Today’s Weekend Feature in The Washington Post Arts section profiles five playwrights reflecting on the process of writing and revising their Charles MacArthur/Helen Hayes Award nominated new plays.
We’re particularly proud of Renee Calarco and the wonderful reflecting on the process of making THE RELIGION THING; an 8 year process that led to a highly successful run last winter.
As ANDY AND THE SHADOWS enters into a weekend of preview performances, let’s pay homage to some other new plays recently opened, or soon to open around town. We’ll give folks a chance to respond to the spring awakening of many engaging new works, including:
Mike Daisey’s AMERICAN UTOPIAS at Woolly Mammoth…
Tazwell Thompson’s MARY T. & LIZZY K. at Arena Stage…
And soon to be opening at Round House Theatre, HOW TO WRITE A BOOK OF THE BIBLE.
Will let student subscribers and others share their opinions here about these new productions, and possibly any other new work bursting forth this month.
We’ve got our first wave of press interviews and audience responses coming in from the first two nights of previews. Let’s read the comments and peruse the features and enjoy the production pics courtesy of Stan Barouh.
First, the press:
From TheatreWashington on “The Search for Duende“
From Washingtonian Magazine, “On Making Art in The Shadow of History“
and from The Forward, on “A Playwright Confronting His Shadows”
As for the previews, 290 folks over 2 nights have taken in good shows, on their way to becoming better and better as we continue to rehearse, introducing new cuts and bits of new text today. Let’s check out the comments for follow up from students who saw the Design Run two weeks ago. And from others too!
And finally, photos! Thank you to photographer Stan Barouh. Check out some pics below and find more, including production designs and costume sketches, on the Theater J Flickr website HERE.
L-R: Kimberly Gilbert, Stephen Patrick Martin, Jennifer Mendenhall, Davis Hasty
Photo by Stan Barouh
L-R: Colleen Delany and Alexander Strain
Photo by Stan Barouh
L-R: Alexander Strain, Jennifer Mendenhall, Colleen Delany, Stephen Patrick Martin, Kimberly Gilbert
Photo by Stan Barouh
A little Facebook digest to share with you, looking back on 3 weeks of the rehearsal process of ANDY AND THE SHADOWS. In the comments section, we’ll be hearing from our student subscribers from UM, UC and ND. For interesting reference, click here to check out what an earlier semester’s group of students had to say about the November 2012 workshop reading of the play.
Gratifying first read of ANDY AND THE SHADOWS, some 26 years in the making. Cried a lot, early, often, and late in the read as well. A good sign. It meant something. It means a lot to have reached this day with a wonderful company, making art from life over time. And now our Crazy Weather Karma continues – as with our workshop reading on October 29 (which had to be canceled cuz ‘a “Sandy”), today’s we’ve got Snowquester shutting down the J. We’ll see if we’re meeting for rehearsals. Hope so. Work to do!!!
Day #2: 6 hours of table work – nothing canceled – actors present and accounted for – same for audience (mostly) – RACE goes on – the J is closed but the entire theater staff shows up to do what we do because that’s who we are and that’s how we roll – unbelievable dedication from everyone – that’s got to inspire, right? Onward! Cuts and restores, insights and clarifiers, progress and, every so often, a Stump The Playwright Moment – those are fun! What we can’t answer at night, reveals itself in the morning. Let’s see if that’s true! An early rise to tackle some tough stuff. Ready for revelation — And coffee.”
Day #3: More intensity – another straight six at the table – we go from working on relationships, one at a time, to eventually adding the whole company, finding strategic changes in Act I that must be folded into Act II – that stitching keeps me up too late – after taking students to see the 3 hour THE CONVERT @ Woolly. Guess what? They lied! For whatever reason, the 3 hour show came down at 11:15 and the parking lot closed at 11 and… the lot waited, thank God, but I regret bolting out during the 2nd part of the curtain call. Guess why that’s why I was up too late making changes. More to come. More coffee too.” Continue reading
David Mamet’s RACE continues to play strongly with another 8 performances to go before its close on March 17. There’s a wonderful feature this week on director John Vreeke in The Washington Blade. It’s a point of pride for us to be featured as a home theater for John along with Woolly Mammoth Theatre, where John is a company member, as he’s been a Resident Director with us throughout the past decade. John first started at Theater J in 2001 directing BORN GUILTY (which garnered Helen Hayes Award nominations the next year for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Resident Production). John was back a year later with Ariel Dorfman’s DEATH AND THE MAIDEN and then directed our co-production with Woolly Mammoth of Tony Kushner’s HOMEBODY KABUL.
