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Jan 112015
 

Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, film, dance, author events, and theater for the coming week.

By The Arts Fuse Staff

Film

Boston Area Film Schedules — What is playing today, Where and When

A scene from "Fish and Cat" in the MFA's Iranian Film Festival.

A scene from the celebrated Iranian director Shahram Mokri’s horror movie “Fish and Cat,” which screens as part of the MFA’s Iranian Film Festival.

The Boston Festival of Films from Iran
January 16–25
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA

Persian life and culture are examined in this provocative annual festival with films from Iran’s top filmmakers. See full schedule.

2014 Sundance Shorts: Fiction/Docs
Opens Friday, January 16
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA

These are the highlights from 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The selections include wild, weird, and wonderful short films that are at the forefront of cutting edge storytelling.

Captain Sabletooth in

A scene featuring the fearsome pirate at the heart of it all in “Captain Sabertooth And The Lama Rama Treasure.”

Captain Sabertooth And The Lama Rama Treasure
At the Arlington Regent Theater in Arlington, MA on January 16 and 19
At the West Newton Cinema, Newton, MA on January 17 and 18

This is the opening night film of the Belmont World Film’s 12th Annual Family Festival. Captain Sabertooth (in Norwegian, Kaptein Sabeltann) is a pirate character at the center of plays by the Norwegian singer and actor Terje Formoe. The characters in these stage scripts have been adapted into books and cartoons for small children. This live action film, set in the 18th century, follows our hero and his band of clever pirates as they embark on stormy and magnificent adventures. A group of children, who demonstrate courage, shrewdness and vigor, become part of the robust hijinks.

– Tim Jackson


Dance

performing in "Fela!"

Dancer and griot Ismael Kouyate in “Fela!” — he will be performing in Maine this week,

Ismael “Bonfils” Kouyate
January 16-17
Dance Hall
Kittery, Maine

Dancer and griot Ismael Kouyate first came to the US as a member of Ballets Africains, the national dance company of Guinea for their 50th Anniversary Tour. Featured in the Broadway and tour productions of Bill T. Jones’ Fela!, he celebrates the music of Fela Kuti with Shango Afrobeat Orchestra on Friday and after a day of master classes on Saturday, performs with fellow Guinean Namory Keita.

– Debra Cash


Theater

A scene from the two-tiered staging of  Photo: Carlos Furman Arte

A scene from the two-tiered staging of Marino Pensotti’s “Cineastas.” Photo: Carlos Furman Arte.

Cineastas (Filmmakers), written and directed by Mariano Pensotti. At the Moore Theater in the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 15 and 16.

The only New England performances of an internationally acclaimed work by one of Argentina’s most celebrated (and experimental) stage artists. Pensotti’s play is a “unique theater experience, telling the stories of four Buenos Aires filmmakers AND the films they are making, with a virtuosic, five-member company portraying everything—the “real lives” and the “films”—on a two-level stage.” The Hopkins Center is part of a four-presenter consortium that is ‘producing’ this tour of Pensotti’s drama (with LA, Seattle and NYC); the tour also includes MCA Chicago and the Walker in Minneapolis.

Kerplop! Tale of the Frog Prince. Directed & Conceived by Matthew Woods. Staged by imaginary beasts at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston, MA, January 17 through February 7.

This inventive group “refashions another classic fairy tale into a fantasy of amphibious proportions… the classic Tale of the Frog Prince receives the full Panto treatment. Audiences of all ages will want to catch the fun!”

Theatrophobia in Massachusetts, a performance by Artezani at The Democracy Center, 45 Mount Auburn St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, January 17. (10 to 11:30 p.m.)

What sounds like an intriguing exercise in exorcism that promises to “cast out the anti-theatrical spirit that has possessed many in Greater Boston since the 1620s. Those afflicted by this spirit include the ghosts of famous figures like Cotton Mather, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mayor Josiah Quincy. Eight songs will free these restless specters — and you — from this debilitating fear and prejudice… Even though the era of ‘Banned in Boston’ is long gone, many continue to suffer from Theatrophobia — some, with good reason. We have all suffered abuse.” Amen to that.

