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Stage and Screen

Stage & Screen Events: August 2017

RUNS THROUGH SUNDAY, AUGUST 20

Thurgood
This one is for American history buffs and fans of justice. Starring Brian Anthony Wilson as Thurgood Marshall, this one-man show is part biography, part legal drama. Think documentary in the first person, except instead of just entertainment, you’re getting an intimate look at one of the most important legal cases in American history: Brown v. Board of Education. Various show times and dates. Tickets start at $55. Olney Theatre Center: 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD; www.olneytheatre.org

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5

Homeward by Ari Shapiro
You may be used to hearing him on NPR’s All Things Considered, but you’ve never heard him like this. As a journalist, Ari Shapiro is no stranger to reporting facts about foreign places in turbulent times. Hear songs that tell stories at Shapiro’s cabaret show. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the first show and 9 p.m. for the second. Tickets cost $30-$50. AMP by Strathmore: 11810 Grand Park Ave. Bethesda, MD; www.ampbystrathmore.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11

The Juniper Tree and Bastianello
If you think dramatizing story time with voices and accents is essential, this event is for you. These renditions of the fairytale “The Juniper Tree” and Bastianello, a collection of old Italian stories, turn beloved stories into family-friendly opera. Show times and dates vary. Tickets cost $32-$88. The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8

A Little Night Music
If love triangles are too simple to entertain you and you prefer romantic plots that more closely resemble a tangled pair of earphones, don’t miss the chance to see this classic musical. Set in Sweden in 1900, several characters – including a married virgin, a formerly glamorous actress and a sexually repressed student –attempt to navigate their complex relationships. Featuring famous scores like “Send in the Clowns,” this beloved show runs through October 8. Show times and dates vary. Tickets cost $40-$89. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19

David Sedaris
The author behind Santaland Diaries brings his brilliant storytelling and hilarious observations to the DC area this summer. Whether you’re a huge Sedaris fan, or just love a good story but have no time to read, you don’t want to miss hearing his intimate and often hysterical narratives in person. Elf costume optional. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$55. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith
If you’ve ever wished you lived through the roaring 20s, here’s your chance to travel back for an evening. Pay your dues to the Empress of the Blues at this musical celebration of the iconic Bessie Smith. If her music isn’t reason enough to attend, her dramatic and larger-than-life story certainly is. Devil’s Music reimagines the night Bessie and her band were turned away from performing at a whites-only venue. Show times and dates vary. Check www.atlasarts.org for ticket prices. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC; www.atlasarts.org

FRIDAY, AUGUST 25 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 27

Global Impact Film Festival
Calling all film lovers, activists and advocates alike. This one-of-a-kind festival brings days of documentaries and narratives that promise to inspire social change. This year’s films deal with a range of issues like immigration, violence, beauty and the environment. The festival also includes open panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities for filmmakers. Renaissance Marriott: 999 9th St. NW, DC; www.globalimpactfilmfest.org

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30

Merriweather Movie Nights: School of Rock
Bring blankets and lawn chairs, and come ready to watch some classic Jack Black hilarity without breaking the bank. Food is available at the venue. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Free admission. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

The King and I

Stage & Screen Events: July 2017

RUNS THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 2

DeRay Davis
Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, DeRay Davis is said to be one of the best live shows to catch at DC Improv. His credits include 21 Jump Street, Barbershop, Jumping the Broom and MTV’s Wild ‘N Out, just to name a few. Basically, this dude is talented and funny, and you should go check him out. Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7, 9 and 11 p.m., and Sunday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35; VIP for $45. DC Improv: 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.dcimprov.com

FRIDAY, 7 – FRIDAY, JULY 8

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert
This one is for all you Harry Potter fans out there. Join the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap as they perform every single note from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone while you watch the film in high-def – it’s sure to be a hit for wizards and muggles alike. Audience members are encouraged (and expected) to dress the part, be it your favorite character or sorting house (Hufflepuff all the way). Think of this as a drive-in movie, minus the cars. Don’t forget to bring your blankets and invisible cloaks, and settle in for an evening of entertainment. Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. with a pre-performance discussion on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35-$58. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

SUNDAY, JULY 9

Neil Gaiman
The bestselling author of Coraline, American Gods, The Sandman and The Graveyard Book comes to Wolf Trap to “amaze, befuddle and generally delight” audiences by reading, telling stories and answering questions from the crowd. If you’re a fan, you will love this up-close-and-personal event that, by his own words, is described as a “fun and odd and not like any other evening with Neil Gaiman.” It makes me wonder what typical evenings are like with this man. Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$65. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap,org

FRIDAY, JULY 14 – SUNDAY, JULY 30

Bon Voyage! A Happenstance Escapade
If you’re in the mood for a European adventure, but your bank account begs to differ, then don’t miss this performance. Bon Voyage! follows the hilarious misadventures of a group of travelers in the 19th century who meet en route to Paris. Follow the escapades of a group of unexpected friends as they contend with catacombs, Moulin Rouge and the 1889 Universal Exposition. Various show times and dates. Tickets are $16-$26, including two pay-what-you-can performances on July 17 and 24. Round House Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD; www.roundhousetheatre.org

