The Fountain Theatre Presents Mother-Daughter Tale RUNAWAY HOME

Sometimes what you’re searching for is right where you started. The Fountain Theatre presents a powerful, funny and deeply moving mother-daughter story byJeremy J. Kamps. Multiple award-winning Shirley Jo Finney returns to the Fountain to direct the world premiere of Runaway Home for a Sept. 16 opening.

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the unhealed wounds of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward continue to fester. Camille Spirlin(ABC’s American Koko, Fox TV’sRosewood, Nickelodeon’s Marvin Marvin) stars as 14-year-old runaway Kali. Rhyming, stealing and scamming her way through the still-destroyed neighborhood, she embarks on a journey to pick through the wreckage of what used to be her life. While the rest of the country’s attention drifts, the neighborhood’s residents are left to repair the damage from the inside out. As their attempts at renewal leave a path of destruction in their wake, Kali bears witness to what the floodwaters left behind…

“This play couldn’t be more timely,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “Hurricane Katrina may have ceased in 2005, but the storm of racism, poverty and class inequality rages on in our country to this day. We need look no further than Flint, Michigan, to see systemic government prejudice against citizens of color and the poor. But as Jeremy’s play so beautifully demonstrates, the bonds of family and community will weather any storm.”

When Kamps traveled to New Orleans two years after Katrina to volunteer “gutting and mucking” (stripping homes to the studs to remove mold), he had been teaching middle school in Connecticut. He already had an idea in his head about a runaway girl who collects other people’s garbage, finding meaning in the meaningless.

“Kali’s world paralleled the displacement, hope for renewal, fracture and resilience I was seeing in the social-political reality of the Lower 9th Ward,” he explains. “Whenever a character’s inner life and experience are so congruent with an important social issue, that’s the story I want to write.”

While in New Orleans, Kamps met Antoine, a man in his ’70s who had just returned to what had been his family’s home for generations. Antoine was going from house to house trying to trace relatives, friends, acquaintances and neighbors, to find out what had happened to them in the years since the storm. “His friendship helped me honor the stories of this community in a truthful way – to see the past, present and future of the Lower 9th through their eyes,” says the playwright.

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

Are We Pussy Riot?

Logan Ellis and Barbara Hammond in rehearsal for We Are Pussy RiotKent, WA
©Annabel Clark

Like so much of America, Hammond began following the story art collective Pussy Riot after their it slammed onto our social media feeds in February of 2012. That month, five young women entered Moscow’s Church of Christ the Savior, covered their faces in bright balaclavas, and yarled a punk prayer—“Virgin Mary, put Putin away!” The action was short—guards dragged them out after less than one minute—but the resulting media firestorm was long. After Pussy Riot uploaded a video of the event to YouTube the girls were charged with “inciting religious hatred,” tried and sent to labor camps for two years.

To tell their story, Hammond flooded herself with research material—she read exhaustively, attended protests at the Russian Embassy in New York, traveled to Moscow. The resulting piece, woven from real text and rich with music and audience participation (though not of an arbitrary, invasive variety), views the Pussy Riot story from many angles: the women themselves, the Western media that fixated on them, an orthodox Church employee, a Russian political prisoner without the advantage of Western media attention.

The play premiered at the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepard University in 2015, where it was a commissioned work. Hammond and Ellis met the following year at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, and she mentioned she’d written a sort-of-musical about Pussy Riot. “When [Theatre Battery] read the play all together, what stood out was how it’s reaching out about international, socio-political events that might feel alien to our audience, but that because of current events in our country are going to feel extremely prescient.”

“This play and this company are a great fit because Pussy Riot was an anonymous art collective, and Theatre Battery is a loose collective of like-minded people with a collective voice,” Hammond says. “Pussy Riot was adamant that no admission was charged to any of their events, and Theatre Battery has radical hospitality.”

