“In the Red and Brown Water” (Fountain Theatre, 2012)
The Los Angeles Times has honored the The Fountain Theatre’s critically acclaimed Los Angeles premiere of In the Red and Brown Water by selecting it to its year-end list of Best Theatre in 2012. LA Times Theater Critic Charles McNulty, who hailed the production as “sensational” in his October review, highlighted the smash hit production in his Best Theatre of 2012 feature this Sunday as “a marvel of ensemble acting”, declaring “In the Red and Brown Water at the Fountain Theatre gets my vote for production of the year.”
“All of us at the Fountain Theatre are extremely proud of this production, ” says Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “The acknowledgement from the LA Times is particularly rewarding because Charles McNulty compiled his Best of 2012 list from all of the productions of plays he saw this year, across the country, on both coasts. It demonstrates that the Fountain Theatre — and theater in Los Angeles — can excel at a level as high as anywhere in the country.”
In the Red and Brown Water also topped the 2012 Best of Los Angeles Theater list on the LA Theater website Bitter Lemons. Editor Colin Mitchell hails the Fountain production as “Just pure theatrical heaven from top to bottom, my pick to win every award that it can possibly be nominated for; lead Diarra Kilpatrick is otherworldly. Still playing. Go see it. Now.”
Directed by Shirley Jo Finney, In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney stars Dorian Baucum, Peggy Blow, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Justin Chu Cary, Diarra Kilpatrick, Stephen Marshall, Simone Missick, Iona Morris, Theodore Perkins, and Maya Lynne Robinson.
The acclaimed smash-hit production has been extended to February 24th, 2013. (323) 663-1525More Info
LA Premiere Held Over to Celebrate Black History Month
“In the Red and Brown Water” (photo by Ed Krieger)
The Fountain Theatre has extended the Los Angeles premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s lusciously theatrical and boldly original In the Red and Brown Waterthrough the end of February, in honor of Black History Month. Performances will continue through December 16 as previously scheduled, then resume on January 5 for an additional eight weeks through February 24.
Lyrically weaving together elements of urban contemporary realism with West African mysticism, In the Red and Brown Water tells the tale of Oya, who can run faster than anyone—but not fast enough to escape her destiny. Her journey from the promise of youth to the complicated yearnings of womanhood is joyous, raucous, raw and brazenly beautiful.
The Fountain production has been declared “100% Sweet” by Bitter Lemons, a website that aggregates Los Angeles theater reviews, and which, in a rare editorial comment, writes, “Once again, the Fountain Theatre shows that they are the class of Los Angeles theater, big or small… this is simply what theater is meant to be.” The Los Angeles Times raves, “CRITIC’S CHOICE! Beyond the fact that it is sensational, the Fountain Theatre’s production of ‘In the Red and Brown Water’… introduces Los Angeles audiences to a dramatic poet in the process of discovering his singular voice and shows how magnificently one of L.A.’s better small theaters can serve bold new talent.” The LA Weekly agrees, “GO! A visceral fable that rises up from the underbelly of America,” and Back Stage calls In the Red and Brown Water “a production that explodes in sounds, images, and extraordinary performances.”
It took the Fountain three years to obtain rights to produce McCraney’s play, which first exploded on the theater scene with a production at New York’s Public Theatre in 2009. On his personal Facebook page, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic Charles McNulty posts, “I love [the Fountain Theatre] production — even more than the one at the Public Theater. LA Theater is not to be underestimated!”
In the Red and Brown Water is helmed by multiple award-winning director Shirley Jo Finney. Diarra Kilpatrick stars as Oya in “a lead performance that is so good you wonder if somehow the designers may have concocted some kind of CGI image in front of your eyes instead of a living breathing human being; her movement, range of emotion and depth of passion is so indescribable that it will literally take your breath away.” (Colin Mitchell, Bitter Lemons). The ensemble also includes Dorian Christian Baucum, Peggy A.Blow, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Justin Chu Cary, Stephen Marshall, Simone Missick, Iona Morris, Theodore Perkins and Maya Lynne Robinson.
Performances ofIn the Red and Brown Water continue through February 24 on Thursdays (through December 13 only),Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm (dark December 17 through January 4). Call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com.
Arts Criticism versus “User Comments” in the Blogosphere
Who do you trust more? A professional critic or a fellow audience member? Which do you now read more — and pay more attention to — in deciding which play to see: a printed review in a newspaper or a “user comment” on a website or blog?
