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.

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...

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...

The Sorrow Beneath the Surface of ‘School Girls’ at Round House...

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!: 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...