By: Kristiana Rae Colón
Published by Bloomsbury Methuen
Some poems are better written in flesh . . .
After Wall Street and Tahrir Square, after ISIS and the NSA, after Ferguson and Eric Garner: here come the poets.
In a downtown poetry slam with a place on the team to be won, eight young poets prepare to do battle. But backstage it's all kicking off with love triangles, families to feed and wounds to rip open. And in the end, is it about winning – or finding the words that need to be said?
Octagon received its world premiere at the Arcola Theatre, London, on 16 September 2015.
“Colón's is clearly an individual, interesting voice . . . There are some pertinent, difficult subjects addressed without fear or timidity . . . Colón is a writer to watch.” – Daily Telegraph on "bt i could only whisper"
“Colón's script includes some beautiful poetry. And there are certain moments that are so well acted, so poignant, that they bring tears to the audience's eyes.” – New Statesman
“A beautifully sophisticated play . . . with humour, tenderness, rage and lust” – Time Out on "bt i cd only whisper"
“A wrangling, gut-wrenching exploration of the competitive spirit . . . [Colon's] sense of showmanship imbues every scene.” – What's On Stage
Kristiana Rae Colón
Kristiana Colón is a poet, playwright, and actor from the USA. Her honours include a Pushcart Prize nomination, and her work has been included in Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2010 and the anthologies Not a Muse: The Inner Lives of Women, a World Poetry Anthology (2009) and Chorus: A Literary (Re)Mixtape (2012). Colón has taught at Chicago State University, Malcolm X College, and Tribeca Flashpoint Academy. Assistant Editor for the online literary journal Muzzle and Artistic Associate for the theater company Teatro Luna, she lives in Chicago.
Writes: Plays: 21st Century
Author of : Octagon
Roust's starkly realized world premiere of Dan McCormick's powerful new drama offers a compelling insight into society's still-taboo underbelly and the human spirit that rises above it. Featuring Richarda Abrams as ‘Eloise’ and Bryan Hickey as ’Sidney’, this taut two-hander gradually peels back the layers of the human psyche to reveal how, being propelled down a path of destructive addiction, we are forced to come face to face with the dark truths of our own nature. Only by bottoming out in the depths of despair can the rebuilding of a new life begin its genesis…
The journey of ’Homeless and How We Got That Way’, from the 2014 season of The Actors Studio Playwrights & Directors Workshop, headed by Tony Award Winner Carlin Glynn, and fully staged readings at St. Malachy’s - The Actors Chapel in New York and The New Jersey Repertory Company, to the 2015 production at the Access Theater on Broadway in TriBeCa, has only been made possible through a generous supporting grant from the Arcus Foundation.
Directed by James Phillip Gates, Set Design: Kevin Kedroe, Light Design: Travis Sawyer, Costume Design: Raven Roberts, Production Stage Manager: William Gilinsky
DATES: Thursday October 22 - Sunday October 25, Thursday October 29 - Sunday November 1, Thursday November 5 - Sunday November 8, Wednesday November 11 - Saturday November 14
TIME: All shows 8pm, except Sundays at 3pm
VENUE: Access Theater, 380 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10013 (TriBeCa)
TICKETS: All tickets $18 (follow link below)
OCT 29, 2015 - NOV 15, 2015
Scripts Up! presents
THE WIDOW OF TOM'S HILL
By ALEKS MERILO
Directed by RACHEL BLACK SPAULDING"
Remember the name Aleks Merilo. He has written one of the most astounding, suspenseful, and enlightening plays of the season."
"I was blown away by Merilo's suspenseful writing."
"Merilo's play is a modern-day masterpiece."
It's 1918 and the worst plague in human history has hit America. When a small Washington coastal town finds itself the subject of a military quarantine, a young sailor and a 19 year old widow from opposite sides of the blockade, engage in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, putting their lives, and souls, in the balance. Suspenseful and emotional, award winning playwright Aleks Merilo weaves a gritty, spellbinding tale.
