The 2018-2019 season is still in development but is coming together.
First Up: A Tragedy two ways: Magdalen – Eclipsed
We call this program A Tragedy Two Ways. It is the story of Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries told from two different perspectives in two very different dramatic styles.
Magdalen Laundries were institutions of confinement, often run by Catholic nuns, in which as many as 30,000 Irish women and girls were held in forced labor, some for most of their lives. The first opened in 1765; the last closed in 1996. The pain and suffering endured in them is still being revealed.
In the first week of the program, we are thrilled to bring the powerful 1-woman play, Magdalen, to St. Louis. Written and performed by St. Louis native, Erin Layton, this highly acclaimed piece premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2012. Both she and her play were hailed by the Huffington Post as ”the performance of the festival.” She has since performed Magdalen at other fringe festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, off Broadway in New York (her home), and at colleges and universities.
Layton tells the full story of the Laundries from many perspectives, changing characters and dialects with masterful grace and style. The press has had this to say:
”[Layton] is riveting to watch” – Edinburgh News
”Layton’s transformations are a masterclass in acting …” – Fringe Review UK OUTSTANDING SHOW and much more.
In the second week of A Tragedy Two Ways, we will bring to St. Louis the play Eclipsed by Patricia Burke Brogan. This eye-witness telling of the Laundries story is unique in that the playwright was a novice, a nun, in one of the laundries. Her experience of the cruelty caused her to leave the convent, eventually to take up the pen to record what she had seen, heard, and felt. Her play, Eclipsed, while based on fictional characters, was pivotal in bringing the tragedy of the Laundries to light.
With a cast of nine women, Eclipsed is an ensemble piece which focuses on the breath of human experience inside these institutions – the sorrow and pain but also the humor and the girlish dreams of a better, a different life outside.
Eclipsed won Festival First at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival in 1992 and the Moss Hart award in 1994. It has been produced over 60 times on 3 continents even though its initial reception in Ireland was not good. In Ms. Brogan’s own words, ” [it caused someone to] cut my picture out of the paper and draw horns and different symbols on it and send it to me. I got up one morning and this had been thrown in the door, which was very upsetting and hard to handle. People thought I was being anti-Church but I wasn’t. Everyone blamed the sisters, but the State did nothing to intervene.”
There will be special ticket pricing to make seeing both shows affordable.
Magdalen, May 31, June 1 and 2, 7pm and Sunday, June 3, 2pm. Eclipsed, June 6 – 9, 7pm and Sunday, June 10, 2pm. All performances are at the Kranzberg Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre, Grand and Olive.
Note: Images: The Fall (top left) and The Mangle (bottom right) are used by permission of artist, survivor Rachael Romero.
Next up: the 2018 Grand Center Theatre Crawl
The Grand Center Theatre Crawl (GCTC), in its sixth year in 2018, has become an institution and St. Louis fan favorite. It is a fabulous opportunity to sample the range, breadth, and depth of what the St. Louis theatre community has to offer.
Black Mirror’s 2018 offering is a combination of spoken word performance, live musical performance and, possibly, dance. For now, we’ll keep the piece(s) and author secret. But know, it will be St. Louis’ first exposure to a writer, an artist, and a body of work which have stunned audiences in other countries, on other continents and along the coasts of the USA.
We will be performing on Friday and Saturday evenings, June 29 and 30. There will be more than 30 theatre groups performing that weekend. Expect to hear much more on public radio and elsewhere as the time draws near.
All Crawl shows are free of charge, so plan to attend as many as you can. Black Mirror’s venue will be posted later in March.
Our third Show: bengal tiger at the baghdad zoo
Next up in 2018 will be our late Summer production of Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, a Pulitzer Finalist It opened on Broadway in 2011 with Robin Williams playing the tiger, a creature in the Baghdad Zoo during war time who questions the meaning of life, death, God and the afterlife.
The show is about “a tiger that haunts the streets of present day Baghdad seeking the meaning of life. As he witnesses the puzzling absurdities of war, the tiger encounters Americans and Iraqis who are searching for friendship, redemption, and a toilet seat made of gold.”
Muses one of Joseph’s characters, ”It’s alarming, this life after death.” Set in the first days of America’s invasion of Iraq, the play was described by the New York Times as a ” … boldly imagined, harrowing, and surprisingly funny drama … ”.
(Photos by New York Times review)
the fourth Show: An evening of shorts
The season continues with our December, 2018 production of an Evening of Shorts. The program consists of 5 pieces, some new, some by famous playwrights, some not so, some involving movement/dance, some comic, some tragic … all hopeful. Because no one piece is overly long, we guarantee there will be something for everyone in this very special program.
Show titles (likely) include:
- Lisa, My Friend – an encore performance of Abe Koogler’s brilliant short pay.
- Human Kindness – a movement piece, to music, no words, full of hope.
- Behold the Coach, in a Blazer, Uninsured – by Will Eno, a disarming existential post-game briefing. Sad. Funny. True.
- Etchings – youthful idealism meets the hard-lessons-learned world of a homeless man, and what binds us all together.
- Ravensbruck – inside Hitler’s only concentration camp for women, something extraordinary happens, reaffirming humanity in us all.
Some of the world’s finest dramatic literature is short and, hence, is seldom, if ever, staged. We will redress some of that in this program, all performed with taste, grace and style.
our Final Show of the season: Tbd
We are still talking over what our final show will be. In keeping with our mission, we’re considering a couple of titles by Brian Friel (Translations or Freedom of the City), possibly, staging our own English translation of the play An Triail written in Irish/Gaelic by Máiréad Ní Ghráda, Ballyturk by Enda Walsh or Big Maggie by John B. Keane.
However, other titles are also on the table, including Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, Endgame by Samuel Beckett, Journey’s End by R. C. Sherriff, and several others.
Our eventual selection will be staged at the .ZACK Theatre between April 22 to May 5, 2019. Check back later for further info.
For each person who attends one of Black Mirror’s performances
a financial donation will be made to Operation Backpack, a program which helps to ensure
St. Louis area needy school children do not go hungry on weekends.