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


Post-Play Palaver: Robert Michael Oliver and John Stoltenberg Look at ‘Light Rises on Grace’

Robert Michael Oliver and John Stoltenberg saw and wrote about the same opening night performance of Lights Rise on Grace at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, but they seem not to have seen the same play. Or more accurately: Their attention was drawn to two very different aspects of the play. Robert Michael wrote in his […]

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Spine: ’33 Variations’ at Silver Spring Stage

The Creation of Art. The Wrestle with Death. 33 Variations, Moisés Kauffman’s Tony nominated play, juxtaposes those two turbulences. In one — circa 1820 in Vienna, Austria — Ludwig van Beethoven wrestles with an inspiration, his composition of the Diabelli Variations (33 variations on a waltz composed by Anton Diabelli). His biggest obstacle during the process — […]

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Spine: ‘Famous Puppet Death Scenes’

Gordon Craig, one of the early giants of modern theatre, provocatively wrote: “There is only one actor – nay one man – who has the soul of the dramatic poet, and who has ever served as the true and loyal interpreter of the poet. This is the Marionette.” Watching the Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Famous Puppet […]

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Spine: Feeling Blue? Escape to ‘Five Guys Named Moe’

A man staggers onto the stage at Arena’s Kreeger Theater. Nomax, played with deep loss by Kevin McAllister, has offended his girl with yet another drunken night. He sings “Early in the Morning,” an emotionally riveting blues number by Louis Jordan, Leo Hickman, and Dallas Bartley. The audience fills with pathos, beautiful and heartfelt pains […]

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Spine: What Happens when Porno, Isabella Rossellini, and Bio-Diversity Collide? Who Can Say “STEAM”? Who Can Say Green Porno Live?

To be sure, some of Lisner’s audience came for the sex–explicit, diverse, and environmentally conscious. Some came for the celebrity–a noted model and film actress (Blue Velvet) with a legendary mother, Ingrid Bergman, and father, Italian director Roberto Rossellini, presents a bio-diverse pornography in a university setting (there’s that sex again, and it’s for academics). Others […]

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Spine: Hip-Hop, Flow, and ‘How We Got On’

When I think of Hip-Hop my imagination immediately flies to urban America, to a gritty, “tougher than leather” New York City filled with N.W.A, LL Cool J, and of course Public Enemy (#1). When I think of Rap, I think of Hip-Hop as well, but also consider something much older, perhaps even as old as […]

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Spine: ‘Julius Caesar, “et tu Brute?” and You’

Shakespeare, the humanist; Shakespeare, the poet; Shakespeare, the political playwright; Shakespeare, the fatalist. Before he passed away, my 87-year-old father used to quiz members of the younger generations whom he’d meet at grocery stores and the like on their knowledge of history. He’d ask them: “Who crossed the Rubicon?” He’d get mostly blank looks, the […]

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Spine: ‘Whose War? Our War? Their War?’

The National Civil War Project presents the work of “a multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.” The project was inspired by Choreographer Liz Lerman, the creator of Healing Wars, which premiered last year at Arena Stage. According to Lerman, it is […]

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Spine: Ontologically Speaking (Perhaps) Absolutely!

In Luigi Pirandelo’s most famous play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, the frustrated theatrical director demands that the father of the wandering character-clan stop his endless theorizing and get down to the business of creating the play: “Drama is action, sir, action and not confounded philosophy.” Philosophizing is, ironically, Pirandelo’s obsession: philosophy of […]

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Spine: Who’s the Fool in ‘Fool for Love’?

Round House Theatre has opened its 2014 season with Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love (1983), one of his many scripts–Curse of the Starving Class (1976), Buried Child (1979), True West (1980) and A Lie of the Mind (1985)–rooted in dysfunctional family life, alcoholism, and fathers who “don’t know their asses from holes in the ground.” DCMTA’s David Siegel’s review is here. And […]

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SPINE: Theatre, History & Culture in the Belly of the Beast: ‘The Last Days of Judas, Jesus, Justice, and the Born Again?’

“When will the cold Christ Quit breathing twice” Robert Hazel, American Poet Apparently never, or at least not until a new god, Christ’s child perhaps, takes his place on Mount New York City. Until then Jesus, the man-god, and Satan, the falling angel, will remain the central mythology of contemporary America. Christianity, or the concept […]

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SPINE: Theatre, Culture, and History in the Belly of the Beast: “THE ADMISSION: The Theatre of War and National Identity, Lovely or Otherwise”

I recently experienced Motti Lerner’s The Admission, Theatre J’s production remounted by Busboys & Poets at Studio Theatre (my review is here). The controversy that the play generated was surprising only in the fact that a controversy existed at all. I mean, for the most part, American theatres (Washington theatres included) steer clear of explosively controversial […]

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The newly renovated Anacostia Arts Center.

SPINE: Theatre, Culture, and History in the Belly of the Beast: ‘Anacostia Is the New Downtown’ by Robert Michael Oliver

With today’s article, we welcome Robert Michael Oliver as he inaugurates his new column SPINE: Theatre, Culture, and History in the Belly of the Beast on DCMetroTheaterArts. Anacostia Is the New Downtown I recently had the pleasure of attending (not as a critic) a preview performance of Factory 449’s production of The Amish Project at the new […]

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