The TATE’s. What can be said about them that hasn’t already been mumbled under the breath by one of the ‘losers’? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out. Welcome to SL918’s special TATE Awards Edition! First, the quick list of shows nominated by their respective theatres:
'All New People'- Theatre Pops
'Bad Jews'- Heller Theatre Company
'Waiting for Godot'- American Theatre Company
'Great Gatsby'- Theatre Tulsa
'To Kill a Mockingbird'- The Playhouse Tulsa
'Cowboy'- Nightingale Theater
'Don't Dress for Dinner'- Theatre Tulsa
'Steel Magnolias'- The Playhouse Tulsa
'Why Tourture is Wrtong and The People Who Love Them'- Theatre Pops
'Mothers and Sons'- American Theatre Company
'I wish you actually liked me (and other familial impossibilities)- Heller Theatre Company
'Fuddy Meers'- Nightingale Theater and Odeum Theatre Company
'Catch Me if You Can'- Clark Youth Theatre
'Our Town'- Clark Youth Theatre
I missed Heller’s ‘Bad Jews’ and Theatre Tulsa’s ‘Dress for Dinner,’ so unfortunately there’s no way to consider those shows in what follows. I also worked on two shows, doing the lights for ‘Great Gatsby’ and directing ‘Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them.’ That said, all of the following is just my freaking opinion, ok?
To address the youth shows first, both of them come from Clark, my former home, so I don’t have to worry about being prejudiced one way or the other on that score. I don’t believe in reviewing kids’ performances, the whole Honesty-in-reviewing-community-theatre thing breaks down a little at that age. But from a different perspective, Clark’s ‘Our Town’ was truly an original approach to the play that was implemented just about seamlessly. The original spirit of the play was not discarded, but reinterpreted in such a way that made it contemporary, relevant, and fun. Though the concept was director Whitson Hanna’s, the young cast and crew were the ones who implemented it in performance. Their contribution was substantial and integral to the whole. This would be my pick, based on originality and the communal approach.
Onwards. No, wait. Before we get to my picks, let’s pull back for a minute and talk about this event from a meta-standpoint. No, wait. Let’s look at it from two, no, wait, three, no, an undermined number of specific standpoints, each with its own priorities.
From the standpoint of the GKFF, (purely my speculation here of course) the TATE awards are a way to get some much needed money to the local theatre arts scene. Reward excellence with cash. I base my speculation on GKFF’s history of supporting the community in myriad ways, including the arts. My reaction? Bravo, and a million thanks. Your help and inspiration (money can be very inspiring) have borne fruit in many ways, most directly in more and better shows. So, hopefully, from their point of view, the TATE’s have been and continue to be a success.
Now, here’s my own personal perspective (no speculation needed): “Free wine and I hope we win.” Simple, direct, no angst, never any disappointment. Because the wine’s always free and at least one show I’m associated with wins (more on that aspect in just a minute).
What about people from other theatres? More speculation here, but it’s based on solid observation, and it goes something like this: “We desperately need the money, but they’re probably going to (screw) overlook us again.” Did you notice the difference? It’s subtle, but if you look carefully you might detect how our viewpoints diverge. The question then becomes, why do they feel differently about the TATE’s than I do? Well, it might be that ‘free wine’ is just higher on my list of priorities. Or, maybe it means that I’m more enlightened than all those other folks. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is, the theatres that I was a part of, Heller and Clark, didn’t really need the money. We were city supported theatres! The next show was already paid for. We ourselves got paid every week whether anyone came to see the shows or not. We had dental! In short, we didn’t have as much riding on the results as everyone else, so no angst. And in addition, because we were a city supported theatre, with our own space, and where money wasn’t really that big a problem, our shows had a little bit of a natural advantage anyway, and so tended to win more often than not. (Now that that advantage has disappeared, the secret can be revealed.) Plus, we were the only youth theatre active enough to submit most years, so that pretty much guaranteed at least one win. And finally, between Erin Scarberry, Julie Tattershall, and myself, we had three kick-ass directors, which didn’t hurt either. So we were in the enviable position of not really ever being disappointed.
There’s at least one other perspective that I’ve noticed. I have no idea whose, but clearly this point of view exists out there somewhere, the evidence is unmistakable. And it goes like this: “The TATE awards are all about bringing a Hollywood celebrity into town and making a big to-do over him/her.”
