Photo by Jonathan Young, courtesy of Deep Dish Theater. Matthew Hager (left) and Daniel Doyle (right).
I reviewed Deep Dish Theater's production of A Queer Kiss for
"You have girl lips." That's the weighted observation made by one teenage boy to another at the beginning of A Queer Kiss
, a half-teasing, half-flirtatious comment that catalyzes a whole lot of emotional turmoil.
Bret (Daniel Doyle) and Scott (Matthew Hager) are both drama students and seniors in high school. Like most teenagers, they grapple with issues of identity, independence and self-worth, and come into conflicts with their parents. When the two kiss backstage and like it, their sexualities and internalized homophobia come to a head.A Queer Kiss
, which made its world premiere in Chapel Hill last weekend, was developed in January as part of Deep Dish Theater's New Play Workshop. Playwright Joel Drake Johnson drew upon his own experiences as a high school drama teacher in Chicago, where he witnessed the harassment of a gay student. A Queer Kiss
strives to show that this type of discrimination is still commonplace—and can have deadly consequences.Read the full review here.
Maw Roeh packing boxes of produce for his customers at the Transplanting Traditions farm in Orange County.
Some refugees in Chapel Hill are finding a way to reconnect with their native farming tradition.
The Karen are a displaced ethnic minority from the Southeast Asian nation of Burma (also known as Myanmar). More than a thousand have ended up in Orange County through resettlement programs, which place them in areas like Chapel Hill with free transportation, good schools and available work as housekeepers.
With the help of a community farming project, Karen people in Chapel Hill are once again growing Burmese crops and making money along the way.An audio piece I made about the Transplanting Traditions Farm in Chapel Hill aired this morning on WUNC. You can listen to that piece here.
Photo by Ron Foreman, N.C. State University Theatre.
I reviewed NC State's production of Arcadia for
Tom Stoppard's Arcadia
turned 20 this year, but the play is timeless in its bridging of the past and present, and its probing of chaos theory, academia and human sexuality.
It spans two centuries within a Georgian manor, jumping back and forth between 1809 and the present. In the 19th-century storyline wrought with sexual farce, brilliant young Thomasina Coverly studies under the tutelage of rakish Septimus Hodge but quickly outpaces him with her theories about thermodynamics and the end of the universe. Meanwhile, in a present-day story, bristly historian Hannah Jarvis spars with self-important academic Bernard Nightingale as the two try to piece together what happened at the Coverly estate two centuries prior.Read the full review here.
I reviewed Common Ground Theatre's production of Eugène Ionesco's
Eugène Ionesco is considered one of the major figures of theater of the absurd, the French dramatic trend of the 1940s and '50s that stressed the absurdity of the modern condition: life's lack of meaning, alienation, illogic and the failure of communication. You may have read Ionesco's absurdist tragic farce The Chairs
in an academic setting, but, if you're like me prior to this past weekend, you probably haven't seen it performed live.
Common Ground Theatre presents the play as part of its Small Series, simple stagings of classic one-acts that allow local actors to focus on bringing difficult texts to life without the worry of technical distractions. Here, husband-and-wife team Jeff Alguire and Rachel Klem take on the challenging roles of Old Man and Old Woman, two 90-year-olds who play frantic hosts to a large number of invisible guests, all of whom have come to hear Old Man's final message to the world.Read the full review here.
Two reviews I've recently written for INDY Week -- one of Bare Theatre's As You Like It
, one of Raleigh Little Theatre's Art
-- are here
Photo by Frank Hunter.
Here's an excerpt from a piece I wrote for Bull City Summer about Ben Ward, philosophy professor and dean for student development at Duke.
Today, Ward and I are driving to the Bulls game together, where we’ll have a chance to meet up with a former student who’s in town with his wife and new baby. As we approach the stadium, Ward, showing his various allegiances with an orange Bulls cap and a highlighter-yellow Duke shirt, tells me to keep an eye out for his favorite parking attendant, who Ward promises will help us find a good place to park. Sure enough, the attendant recognizes Ward in the passenger seat and waves us over to a curbside handicapped spot right in front of Durham Bulls Athletic Park, no charge.
“They all know me here,” Ward says while I remove his collapsible wheelchair from my trunk. He says this casually, but you can tell it’s a point of pride.
