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Comment Archives: stories: Theater

Re: “Itching, Scratching, Discharge

I agree--especially concerning the tediousness of listening to a play satirizing an audience we're supposed to identify with...and don't.

Is it totally declasse to link to another review? http://thatplayfuckingsucked.blogspot.com/

Posted by thatplaysucked on 10/28/2011 at 10:31 PM

Re: “Revolutionary Song and Dance

Thanks for coming to review the show, Alison. Just wanted to let you and your readers know that we've fixed the speaker buzz the next day, so it's no longer a distraction. -Tim, Marketing Director at Miracle

Posted by Tim@Milagro on 10/27/2011 at 7:49 AM

Re: “No One-Trick Moose

He proved that Canadians can be just as disgusting as Americans. And that means something. I have absolutely no idea what, though.

Posted by Todd Mecklem on 10/23/2011 at 3:56 PM

Re: “No One-Trick Moose

its not that he sucks, lots of comedy hacks suck.
Its that he doesnt seem to know it.

Posted by I'mrightyerwrong on 10/22/2011 at 7:03 AM

Re: “No One-Trick Moose

I always thought this guy sucked. Seeing that he's going bald now makes him even worse.

Andy Dick is far superior by comparison.

Posted by DamosA on 10/22/2011 at 1:34 AM

Re: “Figuring out Freedom

It is not true that the parking situation around the Portland Playhouse is the reason that the Playhouse moved its productions downtown - not true whatsoever. While neighbors are in discussion with the Playhouse about a better parking plan for Playhouse patrons, the Playhouse moved its plays out of the building on NE Prescott because they were violating zoning code concerning use of the building. A quick fact-check email to the NA would have verified this and avoided misinforming the public, but alas.

Alan Silver, King Neighborhood Association

Posted by luciente on 10/20/2011 at 2:57 PM

Re: “No One-Trick Moose

my bum is on the swedish, swedish

Posted by # on 10/20/2011 at 9:12 AM

Re: “Filling Your Dance Card

I love this idea! Great incentive, and a great way to expose dance audiences to the newer, smaller companies. I'll probably be participating.

Posted by Ginny on 10/06/2011 at 11:48 PM

Re: “Oklahoma! Okay.

Rodney- I really want to thank you for posting a response to the review. Not only do I think that this is a discussion worth having, but your thoughtful insights on your own experience as a performer in "Oklahoma!" are extremely valuable in a conversation such as this.
I have to agree with you and PCS blog commenter Anne Adams (from Portland Monthly) that the opportunity to see a play with an all African American cast "without the backdrop of racism or political agenda as its antagonist" has been rare in American theater.
The choice to let the performers of Oklahoma! simply "BE" is not only a progressive way to present the musical, but also a valid take on how color-blind casting is implemented on today's stage. I now find myself wishing I had thought to explore this argument in the original review—it brings me to questions that I think might be at the very heart of our discussion. Are we as audience members meant to view "Oklahoma!" through a colorblind lens, or are we to see it through the historical perspective of a black town in the South at the turn of the century? Or both? Neither?
I think my discomfort—and what I ultimately found troubling about the production—was that textually and aesthetically (from directorial and design perspectives) the show lacked a tone of realism that would have grounded it in the history that the setting was based on. As you have pointed out, PCS' and your own research have been extensive and I was hoping to see some of that research seep into the fabric of the play, especially in regards to that specific time in African American history. What would this town actually look like? Feel like? Smell like?
Perhaps I'm being a greedy audience member. Maybe that's asking too much of a production that first and foremost was an energizing and uplifting night at the theater. Please note that I don't want, in any way, for these comments to overshadow the fact that I found the performances in "Oklahoma!" wonderful and the play to be a fine production. I can't help but pick at motivations, though. Especially when they are based on history, and when that history is one that involves America's treatment of race and culture. Which I think we can both agree is a topic worth discussing and pondering through the theater and other forms of artistic expression.
Also - to keep the discussion going further, I'd like to point you and anyone else who is following the convo to check out Barry Johnson's review over at Oregon Arts Watch (http://www.orartswatch.org/theater-review-…) and also a Mercury Blogtown thread that is currently underway: http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/Blogto…

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by noah.dunham on 10/05/2011 at 12:36 PM

Re: “Oklahoma! Okay.

