Everything is Wonderful

How can everything be so wonderful when the sons of Jacob (played by William Zielinski) and Esther (played by Blair Sams)was killed in an accident? This production is layered with tragedy, empathy, and loss beyond anything anyone can imagine.  Playwright Chelsea Marcantel and director, Noah Himmelstein made the play to center around an Amish couple who deals with the shell shock of the man, Eric who killed their sons shows up to ask to be turned in and then gets forgiveness. Everything is wonderful….

Let me say that I am from Lancaster Pennsylvania and this play was spot on. The way that the Amish live where they don’t necessarily want outsiders in is real.  Though they go into town now and again for jobs the thought of allowing an outsider to live with them to pay off the debt of this imaginable tragedy is almost unheard of. However, the dynamic that Eric (played by J. Hernandez) provides is hard to watch. Although in the regular world even if you gift forgiveness which is always about you and not the receiver, I’ve yet to see forgiveness be so layered that you would work hand in hand with an individual that took your sons. The emotions of that would be too much. Speak. Forgive. Forget. These three words are the binding. The art of saying what happened, forgive the act, and forget is too much and is almost like its own character within this production.Everything is wonderful…

Bishop Makes the Rules

The Bishop makes the rules. He’s like the judge and jury all wrapped in one. The Amish have their own ways of dealing with tragedy whether it extreme like the deaths of Jacob and Esther’s son where the community comes in and aids to the tragedy rape of their eldest daughter, Miri (played by Katie Kleiger).  The Bishop is the one who sets the tone. That tone is one that I know well of even in Lancaster that if an Amish goes to the police even if the accused is wrong, the community will show up and rally against the one who speaks out. Just last week there was a case in Lancaster where a grandfather had been raping his granddaughters and was found guilty. Yet the ones who had “left” who knew all too well how these tragedies are swept up had to rally behind those who spoke up. The community of Amish who still allow Bishops to dictate and make light of such offenses were far numbered by those who were there in support of the abused. I wasn’t taken back by the portrayal of her rape being one of dismissal. I know it happens. It is still happening.  Everything is wonderful…

Shunned and Alone

This production did a great job highlighting Miri’s loneliness. As she decided to go after being baptized and coming back unwilling to repent of her “sins” kept Miri on the outside. Think about it. They allowed the man who killed their sons to sit at the table but gave their daughter plates on the porch. Amish take their church and the “purity” of it seriously. It didn’t matter if Miri was family if she didn’t want to align with the beliefs she would be excommunicated. This is real and against what people will write about still happens. I know of ex-Amish in my circle who can’t go back to their “home” or families unless they denounce their “worldly” ways! Imagine being Miri and knowing that no matter what you say or do no one in the community will even look at you. Beyond that your own parents are treating you like an animal. Jacob and Esther need to continue in the ways of the community and if that means shutting Miri out then so be it! Everything is wonderful….

 Abram and Ruth

Now I spoke of the rape of Miri and it was by the hands of Abram.  He however stood and made a speech to ask for forgiveness and was granted it. He was able to go on sort of speak. He is back in the community after taking what didn’t belong to him. Why didn’t Miri just go along with all of this? Why didn’t she just speak, forgive, and forget? Who is she that she shouldn’t wear her badge of dishonor quietly? Did Abram really go on? Was he not aware everyday of his sins? Now he has eyes for Miri’s sister, Ruth. Talk about keeping it in the family. Ruth is a pleasant young lady who is content. She has no desires like Miri to see beyond the community. Abram doesn’t deserve such a precious gift that Ruth (played by Stephanie Hodge) is. Although Ruth is sweet, eager, young, and full of expectation I saw Ruth as smart and calculating. She loved life but she saw both sides. She in my opinion was the most alone. Here she sits as the one who is willing to obey and stay in line, but she was smart enough to hear. She heard her sister when she spoke. She saw the ways her parents treated Miri and she knew it was wrong. Her parents so caught up in their grief and in their jolting mannerisms to make sure Miri was kept “out” Ruth knew. Everything is wonderful….

Ending….

Although won’t give the ending away what I will is the way in which the production team allowed for the stories at times to be mirrored was beautiful. it flowed in and out of each other sometimes at the same time and other times separately. It was easy to keep track. The times that the characters like we do in real life have these set back moments was real. The drift from reality to our subconscious was in full display. It was great and I was surprised at how well it went.

