Here are the things NWT loved (or didn’t) this week, and a few things to look forward to this weekend.
Highlights this week included a showcase of diverse Black artists curated by Dani Tirrell; the Intersections Festival of comedians; a trip to Georgetown with On the Boards and keyon gaskin; and upcoming shows from director Malika Oyetimein, choreographer Kyle Abraham, Fashion District NW, and the Represent! Multicultural Playwrights Festival.
For details on any of the shows (like times & ticket info), view them by date on the Calendar page.
This week we’re most excited for the return of superstar director Malika Oyetimein to the Seattle area, for a two-day staged reading of a new musical in-development, Homefront, at Village Theatre’s First Stage in Issaquah. Homefront is about the many women who served in WWII by keeping all the factories running — and what happened to their newfound freedom when the men came back to their jobs and expected women would contentedly go back home. Homefront had a good reading during Village’s Festival of New Musicals last year. It will be neat to see what’s been changed, how Oyetimein’s considerable directorial vision stages it, and how the great cast — comprised of Bea Corley, Ann Cornelius, Lauren Du Pree, Frederick Hagreen, Alexandria J. Henderson, MJ Jurgensen, Cobey Mandarino, Be Russell, Hannah Schuerman, Brenna Wagner, and Billie Wildrick — brings it to life.
Also this weekend: on Saturday (March 30), Fashion District NW (no relation to NW Theatre) premieres its convergence of visual art and fashion design, in Fashion is ART, at Tacoma Art Museum. Fashion is ART showcases several designers and other artists in a party it describes as an “art happening,” in which wearable design will be displayed in new and artistic ways. Features designers Chiara Zuccolotto, Dawnamatrix, Jersey Virago, Lumen Couture, Nox Fashion House, Stone Crow Designs, and Sloane White Couture; and additional artists Amy Stone, Dominic Gomez, Drawing Blueberry, Jared Ribic, Michelle Osborne, and Veronica Lynn Harper.
Culminating a week of events (including a film screening, demonstration, and master class), choreographer Kyle Abraham has a two-day run of his show, A.I.M, March 29-30 at the Moore Theatre. Program will feature works all created by Artistic Director Kyle Abraham within the last two years, including: INDY, Abraham’s first full-length solo in nearly a decade; Meditation: A Silent Prayer, a new work featuring voice-over recording by Carrie Mae Weems and visual artwork by Titus Kaphar; Drive, a high-energy, propulsive work set to thumping club beats; and a duet excerpt from Dearest Home, Abraham’s latest evening length work that explores the concepts of Love, Longing and Loss.
Beginning on Sunday is Represent!: A Multicultural Playwrights Festival. Each night, a different theatre company — among the sponsoring companies Pratidhwani, eSe Teatro (co-presenting with Parley this year), SIS, and the Hansberry Project — puts up a different play reading, generally of new work. Playwrights for the full-length plays are Dipika Guha, Julieta Vitullo, and Andrew Lee Creech; the local playwrights showcase on Sunday afternoon includes shorts by Stacy D. Flood and others; and a shorts night on Tuesday includes pieces written by acting favorites Kathy Hsieh, Corinne Magin, and many more.
Closing this weekend are MAP’s Trevor (recommended; see review here); ACT’s Romeo & Juliet; and A Little Night Music at Tacoma Little Theatre. So if you planned to catch those, now’s your chance.
The past week could best be described as the week we saw a lot of great stuff, and had to miss just as much. It’s a bummer when life gets in the way. But too much good theatre & performance is not a bad problem to have.
Last weekend, the second-annual Intersections Festival held another great and popular comedy showcase, featuring all the funny people mainstream comedy often shuns: trans and queer folks, people of color, women, people with disabilities, and more. At Saturday’s 7 pm performance, we especially liked Clara Pluton, El Sanchez, Woody Shticks, and Jill Silva; out transman Max Delsohn was the highlight of the later show. See the impressive list of all Intersections performer bios here. In addition to a strong and varied comedy lineup, we also like that the festival continues to have the best La Croix selection in town.
On the Boards went off-site last weekend for a special show, by Portland artist keyon gaskin, held at the Oxbow gallery in Georgetown. Not titled with words, but a color — lavender — and described as a self-portrait, the show lived and moved somewhere in the space of immersive/fish bowl, participatory/outsider, free form/controlled. The portrait was both performative and written — attendees were given multimedia books by the artist upon entering, which were summarily reclaimed at the end, signaling the show’s end. But the portrait was told just as importantly through the (mostly-White) audience’s gaze and response to the Black queer artist, whose work was in fact acted out by other artists. Meanwhile, gaskin curled up comfortably behind a laptop on the floor, appearing inattentive, but unquestionably orchestrating the whole show at the point of a finger. On the Boards wears the field trip well; this performance would have felt canned in its usual Queen Anne haunts. Here, it worked.
The Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas held a showcase last weekend called Showing Out: The Word & Shout curated by Dani Tirrell that, as expected, was awesome. Better than expectedly awesome. Two artists that made us want to pound the table: singer-composer-musician Gina Williams and poet Robert Lashley. Williams was already a standout after just a couple notes as she and the full lineup opened the showcase with “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the Black National Anthem); in her set, Williams’ arrangement of Crucifixus in Latin let you close your eyes and just soar. Lashley has an unassuming stage presence, but his poignant and beautiful words are a gut-punch. Whether performing or curating, Tirrell knows how to put on a show, and has a gift for finding exceptional artists across art form and genre.
Planning ahead a week: Tirrell returns the following Sunday (April 7), in conversation with dance artist David Rue. You can come to the table and hear them, while chowing down on a meal from one of the city’s finest chefs. That’s the premise behind the Sunday Dinner series, held at Langston Hughes and sponsored by the CD Forum. Past dinner guests include Inye Wokoma, Valerie Curtis-Newton, Stephanie Ellis-Smith, and Courtney “Goldie” Jackson.
Speaking of chowing down, we were excited to do so at Jitterbug Perfume, the latest from Cafe Nordo. This production came about from an unusual, storybook-worthy development process (which you can read about here), for which Nordo Co-Artistic Director Erin Brindley served as both chef and show director. So how was it? Much like our beignets, it was a mixed bag. Many cast members and some scenes were good, but the overall production seemed lacking in vision and direction, so it may be that Brindley undertook too much here. The food was visually stunning but at turns inconsistent, underwhelming, and overwhelming in flavor; and all was very slow to arrive. Dessert, meanwhile, was stellar — and served in by far the tiniest portion.
It runs for a while yet, but make sure to get to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Village Theatre. With great design work, direction, choreography and cast, it’s a delight.
For more details on any of the above shows, check out NWT’s Calendar page.
Wondering what’s opening in April? Reviewer Miryam Gordon does and exceptional job of keeping track of theatre openings each month. When her roundup for next month posts (shortly), you can find it here. And specializing in drag shows and queer arts, Seattle Gay Scene runs a robust calendar, which you can find here.
R. Barron reviewed arts behind the scenes (awards, grants, etc.), before writing for Seattle Gay Scene & NWTheatre.org. Passions include theatre, new works, and arts showcasing underrepresented voices.