A truly thoughtful and inspiring response, Rodney. Encompasses a lot of what I believe many readers felt after reading Noah's review. Nothing problematic, just actors BEING. Thanks for sharing!

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by SarahGeeMD on 10/04/2011 at 4:20 PM

Re: “Oklahoma! Okay.

Thank you for your thoughtful mentioning of race and the effect it could possibly play in this new production of ‘Oklahoma’ by casting a predominately African American cast. However, with respect to you, the fact that our director Chris Coleman decided to cast a predominately black cast is enough, in my opinion. The fact that the Black cowboys and frontier women of the West during this historic period never get talked about or seen is enough.

On the first day of rehearsal my cast mates and I were relieved to find out that nothing in the original book or music was going to be altered, for the mere fact that we were an all black cast. But, we did however learn a great deal about our ancestors of that time through in depth research, dialect work (speaking in Southern dialect vs. Midwestern, and the importance of that.) and constant discussion during the entire rehearsal process through to production.

It seems, to me, that so many things in the show now ring with greater significance and truth; because I am portraying a black cowboy of that time not just a cowboy. The mere fact that I am a black cowboy already holds weight, significance and credibility. The stakes inevitably are higher from the moment “Curly” steps on stage in the silence, stands and breathes in the morning air, then sits to pour dirt out of his boot, before setting down to open his mouth with the now optimistically pondering lyric, “There’s a bright Golden haze on the meadow” through to the Act 2 line, “They are gon’ make a state out of this territory. They ‘gon put it in the Union. The Country’s a changin’ gotta change with it”.

It gives me chills to be able to speak such truth from that perspective, and it says so much about what it must have been like for the black settlers/cowboys of that time and the urgency of hope and promise they must have felt. And there are many moments throughout the libretto that echo that sentiment, with each and every character in the show.

Before rehearsals began, like every theater piece I embark on I do a fair amount of research on the subject matter that I will soon inhabit. I spent the entire two months prior reading various books on Black Cowboys, Black Frontier men, Jim Crow Laws, Slavery, The Black Exodus of 1879, among others; and a very special book which gave me the validation I needed to provide a thorough response to your piece. The book I am referring to is called, “Acres of Aspiration” by Hannibal Johnson. After reading it I then re-read the script to Oklahoma and found many new textures and layers that I did not see or hear before. I was very pleased to find on the first day that the creative team for Oklahoma had done thorough research and more to validate everything that would be done and said in this particular production.

In the book, ‘Acres of Aspiration’ it “examines the life and legacy of some of America’s best known all-Black towns. Prominently in Kansas, then principally in Oklahoma, all-Black towns founded by Black seekers mushroomed in the post-Reconstruction era. Southern migrants formed their own frontier communities, largely self-sustaining. Black towns offered hope. Hope of full citizenship; hope of self-governance; and hope of full participation, through land ownership, in the American Dream.”

With that being said, these all black towns were built so that blacks at the time would be free of the racism and laws that once restricted them in the South and other places, where they could live without any of the hardships that we have come to know as the “Black struggle” and they could simply focus on HOPE and a better life; much like their white counterparts.

So the choice to keep the script intact and not put an agenda or statement of ‘race’ on it, to me, seems like the harder and less obvious choice and ultimately logical and accurate for the time and place in which the piece takes place. And gives people a chance to see a story on stage that rarely gets told in theater: an African American story about hope and love without the backdrop of Racism or political agenda as its antagonist.

I take great pride in the fact that we are doing something very special and ultimately important to who we are, not just as Black people but who we all are as Americans and all of our contributions to the History of this great country. With the end result being we’re no different. That is what makes this new production of Oklahoma to me seem fresh, timely and ultimately universal. Where at its heart and center is the universal theme of community and love. What is problematic in that?

