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Across Two Worlds: Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “Manahatta”

“Well, I don’t know exactly what I expected,” Eleanor began, as they walked out of the Thomas Theatre, and back into the courtyard of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “I guess I thought it would be preachier.”

“It’s still sorta preachy,” Dania contended. “In that it has a message.”

“If that’s your bar for ‘preachy,'” Gwen replied, with a motion back towards the theater, “then any play with a message could be described that way.”

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Sharpen Thy Wit: Babes With Blades’ “The Lady Demands Satisfaction,” with Denise Yvette Serna

Press Opening was the natural time for a post-show speech. Gwen was desperate to get out of the theatre and into the night air – and she could tell Denise wouldn’t be too far behind her – but they’d sat on the opposite side of the theater from the door, and any attempt to leave might be seen as bad form, against the older man now standing onstage, holding a plaque.

“The writer of this play is the winner of last year’s Joining Sword and Pen competition,” the man crooned. “To create pieces of theatre with strong stage combat opportunities, centered on sturdy female roles. This is his third victory. If he’d like to come down to the stage, please.”

A second man, with a twirled moustache, emerged from the applauding crowd. The two men shook hands at center stage, and Arthur Jolly looked at his name on the plaque.

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Desire To See: Hedy Weiss’ “Pass Over” Review

PART OF CHICAGO THEATRE WEEK 2018

 

I’ve always left “Ragtime” infused with renewed optimism…This time I felt quite sad. That’s a perfectly legitimate thing to wish might happen to an audience in the theater, and Bowling is a very capable and often-compelling director of musicals; I am just not convinced it is fair to this piece.

Gwen stopped on that line in Chris Jones’ review of Ragtime at the Marriott. She considered what the context of that criticism really was – Jones’ disappointment that a musical that typically left him hopeful was given a less optimistic makeover.

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Founding The Father: Jackalope Theatre’s “Franklinland”

PART OF CHICAGO THEATRE WEEK 2018

 

Gwen had always been – as far as she could recall, anyway – a strong proponent of casting beyond image. When dealing with historical figures onstage, she always considered it far more important to capture the spirit and character of a historical figure, more than casting a lookalike simply for visual accuracy. Her varied opinions on cross-gender and race-conscious casting stemmed from this central belief.

Thus, she was surprised when her initial reaction to Jackalope Theatre’s Franklinland was her unease that –

“He doesn’t really look that much like Benjamin Franklin at the beginning.”

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