“A coup led by mostly middle-aged white men, whose largest accomplishments involve the drafting of bi-partisan proposals on immigration, infrastructure and budget which crashed right into the immutability of right wing fanatics. How boring. How uninspiring. How behind the times. The PSC is the liberal(ish) answer to the Freedom Caucus, without the organic, kamikaze courage of its convictions.
The Problems Solvers Caucus’ only fundamental creed is a cynical nod to transcendence of country over party, serving to reinforce the cultural trope of the white male savior. The only true road to sober, moral leadership runs right through the Caucasian male middle – ideologically and geographically. What a scam. I might enjoy watching the PSC’s floundering futility a lot more, if it didn’t carry with it millennia of painfully racist, misogynist, subjugated baggage.”
“Red Theater Chicago’s production of An Oak Treehas a lot of good ideas. Written as it were by Tim Crouch, the semi-improvisational script tackles themes of loss, guilt and the ways one might manipulate reality to manage overwhelming experiences. It also leverages a handy and creative metaphor for that exploration.
Featuring Gage Wallace as First Actor, or Hypnotist, the play’s action occurs a year after a tragedy for which the Hypnotist is partly responsible. The family-friendly practitioner of the occult has lost his mojo, a development he reveals honestly and exhaustedly to his latest audience. When the Hypnotist seeks volunteers to participate in his ‘act’ (word very carefully chosen), his eyes fall upon a man he does not recognize, but should. Without giving away spoilers, the actor who takes a seat upon the Hypnotist’s stage is intimately involved in last year’s tragedy, and the two characters begin a cerebral, transcendental verbal dance that slowly exposes their respective suffering.
Here’s the script’s creative rub. Second Actor, or the individual who raises his or her hand to be hypnotized, is played each night by a different performer. Per An Oak Tree’s press packet, ‘the second actor will discover the play and their role at the same time as you [audience members] do.’ Actors and actresses who’ve agreed to take on the role are announced the Tuesday before the production’s weekend performances.”
“The work begins promisingly, casting Shriner as a small-town, high school show choir nerd who loses her virginity to an elusive, emotionally unavailable boyfriend. While the man-child proves disposable, Shriner’s love for the sexual chase and experience becomes one of the “10,000 pieces” that compromise her character. Branded by her peers in Indiana, and into her undergraduate college years at Millikin University in Central Illinois as a “bad” girl of dubious morals, Shriner makes the (seemingly) conscious decision to let her freak flag fly.
But then a #MeToo reckoning is squeezed into a momentum-slowing fashion between its riotous setup and compromising denouement. While painfully authentic and emotional, the sudden pivot to a plotline involving a past sexual assault undercuts what is previously served up as a narrative of female agency. As a feminist writer who urgently believes that more complicated, messy stories for and by women are needed across the entertainment spectrum, it pains me to see the production’s structure as an inadvertent capitulation to the very patriarchy it critiques. The subsequent upshift to a final 10 minutes of sex comedy ends with Shriner’s proscripted, heteronormative conclusion. It’s not what we’re lead to expect and it feels like a cheat.”
“While it’s gratifying to see the authors call-out the ‘nativist fear’ mongering of Trump’s campaign swing in support of Republican candidates across the country, it’s hard not to flinch at the part about ‘the glowing report on the nation’s economy.’ As if that is any credit to the current POTUS or his policies. It’s particularly troubling to read this during the same week that President Obama, who in hard fact pulled the American economy out of a deep ditch in 2008 and placed it on a sustainable path Trump has not had enough time to fully destroy, is out there laboring.
44 is leveraging his earned leadership capital and personal charisma to articulate remarkable, abundant policy and humanitarian differences which divide 2018’s Democratic and Republican candidates. The Trump administration and his conservative sycophants have done all they can to erase the forward cultural and economic movement, the calls to basic decency, championed by President Obama. It’s galling when supposedly credible media sources assist that effort.
Deeper into their Times article, Herdon and Ember demonstrate an awareness that Republican ownership claims to a relatively stable economy are on a shaky foundation.”