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Getting Political With The Tree Play and Robin Hood: An Elegy
Two new Austin plays tackle timely subjects
Arts Story  August 6, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...Theatre in summer can often feel like just a thicket of musicals. Every other show seems to be some all-singing, all-dancing spectacle, with crooning Okie cowpokes or boogieing Baltimore teens crowding the stage to lift our spirits in the dog days, to distract us from the oppressive heat..."

Robert Faires' Top 10 (+1) Theatre Riches of 2016
Works that struck a nerve with the political state of our city and our nation stood out in this year's outstanding theatre productions
Arts Story  December 29, 2016, by Robert Faires
"...1) ZELL MILLER III In a year when extraordinary tensions made America's political landscape a battleground, no local theatre artist took to the front lines as often or urgently as Zell Miller III. In show after show, this writer/performer/director gave searing critiques of social injustice in blazing language and a hip-hop beat that matched his impassioned heart's..."

Theatre en Bloc's The Totalitarians
This ridiculous but smart satire about a Nebraska political race may be the only political play that can deliver laughs this election season
Arts Review  September 15, 2016, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...In the lead-up to every presidential election, theatre listings seem to include the typical handful of political plays. They mock, shame, or inform us, and they try to be topical...."

Top 10 (+1) Theatre Riches of 2015
Wild theatrical energy and masterful performances were the hallmarks of outstanding theatre in 2015
Arts Story  December 31, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...The biting script was charged with a wild theatrical energy by the rolling wall of Ia Ensterä's set and Yury Urnov's direction, and the performances, kicked off with sublime mime from Robert Matney, were to die for. 2) Refugia (UT Dept. of Theatre & Dance)..."

What Kind of Theatre Do You Go For?
Our sassy quiz will match you up with the Austin theatre company of your dreams.
Arts Story  December 1, 2000
"...Or maybe you think you're going to see shows you like but are in fact wasting good money seeing plays for which you aren't well-suited. Where, oh where, is the theatre company for you? Life without a theatre company to call your very own is difficult..."

Page Two: Theatre of Cruelty
The backdrop of reality that belies the McCain-Palin pageant
Columns  September 19, 2008, by Louis Black
"...The 2008 presidential election campaign is proving to be American political theatre at its most extraordinary. As background to the campaign, on a daily basis there is the continuing terrible news about the economy..."

UT Department of Theatre & Dance's Building the Wall
UT Department of Theatre & Dance rushes to get Robert Schenkkan's timely political drama onstage
Arts Review  September 7, 2017, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...In that context, playwright Robert Schenkkan has rushed to stage a script that the UT Department of Theatre & Dance promotes as having been written in "'a white heat' fury just before the November 2016 election." Based on some references, Schenkkan appears to have touched up the script since, but even so, it's dizzying to watch the play and balance its already dated interpretation of U.S. politics against today's interpretations, in turn against projections for what headlines will emerge next week...."

Zach Theatre's Evita
Zach Theatre's polished revival offers food for thought in this season of campaigns and debates
Arts Review  October 22, 2015, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...The Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical Evita, staged at Zach Theatre under the direction of Nick Demos, focuses less on the politics of her and her husband's (Matthew Redden) rule and more on how they sought, achieved, and handled power. In the title role, Madeline Trumble commands the stage with a convincing passion..."

Capital T Theatre's Hir
The Capital T Theatre production of Taylor Mac's absurdist satire puts the front lines of combat inside an American home
Arts Review  January 12, 2017, by Robert Faires
"...Isaac thought he was leaving the war zone when he made it home from his three-year tour of duty in Afghanistan, but it turns out the young Marine on mortuary detail was just trading one battlefront for another. The instant he steps inside his family's old, worn suburban bungalow and gets a look at its current state – a cunning reveal in Capital T Theatre's staging, as the whole house rotates from exterior view to interior – Isaac is met with chaos: a living room and kitchen so trashed-out that it looks like it was raided by a marauding army..."

Lisa Scheps' Ground Floor Theatre
The tireless advocate for the underserved has built a home for their stories
Arts Story  December 17, 2015, by Jenn Lewis
"...The dreamlike haze fades, the stage lights come up, and onto the playing space steps Lisa Scheps. Classy and a bit sassy, this woman of the theatre stands at center and begins her melody, a symbolic tune for communities too little seen on the stage..."

