Richard Warren's Shifting Gears Explores Transitional America at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts

Categories: Review, Theater

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Moran Imaging
Katie Czajkowski, Frank Gaxiola, and Veronica Carmack-Gasper star in Shifting Gears.

We see very little from local playwrights, a rare breed whose work is usually relegated to workshop productions before being tucked away forever. Richard Warren is one among a very few exceptions, at least lately. Last season, a staged reading of Warren's Revocable Trust received a lot of attention. His adaptation of theater legend Dale Wasserman's memoirs, Burning in the Night: A Hobo's Song, will be performed in two local playhouses next month. And now onstage at Theater Works in Peoria, Warren's Shifting Gears is treading the boards in the black box McMillin Theater. It's a full rewrite of Pollywogs, a two-act Warren wrote back in 1999.

"It was the first play I ever wrote," he recalls, "and it was just dreadful. I loved the story and the people, but I really listened when people told me what was awful about it. And then I went back and rewrote it."

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Gina Gionfriddo on Having It All, Pulitzer Prizes, and Rapture, Blister, Burn

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The Huntington / Flickr
Two-time Pulitzer Prize Finalist Gina Gionfriddo.

Gina Gionfriddo is something of a playwriting dynamo. Her last two full-length plays, Becky Shaw and Rapture, Blister, Burn, were both finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Her work goes far beyond the stage though; Gionfriddo wrote for Law and Order for several years, and more recently wrote an episode of the hit Netflix series House of Cards.

Theatre Artists Studio's production of Rapture, Blister, Burn opens this weekend. The play is a humorous glimpse at the friendship of two women -- one of whom chose to devote herself wholly to her career, while the other focused on having a family. We caught up with Gionfriddo to learn a little more.


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6 Phoenix-Area Theater Companies to Honor Tickets to Canceled Actors Theatre Productions

Categories: News, Theater

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John Groseclose
Actors Theatre's production of Good People featured Maria Amorocho and Katie McFadzen.

Six local theater companies have announced that they'll honor tickets purchased for canceled Actors Theatre productions.

The professional company announced in December 2014 that it would close after nearly 30 years. Originally, Actors Theatre representatives had said that refunds would not be granted for purchased tickets to shows in the remainder of its 2014-15 season including Annapurna, Stage Kiss, and The Year of Magical Thinking.

However, patrons now will be able to exchange tickets for shows at Arizona Theatre Company, Arizona Broadway Theatre, Childsplay, Phoenix Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, and Theater Works.

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Actors Theatre to Close in Phoenix

Categories: News, Theater

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John Groseclose
Actors Theatre's production of Good People featured Maria Amorocho and Katie McFadzen.

Early on Friday, December 19, Actors Theatre announced via press release that it will shutter after 29 years.

"The simple truth is we're out of money," Actors Theatre board president Renee Gerstman says in the release.

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Stray Cat Theatre's Year of the Rooster: A Rough-and-Tumble Love Story in Tempe

Categories: Review, Theater

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John Groseclose
Katie McFadzen, Austin Kiehle, and Ron May in Year of the Rooster.

Year of the Rooster, now crowing its head off at Stray Cat Theatre, serves up a compelling theatrical medley of black comedy, tough characters, and pretty pathos. Intelligently handled by young playwright Eric Dufault, this angst-drenched story is presented by a quartet of characters who demonstrate what happens when pain and longing spin out of control, and is nudged along by a talking bird who, as played by Austin Kiehle, is some kind of revelation.

There are several shattering moments and grown-up revelations, but Dufault doesn't make his play into either a catechism lesson on public morality or a sermon against cruelty to animals. He is, it eventually becomes clear, exploring the damage done to boys with lousy fathers. The director is Michael Peck, who nurtures this rough-and-tumble tale, turning it into a love story told by people most of us wouldn't like to know.

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Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni on Growing Up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Race, and What It Takes to Do a One-Woman Show

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Courtesy of Mesa Arts Center
Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni stars in a one-woman show written by her and produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni wants to talk about race in America -- and she's got an idea of where she wants to start. The writer-actor-director-producer extraordinaire will bring her one-woman show, One Drop of Love, to Mesa Arts Center on Saturday, November 1.

Inspired by her own experiences with race, family, and reconciliation, One Drop of Love endeavors to explore these concepts in a funny, relatable way. In addition to giving two performances, Cox DiGiovanni will be hosting a panel discussion and community dialogue on Thursday, October 31, at the Arizona Opera Center. We spoke with the creative about her performance, her history, and her first-ever visit to Arizona.


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The Hungry Woman at ASU's Lyceum Theatre Is Interesting, Lacks Subtlety

Categories: Review, Theater

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Tim Trumble, courtesy of ASU Herberger Institute for Design and Arts
The Hungry Woman at ASU will continue October 23 through 26.

Cherrie Moraga's The Hungry Woman debuted on the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts' mainstage last weekend. The play, set in a post-Revolutionary, futuristic Phoenix, is a modernized retelling of the tragedy of Medea. Native and Mexican themes and folklore are integrated into the story, which also explores issues of homophobia and gender inequality. While the play presented an interesting perspective and was certainly thought-provoking, many elements of this particular production failed to reinforce the text.


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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Misery Meets Company Meets Absurd Comedy at Phoenix's Herberger Theater

Categories: Review, Theater

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Joan Marcus
Charles Janasz and Ali Rose Dachis in Arizona Theatre Company's production of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

Two women are weeping. A man dressed as a Disney dwarf arrives with a tea tray. References to Chekhov are made. It's plain: We are watching a Christopher Durang play.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. It is, in many ways, archetypal Durang: an absurdist comedy dense with literary and theater-world references, a happy story about deeply unhappy people.

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Cherrie Moraga's The Hungry Woman Comes to ASU: Tragedy That Hits Close to Home

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Tim Trumble, courtesy of ASU Herberger Institute for Design and Arts
The Hungry Woman weaves together Greek and Aztec mythology, along with a little Mexican folklore.

ASU's fall theatre lineup will feature The Hungry Woman by Cherrie Moraga, which promises to be a new -- and local -- take on an old classic.


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13 Must-See Plays This Fall in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Theater, Top Lists

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John Groseclose
See DeJean Brown and Damon J. Bolling in Stray Cat Theatre's The Brothers Size.
With the 2014-15 theater season already started and the busy holiday season here before you know it, it's time to mark your calendars with fall's most anticipated productions. Get ready to laugh, cry, and renew your appreciation for the stage, because these shows look promising.


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