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Intractable Woman, A Play About Murdered Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya

Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on Vladimir Putin’s birthday in 2006, as if the assassins were giving him a present for getting rid of this woman deemed an “enemy” of the state — the 13th journalist to have been murdered in Russia since Putin had come to power.

Her story is now being told in “Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya,” an unconventional drama that marks the New York debut of Italian playwright Stefano Massini. In the play, as I explain in my article on the show for TDF Stages, three actresses  share some of the horrors the journalist witnessed, and recreate a few of the shocking interviews she conducted while covering both sides of Russia’s war with the breakaway republic of Chechnya. “She is not portrayed as a noble hero,” says director Lee Sunday Evans. “But through the granular details of her journalism, we learn about her intellect and her incredible persistence.”

For her efforts to report the truth, Politkovskaya was interrogated by Russian security services, harassed, threatened, poisoned, and finally assassinated. A former police officer and five others were convicted of killing her, but her colleagues at Novaya gazeta are adamant: The case is not over until the person who ordered the killing is brought to justice.

 

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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

 

Trump Fatigue? These 3 Shows Hope Not

“I think there has been a growth in Trump fatigue,” says Tony Stinkmetal, who admits that he himself shares it — which is why it’s surprising that he has created a show called “SlashR” that’s  been promoted as an “outrageous, sexy, and bloody political satire that massacres Trump and the current era of American politics.” It is one of at least three Trump-related satires currently on New York stages with brief or sporadic runs.

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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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Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts: How Six Actresses Portray One Ordinary Woman

Six actresses — from Tatiany Maslany of “Orphan Black” making her New York stage debut, to Tony winner Blair Brown — play the title character in “Mary Page Marlowe.” The play by Tracy Letts, opening tonight at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theater, presents 11 moments over 70 years in the life of an ordinary woman.

As I explain in an article on “Mary Page Marlowe” in TDF Stages, the play presented director Lila Neugebauer with a challenge: how to get the audience to accept six actresses as one character. A dialect coach helped, but one unusual move was encouraging all the Mary Pages to sit in on one another’s rehearsals and share feedback. “You were allowed to comment on other people’s scenes because it was actually your character as well,” says Susan Pourfar, who portrays Mary Page at ages 40 and 44. “Together, as a community, we created the backstory of this woman.”

Click on any photograph by Joan Marcus showing the different Mary Page Marlowes. Not shown: Mary Page Marlowe as an infant (portrayed by a baby doll.)

Free Broadway in Bryant Park Concerts Summer 2018 Schedule

For the 18th year in a row, Bryant Park is the site of free lunchtime concerts by cast members of current Broadway (and some Off-Broadway) shows  on Thursdays in July and August between 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. This year’s offerings include Tony-sweeper The Band’s Visit on July 26 and an all-Disney Broadway program on August 2.

Here is the schedule for this summer:

July 12
Co-Host(s):Catherine Russell and the cast of “Perfect Crime”
“Chicago”, “SpongeBob SquarePants”, “Stomp”, “Waitress”
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Frozen on Broadway: First Preview Curtain Call

 

BroadwayCon – What To Expect

The third annual BroadwayCon, conceived by Anthony Rapp and fashioned after ComicCon, runs this Friday to Sunday at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Those attending really need to check out the BroadwayCon website (or app) in advance, especially the schedule

The biggest events, the ones on the Main Stage, include the opening ceremony, the 10th reunion of In The Heights, and “show spotlights” on Chicago and Frozen (on Friday afternoon), Dear Evan Hansen, SpongeBob Squarepants, and The Band’s Visit (Saturday), Come From Away (Sunday)

But that doesn’t give you a sense of the size of this thing — there are 238 people (by my count) participating in the various panels or sessions, many of them familiar faces, such as these:

Just walking around offers its own thrills — all the vendors and swag and fans in costume

Below are photographs and videos from the first two BroadwayCons.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins rehearsals for Broadway. Meet entire cast

Rehearsals have begun for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which will open at the Lyric Theater on Broadway on April 22, following up on J.K. Rowling’s characters 19 years after her last novel, The Deathly Hallows. Click on the first photograph above to get the list of names of the entire cast.

Holiday Shows 2017, And Why. Plus: Broadway Christmas Week Schedules

Some people wonder why the same holiday shows are so popular, year after year. Some people just attend them year after year.

Below, see the schedule for Broadway shows both during the week leading up to Christmas (this week) and the week following (next week.)

Above that is a list of holiday shows, which range from Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, which began in 1933, to the annual drag queen mock Christmas extravaganzas at the Laurie Beechman Theater.

But first, a question: What are the upside and downside of perennial holiday shows?

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