The Best of 2016 in Theater, Dance, Books, and Film | The Year in Arts | Indy Week
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The Best of 2016 in Theater, Dance, Books, and Film 

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THE TEN BEST PLAYS OF 2016

By Byron Woods

All My Sons (Theatre Raleigh at Kennedy Theatre, Raleigh) A top-flight ensemble led by Julie Fishell, Mitch Poulos, Charlie Brady, and Meagan Mackenzie Chieppor explored the secrets and lies of a mid-century American family frozen by wartime grief. www.theatreraleigh.com

Cloud 9 (Tiny Engine Theatre at Common Ground Theatre, Durham) A gutsy ensemble in Victorian drag took on Caryl Churchill's farcical roundelay of gender roles and noblesse oblige, from the British empire a century ago to today. www.tinyenginetheatre.com

Doubt (Temple Theatre, Sanford) Actors Lynda Clark and Gus Allen went ten rounds in a psychological war of nerves in a play where a priest's behavior with a young boy comes under question. www.templeshows.com

David Henderson in Hamlet - PHOTO BY CURTIS BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo by Curtis Brown Photography
  • David Henderson in Hamlet

Hamlet (Honest Pint Theatre at William Peace University, Raleigh) This rare, audacious staging of Shakespeare's complete text occasionally flirted with disaster in theatrical deconstructions, but it delivered thought-provoking performances from accomplished actors and a nuanced vision of a dysfunctional Denmark. www.honestpinttheatre.org

Jacuzzi (Ward Theatre Company at Ward Theatre, Durham) In her North Carolina debut, director Wendy Ward gave proof of concept for the techniques of acting teacher Sanford Meisner with a taut psychological thriller set in a remote Rocky Mountains cabin. www.wardtheatrecompany.com

Lungs (Sonorous Road Productions at Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh) Director Tony Lea, in his best work to date, led Michelle Murray Wells and Jonathan King through the dramatic twists of a young millennial couple destined to overthink everything about their relationship. www.sonorousroad.com

"Master Harold"...and the boys (Mortall Coile Theatre Company at Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh) Gil Faison's career-defining performance and newcomer Ben Pluska's strong work anchored Athol Fugard's memoir of racial dialogue in apartheid-era South Africa. www.mctheatre.com

Mothers and Sons (Raleigh Little Theatre at Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, Raleigh) With actors Brian Westbrook and Christopher Maxwell, stage veteran Rebecca Johnston probed the legacy of AIDS in playwright Terrence McNally's consideration of what the living owe to one another—and to the dead. www.raleighlittletheatre.org

Time Stands Still (South Stream Productions at Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh) Investigative journalism hurts when the subject is yourself. Two war correspondents asked what their relationship was based on besides good sourcing in this emotionally frank drama. www.southstreamproductions.blogspot.com

Three Sisters (PlayMakers Repertory Company at Paul Green Theatre, Chapel Hill) The strong production values of Vivienne Benesch's first show as artistic director of PlayMakers let us look in on a bell jar of privilege and useless aristocracy before the Russian revolution. www.playmakersrep.org


THE FIVE BEST DANCE PERFORMANCES OF 2016

By Michaela Dwyer

John Jasperse Projects: Remains (American Dance Festival at Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham) Downtown New York dance stalwart John Jasperse's impeccable movers tripleted in sequined dresses and assumed hedonistic poses in a haunting meditation on artistic legacy. www.americandancefestival.org

Lil Buck: A Jookin' Jam Session (Carolina Performing Arts at Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill) Lil Buck interweaved the jagged fluidity of Memphis jookin' with borderless music from members of the Silk Road Ensemble in spring's most spectacular show. www.carolinaperformingarts.org

click to enlarge Lil Buck - PHOTO BY DANIEL JACKSON
  • Photo by Daniel Jackson
  • Lil Buck

Tommy Noonan: John (Durham Independent Dance Artists and Culture Mill at Living Arts Collective, Durham) Noonan, dressed in garish red and drenched in sweat, played hype man, politician, and Saturday Night Fever's Tony Manero in a pre-election doozy of a solo that took swings at masculinity and ambition. www.culturemill.org

real.live.people.durham: Feature Presentation (DIDA at The Trotter Building, Durham) In this relentlessly energetic dance theater piece, Anna Barker and Leah Wilks teased out their real and fictive selves to interrogate what audiences and arts patrons expect of dancers—and vice versa. www.didaseason.com

Trisha Brown Dance Company: In Plain Site (Duke Performances at Duke Gardens, Durham) The legendary postmodern choreographer's troupe led us through a pastoral re-setting of her repertoire in what felt like a private tour of the gardens. www.dukeperformances.duke.edu

  • Peaceful aliens, Roman vampires, and jousting millennials—oh my!

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Twitter Activity

Comments

Deborah, I have go agree with your statement on those posted from last year. there were several other shows and …

by lovearts on The Year in Triangle Theater 2012 (The Year in Arts)

Did your theater critics go to Playmakers this past year? it is hard to tell from this list. Ray Dooley's …

by Deborah Gerhardt on The Year in Triangle Theater 2012 (The Year in Arts)

Most Recent Comments

Deborah, I have go agree with your statement on those posted from last year. there were several other shows and …

by lovearts on The Year in Triangle Theater 2012 (The Year in Arts)

Did your theater critics go to Playmakers this past year? it is hard to tell from this list. Ray Dooley's …

by Deborah Gerhardt on The Year in Triangle Theater 2012 (The Year in Arts)

The May constitutional amendment was not MERELY against same-sex marriages [and please don't call it "gay marriage", Byron]; it was …

by Raleigh1963 on The Year in Triangle Theater 2012 (The Year in Arts)

What about Showtimes The Big "C"??? What about Fx Sons of Anarchy???

by Pookieyam on Tough year? The best medicine was on television (The Year in Arts)

Two glaring omissions here, both from FX, both with great character-driven stories: 'Justified' and the now-cancelled 'Terriers'.

by tychoanomaly on Tough year? The best medicine was on television (The Year in Arts)

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