Mental Health

I was happy to hear that they touched on mental illness. The lineage of which Esther and her mother and now Miri was finding herself dealing with was real.  It made me wonder did they have the mental illness as something that we all have a touch of from just life or did the confines of this “community” and all the rules and ways they live produce it? As Esther is destroying the eggs I knew. I knew that beneath her composure she was losing it. A mother not able to mourn her son’s death properly is now sitting next to the man who took their lives. Her daughter was feeling like no one protected her when she was raped, and she too had dealt with her own layers and I knew. All of this we are okay facade was just that a sham. There was no way that she was ok. Everything isn’t wonderful although they must wipe their pain away. What I will say is there is a movement in Lancaster where since Amish don’t like outsiders in, they are building their own mental health facilities. It sounds good on the outside but is being met with harsh criticisms. They are being called places where the ones who speak the truth on what is happening are being sent to keep quiet. They are being managed by little Bishops who don’t have the eyes of getting help but are there to keep institutional the ways of quietly sweeping the sins of the community under the rug.

Everything is wonderful

Everything is wonderful if you go along. Everything is wonderful if you don’t desire more. Everything is wonderful if you comply. Everything is wonderful if you the viewer go and see this production for yourself. It is eye opening. Although some saw this story as such a beautiful story of forgiveness its about being eye opening and will challenge you in what true forgiveness is and what it looks like. Do you have the real capacity to forgive? Can you call someone who you have had an issue and make true recompence? This production is jarring, eye opening in, and a wild ride that may make you squirm with uncomfortableness. 

Spot on

I had a conversation with the playwright, Chelsea Marcantel and I let her know that not only did she do a great job on being specific to the ideals of what being Amish is she did a classy job writing it so that it didn’t dishonor the Amish. It wasn’t a way to leave and say I can’t stand them. To be honest although a glimpse into their ways are so different, you won’t fully understand. However, it is a call to action on some of the stories that were being told. It validates the struggles that many who have left have known for years. That peace comes at a price. This peace is a journey. Being able to call a spade a spade may seem natural to an outsider but doing so in their community means that you will never have the love and understanding even from those closest to you. Remember that when you want to speak ill of them unless you speak up on the sins that they do that we all should be apart of that conversation. As warm as they are and as they try to have their own lives, it’s the lives of those who are within that I hope is wonderful. Everything can’t be wonderful when you conceal and don’t heal!

The night was wonderful…

Philadelphia Theatre Company is always a classy place to be. The reception when you walk in is unmatched. Not only was I greeted with a smile, I was also greeted with help. Help to get my coat, to take pictures, it’s a truly hands on experience when you are at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. All staff are welcoming and light. I will say I was honored to be at the theatre for the opening of Everything is wonderful. They have such great opening parties. From the live music, to greeting the artist and staff, and the food and drinks are always a treat.

You have your own chance to see this production as its slated to be in motion until March 8, 2020. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at 480 S. Broad Street in  Philadelphia  PA. 

The play is about 2 hours and 20 minutes with a 15-minuteintermission. As always, they have an assortment of wines, and drinks and they also now have food by Di Bruno Brothers too. 

Coming Up…

They have “Free Talk Series” coming on Thursday February 20, Tuesday February 25 and Thursday February 27th which is after the shows and a pre-show and post show on February 25th. They will feature some amazing speakers who have studied Anabaptist faith, etc. 

Thank you to Philadelphia Theatre Company, Carrie Gorn, and Aversa PR for having me. I look forward to always supporting the arts in any way I can. Get your tickets here and sound off and let me know when you see it so we can talk exclusively about it in the comments section!

Almanac Dance Circus Theatre Presents: Communitas 5 Years Later

Vibrant. Witty. Funny. Strong. Impulsive. Intimate. Artistic. These are just some of the words that describe the show Communitas 5 Years Later production. Communitas is a mediation between individual and collective human structure. It was silent.  It was loud. It was everything that I didn’t know that I needed to be a part of. It was full of joy.

If you don’t gasp in the first 5 minutes you can’t possibly be human. Its that intriguing and that enlightening.

4 actors coming together and blending immense skills set that are out of this world was mere mesmerizing to say the least.  Let me say the acrobatic skills were on point. There were no ropes to break their fall. They literally put a lot of practice into trusting one another.  You can see the pure joy on their faces as they went from one piece to another. Its not everyday you see a beautiful blend of acting, acrobats, and perfect timing into one production. I was in the front row and I felt every pressure of making sure that they were safely making their marks while enjoying what they were able to do on a stage. I had not seen anything like that in Philadelphia or beyond.

How can you come together like Communitas for this production?

