“I don’t really have a worldview. Well, actually, my worldview is that the world is a pile of shit.”
That’s definitely the idea you get as you walk into the Upspace for The Pillowman, which opens tonight at 8 p.m. and runs through Monday. With a dark, minimalist set and eerie dolls hanging on the wall, averting their gaze from the audience, this dystopian world director Andrew Ganem ’16 has created is unsettling before the actors even take the stage.
Yet, it is the cast, as they vacillate abruptly between riotous dark comedy and engrossing drama, that truly brings the text of Martin McDonagh’s terrifyingly brilliant three-act play from 2003 about a writer, Katurian Katurian (Alex Ostroff ’14), accused of carrying out the murders of three children exactly like they take place in his short stories, to life.
First, there’s Tupolski and Ariel, played by Sam Rubinek ’17 and Keston McMillan ’17, the abusive and deliciously sadistic policemen. As they nonsensically question Katurian about murders he did not commit, McDonagh’s biting satire is in its purest form, thanks to Rubinek and McMillan’s mastery of the comic tone and timing. Rubinek, with a drawl reminiscent of a 1950s Chicago mobster, is the good cop (although in this hopeless totalitarian dictatorship, there is no such thing) . McMillan is certainly the bad cop, his speech menacingly quiet and his body language hinting at the imminent doom each of these characters is hurtling towards. The first act belongs to this freshman duo.
Wednesday, February 19:
Event: Writers or Missionaries? Reporting the Middle East
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
Join the GISP “Wiring the Middle East: Nonfiction Coverage and New Digital Frontiers” and Brown Middle East Studies for a conversation with Adam Shatz, Contributing Editor of London Review of Books. This event is free and open to the public.
Thursday, February 20:
Event: The Days Between
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Granoff Center
Check out this new opera by Ben Kutner ’14, directed by Zach Rufa ’14. Can’t make it on Thursday? Don’t worry: there will be 3 other performances on Friday the 21st at 8p.m., and Saturday the 22nd at both 2p.m. and 8p.m. According to the event description, this original production, based loosely on the Arab Spring, “follows four national figures as they weather the power vacuum after their leader’s death – each attempting to ride out on top.”
“Nothing to be done.” So begins Samuel Beckett’s theater of the absurd, where the characters dither and fumble in a blind vacuum as they hope in vain for their existences to be validated.
A new production of the canonical “Waiting for Godot,” directed by Patrick Madden ’15, opens tonight in the Production Workshop Downspace. For such a widely performed work (it’s currently running on Broadway with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart), Madden’s take hits close to home. Swinging from idealistic to cynical, arrogant to self-loathing, Vladimir, Estragon, and friends embody the near-constant identity crisis college students know all too well.
The entire play takes place near a crooked, skeletal tree on the country roadside. The stage is an elongated platform covered with sand, which adds an interesting element of realism. It swirls up in dust clouds when the characters get rambunctious, and trickles out from sleeves and pockets as though it’s slipping through an hourglass. A pile of cinderblocks replaces the “low mound” in Beckett’s script, hinting not at nature but at urban decay.
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, which opens tonight at 8:00 p.m. and runs through Monday, October 21st, is on the surface a rollicking comedy—a story of sex and deceit with a good dose of physical and slapstick humor and witty retorts. However, around fifteen minutes in, you begin to realize In the Next Room is not merely a wildly entertaining, 21st-century Oscar Wilde-esque play, but a modern feminist manifesto.
Directed masterfully by Karin Nilo ’14 and written by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA ’01, In the Next Room is set in Victorian-era New York and follows Mrs. Givings, a woman whose husband treats female (and later male) patients for hysteria using the vibrator, and Mrs. Daldry, one of Dr. Givings patients, as they discover their sexuality and slowly take control of their bodies. Continue Reading
Nudity in the Upspace—a week-long event that “discusses and explores nudity in all forms” by way of nude body painting, nude yoga, and nude performance—is back for its second year. The event is currently taking place at Production Workshop’s Upspace, and has triggered international press coverage from The Huffington Post, Jezebel, CBS, and Daily Mail UK. Online comments on these articles range from encouraging messages to the students involved with the event to vitriolic attacks on Brown students and the institution itself.
On the heels of this influx of attention, BlogDH sat down with Becca Wolinsky ‘14, Camila Pacheco-Fores ‘14 and Gabrielle Sclafani ’14, the three main organizers of the event, to discuss their take on body image, nude performance, and press coverage. Check out the interview after the jump.
You can get your dose of existentialist anxiety, synchronized swimming, and devised theater in one fell swoop this weekend with “Sink,” an original play by Ursula Raasted ’14. Integrating text, movement, and music, PW’s latest offering builds a lyrical and unsettling dream world in 9 non-sequential vignettes. The work centers on the “capsizing relationship between a sailor and a siren,” Raasted said, but don’t come to the Downspace expecting a rehashing of Homer’s Odyssey. In “Sink,” 9 anonymous performers, categorized into triplets of “sailors,” “sirens,” and “soothsayers,” fall hopelessly in and out of sync with one another, struggling to give meaning to their existence and to distinguish between their individual and collective identities.
