Writer: Stephen Fife

Steve is a 5-tool writer (plays, screenplays, novels, poetry, journalism) who has had 11 books published, 10 plays produced, and has written for the New York Times “Arts & Leisure”, Village Voice, New Republic, and many others. He is one of the few people on the planet who can lay claim to spending time with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Sandy Meisner, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, as well as so many other extraordinary people who refused to color inside the lines. He is always on the lookout for the original and the incisive.

Witness Uganda

So let me be clear that I have recommended this show based on a few outstanding elements. The costumes designed by Carlton Jones are spectacular, authentic and often pure genius. The African patterns and colors can be simply intoxicating, especially when they are swirling around the stage in the pulsating choreography of Abdur-Rahim Jackson. While the movements and steps make use of many by-now-familiar elements of African dance, Jackson has provided enough variation and originality to keep everything exciting, and the limberness and reckless abandon of the dancers is reminiscent of the best of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater — for good reason, since Jackson was a principal dancer there and has created original ballets for them. – RECOMMENDED

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Nevertheless, these young performers are to be applauded for putting their hopes and aspirations before us in such a vulnerable way. The Wallis Annenberg Center should also be congratulated for promoting such a valuable program and giving us the chance to experience these budding artists’ view of the world.

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Two Trains Running at Matrix

RECOMMENDED – The brilliance of Michele Shay’s direction lies in setting the actors free to explore every nook and cranny of their characters’ emotional ramblings. The result is an explosion of theatrical artistry, abetted by John Iacovelli’s pitch perfect scenic design, Mylette Nora’s costumes, Brian Gale’s lighting and Jeff Gardner’s sound.

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There is a great deal to like about Paradise, the new play by Laura Maria Censabella now receiving its West Coast premiere at the Odyssey Theatre…
…But as an audience member, I didn’t buy it — something which director Vicangelo Bulluck must be held responsible for. In general, his production felt too isolated and clean.

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Director Kim Rubinstein is very aware of the play’s weakness for literary tropes, and she does everything she can to physicalize the action and make it as dynamic and kinetic as she can. She’s wonderfully assisted in this by choreographer Stephen Buescher, who does amazing work throughout, but especially in these opening scenes. – RECOMMENDED

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