You have 3 chances to see it:

Friday May 24 @730pm at Funicular Station

Saturday May 25 @730pm Funicular Station

Sunday May 26 @8pm at Penn Treaty Park This will be a special treat as the actors will teach you how to do some of their skilled acrobats.  You will want to bring a picnic and maybe a bottle of wine and enjoy this interactive learning experience and show.

Also if you say well its the holiday weekend my plans are already set there are other works coming up for you to see:

xoxo MoonGirl which deals with women and domestic violence is a must see. It will be a one woman show featuring Nicole Burgio. She also expressed to me that this is a show that she wants to inspire women so ladies lets get out. Also if you live in the Germantown area, please familiarize yourself with productions in your area. A lot of these productions can be discounted for Germantown area residents. Take advantage.  Sometimes we say that the Arts died, but the reality is they haven’t, participation has declined. Let’s expose ourselves to the Arts and encourage our loved ones to do the same. As always you can donate to Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, here.

 

Follow Almanac Dance Circus Theatre on Facebook that way you wont miss some free and paid events that you are going to want to be apart of!

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Curio Theatre Company Presents: The Winter’s Tale

Where do I start? I had the most magical time at this production. I love everything about a Bohemian garden and what’s better than a Bohemian garden?  A Bohemian beer garden and taking my love of all things Shakespeare to another level.  That’s right it was like getting a two for one in fun and theatre at the same time.

I am so grateful for being exposed to Shakespeare in High School. It really changed my outlook in plays and poetry. When you combine it and have an outstanding production like Curio Theatre has, it was amazing. Every last actor, played their part. They really played them well. I was in the front row where I love to be and the action captured me. I left the theatre unable to go to sleep.

actors

I laughed so hard even though a Winter’s Tale is about Leontes, King of Sicillia gets into a jealous rage thinking that his friend, Polixenes had an affair with his pregnant wife, Queen Hermione. If you never read this Shakespeare classic I won’t spoil it but it includes a lot of turns of events that feature violence, death, betrayal, and forgiveness. It’s true what they say about jealousy, it is a killer. What we think when we don’t control our thoughts turns into negativity and can hurt the ones we love! Nonetheless the pure emotion that each actor gave was amazing. Each actor captured their roles and even if you cant get past the Middle English of the time, if you listen with intent, they played their part enough for you to modernize it and understand it beautifully.

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Taking the production from inside and then outside to the Bohemian Beer Garden was the best surprise I didn’t even know I needed. The air was crisp, the wine was sweet and the actors continued to stay in their parts while we enjoyed the best acting intermission I had ever been too. Curio Theatre, this had to be the best part of my night. I had the most magical time. Everyone who attended smiled from ear to ear the entire time. It was a pleasant experience and if they ever have another production, I want to be in the seat.

garden

You only have 2 days to catch this treat. That’s right make your Friday night magical by getting tickets for the 8pm show or tomorrow’s final night at 8 as well. You can get your tickets here. One thing that Curio Theatre does is that when you get your tickets they encourage their new ticket initiative and that’s with Curiositix.  This is a new initiative that allows those who would have not been able to see amazing theatre and make it affordable. When you order your ticket at the time of ordering you can select how much you want to give toward the ticket. You can also even pay for your another ticket so that someone who can’t afford it can.  This is making sure that everyone has the opportunity to get that amazing exposure to theatre.  Also if you want to just donate, you can do that here as well.  No donate is too small.

I would recommend this production for over 15 years of age due to scenes of violence against women and adult themes.

Follow Curio Theatre on their social media channels so you don’t ever miss another production.  Who knows you may see me in the audience real soon:

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Thank you to all of the actors for a job well done. Thank you Curio Theatre for having me and thank you Carrie Gorn for the invite!

12 Chairs

We all know how mother and daughter relationship can be. They can be super beautiful or they can be tested. Most of us know what it’s like to have the dynamic tested. It’s almost at points of reteaching yourself when you have your own daughter. 12 Chairs by John O’Hara and directed by Carly L. Bodnar tugged on the heartstrings….

12 Chairs takes you through life with all of its highs and lows and what relationships mean. What sticks to you at the end of the day. Without giving you too much detail each chair represents different aspects of life. Each aspect has a lesson that builds upon themselves even when you’re paying attention. That’s how life works too. As you move through life thinking it just happens, if you’re not careful those closest to you hold invaluable lessons that you must listen in to push through! 12 Chairs is illustrated by Marcia Ferguson and Amanda Schoonover. They switch between parts fluidity. Both actresses are able to build upon one another in the most beautiful, painful, troubled, and empathic way. All of the emotions in each scene was powerful and thoughtful.

