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2 - Or, Round House Theatre

Delightful fanfic about Aphra Behn. Three hander in which only the actress playing Aphra has only one role, so it's total farce, and the major supporting characters are King Charles and Nell Gwynne. Holly Twyford as Aphra, Greg Linington in the male roles, and Erin Weaver in the female roles. Including Nell Gwynne in boydrag hitting on Aphra Behn. The whole play is fanservice. Loads of fun, but also looking honestly at what a woman trying to get ahead must give up - Aphra is singleminded because she has to be and mindful of the risks she takes because there is no safety net. You can be the king's mistress, or you can be successful in your own right, but you cannot be both. (You might be able to share Nell Gwynne, though.)

6 - Ragtime, Ford's Theatre

Third time! From good seats this time, with Kristin. So glad I could bring her to see this production because my god, that cast!

6 - Fun Home, National Tour

And since I was downtown, I walked over to the National to lotto Fun Home. They do "lotto losers" $35 tickets if the show isn't a sell out, which is hella useful info. It was nice to sit further back once in order to get more of the panorama of the staging, and this performance really confirmed for me that I was attached to this cast. And then I got to talk up Ragtime to Robert and make sure he messaged Tracy for tickets.

8 - Demetrius, ReDiscovery Reading, Shakespeare Theatre Company

New Peter Oswald translaptation of an unfinished Schiller about the False Dmitri. Important thing here: Oswald is fabulous. I loved his Mary Stuart, so this was a must-see, and I wasn't disappointed. It's a weird play, but a great and moving central performance by McKinley Belcher as Dmitri. Schiller's conceit is that Dmitri doesn't know he's not Dmitri - the ID is made because he's the right age and has an imperial medallion, but the man he thought was his tutor was really the assassin, who hedged his bets by killing the true heir but keeping a false spare in a monastery on the chance it might prove useful. There's a great scene where this poor young man - his name turns out to be Yuri - is debating what identity even is. As a monk, he took the name Grigory, but unlike the other monks, he had not put off a former identity but instead found himself without any identity at all. There's a lot going on, but it's a really fascinating look at meanings of identity and loyalty and power.

12 - Fun Home, National Tour

Back to the front row! This time, Caroline Murrah was on as Joan, which was fascinating. She's double cover for Joan and Middle Allison, so as you can imagine, she's wide-eyed and cute and not the walking sex object that Karen Eilbacher is. (Every time Karen smiled at me at the stage door, I wanted to melt into the sidewalk because I felt absolutely unworthy to have been on this earth with her.) What this means is that Caroline's Joan is only a little further ahead on the road than Allison - her confidence is the only thing that separates them, and even that is somewhat put on, in that way that freshman year of college is where you can try on identities because you have no history with any of these people. It makes the first dorm room scene work better, honestly, and it makes the Joan/Allison relationship feel more real, that it's not (admittedly one of my favourite) slash tropes of the extremely hot and rather louche older one playing the erastes to the adorable, naive eromenos. Roberta Colindrez and Karen Eilbacher are older, hot, louche, far too amazing to be legitimately in a love relationships with dorky Allison; they are an avatar of education into the lesbian world. Caroline is just another college student. It really fits more with the way this cast feels thoroughly lived in and neighbourly.

14 - Kaleidoscope, Creative Cauldron

Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith's new show, a vehicle commissioned by Florence Lacey to explore some of what her family went through in living with her mother-in-law's Alzheimers. It's a hard sit that doesn't explain what's going on - it goes in circles and lets the audience get as confused as the main character. She's a retired actress, and her daughters have found that as she gets worse, she only relates to them as if they are her director and stage manager. They take on roles in order to keep her calm and moving. I was halfway through before I realised the cast is all female, which shows there should be more cross-gender casting in other things because it can be so damned seamless. Flo is excellent, and while I was feeling rather detached and lucky to be so, watching her decline really got to me. She is very, very good, and the boys have put together a show that is disorienting but also funny and at times joyful. But it is a hard sell and a hard sit.

19 - Timon of Athens, Folger Shakespeare

Robert Richmond directly Ian Merrill Peakes in the title role. I was so excited the moment it was announced, and this time it actually surpassed my expectations. Weird play, but a deeply moving production. Modern dress, with Katie Tkel playing a couple roles that were certainly originally male and Antoinette Robinson as Timon's steward. Some additions that are making it more heartbreaking - Timon has some OCD tendencies and a horror of being touched, so flinging bitcoin into people's accounts is really the only way he can express his love. And his decline is heartrending. Ian is so good. SO GOOD. Also, this thing is sort of a remix of Coriolanus - Timon runs off into the wilderness holding a grudge against the city that did not appreciate him, while the soldier Alcibiades is exiled on bullshit reasons and comes back with an army to sack the city. And there is no happy ending, nor tragic one - Richmond cuts it off at the end of Timon's last speech, so we know he is like to die, but not how, nor do we know if Alcibiades takes the city or if the city repulses him. A weird play, but not especially because of this cut. I kind of want to go back because I really felt this one.

20 - Building the Wall, Forum Theatre

This one I did not feel. The problem was almost certainly that this was an "event" - a series of theatres are rushing this into production as a response to Trump's election. (there's a reason plays go through a development process, maybe.) Also, that I already saw this play: it was call A Human Being Died that Night. Seriously, both plays are about a black academic talking to a white supremecist in prison in an attempt to understand his crimes. They are also staged the same way, only you'd think Eric Messner, not being chained down stage left, would have an easier time of it than Chris Genebach, who was chained the floor stage left. The trouble is that this "future history", to quote Mike Bartlett on his King Charles III, doesn't work, while the real past does work. The references in Building the Wall are ripped from the headlines last year, but they don't feel like references these characters would use a year in the future. The timelines don't work. The justification doesn't line up. And the character Rick is supposed to be an everyman who ends up doing unspeakable things because he feels trapped in a system that says to do unspeakable things. But Eugene de Kock was an everyman - also with a father with a drinking problem who gave him the belt when he deserved it - who found a role that society wanted him to take and deeply regrets that his role turned out to be in the service of evil. De Kock is compelling because his apologies appear sincere and he wants most that the decision makers be punished too, not that he get off the hook for any of the atrocities he committed. Rick isn't really there. And the details don't line up. The whole thing does build to a decent payoff, but I feel like that payoff was written first and the play constructed around it. The construction is flawed. I had to come home and watch American Gods to get some actual decent drama after this mess.

21 - Jesus Christ Superstar, Signature Theatre

Joe Calarco directed, so it was going to be interesting. Joe's work tends to have a distinct point of view - he's definitely more in the auteur model. His Assassins is still one of the best things I've ever seen. His JCSS basically throws out any previous staging ever and goes back to the bare bones of a concept album that got out of control, allow him to construct the story he wants to tell, which is the story of a movement. We start by watching a functioning religious community - the priests accept offerings and bless their parishoners of all ranks in life. And then a member of the Jesus cult drops his hood and throws a punch and the whole thing collapses into chaos. We're watching a Jesus who is in way over his head while this cult is being run by Mary Magdalene and Judas, and Mary isn't getting any of the credit she deserves. Everything's All Right is Mary preaching to the faithful, anointing them and calming them. And Jesus at several points just grabs the microphone from her without even noticing that she's stopping a riot. I Don't Know How to Love Him is her commiseration with Judas, shared, about how difficult Jesus is but that at least they're all finding a life in service to each other. She is holding the whole cult together, and getting no respect for it. Crazy well done. Got to see Vinny Kempski go on as Judas, which was great - Vinny is still my favourite Melchior in Spring Awakening, and his Judas was excellent. Fun extra staging is that one of the priests (not Annas or Caiaphas - an unnamed one where there's usually a council) is actually fascinated by Jesus breaking up the most convincing market in the temple I've ever seen (the priests are fully involved - it's religious commerce, not a lease agreement with cock fighters) and sneaks away to watch him further and take part in the Last Supper. She's been uncertain since Annas and Caiaphas decided Jesus must die, and she gets a visual story contrasting with Judas' story. The visual that there's no easy answers, but that Jesus is certainly compelling and that makes him dangerous. Also adored Sherri Edelen as Herod - a middle-aged white lady is not who you wish to displease when you're working customer service. Why are you not turning her water into wine?! She wants a talk with your manager right now.

Joe is also wrestling with what the script means. If Jesus goes to his death because the end is foretold, everything is foretold, then WTF does that mean for our world? His Christ is tormented on the cross by images of what has been done since, both in his name and in his lands: Klan, ISIS, Westboro, soldiers with guns aimed at women in hijab. If he dies to redeem the sins of the world, we have a lot of sins, and he should be tormented by the depth and breadth of them. And so he is.

I was surprised how much I loved this one. Joe can be really hit or miss, sometimes between scenes in the same show, but this one really hit me.
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Maybe if I type it out, it will actually get done.

Finished: Curtain Along caraco (Fort Fred obviously didn't work as the deadline, but the hem is finally together and it has all its hook and eyes for the next 18th century event that is not hot as balls.)

Upcoming:

Like now: Skirts for work. seriously. I have no appropriate plain black skirt anymore and could strongly use a khaki/tan/something in brown. Fabric is on hand, I just need to actually make something.

Like tomorrow: That dress for work that has been pending for a couple of years. I have the fabric. I just need to actually make it. (this is really more of an autumn piece, and I'm down a summer dress, but I need to do something about this.)

October: 1880s! Requires: Bustle. Petticoat. Underskirt. Apron. Bodice.
Bustle has been hand drafted based on American Duchess measurement. Need to go to Lowe's to find something stiff enough (and cheap enough) for boning. Everything else, I'm going to attempt a Janet Arnold because free, but all the pieces are available from Truly Victorian if I end up in complete fits. Fabric is on order.

November: 1917 evening dress! Fabric for underskirt (should be able to just draft a 3 gore skirt, right? I hope?) on order. Overdress to be done with purple sari acquired for free from fabric destash a couple years ago. I think I can frankenpattern this from some Janet Arnold structural elements for the bodice.
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I'm behind. Like whoa.

17 - A Human Being Died that Night, Mosaic Theater Company

The other half of the South Africa rep, this is a two-hander adapted from Pumla ­Gobodo-Madikizela's memoir about her interviews with Eugene de Kock, an Afrikaaner sentenced to multiple life sentences for his role in violently upholding the apartheid regime as a state functionary. He was one of the guys actually performing the torture, the extrajudicial killings, blackmailing activists to turn them into spies, and even conducting paramilitary raids across the border. What's interesting about de Kock, and what compelled Godobo-Madikizela, a psychologist affiliated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to conduct so many interviews even after her contract ended, is that he admits his guilt, has apologized to victims in a manner that feels legitimate, and argues that his sentence is only excessive because the people who ordered him to perform these actions, and white South African society in general, are not being punished at all. He's compelling because he's right. He performed actions that society wanted, and then he got hung out to dry. Are the men who pulled the trigger more guilty than the man who ordered them to do it? The man who hedged his orders before an operation but not his praise after? He's not arguing that he was innocent, just caught up in a system of violence: he's arguing that the men who kept the system running are just as guilty as he is and the punishments should be equivalent.

