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I've had this migraine which has been following me around since the weekend so I am not up for a precise detailed review of this performance, but I do want to say...

Go see it!!

This is one of those Shakespeare plays which I never got around to reading in its entirety because, well, it kind of drags. Correction, it reeeeallly drags.

However, as in the case of their production of "Cymbeline," ASP does a great job of transforming a sow's ear into a very cunning chapeau (it manages to be a few steps up from the matching silk purse).

It starts off with a lively rendition of the Stan Rogers's version of "Barrett's Privateers" (I can identify the version because they even throw in the little whoopss), and numerous other songs help to enliven the setting of a wild stormy stretch of coastline.
The actor who plays Pericles (when oh when will ASP make their Web site accessible??) is extremely charming, delivering many moments of comic timing, and never descending into a totally depressing emo boy during the sad scenes. (Note: the subject matter of this play involves some references and/or portrayals of incest and intended rape, so it may be disturbing for some people.)

This play also manages to toss in some random pirates, which leads to one of the best "What just happened?" moments ever.
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I thought some people I know might be interested in this new book from Cambridge University Press:

_A History of Theatre in Spain_
edited by David T. Gies and Maria M. Delgado

Leading theater historians and practitioners map a theatrical history that moves from the religious tropes of Medieval Iberia to the postmodern practices of twenty-first-century Spain. Considering work across the different languages of Spain, from vernacular Latin to Catalan, Galician and Basque, this history
engages with the work of actors and directors, designers and publishers, agents and impresarios, and architects and ensembles, in indicating the ways in which theater has both commented on and intervened in the major debates and issues of the day. Chapters consider paratheatrical activities and popular performance, such as the comedia de magia and flamenco, alongside the works of Spain's major dramatists, from Lope de Vega to Federico García Lorca. Featuring revealing interviews with actress Nuria Espert, director Lluís Pasqual and playwright Juan Mayorga, it positions Spanish theater within a paradigm that recognizes its links and intersections with wider European and Latin American practices.
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An article on the jig, originally a farce, scandalous dance, or slapstick
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It is always gratifying to realize that one can apply oneself to the appreciation of culture while still getting a full measure of gratuitous sex and violence.

Friday evening I went off to see Alexx, along with my landlord and various friends and acquaintances perform
Thomas Middleton's "The Revenger's Tragedy."
I should mention here that this play is not really a tragedy because to paraphrase local lawyer-actor Michael Anderson in "A Bloody Deed"
his performance piece on Shakespeare's "Richard III": in a tragedy, some people die, and you feel sorry for them, while in this play, lots of people die, and you don't feel sorry for *any* of them.

Well, "Revenger's Tragedy" takes the "Richard III" scenario--a protagonist who confesses in the opening scene that he intends on slaying a slew of people who have pissed him off--and then kicks it up a notch, offing characters left and right with the sort of manic glee that I associate with--well, let's justsay that if John Webster was the Quentin Tarantino of his day, Thomas Middleton may have been the Alfred Hitchcock of his age, proving once again that funny murder has always been period.

For those of you didn't get a chance to see my husband and my landlord and the other brilliant maniacs who are my friends in this one-night-only extravaganza at the Elk's Club, I commend to you "Revenger's Tragedy," the 2002 Ren-noir film version
starring Christopher Eccleston, Derek Jacoby, and Eddie Izzard and directed by Alex Cox of "Repo Man" fame.

Saturday afternoon Alexx and I went off to see "ain't Misbehavin'" performed by the Lyric Stage Company in Copley Square
a musical based on the songs of Fats Waller. Blues and jazz fans should see this show, and those who are not blues and jazz fans should see it anyway, because the music is so incredible. The frist half of the show is extremely high-energy, while the second half pulls out all the vocal stops, showing off the fantastic range of songs Waller created, from the very funny "The Reefer Song" and "Your Feets Too Big" to the bluesy-sweet "Mean to Me" and the soul-chilling "Black and Blue." Highly recommended.
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Kes: for those theatrically-inclined friends of mine who may not be acquainted with this artist, I encourage you to check out the Wikipedia article which discusses his career and style.

Wed. November 9, 2011, 7 PM

Robert Wilson is an American avant-garde stage director and playwright who has frequently been called the world’s foremost vanguard theater artist. His
early activities often focused on work with blind and deaf actors and incorporated themes of autism. Over the course of his diverse career, Wilson has
worked as a choreographer, performer, painter, sculptor, video artist, and sound and light designer.
Wikipedia entry
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Alexx and I went to the Central Square Theatre
for the first time to see their production of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," which was very fun. This is another company which is creating smart and original productions on a very small budget. The atmosphere is tha of a casual cafe populated by ecxcentric characters, and that's before the play even begins. This show is also very family-friendly, as it is silly enough to amuse kids under ten, while also providing enough riffing on the characters to amuse the adults (this production does not stick to canon, so purists beware).

