Timbuktu, USA


Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Theatre, Boston
August 25-September 2, 2018

Timbuktu, USA, written and directed by long-time Sleeping Weazel collaborator/affiliated artist Kenneth Prestininzi, is a political farce run amok. The play, an outrageous example of the id on crack in the country’s capitol, counts bestiality and murder among daily rituals, and takes a wrecking ball to the hypocrisy of “wholesome” family values.

Preview


The Boston Globe
, “Stages” interview with Terry Byrne:
 
“The thrill of Prestininzi’s plays . . . involves his skill with language, combined with his ability to take quirky objects and idiosyncrasies and transform them into surprisingly dramatic material.”
Read more.

Reviews

“Sleeping Weazel’s brief has always been to bring provocative, challenging, and unique theater to Boston. They succeed in spades with Timbuktu, USA, a farce that flies right over the top and leaves you clutching your sides and scratching your head.”
~ Kilian Melloy, EDGE Media Network
Read more.

 

“By the end it’ll have proven that it’s a hell of a ride to hitch yourself to . . . it’s wildly funny with a sharp edge and a joyously mad evening of comic theater.”
~ James Wilkinson, The Theatre Mirror
Read more.
 
Timbuktu, USA is a diversion well worth any disorientation . . . it’s easy to see that the work is exemplary.”
~ Kitty Drexel, The New England Theatre Geek
Read more.

 
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3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show

Nicholas Martin Hall
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston
November 3–11, 2017

James Scruggs’ 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show addresses America’s original sin in a blend of song, dance, video, and storytelling — at turns hilarious, terrifying, and sometimes both at once. This lean, mean theatrical machine featured three high-voltage actors slyly performing this country’s racist history and ongoing need for dialogue and change. Directed by Mark Rayment and video design by Jason Batcheller.

Elliot Norton Award, Outstanding Production (Fringe).

ArtsFuse, Best Stage Productions of 2017.

The ARTery, Year in Local Theatre highlight, 2017. 

Previews

Edge Media Network’s Kilian Melloy:
“With so many intersectionalities of history, social justice, and theater in play, EDGE couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat with Sleeping Weazel’s artistic director, Charlotte Meehan, and also with James Scruggs himself to find out more about the show, how it came to Boston, and what audiences might expect.”
Read more. 

Stages, The Boston Globe, interview with Terry Byrne:
“We have come to a point where videos of the killings of unarmed black men by police are viewed like paintings. Their meaning is interpreted differently depending on your perspective,” says Scruggs.
Read more.

Reviews

“The Sleeping Weazel show is a theatrical culmination of every Internet argument in the past year. The production uses video, comedy, theatrics and audience participation to drive home the absurdity and the horror of our current racial politics.”
~ Celina Colby, The Bay State Banner
Read more.

“This is a show with jagged edges and urgent demands, but it’s not a stranger to the healing balm of mercy.”
~ Kilian Melloy, Edge Media Network
Read more.

3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show reclaims appropriated Black culture so to spit racism into the faces of oppressors. It’s beautiful and horrifying.”
~ Kitty Drexel, New England Theater Geek
Read more.
 
 
“This isn’t a piece that’s looking to assign blame, point fingers or lecture. Instead it looks to begin the difficult conversations that must be had about race in America and to invite you to the table.”
~ James Wilkinson, The Theatre Mirror
Read more.

“All art,” Baldwin wrote, “is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story, to vomit the anguish up.” There is nothing in the least oblique about the point-scoring in 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. But the anguish is there and, at a time most of our theaters are increasingly indifferent to everything but the vicissitudes of marketing, it is mighty refreshing to see.”
~ Bill Marx, The Arts Fuse
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A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance

Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston
February 15–24, 2018

A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance featured a conversational/musical interlude on home with Thread Ensemble (Rachel Panitch, Andria Nicodemou, and Abigale Reisman), Ioana Jucan’s nostos//algos (devised with international collaborators), composer Kirsten Volness’ River Rising and Alone Together, and Adara Meyers’ Picture This. Curated by Meyers, A Winter Gathering brought Boston’s music and theatre lovers together to collectively experience enchantment, melancholy, and the tragic sublime through the power of personal testimony.

Audience members were invited into the theatre vestibule (momentarily transformed into the “Word Memory House,” complete with warming refreshments) to write anonymous answers to questions such as, “What is home?” and “What is your earliest memory of playing?” Once seated in the theatre, Thread Ensemble read the answers aloud and improvised humorously poignant violin and vibraphone compositions based on them.

