Monday, April 27, 2015

Voices of the South Launches the Mid-South Writer's Lab

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Voices of the South
  • Voices of the South

For 20-years Voices of the South has served up new plays with a distinct Delta drawl. Now the scrappy little company is entering into its third decade with a renewed commitment to the cultivation of new work.

And here's the nifty thing. Because VOTS specializes in narrative performance, they aren't only interested in traditional plays and playwrights. They are also interested in developing work by poets, songwriters, and prose-makers who are interested of seeing their work developed in a theatrical context.

The Mid-South Writer's Lab is being described as an incubator that will provide artists with space, feedback, actors and workshop opportunities. 

And a $200 stipend.




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Tennessee Shakespeare Announces New Musical Series

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Rosemary Clooney
  • Rosemary Clooney

Good news for anybody interested in sampling tomorrow's musical theater today. 

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
is partnering with the University of Memphis' Department of Theatre and Dance to present Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress. Showplace Memphis is a new musicals series. It's sponsored in part by Broadway licensing company, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), and will give regional audiences access to new Broadway-bound musicals in various stages of development.

Readings will be staged at the U of M featuring professional casts. 

According to press materials each each musical will be played and sung in its entirety and audiences will be able to interact with the actors and creators immediately following the readings.  

Showcase Memphis Schedule of Musical Readings:

Tenderly 
The Rosemary Clooney Musical
based on the life of Rosemary Clooney
By Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Freidman
Directed by Kent Nicholson
Musical direction by Matt Castle
Title Sponsors: Pat and Thane Smith
Reading: Saturday, May 23 at 7:00 pm



Midsummer Night
A musical loosely adapted from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Book, music and new lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda
Additional music by Gene Lewin
Adaptation conceived and directed by Janet Roston
Musical direction by Ryan O’Connell
Reading: Saturday, June 27 at 7:00 pm



The Oliver Experiment
What if your entire life were a Broadway musical… and you had no clue?
Book and lyrics by Jeremy Desmon
Music by Jeff Thomson
Reading: Saturday, August 15 at 7:00 pm
University of Memphis Theatre Building Mainstage


Tickets may be purchased by calling 901-759-0604, or visiting www.tnshakespeare.org. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Memphis College Of Art Students Explore Creativity and Nonviolence with Elaine Blanchard

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Elaine Blanchard.
  • Elaine Blanchard.

Occasionally there is a line in a press release worth quoting:

"This is what we have learned: Face to face conversations create hope for the one who talks and for the ones who listen."

That's from a notice about storyteller Elaine Blanchard's recent work with Memphis College of Art students. It sums up what she does about as succinctly as possible. 

Blanchard
is so much more than just a storyteller, really. She’s an alternative historian, an artful activist and, a consistently relevant antidote to the internet outrage du jour. Using unvarnished oral and written histories, she teaches us how to see through other people’s eyes, and takes us on intimate guided tours through hard, rocky places we might not choose to visit on our own. And Blanchard, who's probably best known for her work on the Prison Stories series, makes us glad we came along for the ride.

In recent years Blanchard has added Emmy winner and “teacher” to her resume. This weekend a group of MCA students who enrolled in Blanchard’s Creativity and Nonviolence class are will be sharing works of visual art, and giving theatrical form to the many stories they’ve collected from people who live in their assigned neighborhoods. Some of the students have built sculptural pieces from refuse, others have assembled collage, and written poems and songs.

The stories, which are additionally informed by work with an area sociologist and police officer, come from a wide range of multigenerational sources. They follow people whose families have lived in the same neighborhood for generations as well as immigrants, newly arrived in America. There are stories of traditions interwoven with stories of loss and change, for better and worse. And there are stories about communities where people are deeply involved in one another’s lives.

“There was a time when, in Orange Mound a doctor might live next to a sanitation worker,” Blanchard says. “If you needed something, it was in the neighborhood. You could go to the store, or to a movie, or a dance hall, all in the neighborhood. And none of that’s there now.” She counters the historical change with anecdotes about people from the Mound who arrived at their interviews dressed in orange, preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the place they call home.