Top 10 Reasons (+3) I Stayed in Love With Theatre in 2014
Valentines to theatre and comedic craft played a large part in making 2014 a memorable year in theatre
Arts Story  December 31, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...1) THE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART (National Theatre of Scotland/Texas Performing Arts) On a Bass Concert Hall stage transmuted into a Scottish pub, five exuberant performers spun a lively tall tale of a lovelorn academic getting trapped in Lucifer's B&B. The devilishly clever script and playful theatricality that made motorbikes of audience members and blizzards from shredded bar napkins were as intoxicating as a shot of Scotch – and gave me the warmest glow I felt in the theatre all year...."

Gobotrick Theatre Company: Keeping the Soul Happy
Naomi Wallace's drama One Flea Spare is the latest venture from Gobotrick Theatre Company
Arts Story  August 17, 2007, by Barry Pineo
"...Perhaps you've heard of One Flea Spare, Naomi Wallace's play about four disparate Londoners trapped in a house and kept there under guard as the Great Plague of 1665 ravaged the city. It received its American premiere at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays; won the 1996 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, given to an emerging female writer; and has seen two Austin productions in recent years..."

Mary Moody Northen Theatre's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
This gangster spectacle based on Hitler's rise feels more than timely in the current election year
Arts Review  October 6, 2016, by Robert Faires
"...You can sense some of the same impulse running below the surface of this production from the Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edward's University..."

City Theatre's Bus Stop
Director Tracy Arnold stages William Inge's drama with humor and charm, but seems to fight against the script's darkness
Arts Review  March 24, 2016, by Shanon Weaver
"...Keeping live theatre interesting sometimes means putting a different spin on a show than the playwright may have intended. For example, in 2007, Hyde Park Theatre took Martin McDonagh's dark, dystopian The Pillowman and focused on the dark comedy element with great success..."

Zach Theatre's The Great Society
Robert Schenkkan's smart script and remarkable ensemble work make this a powerful look at LBJ's White House years
Arts Review  February 2, 2017, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...Theatre companies typically plan their seasons out well in advance, making decisions about their choice of plays, casting, and other aspects of production months before the shows actually open. That Zach Theatre's staging of The Great Society feels as timely as it does is a sign of both great foresight on the part of the company and its ability to shift this production in a very specific direction...."

Gale Theatre Company's TWENTYEIGHT
In this Afrofuturist drama by Tyler English-Beckwith, blacks labor to reach a safe space in space
Arts Review  August 10, 2017, by Robert Faires
"...As written by English-Beckwith and performed by the committed cast of this Gale Theatre Company production, the six people we meet regard their Promised Land above Earth and one another with varying levels of hope and skepticism. Is this "heaven" worth believing in if it hasn't been seen? Some trust in faith while others doubt, and the exchanges between them add to the tension embedded in the work, that of the desperate need to escape a world where a black person is killed by someone employed or protected by the U.S..."

Glass Half Full Theatre's Don Quixote de La Redo
This imaginative spin on Cervantes tells of walls and the stories that inspire us to tear them down
Arts Review  February 23, 2017, by T. Lynn Mikeska
"...Miguel de Cervantes himself narrates Glass Half Full Theatre's incredibly imaginative and well-executed production of Don Quixote de La Redo, a puppet-laced meditation on the walls we build and the stories that inspire us to tear them down...."

Hyde Park Theatre's Lungs
The company has gathered all the right people for this beautiful, painful, timely tale of a man and a woman in a dying world
Arts Review  October 6, 2016, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...A nod of appreciation to Hyde Park Theatre for gathering all the right people for this script and staging it at this time. Lungs is a smart, insightful play given a beautiful production from a truly talented group of artists. LungsHyde Park Theatre, 511 W..."

Marie Antoinette
Capital T Theatre's production asks just how accountable the French queen was for all her actions
Arts Review  March 10, 2016, by Elizabeth Cobbe
"...Marie Antoinette is a curious animal – the play, the character, and the historical person. Known in textbooks as the selfish, materialistic French queen who lost her head in a revolution, she has returned to our collective awareness in recent years – most notably, the Sofia Coppola film – and also in this script from David Adjmi, produced now by Capital T Theatre...."

Time to Move From Theatre to Effective Political Tools
Postmarks  February 1, 2005
"...Moreover, many of the people held up were not Bush voters. So, this action indiscriminately punished people on both sides of the issue, and succeeded only in increasing the anger of pro-Bush people. After reading some very frightening stuff about the rise of the Christian right, I began to realize that while the left has been engaging in street theatre, the members of the Christian right have been attending Republican precinct meetings and taking them over..."

Hang the DJ
The new political theatre invites you into its messy, sexy conversation
Arts Story  January 20, 2006, by Katherine Catmull
"..."Theatre gets to create a topic of conversation for a very small audience for a very small window of time. I think we should each use that window to talk about what is dearest to us..."