OK. Breathe. Let’s go to our happy place. I’m, uh, I’m just going to pause for a moment of silence here. Remember to breathe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I’m sorry, that drug on a lot longer than I intended. I teared up a little in the middle, wanted to get myself under control before I went on. I’m alright now.
DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! Has no one noticed that this has become incredibly disrespectful of the entire Tulsa Theatre Community? Is anybody paying attention here? How have we been reduced to performing as a bit player in a show that’s all about how important someone from Hollywood is, and by simple extension how unimportant we are? Yeah, and what about the times we’ve simply been passive and unwilling enablers of whatever ego trip our celebrity chooses to engage in onstage, present only because there’s a slender chance there might be some money in it for us at the end of the night? Or that maybe our celebrity will throw some nickels so he can watch us scramble for them?
Just so we’re clear, it’s not like this every time. Peggy Helmerich, Tim Blake Nelson, and Mary Kaye Place, to name the examples that come immediately to mind, belong up there for reasons that have nothing to do with their celebrity. And you could feel the difference on those nights. There was a connection to the community, a connection to what it’s like to be an artist that’s not doing it for the money (cause that’s us, baby), a mutual respect that could be felt on both sides of the lights.
Besides the disrespect, you know the worst thing about this misplaced emphasis? Missed opportunity. Because what do we need as much as, maybe even more than money? Glad you asked, I’ll tell ya. More recognition from the public. A lot of the money problems we have could be alleviated if we had 50% more butts in the seats. And the TATE Awards are a perfect vehicle to help with that! The public loves award shows! Best actor, best comedy, best technical design. Publicity, Glamour, Suspense! Ok, I may be reaching a little, but at the moment any opportunity in that vein is completely wasted because the only people in the story are/ is, the celebrity. The actual Tulsa theatre artists don’t rate a footnote. Couldn’t a little money be spent promoting the event, acting as if it’s important enough to take note of, creating a little buzz about the fact that we’ve got this really active, talented, vital and varied theatre community? Maybe that could be accomplished by taking some of that money that was going to pay the out-of-towner to come slumming?
Well, I seem to be in the mood to rant lately.
Whatever, it’s my blog, I get to write what I want. And I got one more thing to say about the TATE’s before we move on to my picks. Thinking about the four different perspectives I’ve explored here, which one is the healthiest for the individual and the group, which one leads to the best evening’s experience. Well, clearly mine. “Free wine and I hope I win.” Right? No argument there. So how can we restructure the awards so that everyone can share this joyful if somewhat inebriated perspective?
First and most importantly, break the strict connection between money and the awards. Award money to deserving theatres based on their contribution to the Tulsa community and their need. Award statuettes to deserving shows and actors. And not on the same night. No more going to the awards gritting your teeth, as your lack of money is brought up in the most painful way possible—by watching another theatre take home the thousands of dollars you really need, and feel you deserve. No more false applause, while you whisper “Damn” under your breath. Competition, yes, of course, but no more weird conflicted feelings as you resent the fact that a close friend won. Take the money, or most of it, out of the equation. It kills the buzz.
(Secondarily, I personally would prefer a more ‘dress up’ event. And more food. And more awards. And more publicity. And take home bottles of wine.)
“How does that work?” you ask. I’ve got a couple of suggestions. A panel of judges sees a bunch of shows, basically like they do now. But instead of rating the shows, they rate the theatre groups. The criteria would have to be worked out, but could include things like filling a niche that isn’t filled by any other company, overall quality of productions, level of talent the company can attract, and ability of company to utilize any financial support to sustain itself long term. That would determine how that year’s financial support from the GKFF would be distributed.
A larger group, that could include the initial group but would also incorporate a much larger slice of the theatre community, would vote on the TATE awards, which would be expanded to include standout acting performances, technical design, and directorial approach, as well as best shows. There might or might not be a much smaller financial award to go with these.
Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to suggest what other people should do with their money. I don’t mean to be. I’m just brainstorming. I'm acutely aware that it’s the George Kaiser Family Foundation that is actually putting its money where its mouth is, whereas all I have is my mouth, and it's the committee that’s doing the leg work, while I just lie here on my couch, tap tap tapping with my skinny little fingers, as“The Mummy” plays on Netflix. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful for all the time, energy and money that have been spent over the years, especially since Heller and Clark have been among the primary beneficiaries. But I think the experience has revealed that some things could be improved, to do more to help theatre in Tulsa, and these are my suggestions.