We now buy everything online. Cars, books, electronics, major appliances. Before clicking “submit payment” and buying the product yourself on a site, don’t you first read the “user comments” from other buyers who have purchased the same product and are now using it? To get their opinion of the product, their experience using it?
Is it now the same thing when buying a ticket for a play or any arts event?
One of the substantial changes in the arts environment that has happened with astonishing speed is that arts criticism is no longer a spectator sport. It is now a participatory event. Everyone can now be in on it.
A good thing or bad? One thing is certain: there is no going back.
Every artist, producer or arts organization used to wait for a handful of reviews in newspapers to determine the critical response to a particular project. But in the vast immensity of today’s Web Universe, a larger portion of arts projects today have become somewhat immune to the opinions of any one newspaper journalist.
Even in New York and Los Angeles, one “make or break” review from “The Theater Critic” in the major newspaper in each city — while still important — is losing its power and relevance to box office sales and popularity. The mega-hit musical Wicked got a bad review in the New York Times: “Wicked does not, alas, speak hopefully for the future of the Broadway musical.”
Why are newspaper critics having less impact? Three reasons.
First, far fewer people are getting their news from print media. There is a reason the newspaper industry is in trouble. Advertisers are spending less in print media because fewer people are reading hard copy newspapers. And for those arts projects aimed at younger audiences, hard copy newspapers are no longer a central element of a marketing strategy. Younger people get virtually all of their information online, through news web sites, social media and chat rooms. And older people are increasingly getting their information online as well.
Second, because serious arts coverage has been deemed an unnecessary expense by many news media outlets looking to pare costs, there are fewer critics and less space devoted to serious arts criticism. The Los Angeles Times’ arts section is dominated now by features and reviews of popular entertainment — television, movies and pop music — rather than serious opera, dance, music or theater.
And third, the growing influence of blogs, chat rooms and message boards devoted to the arts has given the local professional critic a slew of competitors. Locally, the theater site Bitter Lemons lists 63 blogs devoted to theater coverage in Los Angeles alone. Many arts institutions even allow their audience members to write their own critiques on the organizational website.
The result is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways.
One side: Anyone can write a blog or leave a review in a chat room. The fact that someone writes about theater does not mean they have expert judgment. It is difficult to distinguish the professional critic from the amateur as one reads on-line reviews and critiques.
No one critic should be deemed the arbiter of good taste in any market and it is wonderful that people now have an opportunity to express their feelings about a work of art. But art must not be measured by a popularity contest. Otherwise the art that appeals to the lowest common denominator will always be deemed the best.
The other side: People now have the opportunity to interact with their art experience. Tweet, text and blog about it. Going to the theater has always been a shared experience between actors and audience. The blogosphere has taken it a step further. It is now a shared experience between actor and audience — and the audience’s electronic web network of online friends.
The magic of live performance – even the most traditional forms – is that the audience is never really a passive watcher – they are engaged and their response informs the performance. The internet as a forum for authentic feedback and reaction is vital to the growth, development and continued relevancy of the discipline.
Anyone can create art. And now, anyone can comment on it.
The audience for the arts – and the people who are passionate enough to frequent cultural institutions, comment on their sites or start their own blogs – are frequently educated, knowledgeable, committed individuals who, you know, have actual jobs. They are artists and former artists, they are friends and families of artists, they are people who grew up or into an appreciation of the arts for any number of reasons but because of the necessities of making a living are relegated to “amateur” status. Sure there are some ill-informed writers and commenters out there, but arts writing on the internet has evolved over the years. The quality of writing, the knowledge of the writers and the vitality of the discussion can sometimes be invigorating, stimulating and exciting.
Newspapers are never again going to be a dominant force in our lives. And the economics that made it possible to subsidize newspapers (and full-time professional arts critics) via ads and real estate listings are not likely to return. The speed of internet/blog/tweet comments and reviews is instant. Hundreds or thousands of audience members can now post their comments on a play seconds after seeing it. A newspaper review can take days, sometimes one week, to appear in print.
Like it or not, our Smart Phones and the internet are fast becoming our new content delivery system and our primary circuit of commerce and communication (about the arts, and everything else). Theaters and arts organizations that don’t recognize that the internet train left the station years ago — and don’t get on board — are being left behind on the platform, by themselves. Alone.
What do you think? Care to “leave a comment”? Blog about it?