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Posts Tagged ‘drama’

I started really paying attention to Iran (and to Twitter, tops for breaking news) on June 20, 2009, when the tragic, short-lived Green Revolution erupted, fueling unrealized hopes for a more democratic country.

Then I read Jason Elliot’s Mirrors of the Unseen (and blogged about it here) about his travels in Iran, and especially about the people he met and the architecture he admired. He came up with a theory about the architecture that related to the builders’ Islamic beliefs, a love of nature, and a concept of sacred proportions. (If you should see the Nova special on how Medieval architects used the Bible to decide on ideal Gothic cathedral measurements, you will get the idea.)

Elliot loved the people he met in Iran and bemoans the way the Western media depict them. In full agreement with Elliot is the British translator of ancient Persian poetry, Dick Davis, who was on PBS NewsHour last night.

But though the Iranian people may be like people anywhere, the government is not. Residents are frequently obliged to be cautious. Which is how theatrical productions in the privacy of a taxi have come about.

Haleh Anvari of the Guardian‘s Tehran Bureau has that story.

Unpermitted Whispers is a 35-minute play that takes place in one of Tehran’s ‘Rahi’ taxis, which traverse the city along fixed, often straight-line, routes. Rahis pick up passengers at major intersections and drop them off anywhere along their set route, making for a convenient method of getting around town and one cheaper than the minicabs available in every neighbourhood of the capital.

“In contrast to the minicabs, which provide door-to-door service, the Rahi system affords passengers much more anonymity, allowing for candid and uninhibited conversation. Tehranis frequently share stories that they have overheard in these communal cabs; for many, they serve as an extension of the private sphere in which Iranians feel safe to talk about issues of the day.

Unpermitted Whispers takes advantage of this unlikely superimposition of public and private to tell the story of three passengers, all women, who are picked up by a male driver at different points along his route. …

“The play’s first scene was performed entirely on the telephone, as we eavesdropped on a conversation of a kind with which many Iranian women are familiar: a young bride wants to go to the theatre with her university friends but needs an alibi as her traditional family and jealous husband will not approve.”

More here.

Update 2/5/14: Turns out NY City has a play in a cab. It’s called “Take Me Home” and is reviewed by Neil Genzlinger, here.

Photograph: Hanna Havarinasab
Unpermitted Whispers is a play by Azadeh Ganjeh performed in a taxi.

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Hidden Faces of Courage, a “theater piece with music” created by Mary Driscoll in collaboration with formerly incarcerated women, is coming soon. I will write more after I have seen the production in November, but I need to alert you that if you want tickets, you might want to get them now as the performance space is rather small. Go to Fort Point Theatre Channel, here.

I met Mary in the playwriting class that I blogged about a few times. I didn’t continue with theater after the class, but Mary kept working at this play. She has a deep commitment to helping women who have been in prison, having worked with them for years at her nonprofit, OWLL (On With Living and Learning Inc.).

Mary writes: “The voices of previously incarcerated women are notably absent in the artistic world—a world that can engage a broader community in reform and foster greater understanding between the individual and diverse audiences. Sometimes in unexpected ways.”

Read more about her show at Broadway World, Boston, here.

Hidden Faces of Courage is directed by Tasia A. Jones, with music by Allyssa Jones, and runs November 8-10, 15-17,  at The Boiler Room, 50 Melcher Street, Fort Point, Boston.

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The Concord Players brought a one-hour version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” to the lawn of the library yesterday.

The Prospero was perhaps too young, considering that “The Tempest” is an aging Shakespeare’s valedictory, and there was some awkward overacting, but gee whiz, they had to shout to be heard outdoors. So, good for them to work so hard to give the public free theater in summer!

Several sea nymphs doubled as ushers and were lovely to behold.

concord-library-lawn-show

The-Tempest-sea-nymph

prospero-miranda-umbrella

jay-newlon-ariel-tempest

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If you are going to London, try to see where archaeologists have recently located theaters used by Shakespeare.

Matt Trueman writes at the Guardian, “The sites of two Jacobean theatres in London, both used by William Shakespeare, could host drama once again, following planning applications for new theatres.

“The Curtain theatre in Shoreditch, once home turf for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, was discovered last year after an extensive archeological dig. Under plans submitted to Hackney council, it would be transformed into a 250-seat open-air amphitheatre …

“Meanwhile, just around the corner, it could soon be joined by a six-storey theatre with a 235-seat auditorium, on the site of a performance space known simply as the Theatre.

“Launched a year before the Curtain, this was only the second permanent theatre built in England and hosted the Lord Chamberlain’s Men when its proprietor Richard Burbage joined the company. The Theatre’s remains were uncovered five years ago  …

“Alan Taylor of the Belvedere Trust, the organisation behind the plans, said, ‘We expect to have a Shakespearian piece to what we are offering, but it will by no means be all Shakespeare.’

“Meanwhile, planners at The Curtain, to be called The Stage, have reportedly approached Shakespeare’s Globe about jointly programming the space, but is aiming for similar plurality. Architect John Drew said: ‘It would be great if the performance space was used for all sorts of purposes, such as music as well as theatre.’ ” More.

