Tag Archives: Karen Stephens
American Son at Zoetic Stage doesn’t offer solutions to the complexity of race so much as explore with increasing intensity the exact craggy contours of the gulf. Christopher Demos-Brown’s play brings the audience alongside those struggling with the conflicting and seemingly irreconcilable pressures on not just African-Americans but everyone awash in the social maelstrom.
When Christopher Demos-Brown’s racially charged drama American Son — which has played in other cities and bowed on Broadway — finally opens this week at Zoetic Stage in Miami, it will be, as director Stuart Meltzer says, “a homecoming.”
In this post-9/11 time, we ruminate even more than during the Black Plague about the seeming randomness of blind fate or God’s inscrutable will — and wondering is there a meaning to life. Those questions permeate a highly theatrical stage version of Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey — much of it re-told in rhyming verse — in an intriguing Miami New Drama production written by, directed and starring off-Broadway fixture David Greenspan.
Few plays have been as ruthlessly photographic depicting the pornographic incest of lobbying and corruption as well as the clash of idealism and pragmatism as Sarah Burgess’ Kings, currently on the dissection tray at GableStage.
In Palm Beach Dramaworks’ triumphant production of August Wilson’s Fences, this Troy Maxson rages. Whether this physical kinetic Troy is delivering a defiant challenge to death, railing at the racial prejudice that has undercut his dreams, or privately excoriating his own guilt for making destructive choices — this Troy unleashes a lifetime of festering wrath in a basement barrel baritone.
Having Our Say is likely the first play in which both of its characters are centenarian women of color. At Primal Forces’ regional premiere, this means two roles of uncommon heft and history for Karen Stephens and Avery Sommers.
For some who view two-part events on Broadway and five-hour epic tragedies as the height of the theatrical form, the 10-minute play is condescendingly tolerated as the poor relation at the arts table. But not in Miami. City Theatre, a home-grown company created by three colleagues around a kitchen table 23 years ago, has become the leading purveyor of short-form theatre in the country.
Maybe it’s walking under a Times Square marquee with his name emblazoned overhead. Maybe it’s being asked for his autograph at the stage door. Some new level of realization keeps hitting Christopher Demos-Brown on the cusp of becoming one of the first South Florida playwrights to have a work on Broadway when American Son opens Nov. 4.
In Zoetic Stage’s premiere Dracula, the vampire is a sexist pig (as are several men in the play). The protagonists are strong-willed proto-feminists. Together, they embody a society struggling with re-envisioning what self-empowered women can and should be. Michael McKeever’s script as directed by Stuart Meltzer presents social commentary told with droll, wry and self-aware humor, and the retelling of the classic horror narrative.
Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production of On Golden Pond is a pleasing charmer suffused with warmth and aided immeasurably by a skilled cast and director. It’s well worth an evening’s divertissement. But do not go expecting to the kind of vibrance you remember from the 1981 film because few actors are Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.