Friday, May 26, 2017

The Village Voice Obies Issue is Available Now

The Obies 

You can always count on NYC's theater community to hold a critical (and sometimes scathing) lens up to everything happening in the world at large. Celebrating the year's standout performances, the Obies (now in their 62nd year) acknowledge dramatic works that tackle searing topics, ranging from politically-inspired talks in 1993 Norway (Oslo) to rust-belt morals (Sweat) to the slave trade (Underground Railroad Game) to…the burgeoning sexuality of a gaggle of soccer teammates (The Wolves). Curtain up: it's showtime.
A 24-Hour Party People's History of the U.S.
Two hundred and forty years of American pop music may seem like a lot to cover in one show. Not for Taylor Mac. The musical provocateur, previously awarded an Obie for his dazzling performance in 2010's "The Lily's Revenge," will bring "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music" on tour to key cities this fall. This follows a 24-hour long version of the show he performed at St. Ann's Warehouse. How's that for stamina?
Humor's Hard Truths
Deriving humor from the American slave trade seems like an ill-fated exercise. But that is exactly what co-creators Jennifer Kidwell & Scott R. Sheppard have accomplished with "Underground Railroad Game," which just took home a Best New American Theater Work Obie. The piece's name stems from an educational tool once employed in elementary school classrooms, that Sheppard actually played as a kid. The relevancy of 'Underground' in America today is unfortunately still resounding.
The "Universal Things" that Bind Us
How does one turn a little-seen movie about a band of Egyptians stuck in a bucolic Israeli village into a viable, accessible musical? Writer Itamar Moses, composer David Yazbek & director David Cromer's collective, nuanced approach in "The Band's Visit" answers this question in spades. The comedic elements they've crafted speak to anyone stuck in a listless state (physically/metaphorically), and the subtle musical touches help to potentially redefine the oft flashy genre.
"This Play Changed My Life"
Scoring a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Obies, Paula Vogel was already riding the high of her new play "Indecent," a momentous achievement in its own right. The drama explores several issues that have long been close to the storied playwright's heart, including female empowerment and sexuality, gender constructions, Jewish heritage, the potency of theater and the over-arching institutions that seem fixated on constraining these indomitable, formidable forces. 
Lynn Nottage's Next Act
Lynn Nottage is imbued with a genuine, karmic sense of fairness and egalitarianism. Having brought to life the struggles and frustrations of the people of the rust-belt's Reading, Pennsylvania, in her award-winning production of "Sweat," she was adamant about giving something back to the community that provided her with her rich source material. With "This is Reading," she has curated a multimedia/live performance piece in a touching (and free) tribute to the people.
J.T. Rogers's Journey to Oslo Started in the East Village 
J.T. Rogers has a knack for the international. An uncanny understanding of global-politics, and how those themes can grippingly translate on to the stage, have dominated his body of work – to the delight of critics and audiences alike. In "Oslo," Rogers draws out the back channel dealings that ultimately lead to the Oslo Accord settled on between Israeli and Palestinian envoys. As Oslo actor Jefferson Mays puts it, Rogers "writes what he doesn't know," and the results are inspiring.  
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