I have to disagree with the prior comment. I saw the Studio Connections production on closing day, and although I disagree with the critic's opinion of the play itself being flawed, I feel he was extraordinarily KIND and GENEROUS to this production. She didn't even mention the fact that the play was about ten to fifteen minutes short of four almost painful hours long which would have kept many theatre-goers away from attending a play that I think we can all agree SHOULD be seen. Taking all of this into consideration I would say that Nathan's review was fair almost to a fault and shouldn't be disregarded simply because someone disagrees with it.
This review seems to be more an opportunity for the critic to voice his pent-up dislike of an award winning play, rather than an unbiased assessment of Studio Connection's production.
Great! Now I don't need to see it! Real technical writing skills. Honestly you get paid for this?
Congratulations to the people who are working to resolve these ugly and harsh realities. How we work out all these conflicting, yet equal truths ....... becomes who we will be.
I am encouraged that communication is happening between all these equal truths. I am also pleasantly surprised that the Tohono O'odham are in front of where the future is being created. We hear a lot about the Navaho, the Apache, the Comanche, the Kiowa. This other nation of many different peoples, is now being pulled into the front lines of deciding how we formulate our future. If the the members of this tribe that I have met are any indication --- we are very lucky to have them in the drivers seat.
I went to see this show and was less than impressed. There were definitely some bright spots, costumes, the set itself, and "some" of the performances. The two little boys were great. The older actors were great, but man, Mr. Akhavan's performance as the narrator seemed to be something he prepared that morning. It was horrendous to say the least.
Every single choice he made was so obvious and simple, he laughed when he was "supposed" to laugh, he yelled when it seemed he was angry, and he cried at will and with such regularity that you just expected him to, and after every single time he cried, 4 seconds later he was happy again. Such acting cliche's, such pathetic direction.
It's such a shame that such poor performances usually get the most applause. Most theatergoers are so ignorant in the first place that they always give standing ovations whenever the lead comes out for his bow, whether it was good or not they stand and go nuts. But the real truth is that Mr. Akhavan did nothing to keep us interested, every time he came onstage we had to sift in our seats and try to find a more comfortable position to listen to his new ranting...
I just can't continue to believe that people keep thinking that "big" productions equal good theatre. It's appalling really.
I don't agree with Sherilyn Forrester's review of the play, "She Was My Brother."
I attended the play, and found that it allowed for one's imagination to fill in story gaps in a creative way. Studying a Picasso painting or a Louise Nevelson sculpture does not exactly tell us what happens in the artists' minds. Rather these artists show us works of art that allow our imaginations to take us into unknown paths. That's what is special about this play. Because of the delicacy of the subject matter the playwrite points to the void and dares us to jump in to gain a deeper understanding and respect for the characters. It took courage to write the play. It took courage to produce it. I learned a lot by attending the play. The actors drew me into a new and different world, and for a couple of hours, I forgot that wars are still raging in the world, and that the country is in the midst of an economic crisis.
I am thoroughly enjoying Carolyn's Pollos del Pueblo series, which I've seen personally at Gallery 801. First caught my eye in a Star article featuring her Hotel Congress painting, which I felt connected to. That particular painting also had a Van Gogh-esque feel to it. I contacted her and ordered some notecards of the scene. People are enjoying the trip she's taking us on to the various landmarks around Tucson. I agree this is a series which could have a long lasting effect.
Insofar as one must think of art as process as much as product --and recognizing that it is frequently the tension between these two dimensions that opens precisely the door to theater as productive dialogue that can really matter, i.e. count for something other than just entertainment --then, insofar as these things can be true.......I would say that the critique Ms. Forrester makes of the play “She was my brother” MAY not be entirely off-base.
Yes, the play has some moments where one thinks: "uhmm, that dialogue [or that transition] does not seem to be fully cooked." Fine observation. BUT, here's the crucial and cardinal rule of criticism that Ms. Forrester misses and that leads me to not agree with her assessment: not conforming to a conventional narrative/performance arch is not necessarily ONLY a deficit; it can also be interpreted as an opportunity or even better yet, a conscious aesthetic/ethical stance. In her review of the staging done by Borderlands Theater Ms. Forrester assumes that the "gaps" encountered in the text/staging are a failure of good theater craftsmanship; she does not ask herself if perhaps these so called failures, standing in fact as "gaps" in our knowledge of Indians and of the complex politics (with small “p”) of the relationships of love and intimacy between Indians and colonizers/anthropologists, are not in fact, aesthetic devices themselves that playwright Julie Jensen has crafted with exceptional even-handedness. I saw the play and I believe this latter to be the case.
Jensen in fact has navigated the most treacherous waters in writing this play (the waters of academicism and didactic approaches to the HISTORY of anthropology or the POLITICS of gender and sexuality, etc...). She has succeeded in this play not so much because she tells us "everything" we ought to know (as Ms. Forrester suggests she should have done) but in fact her success in this play rests on her ability to find an aesthetics and a narrative structure that omits the impulse to tell us what things (of the heart, of the social intercourse in conditions of differential power) mean. I would argue that the aesthetic and staging choices Jensen and Goldsmith (the director) –not to mention the extraordinary work of the actors--- made in this play are in effect the only approach that would WORK for a play that tackles themes of this magnitude in our social imaginary –in other words, it is an approach that works for the play to function as play, without making those of us in the audience feel that we were attending a lecture at the Smithsonian.
