Swinging for the ‘Fences’

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fences-poster

“My greatest influence has been the blues. And that’s a literary influence, because I think the blues is the best literature that we as black Americans have.”
– August Wilson, interview in The Believer, November 2004

*I saw Fences on Sunday – 25 December 2016.

If you ever need proof as to how institutional racism is imbedded into the world of art, look no further than the use of Black American patois. Our slang continuously sets the tone for what’s considered “cool” in the US – nay, the world – but it only gets recognition once White people adopt it. In a perfect world, E-40 would get more recognition for his contributions to the national vernacular than Quentin Tarantino ever did by using the word “nigger” as a punctuation.

In fact, a perfect world would recognize the dialogue of August Wilson as being just as important – if not more so – than those of Tarantino and David Mamet. Few other authors so accurately captured the rhythm, cadence, and comfort of Black American voices. Through his 10-play “Pittsburgh Cycle”, he painted a painfully intimate portrait of the Black experience through the 20th century. But just as Octavia E. Butler’s contributions to science fiction have been forgotten, so too have Wilson’s contributions to theatre.

His 1985 Pultizer-winning play Fences was nearly made into a film after its successful Broadway run, using a screenplay by the author himself. It ultimately failed to materialize due to Wilson’s insistence that the film have a Black director. None of his works have gotten big screen adaptations until now. Using the Wilson screenplay (mostly – more on that below) and a Black director in Denzel Washington, this quintessentially American story has finally been captured on film.

And it was well worth the wait.

If there’s one thing you can say about Troy Maxson (Washington), it’s that he’s a survivor. He’s survived a rough childhood, daily racism, and the burden of caring for his family to make life for himself. He may not be the successful ball player he could have been, but the life he’s created with his wife Rose Lee (Viola Davis) is a happy one. Mostly. The combined circumstances of a possible job advancement and his son Cory’s athletic potential plant a resentment in Troy based on not having become the success he should have been. No longer content with his everyday routine, Troy begins taking small steps that will have drastic repercussions for he and his family.

fences-stillIt’s a damn shame that Wilson himself didn’t live to see this film. Knowing that he passed away in 2005, one can only speculate the playwright – who described himself as “not a big movie person” – would have reacted to the final product. For those of us who revere his work, this is (almost) better than we could have ever asked for. Whereas some film adaptations of plays tend to highlight the play’s shortcomings (August: Osage County), lose something in translation (Les Misérables), or both – in addition to being released too late to ride the play’s popularity – (Rent), a piece like Fences has the timeless appeal of Death of a Salesman, to which it’s often compared.

As a director, Washington makes great use of both himself and his fellow cast mates from the 2010 revival of the play. I’m often wary of actors who direct themselves, as it tends to scream “vanity project”. Thankfully, Washington’s directorial choices have wisely kept the focus off of him alone, even when the frame does just that. His portrayal of Troy is layered in a way Washington has rarely been onscreen. I can’t imagine any other director getting a better performance out of him, even frequent collaborator Spike Lee.

But if any one member of the across-the-board-excellent cast deserves praise, it’s Viola Davis. Just as Naomie Harris in the recent Moonlight, Davis takes what could have been an overwrought performance (can you imagine Tyler Perry directing this film?) and injects it with a beating human heart that you can feel through the screen. Rose Lee is neither “mammy” caricature nor Hotep straw-woman. She’s a living, breathing human being who struggles to maintain her composure in light of the curveball life has thrown her. And also like Naomie Harris, if Davis’ name doesn’t show up during nominations, you’ll know the game is rigged.

Seeing and hearing how well the entire cast “sings” Wilson’s words, I’d be remiss to not mention the words that likely aren’t Wilson’s. Although the screenplay is solely credited to Wilson, it’s no secret that Washington retained the services of another Pulitzer-winning playwright when adapting the screenplay: Tony Kushner. As the film went into production, I wrote an entire article for SF Theater Pub about what it could potentially mean. So as to not repeat that article here, let’s just say I was worried about such a distinctive White writer attempting to adapt such an equally distinctive Black writer.

