Haiti

Critics

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Reviews: 13

Audience

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Reviews: 0

With its one-of-a-kind, spectacular outdoor setting in the heart of Topanga Canyon, Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum offers a summer repertory season of Shakespeare and modern classics, as well as music and performance for kids and adults alike throughout the summer months. Arrive early to picnic on the beautiful grounds before a performance! Finally, joining the repertoire on July 28, Theatricum presents a very rare revival of Haiti, a historical melodrama about the 1802 overthrow of the colonial Haitian government written by William DuBois for the Federal Theatre Project. Subtitled “A drama of the black Napoleon,” Haiti was presented in 1938 by the FTP's Negro Theatre Unit in a radical and controversial production that saw white and black actors performing together onstage at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem.

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Reviews

"HAITI is both interesting and entertaining. It has a large cast of excellent actors, a couple of great sword fights, and some sweet emotional moments. The beautiful hillside theater is a perfect backdrop for the play."

sweet - Dena Burroughs - The Fume of Sighs - ...read full review


"Never, on stage, have I seen a more convincing sword fight, with remarkable acrobatics, grand theatrical gestures, and heart-throbbing events. The mostly West Side Los Angeles audience, but this time, fortunately, joined by a large contingent of LA's black community, reacted with boos, pleas of salvation, and, at times, open laughter, that I might never have imagined in contemporary theater. Suddenly I realized just how much had been lost in the rise of modernism over this kind of old-fashioned melodramatic writing, a theater that didn't mind mixing up politics, love, fate, and just plain high-jinx. ...This is theater at its very best. The director Ellen Geer has done something quite marvelous with her very large ensemble cast, children included, particularly given the fact that she determined to revive a play that should have never been lost."

sweet - Douglas Messerli - U.S. Theater - ...read full review


"In the face of political rule by boorish despots who ignore laws and treaties, and marriages between chauvinistic men and the women they treat as chattel, transformation must occur. And in DuBois' telling, it does, in large theatrical waves."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"Director Ellen Geer keeps the plot boiling at a slow burn until the climactic battle. She makes great use of the natural hillside that surrounds the Botanicum's stage and provides space for the constantly skirmishing Haitians and French. Dane Oliver's pow-bang-pop-ouch fight choreography is extremely lively and well plotted and a character unto itself."

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


"Brilliantly served by its staging and the energy of its actors, the play takes viewers into a whirlwind of twists and coincidences typical of melodrama. The Haitian atmosphere re-created around the room - exhibition of paintings and handicrafts, drums and Afro-Caribbean rhythms by the Peace Players Drummers group, and a buffet of regional dishes - complete this sensory experience."

sweet - Michèle Druon - France-Amerique - ...read full review


"This opening night performance of Haiti was a perfect storm of excellence. The temperature was ideal, not too hot, after the hellish heatwave, the direction dazzling, the pace perfect, with dialogue that was witty, gritty, and sharp as the finest blade. The acting? Outstanding."

sweet - Claire Fordham - Messenger Mountain News - ...read full review


"The Theatricum's wooded amphitheater in Topanga Canyon is a terrific location for this tale about the fight for what the French called Saint-Domingue and the revolutionaries called by the indigenous name Haiti. Shouts and drums reverberate across the hillside as the action progresses from 1802, a decade into the revolution, toward independence in 1804 — and the beginning of the end of slavery in the New World... Director Ellen Geer marvelously deploys a cast of 20, keeping the story moving and emotions running high."

sweet - Daryl H. Miller - LA Times - ...read full review


Leigh Kennicott
"The sound of drums greets the ear as the preamble to Theatricum Botanicum's Haiti, now running in repertory through the summer. Along with exuberant dancing, the drums herald a history lesson wrapped in a satisfying, swashbuckling adventure, where the clearly delineated good guys vanquish the foppish bad guys. From top to bottom, the entire ensemble works beautifully together to create the ambiance and mood of an old-fashioned melodrama. Artistic Director Ellen Geer keeps the adventure bubbling along with the triumphant casting of the indomitable Ernestine Phillips as “Jaqueline.”"

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ...read full review


"The spectacle, directed by Ellen Geer, features great onstage swordplay and derring-do, and makes clever use of the Topanga Canyon environs, with “campfires” and the like signifying the guerrillas' bases."

sweet - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


"...for all the great theater I've seen over many years at Theatricum Botanicum, this is one of the very best. It has 10 more performances in the next few weeks. Do. Not. Miss this one."

sweet - Charles Andrews - Santa Monica Daiy Press - ...read full review


"“Haiti” has a large ensemble cast of excellent performers who portray their roles fluently. Sound effects of distant African drums in the surrounding hills of the theatre and explosions of cannon and gun fire while the actors and actress are performing on stage provide realism of an ongoing war. I give this wonderfully well-rounded play two thumbs up for fine acting, directing, and most of all shear realism."

sweet - Wilfred J. Phillips. Long Beach Times Newspaper - ...read full review


"The audience will have a rollicking time watching the drama unfold with some unexpected chortles. As always, director Ellen Geer knows just where to “dot the i's” to make this an entertaining and illuminating evening. The mixed race cast seems to be having the time of their lives portraying this historical moment in time. Kudos to the nimble, acrobatic denizens of the piece, with special congrats to fight choreographer Dane Oliver as he artfully snatches a sword flying end on end through the air."

sweet - Elaine Mura, LASplash - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"It may not be Shakespeare, but Haiti is too entertaining and informative a play to have spent the past eight decades buried on library shelves. Check it out this crowd-pleaser at Theatricum Botanicum and you'll be glad you did."