It's a fascinating script about structures and shared guilt, and it is a tour de force from Chris Genebach as de Kock, who spends nearly the whole play chained to the floor, sitting in a chair, explaining his case. Which isn't to say that Erica Chamblee, as Pumla, isn't doing fantastic work, but this show is very much a showcase for de Kock, of what Truth and Reconciliation means when truth is terrible and justice isn't being served. De Kock has no glib answers for his role: he was hired for a job and found he did it well. He believed at the time that he was battling for the soul of his Africa, and he has come to understand since that it was a false ideal, and he cannot bring back the dead. The whole thing is under 2 hours and it remains intensely compelling.

(also, it being Monday, it was We Happy Few night at the theatre - ran into Kiernan and Raven and Hannah! Hannah was in town! Always happy when Hannah's home for a bit.)

18 - Fun Home, National Tour, National Theatre

This is a better cast in a lot of ways - it's a little quieter, more lived in. I adore Kate Shindle's line readings - she's a little snarkier, I think, than Beth, and as much as I am in love with Beth, I'm in love with Kate, too. Abby Corrigan is darling as Middle Allison, and I feel her in very particular ways (largely because Karen Eilbacher is insanely hot and cool and I want to melt into the ground when she says hi to me at the stage door because I am not cool enough to be seen by Karen Eilbacher). Ali Baldacchino is a fabulous Small Allison - I feel her when she defaults to "sullen" after her father has rushed past her yet again. Central to how this cast works, though, is Robert Petkoff as Bruce, and I don't say that because I'm friends with Robert (though I've known Robert for, dear god, fifteen years now). For Bruce to have the life he has had - for the family to have survived in small town Pennsylvania, Cerveris is a little much. As Robert said, "no one is getting in a car alone at night with Michael Cerveris". It's true. I don't mean Cerveris was over the top - I was surprised and please he wasn't as creepy as I feared - just that he's a little much. This cast is more livable, more relatably your neighbours. I am very, very happy with this tour cast. (Kids are leaving after DC! John is so goddamned cute OMG. Next set better be equally cute.)

21 - Ragtime, Ford's Theatre

Back to Ragtime because they're my friends :) (really because I'm earning my keep as an usher and I certainly don't mind when I get this quality - and to see my actorfriends killing it - for free.)

22 - Henry V, We Happy Few

Back to this for one more time - I wanted to see some of the fight scenes and all from a different angle, since I couldn't see a number of Henry and King of France reactions the first time around. It was worth seeing from a couple different perspectives. And to hang out a bit after.

28 - Macbeth, Shakespeare Theatre Company

Liesl Tommy directing, so this was exciting as hell when first announced; especially when the concept came out: modern dress, third-world country, the witches are the only white people and are constructed as CIA operatives. And this part works. Visceral stage pictures. Macbeth is a weird play in a lot of ways - it's a deliberately kinda provocative work about the foreign country from which our brand new king has come. Scotland is a foreign country, known to be "warlike", with a long history of civil wars in addition to their raiding expeditions against the north of England. And this new monarch is a strong believer in witchcraft. It's a short, violent, deeply odd play exploring how guilt erodes power. (also, it's turned out to be ahistorical - the Stewart line aren't descended from Banquo, so the line of kings that Macbeth sees is an illusion in a couple senses, and that's kinda fantastic to play with from a modern perspective.) the audience at the time was watching an "exotic" culture they believe steeped in violence to be acting violently, plus witches. Are the witches prophesying only, or are the interfering? Does knowing a prophecy bring it into being? They speak around things a lot, then Macbeth infers something and they seem to confirm it. Tommy does some nice playing around with this - Macbeth is seeing things that the witches aren't deliberately putting out there, and that is what brings his doom on himself faster than they had perhaps expected. Macbeth keeps moving faster than they expected - they didn't really plan on him killing Duncan in this version and they're kinda scrambling to keep ahead of events. They're not counting on Lennox and Macduff successfully running to get Malcolm from exile. The conceit helps put some of the headlong action of the play in perspective.

Where this production falls apart for me is in the deaths of the central characters. Jesse Perez's Macbeth isn't sympathetic, but then, Macbeth is a hardbitten warrior who has earned Duncan's trust through his bloody deeds in battle and then goes along with his wife's idea to murder the king. the guilt eats at him later, and Tommy has much of this played as PTSD - Macbeth is always on edge, reacting to shadows, not just because of guilt, but because he's always on edge, reacting to shadows because death has been lurking in those shadows for so long. Nelson Pressley said it seems as if this Macbeth has been watching too many action movies and thinks his lines are quips. He thinks of that as a bad thing, but I totally see where's that coming from and didn't mind that part. Jesse's Macbeth is very attuned to what power should look like, and if he's using street thugs with machetes to go after Banquo in the woods because that's precisely what power doesn't look like and is thus deniable, of course his sense of power and appearance is media driven. Why wouldn't it be? His coronation is marked by him and his wife showing up in a luxury car (that may have been previously used for Robert Falls' Balkan Mafia King Lear - another modern dress adaptation that played on audience understanding of what power looks like). the problem here comes when he doesn't have the emotional core to make "tomorrow and tomorrow" what it ought to be. And his death feels meaningless. Different problem with Lady Macbeth. Nikkole Salter is fantastic and is carrying this thing until she has to die, and the staging feels off. We start seeing her moping around the palace in a ratty Harvard t-shirt, debating over how many antidepressants to take (and washing them down with wine) after the death of her child. Macbeth's text of "hey, guess who's now Thane of Cawdor?" perks her right up and gives her new reason to put on real clothes and give a fuck. She has a purpose. And she's great with a purpose. Which means her track downward doesn't work so well, though her sleepwalking scene is pretty good. Still, she doesn't seem to get to suicidal, and anyway, we've been set up with booze and pills. It's like Chekhov's gun - the booze and pills were introduced, so they better come to something. Instead, we get a servant bringing in the Harvard t-shirt, soaked in blood. I have no idea what happened. The scream in the text has to make sense, except it's just "a cry of women" - her women, finding her body.

This is a problem because the more minor deaths are deeply moving. Banquo defending his son - a teenager in school blazer - and when the assassins flee, Fleance creeps back to sob over his father's corpse. The same street thugs (one male, one female, both very young) necklacing Lady Macduff, after which one of the witches smothers the Macduff child (this time, a girl). Siward mourning over his daughter's body at the end, her valiant death in battle against the tyrant. These land emotionally. The Macbeths' don't.

I still enjoyed the production and am grateful it was done at all. Especially with a near parity in gender distribution regendering most of the characters: Queen Duncan, Malcolm's sister Donalbain, female Lennox and Ross, female actor playing the Porter (in a rather androgynous fashion) and the Doctor, Macduff's daughter, and one of the assassins. And every single one of them a woman of colour doing a damned good job with verse and fight choreography that they don't get as many chances to use as they should. It was really nice to see that distribution on the major stage of Shakespeare Theatre Company when it's starting to become more common on smaller stages. Let this not be the last time I see this many women in major roles at Shakespeare. (As a company, they're pretty good at hiring non-white male actors, but they're less good at hiring women. Shakespeare had to make a deliberate choice to make characters female; many of his default male, particularly supporting, characters have no personal references or even direct power relationships that mark them as male. Just the cultural default. More work needs to be done at the Equity level to open up these opportunities.)
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April 12 - Henry V, We Happy Few

We Happy Few are my theatre nerd buddies, and I had to hit opening night because that's when we go for drinks after and chat more about the show. Kerry directed and adapted this one, and it focuses more intently on the Cheapside boys than on Henry's attempts at leadership. Costumed in a punk idiom, the war councils feel like prep for gang fights, and the battles just keep coming. It makes for some interesting staging - "once more unto the breach" is rushed, hurried because they are in the middle of a battle, while the Crispin's Day speech is delivered to the gathering of leaders around the king's tent, not to the multitudinous throng of soldiers. Because the men at home are men "like us"; Henry isn't thinking about "no one of name" who are the major victims at Agincourt. Strong performances for the most part. Kiernan is a little too nice, a little too callow for Henry in my personal taste. He has a hard time playing a dick, and we have to remember that Harry is getting his old buddies slaughtered anonymously here, one by one. Great work from Natasha Gallop as the Boy. Beautiful lighting design yet again from Jason: the staging frequently has an actor on a drum box in one of the aisles, and that switches off between Henry and Pistol for the most part, so you have that actor softly lit, a ghostly observer of the action that falls below him or above him. And Kerry put in a scene just for me (I told you these were my theatre nerd buddies): I'd told her about how Garry Hynes had ended DruidShakespeare with Mistress Quickly in flashback, saying goodbye to her boys as they go off to war, then bringing up the lights to show her mourning in a graveyard of everyone who had died over the course of those four plays. It's damned effective. Kerry sent Mistress Quickly to war, and we get a similar scene as she's mourning the Boy's death - of her men coming back around her in an image of them in happier days - before she stumbles off stage.

April 13 - Three Sisters, Studio Theatre

Lord, these people are nuts. Incapable of action and disappointed in themselves but taking it out on everyone around them. Tuzenbach, you're sweet - you could have done so much better. It's a great company, especially Ro Boddie as Tuzenbach and Biko Eisen-Martin as Solyony who is basically a school shooter except he manages to make it a duel, instead, so Irina gets to live. But lord, these people. These people!

April 14 - No Sisters, Studio Theatre

Let's face it, the previous night was just the set up for the new Aaron Posner, which lets some very talented people have much more to work with. The setting for this one is "a weird-ass existential green room", and all the characters know they are in a play downstairs and a play up here, and they need this audience of strangers because they sure as hell aren't spilling their souls to the people they spend all day with. We're mostly guided by Masha's husband and get some fabulous rants from Andrei and Natasha. But you really need to have seen Three Sisters to understand what's going on. Unlike the others, this one is a companion piece. It can also start to feel repetitive and it's hard to tell if certain longueurs are scripted or a function of the pacing downstairs, but i really did adore it. It's warm and open and there for you. You want to give everyone a hug even as you want to slap them upside the back of the head.

April 15 - Tis Pity She's a Whore, Brave Spirits

The other half of the incest rep! Danny Cackley makes Giovanni marginally more sympathetic and thus not the actual worst - less manipulative in his justifications. Jenna is a very strong Annabella, frequently verging on sarcastic and in no way a victim of the others until her brother murders her. Some great lighting from Jason, again, emphasizing the darkness and isolation, which he can blame on the theatre space all he wants, but this is a play that cannot take place in daylight, otherwise the characters might actually see themselves and start to have concerns about how all this actually looks (yes, this means you, Richardetto, you absolutely useless 3rd level plot who should have just gone home after your wife was murdered). Some fun character drawing, especially Brendan Kennedy, and really great blood work from Casey Kaleba work out to an appropriately over the top but still horrific production.