2015 Second Prize Winner of the Julie Harris Playwright Award Competition
$18.00 (59E59 MEMBERS $12.60)
TUE, WED, & THU 7:30, FRI & SAT 8:30, SUN 3:30
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE FALLEN GIANT
Composer: Evan Meier
Librettist: E.M. Lewis
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater
Producing Artistic Director: Lawrence Edelson
The game’s afoot! A giant is dead, and his body lies at the base of a great beanstalk. The police believe young Jack is responsible. But the boy insists that he’s innocent, and begs the help of the great detective Sherlock Holmes and his colleague, Dr. Watson. Can they untangle this magical mystery? Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant — a new opera by Evan Meier and E.M. Lewis – honors the classic detective story in a romp through the fairy tale world appropriate for the whole family.
EVENT DETAILS: Each ticket gains access to the reading of the libretto, a wine and cheese reception with artists, and a critical response session with the writers.
DATE: Monday, September 28, 2015 / 7:00 p.m.
VENUE: The National Opera Center – 330 7th Avenue – New York, NY 10001
TICKETS: $20 General Admission (includes wine and cheese reception with artists)
“The stories I loved best, when I was young, were full of magic. Wardrobes led to other lands, rings made you invisible, twisters picked up your house and dropped you in the middle of a grand adventure. Evan and I were excited by what might happen if we brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic heroes into a place that had held onto its sense of fairy tale wonder and infinite possibility. We want to write the sort of opera that we’d like to see and hear — a story with big characters (literally!), high stakes, bold choices, and music you’ll remember. We’re having great fun working on it.” -E. M. Lewis, Librettist
“As a composer, this Sherlock Holmes/Fairy Tale mash-up presents a number of rich musical and dramatic possibilities. I am excited at the prospect of inventing the musical world of Victorian-era Baker Street, and developing a fitting musical setting for the iconic characters of Holmes and Watson. This world will stand in stark contrast to the fantastical fairy-tale into which our mystery leads. Additionally, the idea of importing a detective story into the operatic genre gives me the opportunity to add a parallel musical layer to the story, where I can embellish the mystery, creating subtle musical clues and puzzles.” –Evan Meier, Composer
Rohina Malik is a critically acclaimed playwright, actress and solo performance
artist. She was born and raised in London, England, of South Asian heritage.
Rohina is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and an artistic associate at the 16th Street Theater and a company member at Voyage Theater Company in NYC. Her work has been produced or developed at The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, 16th Street Theater, Crossroads Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Voyage Theater Company, Silk Road Rising and Theater Project Baltimore. Rohina's play "The Mecca Tales" was nominated for a Jeff Award for Best New Work and she was awarded the Y Award with the Evanston YWCA for her work to end racism and empower women. She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Rohina's play Yasmina's Necklace will have its World Premiere at 16th Street Theater in January 2016, directed by Artistic Director, Ann Filmer.
"Now Comes the Night is a sequel to an earlier E.M. Lewis play, Heads, which tells the story of Michael, Jack, and two other hostages in cramped cells. That backstory is skillfully revealed as we are introduced to Michael, who can’t sleep despite a combination of pain pills and alcohol. He gradually discloses details and small truths when confronted by Jack and Brad.
E.M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright interested in exploring the experiences of characters that are three-dimensional and occasionally frustrating (as real people often are). While she makes the occasional reference to the worlds of politics and journalism in Now Comes the Night, her focus is on their emotional conflicts. Those emotions will occupy most audience members despite some implausibilities in the Iraq backstory and broadcast journalism technology, and the contrivance of a mysterious package."
Read the full review.
NOW COMES THE NIGHT
Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival
September 18 – October 11, 2015
1524 Spring Hill Road
Tysons, VA 22102
1 hour, 55 minutes with 1 intermission
Fridays thru Sundays
Chicago Dramatists announces 2015-16 season
American Beauty Shop by Dana Lynn Formby: written by a woman, directed by a woman, starring a cast of all women, under the artistic leadership of a woman!
"Dana Lynn Formby’s “American Beauty Shop” (April 28 - June 5) follows. Megan Shuchman directs the story of a single-mother who has big dreams for her basement beauty shop and her college-bound daughter."
Read the full article.
