“Two Degrees” by Tira Palmquist at the Jones Theatre parallels climate change, a life’s meltdown

Kathleen McCall and Jason Delane in “Two Degrees” at the Jones Theatre. Photo Credit: AdamsVisCom for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

The day “Two Degrees” had its world premiere, Denver experienced a record-breaking temperature of 80 degrees. You might have thought that Mother Nature could not have offered a more apt lead-in for a review of a play about a climate scientist who’s been drafted by a college friend, now a high-ranking senator, to appear before a Senate committee. Yes, the balmy weather was a bit unnerving (if pleasing) but the Denver Center’s production of Tira Palmquist’s play proves to be far more than an issue outing.

The play opens onto a dimly lit set to the sounds of mutually gratifying sex. Emma (Kathleen McCall) and Clay (Jason Delane) met in a D.C. hotel bar and made their way to her room. Each knows next to nothing about the other. That’s Emma’s rule. We learn why soon enough when Clay goes to the bathroom to get dressed and another man, a memory, walks into the room. This is husband Jeffrey (Robert Montano). While Emma was taking ice core measurements in Greenland, an unfathomable personal disaster took place back home in Boulder.

Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano in "Two Degrees" at the Jones Theatre. Photo Credit: AdamsVisCom for the DCPA
Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano in “Two Degrees” at the Jones Theatre. (AdamsVisCom for the DCPA)

The play gets its title from the notion that, according to some scientists, 2 degrees Celsius is the threshold that, once exceeded, will lead to us to irreversible environmental upheaval. For Emma, the margin of disaster turned out to be more mundane: Someone had too many drinks and there was a crash on a Colorado road.

It is no easy task maneuvering the cataclysmic. The play’s twofold approach is impressively fluid as it moves between Emma’s past and her present, between her grief and the planet’s forewarned misery. The thaw that Emma researches threatens the way humankind lives. But the one she is experiencing epitomizes the benumbing and melting that humans go through after disastrous personal loss.

As the men in Emma’s life, Montano keeps gainfully busy portraying Jeffrey as well as Eric, Senator Allen’s exacting chief of staff, and Malik, an extreme weather carpenter at the Greenland station. His impressive triple duty is more than economical: it underscores Emma’s fragility. “Not now, Jeffrey,” she says sharply to his apparition more than once. “Not now!” But the other men, looking like variations of her husband, gnaw at her.

Emma is a tricky character to inhabit. As comfortable as she may be on the ice or in the home that she and Jeffrey share, she finds herself less sure-footed on D.C.’s slippery terrain. McCall is at her best capturing the character’s anxious energy, her defensive prickliness. It’s Emma’s frosted interior that occasionally begs for a more still approach.

Sen. Allen (Kim Staunton) and Eric represent the sausage-making aspects of governance: the horse-trading, the pragmatism. Staunton imbues Sen. Allen with a easy confidence. Of course, she can work a room. Still, a slip of the tongue during a wine-fueled visit with Emma could have forced the play into too much interpersonal drama. Instead, Staunton’s get-things-done portrayal underscores just how hard-nosed she’s become since their college days. Credit, too, director Christy Montour-Larson’s deft trust in the play’s ideas and emotions and the audience’s appreciation of the subtle movements between the expansive and the taut.

Kathleen McCall and Jason Delane in "Two Degrees" at the Jones Theatre at the DCPA. Photo Credit: AdamsVisCom for the DCPA
Kathleen McCall and Jason Delane in “Two Degrees” at the Jones Theatre at the DCPA. (AdamsVisCom for the DCPA)

The sleek, evocative set (by Robert Mark Morgan) suggests the icy minimalism of Greenland as well as the very different chill of Washington, D.C. Charles MacLeod’s lighting — along with projections by Topher Blair — tease the set’s panes of glass and ice. You heard right, ice. The understated sound of dripping underscores the play’s global anxieties but also hints at the drip, drip, drip of emotional torment.

Read the full article from The Know here.

Mark St. Germain Adapting John Updike HAMLET Prequel for the Stage; Reading Set for Orlando!

Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando Shakes) in Partnership with UCF continues to expand its mission to bring thought-provoking new theatrical works to Central Florida through a commission with playwright Mark St. Germain to write an adaptation of John Updike’s bestselling novel, Gertrude and Claudius.

A staged reading of the play will be featured at the Theater’s annual play festival, PlayFest 2017 presented by Harriett’s Charitable Trust, and is scheduled to receive a world premiere in 2019 as part of Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s 30th season.