Another 4 show week next week, but two are repeats: ushering Ragtime again and heading back to Henry V to see people again (and bring along James Plays because I want people to read the Henry scene at the beginning).
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March 26 - Midwestern Gothic, Signature Theatre

That was a thing. That we shared as an audience. Still have no idea how I feel about what I saw. New work from the guy who did The Adding Machine, and it has some resonance with Fargo and Martin McDonagh's work, but it's lacking the beating heart that makes McDonagh the chronicler of rural stagnation. It's more thinky than emotional. Some interesting work happening in the music - it starts weird, discordant, reminiscent of la Chiusa in Marie Christine and gets more "normal" as the story gets more out there. Cast is doing heroic work. There's a lot of analysis going on. Some of it does land darkly comic. It has a distinct point of view that I respect and appreciate - it's decidedly a vision - but I don't feel an emotional core to it. It's just kind there.

March 31 - Blood Knot, Mosaic Theater Company

Very early Athol Fugard two-hander directed by Joy Zinoman, who introduced me to Fugard in the first place with Road to Mecca at Studio about 8 or 9 years ago. The piece starts naturalistic as an exploration of two brothers - one light enough to pass as white - in an exploration of the meaning of race in South Africa in the 1960s. But it kinda veers into a more existential key that put me wholly in mind of Ballyturk. Two men, trapped in a repetitive existence, marked by rituals conducted according to the clock, and the only way out is not going to be good. Here, the break in ritual happens with a little playacting - what if they find a penpal from a newspaper advert so they can at least dream about a woman since they can't afford to date anyone? And Morrie picks from the wrong section, so they're accidentally writing to a white girl, who says, "I can come see you!", and since Morrie looks white, they play towards pulling this off. At which point it really is an examination of what makes a white man, since it isn't skin colour. What does passing mean? And how easy is it to throw contempt on your own brother when taking on the guise of "white"? Luckily, the girl doesn't come, but the relationship is shattered just by playacting, because even if Morrie keeps collapsing to his knees in horror at what he's just said to Zach, it was so easy for those things to come out in the first place. It's wonderfully done. But I still desperately want Ballyturk.

April 1 - A King and No King, Brave Spirits

Part of their Incest Rep, this is the comedy! A young king of mercurial temperament has been away leading his people at war for a number of years and is now victorious. He has just captured the leader of his foes, and promises to end his captivity if he marries the king's sister. So they return to the capital and the king falls in love with his own sister, who went through puberty during the years he was gone, and is weirdly encouraged in this by his first minister. This won't do for a peace treaty - or civilisation - at all. The captured king is also in love with her, but his girlfriend came along and told the princess that she can't marry this captured king because he's already engaged. So much rivalry! And after loads of angst about how the king and the princess can't be together, the first minister finally drops the bombshell news: the king is actually his own son, loaned to the queen as a newborn when at one point she had to save herself by claiming to be pregnant, and then later she did get actually pregnant by her elderly husband and thus the rightful heir is the princess. Who is of no relation. Yay wedding! WTF is this script? the comic subplot features a soldier who is a cowardly braggart who I'm convinced is Jayne from Firefly. the way he talks about his exploits and has no morals whatsoever (sure, I'll bring your sister to your bed - anything else you want?), I strongly suspect there's an unearned statue to him in some town he accidentally saved the one time he tried to retreat the wrong direction and ended up having to fight. It's loads of fun, but what the hell is this thing?

April 3 - Picasso at the Lapin Agile, reading, Shakespeare Theatre Company at National Academy of the Sciences

Sam Ludwig as Einstein, Jesse Perez chewing all the scenery (there is no scenery) as Picasso, and just so much ridiculous fun about art, science, creation, and sexual attraction.

April 5 - A Raisin in the Sun, Arena Stage

Went for Dawn Ursula as Ruth, was most impressed with Lizan Mitchell as Lena. It is such a strong cast, with fantastic central performances from Dawn, Lizan, and Will Cobb. the generational difference that has Lena at odds with her son is dignity: for her, that's survival without violence, but since he was able to grow up without that constant violence, he has the luxury of trying to demand respect, not merely life. And it's heartbreaking.

April 6 - Brighton Beach Memoirs, Theater J

Cole Sitilides is adorable as Eugene and I swear I would have had such a crush on him in high school. I feel like the script solves some problems a bit too neatly in the end, but it's a delightful play, and when you consider what the news was, it was kind of the right time to be sitting in a theatre watching a play about people for whom taking in refugees is simply a given, no consideration needed.

April 7 - Back to Methuselah: As Far as Thought Can Reach

Last part of Shaw's speculative fiction about how to improve the human race. This one really showcases his hangups: he's gotten rid of sex and other bodily functions, sped up development, and basically condensed life for most people into about a 4 year span in which most will just die while the world is actually run by the "Ancients" who take a very long view of existence but would really rather survive forever as mere thought, with no interest in physical sensations or really anything concrete. It's very weird and though presented as a positive, it's rather dystopic. He spends a lot of time banging on about how artists are really just children playing with dolls, but he can't conceive of a non-representational art (George apparently hated cubism and symbolism). His sculptor characters move from making idealised human forms to carving craggy portrait busts of Ancients to giving up art entirely because it cannot compete with thought, and I'm going "but this is precisely the point at which thought as art has taken over, where representation of form is entirely gone. Cubism really exploded between 1910 and 1912 with one wing quickly moving away from the representation of the Bracque/Picasso mold, and the symbolists of a generation earlier were representing images that weren't weren't at all what the painting was about. The play cycle is Shaw's response to the cataclysm of WWI, and so was Dada. I certainly don't expect that he could predict abstract expressionism, but the idea that art must be centred in forms from nature is some regressionary bullshit for the period, because Shaw is such a philistine. It's a weird play, with more of his id spewing out than over the rest of the cycle, and I'm sorry the audience was about 10 people because it really is an audacious work, well performed. But it is admittedly straight up weird.
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20 - The Bashful Man at Court (reading), Shakespeare Theatre Company

Reading done for Spain Arts and Culture, sponsored by the Spanish Embassy. The original draw here was that it's an early work by Tirso de Molina, whom I have adored since Shakespeare did a reading of a new adaptation of Marta the Divine a few years back, and then it turned out Jon Hudson Odom was basically the lead, which hell yes! Bashful Man at Court has a ton in common with Lope da Vega's The Dog in the Manger - young man of "no birth" is taken into a noble household in an upper servant position, lady falls in love with him, everything is ironed out into marriage through a last-minute revelation that he is of noble birth after all. But the complications are different, everybody is "Portuguese" to get around the censors, and there's a lot - a lot - of talk about women's social position but without the subversion that you get in Marta or in some of Lope's work. In some ways, it feels like a foundational piece on which the best of Spanish Golden Age comedy built. Fabulous performances from Jon (of course), Katie Tkel as the older sister who falls for a portrait of herself in boydrag, Biko Eisen-Martin as the bad guy who doesn't even get his comeuppance (he seduced and dumped another character's unseen sister, or possibly actually raped her - the text makes it a little hard to tell because he considers it seduction, the brother considers it rape, and we never see the sister or find out what really happened), and Michael Wood as Jon's buddy who goes along in a servant role and has the worst time with his tight-ass uniform. I had fun, but I don't see this script going on to a full production because it feels like an early work - half baked in places and overdone in others.

23 - Coolatully, Solas Nua

US premiere of a recent piece by Fiona Doyle looking at the post-collapse implications of the Celtic Tiger generation having their expected future ripped out from under them. It comes across in many ways as being a Martin McDonagh village where no one gets the relief of murdering their problems. We've circled back around to emigration as the only economic solution, and the fear and uncertainty that come from that pull me all the way back to the Dubliners, where it's easier to say no and have nothing than to take the chance. In some ways, it's a slight piece - it never quite hit the emotional heft I may have wanted, but there was some very effective staging in Flashpoint's small space (how many more times will I see shows at Flashpoint? *sob*) and excellent lighting design from Marianne Meadows.

24 - Ragtime, Ford's Theatre

It's Kevin McAllister as Coalhouse, which goes exactly as predicted because Kevin is never less than amazing. It is a perfect role for him - charming and heartbreaking in equal measure. the production as a whole is beautiful but with a couple weird choices. I don't mean that the famous personalities are both played by Asian-American actors (Justine Icy Moral is absolutely darling as Evelyn Nesbit). I mean that Peter Flynn did a very weird and stupid thing in the transition between The Night that Goldman Spoke at Union Square and the Lawrence Strike - he deliberately sent Younger Brother as the union organizer that pushes Tateh and the Little Girl onto the train out. This completely undermines the track of his radicalization so that when shit happens to Coalhouse and Sarah after, he's already a radical presence and thus He Wanted to Say isn't him waking to America as the lyrics demand. It simplifies the blocking, probably, but that isn't a good enough thematic reason to do it. It's a big fuck up in that track, but it also doesn't affect the emotional core of the show, so I can kind of let it go. It helps that yes, they did cast Greg Maheu as Younger Brother as is practically required but I feared wouldn't happen, and he is everything I ever thought he would be in the role. He never got to go on at Kennedy Center, and this is kind of a make up for that - Ragtime really was formative for his career. Tracy is also exactly as one expects as Mother. Adore adore adore.

I do find I have some very strict ideas about this show. Nova sings the hell out of Sarah, but I find I really do prefer that the character look like a teen mother because it's basically dumpster baby, and that impulsiveness works better with a teenager. She does sing the hell out of the role, though, and I can't fault the casting, precisely. But nobody is Jennlee Shallow. And Jonathan Atkinson is fine, but he's no Manoel Feliciano. Manoel is my Tateh, always and forever. I was thrilled, though with Rayanne Gonzalez as Emma Goldman. How rare must it be that a dumpy Hispanic woman get cast as someone to take seriously? Really, the adding some multiethnic faces beyond black and white was well done. Chris Mueller is always great, Justine was darling as Evelyn Nesbit, and since the whole company works in as ensemble, it means the immigrant groups include a variety of faces that deliberately draw connections between immigration then and immigration now.

On the whole, this production runs more naturalistically than usual - because of the way Doctorow wrote his novel, and the way McNally's book directly quotes from as well as uses characters addressing the audience in third person self-narrative, the traditional tendency has been to heighten that distance through a certain style of delivery. (This is also why I feel you have to hire Greg for Younger Brother - he tends to do a rather arch or declamatory style really, really well.) Instead, Flynn's direction runs right over that, which allows for more native charisma from Coalhouse, some snappish remarks from Mother upon Father's return, better joke delivery from Grandfather. It's unexpected but effective. It certainly lets Tracy get more of her personality into Mother, which helps drive her transformation more strongly. Even such little things as calling to little Coalhouse in the final scene are more natural and integrated into character - she's frantically looking around and calling for him because where the hell did child number 3 run off to? It's really nice.