The major conceptual project of the work was “trying to figure out how you can use text and movement … to support each other instead of having … a hierarchical relationship between the two,” Raasted said. Indeed, the actors tell much of the story with an arsenal of precisely coordinated gestures that range from military marches to dry-land synchronized swimming routines. The rhythmic maneuvers were devised in rehearsal and are delivered unblinkingly by a remarkably cohesive group of actors – gold stars to movement consultant Sarah Friedland ’14. Original songs composed by (who else?) Raasted herself and lighting design by Austin Draycott ’15 are also integral to the storytelling. “Sink” will confuse, surprise, upset, and delight you. It is a bizarre, ecstatic work of theater from the mind of an exciting young playwright.
“Sink” runs in the PW Downspace tonight at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m., and Monday at 8 p.m. Free tickets will be made available one hour before show time.
Photo by Regine Rosas.
At one moment or another we’ve all told ourselves the following: I’m an outcast. No one likes me. I feel ugly. I feel weird. If you’re looking for a little Schadenfreude this weekend, come check out Bat Boy at PW. This funny and touching musical, directed by Alex Ostroff ’14, follows the journey of a boy (half bat, half human) as he tries to become an accepted member of society. The show is fast-paced with catchy songs and more costume changes then one person can fathom.
Be warned that what seems like a silly story about a bat boy finding his way in a misguided rancher town on a mountain is actually loaded with serious messages. However, these are easily passed with a tall glass of fake blood with a side of humor and absurdity. When asked what he wants the audience to walk away with, Ostroff said, “There are a lot of ‘morals’ in the show, and we’ve talked about some of them as a cast, but I’d have a hard time choosing one that is most important.” Set in West Virginia, this show questions Christianity, modern science, and how much freedom you should give children. The black cage-like set, designed by Becca Balton ’14, allows the actors to amazingly transform it: Whether it’s a living room, slaughterhouse, cave, or a forest filled with talking animals, the energy and dedication of the actors fills the space and transports you. Continue Reading
If you went to high school in an English-speaking country, chances are you were forced to read “Romeo and Juliet” at one point or another. If you haven’t read it, you’re at least somewhat familiar with one of the many great stage and screen adaptations of the play. Regardless of your previous exposure to Shakespeare’s work, you should make it to the Downspace this weekend to see PW’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
With a strong ensemble cast, and some interesting interpretations and directorial choices (for instance, turning ballroom scene into a pseudo-Renaissance rave with some comically raunchy dancing, a pretty homoerotic rendition of Mercutio and Benvolio’s relationship, and a mix of modern formal and punk costuming), “Romeo and Juliet” makes the difficult Shakespearean language come together in a relatable way and successfully tells the story of two young people in love under unfortunate circumstances. The earnestness, energy, and relatability of the performances, injected with humor at the right moments, makes the play both accessible and enjoyable.
The show begins with plumes of smoke covering the stage as Mercutio (Kerry Hall ’13) steps out and delivers the opening lines of the play’s prologue. The rest of the cast gradually joins him on stage, each beginning the prologue themselves as they enter. Their voices come together to form an entrancing, loud mesh that propels the play into action.
This weekend, escape into the twisted logic of the underworld with PW’s March show Goose and Tomtom – or as I like to call it, WWE Smackdown in the Downspace. Goose and Tomtom tells the story of how these two friends react to the theft of Tomtom’s girlfriend’s prized jewels and diamonds. However, what might seem like a common story about two thieves turns into a complex study of power and social dynamics.
Once you give in to the play’s bizarre world and unique language, director Jenny Gorelick ’14 takes you on a funny and crazy ride. With the help of talented stunt choreographer Trevor Olds ’14, this show uses physical humor and fight scenes more than any other production I’ve ever seen at Brown. Gorelick steps beyond the text and has directed an interpretation of the show that takes advantage of every potential moment of comedy. As director, she has created a mix of gripping scenes and high action moments that are sure to grab your attention.
To everyone that slept through too many of Prof. Hayden’s 9 a.m. Abnormal Psychology classes, Next to Normal is here to refresh your memory. Zach Rufa ’14 has taken on the daunting task of directing this Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder. This show examines the toll mental illness can take on a family. Rufa does a nice job of handling such challenging material with support from his talented cast and crew.
A small cast of characters keeps the show moving with their powerful vocal talent. Emily Kassie ’14, who plays the bipolar mother, captures the complexity and conflict of someone who can’t comprehend reality. Although Kassie is half her character’s age, her presence and commitment to every moment combats this and is really the backbone of the show. Sarah Gage ‘15 plays the family’s daughter and stuns with her emotional variability and belting abilities. Similarly, Alex Ostroff ’14, Gavin Kramar ’15, and Elias Spector-Zabuksy ’15 all hold their own against these two talented women who control the world of Next to Normal. Continue Reading