What about my picks? Ah, that was just a clever ruse to get you to read to the end of the article. Don’t spoil it for the next guy. And read the next post, because that's when I’ll actually tell you who I think should, and will win this year’s TATE’s. I promise.
For the second year in a row, Odeum and Nightingale/Midwestern have partnered on a major project. They have followed up their TATE winning God of Carnage from last year with David Lindsay-Abaire’s Fuddy Meers, playing one more weekend at the Nightingale space. If I had to guess, they’re probably going to grab an award for this one as well.
Fuddy Meers is one of those plays that read great on the page, but that can trip up a cast that plays it solely for wackiness, as if it was an updated version of Arsenic and Old Lace. Not a problem in this case, as the usual suspects from Nightingale and Odeum take their characters, and their characters’ tragedies, seriously, no matter how ridiculous the situations may seem on the surface. Walking that fine line turns out to be the very thing that makes the play as funny and as satisfying as it is.
There simply isn’t another set of actors in Tulsa who are as well suited to this challenge as this cast, all of whom are familiar to anyone who’s seen either troupe before. Erin Scarberry, John Cruncleton, Will Carpenter, Sara Cruncleton, Whitson Hanna, and Leslie Long comprise most of the core of the two groups, and have played together in various configurations for years. The newcomer is Knox Blakely, who I’m familiar with from Clark Youth Theatre.
Though still separate groups, Nightingale and Odeum are a natural fit to work together. They both gravitate towards shows that challenge their audiences as well as their actors, and that often tend towards violent conclusions. Together they function as the only real ongoing ensemble in Tulsa. Unlike the other community theatres in town, they don’t necessarily hold open auditions, but instead pick their shows with the actors already in mind. Though on a theoretical level some people may disapprove, it’s perfectly valid approach and produces some great theatre. Including the current show.
I could complement each of the actors in turn, but I know they hate that, so I’ll just say this: Will Carpenter can get more laughs out of doing practically nothing than anyone I’ve ever seen. A shift of the head, a look, even just a pause, and the whole audience is laughing. It’s a gift. And I can’t not mention Knox, who’s like 15 years old, holding his own and then some in the middle of some pretty intimidating performers. Finally, nothing but sympathy for Angela Adams, who as director was in charge of this herd of cats. Knowing the personalities of the people she had to work with, it could not have been easy.
I don’t feel like getting into too many specifics, but a quick laundry list includes: a set that works seamlessly in creating flow between multiple locations; better lighting than I’ve seen lately at the Nightingale (still cutting off some heads in the opening seen though); a wildly energetic performance from Erin Scarberry as the cheerful amnesiac; John Cruncleton playing against type as the goofy yet sinister nerdy little guy; and the aforementioned Will Carpenter, in a tour de force performance that covers more emotional ground than some actors do in a career. All in all, a top notch show. My wife wants to go back and see it again. Maybe I’ll see you there. I’m just saying.
My attention is torn between watching Al Pacino on Netflix doing Richard III in the brilliant movie, “Looking for Richard” and wanting to comment on the link, which has been making its way around Facebook for awhile. The old story; to create or be entertained? Well, let’s see if I can entertain you, my loyal readers, for awhile (but after reading this, you should immediately open your Netflix and watch this movie).
Should Community Theatre be reviewed “honestly?” The key word is honestly. Honestly. Well, the alternative would be dishonestly. That doesn’t sound like a good idea. Imagine reading a review that begins like this: “I orgasmed three times while watching this play.” Or, “Last night, the actor playing Richard III was suddenly swept into hell midway through the second act when the stage opened up and Beelzebub grabbed him by the Adam’s apple and dragged him into blue flames which consumed him up to his thighs before he disappeared, to wild applause from the aggrieved and vengeful crowd.”
I take it back, dishonest reviews sound like much more fun.
But, drat the luck, I have presented myself, honestly or dishonestly, as someone who has values. (It’s on the web, so it has to be true.) So, honesty makes a comeback, and now must be defined.
I just finished directing a play, Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them. I could review the play, which is obviously silly since I’m completely prejudiced, but nevertheless my review would be honest. Prejudiced, but honest. (I won’t bore you, but honestly I liked the play. I think you should have seen it. It was well directed. I loved the actors, each and every one of them. I could go on.)
What good would honesty be in that circumstance?
