Thursday, March 12, 2015

The forgotten guy - the playwright

There's been a bunch of controversy swirling around the new play Seven Ways to Get There, now playing at ACT through their ACTLab collaboration in co-production. Brendan Kiley published an article in The Stranger  that didn't review the play so much as comment on "how" this play got made. 

Kiley's article discussed the behind the scenes funding of the production, mainly from a rich CEO who had experienced the positive nature of men's group therapy in his own life and wanted to create a play that would speak to the idea that men can and should be more supportive of each other and therapy is something more men should seek. Kiley's article suggested this was a new way of funding theater.

A great response to that was posted by Melissa Hillman, from San Francisco, in her every-theater-person-if-not-every-person-should-follow-her blog, Bitter Gertrude

A lot of the commentary on the web about the show has been about that, often from people who haven't seen the actual play. 

As it turns out, not many people are talking to or including the playwright in their analyses or commentary. I thought I should remedy that a little, because he is someone who has been quietly and diligently supporting Northwest playwrights for years and years and years. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Meticulous "The Flick" inaugurates New Century Theatre Company at 12AA

Emily Chisholm, Sam Hagen, Tyler Trerise in The Flick (John Ulman)

The Flick
New Century Theatre Company
Through April 4, 2015

New Century Theatre Company’s inaugural production in their new space at 12th Avenue Arts Center includes all the kinds of elements that they emphasize: there is an emphasis on atmospherics (the play, The Flick, is about a movie theater crew, so there must be popcorn – both in the lobby and on the floor!), and a meticulously produced play.

A tight cast of basically three people (there is a tiny and well done fourth role) slowly unfold their personal quirks and traits as they get to know each other while doing their jobs at a movie theater called The Flick. During clean-up times, when screenings are over, we’re introduced to Rose (Emily Chisholm) – a green-haired, hip hop, streetwise, assertive and self-assured projectionist; Sam (Sam Hagen) – a guy whose life seems destined to stay low-level jobs like cleaning movie theaters; and Avery (Tyler Trerise) – the college student with college professor father whose future can clearly be brighter than either of the other two.

Around the World in 80 Days’ Leading Lady Aneesh Sheth’s Incredible Journey

Aneesh Sheth in Village Theatre's Around the World in 80 Days (Mark Kitaoka)
As posted in STACKEDD Magazine

When I received an email pitch from Aneesh Sheth, she said to me, “I am currently making my debut at Village Theatre in their production Around the World in 80 Days.” Having seen the production, I was aware of her work. The email continued, “Playing the Indian princess has always been a dream of mine, and for a very long time only a pipe dream. What makes my story of being cast as Aouda different from many other actors is that I am an out transgender actress making my way in the industry.” That sentence caught me by surprise. I had no idea that I was seeing a transgendered actress when I saw the show.

She continued, “Getting to play a non-transgender character, not to mention the leading lady as well, is not only a personal success but an important step for transgender individuals who may share the same dream and a huge step in the types of roles we are offered. There has been much controversy over the ‘appropriateness’ of whether transgender actors should play only transgender roles.”

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Solo Performance Festival flies again in March

Sara Porkalob with duck heads (Truman Buffett)
The folks at Theatre Off Jackson and Keira McDonald have partnered for years, now, to present solo shows in a festival style presentation. It's feels a bit like a fringe festival offering and indeed, some of the performances have gone on to tour in fringe festivals around the country and even around the world.

McDonald has been offering workshops to perfect solo technique and many of her students have performed in the festival. The same can be said of the festival coming up in the next couple of weeks.

March 20-21, SPF starts out with a shorts night and continues into the evening with a late nite presentation by Sylvia O'Stayformore, a veteran of solo performance.

L. Nicol Cabe presents Infinite Expectation of the Dawn, March 24-April 1 (four performances) which is described: "Human rights are inalienable, unassailable, unquestionable. But sometimes, we sacrifice our rights for a greater good. Set in the dystopian world after the United States suffers Civil War II, (IED) weaves the stories of Joan and Alicia, two perspectives from a country burdened with fear, who both made personal sacrifices to create their ideal reality."

March 26-29 (three performances), Sara Porkalob presents the true story of her mother's birth and her grandmother's dangerous past. I recently reviewed it here. It's a fascinating story.

Comedian Dana Goldberg returns to Seattle for one night, March 28.

Jim Loucks comes to town with The Biscuiteater, April 2-4 (three performances). His is a southern charm.

Visit TOJ for more information.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

English/Chinese combo in "Chinglish" a great evening in translation

Evan Whitfield and Kathy Hsieh (Michael Brunk)
ArtsWest (co-production with SiS Productions)
through March 29, 2015

The absorbing new work, Chinglish, by David Henry Hwang, at ArtsWest is a tightly written play with a top-notch cast, directed with panache by Annie Lareau. It's also challenging for the audience, because more than half of it is in Mandarin Chinese!

Daniel (Evan Whitfield) begins the play by showing us signage where Chinese translators have badly translated signs from Chinese into English. (see below) He warns us that if we learn nothing else from his "how to do business in China" talk, we should know this: Bring your own translator!

A screen then tells us that the time is three years earlier. We'll need that screen as almost another character, since we will need the translations that follow hot and heavy as rapid fire Chinese and halting bad translations fill the rest of the evening. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Only 2 more weeks to see inventive SteamPunk Cirque

The musicians of Kurios (Martin Girard

Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities
Cirque du Soleil
Marymoor Park
Through March 22, 2015

The gorgeous acrobatic, high flying antics of top-flight, international talent combines with a steampunk aesthetic and even some invisible acts in Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities at Marymoor Park.

Kurios is the 35th production in the line of inventions known as Cirque du Soleil. Similar to other shows, there is a very loose story here that ties the evening together. But you don’t really go to Cirque shows for story, you go for atmosphere, beautiful, intricate costuming, easy to assimilate international music without real words, and death-defying acrobatic and fly work.