Top Ten Shows of 2010
This list is in no particular order. It only includes productions that I saw for the FIRST time in 2010. This list does not include productions that transferred to Broadway or other venues over the course of the last few years. The other criteria are loose. I went with what had stuck in my brain over the last year.
Vollmond – Pina Bausch gets to the heart of the human experience more directly and more viscerally than any artist, of any medium, I have ever experienced.
Brief Encounter – What this production does so brilliantly is create a vocabulary on stage, in front of the audience, essentially teaching you how to watch the show. Then, Rice builds upon that vocabulary, shifting it and surprising you, bringing the whole the ride to a satisfying and expansive finale. Plus, who doesn’t love a little Rachmanioff.
Red Shoes – Ditto. Though this was certainly darker than BRIEF ENCOUNTER, both felt like events. not simply performances. Kneehigh/Emma Rica think about how to structure that time before and after the performance, in order to enhance the audience’s experience and to create that feeling of Event. The audience’s experience begins with their own entrance into the theater, not the performers.
Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – I LOVE Almodovar. I loved the vibrance of this production, and how, in that vibrant, unapologetic way, it stayed to true the film.
Creditors – Full, brash, bold, terrifyingly present acting. August Strindberg via Alan Rickman, what could be better?
Rent – Confession: I saw RENT for the first time last year. Mike Donahue’s production for the Yale Dramat was so full of energy and imagination, and of course, the material is stellar. A thrill to finally see it.
Witness Relocation – I saw several workshops and productions by Dan Safer and his company during 2010. The way they blur the line between theater/dance/games is invigorating and exciting. I never have more fun in a theater than at their shows.
Gatz – Immersive and expansive at once. I have never seen such care taken to bring an audience into a world and build that world up around them. Thrilling.
Chautauqua! – I saw this at Under the Radar last January, and plan to see it again. The mix of fictional narrative, real life biography and local anthropology allowed me to see my everyday surroundings with renewed excitement. Plus, these guys are hysterical.
As You Like It – Sam Mendes is a genius of stage picture. The end.
Runner up :
The Jackie Look – Karen Finley is fierce and fearless.
Best Theater Going Experience :
Measure for Measure at Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility – The work I’ve done teaching in prisons this year has been incredibly rewarding and enlivening. After working with the women of Bayview Correctional, I joined them for the Public’s Touring production of Measure for Measure. Each moment was real for them. They are living the questions of justice, forgiveness and sacrifice every day. It was a lesson in bringing my own willingness to be transported to the theater. Not for one moment did these women sit back with their arms crossed, deciding if this production was “good.” It wasn’t about good or bad. Worthy or not worthy. Better or worse. They simply signed themselves over to the experience.