 

Ioana B. Jucan’s nostos//algos (devised with collaborators Maurice Decaul, Juwon Jun, Amanda Andrei, and Jing Xu) is a multimedia ritual confronting, by turns contemplative and urgent, the fleeting realization that home is a place existing primarily in one’s mind. Performed by Ioana B. Jucan, Maurice Decaul, and Juwon Jun.


Kirsten Volness’ electroacoustic works for violin, River Rising and Alone Together, create moments of transcendence in their poetic qualities of loss, nostalgia, and the overwhelming crush of personal responsibility to take action for natural and man-made catastrophe. Performed by EmmaLee Holmes Hicks and Lilit Hartunian on alternate weekends.

Adara Meyers’ Picture This, a tragically funny multimedia performance, uses “selfie” video footage and dance to explore memory and personal family ruptures dating from the Holocaust to the present day. Directed by Natalya Baldyga, choreographed by Kimberleigh A. Holman, and performed by Adara Meyers, Blair Nodelman, and Veronica Anastasio Wiseman.
 

Reviews

A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance is . . . unusual, fun and experimental.”
~  Kitty Drexel, New England Theatre Geek
Read more

“. . . Let this intimate production work its magic on you. Allow the sights and sounds to wash over you and you may be surprised as to where you end up.”
~ Jamie Wilkinson, Theatre Mirror
Read more. 

 
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Robbie McCauley ‘n Company

The Roxbury Trio

(l-r): Mirta Tocci, Robbie McCauley, Marshall Hughes

Emerson College
The Greene Theater
Tufte Performance & Production Center
10 Boylston Place
Boston, MA
April 6-7, 2017

This two-day free and open to the public event honored Robbie McCauley for decades of making fearless, groundbreaking theatre and performance. Emerson College’s Greene Theater was transformed by guest performances, story circles, and conversation on community activism with a veritable who’s who of performance artists and distinguished scholars and critics.

Sleeping Weazel began a collaboration with Robbie in 2013 and it has been our great honor to work with her, especially on this event, bringing together the many artists she has influenced for a celebration of and through her unique vision.

Click here for HowlRound livestreams of the conversations, and the April 6th evening performance, listed below.
 
SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, APRIL 6TH

10:30 am
Convening introduction from Melia Bensussen (Chair, Performing Arts, Emerson College), Marshall Hughes (Director of Fine, Performing, and Media Arts, Roxbury Community College), and Charlotte Meehan (Artistic Director, Sleeping Weazel), followed by Robbie McCauley explaining the story circle model and how we will move through the two days primarily in this mode.

10:45 am
The Work (what and why we do what we do)
A story circle led by Robbie McCauley

12:00 – 1:00 pm
The Question of Beauty: Daniel Alexander Jones and Carl Hancock Rux introduce creative/performance panel to be joined by Kym Moore, Nicky Paraiso, and Pamela Sneed

1:00 ­- 1:15 pm
Magdalena Gómez reads from her work

2:20 – 2:30 pm  
Djola Branner performs

2:30–3:15 pm
Writer/Cultural Critic Cynthia Carr in conversation with Robbie McCauley and Jessica Hagedorn (on Thought Music)

3:30 pm–4:30 pm
Innovators and Transformers: introduced by Jessica Hagedorn to be joined by Karen Finley, Holly Hughes, Robbie McCauley, Dael Orlandersmith, and Joanie Fritz Zosike

4:35–5:00 pm
David Dower (Co-Artistic Director, ArtsEmerson) introduces the conversation about Sugar.
Robbie McCauley, Emerson professors Maureen Shea and Mirta Tocci, and Tara Brooke Watkins

5:15-5:30 pm
Nicky Paraiso performs “Immigrants”

8:30 pm
Performances by Karen Finley, Robbie McCauley & Jessica Hagedorn, Holly Hughes, Jomama Jones, Dael Orlandersmith, Carl Hancock Rux, and Pamela Snee

FRIDAY, APRIL 7TH

10:30 am
Scholar/Critic Alisa Solomon and Robbie McCauley in conversation

11:30 am
Robbie’s works in context: moderated by Charlotte Meehan
Becky Becker, Melia Bensussen, Robert Colby, Elin Diamond, Jennifer Griffiths, David Kyuman Kim, Kym Moore, and Tara Brooke Watkins

12:35 – 12:45 pm
Obehi Janice performs

1:45 pm
Roxbury Repertory Theater: Color Conscious Casting
Investigating the Classics & Questioning Our Assumptions
Robbie McCauley will introduce this set of ideas to be joined by Kay Bourne, Marshall Hughes, and Mirta Tocci