As befits a theatre so close to MIT (it's just a few doors away from Mary Chung's), it also does plays with science themes, so check out the site for information about upcoming plays. There's also going to be more family-oriented plays such as a Huckleberry Finn musical and a version of Arabian Nights.
Last but not least, their Web site is extremely accessible, something which I cannot say about most Boston theatre companies's Web sites.
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the only reason I got today's Google doodle--
"I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this doodle is too small to contain"--
is because I have read Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" about a hundred times?

Next weekend I am actually going to see a production for the first time at the BCA.
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1001 is a play written by Jason Grote which takes its basic structure from _The Arabian Nights, _, but which also weaves in a modern story abou a couple living in New York City, Alan, the man, being Jewish, and his girlfriend, Dahna, being Arabic. Really, though, this is a story about how we use story to make sense of a seemingly insensible world. At least, that's what I think was the theme,
but Alexx had some other ideas
--it's jus that sort of multi-layerd, complex storytelling. While the ending is downbeat, it is true to the story, and because of that, I didn't find it that depressing; after all, if I am going to make the argumen that story is the way in which I make sense of chaos and tragedy, then the story is always unfolding, always uncertain, until I find out what happens next.

I want to make a special mention regarding the amazing talent of the actors and the impressive artistic creativity of this production. The play contained multiple nesting and forking stories, involving dozens of characters, while using only about six actors. A variety of multi-modal cues were used to indicate a change of scene: there was the narrator characer who announced the scene, preceded by a sound effect tha indicated a scene change, and accompanied by a change in lighting. I had little trouble keeping up with the changes.

Last of all, I have to menion hat one of my favorite scenes was the one in which Jorge Luis Borges appears to chat with Sinbad the Sailor, who is stranded (again). Borges plays his narrative games with Sinbad, who looks agahst and says, "You're freaking me out, Jorge Luis Borges!" (which, in my mind, is a highly quotable line).
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Yesterday Alexx and I went to see the all-male Propeller Theatre Company's performance of "Comedy of Errors" at the Huntington Theatre .

It was very funny, very high-energy, and very very silly. I'm still not sure I really believe the bit about the naked man with the lit sparkler (needless to say, this is not a performance which I would recommend to the Shakespeare purist--good thing I don't know any of that sort). The musical accompaniment (also provided byt he fourteen member troupe) added to the sense of manic liveliness, and I found that the cheap sound effects added to my comprehension of the action taking place on stage (not to mention increasing the previously mentioned silliness). For those of a certain age, the addition of '80s pop tunes will add to the fun (let me reiterate the part about this not being for the textual purists).

Highly recommended for the Shakespeare fan who does not pale at broad humor and cheap special effects.
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Kes: This is my favorite local Shakespeare company but, sadly, it has one of the least accessible Web sites I've ever experienced, so apologies for not providing more details about where and when the performances are occuring.

Alexx and I went to see ASP's (Actors Shakespeare Project) production of "Anthony and Cleopatra" this past Saturday and I found it to be a very entertaining performance. First, I had never really noticed how many funny bits there are in this play, although many of the funny bits are funny in a dark humor sort of way. Second, Anthony and Cleopatra are not portrayed as giddy young lovers carried away by Cupid's arrow, but as older, experienced lovers whose political careers often place them at odds with having a romantic relationship with one another. Anthony in particular broke my heart, because to some degree he is an old soldier whose code of honor and friendship can no longer exist in the new world the much younger Augustus is creating.
The supporting actors who played Cleopatra's main lady in waiting and Anthony's lieutenant were both brilliant, and the actor playing Augustus did a scarily good job portraying him as something of a psychopath.

What didn't really work for me was some of the set design. When you first walked in, there was a sound of a tinkling fountain, which pretty much made everyone who sat down have to go to the bathroom after five minutes. The bright flourescent lighting for the scenes taking place in Rome were also a poor choice, and I could tell when there was a scene change because Alexx would flinch when the lights flared up. There was also an attempt, according to the program, to highlight Mark Anthony and Cleopatra as media celebrities, but the only scene that really tried to portray this was a weird bit with masked actors using toy boats to portray the sea battle scene, with a laugh track playing in the background.