“There was so much excitement,” Blanchard says. 

The art and storytelling events are free and open to the public. Saturday, April 25th

10:00 am at Beulah Missionary Baptist Church on the corner of Douglas and Grand in Orange Mound.
11:30 am at Caritas Village, 2509 Harvard Ave. 38112 in Binghamton.
1:00pm at Lifeline to Success at 1647 Dellwood 38127 in Frayser.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Orpheum Theatre Announces Nominees for the 2015 High School Musical Theater Awards

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 1:06 PM

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School

On Monday, May 11th at 7:00 p.m. the Orpheum Theatre will once again host the High School Musical Awards, celebrating Memphis' best young performers and the teaching artists guiding their development. The ceremony will be hosted by Broadway and TV star Kyle Dean Massey.

The Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards are part of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards program. Winners of the Lead Actor and Actress categories  compete nationally in the Jimmy Awards held at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. T

And the nominees are...

Outstanding Front of House sponsored by Nolan’s Audiovisual

The Sound of Music, Northpoint Christian School
White Christmas, Southside High School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Beauty and the Beast at St. Mary's

Outstanding Production Materials sponsored by Winston Wolfe

Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Artistic Element

The Parfumerie Shop, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Fiona’s Tower, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
The Gargoyle Statues, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
The Giant, Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
The Waves and Seashore, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
The Bathtub, Jelly Fish, and Umbrellas, Seussical the Musical, St. George’s Independent School

Little Women at Hutchison

Outstanding Chorus
Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Small Ensemble
The Witches, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Three Blind Mice, Shrek the Musical, Millington Central High School
The Bird Girls, Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School
The Jivettes, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
The Delta Nu Sisters, Legally Blonde, Jr, Whitehaven High School
The Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Large Ensemble
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Fame, White Station High School

Outstanding Student Orchestra sponsored by Yarbrough’s Music
Godspell, Jr.,Central High School
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Fame, White Station High School

Big Fish at GHS.

Outstanding Music Direction sponsored by Hick’s Convention Services

Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Dance Execution
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School

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Outstanding Production Number
Tevye’s Dream, Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
The Speed Test, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General, The Pirates of Penzance, Houston High School
Be Our Guest, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Like Zis, Like Zat, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
River Deep, Mountain High, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Bend and Snap, Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School

Outstanding Hair and Makeup
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Costumes
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Outstanding Set
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Les Miserables at Collierville High

Outstanding Lighting

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Bartlett High School
The Drowsy Chaperone, Harding Academy
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Technical Achievement
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
Into the Woods, Lausanne Collegiate School
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School

Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre sponsored by Jack Pirtle’s Chicken

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Big Fish, Germantown High School
Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

The Bravo Award
Jonathan Alpizar as Gavroche, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Reagan Hall as Brigitta, The Sound of Music, Northpoint Christian School
Kaitlyn Poindexter as JoJo, Seussical the Musical, Ridgeway High School

Student Technical Achievement Award sponsored by Memphis Audio
Sean Byrne, Germantown High School, Big Fish
Macy Kloville, Hutchison School, Little Women
Annie Wepfer, Hutchison School, Little Women
Natalie Martin, Southside High School, White Christmas
Patrick Brown, Tipton-Rosemark Academy, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

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Student Creative Achievement Award sponsored by The Crump Firm

Donovan Hughes, Bolton High School, Lucky Stiff
Taylor Shennett, Germantown High School, Big Fish
Charlotte Gray, Hutchison School, Little Women
Lauren Hope, Ridgeway High School, Seussical the Musical
Catie Blackwood & Arielle Labilles, St. Benedict at Auburndale, The Wedding Singer
Aidan Cooper, St. George’s Independent School, Seussical the Musical

Outstanding Featured Dancer
Maddie Dunavant in Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
Lexie Lang in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
Kylan Owens in The Wiz, Overton High School
Catie Blackwood in The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jordan Davis in Legally Blonde, Jr., Whitehaven High School
Sophia Karabell in Fame, White Station High School

Outstanding Featured Actress sponsored by Mark and Jacqueline Barry
Mary Ashley Greene as Fruma Sarah, Fiddler on the Roof, Briarcrest Christian School
Avery Blanton as Jolene Oaks, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Memphis University School
Daneka Norfleet as Addaperle, The Wiz, Overton High School
Maddie Arnold as Grandma Rosie, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Kirkland Shular as Linda, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jessi Edgerly as Charlotte, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

ECS Shrek the Musical from John DePaola on Vimeo.


