Anyone who has been on an MIT campus tour has seen the pictures of great hacks of the past. Study here for a year, and you’re sure to see a hack with your own eyes. Yet despite the knowledge that hackers are fellow students, the people that crawl between the walls and pull high-tech pranks remain a mystery to most. In Hack, Punt, Tool, hackers take center stage in a story steeped in MIT mythology. This new musical is written, scored, and orchestrated by MIT students. For those who have ever wondered who was behind the abduction of the Caltech cannon or the many creative alterations to the dome, this is the show for you.
In her stage adaptation of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, Alexandra Wood has crafted a vivid portrait of the political turmoil and uncertainty surrounding Mao Zedong’s rule in China. Chang’s memoir, which spans a century of history and covers the lives of three generations of women — her grandmother, her mother, and herself — is a lengthy one, but on the stage, the epic plays out in five acts and less than two hours.
Next House presented their self-produced musical Curtains over CPW and last Sunday, in celebration of the dorm’s 30th anniversary. Curtains, originally written by Rupert Holmes, tells the tale of the murder case that occurs in a Boston theater. The star of the show, Jessica Cranshaw (Tiffany J. Lin ’11), is shot in the beginning of her performance and a detective by the name of Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Staly Chin ’15) comes to unravel the mystery of the murder. Baffled by the fact that Cranshaw’s costars and director were glad that she passed away, the detective puts everyone on his suspects list. In this play, there are relationship issues with cast members, rekindling of love, mother-daughter issues, boat shows, and newspaper critics from The Boston Globe!
A time for experimentation, college life is rife with pleasures — legal or otherwise. Those proud graduates of DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) have already been introduced to the evils of drugs. Those who haven’t heard the stern warnings and strict admonitions can still be saved from the stroll down sin lane. Now, both can find a refresher course on the most pernicious gateway drug of them all.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble prides itself on keeping a textual interpretation of the classic works while adding a modern twist to keep the plays fresh — and this is certainly true of their latest production, The Taming of the Shrew. The play follows the story of Katherina and Bianca, daughters of the wealthy lord Baptista. Because of Katherina’s shrewish disposition and Bianca’s desirability, Baptista decides that he will only marry off Bianca if Katherina gets a husband first. So begins a crazy journey of deception and false identities: Lucentio, Tranio, and Hortensio compete for Bianca’s hand in marriage, while Petruchio of Verona is the only suitor brave enough to deal with Katherina’s sass.
It’s the close of World War II. The British and Americans have imprisoned Germany’s top ten nuclear scientists in a lavish English estate, Farm Hall. Every room in the house, from the piano room to the parlor, is bugged. The Allies listen to the scientists’ conversations to determine how close Nazi Germany is to building an atomic bomb.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of “Julius Caesar” premiered last Friday, with over twenty-five MIT students contributing to the show as either cast or crew. The story is about the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, and his assassination in 44 BC. Although it is a historical play, “Julius Caesar” does not focus significantly on the facts and logistics of the conspiracy, but instead illuminates the psychological basis and internal struggles of the characters in the play.
MIT Professor of Music and Theater Arts Jay R. Scheib’s newest production, Elektra, took stage this month at Kresge Little Theater, starring an all-MIT-student cast. The Greek myth inspired tale of heartache and revenge makes the audience cringe, laugh, and gasp as characters spit blood into each other’s faces, surgically remove someone’s heart, reunite with long-lost siblings, and commit murder. The performance both captivates and horrifies the audience while effectively articulating its tragic theme.
The beloved theme song of the Internet, “The Internet is for Porn,” comes to MIT in the Musical Theater Guild’s production of Avenue Q. With a story about a group of friends with real-life problems, such as closeted homosexuality, porn addiction, and graduating with a liberal arts degree, the show mixes puppets, actors, and even a shadow theater in a hilarious pastiche of Sesame Street for adults.
