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Baltimore theater community's most memorable experiences of 2013

Yes, the theater scene in Baltimore is ever-growing and diversifying. But it also prides itself on being collaborative and supportive of each other. We asked some of our favorites in theater to share their favorite on-stage moments (other than their own) of 2013.

In March, I was able to see Glass Mind Theatre Company's production of “A House, A Home,” a reimagined Chekhov's “Three Sisters” by Ben Hoover. Two of the major artistic forces behind the show, adapter/director Hoover, and Glass Mind artistic director and lead actor Andrew Peters, have since gone on to competitive masters programs in NYC and Chicago (a testament to the amazing incubation powers of Baltimore's untamed theatre scene). Presented in an intimate and alive setting at EMP Collective, the work was personal, exuberant, off the wall and yet still faithful to Chekhov in its own way. Hoover devised the piece with his artistic team, and they came up with something wild, but very real at the same time.

Buck Jabaily, Baltimore Performance Kitchen producing artistic director

One of the most exciting and tranformative theatre going experiences I had this year was seeing Marcus Gardley's “dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory” at Center Stage. The words were so poetic, yet raw and real. I felt like I was experiencing something completely new. Marcus' voice is one I haven't heard before. The play surprised me and always stayed many steps ahead of me. I continue to talk about it. I left the theater changed. That is a successful play!

Ian Tresselt, Everyman Theatre managing director

Going to see a musical by Stillpointe Theatre Initiative is something like seeing a date night romantic comedy directed by Quentin Tarantino: What could be boring and fluffy turns into a totally thrilling, intense and awe-inspiring experience. Stillpointe tends to blow up all of their productions with smartly designed staging, detailed design and overwhelm audiences with the sheer amount of talent in the room. Their August production of “Hair” had as many actors on stage as seats in the house of the tiny Strand theater and the ferocious voices made this the most fun night of theater that I had all year. AND I got to smoke the hookah at intermission!

Aran Keating, Baltimore Rock Opera Society executive visionary commando

I'm still reeling from Everyman's production of “RED.” It is a terrific play with a kind of rough poetry that I find very exciting. It was beautifully directed and gorgeously designed. But what was most exciting was Bruce Nelson's performance. Bruce is an actor I've been watching for well over a decade and he went to places in “RED” that I have never seen him go before. To know an actor that well and to be completely surprised by him is astonishing.

Steve Satta, Iron Crow Theatre artistic director

In early 2013 a new kind of play festival rolled into town called the One Minute Play Festival. Though conceived outside Baltimore, the festival consisted of over 50 one-minute plays (and no longer), written, directed and acted by over 50 local Baltimore theater-makers. After the hour was up, I was deeply impressed by how much humor, and also substance, could be squeezed into this super-condensed format. Critics might call it theater for the Twitter age, but it worked.

— Jared Marguiles, Baltimore Rock Opera society grand vizier of rock wizardry

Give me early 1990s computer equipment, references to a Mike Patton project, a black Charlie Rose and cyber-ized sex any day. Acme Corporation's production, Trish Harnetiaux’s “If You Can Get to Buffalo: An Exploration fo Rape in Cyberspace by Julian Dibbell,” was a thought-invoking experience that any tech geek would spazz over. Both arousing and terrifying, Harnetiaux uses a digital-based experience to explore the relationships we have, IRL and online.

— Lynn Morton, Glass Mind Theatre managing director

I had the pleasure of seeing “Murdercastle,” an original rock opera by the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, and it was awesome! Every show they do shows so much growth in their company and, with this production, they really pulled out all the stops. From the time you walked into the theatre until you left, the energy of the crowd, the talent on stage, and the rockin' tunes made for a wicked awesome experience.

Amanda Rife, Stillpointe Theatre Initiative

In February, we had the pleasure of working with Mason Ross from Wham City. He directed our production of ”Equus” and the we all enjoyed the process so much he continued to do work with us throughout the year. In October, he and Alex Hacker from Yellow Sign Theatre staged an original translation and adaptation of the “Bacchae” by Euripides called ”Two Suns over Thebes.” Smack dab in the middle of our season, we had a 10-minute play festival outside Penn Station for Artscape. We had an extremely, and I mean extremely, fun time working with many actors, writers and directors from Yellow Sign Theatre, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, Wham City and Acme Corporation. Since it was outside during monsoon season, the evening shows had to be moved to a drier area almost every night.  One night we performed at the Holy Underground. The next night, the Strand Theatre took us in as our Production Manager, Rick Gerriets and our Associate Artistic Director, Kelvin Pittman were indirectly struck by lightning trying to hold our set together through the near tropical storm (they were fine, just a little shaken up). The last night, we again had to move to the Single Carrot Theatre. It was a huge, extreme experience in what it takes to keep a show going. In that case, it took nearly the entire theater community of Station North.

— Rick Gerriets, Annex Theatre production manager

I was absolutely taken with Baltimore Performance Kitchen's “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Buck Jabaily at Area 405. Buck set the Capulets and Montagues a hundred years apart and changed the character of Romeo to a woman. Michelle “Love the Poet” Antoinette Nelson, was a revelation as Romeo. Spitting Shakespeare like her poetry, Nelson's speech gave a clarity and rawness to the bard. Jabaily's concept and casting was also an inroad to explore tensions of sexuality, race and class in a sophisticated and unforced way.

Sarah Weissman, Glass Mind Theatre marketing director

Acme Corporation’s production of Samuel Beckett’s “Play” was unlike any other show I saw in Baltimore last year. The one-act was played on a continuous, 24-hour loop. I ventured out to St. Marks Church on St. Paul Street with a Single Carrot intern at around 2 p.m. one Friday in March. “Play” had been running since noon. We stayed for a complete cycle of the highly interactive production. Actors encouraged audiences to follow the unfolding story by joining them in different corners of the space, and one even mixed a martini and handed it off to a very lucky patron. As we walked back to Charles Street, we shared in our excitement at being so moved by the theatrical event Acme staged. The production was equal parts polished and experimental. It was inviting and inclusive. It sparked conversation and challenged our intern, a young theatergoer, to expand her definition of theater. 

Elliott Rauh, Single Carrot Theatre managing director and founding ensemble member

Everyman Theatre kicked off what was a great theater year in Baltimore with the opening of their beautiful new theater and a stunning production of “August: Osage County.” I was struck by how the production embraced the new advantages of the space and showed off the incredible talent of so many of their resident acting company. It is wonderful for Baltimore to see so much local theater talent on display!

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Center Stage artistic director

One of my favorite theatrical experiences of 2013 happened in the converted Pigtown church known as The Mobtown Ballroom. I went there on a Saturday night in February with a modest mission to hear some live music. Then Bosley ran onstage and I knew there was nothing modest in his mission. His band kills — that's a fact. But what makes a Bosley show is him. He growls and grinds, shimmies and sweats. He confesses and charms. He is dangerously committed to his onstage persona — or is it a persona? It's excellent theater with an excellent bonus: you can dance.

Laura Wexler, Stoop Storytelling Series co-producer and co-host


Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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