The first part of the ritual was the coat. Black, regal, with safety pins up and down the lapels that made me feel like I was one of Shakespeare’s youths bursting at the seams with ambition. My outfit was freshly plucked off of the costume rack next to the Bookspan, like my fellow audience members. Leathers, vests, and even a sequined battle helmet complete with a blonde braid peppered the crowd. It was costume designer Uriel Gomez’s way of inviting the audience into the world of lush fabrics and textures that make up much of the world of Gender Play, or what you Will.
The second part of the ritual was the tarot card. From the twenty-two cards that comprise the Major Arcana spread across the table in the dark hall, I first selected Strength, feeling the edges of the sturdy paper in my hand. I then eyed The Hanged Woman, suspended before a state of transformation – Death. I had drawn both cards just hours before. I took them both into the theatre. Continue reading “A Triumph of Will in ‘Gender Play’ at About Face Theatre”
A serial killer is suspected to live amongst the residents of Ipswich, UK when the holiday season is darkened by the murder of five sex workers. The town’s safety and reputation are at risk, and national attention only amplifies the danger lurking on London Road. Using verbatim theatre, London Road creators Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork adapt real interviews into a musical documentary that explores all the ways tragedy encouraged a community to come together and expose its negligent prejudice. Shattered Globe Theatre’s extraordinary ensemble cast, directed by Elizabeth Margolius, relives the horrifying events that rocked Ipswich between 2006 and 2008 with compassion, humor, and awe-inspiring skill.
London Road relies on the actors to authentically embody the diverse characters whose interviews make up the production’s entire text. This lofty challenge is executed masterfully by a tight-knit ensemble that works as a team to make a town full of strangers feel familiar. Each performer portrays multiple characters and all effectively change their personalities in the blink of an eye. There is a wealth of talent packed in the cast of eleven and every performance shines. Countless breakout moments bring a beautiful dimension to the production where joy and horror live side-by-side. Continue reading “True Crime Meets Verbatim Theatre in London Road at Shattered Globe Theatre”
On May 5th, 2023, at the height of a Scorpio Full Moon Eclipse, it was announced that Nataki Garrett would be resigning from her post as Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival after four long years. This is a watershed moment in the history of the American Theatre. There will be news. What I have for you is my raw, artists’ response, as a Black, trans artistic leader, and an artist who participated in the Shakespeare festival last year. A letter to you, a letter to me, a letter to Nataki. I hope it soothes.
A Titan has been lost.
No. Not lost.
She can still be found.
A Titan has been displaced.
Still not right. She left of her own volition.
A Titan has shed her skin.
Yes. That’s right.
What happens when a Titan must move?
A Titan on whose back rested a village that worshiped her daily? Continue reading “Shedding Skins: An Artists’ Response to Nataki Garrett’s Departure”
The first time I heard about Chicago’s Neo-Futurists was seven years ago, in a room full of playwrights, as an intern at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The Neo’s now-closed production of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind subsequently became my first Chicago Theatre-going experience as a newly-minted resident in 2016. Returning over the years to see multiple iterations of The Infinite Wrench, my favorite skit of all time was by Ensemble Member Leah Urzendowski, who kicked, punched, and stomped on a diagram of a vulva; a disturbingly accurate depiction of what it felt like to bike the gravel section of Clark Street between Foster and Montrose when it was under construction pre-pandemic. I have never laughed so hard in my life. While the Neo-Futurarium is the first spot I think of to introduce new friends and out-of-town visitors to the best-of Chicago Theatre, The Neofuturists Sell Out was my first time seeing a ‘prime-time’ show.
Hilarious and poignant as ever, the Neo-Futurists Sell Out is a skit-filled hour of entertainment with a special focus on capitalism, astutely directed by Lavina Jadhwani. Without the Neo’s typical greetings, menus, and nametags handed out at the door, the four performers instead rolled in chairs and desks on stage to launch straight into the action. But, with no greeting and minimal audience interaction until halfway through the show, this prime-time experience left me missing the performer-to-audience connection that usually drives the Neo’s pacing and energy; the connection that punches up their versed and starkly intimate sense of humor. Continue reading “Tackling Capitalism in ‘The Neo-Futurists Sell Out’”
The following is a transcript of the speech given by Editor-In-Chief and Cultural Designer Regina Victor at the American Stage Lift Every Voice New Play Festival on March 3rd, 2023 at the James Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. Published exclusively on Rescripted.
Hello everyone, what a marvelous gathering!
As Patrick said, my name is Regina Victor, my pronouns are they/them pharaoh, and I’m so grateful to be here at the Lift Every Voice New Play Festival. Thank you to the James Museum, and the team at American Stage for hosting us here together, to celebrate six new opportunities to play.