A wonderful performance, highly recommended. I also feel the need to add a note about a conversation which went on in the row behind me. It seemed to involve appropriate Shakespeare names to give one's cat, and one woman scorned Fulvia, while another added, "And Agrippa." When Alexx returned from the bathroom, I asked, "What is R. & L.'s cat's name?" and he replied that he didn't remember all the cats's names, except for the one named Agrippa. (Perhaps it just takes a certain sort of person with a certain sort of style to have a cat named Agrippa?)
Next Shakespeare play:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Kes: Well, darn--I missed it, but now I will have to try to find a script because really: giant rolling eyeball!!!

"Now Eye See You, Now Eye Don't"

A visual artist goes blind in this darkly comic production about art, vision, and the healthcare industry. Complete with dancing doctors, a giant rolling eyeball and other visual effects, this original production by Off-Leash Area and celebrated local playwright Dominic Orlando is a humorous and universal story of loss, dignity and hope not to be missed! Performances run April 28, 29, & 30 and May 1, 2, 5, 6 & 7 with a special Pay-What-You-Can performance on Monday, May 2nd. For reservations, call 612-724-7372. The Show: Now Eye See You, Now Eye Don't Created by Paul Herwig and Jennifer Ilse with Playwright D Location The Ritz Theater Studio Space Organized by Off-Leash Area Phone 612-724-7372 Email
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"Eurydicey," a play by Sarah Ruhl (Samuel French, 2008)

A retelling of the Eurydice myth from Eurydice's point of view, this version presents Eurydice as someone who is more than just Orpheus's dead wife who serves as the instigating element for his adventure to the underworld.

Sarah Ruhl is somewhat reminiscent of Tom Stoppard in her ability to create characters who can be funny, petulant, witty, weird, scared, clueless, confused, and compassionate--namely, fully human--within the small interval of time measured by a play's length, and yet remain completely believable.

This retelling reminds us that Eurydice was young, a teenage girl who was just beginning to find out who she was, and just beginning to wish to be something other than Orpheus's girlfriend, when her life was cut short by the whim of a god. Finding herself in the underworld and once more with only the vaguest sense of who she had been, Eurydice must recreate herself despite the mockery and the seeming senselessness she finds in her new world and, just as she appears to have created a life for herself and her father, Orpheus shows up to bring her back to her previous daylife life as his wife. Eurydice's conflicting desires result in what may be a tragedy, or may merely be the myth of the eternal return.

In many ways, this is not a complex play. It is brief, to be performed without intermission; it has only a handful of characters; it has almost no props beyond an imaginatively used ball of twine (a clew, perhaps?) and a few sound effects.

Yet, in other ways, this is a fascinating puzzle of a play which concerns itself with that most puzzling of questions, who am I?, a question which is perhaps, even more confusing for young women who are so often pressured to see themselves as the girlfriend of some significant male, be it the local football hero or an international rock star. Ironically, it is the twilight world of the dead which provides Eurydice with the tools she needs to discover herself, although those tools seem to be nothing more than a ball of twine, a book containing the complete works of Shakespeare, and the space within which she can be herself.

Eurydice will be produced here in Boston by the
Independent Drama Society
April 22-30
The Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Black Box Theatre
more info at
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It was a very fun weekend of spooky theatre in NYC. Both of the shows Alexx and I went to are of the "difficult to describe without giving spoilers" variety, so I shall limit myself to some comments.

"Sleep No More" takes place in a labyrinthian industrial space with dozens (a hundred?) smaller spaces,each an eerie assemblage which could be said to reflect some literal or psychological space contained within the text of "Macbeth." Each of these spaces has it's own soundscape, thus the 1920s bar plays steampunk/darkwave music, while a strange maze constructed of bare and twisted trees has the sounds of a howling wind blowing over a blasted heath. Through this space or labyrinth of spaces move the actors, who come together and sepearate in a nonlinear performance of the scenes from "Macbeth."
My feet gave out at just about the time I was getting seriously squicked by the dynamics of this performance. This is the setup: the "audience" wanders through this immense wasteland of a space, coming upon the disconcerting rooms--Hecate's workshop, for instance, a small room filled with bundles of herbs, small animal skeletons, and old empty bird cages--and whenever the viewers spot Macbeth, or Lady M., or the witches, the various viewers take off to follow the character to witness the unfolding scene. A couple of times I was caught up and carried along by Alexx or the audience, and I became increasingly uncomfortable with my role as a viewer. The intimate scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth which first combine sex and bloodlust and then become increasingly tinged with guilt and madness come to feel almost unbearable when you are in the bedroom with the characters. The various collections and shrines of old books, statues, and medical instruments invoke tragedy and nightmare even when the rooms are uninhabited.