If you know the play, it would appear that whatever changes were made were for staging purposes – the words are clearly all Wilson’s. If I had to guess, I’d say that Kushner is responsible for the slight drag that occurs during the film’s final act. As shown with the scripts for Munich and Lincoln, Kushner’s screenplays tend to go on longer than they should. One could say the same for his stage plays, but those are his own pieces and there’s always a reason for his extending those story.  The one flaw keeping me from giving this film a flawless grade is that the final act could have used some pruning, be it in the script or the editing bay.

But that is definitely the only flaw against it.

The play Fences was a labor of love for August Wilson, and an equal amount of love was put into its film adaptation. I hope this film will lead more people to seek out his work – hopefully live productions – and I also hope further film adaptations will be produced with this level of care and talent. This is what Wilson deserves. This is what we all deserve.

Grade:                  A-

Going ‘Rogue’

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“Writers should not waste their time or talent trying to tell stories in someone else’s universe.”
– Orson Scott Card, on fan fiction in the afterward to Maps in a Mirror
(NOTE: Card, despite the above, does in fact write fan-fiction)

*I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Sunday – 25 December 2016.

It’s easy to see why some people think George Lucas hates Star Wars; that every post-Empire entry into the franchise – from the Ewoks to the digital addition of Hayden Christensen – was his way of trying to slaughter the very goose that continually laid him golden eggs (even if some of those eggs stunk). That’s an oversimplification, of course, but to read about the anti-corporate Lucas who cut his teeth under the tutelage of Francis Ford Coppola, it’s not hard to think that he’d rather be making the next THX-1138 rather than the umpteenth tale in the galaxy far, far away.

In 2012, he unburdened himself from the Death Star on his shoulder by selling Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise to Disney. He’s lived a comparably quiet existence since – getting married, fathering his first (biological) child, and only occasionally appearing to make stupid comments. And if he wanted to free himself from all corporate cinematic responsibilities, perhaps it can be read as subtle commentary that he turned his creation over to the (often) redundant corporate entity that is The Mouse House.

With the release of JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens and the new spin-off Rogue One, Disney appear to be fully committed to their publicly announced plan to release one Star Wars film per year. For those wondering if this will lead to too much of a good thing, you needn’t worry: both films released thus far show Disney have no intention of making the films good.

Nearly two decades after the rise of the Galactic Empire, the last remnants of The Old Republic have manifested themselves in the form of a Rebel Alliance. The strike the occasional significant blow to the Empire, but the latter’s forces are seemingly unlimited. So much so that they’ve nearly completed construction on a new super weapon. With the aid of a petty criminal named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the Rebels plot to infiltrate an imperial base and discover if it’s at all possible to destroy this weapon before it destroys them.

I should love this movie. It’s a reverent nod to the original trilogy through a modern day sensibilities and technology meant to shed light on shadows of the classic story that were previously unseen. It has, to date, the most diverse cast of any live action Star Wars film. It presents the idea of moral gray areas that add complexity to series’ clichéd “good vs. evil”. This is like the Extended Universe comics come to life.

Knowing said diversity made Trump supporters boycott is an added bonus.

Knowing said diversity made Trump supporters boycott is an added bonus.

So why do I think it fails? Because both it and The Force Awakens fall into the trap of all fan-fiction: they just rehash old stories with familiar characters. I know that sounds, given the debt Star Wars (and the Indiana Jones films) owes to both well-worn mythologies and film genres. Nevertheless, the original Star Wars distinguished itself in its retelling; the new films make the same mistake as Lucas’ prequels in the way the merely refurbish what we’ve already seen before. It’s like watching Eragon again. Strike that – Eragon was merely a rip-off; the new Star Wars flicks are fan-fic made canon.

Which isn’t to say there’s nothing good. If Rogue One makes one indisputable triumph, it sure as hell isn’t the CGI grave-robbing of Peter Cushing (and, retroactively, Carrie Fisher), but how it treats one of the series most important characters: this movie makes Darth Vader scary. I don’t mean just “evil” (we already know that) or merely intimidating. No, there’s a scene in this film that appears to come straight out of a slasher film, with a Sith lord and his lightsaber in place of a masked man with an axe. It’s intense, it’s terrifying, it’s a great thing to behold.