Head exorcist Ian MacKinnon says it will be an evening of “satire, antiphonal harmony, guided visualization, quotes, rock and roll.” Fair enough, though I question the inclusion of Poe — he reviewed theater on occasion and liked some of it. And I challenge anyone to come up with a greater poem (“The Conquerer Worm”) by a theater critic about the stage: Lo! ’t is a gala night/ Within the lonesome latter years!/ An angel throng, bewinged, bedight/ In veils, and drowned in tears, /Sit in a theatre, to see/ A play of hopes and fears,/ While the orchestra breathes fitfully/ The music of the spheres.

Photo: Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Brooks Reeves and Courtland Jones in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production of “Midsummer.” Photo: Danielle Fauteux Jacques.

Midsummer [a play with songs] by David Greig & Gordon MacIntyre. Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques
. Staged by Apollinaire Theatre Company at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA, through January 18.

I like the way this company thinks in the midst of winter — why not a show about the warm times ahead? Midsummer is the story of a great lost weekend of bridge-burning, car chases, wedding bust-ups, bondage miscalculations, midnight trysts and self-loathing hangovers.” The piece comes with lots of praise from Europe — even the assurance from the Daily Telegraph that Greig is “one of the most interesting and adventurous British dramatists of his generation.”

The Best Brothers by Daniel MacIvor. Directed by Charles Towers. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Lowell, MA, through February 1.

According to Canada’s The Globe & Mail in 2012, “Nova Scotian national treasure Daniel MacIvor’s latest, perhaps his most heartwarming and potentially crowd-pleasing comedy to date, concerns three brothers: serious Hamilton, who builds condos; flaky Kyle, who sells condos; and Enzo, who will tear a condo or any other dwelling to shreds with his teeth if you leave him unattended. The first two are human; the third, a mostly off-stage character, is an Italian greyhound.”

Chalk by Walt McGough. Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz. Staged by Fresh Ink Theater at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston, MA, through January 24.

This is billed as “A Rolling World Premiere with Chicago’s Sideshow Theatre Company.” In 2012, dramatist McGough was named one of the Boston Globe’s Artists on the Rise. His latest play sounds like a work of dark sci-fi inspired by countless existential uggah-buggah movies: “Maggie survived the end of the world, but it hasn’t really ended, has it? Stuck in an abandoned building with nearly unlimited supplies, a broken radio and a book of spells, she bides her time and waits for the monsters to leave.”

Photo:

Lord Angelo (Maurice Emmanuel Parent), Isabella (Adrianna Mitchell), and Duke Vincentio (Michael Forden Walker) will star in ASP’s “Measure for Measure.” Photo: Stratton McCrady Photography.

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, through February 1.

“Sex, power, and justice collide in a city on the edge” in what is being called a “timely” production of a tragicomedy where “society is going to hell in a hand-basket.” The angle here is specifically post-Ferguson, at least according to the director: “In Shakespeare’s Vienna, as in cities across America and the world in 2015, poor people, especially young poor people, are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.”

Muckrakers by Zayd Dohrn. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. Staged by New Repertory Theatre in the Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA, through February 1.

Here is the dramatist on his script: it “is set in a private space (a bedroom in a tiny Brooklyn apartment) and depicts an intimate encounter (a one-night stand) between a fugitive European journalist and a young American activist. The two spend a long night drinking, fighting, having sex, and exposing one another’s dangerous and damaging secrets. And while the fourth wall between audience and stage remains unbroken, the transparency of that separation between public and private is in fact the central concern of the play.” The Arts Fuse review of the 2013 production of the play at The Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires.

Martin Moran, Candy Buckley, Marcia DeBonis, and Tyler Lansing Weaks in Christopher Durang’s  comedy "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." Photo:

Martin Moran, Candy Buckley, Marcia DeBonis, and Tyler Lansing Weaks in the HTC’s staging of Christopher Durang’s comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Photo: Jim Cox.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Directed by Jessica Stone. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston University Theatre, Avenue of the Arts, Boston, MA, through February 1.

