Posts Tagged ‘Memoirs of a Forgotten Man’

Media Update 7/26/2018

July 26, 2018

This week’s Media Update covers the five plays I saw at the Contemporary Arts Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, WV. The festival has a few days left so if you are in the area, you might want to swing by and see what tickets are left over. Find out at CATF.org.
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Ronald Reagan
A Late Morning [in America] with Ronald Reagan

I hate Ronald Reagan. I really do. He was President of the United States from the year before I was born until I was six. He was a joke of a president who had horrible policies that wounded this country and those wounds are still healing very slowly. He targeted black people, the gay community, and the middle and lower classes. He dumped money into the military and stupid programs that cost this country a lot. He also helped spread the paranoia that still pervades this country. Anyway, this show is about Ronald Reagan reflecting on his life as he nears the end. I was prepared to hate this show but I actually loved it. It is not a pro-Reagan show but it is also not an anti-Reagan show. Most of the show covers Reagan’s life outside of politics which included his college days, his radio career, his movie career, his military service, and his television career. The play succeeds in humanizing Reagan without excusing his crimes. It made me feel sorry for the Reagan at the end, a man whose memory was riddled with holes so that when he said “I do not recall” this time he actually meant it. It does dip into politics here and there and at the end, it dives headlong into his “achievements” in the Cold War. This was a very timely play to watch last week. If you get a chance, see this play.

Thirst

Thirst

The second show I saw at the festival was with my second cousins and my brother and I had no idea what I was in for. This show is set in a near future after nuclear bombs have dropped on New York City and Washington, DC. The obvious result is a destabilization of society and a return to a more tribal way of life. The play covers one such tribe built around a well with clean water that starts to come apart due to domestic conflicts. A painful memory has caused a clash within and now the tribe must deal with and move on or continue to suffer. Things are brought to a boiling point and there is a lot of action and great dialogue. I really loved the worldbuilding the playwright was able to develop. Although the play needs work, it was a real pleasure to watch a mystery unfold until that painful memory had been dug up and put on display. Part of that was the great acting on display in this one especially the physical acting. Everything felt so real and that kind of turned my stomach in a good way as the show continued. The show also really made think about how a story is constructed and how it is resolved. I definitely recommend this one too.

House on the Hill

The House on the Hill

Speaking of mysteries, this is another play driven by the slow and painful digging into the past. Two cousins meet at a lonely house on the hill years after they last saw each other. Together, they start to go through the memories that have kept a divide between them. Reluctantly, the two start to relive the memories on stage. They both see visions of their younger selves, dealing with the events as they happen. The show is very emotional as the tension lies heavy in the air. There is civility and politeness but the audience could pick up that something was very wrong right away. The question was: What was wrong? As the truth starts to come out, the show became a roller coaster of emotions and then it became a hurricane. The show gets very ugly but it was so powerful to watch. All four actresses did such a great job and I was left with a chill in my spine that had nothing to do with being damp from the earlier rain. All families have secrets and, although my family never had anything this bad, I could empathize with the trauma. Definitely check this one out too.

Berta Berta

Berta, Berta

This one was a little bit of a throwback to last year’s festival as we once again visited the black experience in America. Set in the southern US in the 1920s, it is about how the system is rigged against people of color. It, like all of these shows, was also about memory and exploring the memory of a love affair that never quite worked out. The chemistry between Berta and Leroy was absolutely magical. They go from fighting to joking to consoling to loving and back and forth between so many emotions. The play evokes a lot of tales that I have heard and read previously about how the legal system railroads black men into the system. This time, the story took on an almost supernatural element that made it all the more frightening and dark. The play is a long discussion between the two as they hash out their differences and reminisce about the good times. Ghosts of the past come up and we learn what exactly has gone down between the two. The set was also just a few feet away from me as the space was very intimate. Although this one was a little long (with no intermission), I recommend it as well.

 

Memoirs

Memoirs of a Forgotten Man

In Russia under Stalin, enemies of the “Great Leader” were forced to perform in show trials. In these trials, the accused was forced to rehearse and deliver false confessions. These completely false admissions were an example of state-sponsored theater and the Russian people were supposed to nod their heads and move on. This show explores how difficult it is to hold the memories of what happened and what everybody says happened in your head. It explores how we deal with other people through our memories and also how we approach the world through that same memory. In a very dark, unstable time in Russia’s history, it is dangerous to hold onto the memories of what actually happened. Not towing the party line can be the difference between life and death. Lying and telling the truth to the right people is a way of life in a world of paranoia and a society obsessed with control. This was hands down my favorite play of the festival as it was big and left me with interesting questions and uneasy worries. This one also felt really timely considering the waves of misinformation that get thrown around in our more modern society. I highly recommend this one too.

 

Music of the Week:

Bryson Tiller – Sorry Not Sorry

Niall Horan – Slow Hands

Gorillaz – Sorcererz

Lindsey Sterling and Lzzy Hale – Shatter Me

Tone Trump – Thuggn

 

Weekly Update:
– This week has two themes: “Memory” and “Contemporary Arts Theater Festival 2018”
– I watched more NCIS Season 15
– I watched more Agents of SHIELD Season 5
– I watched more Supergirl Season 3
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 8
– I watched more Luke Cage Season 2
– I watched more Glow Season 2
– I watched all of Joel McHale Show Season 2


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