Be-handle with care: lost in Spokane

May 20

Be-handle with care: lost in <i>Spokane</i>

What did Spokane, Washington ever do to Martin McDonagh? The London-born, Ireland-identified playwright famously wrote six plays, including The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Cripple of Inishmaan, in a year and then moved on to film. His short film, Six Shooter, won an Oscar, and he was nominated again for his screenplay to In Bruges (which he also directed).

Then the fiercely talented McDonagh returned to the stage with his first play set in America. A Behanding in Spokane, which ran on Broadway in 2010, is clearly a McDonagh play, what with the desperation, the black comedy and the flying body parts. But this is minor McDonagh, and, in fact, Behanding is a pretty lousy play.

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Undine undone or finding fabulous in Fabulation

Mar 20

Undine undone or finding fabulous in <i>Fabulation</i>

Though unplanned, we have something of a Lynn Nottage festival happening in the Bay Area right now.

Berkeley Rep is showing Nottage's most serious side with her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Ruined, a tale of hope amid brutality, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre showcases a more lighthearted (though not exactly comic) side of Nottage with Fabulation, the story of a modern woman's relationship to her roots.

The really good news here is the story of the Lorraine Hansberry itself. After losing both of its founders last year – the subsequent deaths of Stanley Williams and Quentin Easter is still difficult to fathom – the Hansberry could have foundered and disappeared. That would have meant a huge loss to Bay Area theater. How would you compensate for the loss of one of the nation's most prominent African-American theater companies as it's just about to celebrate its 30th anniversary? You couldn't. And thankfully, we don't have to.

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Intersection breaks walls, audience follows

Mar 03

Intersection breaks walls, audience follows

Watching the audience on stage at Intersection for the Arts was a stunning experience. Sometimes theater companies trying to push boundaries and break down walls really do get it right.

The show in this case is Oakland playwright Chinaka Hodge'sMirrors in Every Corner, and the companies involved in bringing it to life are many: Intersection, Campo Santo and The Living Word Project'sYouth Speaks theater company. They say it can take a village. In this case, it takes a community.

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