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Players by the Sea: Angels in America Debuts

The first installment of Tony Kushner's major work, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches debuts this weekend. Everyone seems to be making note of the fact that the Jacksonville debut comes long after the actual Millennium approached, looked around a little, and then finally passed into the second decade--- the middle of which it presently straddles. Join us after the jump for compendemonious discussion of the event!

Published March 13, 2014 in Culture      8 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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By the time that Angels premiered in 1991, mainstream American views were not substantially different from this Mike Wallace report


Jacksonville
March 13, 2014
Players by the Sea will be presenting Angels in America for the first time on a Jacksonville stage, a fact which speaks reams about the state of theatre in the Bold New City of the South.  In many ways, the production is itself both Milestone and Millstone for the dramatic arts.

Milestone because it's about damned time.  Millstone because it is long past time, and the length of time it took for our local theatres to brave it is, frankly, a bit of an embarrassment.

Before you read on, here is how to get tickets to the Players by the Sea performance of the show: http://www.playersbythesea.org/angels-in-america.html

Buy tickets, because the show is worth seeing -  regardless of the grousing and criticisms about to follow.

On hearing the news I was involuntarily taken back to the founding of the Springfield Theatre District, (2002-2006, when several groups combined to open venues and create experimental productions that had never been seen in Jville) and a curious episode that involved 'Angels in America'.

It was 2002, and many of the people involved in the downtown Art Loft Scene at the turn of the millennium had decided to make the move to the largely abandoned and ghettoized Springfield neighborhood.

We had been specializing in underserved arts for a couple of years (modern and interpretive dance, spoken word, poetry, emerging painters, multimedia and conceptual art, and original performance art).  The Times Union had written an article about the new projects and our intention to produce non-mainstream art and performance.  I had been quoted saying that you can get all the Oklahoma! you can stand in the community theaters but that we were going to do something different.  A little edgier.

The community response was a little amazing in its own microcosmic kind of way.

Not one word of reproach or reproof from the allegedly culture-killing Conservative Baptists in town.

What stood out was the curiously negative response from the community theaters, an example of which you can find here.

As a result of which, I was suddenly made aware of both the educational director and Tony Alligretti, the marketing 'guru' (remember when we still used that term?) of Theatre Jacksonville.

Many of us on Main Street were invited to attend an opening party at a recently repurposed elementary school in Springfield that had turned into a pretty cool loft project.  It was owned by Paul Shockey and apparently Alligretti had a minor ownership interest in the project.  Many of the city mucky mucks were there, including the mayor at the time, John Delaney.

I found myself in one of the rooms being yelled at by a slightly intoxicated Alligretti---who I had never met until that moment. He was eager to revisit my remark in the Times Union.

"Oklahoma! hadn't even been performed in Jacksonville since the 1960s!" I was informed, astoundingly. (Factually, in 1987 the hoary musical had been produced three separate times in the same season by the various production companies, leading to a front page article in VUE Magazine---I hadn't chosen the show title casually--about the embarrassing lack of coordination with the theaters.)

Further, Alligretti let me know in no uncertain terms that I didn't know what the hell I was talking about as Theatre Jacksonville was actually on the Cutting Edge of theatre.  Nationally….. Fact!

With the kind of patience that I try and reserve for people who have either been drinking or are in over their head (or both, in this case) I calmly tried to make the case and perhaps build a bridge.

Theatre Jacksonville (with whom I have never had a quarrel) was certainly a cute, well established little/community theatre at the time, but I don't think any sober person has ever described its productions as 'cutting edge' since the 1930s when it actually was.  It was fresh off a season that included The Glass Menagerie and a few other shows that I couldn't recall at the moment.  I was somewhat bemused and taken aback.  I decided on a reasonable response.

"Well certainly some of the shows at TJ are great and all, but you have to admit that it will be many years before something like 'Angels In America' will be produced there."



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8 Comments

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 12:11:29 PM
lol from facebook.