Best of Enemies
The 1968 debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal are legend
Film Review  August 21, 2015, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...These sensibilities only became more pronounced as the historic demonstrations and riots that took place on the streets outside the convention halls in ’68 brought the country’s political divisions into sharp focus. Hawks and doves, establishment and counterculture – it was a time for taking sides, and the debates offered some of the best political theatre around...."

Taking the World Stage
How more theatre made Here is getting Out There and what that means
Arts Story  September 21, 2007, by Katherine Catmull
"...Exhibit A: An Austin-born theatre piece wows audiences from Galway, Ireland, to Seattle, snags a top honor at the renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and zooms briefly back to Austin before heading on to – well, obviously – Finland...."

Lions for Lambs
Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs, in which he co-stars with Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise, is a piece of nervy political theatre that argues against individual complacency in wartime.
Film Review  November 9, 2007, by Steve Davis
"...Despite its flaws, which become more evident as time elapses, Lions for Lambs is worth seeing for no other reason than you’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s political theatre that shouldn’t be missed...."

The Road to Urinetown
Composer Mark Hollmann on the show's creation and success
DAILY Arts  August 30, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...They even had one of their characters mock it in the script. But even calling their show Urinetown: The Musical couldn't keep audiences away or keep theatres all across the land – like Austin's City Theatre right now – from mounting it..."

Abbott Cracks Down on Sanctuary Cities
Immigration rights advocates say Abbott is merely pandering to his political base
News Story  November 12, 2015, by Tony Cantú
"...Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a Texas judge's injunction on Pres­ident Obama's immigration initiatives to protect five million immigrants from deportation. But for now, Abbott's own law-and-order posturing is being viewed as a hollow threat by immigrant advocates, just so much bluster and political theatre to fan his base: "I think it's more huffing and puffing," Harrington said...."

Raising Their Voices
An Austinite in Russia hears theatre's rising dissent
Arts Story  September 21, 2012, by Graham Schmidt
"...1, I left the States for a three-week trip to Moscow, to visit the Lyubimovka new play festival, an annual, intensive writing lab at Teatr.Doc. The trip was funded by the United States Embassy, with additional support from the Center for International Theatre Development, to further my work in bringing contemporary Russian theatre to Austin via the New Russian Drama Festival that I founded in 2010..."

'La Víctima': An old message still needing to be heard
As Teatro Vivo stages La Víctima, a groundbreaking look at Mexican-U.S. immigration, Rupert Reyes and Jorge Huerta discuss the play's origins and relevance
Arts Story  March 23, 2007, by Belinda Acosta
"...Rupert Reyes and Jorge Huerta met in 1974, when Reyes was a theatre major at UT-Austin and Huerta, who was just starting his academic career, was giving a talk on Chicano and U.S. Latino theatre and El Teatro de la Esperanza, a theatre group he helped found at UC-Santa Barbara..."

House Arrest
Both Anna Deavere Smith's script for 'House Arrest' and Zachary Scott Theatre Center's production of it fall short as meaningful political theatre
Arts Review  August 13, 2004, by Robi Polgar
"...House ArrestZachary Scott Theatre Center Kleberg Stage, through Sept. 12..."

Superstar Search
Three decades after its debut, Jesus Christ Superstar may not seem a radical piece of musical theatre, but Austin Musical Theatre's new production just may return the rock opera to its revolutionary roots.
Arts Story  November 26, 1999, by Robert Faires
"...Musical theatre isn't exactly renowned for theological discourse. Once you get past Tevye's one-sided chats with the Almighty and Maria's angst about abandoning a life in the convent, the exploration of humanity's relationship to God gets pretty scarce..."

How Does an Artist Get a Passport?
Two Austin playwrights join dozens of writers from across the hemisphere to 'dream the Americas'
Arts Story  March 16, 2007
"...We being Austin playwrights Amparo Garcia-Crow and C. Denby Swanson and Dreaming the Americas being a theatre conference in New York City organized by fellow writer Caridad Svich with support from the Immigrants' Theatre Project, Theatre Without Borders, the Translation Think Tank, and the Martin E..."