And it’s a welcome relief to a film that exists to give unnecessary details to a story for which we already know the ending.

Credit where it’s due: Rogue One is pretty to look at, and has some genuinely exciting set pieces at its disposal. That doesn’t change the fact that its existence is only to prove that the franchise has become the redundant corporate machine Lucas feared it would be. At least he can say that doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Not many paying movie-watchers can say the same.

Grade:                  C+

Thank the Demi-gods

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See that rooster? He plays an important role. Really.

See that rooster? He plays an important role. Really.

“There is no doubt that that residue of Hawaii will always stay with me, that it is part of my core and that what’s best in me and what’s best in my message is one that is consistent with the tradition of Hawaii.”
– (then-)Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il), Honolulu, Hi, December 2004

*I saw Moana on Sunday – 25 December 2016.

The Hawai’ian occupy a peculiar place in US history. Indisputably an independent kingdom that was overthrown, the islands have traditionally represented a passport-free tropical paradise for the mainland states (themselves colonized by European invaders). But once the country got its first Hawai’ian-born president, suddenly the islands’ “legitimacy” was brought into question again.

Hawai’i is both familiar and foreign; assimilated, yet exotic; a playground for America’s elite, but home to some of the highest poverty levels in the country. It would take a delicate touch to tell a story that humanizes the native people of the Hawai’ian islands, a story so simple that children could grasp it. Thankfully, Disney specializes in those kinds of stories.

Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) is the chief’s daughter on her small island. Her whole life, she’s been raised to prepare for the day when she’ll succeed her father. At the age of 16, she’s grown into a bright girl whom the islanders adore. But not even she can stop a famine that begins to infect the fish that live around the island. Against her father’s insular wishes, Moana sets sail from the island to find answers. Her quest leads her on an adventure that will test her resolve, try her ingenuity, and put her face-to-face with a narcissistic demi-god named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).

Let’s be honest: Moana is, to be quite frank, the best non-Pixar-Disney film in almost 20 years. The studio has created some noteworthy blockbusters (Frozen, Big Hero 6), some so-so quality hits (The Princess and the Frog, Wreck-It Ralph), and even mediocre-to-terrible films that still made money (I’m lookin’ at you, Zootopia). But Moana is exemplary of the best the studio can do when everyone brings their A-game to the table: the characters are relatable; the story is entertaining; and the songs are still memorable days after seeing the film.


(Seriously, I can’t get this out of my head.)

The creators of Moana – who also created Princess…Frog and Zootopia (y’know, that supposedly anti-racism flick that was actually pretty damn racist?) – have done with Polynesian cutlture the same thing they’ve done with those of the Chinese in Mulan, Arabic in Aladdin, and even the French in Beauty and The Beast: streamlined and Westernized it whilst retaining its uniqueness. Granted, it’s all still through the problematic point-of-view of White American men, but one would be remiss not to acknowledge how well the effort was made.

The funny thing about Moana – both the eponymous character and the film – that its success will ultimately be used to conform to the Disney machine. Just as Mulan is always sold as a “Disney Princess” with nary a trace of warrior material in Disney Stores, so too will Moana be used for nothing more than to show girls how to be pretty. That’s just the nature of the beast. Nevertheless, the story crafted for introducing this new character is the kind of story this company does better than anyone.

Grade:                  A

Now here’s one half of Flight of The Conchords as a bejazzled sea snail. You’re welcome.


(Stay ‘til after the credits – this guy gets the best line in the film.)

Walkin’ by the ‘Moonlight’

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moonlight-movie-poster“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.”
– CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

*I saw Moonlight on Saturday – 24 December 2016.

The thing about the theory of “nature vs. nurture” that makes it so fascinating is the idea that one could easily predict the course a human life will take – be it their own or someone else’s – based on nothing more than a few clues observed during birth. What makes the theory equally frustrating is when one looks back on their life in an attempt to find out what made them what they are, only to find very few definitive answers.

The sum of what makes a person who and what they are is a question that’s baffled philosophers since humanity gained self-awareness. At worst, the idea has been used by those wishing to more easily enforce their will on others. At best, it allows one to reminisce on happy accidents that lead to personal success.

