Wolfe — demonstrates that epic vision in theater does not demand large casts or endless changes of scenery. The roles that Booth and Lincoln assume, in public and private, are as much of a con as their sidewalk hustles. Identity for them is a straitjacket of poses and pretenses, an escape-proof garment woven by centuries of oppression. How do you tell the actor from the act? A coruscating comic melodrama that pulls the masks off centuries of racial representation onstage. Though Americans have been looking at race onstage since they first had stages to look at, much of what they saw was made and performed by white people, usually in blackface.
Naturally it ends in tragedy: A ship loaded with cotton explodes. And, you know, slavery. I know we slaves and evurthang, but you are not your job. The dialect is a provocation — are we allowed to enjoy it? A black character identified as Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins himself shows up, in his underwear, to announce he will be playing George, for which he applies whiteface; another actor, playing Boucicault, applies redface for the role of an Indian.
These meta high jinks are highly self-conscious, which makes the audience self-conscious, too. But Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins is all about that unease; the subject is discomfiting, and he intends to make it more so. Decades of decorous theatrical argument may have changed the conversation and flattered liberals, but racism and the legacies of slavery are still No. Jacobs-Jenkins means to requite them; onstage explosions are the least we should expect.
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An exquisitely observed workplace comedy — and a sneaky paean to analog art in a digital age. Louisa Krause and Aaron Clifton Moten as ushers in a struggling movie theater. It takes guts to write a play about something as aggressively unsnazzy as ushering, and even more guts to include real-time scenes of the actual work. Then again, there might not. Largehearted, but never soppy, the play allows for that, too. With her radical empathy and unflashy comedy, Ms. Baker was always a sure thing for a top spot on this list, though there were arguments about which of her plays to include.
Rose, Sam and Avery work for minimum wage at one of the last Massachusetts movie houses to use a millimeter projector. They grope toward intimacy, but the play notes their moments of casual cruelty, the discomfort that differences in race and class excite. Like old reels run through a projector, the flaws are part of the picture. She is a playwright who finds silence fascinating. When it comes to speech, Ms. Set in a rural Vermont community center, where Adult Creative Drama meets weekly, it consists of a series of trite theater exercises that nevertheless do the work of theater in stripping the variously lonely, confused and lovelorn characters bare.
Awards Pulitzer Prize Review March 12, Baker was always a sure thing for a top spot on this list. Jennifer R. Adding to the scripts bit by bit, relying on their own recollections, they also buy lines from strangers and negotiate for episode rights with competing companies. It may set you thinking about the reverence we give to received texts, no matter how badly corrupted and far from the source they are.
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The first act is set in a Chicago-area home in The second act opens 50 years later in the same house, now in disrepair and recently purchased by a white couple. The neighborhood has fallen onto hard times and is ripe for gentrification. Because they are planning extensive renovations, the buyers are meeting with representatives of the local black community. As the second act goes on, Steve pulls even the most innocent characters into an epic showdown of offensive jokes. In a recent interview, Jeremy Shamos , who portrayed Steve in the Off Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons and in the subsequent Los Angeles and Broadway productions, recalled what it was like to play Mr.
What did you think when you realized you would have to tell these jokes every night? It also makes you question what you laugh at, and where the line falls. The play holds a mirror to people, especially the sort of white, potentially entitled audience who come to see theater. A look at women marginalized by rape during wartime, but also a celebration of endurance. Condola Rashad and Saidah Arrika Ekulona in a production. Nottage traveled to central Africa three times to interview refugees before coming up with her wrenching story of a morally complicated woman who runs a bar and brothel where she shelters, and profits from, women who have fled rape and abuse.
The Goodman Theater in Chicago commissioned and first staged the play. In a recent interview, Ms. The success of the play invited people to take a second look at my work. It opened many, many doors that had been shut for me — suddenly it felt like I was a playwright that was part of a much larger cultural conversation. It has a very robust life in academia, but for whatever reason, whatever hesitation there was about transferring it to Broadway remains in the air. It still feels dangerous to theaters, because of the dark themes.
The step-by-step process of sexual predation, methodical as a driving manual, shapes an elegiac play. But that mess has been there all along; decades ago, Ms.
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Vogel was staring it down. He taught her the rest then, too, as methodically as he instructed her behind the wheel: How to value his desires over hers. How to let him invade her body. How not to tell on him. Eventually he also taught her how to drink, a handy way to tamp down the anguish he would leave her with for life. Soft as a summer night and chilling as a deep freeze, the play has an ingenious form and a cleareyed awareness that even a harrowingly dysfunctional childhood could have some warmth and laughter in it. Braiding three strands of history — theatrical, Jewish, gay — it, too, puts women and sexuality at its center.