And yet . . . and yet that’s all we have. Honesty is the best any of us can achieve, because objectivity is an illusion. Am I objective? No. Is anyone? No. Any reviewer will simply be writing out of his or her own subjectivity. Me, you, Jim Watts, Roger Ebert, or the guy who goes off on a rant on Facebook, we’re all just regurgitating our subjectivity. Well, Ebert’s dead, so maybe he’s more objective than most of us. Hard to say at this point. I’ll ask him next time I see him.
[Just as an aside, because it’s not the point of the article: If reviewers aren’t objective, what does he or she bring to the table that’s any different from my 5 year old grandson, who’s always honest about the plays he sees because he wouldn’t know how to be anything else? Answer—knowledge and taste. Some people know more about the art form than others. And some people have better, more mature or cultivated tastes. And this is good, while at the same time just another example of their subjectivity.]
So, now that I’ve subverted the whole idea of an “honest” review, what the hell am I trying to say here? Do I basically agree or disagree with the article? Okay, no more digressions. I disagree with the article, because I disagree with his definition of honesty. The writer seems to think it’s honest to compare every production to a professional, New York level production. How is this honest? No, seriously, how is this anything but bullshit, excuse my Okieism. (Where the freak did we get "Excuse my French"? I'm going out on a limb here and guess that you know a lot more Okie curse words than French ones.)
Let’s forget about the production of Death of a Salesman in Leakey, Texas, population 183 (you should’ve been there). Let’s talk Tulsa, OK. In fact, let’s talk August: Osage County. I saw the touring production a few years back, with Estelle Parsons in the lead. Mother of God, that was an amazing show. Perhaps the best piece of straight theatre I’ve ever seen. Compared to that, Theatre Pops version last year was potato soup. And yet . . . (God, I love those two words). And yet Liz and Craig’s opening scene was as thrilling and delicious as anything I’ve ever seen onstage, Angela Adams gave such a beautifully nuanced performance that it shamed the TATE’s for not having acting awards, the set was a freaking Tulsa miracle, our community was uplifted through the participation of actors from most of our local companies, and, oh yeah, it was about 1000% better than that crappy movie they with Julia Roberts. A great evening of theatre, deserving of a TATE award, embodying every virtue that theatre can embody. And yet . . . compared to Estelle Parsons . . . potato soup. Okay, now write the review, 500 words—go! Tell us how one of the best shows in Tulsa last year didn’t measure up. Be honest.
There are different things we can compare a show to. For example, if I’d rather be home watching TV than watching the play, well, that’s bad. Watching Hamlet while sitting on those torture devices in the Doenges has to compete against me lying on my comfy couch with a beer watching an episode of Breaking Bad. That’s a valid comparison. And a tough one to live up to. Because Hamlet doesn’t just have to be better, it has to be $30 better, if that’s the price of a ticket.
So it’s not like my standards are low. It’s just that they’re not always “Let’s compare this production of Sweeny Todd with the original Broadway cast.” I ask different questions. Am I impressed with the creative approach, is it a generous performance, does it acknowledge that performance always takes place within a community, is it honest? These are the questions I’m most interested in. And these are the same qualities we can look for in a review—honesty, yes, but also generosity, community, and creativity. I submit that these are the qualities that draw us to live theatre. They are related to professionalism, but not identical to it. Professionalism embodies these things, but ‘amateur’ productions can embody these qualities as well. A little like how punk music was a breath of fresh air compared to the polished, overly ‘professional’ rock music of the day, community theatre can sometimes touch deeper chords than a touring Broadway show does. Both can be valid. Reviews can, and should, reflect that.
Rhonda and I saw Steel Magnolias last Saturday at Doenges, and had a marvelous time. James Watts’ did an admirable job of reviewing the show, and since I don’t feel like just repeating what he had to say, I’ll just add a couple of things of note.
One, what a great set! Playhouse is, or at least should be, known for the quality of their scenic production, and this was no exception. The unusual aspect here is that it was not done by their usual designer, Shawn Irish, but is Dan Williams’ work, who also serves as the tech director at ORU. Besides just being great to look at, the set skillfully gave the actors and director Courtneay Sanders a varied, dynamic environment that helped create movement and multiple points of focus. Of course, this play is the ultimate in giving the actors things to do—hair gets washed, dried, curled, and cut, not to mention manicures, decorating for Christmas, phone calls, and all that goes along with operating a beauty salon. If an actress prefers working with props in her hands, Steel Magnolias is a dream come true. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the lighting design by a former student and co-worker of mine, John Plum. Good work John.