This Tony award-winning comedy is “a wickedly wonderful Chekhovian mashup that Newsday called ‘one of the funniest comedies Broadway has seen in seasons.’” This HTC production is dedicated to former Huntington Artistic Director Nicholas Martin, who passed away on April 30, 2014. Stone will stage the production based on Martin’s original Tony Award-nominated Broadway direction. Arts Fuse review.

A Future Perfect by Ken Urban. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts in the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, Boston, MA, through February 7.

A world premiere production of a play about parenthood, values, and the price of success for thirty-somethings in America today. Arts Fuse interview with playwright Ken Urban.

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins by Margaret Engel & Allison Engel. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, through January 31.

Karen MacDonald stars as Molly Ivins, “a dyed-in-the-wool liberal from deep in the heart of Texas … whose rapier wit made her one of America’s highest-regarded political columnists, satirists, and beloved rabble-rousers.” The one-woman show brings together “personal anecdotes with Molly’s unforgettable humor and wisdom, celebrating her courage and tenacity — even when a complacent America wasn’t listening.” Arts Fuse review

– Bill Marx


Classical Music

Lars Vogt plays Mozart
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 15-17, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Nelsons’ January residency concludes with this week’s program. Lars Vogt is the soloist in Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto (no. 24) and Nelsons conducts Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7.

Winter Concert
Presented by Collage New Music
January 18, 8 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Cambridge, MA

CNM’s season continues with a program that offers a broad survey of music by American and English composers. Works by Evan Chambers, Nicola LaFanu, Kyong Mee Choi, and Stephen Jaffe share a bill with Mario Davidovsky’s Flashbacks.

– Jonathan Blumhofer

Green Mountain Project
January 12 at 7:30 p.m.
St. Cecilia Catholic Church, 18 Belvidere Street St., Boston, MA

The acclaimed vocal ensemble TENET performs Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. At the helm: Artistic Director Jolle Greenleaf and Music Director Scott Metcalfe.

Cellist Emmanuel Feldman performs the "Suite Music of Bach" this week.

Cellist Emmanuel Feldman performs this week.

The Suite Sound of Bach
January 13 at 8 p.m.
At New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
Presented in collaboration with Music for Food. $10 suggested donation/$5 for students; all proceeds benefit Newton’s Centre Street Pantry.

Cellist (and NEC faculty member) Emmanuel Feldman performs a program of Bach suites: Suite for Cello solo No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009, Suite for Cello solo No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011, and Suite for Cello solo No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012


Boston Artists Ensemble
January 16 at 8 p.m.
Hamilton Hall, 9 Chestnut St, Salem, MA. (Please note that Hamilton Hall is not handicap accessible.)
Same program on January 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Trinity Church, Newton, MA.

Violists Peter Zazofsky and Bayla Keyes, violist Kathryn Lockwood, and cellist Jonathan Miller will perform Bartók’s String Quartet No. 6 and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp minor, Opus 131.

Xiang Yu, violin
January 17 at 8 p.m.
Presented by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Yu will be joined by violinist Quing Xiang and pianist Qing Jiang. The musicians will perform: Mozart’s Adagio in E major, K.261 and Rondo in C major, K.373, Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 7 in C minor, Op.30 No.2, Debussy’s Sonata for violin and piano in G minor, L 140, Ravel’s Tzigane, and Ke Xu’s The Echo in the Sky. The latter is a World Premiere dedicated to Angelo Xiang Yu; the piece was commissioned by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts.

– Susan Miron


Jazz

Photo: Francesca Patella

The adventurous Dutch-born saxophonist and composer Jorrit Dijkstra will perform in Cambridge this week. Photo: Francesca Patella

Jorrit Dijkstra’s Improvisation Pool
January 14, 7 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA

The adventurous Dutch-born saxophonist and composer Jorrit Dijkstra reconvenes his Improvisation Pool, in which ensemble members play in various duet, trio, and quartet combinations before joining in an all-hands finale. Tonight’s crew includes accordionist Ted Reichman, cellist Junko Fujiwara, bassist Nate McBride, drummer Eric Rosenthal, and vocalist Warren Senders.