This time, though, there is romance, and defiant celebration. Awards Pulitzer Prize Review May 17, With each work set in a different decade of the 20th century, and largely in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, these 10 dramas which Wilson began working on in the late s chronicle the history of black Americans with an epic breadth of vision that is matched by the soaring poetry of their language. Even looking at the following excerpt on the page, you can hear that music. Read — and listen — as the bluesman Floyd Barton expresses his ambition in an ascending aria of desire.
I am going to Chicago. If I have to buy me a graveyard and kill everyone I see. Everybody I know live without. I want to live with. Whatever it is. Have something. Have anything. She got to do without the fire. Some kind of warmth in her life. It a cold world, let me have a little shelter from it. Floyd Barton is gonna make his record. Floyd Barton is going to Chicago. Documentary theater at its most virtuosic — a kaleidoscopic portrait of urban unrest in a single performance.
Anna Deveare Smith in one of the nearly four dozen roles she created. Center Theater Group. Smith talked about how she developed her distinctive method:. And so I certainly had a sense that there needed to be other modes of expression for my own work. A masterwork from the most corrosive and uncompromising moralist in American theater today. An anxious bleat that mixes self-defense with self-flagellation, the voice of the playwright Wallace Shawn has become synonymous with the sound of guilty white liberals, admitting their base natures and apologizing for their very existences.
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Shawn has appeared in New York and London productions of his own work, it has been possible for audiences to hear that voice literally. But even without the nasal tones and sibilance that are essential to Mr. At its center is Jack a role first played by Mr. Shawn , a lucky philistine who married into a world of glamorous literati. It is Mr. Jack, by his own definition, is a rat, by which he means not a betrayer although that shoe might fit but a creature that does whatever it must to avoid extermination.
Shawn does not write heroes. This is achieved through the exercise of that distinctive voice of Mr. Was there anything, then, that I could expect to achieve in the coming years? Well, perhaps I could somehow train my mind to focus less compulsively on terrifying images of death and disease. Perhaps I could learn how to pass more easily from one moment to the next, the way the monkey, our ancestor, shifts so easily along from branch to branch as he follows the high road through the forest at night.
Let me learn how to repose in the quiet shade of a nice square of chocolate, a nice slice of cake. Review May 15, Watch Wallace Shawn read. This sweet and bitter dramedy is a classic American family play that transcends its genre. Their furniture is stuck in Queens; one less thing to be thankful for. It is buoyed by jokes and tenderness and unlooked-for moments of grace, because Mr. Karam, like Annie Baker, owes a debt to Chekhov.
Dontcha think it should cost less to be alive? I even started cutting my own hair to try and save a few bucks. Messed it up pretty good. Awards Tony for best play Review Oct. But Kenneth Lonergan is no mere tape recorder. His dialogue sounds truer to life than life itself, in capturing both the moral evasions and unintended revelations that emerge every time people open their mouths.
Lonergan and noticing the many stars drawn to perform his work. In what follows, the hapless Warren, recently evicted from his own home, discusses a future that will never happen with a fashion student named Jessica. Well … My basic philosophy about clothes is that they should be comfortable, and not look like too many people had to slave over their creation. Because it just basically invalidates whoever you are right now.
You know what I mean? It just makes your whole self at any given point in your life seem so completely dismissible. Review Oct. What turned the key?
Perhaps autobiography. Certainly she is numerous; Albee refracted her into three characters of different ages, called A in her 90s , B in her 50s and C in her 20s. I had to work for everything; nothing came my way. I was tall and handsome; she was tall and pretty, tall but shorter, not as tall as I am … was. To A ; patient It happens with time: we get shorter. You wait! Awards Pulitzer Prize Review Feb. Profoundly compassionate, explosively profane, this is the play that put its author, and his theater company, on the map. Sean Carvajal as a prisoner in the Signature Theater production.
So was Mr. Hoffman, then just starting out as a director. Guirgis, now a Pulitzer Prize winner, spoke recently about how seeing Mr. I was afraid. I remember seeing a matinee of Phil, and it had such an effect on me after the show. I remember trying to unlock my bike and just crying. So I rode my bike home and I started writing and I basically finished the play. The first draft. It was almost four years old when it opened Off Broadway in , and by then it was much anticipated — not least because of a near-incantatory New York Times review of its New Haven production.