So other than that very weird big flaw in the middle, it's a beautiful production with exactly what I wanted from my desired cast members, and some absolutely harrowing staging for Sarah's murder. the weirdest part is that I have such a disconnected reaction to Wheels of a Dream ever since I saw Stokes sing it live at that concert in 2009 - Wheels of a Dream at the beginning of the Obama age was an entirely different song, and nothing will ever live up to that. Instead, we have Sarah's murder by an overreacting police force in the age of Black Lives Matter. The focus is different. So as much as I adore Kevin (and he is one of my favourite actors working in DC musical theatre right now), he cannot bring the same magic as the hope of that concert appearance by Stokes. And that's always there. It is a highlight of my life, so rarely is there such a perfect marriage of material and zeitgeist. But it's a beautiful production and I'll be back a few more times.

25 - What Every Girl Should Know, Forum Theatre

I'm a sucker for period pieces. This one takes place in a Catholic reformatory c. 1914, among four of the young inmates. One of them is there because mom's in jail for distributing obscene material (pamphlets by Margaret Sanger) and she ended up shoving her father's head through a window when he tried to molest her in in her mother's absence. She brought mom's stash, and the girls experience a sort of opening of possibility in their lives once they see someone, even if just in a pamphlet, treating them like people worthy of respect. This mostly works. What doesn't work, for me, is when they half-assedly canonise Margaret Sanger and start praying to her, weird shit happens. The magical realist part seems tacked on, and some of the reactions aren't quite appropriate to the setting of the wider culture of 1912. I see what Monica Byrne is going for - that opening to knowledge of themselves and respect for the female body that no one else in their lives has respected opens the girls to an entire world of possibility and the determination to fight against their captivity (one of the girls is there because she was being sexually molested by her doctor and of course the 12 year old is the evil temptress who must be removed from society, not the creepazoid doctor who still sends her presents). I see the goal, but the script isn't quite getting there.
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March 2: Peter and the Starcatcher, Constellation Theatre

Charming, adorable, I got to see Officer Lockstock in a bright purple corset. Peter and the Starcatcher is right up Constellation's alley - charming, epic, requires a big cast doing impressive movement work to create that epic sensibility in a tiny space. Unlike the original production, the charm here comes less from the staging and more from the character performances themselves: Megan Graves is always one of my favourites because she plays wide-eyed, innocent but intelligent girls on the brink of no longer being children so well. She doesn't always play child characters precisely, but she's generally cast because she has a young playing age and is so damned good at playing the cusp of change. (Other work has been the daughter in The Little Foxes, the best Snout ever in a Midsummer Night's Dream where the Rude Mechanicals are schoolgirls looking up to Nicki Bottom as their most awesome English teacher, and Ophelia in Alexandra Petri's "what if Shakespeare's dead heroines go to summer camp and fix all this bullshit instead of dying" Fringe mashup.) Dallas Tolentino as Peter doing less dance and more sad than usual. But really, it was charming and I loved it.

March 3: Trojan Women, Taffety Punk Riot Grrrls

Branching out from Shakespeare, Riot Grrrls selected this script as commentary on the refugee crisis. Unlike previous work, this one is actually heavily female in character (though like Shakespeare, originally all the actors would have been male). One god and two mortals are men, but the rest are, indeed, the women of Troy about to be taken into slavery after the fall of the city. This production did some interesting work with the chorus in handing them individual lines rather than constantly speaking in narrative unison - it added more women, nameless women, to the toll of victims. But really, this was 90 minutes of being absolutely annihilated by Brigid Cleary's Hecuba. Masterpiece. It's nothing against the rest of the cast, but Cleary stole this show. She was this show.

March 5: Mrs Miller Does Her Thing, Signature Theatre

Pet project of James Lapine, a play with music about a novelty act from the 1960s. Apparently each generation has their Florence Foster Jenkins - the woman of a certain age who gets famous for not being able to sing. South Park reminded us of Wing; the 1960s has Mrs. Miller. Debra Monk is hella talented to be able to sing off key and with no discernible beat - it really is hard work to do something deliberately wrong - but the show itself is kinda eh. It does an ok job of showing rather than trying to tell why Mrs Miller jumped into a touring career (her husband is in assisted living following a stroke, and this is an opportunity for her to escape her fears and responsibilities while claiming to be supporting her responsibilities because it subsidizes the nursing home), but it doesn't really do the same for the young people who have set her up in this bullshit. It tries to hit some of the counterculture and political issues but not particularly well. It randomly gives actual voice to one of the professional backup singers but not to the others we've spent the same amount of stage time with (the black woman gets a solid political statement; the gay man and the white woman don't). I can see what he's trying to do, but it needs loads more work.

March 6: League of Youth, Shakespeare Theatre ReDiscovery Reading

Ibsen wrote a comedy! No seriously, it's like a rough draft for Enemy of the People but funny. Outsider shakes up small-town politics by giving asshole "tear it all down" speech as part of independence day festivities,then has to live up to his promise by forming a new party, standing in the next election, and actually doing something. Except he doesn't, because he has no platform, no intent, and can't get a girl to marry him immediately so he can make the property qualification. It was originally Ibsen making fun of a fellow playwright who also had opposing political pretensions; Jeffery Hatcher did this adaptation which cuts a number of characters and makes the basic plot thread comprehensible to Americans. He joked in his introductory speech that the title should be something more like "Henrik Ibsen's Youth Patrol" - the Norwegian here is really more on the march but in an over the top fashion. And of course the audience is hearing every possible Trump or Bannon resonance. But really, it's just so much fun to see Cody Nickell and Dorea Schmidt and Michael Toleydo and Greg Linington have fun with a text. I love these readings because they get people I love to do some really random stuff and everyone has such a good time doing it.

March 10: Fickle, Olney Theatre Center

Translaptation of Marivaux' The Double Inconstancy, playing hard on the script's commedia origins. With a cast I don't usually see doing commedia. (I mean, it's Marcus Kyd as Dottore, Alyssa Wilmoth as the clever servant, and Mark Jaster as Pantalone.) Very silly, filled with anachronistic topical references (as commedia should be - it's formulaic comic plots filled with slapstick and topical jokes slotted in wherever), and Katherine Tkel looking amazing. Absolutely ridiculous and I'm glad Olney programmed it. (also, female adapter! While Olney isn't a classical company, it's a good reminder that David Ives isn't the only person adapting classic French comedies, even if he is the best, and it's way to diversify the writing pool. Which reminds me - whatever happened with Freyda Thomas' adaptation of The Gamester? It's Regnard's first play, and since The Heir Apparent did well, I would hope it would come back around for full production. The reading was a delight.)
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February 25: The White Snake, Baltimore Center Stage

I head up to Center Stage on average every season because there ends up being a can't miss show. Last year, it was an all-female As You Like It with my adored Sophia Jean Gomez as Orlando and Angela Reed as Jaques. Best Jaques ever. This season, it was Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of the Chinese fable The White Snake, directed by Natsu Onoda Power. It's by definition compelling.

Last time I cried so much at a show was Come from Away. Before that, may well have been Allison Stockman's production of Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. Tears streaming down cheeks they are dripping off kind of crying. I didn't see much of Allison's production because the end of every story was so blurry from the tears. I was a weepy mess at the end of The White Snake. Natsu and Allison can switch off directing all the Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's script plays with a number of variations on the story, calling attention to divergences and options the playwright hasn't chosen. Also shares out narration among the ensemble - it's patently a Zimmerman text. What Natsu adds is a multi-racial but heavily Asian cast and band (the band covering western and eastern instruments) that also includes two out trans actors of colour. Coming this week, with the Trump administration's revocation of federal protections for trans children in public schools, this means a hell of a lot in a story that is about changing form and battling for love and acceptance in the face of institutionalised patriarchal oppression.

Because holy shit, The White Snake is fascinating. White Snake is a snake demon living atop a mountain who has followed the ways of the Tao and studied intensely and over centuries become very powerful and very enlightened. Her studies have given her the ability to call on spirits and change the weather and change her form. Zimmerman knits together a few versions: in one, she meets the Bodhisattva Guanyin, who tells her that to achieve perfect enlightenment, White Snake must descend to earth to do a kindness to the reincarnation of a man who once saved her life. Zimmerman tells us this, then restarts with another version, in which White Snake's restlessness drives her down to the mountain to experience the world - and who is to say that a rather forgotten dream of a bodhsattva isn't the cause of her restlessness? She goes in the company of another snake spirit who, when they are in human form, will act as her maid. White Snake immediately falls in love with an apothecary's assistant - they marry, go into business together, have a child, and are broken apart by the abbot of a local monastery who knows her to be a demon and is insistent upon any action to save her husband. White Snake has twice risked her life and used all her powers to save her husband, yet she fears what will happen when he discovers she is not human. And what happens is that he says, "I know what you are. You are someone who loves me so fiercely and so well that I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you, wherever your home is, whatever shape you take." He loves her for her personality, her hard work, her love. And after this declaration, they have their baby, and then the evil abbot comes back and succeeds in trapping her under a stone pagoda because fucking patriarchy.

So you can see why having a couple of trans actors (one playing the bodhisattva) was a little extra for this one.

And there's puppetry and music and such cleverly hilarious ensemble work, and there's city people and a forest adventure among the animal spirits with a Crane who is a complete asshole who totally destroys White Snake's self esteem, and it was so beautiful and so much fun and then I ended up a weepy mess.

I am so glad I'm getting Arabian Nights this spring, too, this one from Allison.
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February 6: Henry IV (reading), We Happy Few

We Happy Few are my theatre geek friends. Hannah was back in town on a flying visit to be in attendance for this reading of her cutting of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 into a single, 100-minute adaptation. Cast included company members Kiernan McGowan and Kerry McGee as well as my Faction of Fools buddies Paul Reisman (the new Faction artistic director) and Matthew Pauli. The goal of the evening was to get the cutting on its feet in front of an audience and to preview the upcoming full production of Henry V. Kiernan strikes me as a bit callow for my preferred interp of Hal, but that's personal preference. Great work from everyone and so great to have a chance to sit down with theatre geeks and talk interpretations.

February 9: The Hard Problem, Studio Theatre

The new Stoppard, and fine, but not top drawer. He's still caught up in the consciousness debate in science that he started exploring in Rock 'n' Roll, but this one lacks the emotional core. Whether or not one can build a brain out of beer cans, "That's what I love you with; it's all I have" is so deeply personal and moving and goddamn I adore Max and Eleanor so much. That's what's missing from The Hard Problem. He's trying to do faith and science through the study of consciousness, and there's a cool lesbian couple that I really like, so it isn't like I had a bad evening or didn't like the play or anything, but Stoppard has turned out legitimately heartbreaking works of genius, so he's graded on a curve of his own making now. I think I'd have thought it better than "fine" if it had been by a different playwright, someone who hasn't written at least three of my most favourite things in the world. (also, Spike is an asshole AND annoying, so I really hope the sex is good, otherwise Hillary needs to get over her shit taste in men.)