Outstanding Featured Actor sponsored by Mark and Jacqueline Barry

Tyler Gaffney as The Body of Uncle Anthony, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Robbie Ramirez as Luigi, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Brice Boyer as Lord Farquaad, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Caleb Suggs as Karl the Giant, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Will Crowe as Lefou, Beauty and the Beast, Jackson Christian School
Adam Schween as George, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Outstanding Supporting Actress sponsored by Lexus of Memphis
Jasmine Robertson as Rita LaPorta, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Grace Martin as Ilona Ritter, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Tamlyn Sampson as Gary Coleman, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Patsy Detroit as Beth, Little Women, Hutchison School
Gabby Willingham as Darlene Love, Leader of the Pack, St. Agnes Academy
Arielle Labilles as Holly, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Avenue Q, Cordova High School

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Donovan Hughes as Vinny , Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Jake McCutcheon as Enjolras, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Austin Russell as Nicky, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Thomas Truoy as Sammy, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
A.J. Wimberley as Wickham, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy
Noah Haney as Levi, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wynne High School

Outstanding Lead Actress sponsored by Bill and Cheryl Stegbauer

Parker Chase as Olive Ostrovsky, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Arlington High School
Madison Alexander as Amelia, She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Kathryn Sterling as Fiona, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Erica Penninger as Millie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hernando High School
Adele Fish as Jo March, Little Women, Hutchison School
Shelbi Sellers as Elizabeth, An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at MUS
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at MUS

Outstanding Lead Actor

Christopher Williams, Georg , She Loves Me, Christian Brothers High School
Mark Elich as Jean val Jean, Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Stephen Timberlake as Shrek, Shrek the Musical, Evangelical Christian School
Maclean Mayers as Ed Bloom, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Kylan Owens as Scarecrow, The Wiz, Overton High School
Kyle Van Frank as Robbie, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale

Outstanding Direction by a Teacher

Karen Dean & Jeff White, Lucky Stiff, Bolton High School
Chris Luter, Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Ashleigh Williams, Big Fish, Germantown High School
Jay Rapp, Little Women, Hutchison School
Ryan Kathman, The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Jenny Madden, Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Outstanding Overall Production sponsored by Gould’s Salons & Spas
Les Miserables, Collierville High School
Avenue Q, Cordova High School
Little Women, Hutchison School
The Wedding Singer, St. Benedict at Auburndale
Beauty and the Beast, St. Mary’s Episcopal School
An Evening with the Characters of Pride & Prejudice, Tipton-Rosemark Academy

The Orpheum’s High School Musical Theatre Awards are Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15-$35 and go on sale to the public April 22nd.

Nina Raine's “Tribes” Maps the Boundary Between Listening and Hearing

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 1:52 AM

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I think it’s time to add a new word to the dictionary: Beiged. Mr. Webster should define it as anything, but especially something reasonably exotic, made to seem boring and bland because of too much tan-colored pigment. For example: “Tribes is one of the most daring plays to come down the pike in years but it was completely beiged by that monolithically tan, badly lit set.



Obviously, Nina Raine’s dark-edged comedy has some specific technical requirements. Surtitles are projected so hearing audience members can follow along when deaf characters converse in sign language. It’s an appropriately operatic conceit but there had to be a way to manage it without throwing up a tall, solid, oppressively khaki-colored wall that makes the space seem so shallow and the work feel so flat.