Charlie Kohlhase Explorer’s Club
January 15, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA

Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorer’s Club has long been one of the best forums for his adventurous style as saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. Joining the band as special guest is another distinguished multi-reed player, Allan Chase. The rest of the Explorers are trumpeter Daniel Rosenthal, tubist Josiah Reibstein, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, bassist Aaron Darrell, and drummer Curt Newton.

Phil Woods with the Greg Abate Quartet
January 16, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Phil Woods was originally one of the great next-generation alto saxophone disciples of Charlie Parker — now esteemed as a giant in his own right. He’ll join distinguished New England reed and flute man Greg Abate and Abate’s quartet — with pianist Tim Ray, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Mark Walker — at Scullers for two shows.

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Steven Feifke Septet ft. George Garzone
January 17, 8 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA

A former Thelonious Monk Competition semi-finalist (2011), the 23-year-old pianist and composer Steven Feifke belies categories like “mainstream,” fashioning a personal language full of startling surprises from familiar materials. Feifke celebrates his new CD, Peace in Time, at the Regattabar with trumpeter Benny Benack III, alto saxophonist Andrew Gold, guitarist Alex Wintz, bassist Raviv Markovitz, drummer Jimmy MacBride, and out-there saxophone explorer George Garzone, of the Fringe.

Bryant/Garzone/Turner/Bowman
January 19, 8:30 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA

We wish heavycats Dave Bryant (keyboards; Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time) and George Garzone (saxophones; the Fringe, see January 17) had more occasion to exchange ideas, but we’re grateful for this particular show. They’re joined by bassist John Turner and drummer Chris Brown. (And it’s to be assumed that Garzone will have time to get to his weekly 10:30 gig with the Fringe down the block at the Lily Pad.)

– Jon Garelick


Roots and World Music

Busker Front Cover

Ryan Lee Crosby Band
January 15
Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA

Local songwriter Crosby has been wading deep into bluesy waters — especially the deep, raw Mississippi sound that’s all over his new LP, Busker on the Broad Highway. It’s the perfect setting for an artist who has never been afraid to chronicle his spiritual journey in song.


Ginger Ibex
January 15
Club Bohemia at the Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, MA

The combo Ginger Ibex makes use of strings, piano, and percussion along with a wealth of ethnic influences and selected classical chops to create a sound that is as hard to classify as it is beguiling. But don’t worry that this show will be a rarified affair — it’s part of Mickey Bliss’s long-running Club Bohemia series in the basement of the Cantab, one of the few remaining relics of pre-gentrification Cambridge.

Burcu Gülec
January 18
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA

Turkish singer Gülec possesses a rich voice she often deploys in jazz settings. On this afternoon she’ll be exploring her distinctive sounds in a program billed as “Ottoman Impressions.”

Brittany Haas and Nic Gareiss
January 17, Park Ave. Congregational Church, Arlington, MA
January 18, Carriage House Violins, Newton Upper Falls, Newton, MA

Roots fiddle phenom Haas is joined by “percussive dancer” Gareiss, an artist and scholar who reminds us that the feet have long been one of the most important instruments in the folk tradition.

– Noah Schaffer


Rock

The Vaselines
January 17
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

You may not know The Vaselines but thanks to Nirvana, you probably know at least one of their songs. Kurt Cobain and Co. covered both “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” by the Scottish rockers, the latter appearing on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York. The group didn’t originally stay together for long, breaking up in 1989 (and only briefly reuniting in 1990), but they’ve been busier this century and released V for Vaselines last year.

Sidewalk Driver
January 17
The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA

Local glam rock heroes Sidewalk Driver have a new album coming and they’re celebrating its release with this show at the Sinclair. There aren’t many bands around that put on a show like the members of this group. They’re over the top in the best sense of the phrase. LeoLeo, Worshipper, and the Organ Beats round out the bill.

