Posts Tagged ‘Azuka Theatre’

Race, Class, and the Subway: “Dutch Masters”

Posted September 10th, 2013

DutchMasters2Regardless of people’s individual feelings on the state of race relations in America, whenever we hear the “n” word spoken out loud, we seem to obsess over the mouth that speaks it and the context in which it is spoken. In Greg Keller’s play Dutch Masters, brought to the 2013 Fringe Festival by Azuka Theatre, the “n” word comes in the very first sentence and continues to be used throughout the dialogue between the play’s two characters, both young men about the same age who meet on a New York City subway in 1992. One white, one black, the characterization and setting might suggest that the play itself is about race, but it’s not. Its essence delves much deeper than the color of its characters’ skin.

Kevin Glaccum, producing artistic director of Azuka, first heard of the play when one of his students brought him a copy shortly after its debut at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in 2011. The play found its way to him again this spring, this time via Keller’s agent. Glaccum was considering whether Azuka would produce a play for Fringe this year, and as he read the manuscript for a second time, he thought, “If we decide to do this play, it’s perfect for Fringe.”

Known for choosing plays “a little outside of the mainstream,” says Glaccum, Azuka’s most recent season included an outrageous contemporary comedy (Pookie Goes Grenading), a drama centered around Frank O’Hara and Billie Holiday (Everyone and I), and a 1920’s fable play set in a clock shop (Failure: A Love Story). Glaccum and Azuka seem to thrive on mixing it up–producing various genres and bringing fresh voices to the Philadelphia theatre scene.

The company itself has come a long way since Glaccum was cast as an actor in their first show in 1999; they’ve been sharing the Off-Broad Street Theater at 1636 Sansom Street with Inis Nua Theatre Company for the last two years. “Before that,” Glaccum tells me, “we did twenty four shows in eleven different locations; it was a lot harder for people to keep track of where we were.” Glaccum has been in his current role for ten years now working closely with Mark Andrews, one of Azuka’s original founders.

Glaccum says that Dutch Masters sucked him in: “As I read it, I felt anxious, threatened, an ominous sort of feeling. I feel like audiences won’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Read More

Good Sex, Better Conversation

Posted August 22nd, 2012

Festival Blog contributor Richard Bon lives in Northern Liberties with his wife and daughter. He posts original flash fiction of his own or by a guest writer every other Monday on his blog, liminalfiction.com.

Random sex happens. In David Ireland‘s The End of Hope, The End of Desire, co-produced for 2012 Philly Fringe by Tiny Dynamite and Extreme Measures, it happens just before the play’s opening lines. Characters played by Corinna Burns and Jared Delaney are introduced during detumescence and, after conveying their mutual satisfaction, engage in a conversation that takes them to unexpected places.

While their characters in End of Hope met via a web site dedicated to sex between consenting strangers, Corinna and Jared met in real life ten years ago when they both were cast in a collaborative play called The Artist’s Workshop. “We were both very opinionated and always seemed to disagree,” Corinna tells me, “but eventually we came to respect each other and became good friends.” Though they’ve rarely acted together since, their friendship has grown, as has their mutual respect. When Emma Gibson, producing artistic director for Tiny Dynamite, asked them to star in End of Hope’s Philadelphia debut as part of her “a Play, a Pie, and a Pint” program in October 2011, they jumped at the chance.

“Corinna’s unique quality as an actor,” says Jared, “is believability. It never seems like she’s acting, I never doubt her.” He can hardly finish the sentence before Corinna nods and declares that Jared has a similar “honesty and a grounded presence on stage.”

With only a few weeks to prepare for End of Hope last autumn, the duo relied heavily on their natural chemistry to make the show work. And work it did, selling out The Red Room of The Society Hill Playhouse, Fergie’s Pub in Center City, and MilkBoy in Ardmore.

After the jump: summing the whole of human existence (you read that right).

Read More