Take the T to Harvard Square, walk down Brattle Street just far enough to escape the loud bustle of tourists, and you will find yourself at the Loeb Drama Center, home to the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). It’s difficult to imagine that such a star-struck theatre could exist on such a quiet street, but the building — a typical example of modern architecture, and easily overlooked — has housed many well-known names and acclaimed performances. Zachary Quinto played Tom in a staging of The Glass Menagerie that ran this April and March; in June, the A.R.T.’s production of Pippin claimed ten nominations and four wins at the 2013 Tony Awards. And on Sept. 20, I had the opportunity to view a play of similar casting and literary caliber: All The Way, written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, and starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame.
Whether it is just another attempt by feminist revisionist historians to rehabilitate female historical figures by distinguishing their personal views and deeds from that of their husbands or fathers, or merely an expression of the personal and professional views of Evelyne Lever, a leading contemporary French historian and author, Marie-Antoinette in Her Own Words at the very least invokes sympathy for her gruesome fate, if not also empathy for her long suffering through a passionless marriage and the backstabbing of cruel panjandrums in the 18th century French imperial court.
An ordinary anchorman leads a relatively ordinary life until one day when his father suddenly dies. Instead of closing one of his broadcast reports by traditionally thanking the audience for watching the news, he decides to break the norms and pray. The erratic decision receives glowing praise from the local community, and the story gets a special twist when the anchorman’s subsequent broadcast prayers come to life. With these new acquired powers, he decides that it is his duty to pray for other people’s sufferings and save the world.
Introducing the redefinition of a penny for your thoughts. The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s performance of Hamlet reconceives the original play by Shakespeare and brings imagination to life. For those of you who have read the play about the Prince of Denmark before you may have found it to be highly emotional. The infamous line “to be or not to be” has been quoted many times over. Another nuance you may have noticed is that while there are many high-pressure and tension-filled scenes, there are also welcome traces of comic relief.
Last weekend MIT Dramashop continued a 56-year tradition, presenting one-act plays performed and directed by students. The night included four short plays, ranging from a slightly morbid tale of death and beauty to a comedy/drama between a hobo and an affluent screenplay writer. We walked away entertained, amused, and thoroughly impressed by our theatrically inclined peers.
Is the modern housing crisis like the Great Depression? In House/Divided, The Builders Association attempts to understand the parallels between the financial panic of the late 2000s and the 1930s, with a fascinating script that draws inspiration from The Grapes of Wrath and innovative incorporation of media.
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia pairs the parallel stories of teenaged Thomasina Coverly (Keenan A. Sunderwirth ’14) and her tutor Septimus Hodge (Garett W. Schulte ’17) in an early 19th-century England in Sidley Park, and follows Hannah Jarvis (Katherine A. Roe ’14) in modern day. While Thomasina investigates determinism and physics near the turn of the century, Hannah uncovers the identity of Sidley Park’s mysterious hermit.
I loathe Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s plays are generally over-performed, and I’ve seen far too many productions where actors speak Shakespeare’s archaic words in strange phrasings, making the plays inaccessible. Additionally, the plays generally lack interesting female characters and are often misogynistic. To say the least, I expected to be bored by A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s performance of Twelfth Night was hilarious. The play tells the story of Viola, who pretends to be a man to get close to Orsino, whom she loves. However, Orsino loves Olivia, who falls in love with Cesario, who is really Viola — a confusing love triangle at best. For those of you more familiar with popular culture than Shakespeare, you may recall the movie She’s the Man, starring Amanda Bynes, which was based off of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. This production was as humorous as any Shakespearian comedy and was set in an interesting time — the 1960s or 1970s.
In my dreams sometimes I fly. I just take a really long step and then the next without my feet ever touching the ground. It is a peculiar yet precious feeling. The Quebecois troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main (literally, the seven fingers of a hand), makes the dream a reality in their theater, dance, and circus crossover Traces, running in the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston’s Theatre District until October 12.
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble put on their production of Love’s Labour’s Lost on March 19–22 in La Sala de Puerto Rico, directed by Liz Adams. Despite the challenges of performing one of Shakespeare’s more esoteric plays, the Ensemble executed it with both talent and enthusiasm.