Tribes has deaf characters. It is not a "deaf" play.  It is also a study, not a story, considering the many ways individuals and groups exchange information. We’re introduced to a smart, relentlessly combative, sometimes outright mean family of adults who are all occupying the same house for the first time since the children started leaving for college. The father (Barclay Roberts) is an academic and author of argumentative books. He’s learning Japanese, but he won’t insult his son’s intelligence by learning sign-language. The mother (Irene Crist) is writing a detective novel set around a dissolving marriage.



“I don't know who's done the murder yet. I'm going to decide at the end and then put all the clues in," mother says, in one of the play’s more wantonly self-conscious moments.




The children are all struggling to define themselves outside the family. Daughter Ruth (Morgan Howard) is an aspiring opera singer piecing together a career performing in pubs. Only she’s been listening to herself lately, and that may not be a good thing. The oldest son, Daniel (Cameron Reeves), is a student writing his thesis about how language doesn’t determine meaning. He’s mentally ill and sometimes turns up the radio to drown out the voices he hears in his head. Billy's the youngest. He's been deaf from birth. He’s also an expert lip reader, raised by his opinionated father, to believe he’s no different than anybody else.



As one might imagine in a play called Tribes, conflict arises when an outsider enters the picture. Billy begins to interact with organized deaf culture and falls in love with Sylvia, who was born with normal hearing into a deaf family. She is also losing her hearing and descending into a silence that she describes as being much noisier than she ever could have imagined. Act one closes with the inevitable gladiatorial dinner party scene where she meets Billy’s family and is bloodied up from “hello.”



Odd, smug, and compulsively argumentative families are almost a cliche. We’ve seen this dynamic depicted countless times in stories by J.D. Salinger, in plays by Kaufman & Hart, and films by Wes Anderson. We’ve even seen it reflected in the macabre satire of The Addams Family. Raine’s sometimes jarring, immensely resonant script digs deep into this tradition, while venturing into new, exciting, and relatively uncharted territory. Circuit Playhouse's finely acted production is never all it might be, but it's never too far off the mark either. 



I blame the beige. 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dido, Dirty Madrigals, Christopher Marlowe, and Sweet Baroque Music

Posted By on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 12:45 PM

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Opera Memphis' Midtown Opera Festival opened with strong modern and contemporary work. It returns this week with Henry Purcell’s baroque opera Dido & Aeneas. The story of Dido, the Carthaginian queen and her ill-fated love for the Trojan hero Aeneas, will be accompanied by an orchestra playing traditional baroque instruments like harpsichord, therobo, and the viol de gamba 

What's better than beautiful antique music played on beautiful antique instruments? Dirty antique music played in a traditional style, of course. And that's what's being served up in the opera lounge following Friday's performance of Dido & Aeneas.

screen_shot_2015-04-16_at_12.24.48_pm.png

The rarest treat has been saved for Saturday Night. To compliment Purcell's opera, Threepenny Theatre Company has undertaken a staging of Christopher Marlowe's brief, seldom seen tragedy, Dido Queen of Carthage. Marlowe's version, which is believed to be the English playwright's first theatrical effort, cleaves closely to the classical source material, telling a fiery story of Gods, humans, sex, obsession, and madness. 


April 17th @ 8:00 pm: Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas
April 17th @ 9:15 pm: Naughty Madrigals and Catches (and possibly instrumental music) in the lounge
April 18th @ 3:00 pm: Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, performed by Threepenny Theatre Company (“pay what you can” at the door)
April 18th @ 4:15 pm: Dido Fest Panel, including representatives from Rhodes, Threepenny Theatre Company, and Opera Memphis – revolving around the many representations of Dido on the stage
April 18th @ 5:15 pm: Beginner's Guide to Baroque Music with Zak Ozmo
April 18th @ 6:00 pm: Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Return of One Sentence Reviews: "Glory Denied"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 at 5:20 PM

glory-denied-page-image.png

Watching Opera Memphis' minimal but mighty production of Tom Cipullo's Viet Nam-era one act, Glory Denied,  is like being clobbered by angels and dumped in a freezing river of 1970's pop culture. 

This video from the Fort Wayne Opera features Michael Mayes as Co. Jim Thompson, America's longest serving Prisoner of War. It's a role he's reviving for the Midtown Opera Festival. 


