Meet the Rogue

Live theater. Unsolicited commentary.
From Detroit to Lansing.

Carolyn Hayes is the Rogue Critic, est. late 2009.

In 2011, the Rogue attended 155 plays, readings, and festivals (about 3 per week) and penned 115 reviews (about 2.2 per week).

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Theaters and Companies

The Abreact (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2011 SIR

The AKT Theatre Project (Wyandotte)
website | reviews

Blackbird Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

The Encore Musical Theatre Co. (Dexter)
website | reviews

Go Comedy! (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Hilberry Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield)
website | reviews

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co. (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Matrix Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester)
website | reviews

Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews

Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck)
website | reviews

Plowshares Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

Purple Rose Theatre Co. (Chelsea)
website | reviews

The Ringwald Theatre (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Tipping Point Theatre (Northville)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Threefold Productions (Ypsilanti)
website | reviews

Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield Township)
website | reviews

Williamston Theatre (Williamston)
website | reviews







Entries in Blackbird Theatre (13)


The Blackbird Theatre's RAW Weekend

Having left its longtime home, the Blackbird Theatre recently found itself in flux, without a space in which to stage the latter half of its season. Although several of the planned shows are bookmarked for next fall, a theater that thrives largely on ingenuity and fearlessness cannot stay dormant. This is why, despite staged readings not being my normal repertoire, I eagerly took the opportunity to drink in the new plays of the RAW Weekend.

The location chosen for the readings is noteworthy because Ann Arbor's \sh\-aut Gallery and Cabaret will also be one of the two homes of the Blackbird's next production, the mainstream-deriding original musical Patty Hearst. The open first story of a converted residence, empty save the art on its walls, holds a transient feeling that reminded me of college — students setting up chairs in dorm lounges or parks, staging plays for the sake of it, free to choose the edgy and out-there material that drives them. In this respect, raw was certainly an apt descriptor of the space, and to some degree the shows presented as well, but any lack of polish was overcome by a thrilling surge of passion, a high for any fan of new or unconventional theater.

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If Only In My Dreams

A revised performance schedule almost caused me to miss If Only In My Dreams. Instead, I found myself at what had become the last performance in the Blackbird Theatre's longtime home. A mere two actors, Barton Bund and William Myers, gave the place not just a marvelous sendoff, but a cool and challenging take on a Christmas play.

If Only In My Dreams is a collection of four short stories and novel excerpts, told by their authors (Bund and Myers tackle two writers each). The set for this production is scaled way back; in fact, the open space, corner bar, and mismatched furniture evoked a Christmas-decorated basement. With very little to look at, and a single performer onstage at a time, the challenge of this production is earning and keeping an audience's attention, and Bund and Myers exceeded my expectations.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

The evening I spent watching A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Blackbird in Ann Arbor had me lamenting the numerous shows I've missed seeing there in recent years. Director Bart Bund has an ease with Shakespeare to which other directors should aspire — he's comfortable experimenting with the source material without crossing over into irreverence.

I read in a review that having five actors play all the roles was well executed, but it is a particular marvel that not only were the characters' identities crystal clear, this was also the most accessible Shakespeare I have ever seen. Even in very good stagings of Shakespeare plays that I've read or seen before, I can momentarily lose the thread of narrative or have trouble distinguishing similar-looking actors. Here, the characters were thoughtfully crafted and the language enlivened with a sense of play that never fell into recitation.

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