TALKS: Dael Orlandersmith of NYTW’s FOREVER

Dael Orlandersmith in FOREVER  (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

Dael Orlandersmith in FOREVER
(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

New York Theatre Workshop is closing their 2014-2015 season with the one-woman show Forever written and starring Obie award-winning actress, poet, playwright, and teacher Dael Orlandersmith. Directed by Neel Keller, the Associate Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group and recent director of The NetherForever a memoire that reflects upon family as Dael journeys to the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where countless artistic icons in history are buried. While exploring  the graves of such greats like as Morrison and Oscar Wild, Dael takes a look back at her past – from the New York City up bringing to the strained and abusive relationship with her mother, from her passion for music and art to her to her conviction to success where her mother couldn’t.

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THOUGHTS: Ma-Yi Theater’s Chairs and a Long Table

Ron Domingo, Jeena Yi, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Moses Villarama

Ron Domingo, Jeena Yi, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Moses Villarama (Photo Credit: Web Begole)

How would you feel if you attended a play that included yellow face? Now imagine being an Asian actor constantly auditioning in New York City (struggling to come across casting calls that fit your type) and finding out that a major theater company went with white actors for the roles of the Emperor and Empress of China. Han Ong’s latest play Chairs and a Long Table addresses this very issue. As a part of the Ma-Yi Theater Company’s “Breaking the Myth” series, Ong’s new play is making it’s world premier in rep alongside  Carlos Celdron’s Livin’ La Vida Imelda at The Clurman Theater. Yellow face, black face, brown face, white washing characters that were written to be of color – these are all problems that are still going strong today, and the timing of this play could not be more appropriate.
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LAST MINUTE CASTING: Seeking an Actress in NYC for Bryony Lavery’s Frozen

Seeking: Female, ages 42-53, All Ethnicities for the role of Nancy

Casting Bryony Lavery’s “Frozen.” Company states: “Nancy, an English woman, must cope with the disappearance of her daughter who left for her grandmother’s house but never reached her destination. Agnetha, an American psychiatrist, has come to England to research a thesis: ‘Serial Killing-A Forgivable Act?’ Then there’s Ralph, a loner who’s looking for some distraction. Drawn together by horrific circumstances, these three embark on a long, dark, journey which finally curves upward into the light, and explores our capacity for forgiveness, remorse, and change.”

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THOUGHTS: Father Comes Home from the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3) at The Public Theater

Louis Cancelmi and Sterling K. Brown (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

Louis Cancelmi and Sterling K. Brown (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

After several weeks of seeing shows, I think I’ve finally found my new favorite this season (and I hope it’ll be yours, too). Making good theater is a tough game, but I’m pretty confident that Suzan-Lori Parks, Jo Bonney, and The Public Theater (in tandem with A.R.T)  have figured out how to win it this season with Parks’ latest play Father Comes Home From the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3). In this epic, which is reminiscent of  Homer’s The Odyssey, Parks takes us back to the Civil War when the hunger for freedom was at it’s pinnacle and black slaves were forced to fight for the Confederacy. Our hero of these plays, Hero (played by Sterling K. Brown) wants to achieve freedom like the next slave, only he wants to earn it in what he considers the right way (i.e. not running away). Continue reading

THOUGHTS: Carnaval at The National Black Theatre

Carnaval Pix 3 72p

W. Tre’ Davis, Bjorn DuPaty, and Gabriel Lawrence (Photo Credit: Christine Jean Chambers)

The National Black Theatre invites you to a private room inside Raheem Monroe’s Club Carnaval, a Brazilian themed night club. The lights, pumping music and the fog machines create an ambiance of a place where good, albeit debauched, times are had.  Projections are used on the back wall and the room panels to show video recordings and visuals of Brazilian beach and night life. The very clean, minimal set easily transforms from the Brooklyn club, to JFK, to the 3 bedroom condo in Rio, to another location that I’ll leave undisclosed to avoid spoiling the show. Continue reading

TALKS: Father Comes Home from the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3)’s Jacob Ming-Trent

Jacob Ming-TrentJacob Ming-Trent is a household name across Broadway stages, regional theaters and even in London! State side you might have seen him compete to win a new truck in Hands on a Hardbody or perhaps you recognize him from the fairytale world of Shrek the Musical. This month Jacob can be found on stage in the new play by Pulitzer Prize & Tony Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks, Father Comes Home From the Wars (Part 1, 2 & 3) at The Public Theater. Check out the Q&A below to find out more about the show, Jacob’s experience in the play, working with Suzan-Lori Parks and more! Continue reading

THOUGHTS: I Like To Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, or, This Is a Mango

poster-I Like To Be Here-wThere are so many plays about life in New York, but most of them seem to be about Manhattan or Brooklyn. Well, Theatre 167 is giving us a glimpse into the world of Queens in their latest play I Like to Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, or, This is a Mango where we spend a night with 21 characters in Jackson Heights. New York is the ultimate melting pot (although you’d never know it if you only saw Broadway shows), and I Like to Be Here brilliantly reflects the diversity and blending of lives in this city.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: 5 Interesting Facts about The Hot Mikado

Hot-Mikado-Playbill-05-39This week we’re taking it way back to 1939 for THROWBACK THURSDAY with The Hot Mikado, an all black cast adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Starring the iconic Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the original Broadway production hit the stage at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 23rd, 1939 with a total of 85 performances. The musical set in Japan features a comedic story of lovers kept apart, crazy laws, resistance to forced execution, and imposing royals. It’s quite the comedy of errors. While Gilbert and Sullivan gave an operatic version of the story, The Hot Mikado gave it a jazzy flavor.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: 5 Interesting Facts about Dreamgirls

DreamGirls_Playbill_300This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY is taking a look at the 6 time Tony award winning musical DreamgirlsMany of you may be very familiar with the film that came out in 2006 starring Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Anika Noni Rose, but how much do you know about the stage production? The musical, spanning the 60s and 70s, follows the highs and lows of a Chicago girl group called “The Dreams.” With music by Henry Kreiger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, the original production of  Dreamgirls came to Broadway in 1981 at the Imperial Theater and went on to be nominated for 13 Tony awards that year!

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THOUGHTS: Sawbones & The Diamond Eater

Sawbones and the diamond eater

I cannot say that I have ever seen a play about the medical world from the perspective of the operating table.  That is, until now.  At the HERE Arts Center’s MainStage, I saw a double-header of two evocative, short medical plays set during two major wars in our world’s history.  We are transplanted to the Civil War in Sawbones, then we journey on to  WWII in Germany in The Diamond Eater. Both plays were written by Carrie Robbins and, I was shocked by this, based on true stories by RD Robbins MD.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: 5 Interesting Facts about M. Butterfly

M-Butterfly-Playbill-03-88On this THROWBACK THURSDAY, we are taking a look at one of renowned playwright David Henry Hwang’s greatest works: M. Butterfly. The gender-bending play inspired by Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in 1988. John Lithgow starred as Rene Gallimard, a French civil servant working at the Embassy in China who falls in love with Chinese Opera singer Song Liling, played by B.D. Wong. Song, a man masquerading as a woman to serve as a spy, and Gallimard, carry on a 20 year affair with Gallimard believing Song is a woman. Gallimard is tried and sent to prison for treason, learning that his love is really a man. This play has received many awards and nominations, including the Tony for Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play (Wong), and Best Direction of a Play (John Dexter).

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