TUESDAY, JULY 18

Tim and Eric
When I first saw this, I had an immediate flashback to my younger days when I spent hours watching this ridiculous duo do funny sh-t. Now there’s an opportunity to see them in real life, and it’s awesome. Tim and Eric’s 10th Anniversary Awesome Tour is going to be a silly night of “new spoofs and goofs, riffs and bits, [and] songs and dances.” I couldn’t even summarize this event into my own words, so I had to quote the website. Just go. 6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $45. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; www.thelincolndc.com

TUESDAY, JULY 18 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 20

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I
In 1860s Bangkok, the King of Siam brings about a British schoolteacher by the name of Anna Leonowens to teach his many children and wives. Over a series of events, the King begins to fall for Anna in what sparks the beginning of a tumultuous relationship. Directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher and laden  in a timeless score, this show is not to be missed. Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $49-$159. Kennedy Center Opera House: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

SATURDAY, JULY 22 – SUNDAY, JULY 23

Prakriti: The Faces of Goddess Earth
If you’re into movement pieces and getting in touch with your spiritual side, Prakriti: The Faces of Goddess Earth is for you. A visualization of the spiritual cycle from creationism all the way to liberation, this performance piece will take the audience on a naturalistic and philosophic journey of the human experience. Based on the infamous Indian classical dance form Bharata Natyam, this dance utilizes traditional speech to translate ideas across all communities by intertwining visual design aspects with dance and lyrics. Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$30. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC; www.danceplace.org

SUNDAY, JULY 23

Imomsohard
Okay, I’m not even a mom (unless you count being a mom to a constant food baby), and I want to go see this show. Imomsohard is a comedic take on motherhood brought to you by two funny mamas: Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley. Their combined show is all about motherhood – the good, the bad and the ugly (four days’ worth of dry shampoo ugly, although this totally sounds like the current state of my hair). Guaranteed to make you laugh, Imomsohard will be a ridiculously hilarious evening that shan’t be missed! Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39-$49. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com


Reem Nadeem contributed to this article.

Photo: Teresa Castracane Photography
Photo: Teresa Castracane Photography

Second City’s Satire: America’s State of Disunion

Facebook fights, Twitter beefs, and the Right and Left Poles of social media have never been as bitter as they are today. It seems only fitting that comedic theatre group Second City is performing at the Kennedy Center this summer, delivering their hilarious take on America’s state of disunion.

An Almost Accurate Guide to America: Divided We Stand is a collectively written, satirical look at politics in the U.S. today. The one-hour-and-45-minute show is similar to a play, with several connected vignettes and a lot of improvisation. Part of the show even includes taking suggestions from audience members.

So, who gets raked over the coals by the theatre group, known for their searing satire? According to long-time Second City actor Ryan Asher, everybody does.

“We’re actors, artists and comedians, so generally we are left-leaning, but we have a lot of fun making fun of the left as well as the right,” Asher says. “We want everyone to be able to laugh at the show; we don’t want to isolate part of the audience.”

The show’s inclusiveness is part and parcel of Second City’s overarching goal to be diverse and all-encompassing. The theatre group offers fellowships, comedy camps and opportunities for underrepresented groups in their multiple locations – Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood. And because the show was written collectively by its actors, different perspectives made their way into Divided We Stand.

“In politics, it’s mostly old, straight, gray-haired white men,” Asher says. “And that’s not a reflection of the country. I think our show is much better at having different kinds of voices from different backgrounds who are like, ‘Hey, I’m a person that exists and this is how I’m affected by the politics that are going on.’”

But the push to amplify a range of voices onstage is not unique to Second City. Angela Alise, a recent addition to Second City’s cast, says it’s been going on for awhile, and will hopefully continue to do so.

Divided We Stand is Alise’s second show with Second City; she performed in her first, Black Side of the Moon, at Woolly Mammoth in 2016.

“It was about the black experience,” she says of the show. “It was us telling stories and talking about the black voice in America, and how we’re not all a monolith – we’re not the same, there’s not a set way to be black.”

There’s no shortage of people who are angry about the issues that some of Second City’s shows deal with, and rightfully so. But taking a comedic approach to a heavy problem can sometimes be just as productive, especially when it comes to representation.

“It’s hard to be a female comedian and not be called a female comedian,” Asher says. “‘Oh wow, that woman was funny; what a f–king surprise,’ or ‘Oh wow, it wasn’t all just white people. What a surprise.’”

Representation makes a difference, but laughter does too – even though it may seem like laughing about politics is out of the question for many these days. But seeing emotions that mirror yours expressed onstage, especially in a way that has you wheezing with laughter, is catharsis. For example, Black Side of the Moon was performed just after a long, tumultuous election.

“We got here the day after the election, and I remember people seeing the show and being like, ‘Thank you,’” Alise says. “But I think that’s what comedy does. It gives you that release. And even though our show gives thought-provoking ideas about politics, it still allows people a chance to just laugh and relax for a bit.”

Theatre has been in the spotlight frequently since last year’s election. And public figures who endorse – or even advise – any side of the political spectrum, especially onstage, are bound to get some hostile reactions. Despite this, reactions to Divided We Stand have been positive thus far. Asher says she hopes politicians attend a performance in the nation’s capital.

“It’s important for them to actually look at the response that the people are giving them – [to] see what we wrote about, what the people are laughing about – and maybe they’ll get to laugh too.”

Alise added, “They probably really need it.”

So do we all.

Catch Second City’s Almost Accurate Guide to America: Divided We Stand at the Kennedy Center through August 13. Tickets are $49-$69. Show times, dates and tickets are available on the Kennedy Center’s website.

Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org