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Tech problems pester 'Priscilla'

During last evening's performance of "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," a technologically complex touring show playing in Shea's Performing Arts Center, a piece of scenery broke down and caused a 20-minute delay in the production. A large bus that serves as the play's central set piece apparently malfunctioned and had to be removed. The show, according to one audience member, went on without the bus and the cast members did their level best to make up for its absence.

There were also a couple of small hiccups during Tuesday's opening performance of the production, including a malfunctioning light panel on the bus and a botched quick costume change toward the end of the production. (I chose not to write about either of those in my 3.5 star review of the show, as I didn't believe they significantly impeded the production in any way.)

Shea's marketing director Lisa Grisanti issued this statement today when asked about Wednesday night's issues:

"There was a minor electronic malfunction of the bus on stage during the second act of the Wednesday night performance. The performance was stopped for about 20 minutes while the bus was removed from the stage after it was determined that more time was needed to address the situation," she said. "The situation was taken care with the bus being tested several times, and we are confident there will not be any more issues. Sometimes these things happen in live theatre. We have been receiving much positive feedback from patrons about the show."

I'll keep my ears open for any more technical mix-ups during tonight's performance.

--Colin Dabkowski

Torn Space takes on Shepard's dark 'Buried Child'

Out of all the tragic myths of American life – and there are, sadly, plenty to choose from – that of the perfect nuclear family has churned out perhaps the most dramatic material. The peculiarly American delusion that such a thing as a perfect nuclear family exists, or once did, has provided fodder to countless artists working in the popular media. Perhaps the most persistent miner of this notion is Sam Shepard, whose play “Buried Child” explores the disintegration of both the actual American nuclear family, such as it ever was, and of the very idea of it.

Torn Space Theater (Adam Mickiewiecz Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave.) opens its production of the 1978 play, directed by David Oliver, tonight. In its post-modern way, the play explores the life of an American farm family beset by alcoholism, economic decline and various other dusty brands of disappointment and disillusion.

“Beyond his essential predecessors like [Eugene] O’Neill and [Arthur] Miller he took the family into a more mythic theatrical landscape,” Oliver said in a release. “In ‘Buried Child’ this is paradoxically realized in part through forces of plenty bearing down on an otherwise isolated family unit, their lives lacking on all levels.”

Tickets to the show, which runs through March 16, are $15 to $25. Call 812-5733 or visit

Here, Torn Space's Dan Shanahan describes where the play fits in Shephard's body of work and why Torn Space is staging it:

– Colin Dabkowski

Exhibit X Series to feature poet Christine Hume tonight

The University at Buffalo English Department's Exhibit X Fiction Series continues with a reading by award winning poet and essayist Christine Hume at 7 p.m. tonight at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Ave. (near Tupper St.) in Buffalo.  The event is free and open to the public.

Hume, a professor in the interdisciplinary Creative Writing Program at Eastern Michigan University, is the author of three collections of poetry, "Musca Domestica" (Beacon Press, 2000), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; "Alaskaphrenia" (New Issues, 2004), winner of the Green Rose Award and Small Press Traffic’s 2005 Best Book of the Year Award; and Shot (Counterpath Press 2009).

She has also published two collections of lyric essays, "Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense," a chapbook and CD (Ugly Duckling Presse 2007); and most recently, "Ventifacts" (Omnidawn, 2012).  The latter book has been described as beginning "the year Hume's daughter develops a wind phobia, but quickly blows into lyric investigations of the wind in art, politics, and literature, highlighting the currents between imaginary relations and physical conditions."

The poet and essayist Carla Harryman has observed that "Hume's poetry pursues a new mode of experiential thinking, located in an uncanny architecture of somatic existence touching the physical world" and praised the poems in Hume's collection "Shot" as "gorgeous and courageous writing."

In tonight's event at Hallwalls,  Hume will perform selections of "Ventifacts" and “Speech Talks Back,” a critical-creative curation of sound art that uses public speech overlaid with live narration.

--R.D. Pohl

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News critics Jeff Simon and Colin Dabkowski take reader questions on movies, music, TV and more.

Thursday Theater Roundup


"Priscilla Queen of the Desert," through Sunday in Shea's performing Arts Center. ★★★½

From the review: "As for 'Priscilla,' this stage adaptation is successful in replicating the patent absurdity, unlikely emotional weight and foot-long eyelashes of the film in all its consciously preachy glory." --Colin Dabkowski

Beth and wendy, publicity 1
Beth Donohue and Wendy Hall in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's production of "Dancing at Lughnasa."

"Dancing at Lughnasa," through March 10 in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's Andrews Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "...You enter and exit the picture fluidly, never sure of whose emotions you’re responding to. In the end, you feel awoken from a dream, in the hazy déjà vu of it all. How exquisite this can be." --Ben Siegel

Continue reading "Thursday Theater Roundup" »

Video: David Lamb on Kavinoky's 'Noises Off'

The Kavinoky Theatre's production of Michael Frayn's old comic chestnut "Noises Off" is on stage until March 10.

Here is director David Lamb with some insight into the show:

In his four star review of the show, News reviewer Ben Siegel said, "The Kavinoky’s current production of Michael Frayn’s classic modern farce “Noises Off” is perhaps not absent of flaws. That would be absurd. I dare you to find anything wrong with it, though, or to not take pure joy in everything it offers."

Infringment Festival opens submissions

Hard to believe it's already this time of year, but the annual Buffalo Infringement Festival -- which balloons bigger and bigger every year -- has announced it is now accepting proposals for projects. Interested musicians, actors, playwrights, painters, sculptors, hula-hoopers and multidisciplinary artists of every imaginable variety can apply here. Proposals (which are automatically accepted, pursuant to Infringement's uniquely egalitarian mission) are due on tax day -- April 15. Here's the official release:

The Buffalo Infringement Festival is 11 days of under the radar art. During the festival, the city comes alive with a range of eclectic, independent, experimental, and controversial art of all forms. Originating in Allentown, art bursts from every corner of the city, pumping creativity and absurdity along the way. The Buffalo Infringement Festival is a non-profit-driven, non-hierarchical endeavor organized by volunteers in our community. Infringement continues its three-fold mission of providing exposure to regional artists, building relationships with local venues and creating space for public art. Infringement welcomes all musicians, visual artists, dancers, poets, actors, filmmakers, performance artists, and street performers to submit a proposal. There are no fees to enter and every application is accepted.

--Colin Dabkowski

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