Octagon by Kristiana Colón
at Arcola Theatre
The cast of young actors are strong, coping well with the fast paced writing that bounces between the characters, sometimes so fast it’s hard to keep up. The stand out performance for me was from Estella Daniels, skilfully MCing throughout, closely followed by Crystal Condie’s performance of ‘Malala writes to Miley Cyrus’.
The set is simple and does not distract from the words which are the main focus. The cast move among the audience, including them in the slam and encouraging interaction. The rules are explained so we know what’s expected of us as the poems come one after another.
The play begins in darkness, the stamping and clapping of the cast setting the rhythm for the rest of the show. The scene changes come with a bright flash of a camera bulb and the set is often plunged into darkness as the cast reset for the next scene.
Kristiana Rae Colón’s writing is tight, playing with words to touch on many important issues, personal and political. While there are no answers here, this performance gives food for thought on the role of creativity in protest. As Chimney says, “dear documentarian: the poets have taken your job”; if you want the true story, listen to those who are living it. The best way to appreciate this show is to take the advice of the MC and “LISTEN TO THE POEM!”
Read the full review.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Anna Soderblom
Octagon is playing at the Arcola Theatre until 17 October 2015. Click here for tickets
The Squirrel Plays ~ A Tragicomedy in Three Movements
By Mia McCullough
Directed by Kirsten Kelly
Produced by The Red Fern Theatre
Sunday, September 20 @ 3pm
Theater at the 14th Street Y located at 344 East 14th Street on the 2nd floor
Using squirrels as a metaphor for children (both pre- and post-natal) Infestation, Compensation, and Eradication explore the issues of unplanned pregnancy and using public funds for abortion, as well as poverty, racism, police brutality, and gun control.
To reserve tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We welcome playwright Aaron Todd Douglas to the Robert A. Freedman Agency client roster.
Aaron's adaptation of UPSTATE by Kalisha Buckhanon is being produced by MPAACT
adapted by Aaron Todd Douglas
from the novel by Kalisha Buckhanon
at The Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago
January 14 - February 28, 2016
Upstate is an unforgettable coming-of-age story told through a series of letters between two young lovers caught in trying circumstances. Chicago, Paris and, most importantly, upstate New York serve as backdrops as the letters and our twin narrators mature in this simplistic-looking narrative with huge undercurrents of meaning. Startling and real, Upstate is a riveting emotional exploration of hard decisions and the importance of individual human connections.
Aline Lathrop discusses gender identity in children and her new play MERCHILD in the Chicago Tribune
A first grader's lessons about gender identity in 'Merchild'
By Catey Sullivan
It's been a banner couple of years for transgender activism: The glamorous LaVerne Cox graced the cover of Time. Amazon's original TV series "Transparent" became a bonafide hit. Jazz Jennings, who was only seven when she gave Barbara Walters her first interview, grew into an eloquent, sunny teenage champion of transgender rights. And of course Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlyn Jenner put a huge spotlight on being transgender. But back when Chicago playwright Aline Lathrop began researching transgender children for her new play "Merchild," transgender people were largely invisible.
"When I was just getting started with this play, when I told people I was writing about a transgender child, I would get blank looks. They would say 'what's that?" Lathrop says.
Opening Sept. 10 at Berwyn's 16th Street Theater, "Merchild" explores the world of a family raising a child who knows she's a girl, despite being physically born a boy.
Lathrop was sparked to research the subject after hearing a 2009 episode about transgender 8-year-olds on National Public Radio. "I was born a girl, I've always felt like a girl," Lathrop says. "I can't even imagine how I would deal with it if outside body didn't match my identity."
Statistically, the trans community is very small, but it is also a community that's subjected to more than its share of violence. Transgender youth have higher instances of homelessness and suicide than their non-transgender peers.
Read the full article.