Gertrude and Claudius is a New York Times and Washington Post best seller and has received national and global acclaim.

Read the full article from Broadway World here!

Works by Mashuq Deen, and More Slated for International Human Rights Art Festival

Playwright Mashuq Deen (New Dramatists Fellow 2022) brings the story of his own transgender journey as a member of a traditional South Asian family and Playwright Catherine Filloux, winner of more than 40 awards for playwriting, activism and peace work, brings her latest work to the stage at New York City’s first arts-advocacy festival of its kind, the International Human Rights Art Festival.

Presented by The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, co-sponsored and housed at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC), the Festival will take place March 3-5, 2017. Tickets are Free-$25 and are now available online with full schedule and participant information at www.dixonplace.org.

All works are advocacy-based, and treat a specific issue of concern — of even more concern now, with the recent political transfer of power!

Deen and Filloux are joined by the award-winning collective Superhero Clubhouse, Grammy-nominated Alika Hope and the Ray of Hope Project, long-time NYC spoken word collective Poetic People Power, Ari Gold, America’s first openly gay popstar and winner of numerous national awards.

The International Human Rights Art Festival unites over 70 artists in Arts Advocacy producing more than 40 events. The Festival will use passionate, tough, unforgiving beauty to create social energy to catalyze collective action on social concerns, promote equality for racial, ethnic and religious groups, advocate for specific policy change in issues such as climate change, LGBT and disability laws, religious tolerance and other issues. Additionally, it will use workshops, discussions and other hands-on activities to inspire nearly 2000 audience members (including child participants in the “kidsfest”) to learn how to use their own creative agency to advocate for positive policy changes and realize their power and capacity for greater civic engagement.


Draw the Circle by Mashuq Deen

New Dramatists Fellow (2022) Mashuq Deen presents his hilarious and deeply moving story of conservative Muslim mother at her wits end, a Muslim father who likes to tell jokes, and a queer American woman trying to make a good impression on her Indian in-laws. One immigrant family must come to terms with a child who defies their most basic expectations of what it means to have a daughter… and one woman will redefine the limits of unconditional love. This unique show compassionately brings to life the often ignored struggle that a family goes through when their child transitions from one gender to another.

Saturday, March 4, at 7:00 pm

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

Oren Safdie’s MR. GOLDBERG GOES TO TEL AVIV Up Next at Infinitheatre

Every year Infinitheatre touts Quebec’s finest playwrights in their season and Oren Safdie‘s Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv is no exception. Safdie is a four-time New York Times Critics’ Pick playwright who brought Infinitheatre the controversial hit Unseamly in 2014, a nervy play that dealt with sexual harassment in the garment industry.

Even bolder, Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv is a fast-paced poignant farce that jumps headlong into a jaw-rattling ride through the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, where allegiances constantly shift, religion is irreverent, and politics is a matter of survival.

Mr. Goldberg tells the story of an award-winning, Jewish Canadian gay author named Tony Goldberg, played by critically acclaimed performer David Gale, who arrives in Tel Aviv to deliver a blistering attack on the Israeli government to the country’s left leaning literate. But before he leaves his hotel room, the conflict in the Middle East comes to him.

Mr. Goldberg is not only a hilarious joy ride on the back of an inveterate conflict, it is a play that reaches out to everyone with one message.

As Safdie puts it, “if you think you can understand the complexities of the situation in the Middle East and make a judgement from reading a few articles or watching a couple of documentaries, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

IF YOU GO:

Infinitheatre presents:
MR. GOLDBERG GOES TO TEL AVIV AT THE ST. JAMES THEATRE
Jan. 30th- Feb 19th, Tues-Sat. at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm
At St. James Theatre, 265 Rue Saint-Jacques, Montreal, QC H2Y 1M6
Tickets: Regular: $25, Students/Seniors: $20, Groups: $17, Infinitheatre 6Packs available (6 tickets for $100), all tickets +tax.
Box Office: 514 987-1774 ext. 104; Box-Office@Infinitheatre.com or www.Infinitheatre.com

Infinitheatre, Presenting a Play by Oren Safdie, Sheds Light On Middle East Conflict Through Poignant Farce

MR. GOLDBERG GOES TO TEL AVIV 2017 at the St. James Theatre – January 30th to February 19th, 2017.

Four Time New York Times Critics’ Pick Playwright Oren Safdie Returns to Infinitheatre to Deliver a Jaw-rattling Ride Through the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict.

