Theater (167)

Shakespeare of the streets: Bare Bard brings Caesar to the masses

If you’ve been strolling Congress Street this spring, perhaps you’ve lately come across a band of murderous politicians raising daggers and swords against each other. Of the plays in the Bard’s canon, one particularly well-suited for urban public spaces is Julius Caesar — you’ve got your city officials, your susceptible masses, your conspiracies in government halls and on streets.

Words imitating art: Maine Playwrights Festival imagines Escher as writer, other innovations

For 13 years now, the Maine Playwrights Festival, a program of Acorn Productions, has put out an annual open call for locally grown plays and staged the best of them for the theater-going public. This year’s festival, which runs this weekend at the St. Lawrence Arts Center – with shows that feature an outsourced Mission Control, hard life choices at Denny’s, and M.C. Escher trying to be a writer, among other dilemmas – includes both…

Owning past wrongs: Death and the Maiden peers into darkness

In the aftermath of the worst human rights abuses – genocide, torture, systematic rape – how do the survivors confront their oppressors? Through the slow, sometimes corrupt bureaucracy of the courts, or by enacting their own justice? The enduring quandary of how to deal with such horrors is the pulse of Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s 1990 drama Death and the Maiden. G. Michael Gaskell directs a tautly paced production for Starsky & Cagney Productions, at…

Skeletons In The Desert: Mad Horse Production probes a family secret, for greater effect

It’s Christmas in Palm Springs, complete with a buffet and a marimba band at the club, but there’s a conspicuous dearth of holiday cheer in the tony home of the Wyeths. East Coast-transplant novelist Brooke Wyeth (Janice Gardner) has returned from New York to announce to her parents, younger brother, and aunt that her new book is not a novel, but a memoir — one that resurrects a long-cached family secret — in Jon Robin…

Mill ends: Papermaker captures emotion, conflict of economic hardship

The future of Maine’s paper mills is tenuous in the age of globalization, and things have only reached new realms of corporate-loophole incomprehensibility with revelations about the one-day investment loan fake-out at Great Northern. But Maine’s mills are not just a commodity or an “issue”: they represent an industry peopled by actual men and women. Several people have very different kinds of investments in paper during a 1989 union strike in the fictional town of…

Shadow play: As You Like It enhanced with shadow-signed tale of Arden

Shakespeare’s verbal feats are famously intricate. How might the deaf see them performed, and what might it be like for the hearing to understand Shakespeare in a non-verbal language? Actors enact the Bard’s love-sick, cross-dressing foibles in both English and American Sign Language in the University of Southern Maine’s production of As You Like It, to uncommonly rich result. Under the direction of Assunta Kent, each of the comedy’s characters is played by two different…

Rhyme and reason: Hoagland on exerting ‘the focusing power of poetry’

Tony Hoagland is not a poet of formal meter and highfalutin language. Plainspoken, by turns poignant and irreverent, he’s written about sex, bathing his dying mother, drinking beer with men who “celebrate their hairiness,” and finding salvation in the word dickhead. He reads in Portland on April 16, at USM’s Hannaford Hall Auditorium, as the inaugural speaker of the new Words Matter Visiting Poets Series, sponsored by HM Payson, Honeck O'Toole CPA's, the Maine Writers…

Looking beyond disabilities: The Boys Next Door delves into character traits and quirks

One of the most refreshing stops on a First Friday in Portland is often The Art Department, the gallery for work by developmentally disabled artists, whose art is surprising, unpretentious and brimming with giddiness. And there are many similarly surprising and giddy moments in The Boys Next Door, a play about four developmentally disabled men who share a group home, narrated by their decent, weary social worker. Charlie Marenghi directs a funny, poignant and sensitively…

Garden in the air: Taking the ball and running with it, Circus Conservatory interprets ‘Earthly Delights’ artwork

The mind-blowing painting “In the Garden of Earthly Delights,” a triptych by 15th century Dutch artist Hieronymous Bosch, is a phantasmagorical vision of life on Earth. In the left panel is an Edenic landscape; in the right panel is a dark place of lust and torment; and in the middle panel, sensual naked figures cavort — including an angel carrying a red ball. That red ball became such a talisman to Peter Nielsen and Hilary…
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