"Play Dead"
was another mixed experience for me. Todd Robbins
is a fantastic performer, and I enjoyed his discussions of mostly early twentieth-century murder and spiritualism. However, I really didn't feel the fear and surprise experienced by the people around me. Am I just a jaded horror fan? Is it because, as a blind person, I don't feel a sense of anxiety about sitting in a room in the dark, as many of the people around me experienced when the lights went out? I don't think I jumped even once, although I could feel Alexx jumping occasionally. My reaction to my lack of reaction was not disappointment in the show, which I feel is well worth seeing, but a certain wistfulness regarding my own inability to be spooked or surprised.

On our way to "Play Dead," which is being staged in Greenwich Village, Alexx and I stopped at a very eccentric bookstore named
Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books.
which is also a shrine to Bob Dylan. We also had a snack at Rocco's Pastry Shop on Bleecker St., which advertised having "the world's best connoli." It was a damn fine cannoli.
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Alexx and I are off to see "Sleep No More" in NYC this evening, and "Play Dead" tomorrow.

Did you know it's Alfred Hitchcock Day?

How about a haunted house made from Legos?
The notes are really fascinating, as they get into the creator's ideas about texture over color and the doppleganger nature of abandoned houses.

And here is a NY Times article on the revived interest in Edward Gorey's art
with some comments re the unexpected popularity of the Gorey exhibit currently at the Boston Atheneum.

And I just ordered a copy of "Eurydice" by Sarah Ruhl, which is currently in rehearsal and set to open in a few weeks in Boston.
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I gave Alexx a valentine gift bag (red suspenders and a book of noir porn), and it was delivered by the Valentine's Day bat
a character which may be familiar to those playing Echo Bazaar. (Btw: apologies to my friends who have sent me EB gifts--EB has been so slow for me lately that it really just hangs and fails to fully load, so I haven't been playing.)

The bat is really adorable with very elegant wings made of some sheer material that flutters very nicely. There was a bat trapped in the aerye a couple of years back and despite my attempts to persuade it that I was friendly, it pretty much just fluttered about hysterically until Alexx managed to trap it in a pair of his shorts and release it outside.

Alexx made me mp3s of all of the songs from the "Pirates of Penzance" production which starred Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, and Linda Ronstadt, which is one of my favorite musicals ever. Kevin Kline and the way he wears those boots...

Speaking of favorite media, Alexx and I also went to see the production of "The Lady's Not for Burning" currently playing in Davis Square. Thomas is absolutely wonderful, and his performance alone makes the production worth seeing. Richard and the Mayor are also excellent, and the rest of the cast with one exception is quite good. Unfortunately, the exception is the actress playing Jennet, the female lead.

Two things you need to know.

1. The original play is set in a vaguely medieval England evoking Shakespeare's pastoral plays. The theme of the play is presented through Thomas's point of view, which is a soul-weary disgust of the violence and hypocrisy of the human race after experiencing years of war. Yet Thomas is full of poetry, and his language is a sort of spring which touches this wasteland and revitalizes it. Jennet, a no-nonsense young woman who has been accused of being a witch, initially resists the magic of Thomas's language, but ultimately, upon falling in love with him, catches it herself.

2. The director of the current production decided to set the play in Appalachia, and he allowed the cast to use as much or as little of what they imagine to be an Appalachian accent as they wished. This has varying degrees of success, but in Jennet's case, it really fails big. The accent she chose to do is a caricature accent of the Deep South (that's right, it's not even a caricature Appalachian accent). Remember the Buffy episode where she turns Southern belle due to a cursed Halloween costume? it's like that, but goes on for two hours. In pursuit of her idea of a Southern accent, the actress also ends every other sentence on a raised inflection, which completely trips up the poetry of Fry's prose, , along with making her voice sound strident and strained.

I'm almost positive that someone went to a lecture or ran across a mention in a book of how Appalachian speech patterns resemble those of Elizabethan England. Unfortunately, no one seems to have done the research to really implement this concept, which is a pity because there are a number of free Internet sites which archive examples of regional accents.

I would still recommend this play, as the play itself is delightful and most of the performances are also. However, if listening to someone mangle poetry is an unbearably painful experience for you, you may wish to skip this production.
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Yesterday Alexx and I did a double bill of "Cymbeline" in the afternoon and "The Lady's Not for Burning" in the evening, so I am feeling more than a little wiped, which is why I will merely give the link to Alexx's review
of "Cymbeline" and add a few words of my own.

1. Go see this production! Seriously.

2. Once upon a time I read this play and my memories of it were that it was gothic, muddled, and too complicated to keep track of even while reading it. I didn't have much hope that the performance was going tob e very lively. Still, ASP is worth seeing no matter which play they are doing, so I went and found that, even with Shakespeare, sometimes the movie can be better than the book.

