Curt Columbus & Trinity Rep’s ‘Like Sheep to Water’ is as fresh as the news

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Directors and writers who revisit the classics of the theater love to suggest their contemporary relevance. Often that’s a stretch, but not in the case of Trinity Rep’s reworking of Lope de Vega’s “Like Sheep to Water,” penned four centuries ago, but all too familiar to fans of CNN and the evening news.

He may not tweet in the middle of the night or hang out in an “Access Hollywood” trailer, but Fred Sullivan Jr.’s abusive Spanish captain seems awfully familiar, the way he has his way with women, makes up his own rules and considers himself far above the law.

But Commander Gomez gets away with murder for just so long. There is sweet revenge to be had, revenge that in the end involves the entire audience.

Artistic director Curt Columbus and director Mark Valdez have wisely maintained a sense of history in the costumes and sets, even some of the music, just to make the analogy all the more clear, just to remind us that egomaniacal dictators have been around for a long time.

But while the play, which clocks in at just two hours, has a kind of antique formality, it is filled with human moments, with lovers’ spats and the like.

We feel the pain of the terrorized residents of the little village of Fuente Ovejuna, which roughly translates as “the watering place for sheep.” And we all know who the sheep are after watching Sullivan’s brutal Commander Gomez rip a young bride from her wedding party and pass her among his men like a party favor.

Read the full review by Channing Gray from the Providence Journal here.

Nature, nurture and ‘Relativity’ drive a new play about Einstein, written by Mark St. Germain

Mike Nussbaum stars as Albert Einstein in “Relativity,” a new play by Mark St. Germain at Northlight Theatre.

“Relativity,” Mark St. Germain’s new play about a largely opaque chapter in the life of the thought-altering physicist Albert Einstein, is an exercise in dramatic speculation. And before going any further two things must be noted.

First, the principal reason to see this Northlight Theatre production is to watch Mike Nussbaum, the 93-year-old actor who might easily be dubbed the eighth wonder of the modern world, work his magic as the complicated, ornery, sardonic and all too human genius whose celebrity surely became something of a curse in his later years. Second, this review must come with an immedate spoiler alert, for to explain the premise behind St. Germain’s play is to reveal the secret that is its animating force. So read on if you wish, or simply take this as an inducement to catch a remarkable actor (of any age) working at the height of his powers.

‘RELATIVITY’
Highly recommended
When: Through June 25
Where: Northlight Theatre,
9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Tickets: $30 – $81
Info: (847) 673-6300;
www.northlight.org
Run time: 80 minutes
with no intermission

Mike Nussbaum plays Albert Einstein and Katherine Keberlein plays Margaret Harding in Mark St. Germain’s play “Relativity,” at Northlight Theatre.

Read the full review by Hedy Weiss from the Chicago Sun Times here.

With BEST OF ENEMIES, New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss., confronted its audience with an unexpectedly timely tale of racial reconciliation.

When the Klansman and the Civil Rights Activist Could Be Friends

With ‘Best of Enemies,’ New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss., confronted its audience with an unexpectedly timely tale of racial reconciliation.

Rus Blackwell and Marci J. Duncan in “Best of Enemies” at New Stage. (Photo by Greg Campbell)

Reynolds, artistic director of New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Miss., wasn’t even thinking about the then-upcoming 2016 election season, and, like many Americans, she couldn’t have imagined the outcome. In the ensuing climate of sharp political and social divides, Mark St. Germain’s 2011 play—based on the true story of a Ku Klux Klan leader and a Civil Rights activist who clashed over the desegregation of public schools in Durham, N.C., in 1971—took on a whole new meaning.

“I was thinking we’d celebrate how far we’ve come,” said Reynolds, who directed Best of Enemies at New Stage Feb. 28-March 12. “I still think that’s something to do—to look at what has occurred since the early ’70s and celebrate the progress that has been made. But I also think, realistically, it brings up how some things have not changed, how some things were maybe buried, how we weren’t paying attention to what was going on in people’s minds.”

In the past year, a number of events have put the issue of desegregation back in the spotlight. Last spring, 62 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that segregation in schools is getting worse, not better: As of 2014 the number of U.S. schools with majority black or Hispanic students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches has almost doubled, from 9 percent to 16 percent, since 2001.

Read the riveting article by Brad Rhines from American Theatre here.

Jeffrey Tambor Promotes CITIZEN

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 11: Jeffrey Tambor poses for a portrait for People.com during the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images)

DRAW THE CIRCLE by and starring Mashuq Mushtaq Deen will be presented at InterAct Theatre in June 2018

InterAct Announces 2017-18 Season of New Plays Including DRAW THE CIRCLE by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

PHILADELPHIA: InterAct Theatre Company has announced its 2017-18 season, which will feature four plays, including world premieres by A. Rey Pamatmat and Fin Kennedy.

“InterAct’s mission of fostering civic discourse around the social, political, and cultural issues of our time holds a particular imperative as we celebrate this milestone 30th year,” said producing artistic director Seth Rozin in a statement. “Our goal of forwarding thought-provoking work that challenges audiences is more important than ever, and in this anniversary year we are excited to be presenting two world premieres, including a cinematic thriller about the integrity of truth and the importance of controlling narrative that is the largest show InterAct has ever produced. Our season will grapple with some of the most topical current themes, such as the darkly comedic side of LGBTQ mainstream ‘acceptance’ in the age of marriage equality, and the intensely personal and political journey of gender transition.”

The season will close with Mashuq Mushtaq Deen’s Draw the Circle (June 1-24, 2018). Deen will star in the one-person show that chronicles his gender transition and its effects on his traditional Muslim family.

Founded in 1988, InterAct produces new and contemporary plays explore the social, political, and cultural issues of our time.

Link to the article from American Theatre here.