Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MAP's world premiere by Vincent Delaney presents an interesting true story

Peggy Gannon and Ben McFadden in The Art of Bad Men (Shane Regan)
The Art of Bad Men
MAP Theatre
(at INScape)
Through October 17, 2015

We’re all pretty used to POW films focusing on how hard it is/was to be a prisoner as a U.S. soldier. We don’t usually get a focus on enemy soldiers, but the world premiere play at MAP Theatre, The Art of Bad Men, by local playwright Vincent Delaney, brings us a trio of German POWs held in the pasturelands of Minnesota!

The “art” mentioned in the title refers to the fact, a true story, that German POWs in that Minnesota prison camp put on a Moliere play while incarcerated there! I guess it was because they could, and to ward off the tedium and have something to do. The bad men are, by definition, the German soldiers. They are a trio of different kinds of men: a stalwart Nazi (Ben McFadden) trying to keep working on escaping and undermining their captivity, a musician who entertained the German soldiers and never saw real action (Ben Burris), and a boy recruited to the Nazi Youth – too young to know what the whole war was about (Sean Schroeder).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Margie Bicknell - Veteran singer/performer on typical struggles for women actors and her new show at Eclectic Theater

Margaret (Margie) Bicknell (Kinnunen)
It’s a particular pleasure of mine to occasionally profile one of our older Seattle area performers. They have loads of experience and history in theater and get to an age where it becomes more difficult to share that, just when they have the most range and depth to provide. Such is our youth-obsessed culture.

Margaret – Margie – Bicknell is one such and the latest person to sit down with me to talk about her life in the arts. It also just so happens that you can see her strut her stuff, shortly, in the Equity Member Project Winter Bird, opening at Eclectic Theater October 1st.

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Bootycandy" is equal parts deep profane pain and great joy! Best Intiman show this season!

Tyler Trerise in Bootycandy (Jeff Carpenter)
Intiman Festival
(at Cornish black box)
Through October 3

The challenging, engaging, challenging, funny (did I say challenging?) play finishing up the Intiman “season” is Bootycandy by Robert O’Hara. It is by far the best production in their list. The play is being presented through their newly-formed Director’s Lab with MFA-candidate Malika Oyetimein helming the project.

So, this review will skew toward discussing her success in directing this semi-autobiographical play. Many people may not understand a director’s job in the collaborative process of staging a play. I hope to clarify that a bit, too. To start that explanation, the director is what I think of as a “crystallizer” – someone who has a vision of what the play should look like, feel like, and help the audience experience. The director uses that vision to work with the designers of the set, costumes, lights and sound (and props) to determine the whole look and feel of a particular staging.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Azeotrope's new play "Sound" exemplifies Hearing-Privileged vs. Deaf Culture...Gracefully!

Lindsay W. Evans and Cheyenna Clearbrook in Sound (Jason Tang)
(at ACTLab – ACT Theatre)
Through October 4, 2015

There are so many graceful moments in the new play, Sound, presented by Azeotrope! That is not the intention of this intensely deep and interesting exploration of the deaf community, but it’s part of my opinion on the intentions of directors Desdemona Chiang and Howie Seago!

This play “speaks” two languages: American Sign Language and spoken English. Azeotrope was determined to learn how to accommodate an audience filled with both hearing and deaf members and they have done so with… grace! And intelligence! And success!

The play, before I get too far off on the “grace notes,” is a new one by Don Nguyen, on the really controversial use of the cochlear implant. If you’re a hearing person and know that it’s a pretty revolutionary device that helps deaf people hear, you might be surprised to know that it’s controversial in the deaf community. What could be wrong with that???

Thursday, September 10, 2015

If You love Green Day's "American Idiot" IMMERSE YOURSELF at ArtsWest Immediately

Justin Huertas, Fredrick Hagreen, Michael Coale Grey in American Idiot (Michael Brunk)
Green Day’s American Idiot
Through October 11, 2015

Have you wondered what it would be like to be on stage? Participate in a play? But you felt intimidated by rehearsing and memorizing lines? Now you can! No rehearsing! No memorization!

Does that sound like an infomercial? ArtsWest is giving you a unique opportunity to get a feeling of participation by attending their ardent, emotional, in-your-face production of Green Day’s American Idiot as an “immersive experience!”

From the standpoint of someone who is probably a bit too old to really care much about the slackers in the story and their angst and suffering, observing all the angst is just fine from a regular seat. The “observational” audience can see the “immersive” audience being told what to do and hurried from place to place, and sometimes that gets distracting even in a production with balls-to-the-walls sets of action.

Imagining the fun and the grit and the sense of immediacy someone of the generation of American Idiot would experience, now there’s a theatrical experience like no other! And for that idea, and ArtsWest’s execution, I give a standing ovation! I think it can really excite younger audiences, less prone to going to theater and feeling like it speaks to them.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Vital questions raised in Intiman’s new play

Charles Leggett and Adam Standley in John Baxter is a Switch Hitter (Chris Bennion)
John Baxter is a Switch Hitter
Intiman Theatre
Through September 27, 2015

Writing plays about “history” is a peculiar challenge: there is a true story people can read about; there is an aspect that a playwright thinks should be animated on stage. Such is the case with Intiman’s new play, John Baxter is a Switch Hitter, written by playwrights Ana Brown and Andrew Russell.

The play covers the 2008 Gay Softball World Series, held for the first time ever in Seattle. It was a big deal with teams coming from all over, along with supporters and family members. A team from San Francisco, the D2s, was doing better than they ever had, and during the championship game with the Los Angeles Vipers, a challenge was issued against the D2s: they had too many heterosexual players on their team!