Mike Daisey is an artist I’ve written about more often and in greater detail than only anyone else. He’s certainly the artist with to whom I’ve spent the most time speaking directly. The reviews I’ve written of his monologues and the features I’ve reported about how he creates them and the op-ed I was once moved to write in his defense all reflect my great admiration for his work.
That has not prevented me from condemning him when I think he’s deserved it, and he did do something that warranted condemnation, years ago. I will say that in the third year of a Donald J. Trump administration, it seems awfully quaint that so many journalists who had never publicly discussed theatre at all before they lined up to express their outrage at Daisey in the spring of 2012 got so steamed over a guy who tells stories in theaters for a living taking some liberties with one of them.
Anyway, Daisey’s wildly ambitious current show A People’s History—an 18 part retelling of American history circa 1492-to-now, based heavily on the work of Howard Zinn but also on Daisey’s own life—is the subject of my second Washington City Paper cover story about him, available today wherever finer Washington, DC alt-weeklies are given away for free. My 2012 WCP story detailing the problems he created for himself with his show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and his effort to remedy them, is here. In fact, all of my writings about Daisey are mere clicks away! How much time do you have?
I’m a few days late posting this. For the past two weeks I’ve been taking part in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Critics Institute — a professional boot camp for early-to-mid-career critics under the command of Chris Jones, the Chicago Tribune‘s chief theatre critic and a fine teacher of the craft, too. It’s been an intense couple of weeks of living in a spartan dormitory with a roommate, and hitting overnight deadlines almost every night. I’ll write about that a bit more once I’ve recovered.
In the midst of all that, I had to finish the cover story in this week’s Washington City Paper, about the 10th Capital Fringe Festival, which kicked off Thursday evening. I hope you will find it answers all your most pressing questions about Capital Fringe and co-founder/Executive Director Julianne Brienza’s plan to take it higher. I mean that literally. She wants to add three floors to the building she bought last year in Trinidad. Continue reading →
The flood of new words from me posting today and tomorrow includes this Washington City Paper feature on DC Dead, Rex Daugherty and Vaughn Irving’s “zombie survival experience” set in the former Fort Fringe at 607 New York Ave. NW, and likely, if not certain, to be that storied old wreck’s final show now that the Capital Fringe Festival has officially moved a mile and change east, to the H Street NE corridor.
The photo (click to enlarge it) is of something I saw taped up to the inside of one of the windows in the second-floor room where they used to assemble the festival’s schedule using sticky-notes on the Sunday I visited to report the story. The City Paper photographed CapFringe founder Julianne Brienza there for my cover story about the festival in 2010, and they’ve reused those pictures many times in the years since.
And this episode of The FringeCasting Couch was recorded last Tuesday afternoon, during a brief interval between a depressing visit to my doctor’s office and the two fitness classes I had to teach that evening; one boxing and one boot camp. This were necessarily verbal-instruction-only editions of said classes for me; doctor’s orders. Nothing feels worse.
PurgeCastin’ with Jason Patrick Wells & Jacy Barber (right). Photo by Paul GIllis, courtesy Capital Fringe.
And with this, my four-week-and-change tour of duty covering the Capital Fringe Festival for a fourth consecutive year comes to an end.
This year’s Fringe might’ve been the best yet. I didn’t get to do as much writing as I wanted, what with my dayjob being more demanding than in Fringes past and with Fringe & Purge running 96 “Hip Shot” reviews this year—about a third more than we’ve ever published before, the overwhelmingly majority of them edited by me.
I did get to record, edit and post six episodes of the Fringe & PurgeCast; again, fewer than I managed last year, but at least a couple of them turned out well, I think. My favorite was this one with Live Action Theatre company, obviously. Continue reading →
With two of my trusted Fringe & Purge Action News and Commentary Squad colleagues, Rachel Manteuffel and Derek Hills. I’m on the right.
A laughable suggestion, HA HA HA! I wouldn’t know a vacation if one punched me in the face and then told me my flight was cancelled!
I spent most of July running the City Paper’s coverage of the seventh Capital Fringe Festival, archived here if you’re curious. I started a Fringe podcast this year, which took more time to produce at an acceptable level of quality than I wanted it to, but that’s how it goes. The episodes I think came out the best are here and here and here and here. Continue reading →
So I’ve mortgaged my soul away to the Washington City Paper‘s Fringe & Purge blog, all about the Capital Fringe Festival, for another July, just like I did last year. Come see what we’re cooking over there.
But here‘s my Washington Post review of R. Kelly‘s not-nearly-freaky-deaky enough Verizon Center show from Independence Day weekend. I really wish they hadn’t cut the phrase “singing Tourette’s.”
Oh, and here‘s a really flattering, kind of embarrassing thing Andrew Beaujon for TBD wrote to pimp my participation on a panel about John Guare‘s play Six Degrees of Separation at the Phillips Collection last week.
I am very sorry I haven’t called you back or answered your e-mail. September is looking very good for that.
Jennifer Mendenhall, Nancy Robinette and Sybil Lines in "The New Electric Ballroom"
The final entry in Studio Theatre’s Enda Walsh festival, The New Electric Ballroom, is the least rewarding, squandering some lovely performances — and, as always, Walsh’s muddy lyricism — in the service of an opaque story that asks you to accept that a mild romantic disappointment in adolescence would drive not one but two women smeared-lipstick crazy for 40 years. The show is often called a companion piece to the concurrently-running The Walworth Farce, which it preceded by a year, but to me it feels more like an early draft.
My Washington City Paper review is here, along with a complimentary assessment of the Capital Fringe-affiliated Run Through the Unquiet Mind.