Archive | SPINE: Theatre, History & Culture in the Belly of the Beast

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Spine: ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’ at The Keegan Theatre

Stepping back 45 years, America is in the midst of a social revolution, and feminist consciousness-raising sessions are underway. Radical feminists, cultural feminists, and political feminists are all calling for social change, from the passing of laws to protect women to the wholesale transformation of American society. Sarah Treem’s new play, When We Were Young and […]

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Spine: ‘Ulysses on Bottles’ at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, Part of the 2017 Voice From a Changing Middle East Festival

Last night, Gilad Evron’s Ulysses on Bottles opened the Mosaic Theater Company’s 2017 Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. Described as an allegory, Evron’s Ulysses challenges contemporary American and Israeli audiences to acknowledge some stark and painful national contradictions. In a nation obsessed by legal systems, how often does legality hide the grossest injustices? […]

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Spine: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ at Synetic Theater

The spectacle of movement has always been Synetic’s star attraction. When those primal, emotional moments fuse with a strong narrative throughline, Synetic’s brilliance shines brightest. Their newest star, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which opened last night at the Crystal City Theater, is a supernova, for all the darkest reasons. Combining a spectacle that entrances with […]

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Spine: ‘Three Sisters’ by the Maly Drama Theatre at The Kennedy Center

With the Maly Drama Theatre’s Three Sisters, playing through April 30 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre, theatre lovers will feast on every slow motion wonderment, every long glance into emptiness, every hysterical laugh at utterly meaningless boredom. For this is Chekhov, the master playwright, and his master play, Three Sisters, being performed by a […]

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Spine: ‘A Human Being Died That Night’ at Mosaic Theater Company

About midway through Mosaic Theater’s A Human Being Died That Night, Eugene de Kock, serving two life sentences for murder and assassination, turns to his interviewer, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and says, in effect, that the privileged people of South Africa knew all along what he and the South African Special Forces were doing: the kidnapping, the torturing, the […]

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Spine: Consciousness, Conscience, and ‘The Hard Problem’ at The Studio Theatre

Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem isn’t so much about consciousness and the existence of subjectivity, “the hard problem” elucidated by contemporary Australian philosopher David Chalmers, as it is about conscience and the human capacity to construct an ethical framework, a truly “impossible problem” (my own quotation marks). The fact that Tom Stoppard can take such […]

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Spine: ‘Silent Sky’ at Silver Spring Stage

On occasion, a play comes along with a bit of history, a bit of uncovered history, and that history changes the nature of the universe. Silent Sky is that sort of play. Lauren Gunderson’s biography play, Silent Sky, reveals the life and career of one Henrietta Leavitt (Marnie Kanarek), who in 1895 joined the Harvard […]

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Spine: Pointless Theatre’s ‘King Ubu’—No, That’s Not Donald Trump You See Sitting on That Crapper

Ironically, and full of unintended consequences, while watching Pointless Theatre’s production of Alfred Jarry’s King Ubu  (yes, that’s who wrote this play, translated afresh by Google), I couldn’t help but think of President-elect Donald Trump. Not the real Donald Trump, perhaps (but who knows), but at least the Donald Trump that inhabits our media’s worst […]

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Spine: ‘Milk Like Sugar’ at Mosaic Theater Company

America is but an expensive iPhone. If you’ve got that, and its Pink with a sexy ringtone, then you’re in, as in the “in” crowd. Now, all you need is a baby. Or so seems the mind-set of Margie, Talisha, and Annie (Ghislaine “Gigi” Dwarka, Renee Elizabeth Wilson, and Kashayna Johnson), three young African-American high […]

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Spine: ‘Rameau’s Nephew’ at Spooky Action Theater

The 18th century French playwright and philosopher Denis Diderot is known best among theatre folk for his theoretical writings: on the actor, the 4th Wall, and the emergence of scenography as an aesthetic element. With Rameau’s Nephew, now playing at Spooky Action Theatre, we see the cultural critic and the playwright merge, and with it the birth […]

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