A Play on War

A Play on War

About

A woman obsessed with The Sound of Music predicts the death of her children during wartime. Can foresight change the turn of events?

Inspired by Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children and using abstractions of musical theatre, Arabic clowning, and Peking opera, A Play on War is a dark comedy set in a war-torn landscape populated by characters on bicycles, all desperate to survive.

With: Mia Katigbak*, Jon Norman Schneider*, Nikki Calonge*, Orville Mendoza*, Marcus Ho*, Brian Hirono*, Nathan Elam*, Bushra Laskar*

Directed by Rubén Polendo

Run

February 13, 2010 through March 6, 2010
Mondays – Fridays at 7:00pm
Saturdays 2:00pm & 7:00pm

The Connelly Theater
220 East 4th Street (between Avenues A and B)

Theatermania
Tickets: $15 – $20
212-352-3101
866-811-4111

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Production Staff

Rubén Polendo: Adaptation
Randi Kleiner: Assistant Director
Justin Nestor: Set Designer
Kate Ashton: Lighting Designer
Candida K. Nichols: Costume Designer
Adam Cochran: Original Compositions and Live Music (Drama Desk Nomination)
Barrie McClain: Musician
Kate Katigbak: Art
Jenny Logico: Assistant Stage Manager
Sam Rudy Media Relations: Publicity
Irena Cumbow: Stage Manager

Reviews

…compelling and arresting; and the on-stage talents-eight Asian American actors, led by the always formidable Mia Katigbak in the Mother Courage role, and two excellent musicians-are doing terrific work. I left with new insights about Brecht’s original and impressed by Mitu/NAATCO’s unwavering commitment to inventive and socially conscious theatre. For its invention and intelligence A Play on War is deserving of praise and well worth your time. The excellent talents on display here, and the constant challenges to what we think we know about Brecht’s original piece and about what an anti-war performance might look and feel like, make this show exhilarating and intriguing.

(Martin Denton: nytheater.com)

…stylistically daring…an intriguing concept, and presents a fresh look at the Mother Courage story.

(Dan Bacalzo: Theatermania.com)

Visually this production is original and intriguing. The white, simplified costumes support the symbolic nature of the characters. The movement is choreographic rather than naturalistic. Aspects of Arabic clowning and the Beijing opera are included, as we’re told. The “bad guys” (of the moment), soldiers who come to grab civilian recruits, ride threateningly fast on child-size bicycles, a particularly effective way of conveying Brecht’s thoughtless, fascist toughs. The music, both as background and as accompaniment, is evocative and warms the experience of watching the play.

(Yvonne Korshak: Let’sTalkOffBroadway)

Strong work from a committed ensemble-particularly a heartbreaking Nikki Calonge-boosts us from amused disbelief (are those storm troopers in diapers?) into bewildered admiration and delight. Polendo’s exuberantly bizarre trappings take enormous risks, and the evening could easily have tipped into self-parody. Instead, we feel Brecht’s towering anger at selfishness and violence afresh. Yes, Polendo loves to rack up visual debts; we spot influences ranging from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to Wall-E. But the people he owes the most is his excellent cast; he asks for the moon, and they shoot it down for him.

(Helen Shaw: TimeOut NY)

A beautiful, sensitive and harsh adventure of the highest ambition and intent. A feat of theatrical collaborative fusion like this rarely happens, and I recommend taking part. The acting was as truthful as can be, an even more impressive feat in a deliberate methodology of the fantastic. The show design, across the board, is phenomenal. Simple and theatrical, the perfect balance to the purposefully discordant and at times ridiculously florid music and sound (and I have yet to fully process how delightful I find the Sound of Music motifs, that other and more demure family of war and sacrifice). Well done, designers and associates. Well done, all.

(Tzipora Kaplan: Theatre Is Easy)

Polendo, through an innovative sampling of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music score and Kate Ashton’s character-specific lighting design, delivers an ending tableau of unanticipated dexterity…an accomplished juxtaposition of tragic destiny and unbridled optimism

(Mitch Montgomery: Backstage)

Photos



(Photographer: William P. Steele)



(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Nikki Calonge, Nathan Elam, Mia Katigbak, Jon Norman Schneider
Nikki Calonge, Nathan Elam, Mia Katigbak, Jon Norman Schneider
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Jon Norman Schneider, Nikki Calogne
Jon Norman Schneider, Nikki Calogne
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Mia Katigbak, Nathan Elam, Jon Norman Schneider, Brian Hirono
Mia Katigbak, Nathan Elam, Jon Norman Schneider, Brian Hirono
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Mia Katigbak, Marcus Ho, Orville Mendoza
Mia Katigbak, Marcus Ho, Orville Mendoza
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Nathan Elam, Marcus Ho, Mia Katigbak, Orville Mendoza, Brian Hirono
Nathan Elam, Marcus Ho, Mia Katigbak, Orville Mendoza, Brian Hirono
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

The Company
The Company
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

The Company
The Company
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

The Company
The Company
(Photographer: William P. Steele)

Notes

Produced in collaboration with Theater Mitu

Composer Adam Cochran was nominated for a 2010 Drama Desk Award for his work on A Play On War. Cochran’s nomination was in the “Outstanding Music in a Play” category for what Time Out New York’s Helen Shaw called, “gorgeously weird underscoring.”

This program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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