Radical Hospitality, a concept pioneered by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, is about eliminating barriers to entry. “Nobody who is not a traditional theatergoer has any reason to believe that 25 dollars or even 10 dollars is a good deal on a play,” Ellis says. “When you have no context, stepping into a storefront theatre with a play that you’ve never heard of is actually a big risk for people and a good reason to not want to do it.” And so, Theatre Battery tickets are free.

“It allows people to get away from the expectation that you’re purchasing a piece of entertainment, and more into the idea that you’re tapping into a community resource,” he says. “Just like a library or a church, everyone is welcome to this, and walking in isn’t going to cost you anything.”

Read the full article from City Arts here.

INDIANAPOLIS THEATER: REVIEWS “Human Rites,” Written by Seth Rozin, at the Phoenix Theatre (5 stars)

Review by Lisa Gauthier Mitchison, read the full review here.

Alan is a tenured cultural psychology professor. When one of his undergraduate classes submits a letter of complaint about a paper of his destined for publication, which he shared with them during a class, the dean, Michaela, challenges her former lover because she uncompromisingly rejects his research on female circumcision being performed in Africa. She dismisses his work as being credible, stating that he, as an American white male, could not reliably procure this information and claiming that the intangible nature of his field cannot provide actual facts.

His findings show that the majority of the women having the procedure embrace it as sacred because it is an initiation into the empowering women’s secret society of Bondo. They feel they are claiming their bodies’ femininity, and it forms bonds of sisterhood among them. Michaela also accuses Alan of stealing her similar research idea and of fetishizing black women. However, her own vitriol seems to be moored more in her own anger as a woman scorned (even ten years later) and in her own cultural superiority complex. Michaela has arranged to have the study repeated, headed up by a highly recommended graduate student at the university, who is from Sierra Leone, Lydia—a young black woman.

Rob Johansen, as Alan, and Milicent Wright, as Michaela, are both well-known, accomplished presences on Indianapolis stages, and they do not disappoint here. Under guest director Lavina Jadhwani, their body language, facial expressions, and line delivery create a realistic portrayal of a couple at odds both personally and professionally. Given their shared history, Johansen’s initial awkwardness and Michaela’s cold reception of him make their elevating, heated confrontational debate more personal.

humanrites2
“Human Rites” at the Phoenix Theatre

They are joined on stage by Paeton Chavis, as Lydia, who is also a force on stage. Her character holds her own, chin high, when faced with her educational “superiors.” In this role, she exudes the passion and strength of conviction that is often most evident in a younger generation. She also adopts a lilting accent to reiterate her character’s heritage. (Whether it is authentic or not, I cannot say, not being a student of African language, but dialect coach Chelsea Anderson pulled a musical cadence from Chavis.)

The show’s uses the hot-button issue of female circumcision, but through this, it also takes to task people’s inherent if subconscious belief of their own culture’s superiority. While the show is intense, there are brief moments of levity to break up the swirling rush of intellectual discourse. The emotionally charged verbal sparring can be overwhelming, but the inclusion of these breathers deters mental overload in preparation for the next onslaught of academic and personally fueled arguments.

Phoenix’s lower stage is moved almost to the center of the room, designed by Bernie Killian, allowing audiences an even closer and immersive experience.

Seth Rozin’s new play is based on actual accounts, not just speculation, which expands the play’s purpose, challenging audiences to examine their own emotional reactions and cultural prejudices.

The show is ninety minutes with no intermission, so get your drinks and cookie bars before it starts.

For an interesting read on the subject, check out https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-anthropologist/389640/.

  • Through August 13, Thursdays at 7  p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., $27; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., $33
  • www.phoenixtheare.org

Tickets to WINTER, Written By Julie Jensen, Available Now

Written by Julie Jensen
Directed by Gary Graves
Jul 15–Aug 13

inspired by ROBECK in ENDING LIFE: Ethics & The Way We Die
by Margaret Pabst Battin © 2005 Oxford University Press

World Premiere #56: a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere

We have extremely limited availability on 7/30.
If a performance is full, please call the box office for information about the waiting list (510) 558.1381

A beautiful, empowering story about a woman whose once-brilliant mind is now diminishing. Her decline is troubling not only to herself, but to her family, who each have different ideas about what’s right for her. Meanwhile she’s ready to take matters into her own hands. Funny, touching, and very topical, WINTER is a thought-provoking look at our right to die.