February 10: King Charles III, Shakespeare Theatre Company

I knew this script was amazing (I picked it up when it was on in the West End) and was just waiting to see that Studio got it because it's the perfect thing for David Muse, so I was a little surprised but also gratified that Shakespeare got it for David instead. It's a Shakespearean history play of a history that has not yet happened: it takes a view of the institution of the monarchy in order to look at modern issues and to speak to a concept of the nation. It's not as if Shakespeare's histories were particularly accurate, so Bartlett has free reign to write a "future history" play that is going to have a weird future: once Elizabeth dies, this speculative history of what sort of king Charles will be will be completely jossed, but in a century after that event, it will no longer matter and the play could come back into currency as a classic look at the British constitution.

It's not only fascinating from that point of view (also that Bartlett wrote it in blank verse with occasional flights into prose for the commoner characters) but also it's really goddamned good. It's interesting and deeply moving with wonderfully drawn characters and this cast is fantastic. So happy to see Michelle Beck again (she was Ophelia the last time they did an absolutely amazing modern dress Hamlet) in the role of Harry's commoner temporary girlfriend. Also wonder if they dared cast a black actress because of his current girlfriend or if it's because it's one of the few places you can right now since the casting has to be evocative of people we see way too much. Still, so very glad to get some diversity in the cast. Adore Ian Merrill Peakes in everything and his Labour PM Evans is so damned perfect and actually moving in his confusion in there being a constitutional crisis at all. Robert Joy doesn't look a damned thing like Prince Charles but who cares when he brings me to tears multiple times and looks so shrunken and diminished when he puts on the uniform of state. Curious if there's an ability in future to do some genderswap casting on the PM and Opposition Leader since they're just politicians with fake names. Can see why one might not want to deliberately evoke Theresa May right now, but might be nice in future productions.

I knew David was the perfect director for this script, and the production surpassed my expectations. Complete and utter adoration.

February 11: Sweeney Todd, Olney Theatre Center

Solid production of one of my favourite things in the world with the first legit multiracial cast I've seen (and other than black Pirelli, it actually aligns perfectly fine with mid-Victorian Britain). Black Anthony, black Toby, black Mrs Lovett. David Benoit in the title role; E. Faye Butler as Mrs. Lovett; Tom Simpson as Judge Turpin (yas!); and the absolute fun of Rachel Zampelli in full Victorian drag king as the Beadle in the best flamboyant plaid suit and fake facial hair. I've seen better, I've seen worse, but this was solid and the interracial casting was so nice.

February 14: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Ford's Theatre

Holly Twyford is a goddess. I mean, the whole cast are individually don't-miss ticket sellers for me - Greg Linington, Danny Gavigan, Maggie Wilder - but goddamn, Holly. HOLLY. Also, I have never known so many people in the audience, because apparently the theatre nerds celebrate Valentine's Day with Virginia Woolf.

February 16: The How and the Why, Theater J

Interesting two-hander nerd play by Sarah Treem focusing on evolutionary biology. The science is key; the relationship that is teased out only makes sense within the science. I still want to be a Val Leonard character when I grow up because her characters are always smart and put together and dominant. She is always a queen.

February 24: The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Elevator Repair Service at Shakespeare Theatre Company

My first ERS show. I have adored The Sun Also Rises since high school because who didn't want to be Lady Brett Ashley (but with less antisemitic hangers-on)? Last time through, though, Jake was driving me up a wall because I was convinced he was actually a self-hating homosexual. ERS's adaptation is verbatim - there's not a word not from Hemingway, and at points where it matters visually what is happening, sometimes the actors just go silent and mime talking to each other because Hemingway never gave them dialogue. It also has lots of fun with sound effects to deliberately humorous effect. Lots of young people turned out for this one, which is interesting. Also a lot of attrition at intermission and partway into the long second act, with at least two notes on the audience engagement board complaining that it was terrible and that was why those people left after act I.

Fuck the people who left after act I. The speech is pure Hemingway, and like anything, not everyone will share your personal interpretation. ERS has a much more gentle interp of Jake than I've had and I actually liked him and felt for him this time around. He's interesting and good humoured. They don't shy away from the casual and malicious antisemitism from Bill and Mike, but I did get the feeling that was papered over with Jake so that we have a sympathetic narrator. (also, I didn't do a re-read in prep for this, so it's been a few years, and it goes to tone where Hemingway is very terse and frequently doesn't describe the way in which his characters spit out their declarations. Antisemitism is sometimes in mentioning that someone is a Jew and sometimes in precisely how one mentions that someone is a Jew. In describing the course of Robert Cohn's life, a later exposure to antisemitism was formative and his secular Jewishness is core to how how can move through the world.) Robert was actually annoyingly fucking useless, Bill was an antisemitic asshole but so much fun as a character to watch, and Mike is probably going to be murdered despite his superficial good humour someday.

The problem is Brett. For Brett to have this life, she is fabulous. There is a backstory and way of being that is just understood even as what we're actually watching is her doing a lot of whinging. Watching her do the whinging is a lot less compelling. Jake explaining on stage while we watch Brett be distracted and sad is less interesting than reading Jake's explaining and seeing her be amazing in our minds.

Also, the costuming was modern evocative and my mental picture of Brett is somehow always in jodhpurs and nothing was ever going to live up to my mental pictures of transgressive decadence. But really, Frances was stealing the show in her drunken indignation and that was wonderful in itself but a problem for the adaptation as a whole for me personally because Frances should not be more interesting than Brett.

Still, screw the people who left bitchy notes when they ditched at intermission. I was interested and engaged and had a good time because I can accept that other interpretations of a work are valid and I appreciate fun. (Also, talk about both cruel and overblown: "Hemingway would kill himself again if he saw what they did to his work" was one of the nasty notes. Fuck that guy.) I am now officially going to shell out full price for all of next season, even though most of next season is not exciting and involves Pinter (I've tried twice; maybe the third time's the charm?) because I will not let those people be the average subscriber.
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January 30: Horace - Shakespeare Theatre Company ReDiscovery Reading.

Corneille tragedy about divided loyalties and dangers of nationalism, generally seen through female pov. I know, right? Neoclassical, 17th century French verse drama. One, modern English language adaptations kill off the rhyme scheme so these sound better to an ear accustomed to Shakespearean tragedy. Two, since it's based on an incident in Livy, to maintain the unity of place, all the bloody stuff has to happen offstage and therefore there are more speeches from observers, who in this story are women. Rome is at war with neighbouring Alba, which has been an ally for so long there are hundreds of intermarried families. The story follows the disintegration of one of those families thanks to this war and the method by which it was eventually won by Rome. Apparently written as a fuck you to Richelieu, it ends up being a meditation on how women are most screwed over when nationalist politics takes control - when nationalism is not a force, you can marry a foreigner, but as soon as war comes, your father will praise your brother for murdering you for being sad that your foreign fiancé was killed. So that was a cheery one.

February 2: Mack, Beth - Keegan Theatre

Modern remix of Macbeth, set in the tech industry. Some interesting ideas - nobody would do something a overt and messy as murder anymore, so Mack and his wife Beth conspire to get Duncan arrested for statutory rape and distribution of child pornography. As you can imagine from the source material, this works to sideline the man in charge and put Mack at the top, but it really goes poorly in the long run to where there's an actual body count by the end. A world premiere and could still use some editing, but Beth is awesome, it actually tries to deal with the Macbeths not having children, and the witches are fantastic. The witches are a group of female geeks who spend all their time hanging out in the sandwich shop on the ground floor of Mack's building for the free wifi. They are young, follow food trucks on twitter, horribly vindictive to the poor tamale lady, and possibly guilty of insider trading if they dump the stock they acquired in the IPO after Mack took over the company since they are intimate witnesses to the bloody fall out. It helps that one of them is Tyasia Velines, who totally stole the show in Stage Kiss at Round House a couple seasons back as the constantly annoyed teenage daughter.

February 3: As You Like It - Folger Shakespeare

Perfectly charming production, and Antoinette Robinson steals the show as Celia, but I feel like I've already had the modern-dress production of my dreams, the all-female cast at Center Stage in Baltimore. I adore Tom Story, but Angela Reed is the Jaques of my heart. Great actors should play great roles, sure, but you will never find the next Angela Reed without auditioning Angela Reed. Nothing in Jaques makes it a male role. This production had female Lebeau and female Amiens - ensemble stuff that's pretty common these days for modern dress. But the showy stuff - "all the world's a stage" - keeps defaulting male because Shakespeare's default was male. When you have an all male company to work with, you choose to make characters women. When you can audition anyone you like, and you're letting half the refugees in the forest be female, why are you still limiting yourself? This is the real structural issue in casting classics. Lead and featured roles are starting to go colourblind on a regular basis, but rarely is gender considered. I'm not even calling out Gayle Taylor Upchurch or Folger Shakespeare; I'm merely weirdly disappointed that Tom Story, whom I adore, is fine as Jaques but Angela Reed is the one true Jaques of my heart the way Andy Mientus is the one true Hanschen. And I would not know this if Kwame Kwei-Armah had not deliberately booked an all female production.

Anyway, Upchurch's production was fine. Solid. Enjoyable. Does everything it needs to. But that's it. Everything it needs to. It doesn't really transcend. And that's fine. It is a solid production. But when Antoinette Robinson's Celia is more compelling than Lindsey Alexandra Carter's Rosalind, because she's savvy and rational and not the cute fem in their relationship, the balance is a little different and calls out the ways in which the rest of the production is normal and solid. I had a perfectly nice time. I enjoyed myself and do not feel my money was wasted. But I'm becoming more and more aware of the limits of defaults.
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Toys in the Attic: Arena Stage is doing a festival of Lillian Hellman's work. They've previously done single-author festivals of two mainstage plays plus readings, lectures, and other events focused on "American Giants" of the theatre. Albee, Miller, O'Neill. Hellman is the first woman. I caught The Little Foxes at the beginning of the season (Marg Helgenberger as Regina, really quite good for someone who hasn't been doing stage work for so many years), and came in Wednesday for a reading of Toys in the Attic because a) who produces Toys in the Attic? and b) Taffety Punk does! For a few readings, Arena has partnered with other companies in town. The Punks did Toys in the Attic, Howard University is doing Children's Hour (which I'm skipping unfortunately because fuck weekend metro), and there's some other stuff going on. How much do I love the Punks? SO MUCH. Tonya Beckman completely stole the show, this play is absolutely full of WTF with some deliciously drawn characters, and since it revolves around a fuck up of a "businessman" who keeps getting bailed out of failed "deals" convinced he's finally hit the real estate jackpot (spoiler: he didn't), that part of the plot turned out to be eerily prescient. Lise directed. Nice opportunity for Kim Schraf and Craig Wallace to get to play a couple onstage. (they're married in real life but don't get cast much in interracial relationships: the characters they were reading here are a wealthy white widow and her black partner in segregated Louisiana. Hellman's hitting on a lot of taboos in this script: interracial relationships, passing, domestic violence, and respect for women.) Couldn't hang out after, but at least Marcus saw me and waved so he knows I was there.