The way Jensen chose to tell the story was, point in fact, to skirt the heavy-handed narrativization that often accompanies tales of Indians and Whites ---a persistent impulse to make these tales between unequal partners caught in the dense waters of desire and repulsion (the generalized attitudes that have characterized Red-White relations for centuries) into “tight narrative” events out of circumstances and emotions that were far more ambiguous, complicated, uncertain, and often, unresolved. Such was the case of the intimate relationship intimated (pun is on purpose) in Jensen’s play by the shadow figure represented by Wilson in the play (the ethnographer Frank Hamilton Cushing) and the historical persona of We’Wah (evoked by the character Lamana). Cushing was one of the first anthropologists castigated by his peers for “going native.” He was a difficult character who wrestled with loads of baggage of prejudice, imperial attitudes, and scienticism that he brought to Zuni, while at the same time “falling head over heels” in love with the Southwest and its native inhabitants (as many a reader of the Tucson Weekly can surely relate to). He only mentioned We’Wah once in all of his abundant written materials. Yet, the self-censorship of the “love affair” or perhaps psychological transference or perhaps the exotic desire to posses the subject as yet another “artifact” for the Smithsonian speaks more loudly than the written tracts Cushing did produce.
It is precisely in that what is un-spoken (and perhaps also “unspeakable”) that Jensen finds the moral imperative and narrative/artistic device most suitable to re-tell the story (albeit as a white woman playwright in the 21st century could tell it, which is certain to be different from the way a Zuni playwright may approach the subject). She hints at facts, leaves many of them hanging loose in the air….infuses the audience with a sense of complicity and at the same time confusion…..focuses the characters’ development on their emotional lives as these unfold for them, nebulous as that may be ---yes, frequently “spoken for” by the master narrative of social conventions rather than with the benefit of full human agency –indeed, precisely the points that Ms. Forrester finds fault with are the points that make this play moving and poignant, especially for those of us non-Indians here in Tucson that know all too well the complex intertwining of intimacy and distancing that befalls our living in “Indian country.” Borderlands Theater tapped something in our social fabric with this play (a suitable world premiere for this region) that remains deeply misunderstood and rationalized among friends and neighbors.
We saw SHE WAS MY BROTHER on opening night at Borderlands Theater. It was one of the most amazing, most original plays we had ever seen. Perhaps your reviewer attended a different play and got her reviews mixed up. We cannot account for her response. A play that tells and does not show? This is a play about people from different cultures falling in love. That is what we watched. The things they talked about were merely the background for that very delicate and compelling action. We had never experienced a more original story better told. At the end, all of us rose to our feet in praise of this extraordinary experience. We had been entertained and moved. Thank you, Borderlands Theater, for choosing this play and for doing it so well. And we urge that your reviewer have another look. She did not see what we saw. --Linda Farrer and Janet Allen, Prescott, AZ
That's my baby girl.....we're so proud. And for everyone out there, Elizabeth will be........ on October 8th, so wish her a happy birthday and give her birthday hugs from her absentee pa and ma.
The reviewer here and I must have come to the theatre from different worlds, different universes perhaps.
She found little or no action in She Was My Brother by Julie Jensen, playing now at Borderlands. She’d have much preferred The Indiana 500 or Die Hard 10--a motorcycle ride across high hurtles or rafting down the Colorado--all glorious adventures indeed.
She Was My Brother offered something else entirely. Another world, another era, another pace, an alternate view of reality. That night in the theatre provided a journey not possible today in real life, possible for only the most privileged in the late 19th century.
On that stage the audience actually saw and heard white people listening to an Indian. White people with ears, something many Indians did not think possible.
We in the audience had to wonder if our world could have been different if we had listened more often, listened better. Wondered what a world without gender prejudice would have been like. A world where whites learned from Indians and Indians learned about whites rather than the way things went down.
In the theatre that night we saw a young man and a middle-aged woman change more in one scene each than we’d ever seen on the stage. We saw three characters who knew how to love. And who were able to show their love.
At the end we were not dry eyed and we could not keep to our seats. We stood, clapped and felt deep gratitude.
Elizabeth Leadon ROCKS!
I am very excited to see this production again. Ryan's first performance of this show just blew me away. His personal growth as an actor over this last year, studying at the UA, has added great depth & understanding of the roles he plays.
I am very excited to see this production again...how amazing it was the first time to see Ryan change from one character to the next and tell this funny, sad and heartfelt story to the audience...and with only one actor on stage! We were all taken in and loved it.
Break a leg, Ryan.
Thank you, Mr. Georgiou. Glad you could make use of old Citizens. We thought people just lined bird cages with pages carrying stories that we toiled over!
Thank you for your insights. I, too, read program notes, but I didn't find these necessary to repeat in a review for which a limited amount of space is allotted. Russell's empathy for women and his ability to write in their voices is reason for praise, I agree, but I also didn't feel the need to point out this out to enjoy the play. I meant no slight by using the word "slight," but wanted to point out that in other hands that might well be the result. Perhaps I wasn't clear or precise enough in the use of language this time around -- I always strive to try harder next time, and appreciate those readers who want to keep the writers on their toes. Thanks again.
Shirley Valentine is by no means a "slight play" to the women in the audience. I definitely agree on the excellence of Carlisle Elllis's performance. One feature which the reviewer overlooked is that it is nice to see a play by a happily married male playwright who likes women and is comfortable with them, hence can write honestly in a female voice. He actually wound up performing a "reading" for some weeks when the actress was hospitalized -- and he is 6 feet tall and had a beard at the time! See your program notes! The audiences loved it and he learned even more about his play and about the character. Patricia A. McKnight
wonderfull article on a friend I used to know in the Netherlands/Holland,(1964) when he was a very good dancer. We just found each other again thanks to all the possibilities of Google.
He followed a great path, from dancer, to a most interesting and talented painter.a versatile artist. Martinette Janmaat ( Pietje)
Regarding the UAMA's director, the Emperor wears no clothes.
I think Margaret's right. It's strange how so many people are impressed by his crap. It's cheesy, if nothing else.
This article is one sided and sloppy. Bad show.
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