“The Women Who Mapped The Stars”: The Struggle to be Acknowledged

The Women Who Mapped the Stars is a new work by Joyce Van Dyke, a rising dramatist with several awards to her credit. Her three previously produced plays also focus on women’s lives. When The Woman Who Mapped the Stars opened at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, her fifth piece premiered in New York. The play tells the story of five of the women “computers” who worked at the Harvard Observatory beginning in the late nineteenth century. This was a period in which great strides were being made in astronomy with the aid of better telescopes and the invention of the...

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The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble’s “Cendrillon” Showcases Talent But Misses Its Mark

The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble debuted their reimagined production of Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s hidden gem Cendrillon at Warehouse XI in Union Square Friday night to a full house. In only its second season, the Cambridge Chamber Ensemble is committed to presenting underperformed works that deserve attention. Pauline Viardot-Garcia’s chamber operetta was an excellent choice. Delivering on this promise to celebrate little-known artists, only the composer’s bio was included in the program. A brilliant female composer, Viardot-Garcia premiered Cendrillon at the age of 83 and her work is only now being rediscovered after over a century. The salon opera with a cast...

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The Problem Of The Unmarried Woman In “Old, New, Borrowed, Blue”

Metrowest Opera had a full audience in the BCA’s smaller space on Saturday evening for their double act of Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, and The Beautiful Bridegroom, which they titled Old, New, Borrowed, Blue. Though seemingly disparate pieces thematically and certainly musically, the two pieces worked with the thread of the “unmarried woman” in each and certainly both pieces, written in the 20th and 21st centuries respectively, contain borrowed source material. After the voyeuristic feeling and emotional intensity of Argento’s musically avant-garde Miss Havisham, Dan Shore’s more tonal and comedic Bridegroom was like a lovely dessert with which to...

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Boheme and Beer: an Unconventional Production by Boston Opera Collaborative

Audiences found themselves amidst fermentation vessels and set dressings alike this past Thursday at Turtle Swamp Brewing in Jamaica Plain for the opening night of Boston Opera Collaborative’s modern take on Puccini’s popular La Boheme. From Musetta’s waltz to the lovers’ duet, this timeless piece is a favorite amongst opera-lovers with melodies that ring in your ears and pulse through your heart long after they are over. Overall, this modern treatment was a valiant effort to reconceive this classic with a talented cast of young artists in an alternative space. Despite questionable musical and directorial choices, the astounding energy...

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Love, Death And Soviet Spies: Boston Playwrights’ Theatre Stages Its First Opera, “The Rosenbergs”

It was like the Dreyfus Affair. The Sacco-Vanzetti Trial. Any of those singular moments in history that polarize public opinion, which catapult the guilt or innocence of the few into notoriety. Enter the Rosenbergs. In the 1950s, at the height of Cold War paranoia, the fate of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg drove the left to see a government wielding totalitarian authority, and drove the right to find “commies” in every closet. History has colored the story with different shades — more subtle shades — than the black-and-white, guilty-or-innocent depictions that first emerged when the Rosenbergs were tried and executed...

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Socialist Morality in “The Threepenny Opera”

On Friday, March 23rd, Boston Lyric Opera continued its run of The Threepenny Opera to a sold-out audience at the Huntington Avenue Theatre, another of new venue in a time of flux for the company as they seek a permanent home.  Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s 1930’s adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggars’ Opera imposed a Socialist moral on an essentially nihilist piece of unrepentant characters as Weill and Brecht had become increasingly interested in a Communist solution to the political strife of 1930’s Germany.  Much like different revisions of Bernstein’s Candide, directors are faced with several editions and...

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“The White Card”: An Attempt To Communicate

The White Card, Claudia Rankine’s play on racism is having its world premiere at Boston’s Paramount Theatre as a co-production with Cambridge’s American Repertory Theatre. Rankine, a celebrated modernist poet, created the drama to bring the ideas of her prize-winning Citizen, An American Lyric to a medium where dialogue is most often the means of communication. As is frequently the case in plays that involve disagreement between characters, a dinner party plays a prominent role in The White Card. At the opening of this two scene piece, Virginia (Patricia Kalember) and Charles (Daniel Gerroll), a wealthy white middle-aged married couple who live in...

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Rapping While White, Surviving While Black: “Hype Man” At Boston’s Company One

The legacy of rap in America is rich with rhymes and rhymers that challenge institutionalized racism, poverty, and policing, alongside works that champion violence, explicit misogyny, and homophobia. As a form, it isn’t a monolith and playwright Idris Goodwin, with his “break beat” play series, has spent the last few years dissecting and celebrating the vastness of this genre as well as its place in the creation of American culture. Hype Man, making its premiere with Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, is the third in this series about rap’s legacy. However, this is the first...

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“As One” – A New Biographical Opera About Transgender Experience Premiers in Boston

Saturday night at Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall, As One had its Boston Premiere in the skilled hands of Boston Opera Collaborative.  As One, an insightful, 80-minute journey based on the life of a real transgender woman, will likely continue being produced by similar companies not only because of its topical nature, but because it requires minimal production values; only two singers, a string quartet, and projections. The audience never knows Hannah’s childhood name.  The characters are simply “Hannah Before” and “Hannah After.”  Instead of a split show, with the baritone singing the first half and the mezzo soprano...

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“Brodsky/Baryshnikov” – Poetry in Motion

The choreography itself spun through a range of subtle to more bombastic, creating a dramatic arc for the 90-minute piece. Baryshnikov’s commitment to using the whole body is unflinching. Whether it was part of the opening movement, when a chair balanced against his back served as the hint to the centaur referenced in a poem, or the use of his fluttering arms as a butterfly metaphor, his conviction in thought and body is mesmerizing. The illustrative nature of the metaphors manages not to be redundant or heavy-handed.