3:00 pm
Community in Action
Donna Bivens will introduce this section to be joined by Gail Burton, Paula Elliott, Robbie McCauley, and Juanita Rodrigues

 

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In the Wake of the Graybow Riots

In the Wake of the Graybow Riots
Lake Massapoag Bandstand
Sharon, MA
July 23, 2015

Playwright Lisa Schlesinger’s “back porch blues play” transports audiences to turn of the 20th century American South, where the lives of the haves and have-nots collide and converge as composer Ben Schmidt’s contemporary blues tunes move in and out of reality and dreams in a tale as old as time. Directed by Shana Gozansky, this play, at turns classical and hip, asks the perennial question: how can we know where we belong?

 

(l-r): Brenna Sweet, Matt Desmarais, Ben Schmidt, Amie Lytle

(l-r): Brenna Sweet, Matt Desmarais, Ben Schmidt, Amie Lytle

 

Commentary

“I hadn’t seen a piece that unique and well done in a very long time. I was in awe by the use of the space as well as the subtle, yet haunting direction. Thank you all for this wonderful night of theater under the stars.”

~ Christine Kasparian, Assistant Recreation Director, Town of Sharon, MA
Programmer for Lake Massapoag’s Bandstand

(l-r): Ben Schmidt, Amie Lytle

(l-r): Ben Schmidt, Amie Lytle

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The Birds and the Bees

The Birds and Bees Postcard
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston
June 2-11, 2016

The Birds and the Bees festival featured Kate Snodgrass’ The Last Bark, Adara Meyers’ Birds, and Charlotte Meehan’s Beesus & Ballustrada, a trio of frighteningly funny, cross-generational plays with apocalyptic undertones. By turns philosophical and psychological, fierce and funny, calamitous and sublime, these plays by women writers upend our everyday view of romantic love. Installation artist Mirta Tocci’s set and costume design thematically joined the trio in a unified visual gesture.
 

The Last Bark

(l-r: Steven Barkhimer, Kate Snodgrass)

Kate Snodgrass’s The Last Bark (a follow-up to her Badass play, The Tempest (or Bark’s Dream) considers the end of the world and the end of an era, amidst the personal truths that lie beneath those two realities. Directed by Melia Bensussen and performed by Steven Barkhimer and Snodgrass, this play is a tragicomic swirl of splendor and pain in the life of the aging artist.

Toby

(l-r: Alexander Rankine, Julia Alvarez, Mara Elissa Palma, Sam Terry, Louise Hamill)

Adara Meyers’ Birds follows Toby, a young man embarking on a quest to become the perfect citizen, activist, and boyfriend by placing himself in the hands of Neil, a sadistic charlatan masquerading as a self-help guru. Directed by Shana Gozansky, absurdist humor and shards of light give way to the play’s critique of our politically, culturally, and environmentally fractured world. Performed by Alexander Rankine, Steven Barkhimer, Julia Alvarez, Louise Hamill, Mara Elissa Palma, and Sam Terry.

Beesus & Ballustrada

(l-r: Karen MacDonald, Cliff Odle)

Charlotte Meehan’s Beesus & Ballustrada, a post-apocalyptic tragicomedy set in a Brooklyn forest, finds two nearly feral lovers weaving their way in and out of battle, need, and ecstasy. Directed by Melia Bensussen, with tender and vicious performances by Karen MacDonald and Cliff Odle.

Preview

“Sleeping Weazel, one of Boston’s smartest and most daring small theater companies, is prepared to rock theater goers with a triple bill of short plays by Boston area female playwrights.”
~Triple Bill Theater: Sleeping Weazel Presents The Birds and the Bees
(Interview with Kilian Melloy, Edge Media Network)

Reviews

“Looking for theater that’s going to take you to impossible places and ask you questions that will chase through your head instead of lying there panting and looking bored? This is the place to be!”
~Kilian Melloy, Edge Media Network

 

“I could listen to Karen MacDonald read the phonebook. It would be weird but she’d make it good theatre. Her Ballustrada hasn’t ‘a squirrel to her name’ but she doesn’t need one. She’s fine on her own. Cliff Odle’s Beesus is more than just a ‘mild entertainment.’ They both deliver compelling, strikingly endearing performances.”
~Kitty Drexel, New England Theatre Geek

 

“ . .  It’s a great take for those who like their theater a little more on the adventurous side.”
~Mike Hoban, Boston Events Insider

 
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Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide

Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston
September 15-24, 2016

In a media saturated, Expressionistic setting, the premiere of Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide, timed for the 2016 election cycle, offered a tragi-comic view into the absurdity of far right Christian fundamentalism. Via Tea Party values and the hypocrisy just beneath them, the production revealed white supremacy at its most brutal. Directed by Robbie McCauley (who also played God), and performed by Stephanie Burlington Daniels and Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, the play should have been obsolete the day after the election, but instead the nightmare it portrays has come true.

