Category: Red Tape Theatre
2011 Non-Equity Jeff Award Recipients
Monday, June 6th 2011
32 different companies were recognized going into the 2011 non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards. The Hypocrites, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre and Lifeline Theatre had the most nominations. Redtwist Theatre was close behind while scoring 3 out of the 6 Best Play Production nominations. The non-equity Jeff Awards got off to a bang at the Park West Monday night with a lively Red Carpet show broadcast online prior (pictures), hosted by Eric Roach and Anderson Lawfer. The awards show was hosted by Kevin Bellie of Circle Theatre. It kicked off with a musical number from Theo Ubique’s Cats. After the parade of nominees, and a Lady Gaga bit performed by Bellie, the awards were doled out. The awards did not go off without a hitch, as the Best Director of a Musical was at first awkwardly announced incorrectly. Here’s how everything played out:
2011 NON-EQUITY JEFF AWARD RECIPIENTS
PRODUCTION / PLAY
Man from Nebraska – Redtwist Theatre
PRODUCTION / MUSICAL
Cabaret – The Hypocrites
DIRECTOR / PLAY
Jimmy McDermott (Three Faces of Doctor Crippen, The Strange Tree Group)
James Palmer (The Love of the Nightingale, Red Tape Theatre
DIRECTOR / MUSICAL
Matt Hawkins (Cabaret, The Hypocrites)
Brenda Didier (Cats, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre)
Shakespeare’s King Phycus, The Strange Tree Group w/ Lord Chamberlain’s Men
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE / PLAY
Chuck Spencer in Man from Nebraska, Redtwist Theatre
ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE / MUSICAL
Andrew Mueller in Big River, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE / PLAY
Caroline Neff in Helen of Troy, Steep Theatre Company
Nicole Wiesner in First Ladies, Trap Door Theatre
ACTRESS IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE / MUSICAL
Jessie Fisher in Cabaret, The Hypocrites
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / PLAY
Brian Perry in Shining City, Redtwist Theatre
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / MUSICAL
Courtney Crouse in Big River, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTNG ROLE / PLAY
Sara Pavlak in Agnes of God, Hubris Productions
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / MUSICAL OR REVUE
Kate Harris in Cabaret, The Hypocrites
Emily Schwartz for The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen, The Strange Tree Group
Robert Kauzlaric for Neverwhere, Lifeline Theatre
Brenda Didier for Cats, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
ORIGINAL INCIDENTAL MUSIC
Chris Gingrich, Henry Riggs, Thea Lux, and Tara Sissom - That Sordid Little Story, The New Colony
Austin Cook for Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Alan Donahue for Neverwhere, Lifeline Theatre
Jared Moore for No Exit, The Hypocrites
Matt Guthier for Cats, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Alison Siple for Cabaret, The Hypocrites
Mikhail Fiksel for Neverwhere, Lifeline Theatre
Glen Aduikas, Rick Buesing, Mike Fletcher, Salvador Garcia, Stuart Hecht, David Hyman, Terry Jackson, Don Kerste, Bruce Phillips, Al Schilling, Lisi Stoessel, Eddy Wright - Robot design and engineering for Heddatron, Sideshow Theatre Company
Izumi Inaba: Makeup Design for Cats, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Tragedy: a new theatrical experience
|Red Tape Theatre presents|
|Tragedy: a tragedy|
|Written by Will Eno
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler
at Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont (map)
through June 5 | tickets: $25 | more info
Reviewed by Barry Eitel
Hot shot playwright Will Eno’s Tragedy: a tragedy parodies the modern, multitasking, up-to-the-minute human condition, yet eulogizes it at the same time. Clocking in at an hour and 15 minutes, it’s less of a drama and more of a loose curio cabinet of themes. The world has been thrown into eternal darkness, and a crack news team does their darndest to fill the continuing coverage. They offer conjectures, anecdotes from their own lives, and wild speculation. Mostly they report about how there is nothing to report.
The first thing you’ll notice upon walking into the Red Tape space is that the audience seating is as built up as the actual set. I snagged a loveseat, but one could also crowd around a card table or sit on a wood bench. Set designer Emily Guthrie puts you in a TV watching environment, whether that’s your living room, kitchen, or local bar. We’re watching what could be the last broadcast ever. An anchorman (Lawrence Garner), three reporters (Steve O’Connell, Paige Sawin, and Mike Tepeli), and some guy on the street (Paul Miller) try to explain the unexplainable. The sun turned off. People are fleeing their homes. The governor is no where to be found. Emotions fling between fear, anger, desperation, and sluggish nihilism. But stories must be broken. Right?
Obviously, Eno’s world is off-kilter. His style fluctuates between wacky, darkly hilarious, and deeply lyrical. Jeremy Wechsler, who has directed much of Eno’s canon, leads the production for Red Tape. It definitely has its flaws, but Wechsler’s show digs deep into your psyche. It won’t shatter your worldview, but it’ll have your brain slowly churning for days afterward.