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


"HAITI is both interesting and entertaining. It has a large cast of excellent actors, a couple of great sword fights, and some sweet emotional moments. The beautiful hillside theater is a perfect backdrop for the play."

sweet - Dena Burroughs - The Fume of Sighs - ...read full review


"Never, on stage, have I seen a more convincing sword fight, with remarkable acrobatics, grand theatrical gestures, and heart-throbbing events. The mostly West Side Los Angeles audience, but this time, fortunately, joined by a large contingent of LA's black community, reacted with boos, pleas of salvation, and, at times, open laughter, that I might never have imagined in contemporary theater. Suddenly I realized just how much had been lost in the rise of modernism over this kind of old-fashioned melodramatic writing, a theater that didn't mind mixing up politics, love, fate, and just plain high-jinx. ...This is theater at its very best. The director Ellen Geer has done something quite marvelous with her very large ensemble cast, children included, particularly given the fact that she determined to revive a play that should have never been lost."

sweet - Douglas Messerli - U.S. Theater - ...read full review


"In the face of political rule by boorish despots who ignore laws and treaties, and marriages between chauvinistic men and the women they treat as chattel, transformation must occur. And in DuBois' telling, it does, in large theatrical waves."

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"Director Ellen Geer keeps the plot boiling at a slow burn until the climactic battle. She makes great use of the natural hillside that surrounds the Botanicum's stage and provides space for the constantly skirmishing Haitians and French. Dane Oliver's pow-bang-pop-ouch fight choreography is extremely lively and well plotted and a character unto itself."

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


"Brilliantly served by its staging and the energy of its actors, the play takes viewers into a whirlwind of twists and coincidences typical of melodrama. The Haitian atmosphere re-created around the room - exhibition of paintings and handicrafts, drums and Afro-Caribbean rhythms by the Peace Players Drummers group, and a buffet of regional dishes - complete this sensory experience."

sweet - Michèle Druon - France-Amerique - ...read full review


"This opening night performance of Haiti was a perfect storm of excellence. The temperature was ideal, not too hot, after the hellish heatwave, the direction dazzling, the pace perfect, with dialogue that was witty, gritty, and sharp as the finest blade. The acting? Outstanding."

sweet - Claire Fordham - Messenger Mountain News - ...read full review


"The Theatricum's wooded amphitheater in Topanga Canyon is a terrific location for this tale about the fight for what the French called Saint-Domingue and the revolutionaries called by the indigenous name Haiti. Shouts and drums reverberate across the hillside as the action progresses from 1802, a decade into the revolution, toward independence in 1804 — and the beginning of the end of slavery in the New World... Director Ellen Geer marvelously deploys a cast of 20, keeping the story moving and emotions running high."

sweet - Daryl H. Miller - LA Times - ...read full review


Leigh Kennicott
"The sound of drums greets the ear as the preamble to Theatricum Botanicum's Haiti, now running in repertory through the summer. Along with exuberant dancing, the drums herald a history lesson wrapped in a satisfying, swashbuckling adventure, where the clearly delineated good guys vanquish the foppish bad guys. From top to bottom, the entire ensemble works beautifully together to create the ambiance and mood of an old-fashioned melodrama. Artistic Director Ellen Geer keeps the adventure bubbling along with the triumphant casting of the indomitable Ernestine Phillips as “Jaqueline.”"

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ...read full review


"The spectacle, directed by Ellen Geer, features great onstage swordplay and derring-do, and makes clever use of the Topanga Canyon environs, with “campfires” and the like signifying the guerrillas' bases."

sweet - Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive - ...read full review


"...for all the great theater I've seen over many years at Theatricum Botanicum, this is one of the very best. It has 10 more performances in the next few weeks. Do. Not. Miss this one."

sweet - Charles Andrews - Santa Monica Daiy Press - ...read full review


"“Haiti” has a large ensemble cast of excellent performers who portray their roles fluently. Sound effects of distant African drums in the surrounding hills of the theatre and explosions of cannon and gun fire while the actors and actress are performing on stage provide realism of an ongoing war. I give this wonderfully well-rounded play two thumbs up for fine acting, directing, and most of all shear realism."

sweet - Wilfred J. Phillips. Long Beach Times Newspaper - ...read full review


"The audience will have a rollicking time watching the drama unfold with some unexpected chortles. As always, director Ellen Geer knows just where to “dot the i's” to make this an entertaining and illuminating evening. The mixed race cast seems to be having the time of their lives portraying this historical moment in time. Kudos to the nimble, acrobatic denizens of the piece, with special congrats to fight choreographer Dane Oliver as he artfully snatches a sword flying end on end through the air."

sweet - Elaine Mura, LASplash - ...read full review


Steven Stanley
"It may not be Shakespeare, but Haiti is too entertaining and informative a play to have spent the past eight decades buried on library shelves. Check it out this crowd-pleaser at Theatricum Botanicum and you'll be glad you did."

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review