Kelsey Kemper as Truvy Jones, the owner/operator of the shop, is a delight. A whirling dervish of Southern fried energy, she sets the pace for the show and keeps the lines fresh—even when some of those ‘old sayings’ are truly as old as the hills. I had seen her in the lead in Hello Dolly a few years back at ORU and was equally impressed with her musical theatre talents. This is a young actress with loads of promise.
Sidney Treat, 73 years young this Saturday according to her bio, also deserves special mention. Even on an off day, Sid is one of the funniest people on the planet, and the role of Ouiser seems as if written especially for her. Combine an impeccable sense of timing with a jaundiced air that says I’ve-seen-it-all-before-and-it-all-makes-me-laugh, and you have what are easily the funniest moments in the show. This production also marks the return of Julie Tattershall to the Tulsa stage as an actor, after a long absence of something like 10, 12 years? As Artistic Director for Heller Theatre for 25+ years, Julie had plenty of credits as director, but rarely found time to act, and it’s good to see her back onstage again where she shines.
Steel Magnolias is written to be an ensemble piece for six actresses that can balance and keep up with each other, and Playhouse’s production pulls that off winningly. A fun show and well worth seeing.
Creating Claire, by Joe DiPietro, played at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, produced by Heller Theatre. I didn’t get a chance to see it until the last performance on Sunday, but I’m going to write about it nonetheless. If you’ve been reading this space for a while, you may have noticed that my reviews don’t necessarily stick to a typical pattern, but instead can go off in some highly personalized directions. And so it is here.
First of all, the cast was wonderful. Liz Masters portrayed the caring but often clueless Claire with delicacy and her usual assurance. Dave Garcia is always a solid presence onstage, and this part was tailor made for him. Miriam Mills’ performance avoided mannerisms and presented a strong, clear character. And Haley Clark, as the autistic teen who is caught in the middle of her parent’s conflicts, was fearless in her commitment to some emotionally gut wrenching moments. Director Kathryn Hartney was in clear control of the material and marshalled her actors to good effect. Finally, the video segments supported the action and added an additional dimension. (And what is it with all these different groups doing such a great job using projections? That’s four in a row now, from Theatre Pops, Theatre Tulsa, Clark, and Heller.)
So why didn’t I like the show more? Well, to cut to the chase, I didn’t like the script. Everyone in the cast gave solid performances all around, but in service to a script that kept me at arm’s length from the main characters. And I couldn’t help feeling that the playwright was telling me how I was supposed to feel.
Claire embraces a faith she’s apparently never given a moment’s thought before. She seems to simply drift there. She doesn’t profess it with any passion, or with any sense of a ‘conversion experience’—she reassures everyone she hasn’t really changed that much. It apparently comes out of the heartbreak of trying to raise an autistic child, but her faith seems curiously flat, almost an intellectual exercise rather than anything heartfelt. She loses her job and her marriage, but remains placid. Her husband Reggie drifts away from her and their child in a similarly lackadaisical manner, giving up their long term relationship with little more than a sigh. And other than the briefest of moments, we don’t see either of them attempt to connect with their daughter other than to correct and/or control her.
The reviews of other productions have been wildly divergent. Some reviewers found it thoughtful and powerful, others found it manipulative and off putting. Paradoxically, the NY Times, which I read religiously (ha, did you see what I did there?), was the harshest in its criticism and yet the review I thought most missed the point. It focused on the whole “Science vs. Religion” controversy as if that was the heart of the play. Which it is not. The play actually asks the question, “Why do people have faith; why do they believe in what they can’t understand or explain?” Which is an excellent question, and worth the struggle to explore, and resonates with our current cultural moment in ways that are myriad and profound. But, imho, the playwright never intended to actually explore that question, because he already knew the answer before he started writing. The play simply presents his answer. And the audience is expected to take that answer on . . . faith, I guess. Because, as we all know, playwrights are experts when it comes to such matters.
Here in Oklahoma, with the stage legislature acting like mutaween enforcing sharia law from their crumbling citadel over in the City, and with prominent pastors all across the country lining up behind the most dangerous politician we’ve seen in our lifetime, it’s a little embarrassing to have to point out that we’re not playing fair here. And yes, of course, playwrights stack the deck of their story, but it’s best done for the sake of pleasure, not propaganda. Hard to even imagine that this joyless weight was written by the same playwright who gave us I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a multi-voiced, exuberant exploration of love amongst the moderns. But the temptation to pontificate is strong. Just ask any critic. Nevertheless, the old saying is still true: “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.”