Caroline: Round House is doing a "Tony Kushner Festival" with both parts of Angels in America earlier this year (Tom Story as Prior and Kimberly Gilbert as Harper: I cried my eyes out) and Caroline is just now in previews. This is my second production: Studio did in 2006. So this is my Jeanine Tesori fix before Fun Home comes to town. I've forgotten how wonderfully layered the score is. Easily the best thing I've seen Nova Payton do. I've not been on the Nova bandwagon - she's got a voice, for sure, and she's a lovely person, but in most of her roles, I've found her fine rather than compelling. But I do think all that work put in here (her professional career prior to coming home to DC and getting involved in theatre was as a back up singer) has given her the stage experience that has finally translated into actually compelling work. She's too young for Caroline (33, I think - the character is 39, and that cusp of 40 is important), but she hits the weariness and anger and desire so well that the disconnect between her "well-preserved" appearance and her actual reality adds an additional level of sympathy. Like she goes through life without even getting the credit for suffering.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my grandmother, and all that really hit home with the show because my grandmother had a lot in common with Caroline that she'd probably never have acknowledged due to her white privilege. Married a man for love who couldn't actually support her, then he ran out in the late 1940s leaving her with four living kids and relying on service work to get by. Caroline could go out to work because she wasn't keeping a special needs child, but she's also living with the constant violence of being black in Louisiana in 1963. My family turned out all right because doors weren't automatically closed to them; Caroline's kids (and the actors playing the younger boys are adorable) won't have that feeling of belonging in the parts of society that can be upwardly mobile. (this is the part Dad doesn't understand about white privilege, that his sister could apply to be a bank teller and actually get somewhere in life, while a black eighteen year old in 1961 may not have made it through the interview even in a town that was comparatively diverse and welcoming for the area. One of the black track stars in my dad's class ended up living with the white track coach for a while when his family situation went all to hell, and it was in large part that that allowed him to graduate and end up doing well in life. The difference between known individuals like this and systemic racial bias completely eludes him.)

Anyway, Caroline this time around got me totally wrapped up in my own head, in my own family history probably because of conversations over the holidays that came directly out of our current political context. And while I wonder if I'm whitewashing my own damned reaction, it's a piece by two white people. But it's also interesting that Round House, under Ryan Rilette's direction, has been deliberately programming female voices: they did Caroline as their second Kushner. It falls right in between a couple comedies: a Jane Austen fan fic focused on Mary Bennet written by a couple of female playwrights and a piece on Aphra Behn, also by a female playwright. Three pieces in a row focused on female characters set in three different eras prior to what we consider the modern feminist movement written by post-Second Wave feminist writers. IN A ROW. Programmed by a male artistic director. Not presented as anything other than a season of plays. The festival part is Tony Kushner, and Caroline doesn't work as an emotional pieces without Jeanine Tesori. Her voice is integral to the piece. Three women's voices in the heart of the season, no attention drawn to it. Because Ryan gets it and has been working hard for it every season since he arrived. (Last year's Uncle Vanya was the Annie Baker version, which is a good reminder to classic theatres that there are women translators and adapters who help your parity numbers while expanding US knowledge of European and Asian classic stage work.)

Caroline has different context than when Joy programmed it at Studio the first time around as the regional premiere, and it's a rather interesting one.
mmebahorel: (Default)
Spent MLK evening at Southern Efficiency to see my friends at We Happy Few do their site-specific Poe piece A Midnight Dreary. Three stories told and acted by three Poes (Raven, Kerry, and Jon), strung together with some readings from his letters and "move to the next room" transitions signalled by The Bells. Very playful readings with a lot of delight in the source material. Plus the partnership with Southern Efficiency meant drink pairings! Each story was accompanied by a cocktail, all involving amontillado because we are all nerds. They pulled us through all three bars, so that of course Montresor ends up trapped inside Mockingbird Hill at the end of Cask of Amontillado (Mockingbird Hill being the sherry bar).

And then they were open for about an hour after for a final round of drinks and hanging out, which was great. Finally had a proper conversation with Josh Adams and really enjoyed hanging out and talking shop. There are frequent times I wonder if I'm actually part of all this or if they are just nice people who tolerate me, but no, these are my actual friends. We Happy Few and Faction of Fools are my actual friends.

Wednesday managed to slide in for final week of Charm at Mosaic. Script is deliberately twee "teacher changes life of oppressed students" style, and the thread of change isn't really upheld well, but the twist on it is that the teacher is not a saviour outsider: it's based on the work Gloria Allen, a transgender woman, did for several years at the Center on Halstead, Chicago's storied LGBT services center. The characters are composites of a number of the wide variety of students who attended her etiquette classes over the years. The characters are all highly vibrant personalities that are the real focus of the show, IMO, with particularly strong performances from Justin Weaks (who also killed in The Christians earlier this season at Theater J) and Nyla Rose, and I'm curious to see how Samy el-Nouri develops as well. This is a hard one to cast because the central authoritative character is 60-something trans woman, who needs to have enough craft to command the stage and enough stamina to do it six shows a week, and a number of other characters are trans but at least have less stage time as students. And without casting trans actors, no one's going to build the experience to do that at the level Mosaic demands. Early in rehearsals, they switched out casting so that the trans understudy took over as the lead and the originally-cast actor took on an assistant director role, so I deliberately waited until later in the run so B'Ellana Duquesne could get more into the rhythm of a run like this. And she was more than fine, would see her again in things, but I can also see how Kenyatta Rogers would have had a stronger audition. Being in its second season but coming out of the gate insisting on continuing the exact same level of quality Ari had in his decades building Theater J, Mosaic has a harder time than either a non-Equity company where people are starting their careers or a solid professional institution like Theater J where the history allows some stretches in programming an casting. I feel them on the representation arguments because their future in production overall is on the line, too. It worked out in all particulars, but I can't blame them for edging safe in initial lead casting (the ensemble of students always had two trans actors, and Duquesne was originally cast as understudy to help her develop more experience through the rehearsal process). But it worked out. I enjoyed my evening.
mmebahorel: (blackwatchparade)
We'll see how long this lasts if I take the pressure off "reviews" and just call it blogging.

January 4 - Copenhagen, Theater J

Second Copenhagen this season in DC, but I skipped the first because a) it was at Fringe in Trinidad which I don't like going to and b) Theater J's production was gonna be the one with cast members I see all the time and like so was more worth my time and money. Ended up not looking up cast before because I wanted to be surprised so was definitely surprised that it was Sherri Edelen along with Michael Russotto and Tim Getman. Michael and Tim are predictable possibilities, but it's been nice seeing Sherri get more work outside musicals. Been waiting to see this script staged for a few years now, and I had forgotten how much I adore it. It's about nuclear morality, except it isn't really, it's about memory. Frayn is working in that nerd play vein that Stoppard excels at, the play that is about a thing so that there's a framework for the real theme of the piece. Copenhagen circles around and replays like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead implies, only it actually shows the spiral. Memory is in many ways about reinventing what happened, the story we tell ourselves more than a recounting of events. It is entirely probable that Heisenberg never actually knew his motive for going to Copenhagen - that he had all motives at one time or another leading up to and during the visit - and that for both Heisenberg and Bohr, the outcome of the conversation is strictly their perceptions and readings and intended expression rather than any sense of what was actually said. The witty comeback you come up with two hours later is, in ten years, the thing you're certain you actually said. So yay Copenhagen, finally, with such a great cast and beautifully staged.

January 8 - Titanic, Signature Theatre

More an oratorio than a musical in a lot of ways - reminded me a lot of Floyd Collins in that respect. Shelling out for a 17 piece orchestra will full string section, including a goddamned harp, is a reminder that we never hear full scores anymore except at the opera. Absolutely lush, beautifully staged, and nearly all my local musical theatre friends are in it. It is always fantastic to see everybody, and I love how Signature physically shrinks the big shows to put you in the middle of the action. Well done, gorgeous score, but I'm ok with this one being a one-off because there is SO MUCH GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

January 10-12 - The Gabriels, Kennedy Center

Richard Nelson's Rhinebeck Political Saga continued. God, I love these things. First was Apple Family - four plays taking place on election day over four years, following an adult, middle class family in Rhinebeck, NY. These are about politics, but only as politics impacts daily life. As much talk is expressed over divorce and elder care and reminiscence as on the actual races, and it's all done in such a natural-seeming conversational idiom that you're looking at a master class in both writing and in acting. There is no acting, there are no speeches - it's a pure naturalism where you don't even really perceive the shaping of themes until you go back through it in your head. Absolutely beautiful work. The Public Theatre asked him to do a new sequence for this year, and his new set of characters is, unlike the Apples, downwardly mobile and struggling to cling to what they've got. And ways in which 2016 seemed absolutely terrible for so many people I know are directly reflected in what makes it terrible for the Gabriels - one of the (middle aged) children has lately died after a long decline from Parkinsons, and everyone is still reeling and grieving while also dealing with Mom's care and decline and everyone's financial burdens and the way opportunity seems to have entirely frozen. Each play premiered on the day it was set - the first was Super Tuesday in March, the second the day after one of the debates in September, and the third on election night itself. And they're so beautifully heartwrenching and full of love and the characters are so well defined and ugh, I feel so much for them, and there's no resolution to the trilogy because life doesn't work that way so neither does Nelson's art. I walked out of the final one remembering something either Baz Luhrmann or Catherine Martin said in interviews when putting together La Bohème on Broadway - that they were doing opera at the speed of life. For them, that was picking up the tempo and running somewhat more headlong through kids in love and bustling crowded Paris at Christmas. Nelson is also doing art at the speed of life - slow and winding and never resolved but going much faster than you think when you look back (each of these is an hour forty-five, focused around getting dinner ready while the out of town sister is back for varying reasons). I love Nelson so much.
mmebahorel: (Default)
We'll see how long this lasts if I take the pressure off "reviews" and just call it blogging.

January 4 - Copenhagen, Theater J

Second Copenhagen this season in DC, but I skipped the first because a) it was at Fringe in Trinidad which I don't like going to and b) Theater J's production was gonna be the one with cast members I see all the time and like so was more worth my time and money. Ended up not looking up cast before because I wanted to be surprised so was definitely surprised that it was Sherri Edelen along with Michael Russotto and Tim Getman. Michael and Tim are predictable possibilities, but it's been nice seeing Sherri get more work outside musicals. Been waiting to see this script staged for a few years now, and I had forgotten how much I adore it. It's about nuclear morality, except it isn't really, it's about memory. Frayn is working in that nerd play vein that Stoppard excels at, the play that is about a thing so that there's a framework for the real theme of the piece. Copenhagen circles around and replays like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead implies, only it actually shows the spiral. Memory is in many ways about reinventing what happened, the story we tell ourselves more than a recounting of events. It is entirely probable that Heisenberg never actually knew his motive for going to Copenhagen - that he had all motives at one time or another leading up to and during the visit - and that for both Heisenberg and Bohr, the outcome of the conversation is strictly their perceptions and readings and intended expression rather than any sense of what was actually said. The witty comeback you come up with two hours later is, in ten years, the thing you're certain you actually said. So yay Copenhagen, finally, with such a great cast and beautifully staged.