Peking Opera Blues
Deception and betrayal in culture and politics take center stage in this splendid narrative that shifts between farce and violence, suspense and emotionality.
Film Review  April 23, 1993, by Pamela Bruce
"...last year) comes to life in a unique blend borrowed from such diverse conventions as a 1930s screwball comedy, a Hitchcock espionage thriller, and a Peckinpah/James Woo guns and guts fest. The film centers around three young women who are inadvertently thrown together in a web of political intrigue: the daughter of a general (Lin) is a revolutionary (whose character is patterned much like the real-life revolutionary/feminist heroine of the period, Qiu Jin) who must betray her father by stealing important financial documents that would further empower foreign interests in China; a gold-digging singer/musician (Chung) – who comes across as a Chinese version cut from the Gracie Allen/Carole Lombard/Betty Boop mold of zaniness – and who is trying to get her hands on a stash of stolen jewels; and the daughter of theatre owner (Yeh), who longs to be an actress in her father's repertory group, The Peking Opera, but is forbidden to do so because she is a woman (only men are allowed to be “actresses”)..."

Rate of Exchange
Why the Russian connection matters to Austin theatre
Arts Story  September 21, 2012, by Robert Faires
"...In May, Austin was one of four stops in the U.S. for a small group of theatre managers and artists from Russia exploring American performance and methods for making it..."

The Way Home
Zach Theatre gives Robert Schenkkan's All the Way its Texas premiere on LBJ's home turf
Arts Story  April 9, 2015, by Robert Faires
"...When All the Way opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in July 2012, the play's future was anybody's guess. Would any theatre besides this immense repertory company be willing to mount a political drama requiring 17 actors and running nearly three hours? Was there even a remote chance that such a show could have commercial prospects? No one knew..."

Venus in Fur
The play’s the thing in Roman Polanski's erotic screen version of the Tony Award-winner.
Film Review  September 5, 2014, by Steve Davis
"...The play’s the thing in the erotic comedy/drama Venus in Fur, which entirely takes place during an unorthodox audition one rainy evening in a Parisian theatre where a musical version of the classic Western Stagecoach has recently closed. Frustrated by the younger “idiot” actresses who earlier read for the female lead in his adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous 1870 novel of sexual domination and subjugation, a veteran playwright and novice director (Amalric) is about to head home when a bedraggled woman with wet hair and runny mascara (Seigner) announces her late arrival at the back of the theatre..."

Taymor creates a spectacularly imaginative piece of Shakespearean cinema set in a world out of time.
Film Review  February 11, 2000, by Robert Faires
"...Yet here it is, in all its gory glory. The reason is Julie Taymor, the gifted theatre director best known for translating Disney's The Lion King from screen to stage..."

Red Cans
Rubber Repertory's 'Red Cans' is an experiment in new realms, one that puts you in another world, and so long as you bring your curiosity, you'll be surprised how engaging this world is
Arts Review  August 18, 2006, by Hannah Kenah
"...Is your stomach turning? Those of the PETA persuasion will have some bones to pick with this show. So will those of the straight-theatre-with-words-and-plot-lines persuasion..."

Politics Upstaged
This election year brings out the political in Austin's arts
DAILY Arts  September 13, 2016, by Robert Faires
"...15. Both shows are at 8pm in the McCullough Theatre, 2375 Robert Dedman..."

2016: Obama's America
Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative author, expounds on the president's past, and discusses what he thinks America would look like if Obama were to be re-elected.

Film Review  August 31, 2012, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...2016: Obama’s America is to film what the birther movement is to politics: a specious argument that steers political discourse away from substantive issues and toward reactive justifications for the retention of an ill-defined American hegemony at home and abroad. Opening in a single theatre in mid-July, 2016: Obama’s America expanded on August 24 and is now playing in more than 1,000 venues across the nation where it has, at present, grossed more than $10 million..."

Is the Constitution Just a Screenplay?
Columns  January 21, 1999, by Michael Ventura
"...Yet all the commentary about the impeachment proceedings emphasizes partisan wrangling and political theatre. In fact, the commentators take on the tone of theatre- or film reviewers..."

Play On!
In the backstage comedy Anton in Show Business, playwright Jane Martin wittily paints the contemporary stage as a madhouse overrun by loons and lunatics so preoccupied with money, image, and themselves that they can hardly be bothered to create art. And the State Theater Company's production takes us inside the insanity with an air of playfulness that keeps the audience primed for a good time.
Arts Story  March 30, 2001, by Robert Faires
"...Man, the American theatre is one seriously fucked-up place. Here's this company staging The Three Sisters -- a drama of great themes and characters, real classic stuff, you know, demanding actors of range and commitment -- and the company totally built the show around a TV star who has not only no serious performing chops but no experience in theatre and, worse, no real interest in it..."

Moon Over Broadway
You thought making sausage wasn't pretty. Next to making comedy, grinding up meat and stuffing it into casing is positively picturesque. That's the unsightly truth exposed in this latest work...
Film Review  April 3, 1998, by Robert Faires
"...They document the life of the backstage farce Moon Over Buffalo, which had a nine-month run on Broadway two seasons ago, carrying us through rehearsals, a tryout run in Boston, the New York opening, and, finally, the closing -- 300 performances later. What they reveal won't shock anyone with much experience in the theatre: It's work..."

