WBEZ | Trap Door http://www.wbez.org/tags/trap-door Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Playwrights at Center Stage: Trap Door Premieres Vaclav Havel, Red Twist Captures Bruce Norris http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/playwrights-center-stage-trap-door-premieres-vaclav-havel-red-twist <p><p></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6870_2570652-unveiling-1217121.jpg" title="" /></div><p><u><em>The Unveiling</em> and US Premiere of <em>Dozens of Cousins</em>, <a href="http://trapdoortheatre.com/">Trap Door Theatre</a>, 1655 W. Cortland; 773-384-0494; Thursdays-Saturdays 8 p.m. through January 26; tickets $20 (2 for one Thursdays, $25 Saturdays).</u><br /><br />Few theaters in the country, and none in Chicago, do the kind of work in which Trap Door Theatre specializes: the highly intellectual, deeply political and quasi-absurdist plays of contemporary Europe.&nbsp; So an evening at Trap Door is never less than an adventure, and often absolutely thrilling.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s the case with the company&rsquo;s current offering, a pair of plays by poet-dramatist Vaclav Havel. (In his spare time Havel engineered the Velvet Revolution against Soviet domination of Czechoslovakia and then became the first president of the Czech Republic.) Havel&rsquo;s bizarre comedies anatomize with surgical precision the ludicrous self-absorption of people determined to reform others, and Trap Door Artistic Director Beata Pilch captures every nuance.&nbsp; You know how some people have perfect pitch?&nbsp; Pilch and her actors have perfect rhythm for Havel&rsquo;s dialogue, and express it not only in speech but in dance and acrobatics as precise as the workings of a Swiss watch.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s impossible to describe: just go see it! (KK)<br /><br /><u><em>Purple Heart</em>, <a href="http://www.redtwist.org/">Redtwist Theatre</a>, 1044 West Bryn Mawr; 773-728-7529; Thursdays-Saturdays 7 p.m., Sundays 3 p.m. through January 27; tickets $30 ($25 Thursdays, seniors/students $5 off)</u><br /><br />Another first-rate work in a space the size of your living room.&nbsp; Redtwist Theatre in Edgewater isn&rsquo;t afraid to take on big projects, and when the project matches the company&rsquo;s very contemporary sensibility the results are outstanding.&nbsp; (Its production of <em>The Man From Nebraska</em> made brilliantly clear a play I&rsquo;d found puzzling and tedious at Steppenwolf.)&nbsp; Here again it takes on a one-time Steppenwolf commission, teasing out every layer of meaning in this early work by the Pulitzer-Prizewinning author of <em>Clybourne Park</em>.&nbsp; The four actors (including the remarkable teenager Nicholas Roget-King) strip back the surface of routine exchanges among a war widow, her mother-in-law, her son and a mysterious visitor so we can see the blood and muscle underneath.&nbsp; Director Jimmy McDermott gets the best from everybody, and Clay Sanderson takes the concept &ldquo;creepy&rdquo; to previously unknown heights.</p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 19:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-12/playwrights-center-stage-trap-door-premieres-vaclav-havel-red-twist What the Jeff Awards left out http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-08/what-jeff-awards-left-out-87589 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-08/Festen_Lev4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img a="" alt="" class="caption" for="" jeff="" nominated="" not="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-08/Festen_Lev4.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; " title="The cast of "></p><p>A Jeff recommendation is the first step. If your production isn’t recommended for <em>something</em>on opening night, you can’t be nominated for an award—or get one. So it’s no surprise, looking at <a href="http://www.jeffawards.org/home/index.cfm">this year’s Jeff-recommended productions</a>, to see that the roster is long and inclusive.&nbsp;</p><p>That makes certain curious omissions even curiouser. Like <a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/shows/shows_main.html">Steep Theatre’s <em>Festen</em></a>, a production that’s gotten rave reviews—and is sold out through the end of the run, no surprise given the incredible acting, direction, and stagecraft.</p><p>But <em>Festen&nbsp;</em>is about incest. Could the problem—for the Jeff committee, anyway—have been the subject?</p><p>It’s not the only strange omission. Despite a similar array of dazzling reviews, Trap Door’s <em>Hamletmachine </em>also got stood up for a Jeff rec. What was the issue there? My guess: playwright Heiner Muller’s experimental approach, Jonathan Guillen’s original operatic music, and Max Truax’s chilling staging. All just too weird.</p><p>At least Trap Door’s <em>First Ladies</em>—which was about s**t—got recommended, which allowed Nicole Wiesner to get nominated for best actress, which allowed her to tie for the award with Caroline Neff. (<a href="http://www.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-07/robots-invade-jeff-awards-martians-next-87512">Jonathan, you left the best actress awardees out!)</a> But why were supporting actresses Dado and Beata Pilch not nominated for their stellar work in Werner Schwab’s gut-wrenching play?&nbsp;</p><p>Even Tanya Saracho’s <em>El Nogalar</em>, a Goodman/Teatro Vista coproduction that updated <em>The Cherry Orchard&nbsp;</em>to contemporary Mexico, got ignored by the Jeff committee. Completely. Really? It wasn’t good enough in any way to be recommended for anything? Though I’d call that piece a good idea that didn’t quite work out, it was more than worth seeing for the script’s inspired parallels, its comedy, and the impressive acting.</p><p>Meanwhile moldy old chestnuts like <em>Seven Brides for Seven Brothers&nbsp;</em>and <em>The Odd Couple&nbsp;</em>got green-lighted. Even the new plays on the list played it safe, including such empty, easy, formulaic fare as <em>Sex With Strangers&nbsp;</em>and <em>The Big Meal</em>. We all hear about the catastrophic aging of the theater audience, but not so often about its possible cause, effect, or both. Could the theater community’s conservative tastes be producing a vicious cycle of the tried-and-true?</p></p> Wed, 08 Jun 2011 17:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-08/what-jeff-awards-left-out-87589