January 8 - Titanic, Signature Theatre

More an oratorio than a musical in a lot of ways - reminded me a lot of Floyd Collins in that respect. Shelling out for a 17 piece orchestra will full string section, including a goddamned harp, is a reminder that we never hear full scores anymore except at the opera. Absolutely lush, beautifully staged, and nearly all my local musical theatre friends are in it. It is always fantastic to see everybody, and I love how Signature physically shrinks the big shows to put you in the middle of the action. Well done, gorgeous score, but I'm ok with this one being a one-off because there is SO MUCH GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

January 10-12 - The Gabriels, Kennedy Center

Richard Nelson's Rhinebeck Political Saga continued. God, I love these things. First was Apple Family - four plays taking place on election day over four years, following an adult, middle class family in Rhinebeck, NY. These are about politics, but only as politics impacts daily life. As much talk is expressed over divorce and elder care and reminiscence as on the actual races, and it's all done in such a natural-seeming conversational idiom that you're looking at a master class in both writing and in acting. There is no acting, there are no speeches - it's a pure naturalism where you don't even really perceive the shaping of themes until you go back through it in your head. Absolutely beautiful work. The Public Theatre asked him to do a new sequence for this year, and his new set of characters is, unlike the Apples, downwardly mobile and struggling to cling to what they've got. And ways in which 2016 seemed absolutely terrible for so many people I know are directly reflected in what makes it terrible for the Gabriels - one of the (middle aged) children has lately died after a long decline from Parkinsons, and everyone is still reeling and grieving while also dealing with Mom's care and decline and everyone's financial burdens and the way opportunity seems to have entirely frozen. Each play premiered on the day it was set - the first was Super Tuesday in March, the second the day after one of the debates in September, and the third on election night itself. And they're so beautifully heartwrenching and full of love and the characters are so well defined and ugh, I feel so much for them, and there's no resolution to the trilogy because life doesn't work that way so neither does Nelson's art. I walked out of the final one remembering something either Baz Luhrmann or Catherine Martin said in interviews when putting together La Bohème on Broadway - that they were doing opera at the speed of life. For them, that was picking up the tempo and running somewhat more headlong through kids in love and bustling crowded Paris at Christmas. Nelson is also doing art at the speed of life - slow and winding and never resolved but going much faster than you think when you look back (each of these is an hour forty-five, focused around getting dinner ready while the out of town sister is back for varying reasons). I love Nelson so much.
mmebahorel: (queen)
Completed garments and intended projects turned out to have nothing to do with each other. I swear, if there isn't an event, it isn't getting done because something for an event is going to have to take its place.

1805 Reproduction Evening Dress: finished in time for Twelfth Night Ball at Riversdale. The overdress itself was completed in December 2015, but the underskirt I think was thrown together the week prior to the ball. Silk sari with zardozi embroidery; underskirt is a fine cotton gauze (aka a sheer curtain by Martha Stewart Everyday).


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] padawansguide)

1780s Round Gown: No idea if this was started in 2015 or not, but it was basically finished during Snowzilla in January. First worn in Williamsburg in February, trimming and fastenings finally completed in November for Veterans' Ball at Gadsby's. JP Ryan anglaise pattern in red/white shot silk taffeta from Stephanie.


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] padawansguide)

Bum pad for 1780s: cotton bedsheet fragments stuffed with polyfill.

Golden yellow cotton petticoat: not yet worn but fits over new bum pad.

Petticoat upgrade for française: fixed janky ruffle and added the other two ruffles the petticoat was supposed to have. There are no pictures where you can actually see the ruffles.

Lined straw hat, 18th century: based on Dutch extants, lined in an indienne. No pictures, didn't quite get worn at Fort Fred.

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era summer day dress: 1912 reproduction using Butterick's pattern, done for Kat's Victorian Party (because running up a corset that does not involve boobs is much, much faster). Lightly sheer woven cotton from Jo-Ann's red tag table a couple years ago trimmed with poly crepe. Antique belt buckle.


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] quincy134)

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era corset: 1910-1914 reproduction in mattress ticking.

Edwardian chemise in cotton voile

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era petticoat: drafted 3 gore skirt from 1912-4 instructions at Tudor Links. Cotton voile.

1926 afternoon dress: learning experience with poly chiffon. Came out not horribly, but definite learning experience with chiffon. Worn for Jazz Age on the Delaware at which we appear to have taken no pictures.

1798-1800 white muslin dress: The Janet Arnold 1798-1800 morning dress that's been my regency go-to done in fine cotton voile with a more interesting sleeve treatment thrown together as quickly as possible because August was hot as hell and I needed something for the Jane Austen Ball. Very glad to have it, since we were all melting anyway. Wore it again for Riversdale's costume ball and won the costume contest, so hey, extra win!


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] quincy134)

Easier to see the sleeve treatment in this one, without the trim:

(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] padawansguide)

1928 afternoon dress: Poly crepe (on clearance!) Not quite done - needs a collar, scarf, something, and I need to insert a placket with snaps or something into one of the side seams before it can be worn again, but I'm very pleased with how everything went together.


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] madamekat)

1890s Afternoon Ensemble: not actually finished. Somewhat stiff cotton curtains for skirt, cotton bedsheet for crazy paisley bodice. Sleeve puffs interlined with two layers cheap tulle. Janet Arnold 1895 day dress (with balloon sleeves bigger than my head) adapted to reproduce a menswear effect like this example from FIDM. Skirt is drafted from 1895 instructions at Tudor Links.

Literally the only photo of this one because I wasn't feeling well and corset had to come off before pictures. Not the corset's fault.


(Photo by [livejournal.com profile] quincy134)

1890s corset: luckily, the Norah Waugh 1890s corset is close enough to the right size it's working out ok. Corset time ending early was not a function of the corset.
mmebahorel: (Default)
Completed garments and intended projects turned out to have nothing to do with each other. I swear, if there isn't an event, it isn't getting done because something for an event is going to have to take its place.

1805 Reproduction Evening Dress: finished in time for Twelfth Night Ball at Riversdale. The overdress itself was completed in December 2015, but the underskirt I think was thrown together the week prior to the ball. Silk sari with zardozi embroidery; underskirt is a fine cotton gauze (aka a sheer curtain by Martha Stewart Everyday).


(Photo by [personal profile] padawansguide)

1780s Round Gown: No idea if this was started in 2015 or not, but it was basically finished during Snowzilla in January. First worn in Williamsburg in February, trimming and fastenings finally completed in November for Veterans' Ball at Gadsby's. JP Ryan anglaise pattern in red/white shot silk taffeta from Stephanie.


(Photo by [personal profile] padawansguide)

Bum pad for 1780s: cotton bedsheet fragments stuffed with polyfill.

Golden yellow cotton petticoat: not yet worn but fits over new bum pad.

Petticoat upgrade for française: fixed janky ruffle and added the other two ruffles the petticoat was supposed to have. There are no pictures where you can actually see the ruffles.

Lined straw hat, 18th century: based on Dutch extants, lined in an indienne. No pictures, didn't quite get worn at Fort Fred.

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era summer day dress: 1912 reproduction using Butterick's pattern, done for Kat's Victorian Party (because running up a corset that does not involve boobs is much, much faster). Lightly sheer woven cotton from Jo-Ann's red tag table a couple years ago trimmed with poly crepe. Antique belt buckle.


(Photo by [personal profile] quincy134)

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era corset: 1910-1914 reproduction in mattress ticking.

Edwardian chemise in cotton voile

Late Edwardian/Titanic-era petticoat: drafted 3 gore skirt from 1912-4 instructions at Tudor Links. Cotton voile.

1926 afternoon dress: learning experience with poly chiffon. Came out not horribly, but definite learning experience with chiffon. Worn for Jazz Age on the Delaware at which we appear to have taken no pictures.

1798-1800 white muslin dress: The Janet Arnold 1798-1800 morning dress that's been my regency go-to done in fine cotton voile with a more interesting sleeve treatment thrown together as quickly as possible because August was hot as hell and I needed something for the Jane Austen Ball. Very glad to have it, since we were all melting anyway. Wore it again for Riversdale's costume ball and won the costume contest, so hey, extra win!


(Photo by [personal profile] quincy134)

Easier to see the sleeve treatment in this one, without the trim:

(Photo by [personal profile] padawansguide)

1928 afternoon dress: Poly crepe (on clearance!) Not quite done - needs a collar, scarf, something, and I need to insert a placket with snaps or something into one of the side seams before it can be worn again, but I'm very pleased with how everything went together.


(Photo by [personal profile] madamekat)

1890s Afternoon Ensemble: not actually finished. Somewhat stiff cotton curtains for skirt, cotton bedsheet for crazy paisley bodice. Sleeve puffs interlined with two layers cheap tulle. Janet Arnold 1895 day dress (with balloon sleeves bigger than my head) adapted to reproduce a menswear effect like this example from FIDM. Skirt is drafted from 1895 instructions at Tudor Links.

Literally the only photo of this one because I wasn't feeling well and corset had to come off before pictures. Not the corset's fault.