Glory Denied is just one of many shows to explore at the Midtown Opera Festival. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Growing Pains: Voices of the South stages "The Awakening"

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 5:05 PM

werec_theawakeningposter.jpg
It's nice to have a glass of wine at intermission. But halfway through The Awakening a tall espresso would have been more helpful. 

In theory, this show sounds like an exciting proposition. More than that, an ambitious adaptation of Kate Chopin's seminal 19th-Century proto-feminist novel sounds like a perfect fit for Voices of the South, the innovative theater troupe known for its colorful collage of Southern musical and literary traditions. Only this time around there's not much color. Everything in director Swaine Kaui's staging is rendered literally, and figuratively, in a monochromatic scale of dirty white. Strangled by artifice, the adapted script links chunky narrative passages with more traditional scene work and incongruent bits of musical theater. It wants to be as bold and modern as Chopin's story was when it was first published in 1899. But the story's characters and human conflict are as poorly defined as the play's formal elements are shapeless, bloodless and interminable. 

Pretty is as pretty does and prettiness is often the only thing this Awakening has going for it. Lyrical dance-like sequences employing large strips of light-reactive fabric are lovely to look at. But we've seen Voices do this sort of thing a little too often now. And how much nicer might it all have been if the ghostly imagery was accompanied by a developed character or any relationship at all.

There's no heat between cast members. Imitated voices of parrots and children are accidentally funny. Actors pronounce their lines, and project their lines, and recite their lines and make great whooshing noises that are accompanied by great whooshing movements to indicate some great universal  whooshing, and throw themselves body and soul into a deep dark ocean of mix-and-match theatrical conceits. But it's a rare moment when anybody successfully communicates with the audience or with each other.

Anne Marie Caskey in The Awakening
  • Anne Marie Caskey in The Awakening

The adaptation's musical interludes are unmotivated. They feel tacked on, lacking meaningful context even in a story that's steeped in song.

VOTS co-founder Alice Berry plays Chopin's groundbreaking protagonist Edna Pontellier, who experiences artistic and sexual awakenings while vacationing in Grand Isle, LA with her husband, Léonce. I've watched Berry grow as an artistic force since we were both students at the U of M in the 1990's. She's sensitive, smart, and driven to hard work with a natural born fierceness and real knack for developing complicated gimmick-free characters, unsullied by judgement or ostentation. She's one of my very favorite area performers and this is the kind of role she should own. But somehow Berry never connects with Edna. And nobody on stage connects with her or with anybody else. It's like watching a cast of somnambulists, but never quite as exciting. Ink on a page has more life. And possibly more dimension.

Maybe it's not that bad. Maybe I caught an especially flat show. But Voices of the South has set a high standard and expectations were set accordingly. This is exactly the sort of thing this mature company usually does very well. And when it flirts with self-parody, I have to wonder what the hell went wrong.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Will the Tennessee Legislature Make it Illegal to Perform Hamlet in Schools?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

h-duel3.jpg
Okay, I'll admit that the headline might be somewhat sensational. The Tennessee House of Representatives hasn't outlawed Shakespeare just yet. But let's hope nobody's prop room gets raided in the near future. An amendment tacked onto HB995 makes it illegal to carry swords and toy guns within 100 feet of a school. HB995, also known as the "Guns in Parks" bill, passed Monday.

The language:

 
“A person commits an offense who intentionally carries an explosive, explosive weapon, permanently disabled firearm, hoax device, imitation firearm, machete, or sword openly within one hundred fifty feet (150′) of the real property that comprises the grounds or facilities of a public or private preschool, elementary school, middle school, or secondary school."
That would seem to put a lot of classical performance off limits. Not to mention West Side Story


Ironically, the ban doesn't apply to actual guns which aren't considered an explosive weapon. Guns are already covered under a federal gun-free schools act. 

On the other hand this may encourage the creation of Machete Kills: The Musical  since there is at least one specific exception:

"(B) Carrying or possessing a machete and employed in a
profession where a machete is customarily utilized."
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