Nemesis Brings a 1930s Adventure Story to Stage, and Sludge Monsters to Earth (Seven Days)

Originally appeared in the print version of Seven Days on Jan. 18, 2012.

Theater audiences can’t help but shift to the edge of their seats when they hear these four sounds: Thump … thump … thump … creeeeeeeeeeeeeak. The combination conjures up images of castles, Igor and ominous wooden doors with deadbolts, doesn’t it?

That’s exactly what Foley, or sound-effects, artist Buzz Moran will be counting on in an upcoming performance of The Intergalactic Nemesis at Burlington’s Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Originally a live radio play in Austin, Tex., and now a touring stage show, Nemesis is billed as a live-action graphic novel. The sci-fi story, set in 1933, features a reporter and her assistant, a mysterious librarian, and sludge monsters from the planet Zygon that are, of course, threatening planet Earth. Hence the “intergalactic nemesis.”

The show is performed with three stationary actors, one keyboard player and one Foley artist. The stage backdrop features more than 1000 hand-drawn comic-book images projected in high def.

Issues of Shame and Guilt in 'Race'

By Lindsay J. Warner

From John Grisham’s A Time to Kill to Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, racially charged courtroom dramas have captivated American audiences with tense in-court debates. Like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird though, the climax of David Mamet’s Race takes place outside the courtroom, as two lawyers — one black and one white — and their young African- American assistant debate a case in their offices, becoming prosecutors and jury both in their discourse.

Race, driven by the frequently tense relationship between Jack (Jordan Lage) and Henry (Ray Anthony Thomas), speaks in clipped, lawyerly tones that waylay the viewer into believing it is a play about right and wrong, guilty or not guilty. As their young assistant Susan (Nicole Harris) begins to enter the conversation, however, it’s clear that Mamet has little interest in the verdict of the court case, and cares only to expose the inherent feeling of guilt and shame that emerge when talking about race.

Eastern State Penitentiary Reopens Its Synagogue

At this time one year ago, the only testament to Eastern State Penitentiary’s original Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue was a room filled with the detritus of fallen plaster, flanked by the rotting benches used by a religious community long gone.
Abandoned when the rest of the historic prison closed in 1971, the synagogue sat untouched for years, and, situated as it was between several taller structures, the area behind Cellblock 7 received years’ worth of rainwater runoff, advancing the state of decay slowly creeping across the entire penitentiary.
When Andrew Fearon, lead conservator for Milner + Carr Conservation company was contracted to survey the synagogue in 2005, rain was dripping through the broken skylights, further contributing to the mess inside.
But just one year after Milner + Carr’s extensive restoration project, overseen by Sally Elk, executive director of Eastern State, and Cindy Wanerman, president of the board of trustees of the penitentiary, the synagogue has been restored to its original glory, with a combination of restoration and re-creation work. Read more.

Quiet Dancing, Big Impact: PA Ballet's 'Shut Up & Dance'

    At the Pennsylvania Ballet’s studios in East Falls, the mood is one of casual concentration. With one week to go until the annual “Shut Up & Dance” performance to benefit MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance,) the dancers are scattered throughout the practice studios working out the kinks for the special one-night-only benefit on March 28.
    Now in its 17th year, Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Stiles reflects on changes since the ballet’s first involvement, when a group of dancers were looking for a way to remember members of the dance world who had been affected by HIV/AIDS. Tired of tossing around different ideas about the proposed event’s logistics, one of the dancers famously said “why don’t we just shut up and dance?” Read more.

BalletX: The Vocabulary Of Choreography

    In many ways, the work of Dr. Seuss  parallels the mission of BalletX; each transforms ordinary, standardized vocabulary into something a bit more exciting. Dr. Seuss  did it with words, as he took reading  lists from the official Dolch vocabulary guide and turned them into zany stories about fantastic, made-up creatures; BalletX does it with movement, using daring choreography rooted in the firmly established lexicon of classical ballet.  
    So it’s logical that the two boundary-pushers would work well in tandem, as explored by co-artistic director Christine Cox during BalletX’s Spring Series production running at the Wilma Theater April 4-11. Affectionately titled “It’s Fun to Have Fun, but You Have to Know How,” from a quote in Dr. Seuss’ famous book The Cat in the Hat, the program features Ms. Cox’s “The Striped Hat,” as well as new choreographer Edwaard Liang’s “Largo” and co-Artistic Director Matthew Neenan’s “Wonder Why.” Read more.