We are who we are, and that’s not attributable to any one thing. Still, the journey each person takes to discover who and what they are is just one of the things that continues to make the human experience so fascinating.

We follow our protagonist at three different points in his life.

At the first, he’s a boy nicknamed “Little” living in Miami’s all-Black Liberty Square housing projects. His mother (Naomie Harris) is an addict, his best friend is also one of his many bullies, and the only person to show him genuine kindness is his mother’s dealer, Juan (Mahershala Ali).

We next meet the same boy in high school, now going by his given name, “Chiron”. With his mother’s addiction having worsened, he frequently stays with Juan’s girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monáe). His best friend is still Kevin, who is no longer his bully. One night on the beach, the two comfort each other in a way that will have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.

We conclude with the now fully-grown “Black” as a dealer in Atlanta. He hasn’t been back to see his mother in a long time, but is living as well as a criminal can. As someone who considers himself always ready for the unexpected, the one thing he isn’t ready for is a sudden late-night phone call from Kevin.

Ashton Sanders as "Chiron"

Ashton Sanders as “Chiron”

If I have one caveat with this film – and I mean only one – it would have to be the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I found the ending to be an abrupt stop that quickly jumped to a resolution that, I believe, could have come more organically had it been more room to “breathe”. That may have pushed this 110-min. film to a full two hours, but I think it would have been worth it.

But, as I said, that is my only caveat with this film. Moonlight is the sort of Terence Malick would make if he had any interest in Black people. It’s an intimate and compelling look at sexuality and the definitions of masculinity in the Black American inner-city. Like the best slice-of-life dramas, it doesn’t make moral judgments about its characters, preferring to take an over-the-shoulder view of events as they unfold beyond our control. Given how a running theme of the film is the greater significance of a soft touch, it’s to the credit of screenwriter/director Barry Jenkins that he applies such an approach to his film.

Of the film’s great performances, the one I’d like to highlight is that of Naomie Harris as Little/Chiron/Black’s crack-addicted mother Paula. Portraying addiction on screen or stage can often be a trap for an actor: no matter what the vice, the actor will often feel their job isn’t done unless they chew every inch of scenery to indicate drug use. Harris, mercifully, takes a more subdued and realistic approach. She isn’t showcasing for a 30-sec. PSA, she’s living the life of a woman caught in the grip of a substance she can’t avoid. If Harris isn’t given an Oscar nomination for her performance, it’s just stand as further proof that the Academy doesn’t get it.

Her fellow cast members are equally on top of their game, with Monáe proving to be a singer who can genuinely act (something Beyoncé still hasn’t learned to do) and Ali adding another great performance to his repertoire. And of course no write up of this film would be complete without mentioning the three actors who embody the central character: Alex Hibbert (“Little”), Ashton Sanders (“Chiron”), and Trevante Rhodes (“Black”). Rhodes – with his muscular frame and ability to seamlessly move from ferocity to vulnerability – would have made a far better Luke Cage than Mike Colter. Given the MCU has already done high-profile casting changes (The Hulk, Rhodey), I’d personally nominate Rhodes to take over the role of Cage from the charisma-free Colter, but that’s just me.

Moonlight is a touching look at how forces in and out of our control mold us into the people are. The affect of some incidents are easier to identify than others, but all leave their mark. The choices you consciously make are just as important as those made for you, because in the end, there’s no taking them back.

Grade:                  A-

Late on ‘Arrival’

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"I'm sorry, but there's no parking here from 9am - 4pm!"

“I’m sorry, but there’s no parking here from 9am – 4pm!”

“In the next place, wonderful as it seems in a sexual world, the Martians were absolutely without sex, and therefore without any of the tumultuous emotions that arise from that difference among men.”
– HG Wells, The War of the Worlds

*I saw Arrival on Saturday – 19 November 2016.

At times, it seems as if science fiction – a genre whose very purpose and nature requires exercising a method of thought outside the norm – is the most rote of film genres. Sure, the format has given us such genre-defining tales as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer to countless others before, after, and in-between. But it’s hard to argue that the vast majority of entries are based around the same good-looking White people who, as Octavia Butler often noted, conquer other species as LASERs fly by.

