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Tony Kushner Comes To Town, We Benefit, Finish Tech and then Previews Begin!

It’s been a whirlwind week. Kushner came, he shared, he conquered. Read all about his benefit appearance and our MCCA celebration of his prodigiousness in film, prose, music and theater here in this amazing recounting of the rich full evening we presented on Monday, November 10.

Tony Kushner in Conversation with Arena Stage's Molly Smith at the DCJCC

Tony Kushner in Conversation with Arena Stage’s Molly Smith at the DCJCC

By Thursday night, we were previewing The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide To Capitalism and Socialism With a Key To The Scriptures. Our running time is 20 minutes shorter than at Berkeley Rep. It’s an achievement, to have come up with such a different version in look and length from the West Coast premiere. And still we are in rehearsal; still we are refining our work; but the satisfaction in getting something manageable up there; something controllable and refine-able… is profound. Our great work continues.

Tom Wiggin and Susan Rome (C. Stanley Protography)

Tom Wiggin and Susan Rome (C. Stanley Protography)

Tom Wiggin and Tim Getman  (C. Stanley Protography)

Tom Wiggin and Tim Getman (C. Stanley Protography)

Lou Liberatore and Josh Adams (C. Stanley Protography)

Lou Liberatore and Josh Adams (C. Stanley Protography)

“Bad Jews” Rages Bright, Tight, Hot, Disturbing – What’s Not To Love?

Josh Harmon’s play has an amazing production history; a total home-run first-time outing for a young, talented playwright who scored big with this chamber play getting not one, but two Roundabout Theatre productions for this study of young American Jews mourning the loss of their “poppie” and practically gouging their eyes out in the process. I struggled with this play when I first read it 3 years ago in spite of all the talent bounding off the page. But by the time I made my peace with the excoriating portraiture and the horrid behavior we see on stage, the play’d become a bonafide hit and Studio Theatre landed it before we could get a response from the agent. Our loss. Studio’s winner. Congratulations to Serge Seiden once again. I think our student subscribers were quite taken by all the onstage viciousness and, more importantly, the negotiation of religious identity and family legacy. Should be fun to read these responses.

Alex Mandell, Irene Sofia Lucio, Joe Paulik and Maggie Erwin from the Studio Theatre production

Alex Mandell, Irene Sofia Lucio, Joe Paulik and Maggie Erwin from the Studio Theatre production

And from the New York production at Roundabout Theatre.

From left, Tracee Chimo, Molly Ranson, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen in a studio apartment setting in "Bad Jews," at the Black Box Theater in Manhattan.

From left, Tracee Chimo, Molly Ranson, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen in a studio apartment setting in “Bad Jews,” at the Black Box Theater in Manhattan.

Throwback To The Birth of Something New – “How We Got On
” at Forum Theatre

We took in something new this week, in Idris Goodwin’s new play at Forum Theatre (which premiered at Actors Theatre of Louisville in the 2012 Humana Festival), a play about the early days of hip-hop and rap as adopted by three suburban kids, Hank, Julian, and Luann and how they “navigate tumultuous family relationships, cultural isolation, and the search for authenticity.”poster_GotOn_2011-2012 How We Got On is directed By Paige Hernandez with a lot of reverence for a cultural expression that’s still very much with us today and the old days of hip-hop still feel very fresh and relevant (to these ancient ears at least) to what’s coming out now. The play’s use of music feels new even as it looks back almost 30 years — that’s an interesting irony and an effective twist.

So curious about how this production——added late in the planning stages of our political theater course (just after the semester started, by something of a popular demand to give more diversity to the line-up of thematically related work we were seeing)——feels both a part of, and a departure from, what we’ve been seeing up to this point. We’re bearing in mind that what we saw on Thursday night was a very first preview performance, with more rehearsals still to come for the talented ensemble and creative team still refining this lively 90 minute production. A big thanks to Forum Theatre for convening (as they always do) a great discussion on stage for all of us to participate in.