16th Street Theatre presents, 'Merchild'
Sept. 10–Oct. 17
16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St., Berwyn
Sacred Heart University to Stage HEADS, by E.M. Lewis
"Heads," the story of four people - an American engineer, a British embassy employee, a network journalist, and a freelance photographer, who are thrown together when they are taken hostage during the early years of the war in Iraq, opens in New York at The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, for a limited run, September 11-20, 2015 (410 West 42nd Street). "Heads" was written by playwright and librettist E.M. Lewis, whose works have been produced worldwide. She is the recipient of numerous awards including one for "Heads", the 2008 Primus Prize, honoring emerging women theatre artists. The play was first performed on stage in Los Angeles at the Blank Theatre Company and was a critical success. The Los Angeles Times said at the time that it was, "so topical that it feels as if the play was co-written by CNN." And Edward Albee called it "provocative and wonderfully threatening." Now the production will have a new incarnation in the hands of a group of students, who are part of the newly minted Theatre Arts undergraduate degree program at Sacred Heart University. Tony-nominated Broadway producer Jerry Goehring, the creator and Artistic Director of the Theatre Arts Program, is using his professional theatrical experience, to build a unique program that offers students the opportunity to work on productions in a non-academic environment. As such, Sacred Heart University's Theatre Arts Program has teamed with its in-residence professional company, Connecticut Children's Theatre, Inc. (CCT, Inc.) to fund and produce a limited run of "Heads."
Read the full article.
"Heads" is a heartwrenching story about finding hope and intimacy in an environment with seemingly no way out. Performances are scheduled on:
The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
September 11-20, 2015 (410 West 42nd Street)
Fri Sept 11, 8pm (preview)
Sat Sept 12, 2pm and 8pm (previews)
Sun Sept 13, 3pm (Opening)
Thurs Sept 17, 8pm
Fri Sept 18, 8pm
Sat Sept 19, 8pm
Sun Sept 20, 3pm
To purchase tickets visit Telecharge at www.telecharge.com or call (212) 239-6200.
The Station Theatre presents...
by Lisa Dillman
Directed by Jaclyn Loewenstein
A middle-aged textbook editor returns to his Midwestern hometown for his mother's funeral only to stumble upon a vivacious former classmate, who leads him on a life-changing journey. Written by Chicago-based playwright Lisa Dillman, American Wee-Pie is a whimsical, big-hearted comedy about economic recession, second-act careers, and the transformative power of cupcakes.
January 21–February 6, 2016
Tuesday, September 22nd at 7pm
259 West 30th Street
As part of the Fall Reading Series....
Johnny 10 Beers' Daughter by Dana Lynn Formby
A father and daughter both fight in the Iraq war. Their enlistment is separated by 15 years. The two struggle with the silence war creates as they fish on both the Poudre River in Fort Collins Colorado and the Euphrates River in Baghdad in the Baghdad Providence. This play captures the silence and the explosions of anger created by PTSD.
The Chicago-born writer has teamed up with director Nadia Latif to combat the tradition of ‘endlessly complicated men and very straightforward women’ with her new play, Octagon:
...."“I am kind of obsessed with the image,” says Colón, 29, who won the 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award with this script. The throat has become the place where all her interests tangle and choke. When, for instance, she co-founded a collective in her home city of Chicago, initially to deliver gas masks to protesters in Ferguson, she called it #LetUsBreathe, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, who was choked to death last year by police in Staten Island. (Garner doesn’t get a mention in the play, though Mike Brown, Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray do.)
AdvertisementAll of these forces run through Colón’s play – the alliance of art and activism, the right to unrestrained speech, the deaths of too many black men and women – but her own voice is quiet, measured and focused. The daughter of a former Chicago alderman and an actor-turned-financial consultant, she began to slam at the age of 16 with the Young Chicago Authors group, before going on to national competitions. When she talks, her breath swallows pauses and interruptions. She can string a sentence across a dozen subclauses and a couple of minutes and show no strain.
This is fitting, because Octagon argues strongly for freedom of expression, for the power of poetry to help people imagine a better future. Presumably that is why Colón’s #LetUsBreathe collective went to Ferguson – where she says she wanted to try “to use our artistic capital and our cultural capital to amplify the stories of the people there”. How important is it to Colón that so many high-profile black activists in the US – such as those behind #BlackLivesMatter - are women? And how much difference does that make to their power to levy change?"
Read full article
Octagon is at the Arcola Theatre, London E8 from 16 September to 17 October. Box office: 020 7503 1646. arcolatheatre.com.
Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
Representing writers since 1928.