It’s tempting to place the blame at the feet of a certain galaxy far, far away, but that was only paying tribute to the Flash Gordon yarns that came before it, to say nothing of the imperialism of almost every Burroughs story. Butler herself associated the clichés with another popular franchise of the genre: Star Trek.

Against-the-grain-sci-fi is tough to find at a local multiplex, but not for a lack of trying – indie cinema is often full of sci-fi gems that are lucky to find an audience at all. Still, when a major, studio-financed sci-fi flick takes risks, it’s often a cause for celebration… and when it fails to live up to the hype, it’s a crushing disappointment.

When extraterrestrial crafts arrive at several Earth-bound locations, the world holds its collective breath. Do they come in peace? Is this a conquering force? What does this mean for humanity’s place in the universe? Most importantly: how do we speak to them? The latter question is answered by linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) when she’s recruited by the US government to contact with the new species. To say that she succeeds is an understatement. Louise’s work not only connects our two species, but may well decide the fate of the Earth itself.

"Shut up, Hawkeye. This conversation's for Oscar-winners only."

“Shut up, Hawkeye. This conversation’s for Oscar-winners only.”

Let me start off by saying that yes, I’m aware of the acclaim surrounding this film and a lot of it is deserved. The film is excellently acted – with the majority of that falling on the shoulders of its Oscar-winning leading lady – directed, and paced. As I write these words, I’m trying to recall another mainstream sci-fi film since Close Encounters (to which this film owes a debt) that treated a first contact scenario in both a realistic and intriguing fashion. It’s a credit to all involved that when this film works, it really works.

And that’s why the stuff that doesn’t work is so disappointing. I haven’t read the original short story on which this film is based, so I don’t know if I should place the blame at feet of author Ted Chiang or screenwriter Eric Heisserer. Whatever the case, the film seems to realise it’s been written into a corner and doesn’t know how to get itself out. A wiser author or screenwriter would do the appropriate research and work to find a way out of the conundrum. Instead, we’re given the most insulting, out-of-leftfield “deus ex machina” plot device I can recall in recent memory. A film that hitherto relied on the fact that initial communication is a slow, patient process suddenly introduces a sudden super-human ability. Said ability is introduced to lead to an action sequence that requires – in typical Hollywood fashion – our heroes acting at the very last moment, lest we all be destroyed.

The film started off as a respected academic that knew the importance of layman’s terms, but ended up pandering to the peanut gallery.

"Next we ask how they spell 'fart'."

“Next we ask how they spell ‘fart’.”

Had I only seen the first 2/3rds of the film and the projector suddenly exploded, I’d probably put this film on the top of my “Best of 2016” list, too. Unfortunately, this film undermines and negates its own grand ideas for the sake of keeping itself easily identifiable amongst its more popular brethren. The final act of this film treats intelligence as a hindrance, and that’s not an idea the world (or the multiplex) needs right now.

Grade:            C

People are ‘Strange’

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“I never saw a wild thing
Sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.”

– DH Lawrence, “Self-Pity” (1929)

*I saw Doctor Strange on Saturday – 19 November 2016.

Self-pity is like a warm bath: it’s comfortable, it’s calming, and it’s easy to drown in it. It sucks to have things take a downturn, especially when everything was going so well. But a losing hand isn’t a possibility, it’s an inevitability. No matter how high one flies, then must eventually land, if not crash. What defines one’s character is how they recover once they’ve hit the ground again.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is on top of the world. When he performs surgery he exhibits the flamboyant braggadocio of a professional athlete. But after a car crash leaves him with irreparable damage to his hands, he’s forced to reevaluate his life and calling. Upon hearing that a solution may exist in the Far East, he travels to Kathmandu to learn the mystical arts under the tutelage of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). It’s there that Strange not only discovers abilities he never knew he had, but also finds himself in the middle of a centuries-long battle to determine who will become the Sorcerer Supreme.

You had me at "Chiwetel Ejiofor"

You had me at “Chiwetel Ejiofor”

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: yes, the whitewashed casting of Tilda Swinton was a bad idea. A really bad. In fact, the only thing worse than the casting would be if Tilda Swinton herself tried to give a bullshit justification for it by thinking of it as a tribute to Asians.