Apparently the director, Sam Fisher, is having a thermonuclear meltdown over the review and has half of his friends across the country calling me names on facebook

Erik DeCicco Stephen, since you have stooped to name calling, you are a silly fucking twat. Sam is my dear friend, dare I say family, so I may be a bit biased...I am personally insulted by your self serving tirade, that you have masked as a journalistic review. It can't be called a review, or journalism in any form, because it doesn't adhere to any modern rules concerning journalism or professional theatrical criticism. You have no authority whatsoever to try to speak intellectually about theatre, or even to begin to criticize it. You clearly know nothing; have learned nothing. What are your claims that this show is miscast? That a younger person (in reality) is playing another character that is supposed to be older in the script? If you were a proper journalist and had done any research at all on Tony Kushner and/or one of the main influences of this particular show and Tony Kushner's style in general, Bertolt Brecht, you would probably understand why Hays Jacobs is PERFECTLY cast. NOTE - slathering your writing with clips of other people's journalism and videos the film of "Angels.." does not qualify as research. The tradition of Brechtian Theatre is inherently to remind the audience that THEY ARE WATCHING A SHOW. This is not Psychological Realism. It is why many characters are slated (in the script) to play multiple characters. You will probably be astounded to find that even in his own notes, Tony Kushner thinks it is a wise idea to show things like costume changes and wires and ropes ON STAGE. Shame on you and your selfish need to be whisked away into a movie when you go to see a play. You do understand the difference between theatre and film, don't you? By the way, aren't you a cook or chef or something of the sort? Maybe you should stick to that. It serves you, and the Jacksonville Theatre Community much better.

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 12:12:31 PM
Erik DeCicco Yes Stephen, I agree, your writing is so dumb. Stephen, what is your background in theatre? Training? Experience? You don't seem to readily tout that like your shitty writing! Also, Sam's paper thin skin? What the fuck are you talking about dude??? This is a guy who's trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world...and has produced some of the most important work that the Jacksonville Theatre has ever seen. Im really sorry that you're jealous of him - that is not his fault. And for the record - I don't just have a "background in theatre." I eat, sleep, and breathe my craft every day, and have done so, for a very long time now. That isn't a background you moron, it's a way of life.

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 12:13:16 PM
Austin Hallock hahaha love it! I could show you my résumé dummy but you aren't worth me folding it in the envelope. Silly...God you are stupid. It wont save you nor divert attention to how you amply broadcast your stupidity. Hector, my old college friend, some advice. Sometimes I allow idiots like this on my fb or maybe even in my circle of acquaintances...for sport. But this one I think we can all agree should get the boot. It is easier to filter them out like that.

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 12:15:21 PM
Hector Luis Gonzalez Toro Yes calling a straight man a waif is an insult. Calling a show miscast is an insult. Expressing that you have no faith in a shows success is an insult. Screwing up the directors credits is an insult. Stephen Dare is a troll.

Ok so calling you out for being rude to my roommate is Zany. Sure.

Sure, it's not about him but since you got everything about him wrong I am highlighting that. I also mentioned how you are saying the show is miscast. The director of the show is a big deal, its his vision. I'm sorry that you didn't take the time to properly interview him, ask his permission to mention his family, or take good notes. You should look into a career with fox news, you would fit in.

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 12:21:02 PM
this is by far my favorite:

"This is a guy who's trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world...and has produced some of the most important work that the Jacksonville Theatre has ever seen"

IrvAdams

March 14, 2014, 01:38:50 PM
Well, Stephen, at least you know they're reading your reviews! And hanging on every word, apparently.

In contrast, for what it's worth, I read every word of the review and I can't wait to get tickets and go see this play! A breath of fresh air for J'ville.

Thanks!

stephendare

March 14, 2014, 01:39:59 PM
Well, Stephen, at least you know they're reading your reviews! And hanging on every word, apparently.

In contrast, for what it's worth, I read every word of the review and I can't wait to get tickets and go see this play! A breath of fresh air for J'ville.

Thanks!

Thanks! 

I think the show is going to be great!  And Hays really is an amazing performer. 

stephendare

March 21, 2014, 04:28:02 PM
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/y6EdnDMi5tY" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/y6EdnDMi5tY</a>
Well off to see the actual show this weekend.

Ive been lectured by some of these kids from the suburbs and Im ready to see the products of their superior culture.

I hear that they can jump higher than mere earthlings.
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