The Story of September in Five Parts -- Part II

I’ve seen four theatre productions this month and I wouldn’t mind getting a refund for a few of them. I saw ‘Belleville’ by Amy Herzog. I decided to buy a ticket to the production because there has been talk that Herzog’s play could be the signal of something new in American theatre. I’m going to write this and I can’t believe I’m going to do it but I want to be brave in my artistic life. I didn’t like it and I can tell you why face to face. The flip side is that I learned something about myself as an playwright and current trends in American theatre from my intense dislike of it. I must add that ‘Belleville’ did include two roles that were played by actors of color. Hooray for diversity!

Next production up to bat was ‘Seven Guitars’ by August Wilson produced by No Rules Theatre Company.  It was my first time seeing this particular play by Mr. Wilson and he nor the actors disappointed me. I am not going to give a synopsis of the play. I will say as a playwright who currently believes the key to a good play is structure, Mr. Wilson built his story brick by brick and when it all came together, my jaw dropped. Watching the actors interpret the story was liking enjoying a fine meal. Every morsel was delicious and felt so good and satisfying going down. I love seeing people of color on stage telling their stories. I’m so starved for it. My only issue was most of the actors were on the young side. I was so enthralled by ‘Seven Guitars’ that I decided that had to read the August Wilson Century Play cycle now. I went to the library and checked out every Wilson play they had on the shelf. 

The third play I used my hard-earned money to see was ‘Marie Antoinette’ by David Adjmi. I really enjoyed the set design and staging. I spent quite a bit of my time during the performance studying the set design. The production employed three actors of color, including an Asian-American woman, a rarity in these parts, for roles that may or may not been writing for people of color (I haven’t seen the script.). The playwright is also an artist of color. I'm must admit that I'm very baffled by the theatre's decision to start their fall season with this play. It feels like a work that is better suited for production in the spring or early summer.

The final production I saw this month was ‘The Tiny House Plays’ produced by Pinky Swear ProductionsThis was innovative theatre at it’s best brimming with work from local playwrights and actors exploring a world that looks very much like today (diverse). The five different short plays (playlets) are linked by its location, four tiny houses at Boneyard Studios. It was my first semi-interactive theatre experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My favorite playlets were ‘Big Bread’ by Laura Zam and ‘Josie, June, and Death’ by Ann and Shawn Fraistat. I loved Nathan Alston’s performance in ‘Big Bread.’

The most important part of the production was the fact that a theatre troupe had found an alternative way to stage their work and that is so very important to me. I’m committed to writing the stories inside of me and releasing them into the world. I’ve made my peace with the fact that in order to get my work onstage I will probably be responsible for making it happen aka producing it. It’s why I’m keeping my day job. 

Chinita's DMV Diversity Scorecard: September was a pretty decent month for local theatres producing stories by artists of color being performed by artists of color.