 

Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, Stephanie Burlington Daniels

(l-r): Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, Stephanie Burlington Daniels

Veronica Anastasio Wiseman and Stephanie Burlington Daniels tore up the stage as volcanic lovers until politics turned them to bitter rivals.

(l-r): Steven Barkhimer, Stephanie Burlington Daniels, Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, James Barton

(l-r): Steven Barkhimer, Stephanie Burlington Daniels, Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, James Barton

Preview

Charlotte Meehan in interview with Kilian Melloy, Edge Media Network

 

Reviews

“In such an ugly time, Meehan seems to say, let’s luxuriate in that ugliness to better understand it. . . So this play’s depiction of a suffocatingly regressive America is an earnest cri de coeur, not merely a cynical gallery of straw men.”
~Jeremy D. Goodwin, WBUR’s The ARTery

Daniels and Wiseman give triumphant performances that stir the political bowels of what it means to be a decent human being. Meehan’s writing is satirical to the point of offense; she is not kind to religious Right. Daniels and Wiseman take what is inferred by Meehan’s writing and, while they don’t create likable characters, they endow them with enough humanity to question Meehan’s objectives. . . That we consider liking them at all is a testament to Daniels’ and Wiseman’s performances.”
~ Kitty Drexel, New England Theatre Geek

 

“. . . While the show is heavily satirical and comedic, many of the counter-balancing explosive moments discuss and explore serious issues ( i.e. domestic abuse, racial targeting, public shootings, etc.). The plot calls into center stage the question of Christian, conservative, and liberal values on these issues. . .”
~Nisreen Galloway, Boston Events Insider

 
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Badass

Badass

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
March 5 – 14, 2015

The Badass festival brought together performance artist-playwrights Robbie McCauley and Magdalena Gómez with actor-playwright Kate Snodgrass for an exhilarating cross-disciplinary evening of performance and theatre. Critics raved about the whole evening, and Robbie McCauley’s Jazz ‘n Class was later nominated for an Elliot Norton award for Best Solo Performance.

Magdalena Gómez

Magdalena Gómez

Magdalena Gómez read excerpts from her book, Shameless Woman, in her inimitable Nuyorican performance style that pulses with outrage, love, vulnerability, and anguished longing for a just world.
Robbie McCauley

Robbie McCauley

Robbie McCauley’s performance meditation, Jazz ‘n Class, pierces the heart and enlarges the soul through an exploration of race, class, and her relationship with classical composer daughter Jessie Montgomery.
Kate Snodgrass & Steven Barkhimer

Kate Snodgrass and Steven Barkhimer

Kate Snodgrass’s absurdist play, The Tempest (or Bark’s Dream), references Shakespeare and Jacques Derrida to question truth, identity, and the sublime. Directed by Melia Bensussen and performed with Steven Barkhimer and Snodgrass, this play turns from the ridiculous to the tragic on a dime.

 

Reviews

“Once again, Sleeping Weazel presents some of the most unexpected and entertaining evenings of theater in town.”
~ Terry Byrne, The Boston Globe

Full review

“While all [three works] focus on female experience and point of view, the three pieces of original work are distinct and not meant to connect to one another, despite all being somewhat existential and certainly pushing the envelope beyond what is mainstream.”
~ Claudia A. Fox Tree, Boston Events Insider

Full review

Poster design: Jessica Kuszaj
Photos: David Marshall

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Doubles, Demons, and Dreamers

 
Doubles, Demons, and Dreamers

Boston Center for the Arts, Plaza Black Box Theatre
539 Tremont Street, Boston
June 12 – 21, 2014
(l-r) Cesar Muñoz, Veronica Wiseman, Margarita Martinez, James Barton, Kervin Germain

(l-r) Cesar Muñoz, Veronica Wiseman, Margarita Martinez, James Barton, Kervin Germain

Doubles, Demons, and Dreamers, a two-week festival of plays, trans cabaret, and solo performance coinciding with Boston Pride Week, stretched the boundaries of gender, family, politics, and time-based art forms.