Montreal, January 18th, 2017 – Every year Infinitheatre touts Quebec’s finest playwrights in their season and Oren Safdie’s Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv is no exception. Safdie is a four time New York Times Critics’ Pick playwright who brought Infinitheatre the controversial hit Unseamly in 2014, a nervy play that dealt with sexual harassment in the garment industry. Even bolder, Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv is a fast-paced poignant farce that jumps headlong into a jaw-rattling ride through the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, where allegiances constantly shift, religion is irreverent, and politics is a matter of survival.

Mr. Goldberg tells the story of an award-winning, Jewish Canadian gay author named Tony Goldberg, played by critically acclaimed performer David Gale, who arrives in Tel Aviv to deliver a blistering attack on the Israeli government to the country’s left leaning literate. But before he leaves his hotel room, the conflict in the Middle East comes to him.

Mr. Goldberg is not only a hilarious joy ride on the back of an inveterate conflict, it is a play that reaches out to everyone with one message.  As Safdie puts it, “if you think you can understand the complexities of the situation in the Middle East and make a judgement from reading a few articles or watching a couple of documentaries, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”  Safdie is well positioned to tackle the presumptions many outsiders have regarding the reality of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.  He’s a celebrated Montreal playwright who was born to Israeli parents.  His mother, originally from Poland, spent the war in hiding and his father, a descendant from Aleppo, Syria, was born in Haifa before Israel became a state.  In fact both of Safdie’s parents were living in Palestine when it became the state of Israel in 1948. Safdie traveled to Israel every summer as a boy to visit relatives and completed a three-month service with the Israeli pre-army. His family had a house in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City and Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv springs from this life experience in Jerusalem. While Safdie is technically an Israeli citizen by way of his father, he doesn’t consider himself a “true Israeli” because he’s exempt from doing a mandatory three-year military service… He instead has the option of going to Montreal where the biggest disputes have to do with language.

Infinitheatre’s Artistic Director and the Director of Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv, Guy Sprung, is also sensitive to the material. In fact, Sprung hosts discussions after certain shows in the lobby where audience members can voice their enjoyment or displeasure of the piece presented. “We want to use the delicious comedy that Oren has orchestrated as a gateway to understanding,” says Sprung. He goes on to explain that “it is critical that each character, from each side, is fully drawn in a three-dimensional manner. Conflict is part of human nature and it is important that we not forget how to disagree with one another with integrity,” Sprung maintains. It may be only the equivalent of a drop of water in the Mediterranean, but Infinitheatre hopes, in some small way, to contribute to peace from the ground up. Sprung draws out the humanity in each of the three characters in the play while exploring their respectively entrenched opposing political/religious views. He has intentionally cast a Jewish actor, Howard Rosenstein, in the role of a Palestinian and an Arab actor, Mohsen El Gharbi, in a Jewish role as a symbolic testament to our universal humanity.

Infinitheatre is Quebec’s premiere English-language theatre producing original Quebec works. Notably, both Mr. Goldberg and Unseamly were finalists in Infinitheatre’s hallmark annual playwriting competition Write-On-Q!. Each year, finalists from the competition receive a public staged reading through Infinitheatre’s The Pipeline series and often production in upcoming seasons. In addition to these initiatives, Infinitheatre provokes and nurtures the best in contemporary Quebec playwriting, and has pushed the craft to the next level by founding the Quebec Playwright’s Unit in 2014 (aka: The Unit). Infinitheatre challenges writers to develop their craft to its highest level and ensures that Quebec English-language plays are produced and celebrated in theatres across Canada and internationally.

Infinitheatre: developing, producing, and brokering new Quebec work.

Infinitheatre presents:
MR. GOLDBERG GOES TO TEL AVIV AT THE ST. JAMES THEATRE
Jan. 30th- Feb 19th, Tues-Sat. at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm
At St. James Theatre, 265 Rue Saint-Jacques, Montreal, QC H2Y 1M6
Tickets: Regular: $25, Students/Seniors: $20, Groups: $17, Infinitheatre 6Packs available (6 tickets for $100), all tickets +tax.
Box Office: 514 987-1774 ext. 104; Box-Office@Infinitheatre.com or www.Infinitheatre.com

Infinitheatre is generously supported by: Season sponsors CN and Hydro-Quebec

Infinitheatre gratefully acknowledges the support of Ezio Carosielli and the Rialto and St. James Theatres. Infinitheatre also thanks our production sponsor Hotel Le Cantlie Suites

To interview Infinitheatre Artistic Director Guy Sprung or Writer Oren Safdie and/or any participant of Mr. Goldberg Goes To Tel Aviv –
Media Relations: Gen Blouin, gen@genesispr.com (514) 887-8187