The play begins and almost immediately it is clear why Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in the Sun" has been highly successful and celebrated for over 50 years. Her genius not only lies within the dynamic characters she created, but also in the manner in which she captured the human condition with such precision and authenticity.
The Black Rep's production of the near iconic "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" is a vibrant interpretation that keeps the focus squarely on the material and performances. Based on the 1975 choreopoem by Ntozake Shange, the production features 20 spoken word poems interwoven with choreography, as voiced by seven formidable actresses and musician Jeff Anderson.
What if Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. got together one evening, just to have a conversation? Would history change? Would they find common ground? Could they even get along? The Black Rep and director Ron Himes join playwright Jeff Stetson in asking this question in the effective, thought-provoking drama "The Meeting."
Some one-person shows have one character. Some have many characters. "Emergency," currently at The Black Rep, has one actor and many characters. Like most one-person shows, it's more storytelling than drama, though it has moments of theatrical excitement, thanks both to playwright Daniel Beaty and actor Ron Conner.
My friend the playwright/producer Joan Lipkin (of That Uppity Theatre Company fame) once remarked that theatre in St. Louis was mostly about real estate. What she meant was that there are far more theatre companies in town than there are spaces in which they can perform.
Let’s face it, the villain is the most interesting character in a play. Without a worthy opponent, there’s little suspense. Villains can’t afford to be wishy-washy. They thrive on conflict. They love to concoct schemes to squash the competition. The skewed logic of villains can be seductive. (Aren’t we quick to rationalize our own behavior?)
The Black Rep's world premier of Steve Broadnax and Michael Bordner's "Smash/Hit" is neither an off-the-chart success nor a box office flop, but it has the chance to develop into a solid hit. Building on the tradition of popular music as cultural touchstone, the show weaves original songs throughout its narrative. The varying lyrical quality and roughly mixed beats reveal not only a drive to share our stories with others, but an attempt to gain understanding, affect behavior and change lives through music.
Other than the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the period immediately following the end of the Civil War is not a subject commonly covered in books, art or theater. I had never given much thought to this fact, myself. But, after seeing "The Whipping Man," a play by Matthew Lopez currently on stage at The Black Rep, it's a wonder that this confusing, uncertain period isn't the setting for more stories.
In the lobby of the Grandel Theater, home of The Black Rep, there is a display case full of photographs, books and memorabilia from 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
The fine people at the Black Rep bring us another quirky, intelligent, original offering in "Insidious".