(Photo by [personal profile] quincy134)

1890s corset: luckily, the Norah Waugh 1890s corset is close enough to the right size it's working out ok. Corset time ending early was not a function of the corset.
mmebahorel: (garretboys)
January
8 - The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound, Shakespeare Theatre Company
10 - Bad Jews, Studio Theatre
13 - The Sisters Rosensweig, Theater J
14 - Bad Jews, Studio Theatre
28 - Equus, Constellation Theatre Company

February
4- The Glass Menagerie, Ford's Theatre
8 - Dogg's Hamlet/Cahoot's Macbeth, Shakespeare Theatre Company ReDiscovery Reading
11 - Between Riverside and Crazy, Studio Theatre
12 - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Folger Shakespeare Theatre
13 - Monsters of the Villa Diodati, Creative Cauldron
14 - As You Like It, Center Stage
16 - Father Comes Home from the War, Parts 1, 2, and 3, Round House Theatre
19 - Guards at the Taj, Woolly Mammoth Theatre
21 - The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland on Tour (Richmond)
25 - Collaborators, Spooky Action Theatre
26 - Othello, Shakespeare Theatre Company
27 - The Maid's Tragedy, Brave Spirits Theatre
28 - Road Show, Signature Theatre

March
3 - Constellations, Studio Theatre
8 - The Merchant of Venice, Faction of Fools Workshop
13 - The Flick, Signature Theatre
14 - 110 in the Shade, Ford's Theatre
18 - 1984, Headlong Theatre Company on tour at Shakespeare Theatre Company
25 - Constellations, Studio Theatre
26 - The Pillowman, Forum Theatre

April
7 - 110 in the Shade, Ford's Theatre
8 - Discord, Washington Stage Guild
14 - Moment, Studio Theatre
15 - After the War, Mosaic Theatre Company
16 - 110 in the Shade, Ford's Theatre
17 - The Mystery of Love and Sex, Signature Theatre
19 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Round House Theatre
28 - 110 in the Shade, Ford's Theatre
29 - Disgraced, Arena Stage

May
1 - Fool for All, Faction of Fools
5 - Journey to the West, Constellation Theatre Company
13 - Phaeton, Taffety Punk
16 - Fortinbras, Shakespeare Theatre Company ReDiscovery Reading
20 - James Plays, National Theatre of Scotland on Tour (Canterbury)
22 - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Globe Theatre
27 - The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare Theatre Company

June
3 - Wild Sky, Solas Nua
4 - Bakersfield Mist, Olney Theatre Center
9 - Hedda Gabler, Studio Theatre
10 - District Merchants, Folger Theatre
12 - The Miser, Faction of Fools
15 - The Who and the What, Round House Theatre
19 - La Cage aux Folles, Signature Theatre
22 - Chalk, We Happy Few
25 - Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, National Theatre of Scotland on Tour (New Haven)
26 - An Octoroon, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
26 - Floyd Collins, 1st Stage

July
3? - Moxie, Happenstance Theatre at Round House (how is this not on my calendar? Guessing at the date)
15 - Evita, Olney Theatre Center
17 - The Good Devil (In Spite of Himself), WSC AvantBard
18 - Henry VI, Part 1, Taffety Punk Bootleg Shakespeare
27 - The Merchant of Venice, Globe Theatre on Tour (Kennedy Center)
29 - Hand to God, Studio Theatre

August
20 - Fun Home, Broadway
25 - The Lonesome West, Keegan Theatre

September
7 - The Last Schwartz, Theater J
9 - Satchmo at the Waldorf, Mosaic Theater Company
13 - Come from Away, Ford's Theatre
16 - Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Theatre Company
17 - Anthony and Cleopatra, Brave Spirits Theatre
23 - Sense and Sensibility, Folger Theatre
25 - The Gulf, Signature Theatre
28 - The Little Foxes, Arena Stage

October
1 - Come from Away, Ford's Theatre
1 - Urinetown, Constellation Theatre Company
3 - Watch on the Rhine, Arena Stage THEatrical sELECTIONs Reading
6 - Cloud 9, Studio Theatre
13 - What We're Up Against, Keegan Theatre
14 - An Iliad, Taffety Punk
17 - The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Shakespeare Theatre ReDiscovery/THEatrical sELECTIONs Reading
18 - Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches, Round House Theatre/Olney Theatre Center coproduction
25 - Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika, Round House Theatre/Olney Theatre Center coproduction
31 - Warrior Class, Kennedy Center THEatrical sELECTIONs Reading

November
7 - Ivanka: A Medea for Right Now, Studio Theatre THEatrical sELECTIONs Reading
10 - Rameau's Nephew, Spooky Action Theatre
16 - The Christians, Theater J
17 - Metropolis, Constellation Theatre Company
18 - The Secret Garden, Shakespeare Theatre Company
19 - Eurydice, Next Stop Theatre
23 - A Christmas Carol, Ford's Theatre
25 - A View from the Bridge, National Tour (Kennedy Center)
26 - The Merchant of Venice, Faction of Fools
27 - Silver Belles, Signature Theatre

December
1 - The Second Shepherds' Play, Folger Theatre/Folger Consort
6 - Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Round House Theatre
8 - Straight White Men, Studio Theatre
13 - A Christmas Carol, Ford's Theatre
17 - The Secret Garden, Shakespeare Theatre Company

95 performances this year, which is considerably more manageable than the past couple years. Especially since scheduling all this has to include at least one costuming event per month (most of which have involved needing to make appropriate attire in time for the event).

Best show this year, hands down, was Come from Away. "Uplifting" sounds cheesy as fuck, but goddamn, I needed this show after the election rather than the two times before that I did get it. The music is fantastic, the stories Sankoff and Hein select don't shy away from how hard September 11 was on so many people, but it is, overall, about how we come together in adversity. I saw some great work: View from the Bridge was jaw-dropping virtuoso acting, Aaron Posner's Dream for Folger had such pure delight and joy in the Rude Mechanicals (directed with a love and seriousness I've never seen before), An Octoroon sure as hell drove home "sensation". I finally saw Fun Home and it was fantastic! But Come from Away is an entirely different level of feels - never manipulative, always earned, upbeat music but never papering over the horror, funny without making fun of the Islanders, and I end up crying every time I think about it. It is the best.
mmebahorel: (19feb)
There aren't really any words. Largely because the real effects are entirely uncertain and will be drawn out.

Key factors in my personal worries, all long term:
- one of my roommates is a refugee, one of many in this area (she came over in elementary school).
- the pressures to reverse Obergefell are immense, and I have friends who will lose their marriage should that come to pass. Which means one of them will lose their health insurance since he'll no longer be a spouse.
- I know people who will likely lose their health insurance at the beginning of 2018 because "replace" is so much more difficult than "repeal", and you can't stuff the higher premiums genie back in the bottle: anyone who misses their health insurance from 2005 ain't getting their 2005 health insurance back. Luckily, my friends are young and healthy, just without stable jobs with benefits for a variety of reasons, but that just means my personal circle is lucky. In health, this isn't even privilege, this is luck. This is not having had cancer.

In the abstract, what we saw post-Brexit: increase in hate crimes, collapse of exchange rates, probable recession, and a lot of fear and uncertainty.

And I dare not call home because I do not wish to learn if my father voted for this outcome. The last time he broke from the GOP was Obama in 2008 because McCain's choice of Palin for a running mate meant the man was no longer capable of making effective decisions. But I remember growing up politically aware in the 90s, and I know his continued hatred for Hillary Clinton (he still thinks she had Vince Foster murdered). He was talking write-in, and I don't want to know if he chickened out on that (it's Illinois; I am more than fine with him voting for neither of the main candidates in this presidential cycle because Chicago was gonna take care of the electoral college). We all have deal breakers, and mine is not repudiating the KKK endorsement and allowing the campaign to keep ginning up the racist wing. I believe in healthy disagreements on policy; I don't believe in disagreements on civil rights. (and he doesn't either! But I'm still legit worried where his bright line lands.)

My job is safe no matter what happens with contracting in general: we're attached to the same funding vehicle as the security guards, so that will never be touched. Wednesday morning, I was debating what to do, but I've calmed down enough to ride the uncertainty. We don't know who will be the next secretary in charge or how pressure will trickle down. If the work is substantially affected in horrible ways (as it has been historically under other leadership), that's the time to figure out what to do. Because if all the decent people flee, there's no one to even try to argue against or slow roll the bullshit. And that's not the right solution either.

Everything is terrible and it's hard to feel excitement about anything.

To do:
- Donate to Planned Parenthood
- Subscribe to the Washington Post, because we need David Fahrenthold more than ever
mmebahorel: (tata)
I keep not taking the time to post, so here's the bullet points of things that probably deserved actual entries.

- Thoughtful interracial casting can be extremely important, and DC theatres the past few years have been doing really well at it. Folger a few years back had Craig Wallace as one of the unsuccessful suitors in an Old-West set Taming of the Shrew, and it added so much backstory on the character - here was a guy who had to go to the middle of nowhere to amass property, was fetishising the education he could now pay for for someone else (his bungling of references came across not as comic but as a commentary on what he never had but was pretending to), and was looking to marry a white woman because in a certain sense he had earned the right to the finest prize in the land (this in keeping with the way Shakespeare seems to have written that society - Bianca is a prize to own, one that is earned through how much you can pay her family). Ford's had a black Leaf Coneybear and a black Marcy Park in their production of Spelling Bee (Barfee was of South Asian descent), which is hugely important because how often do you see young black academic success? And right now, Constellation just did Urinetown for the age of Black Lives Matter. The two extrajudicial killings we see are of Bobby Strong and his father, so when those are the two black actors in a show, persecuted by an overeager white cop and his partner who is more a cog in the machine and doesn't bother to rein in his partner even as he engages in a certain amount of "community policing" relationships (with Little Sally), holy shit. Holy shit. Good one, Constellation.

- Studio is doing Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine right now, and Woolly Mammoth has Jen Silverman's new piece Collective Rage: A Play in Five Boops, which doesn't really land the Betty Boop thing but is fun, and these are actually pieces that need to be seen together, I think. Cloud Nine is from 1979 and is ostensibly a Second Wave Feminist look at sexuality and colonialism; Collective Rage is Third Wave and doing the same work but American. Collective Rage is better on race because the colonialist critique disappears in the second act of Cloud Nine, but Cloud Nine feels like an obvious antecedent and both pieces really do go together. Betty of Cloud Nine, who in act I is a repressed (and confused by it!) colonial wife in 1880s Africa and in act II (set 25 years later for the characters but in 1979) has finally come around to leaving her asshole husband despite her sheer terror is exactly the same as Betty #2 in Collective Rage, both in unsatisfying sexless marriages trying to enact "the ideal wife" confused why having what society deems "everything" feels like having nothing, and coming to a sense of self through the exact same mechanism. It's fantastic to have these running at the same time.

- Emo Hamlet Jeffrey Carlson is playing David Bowie Mercutio in the otherwise only OK R&J at Shakespeare and it is amazing and I didn't even know I wanted it but it is amazing.

- Figured out what went wrong with the last Regency project: nothing. It's definitely the stays - my shoulders slope too much for any strap pushed to the edge of the shoulder, as is necessary for how wide the neckline is, to stay, so when it slips off, it takes everything with it and pulls everything out of shape so that the armhole starts cutting into the front. New stays project is necessary (no wonder at least one fashion plate is showing straps that cross in back), but despite careful measuring, I think the new pair is coming out a tad too loose. Which I can't really figure out until eyelets are in. Dammit if true because I'll have to pull the whole thing apart or start over.

- Wig worked for Riversdale Ball last night, so that adds some Regency styling options where I can start pulling a bit later in the period, at least for parties and NOT the Jane Austen Ball (Gadsby's just gets too hot and crowded). Also won the costume contest, which what? Awesome, and yay, but very much unexpected!

- I can totally manage 1890s in time for December events, right? Right? (Corset pieces are cut out; I should be able to get it put together entirely in the next two days, which then means I can make actual clothes.) Thank god for federal holidays.
mmebahorel: (georgiancostuming)
Make an appropriately-sized bum to go under the JP Ryan anglaise (done)
Hem the JP Ryan anglaise
Make a new petticoat that works with the new bum because that's also to be used for the caraco when I eventually actually make it.

That should be enough for a weekend, right? If I have additional time and care to make additional effort, really need to make a fichu.

Snowzilla's gonna be good. I can feel it.
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