Review: We Are Not These Hands (Right Brain Project)

| November 24, 2011
Bries Vannon directs Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS — with Philip Winston, Bries Vannon and Cassidy Shea Stirtz.       
We Are Not These Hands 

Written by Sheila Callaghan
Directed by Bries Vannon
RBP Rorschach, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map)
thru Dec 17  |  tickets: $18   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Playwright Sheila Callaghan creates entertaining, futuristic fantasy


Ariel Begley and Cassidy Shea Stirtz star in Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS

The Right Brain Project presents
We Are Not These Hands

Review by Katy Walsh 

I recently read the “Hunger Games” series.  I was completely engrossed in this futuristic world.  It’s set in a time where the divide between the destitute and the privilege is massive.  The poor are starving.  The rich are gluttonous.  The disturbing storyline of these books still haunts me.  The government is starving people into submission.  Kids are killing kids for televised entertainment. I believe it could all happen.  

Philip Winston and Cassidy Shea Stirtz star in Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDSThe Right Brain Project presents the Chicago premiere of We Are Not These Hands.  It’s the future.  The capitalists have imploded the economy.  Families have separated.  Kids are surviving on the streets.  It’s a shoeless, foodless, moneyless existence. Moth and Belly dream of escaping from this impoverished society.  Belly’s family has already gone ‘across the river.’  It’s the utopia destination!  ‘Across the river’ is a better life.  The problem is getting ‘across the river.’  Leather is a newcomer to their area.  He has come from ‘across the river’ to research their culture.  Moth and Belly see him as their way out.  The problem?  He likes it in their world.  It’s cheap.  It’s less demanding. And he is getting laid.  We Are Not These Hands is a riveting futuristic fantasy about wanting more or less… depending on your river side.

Playwright Sheila Callaghan created a fascinating world.  The dialogue immediately engages.  It’s a combination of grammatically incorrect and colorfully imaginative.  There is the abrupt ‘he no go there’ alongside the amusing ‘You want to put your wonk in my tootie?’ The dialogue gives a sense of children growing up without adult influence. I understand the basic plot and the guttural dialogue.  I get what’s going on.  I just don’t necessarily get what went on.  Callaghan gives some snippets but not enough to completely understand the genesis of the situation. 

Philip Winston stars in Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS Bries Vannon directs Ariel Begley and Cassidy Shea Stirtz in Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS
Philip Winston and Cassidy Shea Stirtz in Shelia Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS Cassidy Shea Stirtz in Sheila Callaghan's WE ARE NOT THESE HANDS

Director Bries Vannon uses the intimate space of The Right Brain Project to pull the audience into Callaghan’s story.  Guests can sit on wall benches or the open space in between.  The action takes place to the right and left.  The separation is an interesting choice.  On one side is where the girls endure without amenities.  On the other is a simplistic motel room that Leather is renting.   Often the girls walk through the middle to get to Leather’s place.  The audience shifts position as we trail the character from streets to shelter. The closeness and switching of the focal point keeps the audience physically caught between the separation of cultures. The talented cast creates plenty of amusing character for this show. An unlikely hero, Philip Winston (Leather) is a nervous spaz. Winston is both hilarious and creepy talking to his dead mother and hitting on a fifteen year old. A wide-eyed Cassidy Shea Stirtz (Moth) plays wonderment beautifully innocent. Her response to new things is funny and heart-breaking. A swaggering Ariel Begley (Belly) confidently fights for survival. She delights in her tough and suspicious reactions. The dynamic between Stirtz and Begley is fiercely loyal desperation. They are bittersweet war buddies.

We Are Not These Hands pulled me in and made me care about this world. So much so, I want Callaghan to explain it more. We Are Not These Hands is an entertaining futuristic fantasy.

Rating: ★★★

We Are Not These Hands continues through December 17th at RBP Rorschach, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm.  Tickets are $18, and and reservations can be made by phone (773-750-2033) or by e-mail at More information at time: 90-minutes with no intermission)





Ariel Begley, Cassidy Stirtz, Philip Winston

behind the scenes

Bries Vannon (director); Jamie Bragg (asst. director); Michelle Carlene Roth (stage manager); Michael C. Smith (lighting); Tyler Pistorius (video design); Carla Hamilton (costumes)


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Category: 2011 Reviews, Katy Walsh, RBP Rorschach, Right Brain Project

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