Have you heard the one about Lieberman and the sheep? Or the one about Levinson and his nail business? Maybe the one about Kaminsky, the kleptomaniac?
The Terrapin Puppet Theatre visited COCA last week and they gave young St. Louis audiences a taste of some very fine children's theatre. This was the latest in a splendid series that COCA has offered for some years.
Can a horror be beautiful? In Euripedes' "Medea" we see that it can indeed. Of all revenge stories this is the revenge story. St. Louis University has mounted a fine production of Robinson Jeffers' free adaptation of Euripedes' play.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca is often called "the Spanish Shakespeare". His play, "Life is a Dream", is enjoying a superb production at SIU Edwardsville. This play, from 1635, is one of the brightest gems of the Golden Age of Spanish Drama. I thank the gods for university theatres; they seem the only producers who have the desire and the ability to present such classical wonders.
How often have you seen a modern play that was not written in America or England? Most St. Louis companies produce them rarely or never. How can we not be provincial in our outlook if we close our eyes and ears to most of the world? Phillip Boehm's Upstream Theater is a precious bulwark against that provincialism: they do only international plays. And they do them very well.
I went to "Blue Man Group" at the Peabody last night and my eyes, my ears, my intelligence, my taste and my patience were all violently assaulted. This sort of production is aimed at audiences who won't be satisfied unless they're left staggering out the doors, reeling from sensory overload.
The Webster Conservatory has mounted a simply terrific "Into the Woods"! I always say that your best bang for the buck in entertainment comes from university theatres—and the Conservatory is right at the top of my list when it comes to unfailingly excellent musical theatre.
What can one make of "Hamlet"? Last night I learned that if someone is very intelligent and gifted she can "Make Hamlet" into a refreshing, gripping delight.
It's been two-and-a-half years since Deanna Jent's remarkable play, "Falling", premiered at the Mustard Seed Theatre. This has been a busy time for Ms. Jent and her play. An off-Broadway production in 2012 was met with glowing reviews (and a nomination for a Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Play"). "Falling" was produced in Los Angeles in 2013 and is appearing all over the country this year. Next year Brazil!
When I went to grad school at the University of Leeds in England—way back in 1960—some of the theatre folks there still told tales of a "crazy Nigerian" student who used to hang by his heels at cast parties. Well, that crazy Nigerian was Wole Soyinka and he went on to become one of Africa's greatest playwrights and novelists. In 1986 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.