It’s not just that Ward is a season ticketholder and a gameday regular. He goes out of his way to get to know the players. Every year, Ward attends the Durham Bulls First Pitch Luncheon, an event at the beginning of the baseball season when the new team is introduced to fans, sponsors and the media. Ward picks one player every season — a la Annie Savoy in Bull Durham
— and then walks up to his special pick to inform them they’ve just been “adopted.”Read the full piece here.
Photo by Jeremy M. Lange.
I recently wrote a piece about a Durham store that sells upcycled products:
When visitors pull up to the quaint, lime-green building that houses Recyclique in Durham, it's abundantly clear just how fitting the store's hippie-chic name is. At first glance, the racks of vintage clothing and wicker furniture lining the porch tell us that we're at a reuse store.
But this is an unusual one. For starters, if you walk past the plots of fresh spearmint, oregano, beets and broccoli sprouting from a garden in the front, and continue to the overgrown space behind the building, you'll also see a gazebo, another garden and dozens of recycled water jugs ready to be reused and repurposed. And inside the building, you'll encounter the work of local artisans and environmental activists, eager to repurpose their lives.Read the full piece here.
Photo by Leah Sobsey.
I wrote a profile of Darlene Clayton, the Bulls' receptionist, who works by day at the downtown Durham police station:
Next to the ticket window at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a glass-doored office. If you’ve ever taken the elevator down from the stadium to the first floor or exited through the back of the gift shop, you may have found yourself here, a cool, air-conditioned reception area through which members of the media, umpires, Bulls staff members, players and scouts all enter the ballpark. At the front desk sits a woman in her late sixties with twinkly eyes, a wide smile and a strong Southern accent. Her name is Darlene Clayton, and she’s been working as the Bulls’ receptionist since DBAP opened in 1995.
Darlene grew up in Person County and moved to Durham as a teenager, where she attended Northern High School. These days, she lives in Bahama, a small, unincorporated community in Northern Durham. Her work at DBAP is part-time, a supplement to her 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. job at the downtown Durham police station, where she’s been working for almost 35 years.
Read the full piece on Bull City Summer
The Broad Street Cafe announced its plans to close last Friday, then shut its doors two days later. I spoke with one of the co-owners about the closing for
In mid-April, the owners of The Broad Street Cafe posted on Facebook of their plans to host a punk rock Fourth of July show. In May, they celebrated their wins as finalists in INDY Week
's Best of the Triangle contest, for best place to see music before 10 p.m. and best open mic. And throughout June, they posted regular updates about upcoming performances, beers on tap and lunch specials. It was business as usual, and by all appearances, a booming one.
But on Friday, they offered an entirely unexpected entry: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened," the post began.
"As of the close of business on Sunday night, June 30, 2013, we are serving up our last wood-fired pizza and closing the Café."
The news was something of a surprise even to the co-owners of Broad Street, a venue, restaurant and bar that's been open on Durham's Broad Street for the better part of a decade. They made the decision only two weeks before the announcement.
"You always face challenges in the restaurant business," says co-owner Paul Brock. "But when we talked about changes we wanted to make to continue to improve, and everything else we had going on, there was not much energy to do that."Read the full story here.
Photo by Eliza Harris.
Bobbie and Marvin Wheeler have attended every Durham Bulls game for the past 32 years. I wrote about them this week for Bull City Summer.
Triple-A baseball is an unpredictable sport, but come to a Bulls game and there are a number of certainties. Jatovi McDuffie
will be on the field between innings, announcing promotional games. Vendors will be roaming through the stands and staffing the concessions booths, hawking costly hot dogs, popcorn and beer. And in two prime seats just behind home plate, you’ll find Bobbie and Marvin Wheeler, nursing beers and watching the game with silent intensity. They’re there every game. No, really—every game. And—barring illness or emergency—they’ve been at every game for the last 35 years.
“[Bulls radio announcer] Ken Tanner calls us Mr. and Mrs. Baseball,” says Bobbie, 82, as she shows me around her Durham home, a spacious two-story house surrounded by tall pines and filled with antique glassware, while Marvin, 85, gardens out back. Bobbie wears a vibrant tie-dyed Bulls shirt, a small bull figurine hung on a gold chain around her neck. This shirt is one of more than 75 pieces of Bulls apparel she owns—both Bobbie and Marvin make sure to wear Bulls gear to every game.
Read the rest of the story on Bull City Summer