TAGGED WITH JASON ROHRER

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On Observing Artists in Their Junior Year

I’m in Seattle this week.Some very nice people have made it possible for me to speak, in my capacity as a critic, to a class of university theater students on why to become professional theater practitioners. They’re lovely kids. I’ve met some of them; I’ve seen some perform; I’m going to deliver the first lecture tomorrow. I guarantee I’m more excited about it than they are.Last night I saw a junior class put up a ten-minute play festival. Watching people half my age act in stuff...
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How We Look to the Kids

What was supposed to be 120 minutes’ pedagogy at Cornish College of the Arts this week turned into eight hours’ plotting of the future of show business in America – the ten graduating seniors in Advanced Analysis were too well versed for us to bother much about theater’s past and present. They were aspiring writers, actors, directors, dramaturgs, designers. They were smarter than any ten human beings I’ve shared a room with in dog’s years. It was scary. A jealous part of me wanted...
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A Feel-Bad Comedy for the Ages

In context of declining popular interest in the medium we call theater, a young scholar recently asked where I saw the future. I said I thought the future lay in excellence. You have to make magnificent art these days, because mediocre art has destroyed the market for pretty good art. Television and film have perfected the model of acceptable, commonplace entertainment product. It’s not fair to ask people to sit through a staged attraction, for which a couple of tickets cost as much as a monthly cable bill, th...
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Critique of the Week (On a Monday)

Yes, we know, it’s been a while since we’ve published a COW. Hey, we’ve been busy! But we’re starting to find our rhythm again so expect the posts to come fast and furious.This week’s COW comes from Jason the Rohrer. What I like about this critique is that Jason is clearly a fan of the company and the artists and you can feel and hear the struggle he is having as he pens what amounts to a pretty strong pan of the production. This isn’t about the show as much as it is about a ...
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In Villas Veritas

For years I met George Villas only at parties. He was gentle and likable with that faraway West Sider quality, a vague spirituality I read then as a kind of vacancy. He was great with kids and I always respect that in a single man, but that was about all I knew of him. I think I’d heard he was an actor, but you hear that about a lot of people. If they don’t bring it up at parties, you appreciate them even more.Then I went to see a play at Pacific Resident Theatre, an unwieldy adaptation of John Steinbeck...
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BETTER THAN OKAY

I laughed pretty much continuously throughout the unimpressively titled Raised by Gays and Turned Out OK!, which surprised me since the narrative I’ve constructed for myself says I don’t like women’s identity issue monologues. For my sins, I was assigned two to review last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. This would be a much easier review to write if I hadn’t, if I could just rehash the Politics of Identity Is Stifling American Discourse rants I’ve been spieling for years. Now...
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Loud

The Complex’s ten performance spaces run from great-looking to not-so-great-looking, but for performer and audience they all feature aural accompaniment from some of the building’s other rooms, public and private. The ground floor’s Ruby Theatre is lucky to share one of its walls not with another theater but with a liquor store. It has comfortable seats and a raised proscenium stage and, at least for the Hollywood Fringe Festival show Lovely, a beautiful curtain that actually opens and closes, one ...
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The Promise of Happiness

The opening minutes of Murder Blood Bear Story offer a scary tableau: a vital young woman cringes on her knees, making a spiritual obeisance to a potential catastrophe she hopes will save her from despair. There is no bear, not represented onstage except as a projection between the persuasion of an actor and the faith of her audience. But it’s there.This is a play, more than most solo theater pieces one can see at the Hollywood Fringe or elsewhere; it’s a crafted and affecting artistic exploration, ...
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The Life and Death Nell

When that famously good-looking man Terence Stamp was offered the role of a drag queen in the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, he became enamored with the idea of “becoming” a beautiful woman. After the makeup artists did their work, he looked in the mirror and was devastated. He asked if that was the best they could do, and this, they ruefully admitted, was that. Stamp’s disappointment was such that he briefly gave up the job. One can’t blame him; a man just isn...
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Sad

I can’t say what was in Robert Caisley’s mind, but his 2011 play Happy (now playing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival) strikes me as the sort of thing a writer writes after seeing an Edward Albee play and getting the impression that a terrible party is a sure-fire premise. Two couples gather for dinner, one of them only a month together; the new girlfriend’s a doozy: sexually provocative, maybe crazy, and half the age of her boyfriend, whose staid, married friends are taken aback. It&...