Feel free to disagree in the comments.
Normally, if I was going to write about a show written and directed by an 18 year old, and whose lead actor was 15, I’d do this: Pick out my favorite moments, point out and post some pics of the standout actors, and, if I enjoyed the show, I’d say so. Simple and sweet.
Cowboy, written and directed by 18 year old Jack Allen with 15 year old Knox Blakely in the lead, does not, cannot, slot into any kind of “normal” category. Why? Well, let’s start out with the obvious. These two toddlers are the jewels in a setting of long time Tulsa theatre vets Andy Axewell, Dale Sams, John and Sara Cruncleton, and more, all of whom are considerably older. The play was close to 3 ½ hours long (must be something in the air over at the Nightingale). It dealt—intelligently—with issues of justice, morality, the current political situation, and the nature of civilization. And the language was a little saltier than you’d expect to hear from kids this age.
No, let me amend that last one. The language was a lot saltier than what you’d expect to hear from kids this age.
So what’s going on here? And what can I say about it?
Let’s start with the play. Allen’s created an absurdist epic that stretches from coast to coast and beyond. It’s a world where space and time are arbitrary, identity is flexible, and a cowboy hat pulls off a mass killing. Nine characters, each with their own distinctive voice, interact in a kaleidoscope of shifting circumstances and emotional states. We are presented with three acts, each one with a unique tone and progressing with a kind of absurdist logic towards something that at least resembles a resolution. The play achieves a variety of moods and gives space for a spectrum of theatrical effects. Most spectacularly, the end of the 2nd act is a theatrical tour de force that provokes widely varied reactions from the audience.
As for the actors: In a reversal of what we might expect, the older and more experienced actors embody archetypes and tend towards stereotypical behaviors, while the young couple at the heart of the play, Cowboy and Cowgirl, played by Knox Blakely and Kelly Leake, have subtly nuanced roles that require a huge range of emotional responses. Leake is apparently new to Tulsa, looks to be mid-20’s, and is obviously talented and extremely likeable onstage. Blakely does an outstanding job with a huge role that requires a ridiculous range of skills. It would be an admirable and noteworthy performance for an adult. Knox is 15. At that point the noteworthy becomes remarkable.
Thematically, the play attempts and largely succeeds in examining and remarking on a wide range of topics. The 3 word definition of civilization manages both to confront our current political dilemma at the same time it feels timeless. Entertainment wise, the play fully embodies Allen’s absurdist humor that has been on display in his standup and sketch comedy over the last few years. Verbally, the characters speak both as real people and with the same unique flair that so impressed me about his longer poems.
So. Do the excellences of these varied elements add up to a masterpiece of absurdist theatre, something resembling a perfect play? No. To get immediately to the point, an 18 year old simply cannot be completely successful in his first full length play when his aspirations are this sky high. Story telling remains crucial, even in absurdist pieces; Allen’s facility with language tempts him to verbal gymnastics that lead him into narrative detours and cul-de-sacs. The show would have benefitted from being at least 30 minutes shorter—knowing the limits of what your audience and your actors are capable of is part of creating the theatrical experience. Thematically, having something clever to say about everything is not near as effective as putting one particular idea in a pressure cooker, setting on high, and seeing what explodes.
On a scale of 1 to 10? Don’t be ridiculous, that kind Consumer Reports approach doesn’t have any place in a discussion of the arts, and most especially in evaluating a piece like this. Let’s talk about meaning and potentialities instead.
Cowboy may premiere a new and unique voice in American drama. That’s how different and promising it is. If Allen continues along the artistic trajectory we’ve witnessed over the last few years, Cowboy may eventually be seen as an immature work, but only in context of what an 18 year old can create vs. what’s possible for someone with several more plays and a lot more life experience under his belt. Will this happen? Who knows, but even the possibility should make you at least a little bit curious. At the Nightingale for 2 more weekends. In a word: Intriguing.
Arts Alliance Tulsa
Green Room OK
Tulsa Little Theatre
Tulsa Weekly Roundup
Am. Theatre Co.
BA Community Playhouse
Clark Youth Theatre
G Rated Theatre
Midwestern Theater Co.
Muskogee Little Theatre
Owasso Comm. Theatre
Sand Springs Comm. Th.
Sapulpa Comm. Theatre
Tulsa Latino Theatre
Tulsa Project Theatre
Tulsa Rep. Musicals
Tulsa Spotlight Theatre