing or Titillating?   Enlightening…or exploitative?

 

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