Rachel Maddow: Thank You for Covering Scott Lloyd (A Plea to Mainstream Media)

“Last night on her eponymous television show, Dr. Maddow showed viewers a spreadsheet maintained by the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. This benignly named civil liberties chop shop is led by a renowned anti-abortion activist with zero previous experience working with immigrant populations.

Scott Lloyd was called before Congress in February to testify about his office’s handling of child separations at the border and irreparable harm they have on the most vulnerable. In a new report, Maddow and her staff drew attention to Lloyd’s creepiest production to date, a document which tracks the pregnancies of unaccompanied minor girls with a singular goal of blocking requests to terminate them. The 28-page spreadsheet contains the names and sensitive personal information of underage rape victims, with an explicit intent to control their invaded bodies further, denying them the health care access guaranteed by the Constitution and the Supreme Court for ALL women within U.S. borders. The committed Catholic is an ungodly man of immeasurable overreach and dehumanizing cruelty.

The multi-faceted immigration horror stories being written by the Trump administration, its political appointees and a militarized ICE warrant relentless media coverage with moral clarity. What’s happening to children on our watch requires more from an admittedly overtaxed and personally threatened profession. Bi-partisan ratings appeal is a figment of the media landscape’s imagination, and has been for some decades. We have a responsibility to inform the public. Let’s follow the lead of journalists like LeTourneau and Maddow and tell the truth.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Advertisements

Little Shop Of Horrors

Mercury Theater Chicago’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ (Photo: Brett Beiner)

“Ever since its 1982 Off-Off Broadway premiere, the sci-fi musical Little Shop of Horrors has been a playhouse staple. From high school and summer stock stages to major productions like the 1986 Hollywood film starring Rick Moranis and the short-lived 2003 Broadway production, the script’s sharp comedic dialogue, eye-popping puppetry and engaging score have proven irresistible to local, regional and international companies alike. Just last fall Drury Lane Theatre presented its own take on the plant with a human-size appetite.

Mercury Theater’s rendition is an excellent burnishing of the legendary teamwork between writer Howard Ashman and composer/lyricist Alan Menken. Helmed by Mercury’s Executive Director Walter Stearns with musical direction and choreography from Eugene Dizon and Christopher Carter respectively, the production boasts a uniformly talented and charismatic cast that brings new energy and excitement to a beloved favorite.

Based on a shoestring-budgeted 1960 black comedy of the same name, Little Shop of Horrors gives audiences the story of Seymour Krelborn, a sweet, intelligent if shy and impoverished young man who often finds himself at the mercy of stronger personalities. As played by Christopher Kale Jones, a musical theater veteran who performed in the first national tour of Jersey Boys, this Seymour is hapless with enough self-aware sexiness to render the character’s tragic flaw painful and appealing. Mr. Jones’ Skid Row botanist knows how his story ends as soon as it starts – so close to love and acceptance he can literally smell it.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.

Smollett vs. Manafort: America’s Color and Class-Coded Criminal Justice System in Action

“..the 16 counts against Smollett carry a maximum sentence of three years per charge. That means that the 36 year-old actor could serve as many as 48 years behind bars for his transgressions, which yes, include deliberately lying to police and the public. But consider that possibility, then compare it with the shambolic sentencing of a famous, traitorous, crooked old Caucasian man who has been fleecing governments, banks and the American public for over 30 years.

The juxtaposition of two grossly disparate approaches to justice, dominated by identity politics, in which the system is rigged to support moneyed, cisgendered white males. Well…that puts me in similar place with New York Times Opinion Columnist Michelle Goldberg. To paraphrase her March 8 comments in response to the real and manufactured outrage being directed at Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for comments construed as anti-Semitic, when I think of Smollett this weekend, I am angry at him, as well as furious on his behalf.

Earlier this week, former Donald Trump 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort had the white privilege of appearing before Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court of Alexandria, Virginia. Robert Muller’s special counsel’s office had recommended a 19 to 24-year prison sentence after bringing more than two dozen felony charges against Manafort, including obstruction of justice, bank fraud and violations of lobbying laws.”

Instead he will serve less than four years.

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Trump’s Right Wing Media Enablers Ignore Hasson and the Growing White Nationalism Crisis

“Hasson is a 49 year-old white man, therefore he was probably “economically insecure,” intimidated by globalization and unsure how to approach women in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. The world has browned before his very eyes. If only Democrats could figure out a better narrative, a more approachable way to speak to voters like Hasson, well then maybe we could all live more peacefully.

It’s not an important story. Hasson was stopped before he hurt anyone, right? It would be journalistic malpractice if the case were used to foster a real public discussion about systemic racism, the proliferation of easy weapons within our borders and the violence-inciting rhetoric vomited up by the President of the United States on the hour. Make it go away and focus on the GAY BLACK MAN guilty of fraud and manipulation. An easy target made that much richer by his own shameful behavior.

