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Token Theatre Friends

Author: Broadway Podcast Network

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A community of BIPOC theater enthusiasts offering opportunities for theatre lovers to discover and engage with the works of artists we love. We bring a fresh perspective to the performing arts, exploring new work from underserved artists in our weekly web series and podcast, as well as our features and reviews. We don’t talk about representation, we are representation.

Become a contributor on Patreon at www.patreon.com/tokentheatrefriends.

41 Episodes
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Ep. 34: The Immigrants

Ep. 34: The Immigrants

2021-04-2431:50

In this episode, Alexi and Murtada talk about the March on Broadway organized by the Actor’s Equity Association. They discuss the need for systemic reform to prevent future manifestations of abusive behavior within the theatre industry. Both hope that this reckoning is just the beginning of an industry-wide effort towards transformational change. The friends also review the film Limbo directed by Ben Sharrock and the play Honduras written by Sara Farrington. Both pieces portray the experiences of immigrants and asylum seekers leaving their homeland and establishing their lives in new countries. Limbo takes a whimsical approach that Murtada likens to Waiting for Godot, whereas Honduras tells the stories of 3 Honduran mothers in very much the same style as Anna Deveare Smith’s one-woman show Fires in the Mirror. Limbo opens in theatres April 30th and Honduras will be available to stream May 3rd-8th. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Alexi and Juan review Romeo Y Julieta at The Public Theater. The show’s bilingual translation reminded Alexi of the chismes in his family spilling the tea (some might say he himself is the chisme). Both agreed that maybe it was best to leave behind the old English and bring this Shakespeare classic into a full Spanish telenovela setting. The friends also reviewed Twenty-Six by Ang Bey. The show was part of Jouska Play Works New Play Showcase at Simpatico Theatre. Juan points out that these characters are MESSY, but nothing less is expected as the play provides an unvarnished view of what it means to figure out your gender identity and sexual orientation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Ayanna and Alexi get in their feels as they reminisce over the last in-person shows they each saw before the pandemic began 1 year ago (for most of us). They have high expectations for the first season of in-person shows and make one request: NO musicals about pandemics please! That means no theatrical adaptation of Michael Bay’s Covid-19 drama, Songbird. The Friends review Monuments, a short film directed Sara Aniqah Malik in collaboration with Donmar Warehouse in the U.K. The film features the oral histories of BIPOC youth in London as they recount their experiences with racism. Ayanna gushes over the production of Simply Sondheim at the Signature Theatre and tells us how “Being Alive” takes on new meaning in light of the pandemic Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Jose talks to Saheem Ali and Ricardo Pérez González. The director and playwright discuss their bilingual adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Now titled Romeo y Julieta, the audio-play transforms Verona into a sonically layered version of Latin America. The star-crossed lovers are played by Juan Castano and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o. Ali talks about the first time he saw Nyong'o as Juliet almost two decades ago, while Pérez González recounts how the Spanish of San Juan, Puerto Rico shaped the adaptation. The two also discuss what it was like to work on a script remotely, and why audience members ought to let the beauty of the Spanish language wash over them. Even if they don't exactly know what the words mean. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It's been one year since theaters shut down all over the world. We're all still processing our new reality in different stages. The way to commemorate this strange anniversary couldn't be one of just sadness over what we lost or admiration at the perseverance of artists. Instead, we thought our tone should reflect what's mostly in our hearts: gratitude. This is the first episode in a series called "Thank You Theater-makers." We talk to artists who have been experimenting with new mediums, rediscovering skills, or realizing untried dreams. We talk to artists who have been holding space for their mental health and experiencing grief. We talk to artists who gave us their gift in new ways, and to those who we are sending love to, while they resume the practice of their craft. We begin this series with one of our favorite guests, Daniel K. Isaac. The versatile actor who has charmed us with his warmth and immense love for theater. Over the past year he has showcased his natural talent as a playwright and delighted us on social media with his book recommendations. We talk to Isaac about returning to his TV work on Billions, and what's next for him as a writer. Thank you, Daniel <3 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Jose talks to Tony winner André De Shields. The legendary performing activist talks about his upcoming performance as Frederick Douglass in Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory. The piece is part of Flushing Town Hall's Black History Trilogy, a celebration of Black History Month. During the conversation, De Shields speaks about the