Theater


Originally published on HowlRound on January 30, 2020.

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Tonia Sina in rehearsal.

In case you haven’t noticed, we are experiencing a revolution in the way artists and entertainers rehearse and perform intimacy.

The seeds were planted at least ten years ago, when a few highly trained movement specialists started noticing that they were often called upon to handle scenes of sexual intimacy in rehearsal rooms. Working in isolation, they all realized that while many of their existing skills could be applied to that task, new techniques were necessary to choreograph intimacy in an ethical, efficient way. Today, Laura Rikard, Chelsea Pace, Tonia Sina, Siobhan Richardson, and Alicia Rodis …

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Originally published by Ms. Magazine on September 16, 2019. 

holland-taylor-annI’ve always looked forward to being old enough to play Ann Richards in a one-woman show—so imagine what happened when I saw that Holland Taylor’s Ann was on Broadway HD and running at Arena Stage, with Jayne Atkinson in the starring role.

I was eager to talk to the actor and playwright about her career, the things that led to her one-woman show and how she feels about handing it over to other actors. Taylor opened up to Ms. about how it is that Ann came to be—and what comes next.

I know you studied theater in college, so I’m guessing you knew before that you wanted to be an actor. When did you know? What drew you to the theater?

It’s always been a little mysterious to me, in a way, because

Read more at Ms. Magazine

Originally published by HowlRound on June 13, 2019.

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#MeToo has raised many questions about what kinds of intimacy are created in rehearsal rooms and classrooms, and to what end. As I’ve listened to the stories of survivors, I’ve been struck by the fact that the abusers in these cases, mostly men, weren’t doing anything that their predecessors in the American theatre didn’t do openly and without repercussions. At least three of the fathers of the American Method—Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Elia Kazan—had reputations for treating men and women differently, as well as for treating both women actors and women characters as sex objects. It made me wonder: Is there a connection between use of the Method and the behavior called out by #MeToo?

Since the 1930s, American theatre has been operating under the spell of the oh-so-seductive Method, a psychological acting technique that …

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Originally published by Ms. Magazine on April 15, 2019.

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Hope Singsen.

Hope Singsen had done very little producing before she began putting together The #HealMeToo Festival, which just wrapped in New York City.

She started with a plan to find a space to produce Skin, her solo show about the road and obstacles to healing and reclaiming intimacy after childhood sexual trauma, and to share that space with other women with similar stories to tell. From there, the ideas and connections just kept coming—and a successful crowdfunding effort gave way to the #HealMeToo Festival. The three-week event features …

Read more at Ms. Magazine

Originally published on HowlRound on April 11, 2018.

MeToo_hashtag_digital_text_on_RGB_screen_2017-12-09_version_24_(pattern)My #metoo theatre story is from high school. Our theatre department consisted of five women and whatever hapless guys we could convince to come play a part so that we weren’t limited to just doing Steel Magnolias over and over. The women referred to our teacher as the Dirty Old Man, or D.O.M. for short. He did everything guys like that do—touched us for too long, stood too close, talked about our bodies, stared at our breasts. But we liked making theatre, so we put up with it. None of us even thought to tell an adult what was going on, but years later I did hear he was fired when a student more woke than we were went to the principal.

Thirty years later, the zeitgeist has shifted towards condemning sexist behavior, but some people—primarily women—in the theatre are still forced to navigate …

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Dutch West India Company director Peter Minuit (Jeffrey King) and Lenape matriarch Mother (Sheila Tousey) have an interaction in 1600s Manahatta that will change lives for centuries to come. Witnessing are her family members Le-le-wa’-you (Tanis Parenteau) and Toosh-ki-pa-kwis-i (Rainbow Dickerson). Photo by Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Originally published by HowlRound on April 2, 2018.

As an advocate for creating equity in the American theatre through consciously changing whom we choose to represent on stage, I am often told, “but that would interfere with the creative process.” The playwright’s vision, some argue, would be compromised by any effort to pursue casting quotas. The dictum “don’t tell the playwright what to write,” though generally sound dramaturgical advice, can be used as an excuse not to do the hard work necessary to creating change.

Not so with Manahatta, by Mary Kathryn Nagle, which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in March 2018. Since being chosen for OSF’s 2018 season almost a year ago, Manahatta has undergone not only the usual rewrites, but also a very specific transformation initiated by Artistic Director Bill Rauch: Nagle flipped one of the main characters from being a man to being a woman. Not only did this not interfere with her vision, but she is actually able to better represent the cultural reality of her subject matter.

Manahatta tells the story of the 2008 financial crisis alongside the story of the “purchase” by the Dutch from the Lenape of what is now called Manhattan. In what is becoming a Nagle trademark, every actor plays a role in each time, often transitioning without leaving the stage, so that history becomes the present and the present becomes history right before the audience’s eyes. One actor plays …

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(L to R) Kalani Queypo (John Ridge), Jake Waid (John Ross/Jim Ross), Kyla García (Sarah Polson) and Dorea Schmidt (Sarah Bird Northrup/Flora) in Sovereignty. Photos by Tony Powell.

Originally published by Ms. Magazine Blog on January 10, 2018

As a student at Tulane Law School, activist, writer and lawyer Mary Kathryn Nagle once persuaded her Critical Race Theory professor to let her write a play as her final paper that was based on Worcester v. Georgia, an 1832 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that tribal nations have sovereignty over what happens on their lands. President Andrew Jackson, who appeared as a character in the play, refused to enforce the decision. That final project became the seed for Sovereignty, a new play commissioned by Arena Stage which begins previews on January 12 in Washington, D.C.

In the intervening years, Nagle, a member of the Cherokee Nation, became a lawyer for Pipestem Law—where she works for the restoration of tribal sovereignty, Indian civil and constitutional rights, and the safety of Native women—and an accomplished playwright. (This season, Nagle will have …

Read more on the Ms. Magazine Blog

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