12 Chairs will make you reflect on your own journey. It forces you to ask intimate questions about those who revolve around you. Are you too busy? Too occupied? Too self consumed?

This show is ONLY until May 12 and it makes an amazing gift to share with your mother.

Oh and if you’re like me and you dislike parking, fret not you can find free parking by the murals on Buttonwood street! Can you say all excuses taken out so you can attend. Tickets starting at $18, free parking and a nearby brewery to snag some amazing eats is a definite good time!

Purchase tickets Here

FYI this weekend the show was sold out so get your tickets early so you won’t miss the journey!

Thank you to Juniper Productions for the invite. You’re hospitality was amazing! Thank you to Marcia and Amanda for an after play discussion. You are amazing actresses. Much success to your future endeavors!

Also shout out to Love City Brewing who provided some amazing beer for the after show reception. It was my first but definitely not my last.

Oh they had Haley Quinn Food Truck which had amazing selections. You know how I feel about food trucks.

How to Catch Creation

I had the honor of being invited to attend the opening show of How to Catch Creation. I actually withheld reading any reviews, or any the media write-up before hand because I love coming in without any thoughts of what to expect before hand. I was pleasantly surprised of this production. First of all the set was magnificent. I grew up in theatre so sets matter to me. Secondly the cast looked like me. I loved seeing all of the representation of pretty brown faces.  Third, the play captured my attention and gave me a whirlwind of surprises some subtle and some knocking me over.

Let me give honor to whom honor is due by saying that How to Catch Creation is coming off the acclaimed Kilroy’s list.  It’s a play about discovering legacy as well as what it means to create and how creation shifts during periods of life. Creation takes many forms from art, life, relationships, and how all of the loops come together. As a creator myself it definitely spoke to the hills and lows of life and watching my own work take dips according to what may or may not have taken off.

Christina Anderson, playwright, did an amazing job on capturing the experience of black queer feminist writer and how through her life, life has taken on turns that end up bringing the most unexpected people to unite. When you see the connection I found myself holding back in the audience try not to mess it up for someone who might not have. I laughed so hard during this play.  I loved at moments when the audience interacted right on cue without a notion. I also loved seeing Christina Anderson herself in the audience as well as the director, Nataki Garrett. Seeing them watch their work had to be amazing.

This play is for everyone. I do love how it highlights love and heartache for same-sex relationships.  To be honest sometimes society in my opinion forgets that they have an experience like everyone else. It’s not as easy even with society beginning to open up to what it means to be apart of the LGBTQ community and also be Black.  I enjoyed hearing prior to the show from Amber Hikes who is the Executive Director of LGBT Affairs for the city of Philadelphia. I didn’t even know there was a division first of all.  I also didn’t know that are only 3 other positions in the cities of the United States like it. There is definitely a need for all of us to be aware of what our city is offering. It was great knowing that the city of Philadelphia and the Mayor’s office is representing all walks of life.

So what were some of the themes presented:

Despair, from seeing Lindsay Smiling who played Griffin, try to work his way to normality after being wrongfully accused of a crime and incarcerated for 25 years. His struggle to want to have a child of his own as he learns about his mother and her past was incredible.

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Love, from Tiffani Barbour who play GK Marche a writer who falls in love with Natalie played by Shauna Miles and seeing who their love goes from incredible highs to the lows of breaking up and infidelity. Their love was priceless and unmatched until loneliness lead Natalie into the arms of another.

love one

Betrayal, Shayna Small plays Riley a young woman who has motivated her boyfriend, Stokes, played by Jonathan Bangs, who is losing his focus and rhythm.  Their beat is thrown off when Riley falls in love with Tami, played by Stephanie Weeks who is opening herself up to this forbidden love.  The beat is so off that now in order to get the rhythm back do they let go?  Do they go back to life before the betrayal? Can they co-exist?

betrayal2

Explosive, fun, witty, and most importantly colorful are some of the best words to describe my experience. You are not going to want to miss out on this adventure. How to Catch Creation will be playing until April 14th. You can purchase tickets which range from $10-69 by clicking here

I would strongly encourage you to see the play and take some friends or family along as well. Thank you to the Philadelphia Theatre Company for as always inviting me and treating me above well. Thank you to Kory Aversa and Aversa PR for these opportunities as well. Thank you to the amazing cast of How to Catch Creation for such a wonderful time.  You all were professional and most gracious as well after the show.  Thanks to my personal team for always helping me get to these shows and for being the best caretakers for my littles!

