While August is traditionally slow, Baltimore companies this year have as many options as busier months on the theater calendar. If you’re not satiated by political Twitter following the Democratic primary debates, head to the theater for a dystopian interpretation of the future of America in Rapid Lemon Productions’ “Crusade,” or to a fictional Baltimore bar during the 2016 presidential elections in “Properties! A Political Play.”
To be included in monthly Baltimore theater features, email writer Cassandra Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org with show information.
“The future belongs to crowds,” wrote Don DeLillo in 1989’s “Mao II,” a novel that fixates on images of throngs of people and begins with a cultic marriage ceremony in Yankee Stadium.
“Mass/Rabble,” two consciously crude references to the loss of self within a crowd, is the title of a new interactive dance piece by Submersive Productions being staged at the War Memorial, a space for masses if there ever was one.
Baltimore’s theater scene includes more than 35 professional and independent theater companies. This month, which includes the fourth anniversary of the Baltimore Uprising in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, several theaters are presenting shows that touch on social justice topics. Other theatrical offerings include new works, contemporary productions, comedy classics and a range of Shakespeare plays.
Baltimore has more than 30 independent theater companies, not including professional and semi-professional establishments like Baltimore Center Stage, Everyman Theatre, the Hippodrome Theatre and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. It’s ripe with talent and innovative interpretations for an affordable night (or afternoon matinee) out, especially during the dead of winter.
Here are some options worth braving the cold for in Baltimore City this February.
We all know there are many stages of grief. Wild with Happy, at Center Stage will have you embracing the funny side of the emotion people try desperately to avoid. Through a somewhat accurate depiction of some spirited church services, Gil, the protagonist, starts off by letting the audience know exactly where he stands with organized religion.
The Center Stage theater company was so stoked to snag British director Kwame Kwei-Armah in 2011 that they threw him a fantastic party, which I mostly remember because it involved a dance party during which our beloved mayor got down to the camp classic “What What (In The Butt).” Lucky for us, Kwei-Armah liked it here, enough to sign a contract extending his tenure in Baltimore through June 2018. “I found Baltimore to be vivacious. I found the audiences to be intelligent and engaging,” he told NPR this week. Well, shucks. We’re blushing.
If You Can Get to Buffalo, the latest offering by Station North theater company The Acme Corporation, premieres tonight (more info here), and takes as its subject the weird world of early Internet culture: The world’s first social network premiered in 1993 on the newly minted World Wide Web as a virtual mansion comprised entirely of text. It was called LambdaMOO. If You Can Get to Buffalo explores the rise and fall of this new utopia and the attempt of its creators to deal with the sinister puppet master that brought it crashing down during a wild party of virtual revelry.
Baltimore Fishbowl spoke with New York playwright Trish Harnetiaux about 1990s cyberculture, Baltimore’s theater scene, and what a play can do that television can’t:
The play is based on a 1993 Village Voice article about the first reported cyber rape. How did you first come across the article, and what about it made you think the subject matter could be transformed into a piece of theater?
Truth is I totally forget how I came across the article but I do know I was interested in the early days of the Internet – the language people used when it was new, the impact of never-before-encountered social situations, and the opportunity it offered to individuals. Something that we’re continually aware of is that we essentially know how the story of the Internet “ends,” now that it’s 20 years after the incident we’re exploring – and that’s definitely had an impact on how we’re telling it.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily lives; the errands we have to run, the little annoyances like traffic or Turbo Tax freezing can make life seem miserable. Then there is the inevitable jolt of perspective that knocks us back into reality. The little annoyances are just that – annoyances. They aren’t insurmountable challenges, and we’ll likely make it through just fine.
Tonight, let that jolt be Passport, the play that garnered critical acclaim at the Baltimore Playwright’s Festival last August. Passport, “tells the story of an international aid worker trapped in a hotel room during the 2007 Kenyan election that left over 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displayed.” It was written by local playwright Kevin Kostic, and after the performance, there will be a discussion on Kenyan humanitarian issues. Funds will be raised to benefit Catholic Relief Services.
The ever-wonderful Single Carrot Theatre is kicking off their sixth season with another promising production tonight at 8pm at their temporary home at MICA’s Favley Hall. The show, “Drunk Enough to say I Love You?” will truly raise the question, “What does it mean to love America?”, following Guy and Sam as they navigate the tumultuous political love affair America has cultivated with the rest of the world, and its inevitable backlash. Following each performance there will be a panel discussion on foreign policy and the role our country has played in defining the current global state of affairs. As always with Single Carrot, I anticipate a wonderful show that really forces me to ask questions and seek answers.