Along with Tragedy, Eno’s Middletown is coming to Chicago soon, with a production by Steppenwolf on the horizon. Eno is an interesting creature on today’s theatre scene. His stuff harks back to mid-century absurdism, but isn’t suffocated by cynicism. Tragedy is remarkably fresh. He obviously isn’t out to shock or disgust. He’s quietly philosophical, having his pseudo-characters ponder metaphysics and existentialism. It’s a thoughtful, free-form route, one which many young playwrights today seem to be traveling. Perhaps it will be the hallmark of American theatre in the 2000s.
That depends on, of course, if audiences can stay awake. Tragedy is a strangely paced play, one that demands moments of both rapid fire dialogue and complete stillness. Wechsler’s production can’t quite get the balance right. Some of the pregnant pauses are hysterical pregnancies. There’s something to be said for extended moments of silence, but the Red Tape production doesn’t earn them. Harold Pinter could write pauses in his plays like a composer writes rests in his score; Eno is still finding his bearings.
The cast does a remarkable job with the bizarre material. Garner’s Frank, trapped in a studio raised above the action, keeps going until the very end with raised eyebrows and a concerned deep voice. By the final moments, he’s a dispossessed god in a world out of control. Tepeli and O’Connell navigate Eno’s humor well, and Sawin gives a haunting turn as Constance. Miller spends 95% of the show standing around and 5% dropping truths, but he does it with warmth and commitment.
I do wish the actual set was as meticulously plotted as the audience. Frank’s box looks downright chintzy.
The play is a product of the ‘90s, and I wonder how the internet would rock this world. But that’s just one of a miasma of questions this play raises. Most importantly (or maybe least importantly), is there any reason to believe the sun won’t rise again?
Exhilaration, fear and loathing in religion
|Red Tape Theatre presents|
|Church / Pullman, WA|
|Written by Young Jean Lee
Directed by James Palmer
at Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont (map)
through March 5 | tickets: $25 | more info
Reviewed by Paige Listerud
Young Jean Lee’s plays, Church and Pullman, WA, are really two peas in a pod. Produced by Red Tape Theatre under the direction of James Palmer, Lee’s two one-acts bookend human experience on matters of self-help, personal worth, religion, motivational speaking and hallucinatory mysticism. It’s not just that having faith is, by its nature, not a rational act–Lee’s works steep the audience in the utter irrationality of belief systems of all sorts and in doing so, exposes the raw human struggle to go on in hope and positive meaning for living.
“I know how to live,” exclaims a young woman (Amanda Reader) at the top of Pullman, WA, glowing bright, professional and squeaky clean. She begins as clearly and simplistically as anyone leading a motivational workshop or a weekend seminar spawned by the Human Potential Movement. “The first thing you have to remember is that You Are You,” she scrawls upon the blackboard behind her. Yet, it quickly becomes clear that she is as plagued by doubts as any fallible human, and the motivational tactics she espouses are a thin shield against uncertainty.
As she falters, an assistant (Meghan Reardon) interrupts to guide the audience through a meditation comforting in its childlike, beneficent imagery—“You are sitting on a giant puffball”–which, of course, soon becomes so festooned with unicorns and candy-coated rainbows, it’s absurd. A second assistant (Austin Oie) chimes in with time-honored, Biblically resonant reassurance, “I am an angel of the Lord.” But he also fails to deliver unimpeachable strength of conviction. Between the three motivational speakers, Pullman, WA veers into macabre madness.
Lee’s writing has got a tiger by the tale. How much should we trust belief systems that tell us everything is going to be alright so long as we believe, whether it’s about believing in ourselves, believing in a higher power or believing in some cognitive system built to reassure and propel us forward? That way leads to madness, madness reflected in the imagery of Lee’s script, which owes a debt to Hieronymus Bosch.
The trouble, if there is any, lies in Church being pretty much the same thing, only expanded. Red Tape may want to review the necessity of performing two almost identical plays back to back as they’ve chosen to do. Nevertheless, set up as a storefront church service, Palmer’s more than able cast easily holds their own through all Church’s tangential swerves and comic detours. They are brilliant at exposing faith as the ephemeral and potentially dangerous thing it is. Rev. Jose (Robert L. Oakes), in particular, leads the audiences on a humorous, hallucinatory sojourn with his sermonizing which, by the way, includes mummies, Jesus among leprous child molesters, and almost everything being poison. His fellow Reverends, Angela (Angela Alise Johnson) and Carrie (Carrie Drapac), nail the links between power, faith and fear with the song:
Shakin’ in your bones is required
To believe in colossal empires . . .
A sentiment impacted all the more by the final chorus, both uplifting and terrifying, in their anthem of religious compliance and resignation. So busy praising Jesus, so busy working for the kingdom, so busy serving their master, they ain’t got time to die. One recognizes religion as a strategy for survival—an exhilarating uplift to meet life’s random and often overwhelming challenges. One can also see its desperate acquiescence to a power greater than oneself, which eventually includes temporal power. As far as Lee’s work is concerned, the two are hopelessly intermeshed. Now that’s something that will put the fear of God in you.