I completely understood what director Hubert Hwang ’07 meant when he said that MIT students would probably really identify with at least one of the eight main characters in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The middle schoolers aren’t perfect, and while they have some impressive achievements under their belts, they have flaws, insecurities, and personal matters to deal with. We realize it isn’t fair to idolize them: admire them, sure, but don’t place god-like expectations upon them.
Along the spectrum of villains and traitors, Macbeth falls somewhere between Brutus and Joffrey Baratheon. Spurred on by his wife’s ambitions, he murders his king, his best friend, and a whole family in order to gain and keep the throne. With all the aspirations of a would-be ruler, but none of the guts, Macbeth is truly an unsympathetic character. But what if someone other than Lady Macbeth were pulling his strings? What if the events of Shakespeare’s classic play were actually orchestrated by a cabal of witches?
For their fall production, MIT Musical Theatre Guild’s (MTG) took on Into the Woods, one of Stephen Sondheim’s most treasured musicals. It’s got fairy tale characters, an endless stream of wishes, and a charming sense of humor. The musical follows a childless baker and his wife, and their quest to break a witch’s curse, where they must journey through the mysterious woods to obtain a set of items for the witch. During their adventure through the woods, their paths intertwine with those of the characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, and the plot thickens once the characters begin arguing over questions like “What is right?” and “What should I do with this giant in my backyard?”
Taking a theatrical journey to Messina, the traditional setting of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, was exactly what I needed by the end of this past week. It turned out to be a rather unexpected kind of Messina — a gaming lounge rather than a small Italian town. But hey, “all the world’s a stage,” and the Shakespeare Ensemble does a fantastic job of adapting one of the Bard’s most beloved comedies to ours.
Hamlet-on, a production by the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, was completely written and rehearsed in 24 hours. A mashup of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wildly popular musical Hamilton, the show proves both clever and hilarious.
Set in a Boston bar, the sitcom Cheers dominated TV in the ’80s as the place to go where “everybody knows your name.” It’s back in a stage adaptation from Citi Performing Arts Center, debuting in Boston before embarking on a nationwide tour.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago, served as a theatrical and musical inspiration for Stephen Sondheim, who has been described as “the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater.” For actor Chanler-Berat (Broadway's Peter and the Starcatcher and Next to Normal) and director Peter DuBois (A Little Night Music), who hopped on a plane to view the original painting, it was a source of creative energy.
Le Corsaire (the Pirate) is a thrilling fantasy tale set in the Royal Ottoman era about a love triangle between a handsome corsair named Conrad, ruthless Said Pasha, and the beautiful maiden Medora.
An American in Paris nearly had me in tears. Not just once, or twice, or three times — I was continually overwhelmed with a range of ineffably blissful emotions. I'd be taking in the iconic music, the flawless dancing, the set, the acting, the story… and I'd be overcome with such an appreciation for being alive, in that theatre, sitting in that seat, experiencing such a beautiful performance.
The myth of the “tiger mom” took flight in the American imagination with the publication of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which sparked a nationwide controversy about the merits of Asian vs. Western parenting styles. Playwright Mike Lew “felt that it wasn’t being represented [fairly] in the media,” so he decided to write a play about it. He explores not only the myth of tiger parents and the question of what happens after the alleged Carnegie Hall recitals and Ivy League college graduations, but also the identity conundrum that faces Asian-Americans in the 21st century.
As the lights dim in La Sala on the second floor of the Stud, the spotlight focuses on a quiet scene in fair Verona (crafted by set designer Jakob Weisblat ‘18), where the age-old tragedy of star-crossed lovers is about to unfold. With their rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble brings forth the time-worn themes of fate and free will, love and lust, that Shakespeare introduced in theaters centuries ago. The famed tragedy, directed by long-time theater veteran Francine Davis, brings the audience many laughs, tears, and the entire spectrum between the two.
In this telling of political thuggery, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is injected with humor in a way that makes it easy to forget the seriousness and wrongness of what is unfolding in the play.