Can’t help wondering what the characters in my favorite recent TV show, Slings and Arrows (who are completely real in my imagination), would think about adding the non-Shakespeare entertainments.

(By the way, if you rent Slings and Arrows from Netflix, skip the first episode. Not a good introduction.)

Photograph: The Guardian
Excavations at the Curtain theatre in London

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Deanna Isaacs has a funny post at the Chicago Reader. It’s about the Storefront Playwright Project.

“Tired of sitting around watching paint dry?” she asks.

“Then get yourself over to 72 E. Randolph, where, thanks to the League of Chicago Theatres and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, you can watch a real, live writer at work.

“The Storefront Playwright Project is putting 27 authors on exhibit this month in the big front window at Hot Tix/Expo 72.

“Never mind that writing is right up there with sleeping as a potential spectator sport, so stimulating that the writer him- or herself often has to bring the action to a complete stop in order to check e-mail, clean a closet, or book a flight and get the hell out of there. …

“Guessing that dramatists would be more dynamic at work than, say, novelists (readily observed in deep rumination at most any coffee shop), I stopped by last week, when Emilio Williams was on display.

“The playwrights each take a four-hour shift. Williams was a couple hours into his afternoon stint, gamely focused on his laptop, which was perched on a small white table and hooked into a large screen mounted in the window. The big screen faces outward, allowing passersby a look at the creative product the instant it emerges from the writer’s brain. …

“Behind the glass, Williams pursed his lips and crossed his ankles. …

“He leaned his chin on his hand and scrolled through several pages of dialogue that went something like this:

“Mar: Done?

“Ted: Yep.

“Mar: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

“Williams paused.

“He blinked.

“He scrolled again.

“And then, it happened!

“On the big screen, before my very eyes, the cursor hesitated. It stopped. And it backed up, deleting as it went, wiping out ‘tucitcennoC’ and replacing it with ‘Lake Geneva.’ ” More from Deanna, even funnier.

Readers may recall several posts I wrote on a playwriting class I took the summer before last. (For example, here.) I thought the class got playwriting out of my system. Should I reconsider now that playwrights have the opportunity to sit in storefronts where strangers can watch them think?

Um, maybe not.

Photograph: The Chicago Reader

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At the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, a group of children are learning the joy of theater.

Tammy La Gorce writes in the NY Times that the playhouse now has a class for children with disabilities.

“The class is a logical next step for Paper Mill, which last year began offering a series of sensory-friendly presentations for children with autism in its ‘Theater for Everyone’ programming. Sensory-friendly shows are scripted to be more literal, with innuendo kept to a minimum, and the theater’s lighting and volume are adjusted to help audience members feel more comfortable.

“This year, in a partnership with VSA New Jersey, a nonprofit organization that provides arts programming for children and adults with disabilities, Paper Mill joined the ranks of theaters welcoming such children who have an interest in learning to perform.

“Parents of children with developmental disabilities ‘are seeing the benefits of arts education,’ said Lisa Cooney, 46, director of education for Paper Mill. ‘And they’re a lot more proactive than they used to be.’

“Those who run the programs find them rewarding as well. The children ‘give so much to us,’ said Mickey McNany, the director of Paper Mill’s Theater School, after the recent class. In it, her 10-year-old granddaughter, Mary McNany, who has Down syndrome, identified Mozart as the composer of ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik,’ performed an improvised roller-skating scene and used sign language, as well as her voice, to sing a song.” Read more.

Below, Marnie McNany takes part with her children Finn and Mary.
Photograph: Aaron Houston for the New York Times

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Twenty years ago I helped out on what local people jokingly refer to as the Concord Passion Play: Little Women. It’s performed every 10 years by the Concord Players because (a) author Louisa May Alcott lived at Orchard House in Concord and (b) she was a founder of the theater group that became the Concord Players.

Kate Clarke is directing the show this year, and she just got some great publicity in the Boston Globe.

“ ‘Preparing to direct the play, I started to do some research and was fascinated to discover just how meaningful the book is to so many people,’ Clarke said.

“ ‘Even the rock star Patti Smith wrote in her recent memoir that “Little Women” was what made her feel as a young high school student that she could be an artist. It motivated her to go to New York and become a performer. I started thinking, “Good Lord, Jo March is everywhere! Why do people find her so compelling?”

“ ‘That’s the question I’ve been tackling with this group of actors. Yes, it’s about the Civil War era, and the societal restrictions that females were under at that time. But the fact that the book’s popularity has endured reflects what compelling characters these young women were.

“ ‘This story is so uniquely Concord and yet reaches far beyond the boundaries of Concord, just as it is a story about the 1860s that also brings up a lot of contemporary issues,’ Clarke said.” Read more.

Here’s photo by Jon Chase for the Boston Globe. Pat Kane, an incredible costume designer, is in the middle. (I don’t think she remembers, but the first time she worked for the Concord Players was when I sought her help on a one-act I directed, Stoppard’s After Magritte.)

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