Upcoming and On Sale…

The Tragically Hip (1/24/2015, House of Blues); London Grammar (1/26/2015, House of Blues); George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic (2/14/2015, House of Blues); Gang of Four (3/6/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Will Butler (of Arcade Fire) (3/6/2015, TT the Bears); of Montreal (3/10/2015, Paradise Rock Club); Swervedriver (3/28/2015, The Sinclair); Carl Barat and the Jackals (3/28/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Belle and Sebastian (3/30/2015, House of Blues); Jeff Beck (4/19/2015, Orpheum Theatre); They Might Be Giants (4/23/2015, House of Blues); The Who (5/24/2015, Mohegan Sun Arena); U2 (7/10, 11, 14, 15/2015, TD Garden); Foo Fighters (7/18-19/2015, Fenway Park); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden)

– Adam Ellsworth


Author Events

Nazila Fathi

Nazila Fathi will read from her book “The Lonely War” this week at Harvard Square Books.

Nazila Fathi
The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran
January 13 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Square Books, Cambridge, MA
Free

In the summer of 2009, Fathi, an Iranian journalist, was covering the uprisings in Tehran for the New York Times when she heard from a government source that “they have given your photo to snipers.” Understandably, shortly thereafter she and her family fled the country and have lived in exile ever since. Drawing on two decades of research, this volume interweaves Fathi’s personal story with that of her country, exploring the ironies of Iranian politics and arguing that moderates are, in fact, steadily retaking the country.

Alice LoCicero
Why “Good Kids” Turn into Deadly Terrorists: Deconstructing the Accused Boston Marathon Bombers and Others Like Them
January 13 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
Free

One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2013 Marathon Bombing was that two evidently well-liked and seemingly well-adjusted kids were behind the horrific event. Now that the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnev is about to begin, it may be useful to hear a clinical psychologist talk about what influences otherwise ordinary kids to become cold-blooded, nihilistic terrorists.

Tom Sleigh and David Rivard
Station Zed and Otherwise Elsewhere
January 14 at 7 p.m
Harvard Square Books, Cambridge MA
Free

Tom Sleigh’s poetry collection takes its title from the term for “the terminal outpost beyond which lies the unknown. His verse draws on his impressions as a journalist, visiting locations from Lebanon to Somalia and Iraq. He also incorporates diverse poetic traditions, from Scottish folk ballads to Basho’s travel haiku.

Cambridge poet David Rivard’s verse “is full of unsettling humor and the careening movement of memory and imagination.” “For those of us who need it,” one poem asserts, “instruction is everywhere.”

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Jennifer Yanco
Misremembering Dr. King
January 15 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA
Free

By now, everyone has accepted Martin Luther King as the iconic American crusader for civil rights and integration. Yanco’s book expands our understanding of King’s activism by looking at his battles against the “giant triplets”: militarism, materialism, and racism. She argues that King’s moral example should not just be limited to the Civil Rights Movement — he also critiqued the economic structures that encourage racism.

Nellie Hermann
The Season of Migration
January 15 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, MA
Free

Much of what we know of painter Vincent Van Gogh’s life is documented through his letters to his brother Theo. Hermann’s novel fills in a ten-month gap in Van Gogh’s biography when, as a youth, he arrived in a bleak coal-mining village in Belgium as a barely-credentialed preacher. In this version of events, Van Gogh’s time amid the working-class marks a crucial growth in his development as an artist — it is where he learns the true meaning of love, suffering, and beauty.

Women in Clothes
Panel Discussion and Clothing Swap
Jill Gallagher, Ren Jender, Andrea Michelle Steele
January 16 at 7 p.m.
Harvard Square Books, Cambridge, MA
Free

The publishing world is buzzing about Women in Clothes, a new anthology of reflections and essays, written penned by hundreds of women from different nationalities and walks of life. The focus is their choice of clothing means to them. Contributors include the famous and the anonymous, single and married, secular and religious. A panel of the volume’s contributors comes to Harvard Square to discuss the creation of the book.

There will also be a clothing swap: “Please feel free to bring up to 5 articles of clothing with your name and a story about each garment attached with a pin. We will have tags and pins on hand as well. (Photograph your donations at the event and upload them onto Instagram with the hashtag #womeninclothes and tag @harvardbookstore!) Any remaining articles of unswapped clothing will be donated.”

