‘The Tempest’ tonight at the Wyly

DTC delivers Shakespeare like no other

There are several such gasp-inducing moments in his staging of The Tempest, starting with the opening scene, set on an airplane instead of a boat. As the wizard Prospero (Chamblee Ferguson), like Desmond from Lost, rips the jet from the sky, the stage instantly transforms into a barren wasteland, as stark and beautiful as any set the Dallas Theater Center has ever produced. There are trap doors and bits of magic and flying fairies. It will make you say, “Wow.”

Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Wyly Theatre, 2401 Flora St. Through Oct. 9. $25.  DallasTheaterCenter.org.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Tempest:’ You, us

Kevin Moriarty is a director who embraces the full spectacle of Shakespeare, and while you can disagree with his decisions sometimes, you have to respect his commitment. He likes elements we might consider by-products of the Elizabethan Age, its Hey-Nonny-Nonnyisms: Interludes of courtly ballets and minstrel-strummed songs, arresting, fourth-wall-violating asides to the audience, expository speechifying — everything Chekhov and Ibsen and a host of others steered away from.

But he’s also a director who appreciates contemporary stagecraft: Reconfiguring the structure of plays, emphasizing the astonishing pageantry of an evening at the theater — sometimes taking us out of the play, but often with grandeur. The balance isn’t always an easy one, but it can take your breath away.

There are several such gasp-inducing moments in his staging of The Tempest, starting with the opening scene, set on an airplane instead of a boat. As the wizard Prospero (Chamblee Ferguson, pictured left), like Desmond from Lost, rips the jet from the sky, the stage instantly transforms into a barren wasteland, as stark and beautiful as any set the Dallas Theater Center has ever produced. There are trap doors and bits of magic and flying fairies. It will make you say, “Wow.”

But there are also the many edits. Yes, some of the talkiness is removed, but also some of the scope. And keeping it without an intermission leaves one’s butt castigated by those Wyly seats for nearly two hours.

This Tempest feels more like a series of vignettes than a single story: The comic relief, the sappy romance, the political intrigue, the long-stewing recriminations, bracketed by Ferguson’s Ahab-like Prospero. At first, he’s a vengeful terrorist and hypocritical zookeeper, enslaving his island’s native fauna, the ethereal Ariel (lithe, white-eyed Hunter Ryan Herdicka, pictured right) and its Orc-ish Caliban (Joe Nemmers, delivering us Quasimodo of the mud with poignancy and humor). Then Prospero changes gears, softening and showing mercy, moved by his daughter Miranda’s love for his enemy’s son.

The Tempest is problematic Shakespeare, neither comedy nor history nor classically tragic, but a romance with obscure motivations (how quickly Prospero’s mind is changed by Miranda’s capricious libido, when her suffering for two decades went unnoticed) made more obscure in this version — Prospero seems more like ringmaster than protagonist. Ah, well: The Bard was a better poet than playwright, so let’s give credit to Moriarty for taking this Tempest out of the teapot.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Wyly Theatre, 2401 Flora St. Through Oct. 9. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

NOM spewed its hate in DC — a stark contrast to The Big Commit, which was about equality for all

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve followed the NOM tour of hate, via the excellent coverage from the Courage Campaign’s NOM Tour Tracker.

Today, the hate tour arrived in my town.

More importantly, there was a counter event called “The Big Commit” on Freedom Plaza. This event was about demanding equality. And, it was really fun.

There was a program that included Will Phillips, the 10-year old from Arkansas who has become a strong voice for equality. He was joined by his father, Jay, another strong ally.

Overall, the mood at the Big Commit was upbeat. It was a group of people who just want to be equal. There was no overt hatred towards anyone.

Then, I ventured with Kerry Eleveld over to the East Lawn of the Capitol to see the NOM event. There couldn’t have been a more stark contrast. While The Big Commit was about acceptance and equality, NOM’s rally was about hate and diviseness.

I know that NOM’s tour has been a bust. They’ve attracted tens of fellow haters at most stops. But, considering DC now has marriage equality — and given that some of the leading foes of marriage had teamed up with NOM — I thought there would be a pretty big crowd greeting Brian Brown. Nope. There were way more people at the pro-equality event.

And, the tenor. Wow.

I missed the keynote speech from Brian Brown. Maggie Gallagher was a no-show. Although, I didn’t miss Brown entirely. He made a strong pitch for his 2M4M campaign (watch Andy Cobb’s video for more on 2M4M):

Walter Fauntroy, a DC pol, gave a speech that seemed to veer off message. He kept talking about how he wants equality for all, including gays (but, not marriage.) And, he went off on the GOPers for using gay marriage as a wedge issue in 2004. Fauntroy railed about how that gave us four more years of Bush and Cheney (Yes, the GOP did use gay marriage as a wedge issue. No, it’s not why Bush won, but, whatever, I don’t think Maggie and Brian expected one of their speakers to be bashing Republicans.)

During his speech, Fauntroy was yelling that he had something to say to gays and lesbians. Then he said, “No one has right to impose their view of family on anyone else.” I’m pretty sure that was the exact quote, which was odd, since that is what our side thinks. I asked him about it later. Here’s the interview. As you can see, when we were talking, Fauntroy initially denied the quote. But, another reporter who was standing nearby told Fauntroy that was what he said:

NOM and its supporters are imposing their definition of family and marriage on the rest of us. They don’t seem to get that.

As we were leaving, Wendy Wright from Concerned Women from America walked by. I said, Wendy Wright. Not kidding, her face lit up. She was, after all, among her fellow homophobes. Then I told her, I loved watching Chris Matthews clean the floor with you on Hardball. And, I did. She said that’s not what people told her (I imagine the people who told her she did a good job live in her extreme gay-hating orbit. Because in the real world, she looked pretty extreme. Matthews basically called her a homophobe. But, judge for yourself. The vide is here.)

After the NOM event, I really felt like I needed a shower. These people are filled with hatred towards the LGBT community. They can claim otherwise, but it’s clear. They’re driven by hatred.

The one good part of the NOM rally was that I met Arisha Michelle Hatch. She’s been the superstar of the Courage Campaign’s tracking tour. I have to give her and the Courage Campaign major kudos for providing such excellent coverage of the tour. I watched part of one of these NOM rallies and felt nothing but disgust. I can’t imagine what it was like to see their hatred spewed day after day.

I think it’s important for the LGBT community and our allies to realize that NOM and its followers represent an extreme point of view. They try to sugarcoat their homophobia, but it’s hard to hide.

We know more and more Americans are supportive of full LGBT equality. And, we know some are struggling with it. But, if given the choice, I don’t think those folks want to sidle up to the haters. It’s not a comfortable place to be.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright