Tag: Dael Orlandersmith

Review: Beauty’s Daughter (American Blues Theater)

Wandachristine stars in Beauty's Daughter by Dael Orlandersmith, American Blues Theater 1          
      

  

Beauty’s Daughter

Written by Dael Orlandersmith 
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Aug 5  |  tix: $19-$49  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

July 17, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men (Goodman Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

Dael Orlandersmith performs her one-woman piece "Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men", directed by Chay Yew, and produced by Goodman Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. (photo credit: Kevin Berne)        
       
Black n Blue Boys
             Broken Men
 

Written by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Chay Yew  
at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn (map)
thru Oct 28  |  tickets: $12-$42   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

October 12, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Yellowman (Greenetree Productions)

     
(l to r) Deanna K. Reed and J. Israel Greene in Greenetree Productions' "Yellowman," by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Jonathan Wilson. (photo credit: Anthony Robert La Penna)
Yellowman
 

Written by Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Jonathan Wilson
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Oct 9  | tickets: $25  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets

      Read entire review

     
September 18, 2011 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: The Gimmick (Pegasus Players)

Rich script overrides lackluster adaptation

 LaNisa%20Frederick%20-%20Dear%20Diaree1_Web

Pegasus Players presents:

The Gimmick

 

by Dael Orlandersmith
directed by Ilesa Duncan
performed at Truman College, 1145 West Wilson Ave.

through March 28th  (more info, tickets)
reviewed by Aggie Hewitt

Chicago Dramatists’ alum Dael Orlandersmith’s The Gimmick is a one-woman show originally performed by the playwright herself in 1999. It is a superbly-written poem/monologue that tells the story of ten-year-old Alexis, as she and her best friend Jimmy grow up together in 1970’s Harlem. The children are surrounded by addiction, LaNisa%20Frederick%20&%20Brandon%20Thompson_Webprostitution and violence both from their parents and their peers, and find solace both in the arts and in each other.

Although it was originally written as a solo piece, Pegasus Players has unnecessarily brought on Caren Blackmore and Brandon Thompson to play supportive roles. The result is a collection of cold, weird, disconnected scenes that come off more like high school skits than scenes in a play, tied together by Alexis’ (LaNisa Frederick) speeches. The work put in by the actors is passable, but the production is passionless: from the snooze-fest of a set (made up of a scrim and a couple of window units) to the beyond lame staging.

Frederick does her best, working against banal direction and bizarre costuming (she is dressed in a huge purple, flowy, over-shirt thingy that completely monopolizes her body). She’s able to transform her role from being cute and funny to dark, gross places when needed. Her monologues are by far the most engaging parts of the show. Brandon Thompson, who ages about ten years as during the play as Jimmy, does a great job of playing a ten year old in a respectful, believable and sweet way.

LaNisa%20Frederick%20-%20Cab_Web When improv actors are learning their craft, they are taught never to bring real props or costumes onto the stage, because it interferes with the audience’s suspension of disbelief. The theory is that if everything is pantomimed, then anything can be possible. As soon as a real object enters the scene, it becomes harder to imagine things that aren’t really there. I wish someone had told director Ilesa Duncan thies before she directed this play. The idea is creativity in minimalism. Just because a play doesn’t call for fireworks is no reason to slack off when trying to fill the space.

This being said, don’t write off this play entirely. The writing is so robust that you’ll still have a good time. Pegasus Players’ mission to bring theater to those with limited access. which is a very worthy cause. But almost everything about this production, from the props to the costumes, to the set is more half-hearted than impressionistic.

 

Rating: ★★

 

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Free and metered street parking is available in surrounding neighborhoods.  Valet parking is available at Magnolia Cafe at 1224 West Wilson for $8.00.