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“Ada/Ava”: Silent Film In The 21st Century

ArtsEmerson is dedicated to bringing compelling and experimental theatre from all parts of the world to Boston. On January 10, Manual Cinema, a company that devises works that cross the line between cinema and theatre brought Ada/Ava to ArtsEmerson’s Paramount Theatre.  First produced in 2013, Ada/Ava is the second full-length production by this young Chicago collective of five. Since then they have added three more productions and become known in the US and abroad. Although Manual Cinema has its roots in shadow puppetry, they take pride in their films which are created anew at each performance in full sight of the audience. Onstage...

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Review Of Albert Camus’ “State Of Siege” By Théâtre De La Ville

“[It] is utterly useless to accuse my characters of being symbolical,” wrote Albert Camus of  State of Siege, his much-maligned play about the totalitarian takeover of a seaside city. Critics continue to impugn the work—inspired by medieval morality plays—as a “hollow allegory” (The New York Times). Concerning the charges, Camus stated proudly: “I plead guilty.” Director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota and his team at Théâtre de la Ville wisely whittle down Camus’s fourth play—known for its lengthy, static speeches—to 95 minutes, creating a taut and dynamic production sans longueurs. Substantially cut, the play’s scenes unfold like vignettes of terror and passion, and the characters seem less like puppets...

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Boston Opera Collaborative’s “Opera Bites” Is A Moveable Feast

Delightfully thought-provoking and fun, the Boston Opera Collaborative’s third annual festival of short operas was a delicious program celebrating life’s sweetest and sometimes most sour moments with cleverness and heart. Partnering with Longy School of Music and the welcome addition of The Boston New Music Initiative, BOC served seven bite-sized contemporary operas at Longy’s Pickman Hall in Cambridge. The intimate space paired with cabaret-style seating and hors-d’oeuvres and wine garnered a warm atmosphere on a cold Saturday night. The tasteful event was only surpassed by the night’s entertainment itself. The snappy selection of short-form pieces was very palatable to the viewer. From a love triangle amongst goddesses and mortals to a fetus’ existential crisis in utero, each “bite” had a different flavor. Our...

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“The Revolutionists”: How Far Have We Come?

The Nora Theatre Company at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge, MA is currently presenting The Revolutionists, a work by Lauren Gunderson that takes place in Paris during the Reign of Terror (1792-1793), a period of the French Revolution during which the leaders of the new government took revenge against those viewed as anti-revolutionists. The situation worsened when the government split into two factions, the Jacobins, and Girondins. Of the two the Jacobins were the more vicious. Arrests, quick trials, and the guillotine were the order of the day. Four “badass” women, as they refer to themselves, are with one exception...

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One Last Grasp: “Exit The King” By Boston’s Actor’s Shakespeare Project

When the dying King Berenger the First petulantly exclaims “Let everything die, if my death won’t resound through worlds without end! Let everything die!” his words ring as the fading despot, merged with the stubborn mewl of a child, and the rasp of the aged. In the Actor’s Shakespeare Project production, director Dmitry Troyanovsky constructs a world that also lives and dies in multiple contradictory planes: the infantile and the decrepit; the dance and the dirge; the powerful and the impotent. Much of that world rests on the pages of Ionesco’s classic absurdist work but Troyanovsky has found new...

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“Warholcapote” – Their World Of Celebrity, Competition, Conversation, Art, And Friendship

As its title seems to indicate, Warholcapote, a two-character play revolves around a relationship so close that both characters are in some way indistinguishable. Both were honored as avant-garde artists of the mid-twentieth century and both were celebrity hounds. Much of Warhol’s art consists of paintings of beautiful and famous actresses, most notably Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, the most prominent movie stars of their time. Nonetheless, he is perhaps most renowned for his pop art paintings of Campbell soup cans and other consumer goods of the middle class of the period. Truman Capote, a skilled conversationalist, began his writing...

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Grappling with Community: A Review of Trinity Rep’s “Like Sheep to Water, or Fuente Ovejuna”

Earlier this month, Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island closed their 2016/2017 season with a riotous rendition of Fuente Ovejuna, a 17th-century European play written by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Conceived during the Spanish Golden Age, the drama is based on true events that took place in the 15th-century and makes unheard of strides to address complex issues of female power and personal autonomy in times of political turmoil. Like most storylines of the era, the plot primarily focuses on two lovers, Laurencia and Frondoso, who live in a small Spanish village called Fuente Ovejuna, or Sheep’s Well....

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The Fate of Women in “La Femme Bohème”

While most scholars addressing issues of feminism in opera focus on the fate of women in opera plots, Boston-based MetroWest Opera has been addressing another issue since its inception, and is now doing so more overtly with La Femme bohème; an all-female version of the original first performed in Austin, Texas. The company has long strived to produce operas that feature parity in male and female roles, but has mostly run out of this repertoire. Part of this commitment to parity is that the audition lists are overly saturated with female talent. Just as Hollywood is being confronted in...

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Foreignness and Familiarity: An Interview with Dmitry Troyanovsky

Dmitry Troyanovsky, currently Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at Brandeis University, is a Russian-born director whose credits include the plays of Heiner Müller, Eugène Ionesco, Schimmelpfennig and other European playwrights, in collaboration with many national and international institutions.  Since 2010, he has had a workshop and three productions in China, including his most recent works Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis and Marius von Mayenburg’s The Ugly One, which opened on April 7th, 2017.  What’s it like for a Russian-American director to work with German and UK scripts in China?  In this interview, Troyanovsky shares his experiences in these cross-cultural productions,...

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