Byron Woods is celebrating his 18th year as an award-winning arts journalist and critic in the Triangle. In addition to his work as contributing editor…
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The Indy Week review is up: http://bit.ly/tippbb
By way of further introduction, from his LinkedIn page:
Art Handler at North Carolina Museum of Art"
Turbo's remarks make the most sense if one's viewing the show from inside the religion it's marketing.
But seen from a distance, I still think we're first struck by the money (and corporate support) that had to go into such a supposed national tour. Then we're confronted with the goal of such a juggernaut: simply, getting everyone to believe the same thing -- with a little electronic backup to indicate when they do.
Particularly in such glitzy, high-tech trappings, evangelism is, by definition, never far removed from propaganda.
Given the march against women's health, environmentalism, the poor and a host of other issues that a different group of theocrats is currently making through both houses of the NC state legislature, I find I just can't lighten up as much as Turbo would like.
I also can't help but notice that ALTAR BOYZ keeps a gay man closeted due to his faith, and presents to us a Latino character who is apparently amusing because he's Latino.
I'm also betting my correspondent isn't either of these. If Turbo was, (s)he just might not have been so enchanted with the proceedings.
Still, no hard feelings.
This would seem to give both something in common with Mr. Bowater's modest success in "My Name is Yin," which he's just directed for ArtsCenter's 10 BY 10 Festival.
For those who'd like to compare for themselves, It's still running this weekend,
Paul, the region has seen local stagings of African work before: multiple productions of Nigerian playwrights Ola Rotimi (particularly by the Rotimi Foundation, in the early 2000s) and (Nobel laureate) Wole Soyinka. Still, non-U.S. / non-U.K. scripts (and cultures, for that matter) remain far too great a blind spot in much of regional theater.
That's why Common Wealth's concept is particularly important. Because it is, script selection is paramount, in order to actually present the best of what we're missing.
One hates to correct a reader in error. I prefer to take Chill's mistaken remark as a tribute to the actor who performed one of more striking roles in this show in drag.
That apparent success seems to have made the production's claim of an all-female cast, in itself, a more effective inquiry into gender roles than much of the work we saw here on stage.
Let's be clear: It is profoundly refreshing whenever a director chooses to feature any community that has experienced unearned difficulties finding roles on our regional stage. It is also deeply useful when a production effectively calls into question long-held beliefs concerning gender and sexuality. Among any number of productions O'Berski has directed, his "Cherry Orchard" and "Glass" have effectively done both.
I regret that this production ultimately did neither of these things very well. Largely, this is because we couldn't consistently believe any of the students on stage. That would include those I mentioned by name, who only found convincing moments among otherwise incomplete performances.
Even if a character's main work involves criticizing a specific gender role, we still have to buy into the character constructing the criticism. Anything less basically takes us out of the realm of acting. Unfortunately, that's where many of the students on stage spent much of the evening. Far too many of them were playing at characters, not playing characters.
Dress-up isn't theater. And it can't be said to empower a group of students to put them on stage before a paying public without first adequately preparing them to succeed there.
As a discipline, Theater Studies sometimes is accused of privileging the analysis of performance over the actual work itself. This production largely seems an unfortunate case in point. Duke Theater Studies appears to have taught some of this group to investigate gender. But by what we've seen here, it isn't clear how effectively it's taught any of them how to act.
A fundamental imbalance is suggested. Perhaps someone should look into it.
Readers: A lively discussion on my Facebook page has added a lot to my thoughts about the show. Please feel free to visit, consider and weigh in: arts.byron.woods.
The very best theater—the truly excellent—lets us lay hands directly on the problems of our (and other) times. Though this may come as a shock to rathla's cohort, there actually are one or two issues currently facing North Carolinians and Americans that are an awful lot greater—and graver—than whether a praise-starved artist got enough ego feed from a strongly positive review.
This production of "The Crucible" cast a strong light on those issues—which is entirely to the credit of the artists I mentioned in my commentary. That was and remains the most important news from this production. That's why I reported it.
Yes, readers, it is more than a little nauseating when grown artists involved in a show (or their stage mothers, wives and husbands) respond to a four-star review like true professionals—by stamping their little feet and whinging, "B-b-but you didn't praise us ENOUGH!!!"
Could someone please tell rathla's cohort that sometimes the theater is actually allowed to be about something bigger and more important than the size of their own personal ovation? And when it is, it actually means the artists did something _very_ right?
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