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



Symphonie Fantastique: Basil Twist’s innovative abstract puppet concert returns to HERE!

You can say that Harriet Smithson, a famous Shakespearean actress, is the star of the Symphonie Fantastique by composer Hector Berlioz; she is also in a way the star of the Symphonie Fantastique by MacArthur Foundation “genius” artist Basil Twist—although in the Berlioz, Harriet exists only as flirtatious notes from violins and a flute, while in the Twist, she’s a bed sheet. Or, more precisely, she looks like a white bed sheet, but she’s actually a puppet, one of the many puppets in Twist’s show, none of them conforming to any recognizable animal or vegetable or even mineral….The twentieth-anniversary production of Twist’s innovative abstract puppet concert is being presented at HERE, the theatre where it debuted in 1998 to great acclaim.


Full article on HowlRound



A Room in India at Park Avenue Armory, Pics, Review: Making Theater Matter

“If all theatres were demolished tomorrow, would anybody miss them, and for how long?”

Several characters said that at different times throughout A Room in India, a theatre piece that had a run last month in New York at the Park Avenue Armory.

One could take this as an ironic comment, because the show, devised by the Parisian-based company Théâtre du Soleil, was a gorgeous, ambitious, and almost literally overwhelming argument for theatrical vitality—a four-hour scattershot variety show of theatrical genres, styles, and tones…And yet for all the richness of theatrical expression from the past and present, the anxiety about theatre’s future was threaded throughout the piece

Full review at HowlRound

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Mabou Mines Fiddles with Tennessee Williams: Pics, Review of Glass Guignol

In its forty-seventh year, Mabou Mines is inaugurating its first permanent home, the ninety-nine-seat Mabou Mines Theater in the East Village, with a newly devised piece called Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play, a riff on Tennessee Williams that presents passages from four of his plays, most prominently The Glass Menagerie. But to summarize the piece in such a straightforward way fails to capture the elusiveness of the work by this celebrated avant-garde theatre company. Glass Guignol makes the recent, critically bludgeoned, experimental The Glass Menagerie directed by Sam Gold on Broadway feel like a production for the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Full review on HowlRound

Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes From The Field: Review, Pics, Video

One of the first things we learn in “Notes from the Field” — in a projection on the curtain — is that nearly six million voting-age people can’t vote in the 2016 presidential election because of state felon disenfranchisement laws.

Anna Deavere Smith  portrays 17  disparate characters with her usual dazzling virtuosity. It is her most diffuse and digressive work so far, less of a subject than an argument—that in the United States there is a school to prison “pipeline” for poor people and people of color.

Full review on HowlRound

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus to see it enlarged

From “Brother”

U.S. Representative (D-GA 5th District) Washington, D.C.

From “The Shakura Story”
Student, Spring Valley High School Columbia, SC

From “Breaking the Box”
Pastor and Founder of
Empowerment Temple AME Church
Spoken at the funeral of Freddie Gray, April 27, 2015

Invisible Thread, The Un-Book of Mormon: Review, Pics, Videos

Invisible Thread superficially recalls The Book of Mormon, both musicals telling the story of a couple of Americans in Uganda trying to do good works. But the new musical does not mock the efforts of the Americans nor satirize the misery of the Ugandans. Earnest and energetic, tuneful and often joyful, Invisible Thread also tries, like its protagonists, to make a difference. The musical, which has opened in Second Stage’s Off-Broadway theatre, explores themes of prejudice based on sexual orientation and race; and, at its most intriguing, the nature and practice of charity.

It is the charitable aspects of Invisible Thread that make it unlike any other theatrical experience in New York. Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, two young theatre artists and life partners, wrote the musical based on their actual experiences creating a charity in 2005.

Full review in Howlround

Click on any photograph below to see it enlarged.