I leave with a quote from a woman who spoke at our first day of rehearsal:
“ I have been called Nigger. I have been called Negro. I have been called Black. I have been called African-American. Now I just want to, BE.”

And that is what I feel we are doing, BEING.

By
Rodney Hicks

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Rhicks on 09/30/2011 at 2:24 PM

Re: “Oklahoma! Okay.

Noah, forgive me. I disagree. The Civil Rights Act did not make the plight of the black american dissapear. As I understand it, this is the first professional all-black Oklahoma. It's 2011. This production allowed every single actor on that stage an oppurtunity to get paid to perform parts that otherwise would not be available to them. Again, it's 2011. Coleman didn't need to force the topic of race - it's already present in reviews like this.

0 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by alroho on 09/29/2011 at 1:21 PM

Re: “Shakespeare in the South

I was just in Ashland, actually, and saw Caesar, Love's Labour's [sic] Lost, and Measure for Measure. I tend to agree with your review of Caesar. In general, it felt like the performers were somewhat distracted, and I suspected it was because Pirates was taking their attention, but what do I know. Not musical theater, that's for sure.

Anyway, I wasn't a huge fan of LLL, partially I don't like the play as much, and I didn't care for the themes they chose to emphasize--I see it more about the limits of formal education and the need to be broad-minded, than about "coming of age".

But both it and Measure for Measure were full of the energy and inventiveness that makes OSF productions American and special. I really enjoyed Measure for Measure, and would strongly recommend it. Although the physical sets were underwhelming the innovations and performances were just great. But then again, I felt the harder themes of the play got somewhat submerged in the energy. Of course, Shakespeare is very hard to do right, yet almost always worth the time and the ticket.

PS: Do not eat at "Grilla Bites" on the main drag. They'll fuck up your order, which would suck anyway, and don't give refunds. However, the asian crepe place near Market of Choice is cheap and good, if you don't mind dining near teenagers. Cafe Nomyen.

Posted by jamdox on 09/14/2011 at 10:45 PM

Re: “Q&A: John Oliver

Great show John. Can't remember a thing you said (other than Alan Smith and your dad's winkle!) but nonetheless.......

Posted by PortlandBrit on 09/11/2011 at 9:34 AM

Re: “Bait and Switch

Best. Performer. Ever. A true genius. Even caught him improv'ing on a street corner at Last Thursday once.

Posted by Whiskey&Wings on 08/29/2011 at 9:23 AM

Re: “Bait and Switch

Talented. Ingenious. Delicately irreverent. Reggie is just want the cynicism of the United States of America needs. Now. Long live Reggie and his traveling improvisatory stance on pop political affairs and the mundane set against his breaks beats and timbre that make it oh-so enjoyable to swallow.

Posted by Nix on 08/22/2011 at 9:54 PM

Re: “Comedy Bubble

It's so weird how the most innocuous little topics will incite the most rabid comments. Digging on some of the tag names, though -- here's atcha, hookerwithapenis and homo666. As soon as flamingtesticles signs on, it's a home run.

Posted by Ron on 07/26/2011 at 12:54 PM

Re: “Comedy Bubble

Comedy Is OK is the best comedy show in town. It's $5. Try it, you might like it.

Posted by homo666 on 07/20/2011 at 9:41 PM

Re: “Comedy Bubble

@Mandy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph

Read up on this new invention, and how it might be used to make your 800 word rant decipherable. Other than being visually inaccessible, its pretty accurate. It was wrong for me to mention Ron Funches.

Posted by hookerwithapenis on 07/19/2011 at 6:15 PM

Re: “Comedy Bubble

"Comedy hurts when it's bad. Much more than a shitty band, an awful comedian has the potential to turn audience members away from the art as a whole."

This is a good highlight of the double standard, but I just wanted to chime in that fear of shitty comics is about 30% of the reason I stay away from shows by unproven talents: fear of an obnoxious crowd is the other 70%.

The fake conversation format of stand-up really invites the drunks/assholes/dum-dums to try to participate, and it is really, really annoying, even worse than the "Freebird!" dickbags at concerts.

Posted by Commenty Colin on 07/19/2011 at 4:17 PM

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