– Matt Hanson

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  6 Responses to “Fuse Coming Attractions: What Will Light Your Fire This Week”

Comments (6)
  1. Regarding my being off base on whether Edgar Poe was theatrophobic, I’ll just say that he couldn’t finish his only play. His parents were actors. That does not mean that I’m saying he could not also love the theater. Come hear our song this Saturday at the Democracy Center. It’s called ‘Poe Boy.’

    • Not being able to finish a play doesn’t mean Poe was theatrophobic, though I dearly wish he had completed the piece. The fragment is entitled Politian and was inspired by a contemporary murder case that Poe sets in 17th-century Rome. A scene features a drunken orgy in a cellar filled with people dead from the plague! I can’t find any biographical material suggesting Poe disliked his parents because they were theater actors. As a small child he appeared on stage with his mom and dad.

      Poe didn’t hate the theater (like Cotton Mather) — he despised bad theater. His nickname was the “Tomahawk Critic” and he pulverized many of the productions he saw in New York. And he was right: American theater of the period was astonishingly atrocious. Fearful/angry companies refused him free tickets from time to time.

      Still, Poe could be generous to the theater and its performers. In the Library of America anthology The American Stage editor Laurence Senelick includes an 1845 review Poe wrote of a production (Fashion by Anna Cora Mowatt) that he initally panned. But Poe returned several times to the show and changed his mind, eventually praising the production. Few critics today would be as dedicated or as flexible.

      • Nor do I suggest he didn’t love his parents. Our 3 minute song doesn’t go into this at much depth. It’s not that he didn’t finish his play: it’s that it was his only try–why? And why didn’t he continue being on stage with that early boost given to him by his folks? I feel he was theatrophobic in the way Walt Whitman was. It’s not just the atrocious quality of what was on stage. Theater reviewer Whitman never went to the theater again after the lethal Astor Place riot, which scared the nation’s theater-going public into a new era of self-segregation. The savagery of playhouses led to the idea of making theaters safe for women and children, an effort begun in Boston and stolen by Barnum for use in NYC. Of course, this made things worse: see Keith’s ‘Dream Palaces’ (a.k.a. ‘The Sunday School Circuit.’ )
        There is also no reason to think the offerings today are any better. They’re better in some ways, but surely worse in others.

        • I haven’t heard your song but look forward to it. Why Poe didn’t write plays is an interesting issue — but I am not convinced that it is because he hated the stage. Poe was not a collaborative sort who worked well with others — directors, actors, etc. Also, none of the major American writers of the era wrote for the theater — perhaps because the art form wasn’t taken seriously, there wasn’t enough money in it, etc.

          I don’t see your point about the Astor Place Riots and Poe — the riots took place in May 1849 and he died in October of that year. Poe’s reviews don’t complain about “savagery” in the American theater, but of its artificiality and dependence on stale conventions. In his essay “Does the Drama of the Day Deserve Support?” he condemns theater’s lack of originality. Elsewhere Poe talks about his ideal of a theater that contains “naturalness and truthfulness,” as well as “a manly vigor and breath in the conception of character…”

          We both agree that today’s theater would not escape Poe’s just censure.

          • On the spectrum of the spirit world’s DSM, Poe has mild theatrophobia: at the other end stand Cotton Mather, the Watch and Ward Society, Comstock, and Mayor Curley (see his Theatrical Licensing Law). Poe spoke to me and his ghost is looking forward to the exorcism.

            My point about the Astor Place Riot was that it was the climax to an era of increasing violence in the theaters. ‘Reading the Riot Act’ to unruly patrons was not uncommon. This happened in Boston after the great British actor, Edmund Kean, was pelted with metal balls, cake, and nuts.

            • Well, if you talked to Poe’s ghost … that settles matters. Though when it comes to roughhousing it was tougher to be a critic than an audience member or a performer at that period. Reviewers were often physically assaulted by performers or spectators unhappy with a review. (Reviews were often anonymous those days in order to protect the critic.) Poe was challenged to a couple of duels — he was also threatened with lawsuits, which would have ruined him. How about a criticophobia edition sometime?

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