WHO: Patti Smith & Sam Shepard
WHAT: Cowboy Mouth
WHERE: The New Collective
Only three shows left. This is a rare and difficult piece for performers to embody and for that alone it should be seen. Where do we fit in when the world seems to be swallowing us alive? How do we cope with lost dreams and who do we find comfort in – despite how we were brought together? The play will leave us with unanswered questions, as does life. Cait Mathis & Alton Ray are fearless in a work that requires deep commitment.Tweet
WHO: Andrea Schell
WHAT: Sexy Maus
WHERE: Sacred Fools Studio
Andrea is delicious and fearless. This one-woman show examines the self’s needs, wants and fears in a wonderfully direct manner; one finds themself laughing, understanding, and seeing Andrea a bit more clearer by the end of the play. It is not easy to be at an unplanned crossroad, yet we all know the feeling of needing to escape, searching for ourselves on a deeper level, finding ourselves then questioning it all again! Andrea gives us a fun, honest and vulnerable look at herself in a hot theatre, showing us that affordable community theatre can have just as much pizazz as a show in a big house. Go see this show, and then go have hot sex with a lover, stranger or flexible friend. Hey, we can’t all get to Europe but we can pretend!Tweet
by Chris Farah
WHO: Leah Artenian, Sophia Brackenridge, Savannah Gilmore
WHAT: Lolita, Daisy, Ophelia: A Love Story
WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex
We know these characters only from the viewpoint of the lead male character in their stories but now we get to hear their dreams, wants, and desires from their own lips.Tweet
WHO: L. Nicol Cabe
WHAT: Infinite Expectation of the Dawn
WHERE: Actors Company
I’ve been evangelizing about this show since it opened over the weekend. (It’s been touring, so it got a late start here and I really, really want more people to see it.) Writer and actor L. Nicol Cabe plays two women in a post-second-civil-war America: a representative of the new Christian government and the adult daughter of a resistance leader. Both characters are well-drawn—the play is sympathetic to each without being uncritical—and when their stories finally intersect, there is serious emotional payoff. (Warning: you will feel feelings.) The world-building is one of the show’s biggest strengths, and I loved learning about the new America through the little details each woman mentions. Think smart, dystopian sci fi in the tradition of Margaret Atwood. Cabe’s performance is sharp, energetic, and seriously, she nails two character arcs in an hour, that is ridiculous.Tweet
WHO: Merri Biechler
WHERE: Asylum @ 6470
Because war is a universal issue, a disease that trickles down and affects us all. This Utopian play allows you to hear the voices of the women who are left to deal with the aftermath of war. It is a wonderful reminder that all you really need is an empty space along with good writing to tell a powerful story. (And if you love live music, Occupation has a wonderful musician who accompanies the players onstage.)Tweet
WHO: Theresa Stroll and Bobby Glynn
WHERE: Sacred Fools Theater (Black Box)
Terry is a young woman new to Hollywood and looking to become an actress. This story is old as time in this city and yet Theresa Stroll finds a way to put a brand new face on this adventure with the addition of one important caveat: she’s a fat actress and she’s not looking to change that, she’s looking to change Hollywood. We meet an array of supporting characters, some supportive and some far from it but each leading Terry closer to a conclusion that neither she nor the audience sees coming but will leave you all grinning with joy. This show reminds us that sometimes some out of the box thinking is what we need to make our dreams come true. That and some equally resolved and pissed off partners in crime.Tweet
WHO: Sarah Rosenberg
WHAT: Being Martin Shkreli
WHERE: Ruby Theatre at The Complex
You guys. Martin Shkreli is not just abhorrent. He’s also completely weird. After pulling a volunteer from the audience and handing them a list of questions to ask her, Sarah Rosenberg swaggers and smirks her way through half an hour of bravado, threats, and claims of artistic genius, straight from the mouth of the worst dude of our time. I laughed, I made disbelieving faces that I probably couldn’t recreate if I tried, and I had a great time. This show has all the pleasure of sharing a really nutty article, except that the article is happening right in front of you.
WHO: Elizabeth Irwin
WHAT: My Mañana Comes
In almost every moment of My Mañana Comes, the audience is watching labor happen. Set in a restaurant kitchen, the mostly-naturalistic play follows four busboys over a period of a months as they work, make chitchat, confide in each other, and do the math of how to keep getting by, over and over again. While the play is absolutely political—it’s pretty much impossible to watch people working almost nonstop for an hour and a half without feeling strongly that they should be paid fairly for their damn labor—strong writing, sharp direction, and four A+ performances keep it feeling theatrical rather than polemical. It’s a pleasure to watch for the craft involved and also a real punch in the heart.Tweet
by Chris Farah
WHO: Gabriela Ortega
WHAT: Las García
WHERE: Asylum @ Studio C (Mainstage) 6448 Santa Monica Blvd
WHY: A beautiful one-woman show combining spoken word, music, history, feminism and Dominican Republic culture, playwright and performer Ortega weaves the narratives of her grandmother and herself to portray the life and struggles of revolutionary women.
by Kitty Felde
A week or so ago, I was honored to be invited back for a second year to serve as dramaturg to a group of playwrights in Lincoln, Nebraska. And as usual, I learned more about my own shortcomings as a writer. It’s always easier to see the problems in someone else’s play. It’s one of the reasons I so enjoy attending new play conferences, like the annual gathering at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “If only they’d tackle this” or “fix that” I say to myself, knowing full well I should be saying that to myself.
Here are the two big take-aways from my Nebraska seminar. I should tape them to my wall:
– Theatre is about present action, what happens NOW onstage, not about working out past trauma. Certainly the past informs the present. But if the biggest event in your play happened twenty years ago and all we get to do is hear about it, we, the audience will feel like we didn’t get our money’s worth.
– Every monologue must operate as its own mini-play. What does the character want? Why is she/he telling this story? What do they want to get out of the person they are telling it to? What challenge or problem is the character working out in that monologue? Does it have a beginning, middle, and end? Again, is it just about the past? Is it just exposition? Make it necessary to the play as a whole.
These two points were a particular challenge to my class of hopeful playwrights. They are also challenging me.
I got a commission to write a one-man show that will serve as a tour for the neighborhood around the White House. A company here in DC commissioned three playwrights to build one-hour shows around a historic character who lived or worked in the White House. My character is Quentin Roosevelt, youngest son of Theodore.
There are challenges I’ve never had to worry about in previous plays: when will the Secret Service arbitrarily shut down the tour route? Do you need to build in bathroom breaks? How much walking can an audience take before it tunes out and thinks of nothing more than the next bench?
But I’ve also had those two big challenges to tackle: how do you make present a story that is mostly (by design) intended to inform about the past? And how do you do this with a 50 page monologue?
My own solution for QUENTIN was to set the play on the day he came to DC for his Army Air Corps physical – the one where he memorized the eye chart to hide his poor eyesight. It was to be a reunion with his “White House Gang” – the neighborhood kids he hung out with during the years his father was president. The gang doesn’t show up, but he encounters a group of tourists…whose tour guide has also stood them up. Quentin offers to take then around, sharing his own stories of life in the White House and bits of Washington lore. But he’s also having an internal struggle about coming to terms with enlisting, not disappointing his father, the very real possibility of death, and the excitement about his secret engagement to Flora Whitney.
We’ll see if it works. The show is in rehearsal right now. If you’re in DC this summer, you can join a tour – er, performance – and see for yourself.