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Theatre Company Presents Bridges of Madison County

I had a wonderful time at the opening night of Bridges of Madison County.  This musical was not only engaging, it also hit on some questions in life.  The story involves an Italian woman named Francesca Johnson who married an American solider to flee the war in Italy. The story also surrounds Francesca family as they head off to the state fair without her. Who she encounters while they were gone, sets the many questions of what would you do.

What would you do if you found yourself in the company of a handsome stranger who woos you? In crossing the line you are left with the questions in your heart and mind of staying with the man you have built a family but not necessarily having the fire in your soul for or the man who with whom you just met who makes you feel alive?  How deep is your loyalty?  I attended this musical with my husband and it made for one great date night and an interesting conversation for the journey home. We talk in our society of men cheating but this woman clearly cheated on her husband and fell hard in love. Could she in the 1960’s just leave?  Could you in an unhappy relationship leave your mate now?  I think about all of the social and economic structure of that time and think about how staying definitely was more of a stable decision. To leave stability and your children is not only now but then unheard of. So of course my husband and I are talking about how life is different for women in a lot of ways with advancement in careers, etc but there are still women who are housewives who feel stuck in their current state. Now I am not condoning cheating in any way. Matter of fact, although stuck Francesca was actually quite wrong to cross the line with the photographer even if I understand it!

Did I mention that it’s a musical? I love musicals. Bridges of Madison County kept my attention and the front seats were probably the best part. I would highly suggest you getting to this show, opting for VIP seats if you can and by the way you can because there are many options to make it affordable.  This musical has romance, its funny, the music is A1, and it has drama and will have you talking well after you have left. If that isn’t the making of a good time?  I am enclosing the link for deals, like reduced tickets 3 hours before show time, ticket discounts if you are a SNAP recipient, group tickets, etc.  Tickets for all budgets and the ability to have one star-studded night.  So affordability for all is important and trust me when I say you are going to want to get out and not miss this masterpiece.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Theatre for a magical night. Thank you to the amazing cast you were above and beyond talented. Each of you have such a great gift. Thank you to Aversa PR for the invite.  Thank you to everyone who were involved in the reception afterwards for the reception. The brisket was divine! I felt like a celebrity with all of the star treatment.

Everyone get out and support Bridges of Madison County.  The show is located at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 215 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia PA 19107; 215-985-1400.  The show runs from February 8 to March 3, 2019!

 

Inis Nua Theatre presents the American premiere of Box Clever by Monsay Whitney

I had the elite privilege of attending Box Clever for my Friday night fun. This play directed by artistic director, Tom Reing was outstanding.

Let me set the stage for you:

Marnie is living in a women’s shelter in London with her 4-year-old daughter. She is headstrong and says whatever comes to her head. While attempting to protect her daughter she is also dealing with her past boyfriends and the drama that ensues from their lives. This is a 2 women show. Ruby Wolf plays Marnie and Rachel Brodeur plays all of the other roles. This isn’t simply two ladies talking back to each other. Both of these ladies put so much passion into their interactions that they made me believe I was in London with them and entangled in Marnie’s frustration.

Now for those who would want to attend this production let me forewarn you, Marnie doesn’t mince her words. There is some cursing. However when you take a step back if you’re a mother trying to keep space for your daughter nothing Marnie said I didn’t want to stand up and verbally co-sign. This play hit a personal moment for me. Growing up and being in a shelter for a bit I saw what I remember seeing in my own mother. It took me back and it was done so well that it tapped into that part of my past. I didn’t feel ashamed. I did feel slight sadness thinking of the lack of resources available to her. I felt proud of my own mom for doing what she had to do to get us settled. Every emotion of upset, pain, frustration and anger I felt and so will you.

I’ve grown up around the arts and I will tell you Ruby and Rachel are professional and more than exceptional in their acting. By the end if you didn’t laugh, get mad and cry (some moments at the same time) you aren’t human. I would love to see the play again. I encourage all of my readers to attend this show if you’re able.

Box Clever will be showing up until February 24, 2019. Tickets are from 25-35 dollars a piece. All of the performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake, 302 South Hicks Street in Philadelphia. Thank you to the cast, and all staff who from the door to the theatre floor showed care to all of their guests. Thank you again for the reception afterwards as well.

A little more about Inis Nua Theatre:

  • Inis Nua means New Island
  • They produce provocative contemporary plays from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales
  • Based in Philadelphia, they have been in production for 15 years
  • They have produced 17 American premieres, 13 Philadelphia premieres, and 1 world premiere
  • They won 6 Barrymore including the prestigious June and Steve Wolfson award for Evolving Theatre Company in 2014

To purchase tickets, Box Clever