WBEZ | El Nogalar http://www.wbez.org/tags/el-nogalar Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 4/26 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-426-85688 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-26/ElNogalar_C.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-26/ElNogalar_C.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 292px;" title="The set of El Nogalar (Brian Sidney Bembridge)"></p><p>1. The Goodman <a href="http://goodman-theatre.blogspot.com/2011/04/planting-nogalar-on-owen-stage.html">tells us how</a> they make and utilize those beautiful trees you see onstage in <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117"><em>El Nogalar</em></a>. The secret is revealed; they are actual trees! The trees are actually slowly dying, and Assistant Production Manager Matt Chandler says that&nbsp;their branches have “begun to droop and we are constantly trimming them during the run."</p><p>2. <a href="http://www.infusiontheatre.com/soulsamurai.htm"><em>Soul Samurai</em></a> opened last night at Theater Wit. This midwest premiere by InFusion Theatre Company tells the story of "A young samurai girl and her sidekick fight through the mean streets of post-apocalyptic New York, featuring martial arts, a live DJ, multi-media, hip-hop, and vampires!" Bring the family!</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="349" style="height: 349px; width: 560px;" width="560"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/_-mXOMQiX9A?version=3"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_-mXOMQiX9A?version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560"></object></p><p style="text-align: left;">3. Fans of Larry David will be pleased, at least a little; for one week, <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> co-star Jeff Garlin <a href="http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2011/04/jeff-garlin-is-coming-to-steppenwolf.html">will be at</a> the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theater, July 13-24. The show is called "No Sugar Tonight", and tickets will be on sale Friday. I'm sure you also remember Garlin from his vocal work in films like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0307531/"><em>Toy Story 3</em> and&nbsp;</a><em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/">WALL·E</a></em>.</p><p>4. Though this is slightly outside of Chicago's scope, Kate Powers <a href="http://www.2amtheatre.com/2011/04/25/we-are-arthur/">writes about</a> Michael McKean <a href="http://www.steppenwolf.org/boxoffice/productions/bio.aspx?id=425&amp;crewId=1815">of Steppenwolf</a> visiting&nbsp;the imprisoned men she works with through <a href="http://www.rta-arts.org/">Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA)</a>&nbsp;in New York. McKean originated the role of Arthur Przybyszewski in <em>Superior Donuts</em>, so Powers thought it would be a natural fit for him to come help out. McKean was drawn to the play himself because “redemption is our favorite story. Arthur exists without the kindness of the world, and he is able to find a way to redeem the 40 years he’s lost," which Powers said immediately resonated with the men.</p><p>5. <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Two-Black-Dudes-And-An-Open-Microphone/233982727161?sk=wall">2 Black Dudes and an Open Mic</a> are at <a href="http://www.townhallpub.com/">Town Hall Pub</a> tonight at 9 pm (last Tuesday of the month people). Sign-up is at 8, so don't get carried away by the bar's self-proclaimed mantra that they've been "helping Chicago get drunk since 1969."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Tue, 26 Apr 2011 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-26/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-426-85688 A no-stereotype zone: Christina Nieves in Tanya Saracho's "El Nogalar" http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-13/no-stereotype-zone-christina-nieves-tanya-sarachos-el-nogalar-85139 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-13/Christina.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-13/Christina.jpg" style="width: 499px; height: 331px;" title=""></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“We keep joking that our characters are taking over our lives,” says actor Christina Nieves, who plays the youngest, Americanized daughter of a magisterial Mexican mother in <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117">“El Nogalar” at the Goodman</a>. “Like, I keep making all these snarky comments about being tired and hungry all the time…”</p><p>Nieves, 25, describes Anita as “an airhead brat, entitled, rich, spoiled—who also doesn’t have a home and doesn’t feel loved by her mother and, you know, is having an identity crisis and doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life and … just wants to fit in. She’s looking for home, a place to belong. I really latched onto that personally, because of being second-generation Latino. You do have that experience where you’re not really a peer of one thing or another. It makes you feel insecure, anxious, not good enough.”