Recommended by Hallie Palladino

  • Diary Of An Erotic Life
    30 May. 2020
    I caught a reading of this show at the (virtual) NNPN conference this week and was drawn in by the characters and hooked by the complex power dynamics at stake. Lilley's nuanced treatment of Lulu's misadventures chronicles the many ways sex can be at once an instrument of control, communion, and self-discovery. The violence that white women so easily enact upon women of color, especially immigrant women, is on full throttle display in a play that's ultimately about women's responsibility to one another under a patriarchal capitalist system. We can either lift each other up or drag each other down.
  • LOVE
    13 Aug. 2019
    Caught LOVE at the 2019 Ojai Playwrights Conference. Cortesi shows exactly how incredibly charming womanizers have gotten the art of serial seduction down to a science and asks compelling questions about intimacy, desire and accountability. When the costs of telling the truth are high (like career endingly, marriage endingly high), this play makes the argument that perhaps the benefits of telling that same truth just may be even higher. A delicious, disturbing and paradigm shifting visit to the oh-so-recent pre-MeToo workplace.
  • Welcome to Matteson!
    13 Aug. 2019
    A flawless take on the dinner party play. Uproariously funny dialogue this play is a send up of bourgeois posturing and weaponized manners. It grapples with class bias within the black community atop the powder keg of economic anxieties produced by a century of systemic housing discrimination, CHA’s shuttering of Cabrini and the subsequent displacement of families. Regina and Corey, an enviably in sync couple delightfully school their materialistic hosts on communication, love, graciousness and the true meaning of making a home. Also some magic.
  • John Proctor is the Villain
    12 Aug. 2019
    This play brilliantly unpacks hundreds of years of language that shames, blames and destroys young vulnerable girls who have been sexually and romantically exploited by powerful men (and they often do come as a package deal). Watching young women learn how to resist these narratives, band together, turn their male classmates from bystanders into allies or at least potential ones, and educate each other is hopeful, powerful and so heartbreakingly real. This play is the play we need right now. Young people are gonna save us. The future is inclusive! Produce this play. Every teenager needs to see it.
  • TAMBO & BONES
    11 Aug. 2019
    Saw a fantastic workshop at the Ojai Playwrights Conference, sharp, scathing, complex, challenging and necessary. As we speed across centuries Harris unpacks the complex relationships between performance, exploitation, power and agency. He employs movement, clowning, music and animatronic robots to examine artifice and artistry. He brilliantly dramatizes the dissonance August Wilson famously described, "There are and have always been two distinct and parallel traditions in black art: that is, art that is conceived and designed to entertain white society, and art that feeds the spirit and celebrates the life of black America by designing its strategies for survival and prosperity."
  • Strange Heart Beating
    26 Jul. 2019
    I just saw the world premiere of this play at Cloudgate in Chicago. This play couldn't be more timely. Sheriff Teeny shines her flashlight on systems designed to protect the guilty, coerce the innocent, obfuscate truth and prey on the vulnerable. It also manages to connect unnatural horrors with the abuse of nature. This play is so much more than a simple detective story. It touches on rape culture, climate change, capital punishment, racism and our unjust immigration policy. And there is so much more below the surface of that lake.
  • Monsters Are Made
    26 Jul. 2019
    A powerful and bold, unexpected exploration of the psychological and sociological complexities of rape and its aftermath. There are no easy answers here. Ricki’s steadfast deflection of Hunter’s self-loathing and desire to be punished pushes him to recognize what a path toward justice would mean—and what he must sacrifice. He naively thinks he can be released through some hardcore role play, but boy is he wrong! Flipping the power dynamic isn’t just something you can pretend at, nor is culpability a private matter.
  • Serious Adverse Effects
    21 Jul. 2019
    Serious Adverse Effects blends history with science fiction condemning the way black women have been exploited by the medical community, both historically, and specifically within the world of this play. An epidemic that stems from the perfect storm of stressors, including grief, triggers the onset of physiological and psychic disintegration. As Dr. Vye atones for her involvement in grievously unethical trials, she battles a system that wants to suppress her miraculous discovery. A character driven tale of violence, science and a quest for redemption exploring big questions about the substance of the spirit the nature of being.
  • Small World - co-written with Joe Lino
    2 Jun. 2019
    This dark comedy takes on the commercialization and corporatization of storytelling (especially the way Disney has co-opted, appropriated and regurgitated some of our most fundamental human narratives), but more than that, Leff & Leno address the epidemic of hate-based domestic terrorism by showing us our predicament in miniature, reminding us we're all trapped together on this small spinning world facing our shared mortality. As to how we choose to act in the fleeting moments we are granted, we always have a choice. This zany and terrifying play argues it is imperative to choose radical compassion.
  • Will
    31 May. 2019
    Just got a sneak peak of this play at a table read. Kander tells the story of how tricky it is to put together a viable sexual assault case by showing us what the power differential between accuser and accused means in terms of access to representation, and burden of proof. A play with some mystery and plenty of surprises.

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