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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.

Whitney White on directing James Baldwin’s classic ‘The Amen Corner’ at...

In 1955 James Baldwin had just turned 30 and had written a play about a storefront church in Harlem that he could not get...

Another lost female genius found, in ‘Einstein’s Wife’ at ExPats Theatre

The history of science is studded with female geniuses snubbed by sexism. There's biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, geneticist Nettie Stevens, chemist Alice Ball— And several...

“I want to make space for women who make mistakes”: A...

Dani Stoller's world-premiere comedy Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes is funny and witty and in its own quirky way quite deep. Plus it puts...

‘Boys Don’t Cry’ at Dance Place rejoices in macho detox

Boys Don't Cry made this boy cry. It happened near the end. I had been watching a performance by the French dance company Cie Hervé...

Actor Mikéah Jennings unpacks his powerful performance in ‘Shipwreck’ at Woolly...

Anne Washburn's Shipwreck: A History Play About 2017 is an epic, scorching, and surreal satire of white liberalism in the era of Trump. It...

Who is Black? Signature Theatre’s ‘Gun & Powder’ hits a national...

It may surprise you (as it did me) that the title of this melodic world-premiere musical does not refer to gunpowder. The word gun...

‘The Royale’ at 1st Stage bares a Black brother’s big heart

This play about a boxer packs so many emotional punches into its compact six rounds, you might not know what hit you. As fists...

Mosaic goes rom-com with ‘Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New...

This thoroughly delightful offering from Mosaic Theater Company has all the makings of a lighthearted rom-com. Boy picks up girl. He invites her to...

In the ‘Pipeline’ at Studio Theatre, a Black son’s legacy of...

The set for Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline at Studio Theatre could not be any whiter. Its white walls of freshly painted concrete blocks span the...

‘Sheltered’ at Theater J hits home in America right now

A gathering stormcloud looms over this exquisitely wrought play by Alix Sobler. "How bad is it going to get?" a character wonders aloud. No...

Isabella Star LaBlanc, who plays Tiger Lily in ‘Peter Pan and...

When Playwright Lauren Gunderson took on the challenge of adapting J. M. Barrie's 1904 Peter Pan, she knew she had to fix what she...

At Mosaic’s ‘Eureka Day,’ a class in laughs and spats is...

The five adults seated onstage in a children's classroom each have a kid enrolled in this  private day school, which like the play we're...

5 reasons Christopher Boone liked ‘Curious Incident’ at Round House better...

My name is Christopher Boone and I am 15 and I am brave and I can do anything. I know that because I traveled...

The bad romance at the heart of Studio Theatre’s ‘White Pearl’

Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl is a hilarious, fast-paced satire set in the Singapore office of a cosmetics startup called Clearday that sells skin-whitening...

On tour in DC with ‘What to Send Up When It...

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...

Mosaic’s brazenly brainy ‘Theory’ is both a treatise and a treat...

Academia has inspired several thematically penetrating plays featuring female protagonists—the two teachers falsely accused of being lesbian lovers, for instance, in Lillian Hellman's 1934...

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Simon Godwin on conscience in ‘Everybody’ and himself

On the day after opening night of Everybody, the first show in Simon Godwin’s much-heralded first season as artistic director of Shakespeare Theatre Company,...

What’s magnificent and what’s muddled in ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ at...

Right to Be Forgotten is a play written from the outside in. By that I mean, its intention is to illustrate a legal issue:...

A theater buff auditions the GalaPro app (updated)

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...

The power of subversive design in ‘Day of Absence’ at Theater...

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...

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