Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My top 10 + plays for 2013

For me, at least, last year was a great year for theater in New York City--much of it in small venues off and off-off Broadway.

Here are 10 of my favorites--shows I'm hugely grateful for. Many are shows I'll remember for years--and will see again if I have the chance. (See my earlier posts about some of them.) In order from the beginning of the year:

Life and Times: Episodes 1-4 by the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, a Soho Rep production at the Public Theater. I look forward to parts 5-?

The Laramie Project Cycle by the Tectonic Theater Project at Brooklyn Academy of Music:

Part I: The Laramie Project
Part II: The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Mark Nadler, directed by David Schweizer at the York Theatre

Marcellus Shale by the Talking Band at La Mama

Arguendo by the Elevator Repair Service at the Public Theater

Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, by Anne Washburn, directed by Michael Friedman at Playwrights Horizon

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, set at a women's prison, directed by Philippa Lloyd at BAM; a powerful production from the Donmar Warehouse

Iyom by Lou-Lou Igbokwe, directed by Jessica Creane at the Workshop Theater

Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress, a reading directed by Katrin Hilbe at the Workshop Theater.
In Childress's extraordinary play--daring for its time and still relevant now--a majority black cast with a white director rehearse a Broadway play about lynching. Childress was an African-American actress as well as playwright, and Trouble in Mind, her first professionally produced play, won an Obie in 1956. It never reached Broadway because Childress was unwilling to make the changes, including a new title and an upbeat ending that optioning producers wanted.

Why have I never until now heard of this woman or this play, I wondered, as I watched and listened. I hope to see a full production of it one day soon.

Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw, staged and performed by Bedlam

Hamlet by William Shakespeare, staged and performed by Bedlam

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