American Saga - Gunshot Medley: Part 1

Critics

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100 %

Reviews: 11

Audience

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Reviews: 0

“Exciting new directions in African American stage works. Sharply staged...Langford’s emotionally searing performance is extraordinary to witness” - LA Times

A lyrical and mystical play, with live music, about the struggle against systemic racism. Set in a haunted North Carolina graveyard this intricately crafted work brings past and present together in a soulful tale of lives destroyed by deep-seated tensions and conflicts that have marred America's history from antebellum south to the present day.

“A work of tragic majesty...brilliant play” - Stage and Cinema

Rogue Machine´s 2018 run of this production received critical acclaim and toured to the community of Watts. The play poignantly and elegantly tackles issues connected to Black Lives Matter, gun violence, and social responsibility in a world created by Dionna Michelle Daniel that features breathtaking joy as well as sorrow.

“Art, especially live performance, has the potential to dramatically change hearts and mind,” says playwright Dionna Michelle Daniel. “It has the ability to plant the seeds of empathy, inquiry, and discussion. From those seeds, real social change begins.”

Directed by Desean Kevin Terry and produced by Rogue Machine and Collaborative Artists Bloc, the cast includes Mildred Langford - Betty. Donathan Walters - George. Sha’Leah Nikole Stubblefield – High Priestess of Souls. Derek Jackson - Alvis.

An American Saga Revival of Gunshot Medley: Part I runs in August at 8pm every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through August 19, 2019. Pay-What -You-Want $10 + on Friday August 9th (only). Rogue Machine (in the Electric Lodge) is located at 1416 Electric Ave, Venice, CA 90291. Tickets: $25 - $40. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at roguemachinetheatre.com

Reviews

Avatar
"The play’s geography is lyrically rendered through Terry’s visually captivating direction, though it takes a bit of time for the uninitiated to find their bearings in a theatrical world that at times seems uncertain of its own rules."

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar
"It is a moving experience that will have you traveling from the past into the present. Donathan Walters (George), in what is reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, encourages the audience to wake up and fight for justice for all people. He visits the other side (life and death) and gives the audience a vivid description on what it is like there... The excellent production values, sound effects of wind, thunder and gunshots, will have you squirming in your seat. The costumes vividly indicated the life and times of the antebellum era that was visited."

sweet - Wilfred M. Phillips Jr. - Hollywood Revealed - ...read full review


Avatar
"The overall effect is that we are walking into a different world in a different time and it is so successful, you start to relax into it – that is if you are open to it, and friends, if there was ever a play that demanded we be open and actively listening, this is the one. If you aren’t and you don’t, you are going to miss something sorrowful and true... With work like this out there available for audiences to see, there is no excuse not to."

sweet - Christine Deitner - The Theatre Times - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"As the play unfolds to a near-constant barrage of fatal bullets, each one punching Betty (Mildred Marie Langford, memorable for her roles in the Antaeus Theatre’s Native Son) painfully in her gut, she is seen constantly cleaning and scrubbing not only the floorboards of her cabin but any little found object that crawls out of the earth to remind her of past tragedy—a cigarette package from the tobacco fields, the wrapper from a bag of Skittles that she’d like to see buried. But everything is soaked in the African-American blood that’s been interminably flowing since the first slaves arrived in what is today the U.S. of A. 400 years ago in 1619. I hate to sound overly pessimistic, but those stains are never going to come clean, and those reminders are never going to stay buried."

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Set in a North Carolina graveyard (simple but effective set by Priti Donde), the play brings to poetic life the stories of three of the black folks buried there, circa 1850-1860. Author Dionna Michelle Daniel has those folks speaking to us (and each other) as if they were still alive, using language that is rich and powerful in expression and feeling. Daniel's work is more of a choral piece than a proper play, a cry from the heart of an oppressed but proud and undefeated people."

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar
"Playwright Dionna Michelle Daniel has crafted a unique piece of theatre with American Saga – Gunshot Medley: Part 1... The performances are intensely affecting, never more so than when Betty turns her washrag into a baby that she cradles in her arms, one of two that were lost in the horrific brutality of that bygone time."

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Avatar
"The Rogue Machine Theater troupe bring us many heart-rending moments as we vicariously relive brutal deaths and other injustices over the last 150+ years. Nevertheless, this is an entirely fresh take on the subject, not relying merely on the emotional response evoked by confronting racism so directly, but instead allowing us to absorb the message and connect with the characters in a beautiful, mysterious, dreamy, musical ambience, which illuminates this unique telling of the more shameful aspects of the American Saga... I recommend this play – the writer, director, actors, musicians and production team were all on the same excellent level, no weak links, an emotionally draining but inspiring evening."

sweet - Carol Edger-Germain - Colorado Boulevard - ...read full review


Avatar
"The beauty of this play might be in its ability to teach the audience how to hear what it has to say... By the end, the audience breathed with the performer. That is a powerful play. The running time is short, and the pacing brisk. ...if you've ever put up a Black Lives Matter sticker on your social media page, or maybe just wondered what could be done, go see the play. Support this voice. Listen."

sweet - Stana Milanovich - Discover Hollywood - ...read full review


Avatar
"Its dreaminess solidifies into the iron grip of a nightmare, made all the more inescapable by its strange beauty. This is a work of tragic majesty... Desean Kevin Terry directs with bold and imaginative expansiveness, creating a kinetic sense of movement and drama in harmony with his excellent design team."