Both of those were Pulitzer Prize finalists. A twist on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, it is a slender thing, the story of a young woman besotted with her sweet new husband yet missing her dead father with such depth of longing that she follows him, inadvertently, to the underworld. So he carefully, tenderly constructs a room for her out of string. Inside it, he gently helps her to rebuild her mind. The elegant simplicity of that string room is emblematic of the play, which is abundant with feeling — between a daughter and her father, between a wife and her husband — and also with fanciful oddity: a chorus of coldhearted stones, a Lord of the Underworld vrooming around on a red tricycle.
Yet Ms. Ruhl is so powerfully in control, balancing the elements so exquisitely, that there is restraint even in such fullness. Corsets loosened up considerably in Ms. That this smart, funny ode to autonomous female sexuality was once on Broadway feels like a dream. Or only so much of a farce as love itself is, pratfalling each night and renewable each morning. Kate Valk and Suzzy Roche in the original production.
Four decades ago, when the Wooster Group began its acts of theatrical subversion, who could possibly have predicted that this loopy experimental troupe would turn out to be so precisely prophetic? Led by the director Elizabeth LeCompte , the Wooster Group pioneered an onstage vision in which art high and low became a single pulsing entity, informational media blended into a senses-scrambling blur and technology splintered our collective attention span into kaleidoscopic shards. LeCompte and her precision-tooled company have regularly summoned a universe of multiple screens, melting words and mechanically displaced voices.
In the world according to Wooster, the most basic notions of identity — individual and cultural — come under siege, and it becomes almost impossible to distinguish between live performance and its replicated images. The show suggested how prescient Stein was in championing Cubism as a jagged mirror of contemporary life. Or were they — live, that is?
The greater Faustian bargain under consideration was the sacrifice of any sense of a solid reality to a cyberculture. Awards Obie for best production Review Feb. In the world according to Wooster, the most basic notions of identity — individual and cultural — come under siege.
The play focuses on the murder of Matthew Shepard. One of the things great plays can do is keep the news from dying. How much less would we be likely to remember the murder of Matthew Shepard, a year-old college student who, in , was tied to a fence on a prairie outside Laramie, Wyo. He was but one of 1, gay victims of hate crimes reported to the F.
It is a haunting portrait of a community grieving, explaining, disagreeing, apologizing, doubling down, fending off a media invasion and trying to take responsibility. Sometimes the text came last. In the 18 years since it opened, thousands of productions have been staged, more than 2, in the United States and Canada in the last 10 years alone. Some 80 productions are in rehearsal or production in North America right now.
Race, heritage and the slipperiness of cultural identity have long been at the core of Mr. Yeah, Roz Chao saw it there. Said his eyes are all taped up and everything. That would never happen here. Yellow face? Charlie LeDuff. Magic City. Trick Daddy. Eugene S. Burn Down the Ground. Kambri Crews. Sports from Hell. Rick Reilly. Mike Edison.
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Beginner's Luck. Dan McGirt. The Last Chicago Boss. Kerrie Droban. Closing Time. Joe Queenan. The Ghost Girl: a supernatural suspense short story. Kent Russell. Dropping in with Andy Mac. Andy Macdonald. Kevin Cowherd. Ted Krever. Joseph Bates. Kevin Young. Michael Chamberlain. Final Shootout Cowboys 3. Kenneth Guthrie. Mark S. Enter Laughing: The Early Years. Neil Crone. The Masked Man. Tom Wilson. Shivers And Other Nightmares. Billy Wells. Getaway Money. Kip Joule. Life Behind the Camera.
Chuck Quinzio. Mad Dogs. Brian Hodge. Punching Tom Hanks. Kevin Seccia. Cardboard Gods. Josh Wilker. Don't Worry Stop Sweating Use Deodorant. Richard Sandomir. Galaxy Motel. Victoria Henry. Steven Jennings. Death in Dyker Heights. Caddy Daze. Jim Chido. Rick Burgess. Sports Bar! William Liederman. Kevin Roberts. Don't Play on the Trestle. John J. David Browne. Ben Applebaum. Santa's Village Gone Wild!
Christopher Dearman. Don't Jinx It! A Little-Leaguer's Superstitions. John Keenan.
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R E Swirsky. Jay Ridler. Adam Powerhouse Episode 3: School, Sports, and Kevin T. Exodus from the River Town. David Joseph. Starbuck O'Dwyer. Taxi's Idea. Jeff Gee. Dated Emcees. Chinaka Hodge. Beyond The Velvet Ropes. Steel Chambers. Running The Train