Marin’s Topdog makes power plays into powerful play

Oct 03

Marin’s <i>Topdog</i> makes power plays into powerful play

"Know what is and what ain't," one brother advises another in Suzan-Lori Parks' mesmerizing play Topdog/Underdog. Telling what is from what ain't is a tricky business in this deceptively straightforward play about an older brother named Lincoln and a younger brother named Booth. You don't expect men with those names – chosen by their father, who liked a joke – not to come to blows, and given we see a pistol within the first few minutes of the play, it's not really surprising when Parks goes from contemporary to Greek drama in a single gunshot.

Parks' Topdog won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002, and shortly after the play's run on Broadway, it stopped in at San Francisco's Curran Theatre, where Parks' extraordinary language, rich with urban slang frothed into gritty poetry and laced with deeply felt emotion, made a huge impression and justified all the fuss being made over the play.

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Ruined but resilient, horrifying but beautiful

Mar 03

<i>Ruined</i> but resilient, horrifying but beautiful

The evil that men do – and have done and continue to do – certainly does live after them. Shakespeare was so right about that. It lives and festers and poisons and leads to more evil.

This is incredibly apparent in Ruined, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play now on stage at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre.

Acts of unspeakable, incomprehensible violence occur, but it’s the echoes of those acts that ring most loudly in this compelling, ultimately shattering theatrical experience. There’s a war depicted on stage, but it’s not the chaotic, constantly shifting free-for-all of militias and government forces in East Africa. Rather, it’s the war waged on the bodies of thousands of that region’s women.

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Delighted by `Ruined,’ Nottage nabs Pulitzer

Apr 21

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Photo by the LA Times Lynn Nottage’s play Ruined, inspired by Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama. The play, about a Congolese brothel run by a woman named Mama Nadi, is about a country torn apart by civil war and about a woman who is either protecting women or...

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Letts’ bittersweet Pulitzer

Apr 07

News came down from on high today that Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, currently on Broadway, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. The Chicago playwright and actor is the author of Man from Nebraska (a Pulitzer contender) Bug (also a movie starring Ashley Judd) and Killer Joe, a hit for Marin Theatre Company that transferred to the Magic in San Francisco. The...

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