Tag Archives: Karen Stephens
Slow Burn Theatre Company’s Matilda is a lesson in theater education, showing how a regional director takes a successful Broadway show and road tour and makes it his own highly entertaining production that showcases many homegrown talents from South and Central Florida.
Armature premiering at Island City Stage explores racism, politics, homosexuality, marital relations in tale suffused with humor and tragedy. The deeply committed work of the cast, co-directors and design team delivers the guts of Andrew Kramer’s overarching earnest call to aggressively address the social challenges of the day. But this admirable production illustrates the script still need a bit more work.
If Dickens’ opening line in A Tale of Two Cities has become a trite cliché through overuse it has become a painfully accurate truism about theater over the past two years, especially South Florida theater. Crippling loss and inspiring resurrection. Surrender and perseverance. And , now, the Covid threat has reasserted. But looking back on those two years delivers a testament worth celebrating and learning from.
A look back at 2020: Yes, South Florida theater was crippled by the pandemic. But its acolytes remained driven to express their artistry, and patrons remained ravenous for their work. They continued to explore projects, create avenues and seek paychecks with efforts ranged from filmed full-fledged productions to monologues newly penned in bedrooms.
With exploratory baby steps, South Florida theater companies are staging events: A cut-down Hamlet by the Shakespeare Troupe, a filmed full production of Closer Than Ever by MNM, and Patti LuPone in a livestreamed concert for the Broward Center.
Asked to spotlight specific problems and potential solutions, everybody had a story of racism infecting the South Florida theater community. Some cited unintentional micro-aggressions in pressure-laden rehearsals. Others underscored systemic failings whose reform will require leaders, supporters and audiences to revaluate everything from what goes on stage to who decides what goes on stage.
In-depth report: Sets still standing on stages are silent pledges that these productions and theater itself in South Florida will resume – albeit in what many believe will be a different world. But what that cultural world will look like for audiences and artists could not be more uncertain, say theater professionals who have had to rethink and rethink again their plans. It’s different from when other disasters have struck Florida like hurricanes; this one may be open-ended.
Thinking Cap Theatre’s stunning production of Beckett’s Happy Days, offers an unmitigated triumph of a performance by Karen Stephens expertly molded by Nicole Stodard, but to say this absurdist bleak work is not for everyone is a gross understatement. Some will downright hate it. Others will be transfixed. Few will escape without considering whether how we use the time of our lives is meaningless.
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.”