</p><p>What resonates most in Tanya Saracho’s new “El Nogalar” (“The Pecan Orchard”)—her updated take on Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”—is the sense that people are caught in the gears of change and between two cultures, negotiating upheaval and displacement. In Nieves’ and Saracho’s hands, Anita expresses that most poignantly.</p><p>What defines Saracho as a playwright, says Nieves, is her authenticity. “She really knows who she is, or is very honest when she doesn’t. She’s just an honest writer, she doesn’t try to clean things up or make it into a pretty picture. She’s just like, ‘This is how I see it,’ and trusts people to work it out for themselves. As an actor that’s exciting. These are real people, they’re three-dimensional, they’re complex.”</p><p>A graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul and a junior ensemble member of <a href="http://www.teatrovista.org/">Teatro Vista</a>, Nieves has worked with Saracho before. And “when she shines her light on you,” Nieves says, “you want to do your best and make her proud. I feel very lucky to be a part of this with her and see her success, have everybody in Chicago and nationally see how great she is. And she hasn’t even scratched the surface of her greatness.”</p><p>Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nieves had two formative experiences. In first grade she was chosen to play Tilly in “an allegorical dental tale called ‘Tilly the Tooth.’ My grandmother made me this huge, fluffy molar costume. I’ve been hooked on theater ever since.” The other experience: “Watching ‘West Side Story’ as a little girl. We used to have an old VHS tape, and I would watch that musical over and over and over again and just be mesmerized by Rita Moreno. She was my idol! For me to be in that play in any role, but to be … Weird! It’s the same character name, Anita! That would be just, like, crazy.”</p><p>When I ask whether she feels pigeonholed as a young Latina, Nieves says, “Honestly, I don’t, I really, really don’t. I think I owe that to many other people, like 20, 30 years ago—owe them my gratitude and my freedom. Because I certainly know or have heard about their experience always playing the maid, or the prostitute, or the drug dealer’s girlfriend, or the single pregnant mother. I really haven’t had to play anything like that.”</p><p>“That’s why I love working with Teatro Vista—they’ve been real trailblazers in Chicago. When Eddie Torres first started the company with Henry [Godinez] 20 years ago, it was because they were frustrated with playing gangbangers all the time. They were like, ‘You know what? Nobody’s going to give us these opportunities—we have to create them.’ And when I graduated school in 2008, I COULD audition for Shakespeare, for Juliet, for a Greek play, and then turn around and be in a Jose Rivera play. It didn’t matter. I’ve always felt like my talent and the whole of who I am could speak for itself, and not just that I’m Latina.”</p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 16:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-13/no-stereotype-zone-christina-nieves-tanya-sarachos-el-nogalar-85139 New play moves a classic story to Mexico http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-24/new-play-moves-classic-story-mexico-84183 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-24/El-nogalar.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When playwright <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chicagodramatists.org/catalogue/pwdetail.html?command=search&amp;db=/databases/pwdb.db&amp;eqpwiddatarq=9035">Tanya Saracho</a> set out to adapt Anton Chekov&rsquo;s <em>The Cherry Orchard </em>she wound up writing a very personal story. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=117"><em>El Nogalar</em></a> - or The Pecan Orchard &ndash; takes place in a city on the southern side of the border between Mexico and the United States.<br /><br />Saracho knows the area well. She draws from her family&rsquo;s experiences in the region, which has become increasingly famous for its drug and gang violence. <em>El Nogalar</em> revolves around the return of ex-patriots to their ancestral land. But to quote another writer &ndash; you can&rsquo;t go home again.<br /><br />The play, which is a co-production with <a target="_blank" href="http://www.teatrovista.org/">Teatro Vista</a>, opens at the Goodman Theatre Saturday. Director <a target="_blank" href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/ArtistPopups/CecilieKeenan.aspx">Cecilie Keenan</a> and Tanya Saracho joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss the work.</p><p><em>Music Button: Calexico, &quot;Maria Chuchena&quot;, from the CD Toolbox, (Our Soil, Our Strength)</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Mar 2011 12:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-24/new-play-moves-classic-story-mexico-84183