Wit is a tour de force of human experience that dares to pose difficult questions about life, death, and the uncertainty of human mortality
It’s not the first time that Prospero’s gender was switched in an adaptation. In 2010, Julie Taymor’s film The Tempest cast Helen Mirren as the protagonist Prospero (known in the film as Prospera), a role traditionally acted by a man in Shakespeare’s original play of the same title. Here, the Actors’ Shakespeare Project has cast Marya Lowry, who juggles the various sides of our protagonist seamlessly and fits naturally into the script.
The script has held up well. With its raunchy humor and intensely flawed characters, Virginia Woolf? is reminiscent of modern television dramedies like You’re the Worst. Dysfunctional families and tragic marriages seem like modern staples, but for a play performed in the 1960s, it generated controversy for its language and portrayal of such flawed, unlikeable characters.
The Atheist is a snide reminder about integrity and moral responsibility to journalists who are granted the power to control the flow of information.
The Vagina Monologues began with a lively discussion of what vaginas are called in different majors. “In course 6, they call it the ‘Big O’.” “In course 12, they call it the ‘black hole.’
Aptly subtitled as a “trivial comedy for serious people,” The Importance of Being Earnest is a satirical exploration of Victorian courtship and mistaken identity, a lighthearted play without the gravitas of Dorian Gray but with the same biting wit as Wilde’s other writings.
Every Piece of Me explores cultural clashes and the moments when communication collapses in a heartwarming drama.
Inspired by Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas and the accompanying public outrage, Oleanna explores the power dynamics between a student and her professor when she accuses him of sexual harassment after a private meeting concerning her grades.
This weak impression I had of the play 'Hamlet' greatly contrasted with The Shakespeare Ensemble’s performance: lively, emotional, funny, and viscerally moving at times. Yes, this Shakespeare play does not disappoint: (fake) blood and death abound!
It was this phrase that popped up so often during the production as though it heard me. Start to finish, every scene leaps out of the stage and into your heart. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility is drenched with a frenetic vivacity.
Imagine a William Shakespeare (George Olesky) who isn’t quite as eloquent as his plethora of plays would imply. At the beginning of Shakespeare in Love, this is the version of Will we get: writer’s block, broke, and losing his faith in his own career as a playwright and a poet.
Claudia Rankine’s ‘The White Card’ bares the hypocrisy of a white family as they host a black photographer over dinner before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Despite its promising premise, the play suffers from shallow characterization and forced dialogue, dulling what otherwise could have been a compelling narrative.
A kingdom divided, three daughters estranged, and a madwoman born in the midst of it all — MIT Shakespeare Ensemble presents Queen Lear, a telling story of the titular queen’s tragic downfall after she divides her empire among two of her three daughters.
The universal struggles portrayed through these women reflect of how much has changed, and what issues persist, in our human endeavor to understand the universe.
As one of MTG’s more realistic shows, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown portrays the worries, passions, and day-to-day life of unique characters. Their uniqueness provides a good balance of personalities, and there are some parts of every character that are relatable to the audience.
Truth Values peeks into the life of Gioia, an MIT Ph.D. candidate in logic, from the moment she gets accepted till she leaves MIT with a master’s. Based in the author's own experiences at MIT, this autobiographical one-woman show portrays the rawness of MIT grad school as I've never seen in theaters before.
The trademark coarse-grained dialogue of Stephen Adly Guirgis returns in the New England premiere of Between Riverside and Crazy, an explosive comedy about an ex-cop bitterly fighting against eviction and injustice. Mounted by SpeakEasy Stage, the production is a thrilling and humorous depiction of urban life in New York with all of its challenges and contradictions.
'Hamnet' is a raw, intimate portrait of William Shakespeare’s only son who died at the age of 11 and has ever since been shrouded in mist. It paints in broad, metaphysical strokes the relationship between father and son, while skirting around explicit literary analysis.
Frankenstein has been spotted in Central Square Theater! Head on down in the month of October for your dose of spooky chills.
Before you get the wrong idea, this is not a Spark Notes rendition of the Scottish play, nor is it a hip, new adaptation set in the Bronx or L.A. This modern verse translation is the result of a concerted effort to make Shakespeare more accessible by to translating his plays into contemporary English.