I want to start with a moment of collective memory. I want us to think back to the first moment we ever saw a play, when we knew we wanted to be creators and producers for the stage. Think back to that time, and think about, possibly even cherish, the amount you have accomplished since that moment. The stories you’ve shepherded, the lives you’ve changed, the joy you’ve discovered. Continue reading “The Importance of Play – A Keynote Speech by Regina Victor”
Marela, the youngest daughter of a Cuban Cigar Factory Owner, casts a spell to bring sweetness to Juan Julian’s journey from the island of Cuba to Ybor City, as she and her mother Ofelia (the expressive, incomparable Charín Álvarez) and sister, Conchita, anticipate his arrival. Juan Julian (in an affecting performance by Arash Fakhrabadi) whose voice is “like a Persian canary,” is the new lector. His job is to read books to the Cigar rollers as they work. The characters and a digital dramaturgy packet both note that this tradition comes from the customs of the Taino people (the Indigenous people of Cuba, a first-contact tribe) listening to storytellers as they roll tobacco leaves.
Nilo Cruz’s 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning play is a Cuban American adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Cruz deftly crafts character relationships and factory politics to examine many of the same industrial binaries Tolstoy obsessed over. Machine vs. tradition, speed vs. leisure, with cigarette vs. cigar taking center stage. All are so incredibly specific to the play’s 1929 setting while simultaneously resonant today.
Continue reading “Women take control in Remy Bumppo’s timeless remount of Anna in the Tropics”
This is a new theatre series covering artistic experiences outside the city of Chicago. Kristin Idaszak writes about the various works they saw at the Sydney Festival.
A few weeks after the bomb cyclone deep froze Chicago and floods battered the southeast coast of Australia in late December 2022, I arrived at the Sydney Festival, an international festival of performance and culture in Australia. These meteorological events, as well as Australia’s massive brush fires of 2019 and 2020, were on my mind. I was thinking about the weather because I hoped traveling eight thousand miles from home and exploring unfamiliar aesthetic and literal landscapes would reinvigorate my own creative practice, which focuses largely on the environment and the climate crisis.
Emerging from my own pandemic-induced artistic hibernation, I was eager to experience work that offered new creative methodologies, and reconceived the look, feel, and sound of environmental performance. My first week at the festival consisted of a double-header of pieces inspired by climate change, Sun & Sea and Polar Force, followed by a dance theatre performance grounded in First Nations dramaturgy.
Continue reading “Flip The Script: Theatre Down Under”
On February 8th, 2023, playbill.com published an article by Margaret Hall, entitled “Physical Assault Vomit in the Aisles, Stalking in the Streets: Why Audience Misbehavior Has Gotten Out of Hand”.
The article consisted of interviews from Front of House staff on Broadway, whose compelling testimonies created an unignorable narrative: the culture of Broadway theatres and their patrons is unsustainable, disrespectful, and at times dangerous. It was met with immediate buzz and urgent discourse. On Friday February 10th, 2023, the article was pulled from playbill.com. It will be edited, and re-published at a later date. Below is an excerpt from the original piece:
“Tessie, a former actor turned front of house worker, began working at a family friendly musical in the winter of 2021. Since beginning the position, they have been “spat on, shoved, had my ass slapped, and been screamed at more times than I could count.” Still, they consider themselves lucky; one of their coworkers was shoved down a staircase by an irate patron, resulting in a serious hip injury. Continue reading “Playbill Article Opens Conversation About Danger, Safety and Standards for Broadway, So Why Aren’t We Talking About That?”
The remaining nine members on staff at Victory Gardens Theater released a statement today in solidarity with the Resident Directors and Playwrights Ensemble that resigned early this morning. It reads in part:
“The board repeatedly ignores the advice and concerns of the arts professionals on staff. As staff members, we have been told to channel all communication through Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin, and Acting Managing Director Roxanna Connor – but the board has repeatedly undermined and dismissed them. The board hired Ken-Matt and Roxanna to lead this organization yet they have never truly been allowed to do so.”
Since then, an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed that the Victory Gardens board has gained access to the social media accounts for the company. The board has removed the post and blocked staff members from accessing the social media accounts. The marketing manager has also reportedly been removed from their staff google account, drive and email. Continue reading “Victory Gardens Staff Statement of Solidarity Reportedly Removed by Board”
The Resident Directors and Playwrights’ Ensemble of Victory Gardens Theater have resigned en masse as of today, July 6, 2022. Executive Director Roxanna Connor will resign effective end of July. Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin has been placed “on leave” with no public explanation. The resident directors and Playwrights ensemble were not given notice of the resignation or the leave. They also were not informed that the Board of Victory Gardens has purchased a building near the theatre, and were aiming to move the administrative offices without consent of the leadership or staff. You can read the full letter and see the signatories here.
If you’ve been an artist or a fan of the Chicago Theatre scene, that probably gave you déjà vu. On May 22, 2020, the Playwrights Ensemble resigned in protest of Erica Daniels’ appointment as Executive Artistic Director (formerly associated with Profiles Theatre and Second City). This protest peaked when Victory Gardens infamously boarded its doors and windows and failed to support Black lives during the George Floyd protests. Continue reading “Victory Gardens Theater Resident Artists Resign, Call for Board Resignation”