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!: ‘The Interstellar Ghost Hour’ at Longacre Lea

Here's an idea for a grad lit student in search of a dissertation topic:  "Bewilderment and Brilliance in the Theater of Kathleen Akerley." That...

Magic Time!: ‘The Story of the Gun’ at Woolly Mammoth

Mike Daisey's monolog The Story of the Gun is a show both hilarious and sobering, and he begins it with a wry riff on...

Magic Time!: ‘Dave’ at Arena Stage

You know those big live TV versions of blockbuster musicals that get broadcast decades after the show was a hit on the stage? Like,...

Magic Time!: A Report on ‘The Trans-Atlantic Time Traveling Company’

The prodigiously imaginative performance artist Holly Bass belongs to the first generation of her family not to pick cotton for a living. I learned...

Magic Time!: Mike Daisey Takes Aim at ‘The Story of the...

Masterful monologuist Mike Daisey returns to DC to skewer with humor another burning issue of the day. This time it's America's thing about guns....

Magic Time!: ‘O Monsters’ at Capital Fringe and the Limits of...

I went to see O Monsters, the radically abstract production created by Philadelphia’s New Paradise Laboratories, now playing in the Kogod Cradle at Arena...

Magic Time!: ‘East of the River’ at Anacostia Musical Theatre Lab

Community engagement is a noble aspiration for a lot of theaters around town. The challenge is to make theater matter to folks who live...

Magic Time!: ‘The Till Trilogy’ at Mosaic Theater Company

The murderous race hate that killed young Emmett Till in 1955 is alive and well. The impunity with which white assailants get away with...

Love and Friendship IRL: A Q&A With Brandon McCoy and Brianna...

I went to see Other Life Forms, the new comedy at Keegan Theatre, not expecting to write about it. But the play changed my mind....

Magic Time!: ‘The Emperor of Atlantis’ at The In Series

The Emperor of Atlantis—an operatic takedown of autocracy—is relevant to our times in freaky and haunting ways. And its backstory is chilling. Near the end...

“The Queerest Role I’ve Played”: A Q&A with Jon Hudson Odom...

Jon Hudson Odom's performance in Jordan Tannahill's new play Botticelli in the Fire just blew me away. And it wasn't the first time that had happened....

Magic Time!: ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ at Signature Theatre

The musical The Scottsboro Boys tells a true story of heinous injustice driven by race hate, and the theatrical form is a minstrel show—bouyant...

Magic Time!: ‘The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs’...

The mystery at the center of this adroit drama keeps getting mysteriouser and mysteriouser: What's in the small room at the top of the...

Magic Time!: ‘Republic Undone’ at The Metropolitan Club

Going back to Ancient Greece, theater has functioned as a forum for informed public debate—about war, religion, politics, all the issues relevant to the...

Magic Time!: ’10 Million’ and ‘The Bitter Tears of Petra von...

Among the rich offerings in The Kennedy Center's Artes de Cuba festival were two extraordinary works of theater, each performed but twice: The Bitter...

Magic Time!: ‘The Frederick Douglass Project’ by Solas Nua

In a tent pitched on a pier overlooking the Anacostia River, there is a powerfully important work of theater being performed. The work is...

Magic Time!: ‘ “Master Harold”…and the Boys’ at Round House Theatre

One of the most quietly profound moments in Athol Fugard's anti-apartheid play "Master Harold"...and the Boys—just opened in a powerfully moving production at Round House...

Magic Time!: Bedroom Talk with Actors Dimitri Gann and Ryan Townsend...

Top and Bottom is a new gay comedy by Kevin Michael West and directed by Christopher Janson. It's set in a hotel room where James, a wannabe...

Magic Time!: ‘Roz and Ray’ at Theater J

This is an absolutely absorbing medical drama performed with full-on passion by two of DC's top-tier actors. Susan Rome plays Roz, a hematologist dedicated...

Magic Time!: ‘Underground Railroad Game’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

"What the fuck was that?" a friend asked me at the opening night reception for this show at Woolly. To which, still reeling, I...

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