All photos by Michael Brosilow

February 22, 2010 | 1 Comment More

Theater Thursday: The Gimmick at Pegasus Players

Thursday, February 18

thegimmickThe Gimmick by Dael Orlandersmith

Pegasus Players

1145 W. Wilson, Chicago

Join Pegasus Players for refreshments before a performance of The Gimmick. A post-show discussion follows with the cast and artistic team. Obie Award-winning Dael Orlandersmith‘s play takes us on Alexis’ journey of discovery. Will the dreams she weaves with first love Jimmy be powerful enough to help them escape the ghetto gimmicks of 1970’s Harlem?

 

Event begins at 7 p.m.

Show begins at 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS ONLY $20 

For reservations call 773.878.9761 x17 and mention "Theater Thursdays."

February 15, 2010 | 0 Comments More

Review: Goodman’s “Stoop Stories”

Story-telling as an art form

stoop3 

Goodman Theatre present:

Stoop Stories
by Dael Orlandersmith
directed by Jo Bonney
thru October 11th (ticket info)

reviewed by Timothy McGuire

stoop1 Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith’s Stoop Stories is poetically written and powerfully performed. The smooth sounding sentences of Orlandersmith’s speech also tell us direct stories. Stoop Stories is not a poetry reading, it is a collection of memories shared to us by over ten different characters played by the author herself, Dael Orlandersmith.

Orlandersmith goes back to her home in Harlem, on a stoop where so many lives have passed. Through different characters of various races, ages and sexes she uses stories told around the stoop to talk about the place in New York where she grew up. There is not much individual character development, but Stoop Stories is not about the specific individuals or the individual narratives that are being told. It is about her and the neighborhood she grew up in as a whole. Orlandersmith brings the audience back to the old days of Harlem with characters such as a heart-broken 81-year old Holocaust survivor who tells a story about when he shared a moment with Billie Holiday (the 2nd best scene), and up through stoop2 the years to the time when she was a girl fighting to escape the stoops in Spanish Harlem. In telling her own story, Orlandersmith also tells stories of other peers she grew up with who had similar aspirations but their lives don’t all share in the same happy ending she acquired.

The best part about this play is the writing; the sensual arrangement of words. The performance by Orlandersmith lives up to the script’s high standards, although the storyteller was dwarfed by the overwhelming size of the set. Orlandersmith is alone on a large stage and the backdrop is a huge oversized stoop with the authentically plain concrete exterior of a home in Harlem. The backdrop is wonderfully done and striking to look at, but it takes away from the storyteller where the attention should be focused. Orlandersmith can hold her own on stage without such a bold set. She is the type of performer that thrives when all eyes are only on her and grabs our attention through her words and the places they take us.

The stoop is where the stories are being told between characters in the memories of Orlandersmith’s mind, but Orlandersmith steps away from the set to tell her stories to us so that she can take the audience to the places within her words. The stage has a dream-like setting created by lighting designer Keith Parham that gives one the feeling that someone larger than life is coming out at dusk to share tales directly to us. The atmosphere singles out the speaker in the beginning of the play as a storyteller, and along with the purposefully chosen music, helps create smooth transitions as Orlandersmith changes into different characters for a new point of view on Harlem. The direction of Jo Bonney moves this performance along rhythmically blending the compilation of narratives together to tell a larger story.

 

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Dael Orlandersmith’s speech is musical; a powerful dramatic spoken song. It had me rocking ‘n’ rolling to her sensual stories of the mixed-bag of lives that passed by the streets of Harlem. Stoop Stories is a deeply personal story, and Orlandersmith lets us see the emotional side of her past and how she made choices to escape the trappings of the stoops in Harlem. This is a performance most people can identify with in their own way. Everyone has “Stoop Stories,” whether they are shared around a stoop in the west side of Chicago, the backyard in the suburbs or on stage at the Goodman Theatre.

Rating: «««½

 

Stoop Stories is playing at the Goodman Theatre (Owen stage,) 160 N. Dearborn, Chicago, through October 11th

September 23, 2009 | 1 Comment More