Jennifer Mendenhall and Rick Foucheux in Tony Kushner’s HOMEBODY/KABUL
All really important shows for us. So here’s the salute–and the long overdue feature–to John.
We take our conversation on Race over to Woolly to consider their latest production, Danai Gurira’s THE CONVERT.
Nancy Moricette as Jekesai/Ester and JeBen Early as Tamba in Danai Gurira’s THE CONVERT at Woolly Mammoth Theatre
A three hour and ten minute evening in three acts. How’d it fare by our student subscribers? How does it complement the month-long inquiry into Race and Class we’ve been convening on a weekly basis? Washington’s been providing quite the primer for us!
We’ll be staying close to the issue of Race for the next two weeks, while our production keeps running through March 17. But we’ll move onto the closely related issue of class divisions that separate and define us all the more in America. Last night students who’ve been writing about Mamet went to see David Lindsay-Abaire’s GOOD PEOPLE at Arena Stage. We can all see see why it’s one of the most popular and timely plays in the country. We can read their responses below. Congrats to Arena Stage on a widely hailed and wonderful production.
and this direct follow up from Represenative Norton’s office:
“This play is very profound, essentially because all of the characters are flawed. Twenty years ago, this play would have been perceived in a very different way. Why is it perceived this way today? The more equal you become, the more you will be seen just about like everyone else, even if there is still ingrained racism in this society. We will see the attitude in this extraordinary play reflected in policy makers, reflected in judges, reflected in the population at large. Even today, young people are far more likely to know who is a jerk than people of my age. So get ready for it.”
from Today’s front page of The New York Times
“Voting Law Decision Could Sharply Limit Scrutiny of Rules”
WASHINGTON — If the Supreme Court strikes down or otherwise guts a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act, there will be far less scrutiny of thousands of decisions each year about redrawing district lines, moving or closing polling places, changing voting hours or imposing voter identification requirements in areas that have a history of disenfranchising minority voters, voting law experts say.
Also Awaiting a Supreme Court Decision:
Fisher v. University of Texas — The Supreme Court is going to decide whether colleges can consider race as one factor in the admissions process. The Supreme Court is likely to do away with or severely limit affirmative action as we know it, in part because Anthony Kennedy has previously opposed affirmative action.
See RACE, running through March 17 at Theater J.
Jimmy Walen and Michael Anthony Williams in RACE
Michael Anthony William, Jimmy Walen, and Leo Erickson in RACE
This discussion begins a multi-week discourse about the enduring relevance of the works and words of David Mamet. On Sunday, February 24 at 4:30 pm, the conversation continues with a panel on Mamet’s Jewish Identity
featuring The Forward‘s Ezra Glinter and Joshua Furst, author and frequent contributer toThe Forward.
The video here records the final panel session from our RACE IN AMERICA: WHERE ARE WE NOW? Symposium Weekend. Moderators: Ryan Rilette, Artistic Director of Round House Theatre Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Theater J
• Mitchell Hébert, Director of Round House Theatre’s production of Glengarry Glen Ross and 2012 Helen Hayes Award recipient for Outstanding Lead Actor in Theater J’s production of After the Fall
• Joy Zinoman, Director, Founding Artistic Director of Studio Theatre
• Javier Rivera, Assistant Professor Theatre/Music Theatre at American University
• KenYatta Rogers, Director, Educator, and Actor in Glengarry Glen Ross
• Jennifer Nelson, Writer/Director Founding Producing Director of African Continuum Theatre