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar
"Stubblefield's singing is smooth, gorgeous and melodic, lulling the listeners, both onstage and beyond the fourth wall, into realms of serenity, emphasizing deep heartbreak and incomparable joy. Similarly talented is Jackson, as the complicated goofball who dances, sings and shakes Betty out of her somber moods long enough to help her remember the pleasant side of life. Walters is powerful as the strict and serious spirit whose restlessness floats between anger and dreamy desires to coax and inspire those around him. Langford's maternal Betty is warm and tragic. As the de facto main character, viewers spend the most time getting to know her background and understanding her attitude. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - Lara J. Altunian - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar
"It is an intense, yet frequently playful 70-minute chamber piece, performed without intermission and intended, like the music, to be felt rather than analyzed. It yearns simply to be experienced. Its political message is unmistakable; anybody with half a brain and a full heart can know it. But above all, it is an intelligent, intriguing and beguiling poem, rooted not in the everyday, but in a realm ruled by the heart and senses."

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar
"The play’s geography is lyrically rendered through Terry’s visually captivating direction, though it takes a bit of time for the uninitiated to find their bearings in a theatrical world that at times seems uncertain of its own rules."

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar
"It is a moving experience that will have you traveling from the past into the present. Donathan Walters (George), in what is reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, encourages the audience to wake up and fight for justice for all people. He visits the other side (life and death) and gives the audience a vivid description on what it is like there... The excellent production values, sound effects of wind, thunder and gunshots, will have you squirming in your seat. The costumes vividly indicated the life and times of the antebellum era that was visited."

sweet - Wilfred M. Phillips Jr. - Hollywood Revealed - ...read full review


Avatar
"The overall effect is that we are walking into a different world in a different time and it is so successful, you start to relax into it – that is if you are open to it, and friends, if there was ever a play that demanded we be open and actively listening, this is the one. If you aren’t and you don’t, you are going to miss something sorrowful and true... With work like this out there available for audiences to see, there is no excuse not to."

sweet - Christine Deitner - The Theatre Times - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"As the play unfolds to a near-constant barrage of fatal bullets, each one punching Betty (Mildred Marie Langford, memorable for her roles in the Antaeus Theatre’s Native Son) painfully in her gut, she is seen constantly cleaning and scrubbing not only the floorboards of her cabin but any little found object that crawls out of the earth to remind her of past tragedy—a cigarette package from the tobacco fields, the wrapper from a bag of Skittles that she’d like to see buried. But everything is soaked in the African-American blood that’s been interminably flowing since the first slaves arrived in what is today the U.S. of A. 400 years ago in 1619. I hate to sound overly pessimistic, but those stains are never going to come clean, and those reminders are never going to stay buried."

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Set in a North Carolina graveyard (simple but effective set by Priti Donde), the play brings to poetic life the stories of three of the black folks buried there, circa 1850-1860. Author Dionna Michelle Daniel has those folks speaking to us (and each other) as if they were still alive, using language that is rich and powerful in expression and feeling. Daniel's work is more of a choral piece than a proper play, a cry from the heart of an oppressed but proud and undefeated people."

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar
"Playwright Dionna Michelle Daniel has crafted a unique piece of theatre with American Saga – Gunshot Medley: Part 1... The performances are intensely affecting, never more so than when Betty turns her washrag into a baby that she cradles in her arms, one of two that were lost in the horrific brutality of that bygone time."

sweet - Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes - ...read full review


Avatar
"The Rogue Machine Theater troupe bring us many heart-rending moments as we vicariously relive brutal deaths and other injustices over the last 150+ years. Nevertheless, this is an entirely fresh take on the subject, not relying merely on the emotional response evoked by confronting racism so directly, but instead allowing us to absorb the message and connect with the characters in a beautiful, mysterious, dreamy, musical ambience, which illuminates this unique telling of the more shameful aspects of the American Saga... I recommend this play – the writer, director, actors, musicians and production team were all on the same excellent level, no weak links, an emotionally draining but inspiring evening."

sweet - Carol Edger-Germain - Colorado Boulevard - ...read full review


Avatar
"The beauty of this play might be in its ability to teach the audience how to hear what it has to say... By the end, the audience breathed with the performer. That is a powerful play. The running time is short, and the pacing brisk. ...if you've ever put up a Black Lives Matter sticker on your social media page, or maybe just wondered what could be done, go see the play. Support this voice. Listen."

sweet - Stana Milanovich - Discover Hollywood - ...read full review


Avatar
"Its dreaminess solidifies into the iron grip of a nightmare, made all the more inescapable by its strange beauty. This is a work of tragic majesty... Desean Kevin Terry directs with bold and imaginative expansiveness, creating a kinetic sense of movement and drama in harmony with his excellent design team."

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar
"Stubblefield's singing is smooth, gorgeous and melodic, lulling the listeners, both onstage and beyond the fourth wall, into realms of serenity, emphasizing deep heartbreak and incomparable joy. Similarly talented is Jackson, as the complicated goofball who dances, sings and shakes Betty out of her somber moods long enough to help her remember the pleasant side of life. Walters is powerful as the strict and serious spirit whose restlessness floats between anger and dreamy desires to coax and inspire those around him. Langford's maternal Betty is warm and tragic. As the de facto main character, viewers spend the most time getting to know her background and understanding her attitude. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - Lara J. Altunian - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar
"It is an intense, yet frequently playful 70-minute chamber piece, performed without intermission and intended, like the music, to be felt rather than analyzed. It yearns simply to be experienced. Its political message is unmistakable; anybody with half a brain and a full heart can know it. But above all, it is an intelligent, intriguing and beguiling poem, rooted not in the everyday, but in a realm ruled by the heart and senses."

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review