Time has found a weird way of speeding up in the Trump era. The calumny and disgrace comes at us in chunks of corrosion so quickly and damaging to our country and culture, we can hardly keep up. A week of rapid-fire scandal feels like a lifetime. And in short order, we’ll forget about Jussie Smollett as we should. His story is not part of a larger epidemic. It’s the one-off curiosity of a selfish, lying fame seeker.

Hasson’s story however, is bigger than one white man larded up with weapons and self-righteous anger. His arrest marks the fifth domestic terrorist plot interrupted during the Trump administration. Two years, five Caucasian male ISIS and Nazi sympathizers empowered by the Racist-in-Chief. That should be the headline.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

The Total Bent

(l to r) Michael Turrentine, Gilbert Domally and Breon Arzell in the Chicago premiere of ‘The Total Bent.’ (Photo: Austin D. Oie)

“Some of these themes are timeless, such as the tensions between father and son, and the experience of growing up black and gay in a red state, as Marty does. That said, the action takes place in 1960s Alabama, and so the Civil Rights Movement is a de facto character, shaping the musical present and futures of Marty and his gospel star father, Joe. At varying intervals, both characters are slapped with “Uncle Tom” labels by their community, in direct correlation with the growth of their financial prospects. Then as now, racial tensions and economics are interconnected.

Although the story is ostensibly Marty’s (and other idealistic, disillusioned, queer black men of the era for whom Marty speaks), it is Joe Roy’s voice we hear first. Given life by actor and Poi Dog Pondering band member Robert Cornelius, what a voice is it. The show opens with Joe’s barn burning, blues gospel number “That’s Why…” which is an instant classic.

In case you’re wondering what comes after the ellipses, the full chorus of the song is “That’s Why…He’s Jesus and You’re Not, Whitey.” The amazing soundtrack bursts with rich tunes that break the mold of traditional spirituals. They are infused with anger, pain, irreverence, passion, truth and hope. Irrespective of one’s relationship with the Holy Ghost, audience members will be summoned from their chairs and moved to their feet.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.

How I Learned to Drive

Eliza Stoughton and Mark Ulrich in Raven Theatre’s ‘How I Learned to Drive.’
(Photo: Michael Brosilow)

“This week, Chicago’s Raven Theatre continued its 2018-2019 season with a revival of Vogel’s seminal work. A cross-functional discomfort with the painful, once socially taboo issues that the 21st Century #MeToo movement has dragged from the shadows appears to have undermined the laudable artistic effort.

Helmed by Raven Theatre’s Artistic Director Cody Estle, nearly every performer onstage during the production, except for actress Kathryn Acosta (Female Greek Chorus), looks like they’d rather be somewhere else. At all times. While this makes sense for the haunted, broken and threatening character of Uncle Peck (played with admirable complexity by Rivendell Theatre Ensemble member Mark Ulrich), the lack of emotional commitment doesn’t work for the rest of the cast. It’s hard to determine if Mr. Estle directed the artistic conflict or if it is the organic result of too much creative self-awareness. In either case, the ambivalence spills onto the audience in Raven’s 99-seat East Stage theatre.

I wasn’t expecting standup comedy from lead actress Eliza Stoughton, who inhabits the character of L’il Bit. She is asked to translate and communicate the 1960s rural experience of a girl born into a family with an absent father, and assigned a nickname that’s a euphemism for female genitalia. The compulsion to strip any hint of humor from that starkly depressing origin story must be strong. But it’s not what Ms. Vogel intended.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.

A Doll’s House, Part 2

Sandra Marquez and Yasen Peyankov in ‘A Doll’s House, Part 2.’ (Photo: Michael Brosilow)

“Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, A Doll’s House, was a prescient work ahead of its time. Nora’s abandonment of her husband Torvald and their family at the conclusion of Ibsen’s infamous script left a number of open questions that linger into 2019. Into this void steps playwright Lucas Hnath and the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre with the Chicago premiere of A Doll’s House, Part 2. (The 2017 Broadway production received raves by critics. Its leading lady and Steppenwolf member, Laurie Metcalf, won a Tony Award for her performance.)

So whatever became of the Helmer children? Did Torval learn anything from Nora’s departure or did he simply remarry and move on with his life? And most urgently, what did Nora do to sustain herself after she fled? Was she happy, fulfilled, or did she come to regret her choices? Ibsen’s vibrant, bold work is heavy on intrigue, light on closure.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 presents a vision of the Hellmer family’s fourth act that dares to imagine Nora as a Jackie Collins or Danielle Steele for the 19th century, successful, wealthy and most of all, unrepentant. She may be writing under a pseudonym but Nora is definitely not hiding. She is signing contracts, taking lovers and purchasing property like the empowered, now-single woman she believes herself to be.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.