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Archive: October, 2012

POSTED: Saturday, October 27, 2012, 1:00 AM

In their song Human, The Killers ask “Are we human, or are we dancers?” The singer says his sign is vital, his hands are cold. On Thursday evening at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Meredith Rainey and Marcel Williams Foster put that question to the test in Carbon Dance Theatre’s Science Per Forms. It’s a wonderful title for a piece that explores humanity’s contest between body and machine and the question of which drives which.

The 45-minute work had multiple collaborators: Nine science, technology, architecture and design wonks from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania associated with IK Studio and the Hactory (yes, a haven for hackers,) and six dancers under the guiding light of Foster and Rainey.

The academics created the machina sans Deus, a table-shaped creature suspended so its four “legs” (manipulated by computer commands) could bend its “knees” inwards with spider-like efficiency.

Merilyn Jackson @ 1:00 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, October 25, 2012, 5:51 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield


Philadelphia Theatre Company’s world premiere musical Stars of David, based on Abigail Pogrebin’s collection of interviews, asks a whole lot of famous people a single question: How do you feel about being Jewish? The net result of those answers is a survey of a dozen public figures whose attitudes toward Judaism range from ambivalence to outright chauvinism.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 5:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 11:24 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Like most Concept Art, The Exit Interview is better as a concept than as art.  Written by William Missouri Downs, and directed by Seth Rozin, the play is a sometimes entertaining sometimes tedious satire about God and the world. Or about faith and atheism. Or about science and theology. Or about the commercialization of art, the crassness of contemporary news media, the fecklessness of academia, the objectification of women, the horrors of gun violence or, alternatively, the horrors of oboe obsession, or….Well, you get the idea: too much. Way too much topic, way too little play.

Toby Zinman @ 11:24 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 12:42 AM

By Howard Shapiro

Monday night signaled a turning point for Philadelphia's ever-expanding  theater community in a region with 50-plus professional stage companies, almost  1,000 members of the professional Actors' Equity union, more new theater spaces  under construction, plus audiences with seemingly insatiable appetites for live  stage work.

howard shapiro @ 12:42 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, October 20, 2012, 1:23 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Toby Zinman @ 1:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 2:13 PM
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Ian Lithgow (left), Peter Strauss and Michael Learned in Delaware Theatre Company's production of "The Outgoing Tide." Photo by Matt Urban.

By Howard Shapiro

The prolific Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham must be leading a charmed life. In a matter of months, The Outgoing Tide, his funny and searing exploration of dementia and its effect on a family, has been given not one but two terrific productions here.

The first was in Center City in the spring, at Philadelphia Theatre Company. The second now plays in Wilmington, where Delaware Theatre Company takes The Outgoing Tide — with its perfect narrative arc, smooth writing, and genuine tone — and runs with it in a production directed by Broadway producer Bud Martin, in his first season as artistic director in Wilmington. He had been running Act II Playhouse in Ambler.

howard shapiro @ 2:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 15, 2012, 1:45 PM
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Tom Teti, Chris Bresky and Akeem Davis in "Mark Twain: Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburgers"

By Jim Rutter


On the speaking circuit of 19th-century America, no one commanded greater audiences than Mark Twain. Just as Charles Dickens mastered the format across the pond in England, the author of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer crisscrossed the country, reading his books to sold-out crowds. 

Jim Rutter @ 1:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 15, 2012, 3:03 PM
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Jay Falzone (left) as Delphine Calamari and Stephen Smith as Carmela Calamari, in "Cooking With the Calamari Sisters" at Society Hill Playhouse. Photo by Campbell Photography.

By Howard Shapiro

Mamma mia! Ladies, wazza-matta you? Ufff! Is this any way to behave in the kitchen? That flour’s not for throwing. That ladle’s not for bashing. And ... yikes! ... put down th ose guns!

Hey, waidaminit! Are you really ladies, ladies? Let alone sisters? I don’t think so. It looks like the frumpy one who calls herself Delphine is a guy named Jay Falzone, and the one called Carmela who thinks she’s super sexy, she’s really Stephen Smith.

howard shapiro @ 3:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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