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Magic Time!

This column is named after that magical moment between life and art just before a show begins. In it John Stoltenberg explores how art makes sense of life—and vice versa—as he reflects on meanings that matter in the theater he sees.

Magic Time!: On Tour in DC With ‘What to Send Up...

Editor's note: Woolly Mammoth Theatre, in conjunction with its staging of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview, has brought to DC a show produced by the...

Magic Time!: The Power of Subversive Design in ‘Day of Absence’...

To realize how much white America loved minstrelsy is a reckoning painful or shameful, depending on one's ancestry. Minstrel shows were never meant for...

Magic Time!: A Theater Buff Auditions the GalaPro App

How does that new GalaPro app work? How well does it work? And what’s it like to watch a show with it? This inquiring...

Magic Time!: A #MeToo Memory Animates ‘I Am Her’

Midway through this taut, fraught drama about sexual trauma, a woman named Ana, a wife and young mother, is suddenly triggered. We are not...

Magic Time!: The Sorrow Beneath the Surface of ‘School Girls’ at...

Can one laugh heartily at a satirical comedy—be thoroughly engaged by the entertaining characters, story, and performances—and then after it's over mourn what it...

Magic Time!: Natsu Onoda Power Crafts a Tennessee Williams Puppet Show

Sitting in the front row in a child-size chair, I watched a puppet show based improbably on a play by Tennessee Williams. The occasion...

Magic Time!: Maria Manuela Goyanes on ‘Fairview,’ Race, and What’s Next...

I saw Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview opening night at Woolly, and I cannot stop thinking about its originality—not only in form but in intent....

Magic Time!: ‘Blank’ at Theater Alliance

"There are holes in the script!" would be the deathblow for any more conventional work of theater, but in Nassim Soleimanpour's Blank, the gaps...

Magic Time!: A Love Letter to ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

When Dear Evan Hansen debuted at Arena Stage four years ago, I was so moved by the show I wrote it a love letter,...

Magic Time!: Why ‘A People’s History’ Is “Painful”: A Q&A With...

John: Before you brought A People’s History to DC, you performed all 18 parts three times—once through in Minneapolis and twice through in Seattle....

Magic Time!: ‘The Boy from Troy’ (DC Black Theatre & Arts...

One looks for hope where one can find it. And sometimes hope pops up on its own, unexpected. That kind of hope, not sought...

Magic Time!: The Mind-Blowing Stagecraft in ‘Twisted Melodies’ at Mosaic Theater

Twisted Melodies is a spectacular finish to Mosaic's fourth season. Written by and starring Kelvin Roston, Jr., the show sweeps us into Donny Hathaway's...

Magic Time!: ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ at Round House Theatre

How do I love this play? Let me count the ways. My colleague David Siegel's review heaps accolades on the Round House Theatre production of...

Magic Time!: ‘The Oldest Boy’ at Spooky Action Theater

Sara Ruhl's The Oldest Boy tells a gut-wrenching story serenely, almost gently. At the heart of it is the bond between mother and child, a...

Magic Time!: ‘The Chibok Girls: Our Story’ at Georgetown University

One night five years ago, a horror happened in Chibok, North Eastern Nigeria. The Boko Haram—Islamicist terrorists who believe that Western education is evil—abducted...

Magic Time!: ‘God of Carnage’ at Keegan Theatre

The set foreshadows the coming fracas.  There's a fault line down the middle where this living room seems sliced in two. And something's out...

Magic Time!: ‘Oslo’ by Round House Theatre

It is rare that theater seriously asks us to believe something far beyond itself. Typically we are asked to suspend disbelief about let's-pretend that...

Magic Time!: 10 Questions for the Brains Behind ‘The Tarot Reading’

Even in this theater town abounding in innovation, The Tarot Reading stands out as an original. I can’t think of anything it’s quite like....

Magic Time!: Disrupting the White Comfort Zone: A Q&A about ‘P.Y.G.’...

I have an ongoing interest in how theaters in DC with predominantly white audiences raise and represent the issue of race. And one of...

Magic Time: ‘Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native...

The splashy opening is spectacularly preconception-smashing. We know we're about to see a play premised on a 1953 meeting in a Paris café between...

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