Having said that, the cast is actually pretty good. Yes, that includes Swinton (you just have to wonder why her role couldn’t have been played by Michelle Yeoh)? They all perfectly convey each and every single character’s level of awe or dismissal in regard to the fact that they exist in a world where reality can be folded like freshly-dried linens. It’s both a strength and weakness of the MCU as to why they couldn’t cast an Asian in a film so deeply indebted to Asian culture.

As the MCU continues to become Hollywood’s most reliable franchise, films like Doctor Strange serve as a fine entry point for those who somehow haven’t followed every adventure of The Avengers (the first Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy flicks also serve this purpose). But that world-building means nothing if the individual entries can’t stand on their own. Thankfully, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s psychedelic sorcery plays beautifully on the big screen.

Grade:    A-

In For a Penny: Only if You Mean It

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In which I toast to the ‘Pub one last time.

(I know I’ve given it a eulogy once before, but this time it’s more than just hiatus. This time it’s good-bye.)

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III checks in one last time.

My first time at the ‘Pub, Feb. 2010 My first time at the ‘Pub, Feb. 2010

“Livin’ here in this brand new world might be a fantasy
But its taught me to love
So it’s real to me
And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find
A world full of love
Like yours, like mine, like…”
– “Home” from The Wiz, Charlie Smalls, et al.

I’ve been drafting this final dispatch from the magical ‘Pub HQ since mid-September. I assumed it would be my final entry in December. Then in October, I got the e-mail saying we’d be wrapping up the regular columns by mid-November. With that in mind, I also decided to revisit the “SF Theater Pub – By the Numbers” spreadsheet I mentioned in my last entry. Like my fellow columnists, I’d planned for this to be a nostalgic look back at the last…

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In For a Penny: What’s in a Name?

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In which my penultimate entry takes on that one Shakespeare question that just won’t go away.

San Francisco Theater Pub

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“Well, that was bloody Shakespearean! D’ya know who Shakespeare is? He wrote the King James Bible!”
Gangs of New York, screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan

It’s a bit empty ‘round the ‘Pub offices these days. Yes, there are Theater Pub offices. They’re located within a classified, heavily-guarded location that may or may not resemble the ThunderCats’ Lair. Within the great hall – which bears a strong resemblance to the Childlike Empress’ throne room in The NeverEnding Story – we ‘Pubbers gather to feast on divine ambrosia, sip unicorn tears from The Holy Grail, and plot world domination. We also occasionally write plays.

But yes, these days our hallowed halls aren’t as occupied as they once were: no more dispatches from the rainbow over Cowan Palace; the Working Title now reads “Happily Ever After”; Everything has moved on to Something greater; The Five are too busy…

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In For a Penny: Bum-rush the Show!

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In which I listen to the offensive opinions of others and choose my battles for when to express my own.

San Francisco Theater Pub

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“A wise man told me ‘Don’t argue with fools
‘Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who’ ”
—Jay Z, “The Takeover”, The Blueprint

This past week I went to the Berkeley Rep to catch a preview performance of Jeff Augustin’s Last Tiger in Haiti. The story revolves around a group of “restaveks” (child slaves) and the stories they tell themselves to cope with the horrors of their daily lives. The first act takes place 15 years in the past, the second in present day, with the shadow of the 2010 Haitian earthquake looming large. Incidentally, this show was in production as Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti earlier this month, resulting in a death toll estimated between 1,000-1,300. As such, the curtain call features the actors asking for donations to help with relief efforts.

As I began putting on my coat, an older White man behind me…

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In For a Penny: I Die a little Inside

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In which I try in vain to balance gainful employment with artistic ambition.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, waiting to be picked.

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“The problem is that those of us who are lucky enough to do work that we love are sometimes cursed with too damn much of it.”
― Terry Gross, All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists

You ever get the feeling that you’re the one kid on the playground not picked to play kickball? Never mind the fact that they actually need you in order to have an even number of players on both teams; or that you’ve been practicing by kicking pinecones and have gotten pretty good at it; or that you’ve run around the yard just to prove you can run bases. No, all that matters is that the self-appointed captains have filled each of their teams with all of their friends. They don’t even pick you last, they just don’t pick you at all.

That’s…

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