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Archive | 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.

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Magic Time: ‘Belleville’ at The Studio Theatre

I’ve been crazy about Amy Herzog’s writing since I saw 4000 Miles last year at Studio Theatre. When I saw After the Revolution at Theater J last season, I just flipped. Herzog is, as I said then, on my short list of favorite English-speaking playwrights. I’m a full-on fan and follower. That said, I can […]

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‘Yentl’ at Theater J

In Theater J’s beautiful, eloquent, and thrilling new production of Yentl, such profound new life has been breathed into Isaac Bashevis Singer’s beloved novella that at its heart this retelling is more transformative than any before. By that I mean: Inside this thoroughly charming show is an interpretation so disarming that it’s not only (in Artistic Director […]

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A Report From Page-to-Stage: ‘Hand Jobs’

The distinctive work of playwright Alan Sharpe returned to the Page-to-Stage Festival Saturday night with a reading of six short plays collectively titled Hand Jobs, presented by the African-American Collective Theater (ACT). My report on ACT’s offering last year noted Founding Artistic Director Alan Sharpe’s “observant eye on black gay men’s diverse lives,” and this year’s bill seemed even more […]

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A Report From Page-to-Stage: ‘Carved in Stone’

After the entertaining staged reading at last year’s Page-to-Stage Festival of Mario Baldessari’s comedy The Good Devil, In Spite of Himself (coauthored with Tyler Herman), I called it in my report “a boisterous, a ribald farce.” The Good Devil aimed to please and it did so, hilariously. Saturday morning in The Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery […]

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Magic Time! ‘Rodney King’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

If ever there was an Inadvertent American Hero, it’s Rodney King, the black construction worker whose brutal beating in 1991 by white cops in LA, caught on videotape, appalled the world, indicted a nation’s racism, and galvanized a community’s outrage. Roger Guenveur Smith, the creator and virtuoso performer of the solo theater piece Rodney King now playing […]

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Magic Time! DC Black Theatre Festival: ‘The Laundry Room’

The DC Black Theatre Festival this year offered some 45 self-produced shows, most one time only. Organized annually by the DC Drama Department, a nonprofit educational theater company, the festival featured performances in four categories: drama, deaf artists, family, and inspirational. I have sampled and reported on a few—but to fully appreciate the festival’s unique […]

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Magic Time! DC Black Theatre Festival: ‘7 Layers Captive’

The DC Black Theatre Festival this year offered some 45 self-produced shows, most one time only. Organized annually by the DC Drama Department, a nonprofit educational theater company, the festival featured performances in four categories: drama, deaf artists, family, and inspirational. I have sampled and reported on a few—but to fully appreciate the festival’s unique […]

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DC Black Theatre Festival: ‘Somethin’ Like Eatonville’

The DC Black Theatre Festival, which runs through June 26, this year offers some 45 self-produced shows, most one time only. Organized annually by the DC Drama Department, a nonprofit educational theater company, the festival features performances in four categories: drama, deaf artists, family, and inspirational. I’ll be sampling, and reporting on, a few—but to […]

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Magic Time! The DC Black Theatre Festival: ‘Confessions of a Homo Thug Porn Star’

The DC Black Theatre Festival, which runs through June 26, this year offers some 45 self-produced shows, most one time only. Organized annually by the DC Drama Department, a nonprofit educational theater company, the festival features performances in four categories: drama, deaf artists, family, and inspirational. I’ll be sampling, and reporting on, a few—but to […]

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Magic Time! ‘Grounded’ at The Studio Theatre

Sometimes an extraordinary piece of theater plays like a synecdoche on steroids. It serves as a small part that represents a vast whole with astounding force. A window that lets us see something more calamitous than what’s there in particular before our eyes. A microcosm that exposes a horrific macrocosm. The solo play Grounded does just that. […]

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Magic Time! ‘Cock’ at The Studio Theatre

If this were a theater review it would be an effusive rave. The production of Mike Bartlett’s play Cock now at The Studio Theatre is impeccable: The lighting, the sound, the direction, the casting, the acting, all are flawless. Whatever praise you’ve read about the show is likely all true. If you’ve been tempted but […]

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Magic Time! ‘The Threepenny Opera’ at Signature Theatre

Signature Theatre’s new production of The Threepenny Opera—directed and choreographed with unerring cunning by Matthew Gardiner—is cringe-inducing, snarky, impudent, and jarring. Everything it’s meant to be. And I cannot imagine this subversive classic could look, sound, and play any better. The show’s in-your-face surprises start in the MAX Theatre entranceway, where a devised BBC broadcast […]

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‘Golda’s Balcony’ at Theater J

There’s not a long list of great actors who, through their indelible bravura depiction of a great historical figure in a solo performance, warrant substituting the word “is” for “as,” in billing like “So-and-So Is Famous Person.” On audiences’ mental marquees, the actor and the role become one, such that people come to know and […]

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