Johnny Blazes

Johnny Blazes

Singer/performance artist Johnny Blazes and Kenneth Prestininzi’s “mean but hopeful comedy,” Ugmo and Eenie Go Down the Ruski Hole, comprised the first weekend of the festival and brought the house down with Johnny’s exhilarating voice and tragi-comic tales of the trans raconteur. Next, Ugmo and Eenie’s hilariously tragic dance of desire, shame, love, and separation literally turned laughter to tears on a dime.

Ugmo and Eenie Go Down the Ruski Hole

Ugmo and Eenie Go Down the Ruski Hole
(l-r) Alston Brown, Leicester Landon

“Johnny Blazes finished with a striptease sans lust, performed during a moving rendition of “Maybe This Time.” Undressed, the body onstage, its incredible vocal chords shaking the air, suddenly wasn’t sexual—it was human, imperfect, and striking.”
~ Allison Vanouse, HowlRound
Full Review

“When Ugmo says, “If two men fall in love, they should say so,’’ does he believe it? By the end of this absorbing and touching play, the answer to that question, at least, is clear.”
~ Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe
Full review

“In Ugmo and Eenie, one character stated, ‘Every man has his right to his own solo show,’ which I felt summed up the night well. Everyone deserves expression and understanding. Everyone should be granted the ability to say what they want to say and be who they want to be. This festival is a step in that direction.”
— Alex Lonati, BroadwayWorld.com
Full Review

“[Ugmo and Eenie] has so many layers that I’ll be unpacking it for some time, but at its heart lays a message about labels, acceptability, and the spaces we make for ourselves in which we are allowed to be who we truly are.”
~ Danielle Rosvally, New England Theatre Geek
Full Review

 

The second weekend started off with Beth Nixon’s Lava Fossil, a solo suitcase performance including a dinosaur head, an exploding volcano, and instructions on how to measure grief with a ruler. Nixon’s performance, revolving around the sudden death of her oceanographer father, employed homemade set pieces and childlike imagery to juxtapose father/daughter magical moments of scientific learning with the evolutionary process and personal grief.

Beth Nixon and friends

Beth Nixon and friends

“[Nixon] keeps you riveted for a full hour with her raw charm, unpolished delivery, and natural comic timing. She also delivers a insightful synthesis of the personal and the philosophical, disguising a keenly intelligent essay as a form of child’s play that’s been gussied up with Rube Goldberg-esque props.”
~ Kilian Melloy, EDGE Boston
Full Review

 

Talk To At Me

Talk To At Me
(l-r) Margarita Martinez, James Barton

Adara Meyers’ play, Talk To At Me, shares the quirky veneer of Nixon’s piece, while exploiting the absurd hysteria of 21st century American self-absorption to offer a serious warning about the end result of late Capitalism. Characters talk above, below, and past each other without even realizing that human connection has been supplanted by an ever-increasing need to acquire.

“’Talk to at Me‘” is a tour de force that combines a fearless quartet of actors with Shana Gozansky’s precise, disciplined direction — balancing several different things happening at once — with Meyers’s zany, satirical script.”
~ Terry Byrne, The Boston Globe
Full Review

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27 Tips for Banishing the Blues

27 Tips for Banishing the Blues postcard
A world premiere written by Charlotte Meehan
Directed by Kenneth Prestininzi
Scenic and projection design by Seághan McKay

Man 1 and Famous Chef

l-r: Felix Teich, R.Bobby Ducharme

27 Tips for Banishing the Blues turns the mess of American life upside down and inside out via cracked out, drop-dead hilarious satire. Seeing ourselves in the quests of various neurotic characters including Famous Chef, Nutritionist, and Seeker, we are confronted with our own drive toward unattainable peaks of happiness and perfection in this late-Capitalist American landscape.
Angel Man1 Man2

l-r: Margarita Martinez, Morgan Shattuck, Felix Teich

Reviews

“Lurking beneath the zany surface of Charlotte Meehan’s play, which is having its world premiere at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, is a thoughtful look at our struggle to balance despair with hope.”
~ Terry Byrne, The Boston Globe

Full review

“Considering that we live in a society that demands quick solutions to complex problems that can be solved with a pill, a new diet or a 30 minute “Insanity” workout program, it’s a wonder that there aren’t more works like ‘27 Tips,’ either on stage or in other media, giving the frauds their just desserts.”
~ Mike Hoban

Full review

Poster design: Jessica Kuszaj
Photos: David Marshall

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