3. THe play has over a dozen characters who are absolutely vital tot he story, and the company only had seven actors. Also, they had no costumes, no sets, no special lighting or sound design, and really, no stage, other than a bit of cleared floor space surrounded by chairs. Not only did the company succeed in creating a magical performance, it was absolutely clear to me who everyone was at any given moment, despite the fact that most of the characters have an alter ego and all the actors played multiple parts. The tactic of having the actors announce the beginning of eachnew scene, along with it's setting, provided an easy way to make the play accessible to me, as a blind viewer, and to all the sighted viewers also. The sound effects, created by the actors using simple percussion insruments and cheap electronics--plus a now-infamous slide whistle--was brilliant. If you tnk having only half a dozen actors and almost no budget means you can't do great theatre, go see this production and be astounded.

4. "Cymbeline" is kind of confusing to categorize: I've seen it grouped witht he tragedies, the comedies, and the romances. I announced to my companions before the play began that it was a comedy (mostly because I was in themood for a comedy) and they both looked at me with much doubt. I am smugly pleased to state, however, that this production definitively demonstrated that "Cymbeline" can successly be produced as a comedy, and the final scene will leave you laughing. This is definitely the good parts version.
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Kes: I'm trying to find out if there will be any description provided for the visually and hearing impaired, but so far have not found contact info., science fiction, and spontaneous combustion--that sounds like good theatre to me.

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities  
A performance work by Jay Scheib

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, After Samuel R. Delanyʼs Dhalgren, Adapted and Directed by Jay Scheib

Friday, May 13 and Saturday May 14,  7:30 pm
Sunday, May 15,  2:00 pm
Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston (
Tickets: For ticketing information, please visit:

MIT Professor Jay Scheib, named one of 25 artists who will shape the next 25 years of theater by American Theater Magazine, returns to the ICA stage with
a new work, based on Samuel R. Delany’s epic science fiction novel, Dhalgren.  Bellona is part two of Simulated Cities/Simulated Systems, Scheib’s trilogy
of multimedia performance works.

Bellona, a once illustrious city, has been decimated by a mysterious cataclysmic event, leaving it all but forgotten.  Its people try to understand why
buildings repeatedly burst into flames and city streets appear to rearrange themselves, citing race-related violence and a social experiment gone wrong.
 A parable of the dangers facing the modern American city, Bellona, Destroyer of Cities explores the shaping of space to express complex issues of race,
gender, and sexuality. The production combines passages from Delaney’s novel with original material and video and photography by Scheib and artist Carrie
Mae Weems.

Bellona, Destroyer of Cities is presented as part of Emerging America, the second annual theater festival, co-presented with American Repertory Theater
and the Huntington Theatre Company, launching the new American voices of tomorrow.
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I was just Googgling about Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" and found an ad for "Arcadia" to begin on Broadway in February. I'm unlikely to make it but thought others might appreciate a heads up.

Broadway Previews Begin 2/25/2011. Buy Your Tickets Now!
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Kes: Mostly posted because I adore this play and plan on attending (Dear A., note the performance dates are Feb. 10-26) and know one or two of my readers equally adore it. Alsonote that I have this playin etext if anyone wishes to read it in e-format.

Calling all actors! Sign up now to audition for Theatre@First's next main stage production,
"The Lady's Not For Burning," a comedy in verse
by Christopher Fry, directed by Renee Johnson.

With a strong emphasis on the music and culture of Appalachia, our production brings a topsy-turvy day-in-the-life in 1400's England a
little closer to home. Fry's themes of love and war, hope and despair, ignorance and intellect are universal, and this glimpse into the search for life's meaning is timeless.

Auditions will be held at Unity Church in Somerville on Nov 29, Dec 1 & 2.
Performances are February 10-26, 2011.

For more information and to sign up visit our website:
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LJ user alexx_kay and I have been terribly lax in mentioning that we attended the gala opening of The Dante Effect a couple of weeks past.

A murder mystery wrapped up in a steampunk larp set within a gorgeous Victorian house, the evening was most entertaining. Xavier Stone in particular is the sort of person whom, if one spends much time in the company of those scholars of scientific fiction, one feels one has known forever, even though I am quite certain that I had never met the gentleman before.

Unfortunately, due to my delicate constitution, I was not able to stay until the end, but I will say that the more you interact with the house's internees, ehem, inhabitants , the more interesting the experience is.

I just discovered that there exists
The Dante Effect blog
which is a document quite amusing in its own right, especially if one is a scholar of the Victorian gothic.


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