The Designated Mourner
The Designated Mourner is one man's elegiac yet disdainful recollection of a group of people and a way of life that have vanished under the thumb of an unnamed oppressive...
Film Review  July 25, 1997, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...The movie is the film version of a play written by the multi-talented Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With André, Radio Days, Toy Story, Clueless) and mounted with great success last year in London with this same group of principals. Acclaimed actress Miranda Richardson (The Crying Game, Damage) and British theatre veteran David de Keyser join Nichols onscreen for this three-person drama; the renowned playwright and director David Hare (theatre: Plenty, A Map of the World; film: Wetherby, Strapless, and Damage) directs..."

Stage Top 10s
Top Ten That's Really 13 (and Could Easily Have Been 20) Theatre Experiences of 1996
Arts Story  January 10, 1997, by Robert Faires
"...1. (tie) The Bacchae: Torn to Pieces, The Gospel at Colonus (Hopeful Monsters/Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre, Zachary Scott Theatre Center): What are the odds? In one year, two Austin theatres stage modern adaptations of Greek tragedies, and both provide drama of astonishing immediacy and power..."

Growing Pains
Austin Theatre for Youth Builds on First Season
Arts Story  December 6, 1996, by Robert Faires
"...Once upon a time, in the enchanted land of Austin, theatre companies believed that all they needed to do to ensure their success and long life was produce plays about which they were passionate. It didn't matter if the plays were revisionist Shakespeare or unabridged O'Neill or dense socio-political dramas they'd written themselves, it didn't matter where they did it, or when or with how little money -- if they did it with enough spirit, then Austinites would flock to see their productions and they would prosper..."

What in Our House?
Theatrical perversity in Chicago: the Austin connection
Arts Story  June 30, 2016, by Shanon Weaver
"...Cox is the focus of a recent story in the Chicago Reader titled "At Profiles Theatre the drama – and abuse – is real." The feature by Aimee Levitt and Christopher Piatt is an exhaustive exposé – more than 12,000 words – detailing allegations of two decades' worth of misconduct by the Chicago theatre company, including verbal, physical, and psychological abuse of company members and other artists; sexual harassment and misconduct; unsafe fight choreography; the creation of fictitious female directors to create the appearance of diversity; and a cultlike atmosphere led by Cox. In numerous firsthand accounts from men and women – mostly women – who experienced these abuses, the article crafts a portrait of Cox as a man drawn to a specific type of intense, emotionally and physically violent theatrical work that, in his mind, let him indulge his darkest desires in the name of artistic authenticity...."

Art Par Excellence
The nominees for the 2014-15 Austin Critics Table Awards
DAILY Arts  May 20, 2015
"...After poring over the hundreds of stage productions, concerts, and art exhibitions mounted locally between May 1, 2014, and April 30, 2015, the members of the Austin Critics Table have agreed on the most outstanding work in dance, classical music, visual art, and theatre in the past year and announced the nominees for the 2015 Critics Table Awards...."

The First To Question
Remembering the ultimate theatre historian, Oscar Brockett, 1923-2010
Arts Story  November 19, 2010, by Robert Faires
"...Measuring the impact that the late Oscar Brockett had upon the world is well nigh impossible, but consider this: His books History of the Theatre and The Essential Theatre have been standard texts in the study of the art form for some 40 and 35 years, respectively. Even calculating conservatively, that's at least a few hundred thousand students in the U.S..."

Point Austin: Give Perry a Brain Scan
Governors who reject federal stimulus money need their heads examined
News Column  March 6, 2009, by Michael King
"...It's no secret that much of what passes for official politics is more accurately described as political theatre. Next week, for example, state Senate Republicans will raise the curtain on their "voter ID" bill, part of a national GOP crusade against virtually nonexistent fraudulent voting..."

This Don Cheadle movie is a rare Hollywood creature: an action picture with ambiguity, a blockbuster with more questions than answers, a shoot-’em-up thriller with a sense of moral and geopolitical ambivalence.
Film Review  August 29, 2008, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...If you’re looking for a few hours of mindless, uncomplicated, air-conditioned escapism to get you through a hot late-summer’s evening, I’d recommend you look some place other than Traitor. After all, this is a movie in which Islamic terrorists engage in long discussions about the contradictions of modern warfare before they blow things up and who say things like, “Terrorism is theatre,” to one another during quiet moments..."

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