Production Sponsors: Will & Linda Schieber, Tom White & the Leslie Scalapino O-Books Funds

“Jensen’s illuminating and powerful script finds the humor in the universal questions posed” -Salt Lake Tribune

WINTER is produced at Central Works as part of a NNPN Rolling World Premiere. Other partnering theatres are Salt Lake Acting Company (Utah) and Rivendell Theatre Exchange (Illinois). For more information please visit nnpn.org

TICKET PRICES

Advance tickets: $30
(Advance sales by phone thru Brown Paper Tickets: 800.838.3006)

At the door: $30–15 sliding scale

Pay-what-you-can: preview performances and every Thursday, at the door as available

Information & subscriber reservations: 510.558.1381

PERFORMANCE CALENDAR

Thu Fri Sat Sun
July 13
8pm
Preview 
PWYC 
14
8pm
Preview 
PWYC 
15
8pm
Opening 
16
5pm
Talkback 
20
8pm
PWYC 
21
8pm
22
8pm
23
5pm
27
8pm
PWYC 
28
8pm
29
8pm
30
5pm
Aug 3
8pm
PWYC 
4
8pm
5
8pm
6
5pm
Talkback 
10
8pm
PWYC 
11
8pm
12
8pm
13
5pm

RUNNING TIME

75 minutes without intermission
minimum suggested age: 12
Due to the intimacy of the performance space, we cannot allow children under the age of 7.

‘TL;DR: THELMA LOUISE; DYKE REMIX’ Book and Lyrics by EllaRose Chary

“TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix” is a parody sequel, queer rock musical that asks the question “why do strong female characters always gotta die?” and turns the death as freedom narrative for women on its head. It starts mid-air in a Thunderbird convertible suspended over the Grand Canyon.

Starring Alison Lea Bender (Academia Nuts NYMF) and COURTNEY DANIELS (Shrek; National Tour) as T and L, TL;DR is backed by a band of badass rockstars. Loud and proud, TL;DR resists the idea that queer/lesbian narratives have to live in subtext and defies the “bury your gays” trope by giving our heroines the ending they deserve. TL;DR takes on the patriarchy, the gaytriarchy, and anything else standing in the way of T and L’s love.

TL;DR has a book and lyrics by EllaRose Chary and music and lyrics by Brandon James Gwinn (Dramatist Guild Fellows, Ars Nova Uncharted Residents, Feinstein’s/54 Below). The production is directed by Sash Bischoff (BWAY The Visit, On The Town, How to Succeed) and musically directed by ELLEN WINTER. The production features Scenic Design by Ann Beyersdorfer, Costume Design by JUSTIN NAKO, and is managed by CHRISTINE J. COLONNA. The band features SAM KASETA (Bass), WES RUIZ (Drums), and JULIET GARRETT (Guitar). NATE BERTONE produces the production.

This show is being produced as part of The Tank’s annual PrideFest 2017! Over the course of two weeks, The Tank is opening the floor to a wide variety of performances and discussions surrounding the topics of sexuality, gender, and equality. The works presented will celebrate this community, address challenges that are still faced as we strive for equal civil rights, and evoke or give way to new ideas and perceptions on how we define ourselves, individually, within our own community, and in the global community at large. Whether through unity or discordance, these performances and discussions, workshops and forums, ought to shed light on the dynamic individuals and groups who make up the vibrant LGBTQIAP community.

For tickets and more information, visit www.thetanknyc.org. Performances are July 6, 2017, 9:30 p.m., July 7, 2017, 7 p.m., July 14, 2017, 7 p.m., and July 15, 2017, 9:30 p.m.  From Broadway World.