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!: ‘School for Lies’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company

The set that we see is a towering eyeful, The interior decorator spared nary a trifle, For decked all about are amusing objets d’art On loan from...

Magic Time!: “Never Fear Your Own Radical Ideas”: A Q&A with...

The young performer, playwright, and self-described gender warrior Malic White is in town from Chicago making a singularly significant debut on a DC stage playing Max, a...

Magic Time!: ‘Hir’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

The absurdity and grim reality of gender get a scathing going-over in this extraordinary play by Taylor Mac. Inside the hilarity of Hir (pronounced...

Magic Time!: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Signature Theatre

There's an extraordinarily tender and touching moment in Signature Theatre's ebullient Jesus Christ Superstar when Mary Magdalene (Natascia Diaz), after singing her gorgeous ballad...

Magic Time!: ‘The Father’ at The Studio Theatre

There are reasons aplenty not to miss The Father now playing at The Studio Theatre, and Ted van Griethuysen's performance in the title role...

Magic Time!: ‘Outside Mullingar’ at The Keegan Theatre

How does a play that starts out about real estate for gosh sake—adjacent farms in rural Ireland—become a heart-wrenching story of adjacent lost souls...

Magic Time!: ‘Laura Bush Killed a Guy’ at The Klunch

Who'da thunk that our current administration's dysfunction would prompt nostalgia for our eight years worth of W.? But that indeed is the curious takeaway...

Magic Time!: On Being Seen as “Angry Black Man”: A Q&A...

I remember thinking after I first saw Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People at Arena that the character Jaysen Wright plays, Jackson Moore, has an important and...

Magic Time!: ‘Smart People’ at Arena Stage at the Mead Center...

Racism, presumed in polite circles to be no laughing matter, gets a hilariously smart  deconstruction in Lydia R. Diamond's Smart People. Arena Stage has...

Magic Time!: ‘Or,’ at Round House Theatre

As play titles go, Or, is one of the most ungoogleable. It is a search engine dead end. And as an original mashup of...

Magic Time!: ‘Off the Leash: A Journey Into Reality One Black...

After I watched eleven B.F.A. candidates in Howard University's Class of 2017 perform a program of self-scripted audition pieces—character-rich monodramas, actually—I had one overwhelming...

Magic Time!: Homoeroticism and the Mother in ‘Blood Knot’: A Q&A...

Until I saw Blood Knot at Mosaic Theater Company, I knew the work of Director Joy Zinoman only by reputation. I had come to...

Magic Time! ‘Dry Land’ & ‘What Every Girl Should Know’ at Forum...

I’ve seen some harrowing-to-watch theater in my time, but I recall nothing as excruciating as a particular scene in Dry Land, now running at...

Review: ‘Well’ at 1st Stage

“Social ills” is a term often used to name a problem without caring about the people affected by it—as in the phrase “racism and...

Magic Time! ‘Needles and Opium’ at The Kennedy Center

When I left the Eisenhower Theater last night after witnessing this mesmerizing multimedia marvel, I had a quibble. I had just one, but it...

Magic Time! ‘Intelligence’ at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for...

Lately I’ve been thinking that there are two key questions that must be asked of every season-programming choice by every theater’s artistic director: 1) Why...

Magic Time!: ‘The Select (The Sun Also Rises)’ at Shakespeare Theatre...

F. Scott Fitzgerald was among the first to take an editorial whack at Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises (then called Fiesta)....

The Subplot Quickens: A Q&A with Michelle Beck About Her Remarkable...

I greatly admired both the writing and the acting in Shakespeare Theatre Company production of Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, but to be honest...

Magic Time!: ‘The How and the Why’ at Theater J

The very title poses a puzzle. How what? Why what? Yet the definite articles assert certitude. The what. The how. Turns out in this...

Magic Time! ‘Watch on the Rhine’ at Arena Stage

Whatever this play meant to Broadway audiences when it debuted in 1941, just prior to America’s entry into a war of resistance to fascism...

SPECIAL EVENT COVERAGE: HAMILTON

PHOTO FEATURES

REMEMBERING JOEL MARKOWITZ