This production of Measure for Measure, put on by Cheek by Jowl in collaboration with Moscow’s Pushkin Theater, has a hypnotic grace that will keep you transfixed throughout, whether you speak Russian or not (don’t worry, there are English surtitles).
MTA’s performance of The Chalk Cycle was a driving, emotional spectacle. The triple-threat cast — which could sing, dance and play violin — put on a brilliant show.
Anner waits until the audience is deeply acquainted with his sense of belonging in the United States, before giving us a scene set in Guatemala or a scene about his parent’s pasts. Some of the most impactful scenes are the ones showing what his mother went through to get to the United States; he rapidly switches between physicalizing her fear and pain and returning to his monologue retelling, escalating the tension and stress of the scene.
Sarah DeLappe’s ‘The Wolves’ displays the social dynamics of a girls’ soccer team with fully developed characters and engaging dialogue. Indeed, it is difficult to find a flaw in Lyric Stage’s impressive production of ‘The Wolves’ which boasts a stellar all-female cast and creative team.
In Bess Wohl’s ‘Small Mouth Sounds,’ the play’s six characters partake in a spiritual retreat during which they are not allowed to speak. Guided by an unseen sermonizing guru, the six people hilariously struggle to adapt to their new lifestyle while desperately wanting to communicate their personal traumas.
Professor of phonetics, Henry Higgins (Eric Tucker), and his friend, Colonel Pickering (James Patrick Nelson), take up the challenge of teaching a flower girl, Eliza Doolittle (Vaishnavi Sharma), to speak like a duchess. This production of Pygmalion will make you laugh and will make you think — I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Based on the highly acclaimed 2007 indie film, ‘Once’ tells a fable of a budding romance between an Irish busker and a Czech immigrant. While the Speakeasy Stage production does not fully shrug off the reputation of the film, the exceptional musical performances remind of the joys only live theatre can provide.
If you’re looking for a sincere adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse, then this is not the production for you. However, if you are looking for humorous, light-hearted musical parody of a classic Russian story, then hitch up your troika, grab your palliative bottle of vodka, and direct your driver to the faraway land of Stoneham.
'Measure for Measure' is one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” that, despite being categorized as a comedy, feels like anything but. This rendition by MIT Shakespeare Ensemble leaves us feeling as if we were helpless, as if we had witnessed a tragedy because, despite the comedic relief, despite her efforts, the fate of Isabella does not change.
From a metaphoric play of metaphoric ideas — “shapes within shapes,” as Dr. Franklin calls it — this production of Photograph 51 and the people whose stories it tells draws this race to discovery into and out of focus.
"The Crucible" is a poignant reminder that the villains are not only those who yell the loudest, but those who bestow their sanction on the accusers. Bedlam makes this play shine through its thoughtful, textured realization of the characters, its sustained suspense, and its intimate engagement with the audience.
Pulling off a two-hour one-man show is no mean feat, requiring endurance, a compelling character and/or a killer storyline. When the storyline is one of the most familiar in existence, every other aspect of the production needs to pull its weight.
Inspired by her father's own opposition to same-sex marriage and her own Southern upbringing, Brunstetter presents dialogue that speaks to the trauma of growing up queer in a Christian community.
Middle-aged mothers Tracey and Cynthia have each put in around 20 years at Olstead’s, the local steel plant, clocking in as soon as they graduated high school. When the managers decide that it’s time to cut salaries and bring in migrant workers to replace the old-timers — and when even the worker’s unions decide to fight back — tensions start to rise.
‘Plata Quemada’ is truly a living graphic novel, born somewhere between a film noir thriller and a theatrical play, and something worth experiencing.
When the sky hangs heavy with clouds, when the wind trembles in the trees, when thunder shakes the air: Grab a cup of your favorite brew, settle by a window that frames the approach of winter, and absorb this auditory drama of murder, masculinity, and madness.
The virtual production keeps the spirit of the Shakespeare Ensemble alive, finding new opportunities for creativity, humor, and acting within the medium of video.