clash of evolution and history, and his role as a messenger. He also talks about the circularity of history and the spirits of the theatre. It's a delightful talk emboldened by De Shields' charm and wisdom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Andrew and Brittani celebrate carnival and discuss their favorite soca musicians. This leads them to imagine, and cast, a soca-driven Broadway show. Make it happen, producers! Then they review two pieces. First they talk about iN-Hale MEGA VEE's reading of All Boys Aren't Blue, by George M. Johnson. This is followed by a review of Judas and the Black Messiah, a biopic of Fred Hampton, the revolutionary socialist and chairman of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, who was murdered by the FBI at age 21. This is followed by an interview with Kwame Kwei-Armah, the playwright/performer who is also the Artistic Director of the Young Vic in London. The three talk about their Caribbean heritage and wonder why it's taking so long for the "dam to break" when it comes to producing works by Black artists. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Kathlynn and Jose commemorate Valentine's Day. Last time they reviewed two dark romances and promised to find happy endings for V-Day. First, they talk about Malcolm and Marie on Netflix, leading Kathlynn to ask: why is this billed as a romantic drama? Following that, they talk about The Gay Divorcees, a band of real-life divorcees, who put together a visual album about how their marriages fell apart. Ah, l'amour... Jose talks to writer/performer Ryan J. Haddad about his melancholy Hi, Are You Single? A one-person show inspired by his experiences as a gay man with a high sex drive and cerebral palsy. The play is available to stream at Woolly Mammoth Theatre through the month of February. Jose and Ryan spoke about gay bars, Grindr, I Love Lucy, and specific word choices we make on dating apps. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Alexi and Jose go Gaga over J.Lo at the Inauguration. This leads Jose to ask: why are official ceremonies always so somber? This is followed by their review of Adrienne Kennedy's Etta and Ella on the Upper West Side. Furthermore, they talk about On Site Opera's The Beauty That Still Remains, a collection of operas delivered by mail. Jose interviews Miranda Gohh and Rashad V. Chambers of Theatre Producers of Color. A new initiative that seeks to train BIPOC producers over ten weeks. Jose talks to them about what it takes to be a producer, which leads to anecdotes about the shows that made them love theater. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Kathlynn and Jose start by looking back at the attack on the Capitol by white supremacists. Furthermore, the way in which theatrical elements can be put at the service of terrorists. After that, they review two shows. First, they discuss Shotgun Players' production of Loy A. Webb's The Light. They follow this with a review of 1993, an audio drama by Finkle produced by the Keen Company. Jose interviews Heather Christian and Joshua William Gelb. They are the composer and director/performer, respectively, behind Send Me the Sacred Face. The show explores the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Gelb plays her, in drag. Christian speaks about the way in which digital theater lacks ritual. Gelb gives insight into directing and performing from inside his closet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Our last episode of 2020 is jam-packed with goodies. First up, Ayana and Jose review a new digital production of Meet Me in St. Louis, and an audio version of A Christmas Carol. Next, Jose speaks to Animals playwright Stacy Osei-Kuffour, and director Whitney White, about the process of transforming their original vision into an audio play. This is followed by Ayana and Jose unveiling their favorite shows of the year. In addition, following a TTF tradition, we hear from some of our favorite artists as they reveal the art that made 2020 memorable for them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this special episode, Jose talks to Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty, the composers behind beloved musicals such as Ragtime, Once on This Island, and Anastasia. During the pause provoked by the pandemic, the duo went to their archives to put together a new album called Legacy: Two Song Cycles.  The double album features previously unreleased demos split into two song cycles. The first is called 1859: A Farmer's Diary and features vocals by Jason Danieley and the great, late Marin Mazzie. The second, A Boy With a Camera, was inspired by photographs taken by Ahrens' father in the 1950s. It features vocals by Steven Pasquale and Sarah Uriarte Berry. The duo talked about why some songs never make it to the final version of the musical, and talk about what it means to look back at 37 years of work together. The episode includes a special appearance by Juju Nieto, a Dramaturgy student at Carnegie Mellon University who had some questions for the legendary music makers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Jose talks to Nicholas Rodriguez about his upcoming appearance in Sondheim Unplugged, at Feinstein's/54 Below (Dec. 26). As well as the lessons he's learned in 2020, how he's acquired new skills in order to perform online, and his realization that there exist two kinds of people in the world. The star of Tarzan and One Life to Live, reflects on a year where he learned that it was OK to slow down. He also shared his experience doing the Whole30 and looking forward to Christmas tamales. The actor will next appear in Some Enchanted Evening at Paper Mill Playhouse. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week, Alicia and Jose talk to Chad Austin and Bianca Marroquín. As the artistic director of Abingdon Theatre Company, Austin conceived the #IWILL campaign, meant to remind theatre makers who can't be onstage right now, about the importance of hope. He recruited renowned artists, including Marroquín, to come up with reassuring messages that warm the heart and raise the spirit. Marroquín was the first Mexican woman to play a Broadway lead, she has starred as Roxie Hart throughout the years in Chicago. She spoke about her love for the role and her admiration for Chita Rivera, who she played in Fosse/Verdon. Plus Alicia and Jose review The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special starring drag superstars Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme, as well as the Hip Hop Nutcracker, streaming at Baltimore Center Stage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Jose talks to Broadway icon Norm Lewis about his new Christmas show at Feinstein's/54 Below. Unlike years past, audience members can't gather at the famed nightclub to be serenaded by Lewis. So he's doing the next best thing by crafting an intimate evening filled with beloved holiday classics. As well as Lewis' own takes on what makes "a Christmas song." The show premieres on Dec. 17 and will be streamable from Dec. 18 - 31. The star of Dessa Rose and Porgy and Bess, goes deep into his song selection process and explains his love for his band. He also reveals what's in his letter to Santa this year, and shares his heartfelt wishes for our world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Alexi and Jose review The Wilma’s recent production of Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Which they compare to an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Alexi even matches each Heroes character to a ROBH cast member. The two also discuss their love for Clarice Lispector when reviewing the digital world built for a production of Inside the Wild Heart. The Friends also spoke with Tony-nominee Robert O’Hara and Sullivan Jones about their involvement in the latest audio production of A Streetcar Named Desire, as part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival with Audible. O’Hara directed the show and Jones starred as Mitch. Both have previously worked together on Slave Play, which received 12 Tony nominations earlier this year. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode Jose and Kelly review Ryan Murphy's adaptation of The Prom (now in select theaters, Dec. 11on Netflix) and discuss how the Hollywood cast fares compared to the Broadway company. Kelly also discusses digital quest Thickett and The Mad Ones Engine. Jose talked to the multitalented Alexandra Silber about the cast recording of Einstein's Dreams and her novels. He also discussed the surprising romanticism of Google Earth with You Are Here creator Marike Splint, and did a segment in Spanish with Denisse Estefany Mendoza of ¡Niños Show Up! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode Jose and Juan Michael speak with Donja R. Love, the award-winning Afro-Queer playwright about why authentic representation is essential. In each of his plays, Love centers the lives of Black, Queer, and HIV positive lives. They show viewers what it means to love in a time of slavery (Sugar in Our Wounds), to hide in plain sight (Fireflies), to process one's grief (one-in-two), and to embrace vulnerability (soft). During the discussion, Donja spills the tea on what motivates him, his love for Black people, and on how he handles anyone stuck in "the sunken place". He also speaks about helping others tap into their own creative voices through "Write it Out", a 10-week virtual playwriting program that he conceived specifically for artists living with HIV. Their work premieres on December 1st, World AIDS Day in a virtual presentation produced by National Queer Theatre. Donja is excited for everyone to see the brilliance that he helped nurture and encourages everyone to register for the free showing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On this episode Jose talks to Grace McLean, the composer and star of In the Green, a musical about medieval saint Hildegarde Von Bingen, a composer, exorcist. and doctor of the church who spent most of her childhood in a tower. The cast recording is out now, you can stream it wherever you get your music, or you can buy a CD version as well (those will be released later this year). Grace spoke about the new subject she's been fascinated in during quarantine, shared insight on her writing, and what it was like to give voice to a woman who challenged societal and religious norms on what women were supposed to do.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this episode, Jose talks to playwright Victor I. Cazares about their limited series Pinching Pennies with Penny Marshall: Death Rituals for Penny Marshall, in which the legendary filmmaker comes to life as a financial advisor sharing her wisdom with OnlyFans content creators via Zoom. Cazares also talks about the pop culture that formed them, and how they have created a space for themselves in a field that suggests they are not Latinx or queer enough for the kinds of works being produced. Cazares speaks about form and how it relates to a medium, and discusses some of their favorite telenovelas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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