This starts previews tomorrow night at the Atlantic (was supposed to be tonight)! as a big fan of Gurgis, this one is near the top of my list for a short December visit. As always, early reports are appreciated Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis takes his style to another level in this world premiere play about the harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking inner workings of a women’s halfway house in New York City, helmed by John Ortiz (LAByrinth Artistic Director) in his Off-Broadway directing debut.Running time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, with a brief intermission.Due to unexpected production needs, we have had to cancel the November 14 preview performance of Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven. For any questions, please email email@example.com and we’ll do our best to promptly accommodate you.
I saw this last evening and found it to be a mixed bag. I was very excited for this production; I've enjoyed what I've seen by Stephen Adly Guirgis in the past, and thought that a play about a women's halfway house provided an interesting setting and the opportunity for some rich characters and story lines. What ended up happening, though, is that Guirgis seemed to try and cram in as many of these plotlines as possible, leaving us with an unfocused and overstuffed play that doesn't amount to nearly as much as it could/should have.There's a lot going on here. The show is 3.5 hours long and the playbill lists 18 actors (plus a goat - yes, a goat), with some of them doubling up on characters. We're introduced to plenty of characters, many seemingly with compelling, harrowing stories and histories, but, because there are so many of them, we're never able to flesh some of these stories out in any kind of worthwhile way. The play never identifies a protagonist, but also never becomes a coherent ensemble piece; instead, we shuffle along from scene to scene, getting only bits of these characters and their hopes and heartbreaks and relationships and, therefore, we're kept at a distance from them for the duration of the evening. The play lacks a clear focus and, as a result, its characters suffered.The acting, too, was uneven, with some performances feeling very honest and lived-in, while others felt amateur and half-baked. I do think this is partially due to the overstuffed nature of the narrative, but also to the direction, which too often relied on clunky blocking to keep the story moving. My favorite performance of the evening was Liza Colón-Zayas as Sarge. Oh, how I wish that Guirgis had let her Sarge take charge as the heart and soul of this play, rather than just another character in an endlessly rotating ensemble!I hope my thoughts aren't coming across as overly negative, as I do think there's a worthwhile play in there somewhere. But as it stands now, it feels more like an early draft; it needs to be streamlined and focused in order for it to have the impact that I was hoping it would have.
Stephen has been pretty public about how he doesnt think the play is ready but didnt want to cancel a second time (this was originally part of Signatures season two years ago) seeing it this weekend and now really wishing I was seeing it later in the run because I am sure it will lose chunks by then
Is there any sort of plot or is it more of a character driven piece like much of Stephen's other work? ("Between Riverside.." springs to mind)How is Elizabeth Rodriguez? Always felt like she didn't get the praise she deserved for OITNB, was delighted to see her in something new so soon
I have 1 $25 ticket available for tonight. ($28 with fees). They added an hour to the run time and now I can’t go without missing my train. Message me if you want it.
LightsOut90 said: "anyone attend the last night or two? curious if its been trimmed since previews started..."Tonight (Fri 11/22) 8pm show ended at 11:27pm. Also, pro tip: there is only one intermission (at about 9:30pm), it’s a long act ii.
Anakela said: "LightsOut90 said: "anyone attend the last night or two? curious if its been trimmed since previews started..."Tonight (Fri 11/22) 8pm show ended at 11:27pm. Also, pro tip: there is only one intermission (at about 9:30pm), it’s a long act ii."i was actually there tonight so it seems they’ve cut about 10 minutes off and from what I was told by a performer after they’re looking to cut about another 20 to 25 minutesThere is an absolutely amazing play buried under a little bit too much fat and about 4 to 6 too many charactersHaving said that this piece is dealing with a lot of things and issues I don’t think we’re really used to seeing on stage and especially issues that are affecting New Yorkers directly at this time, if Stephen can put in the work and figure out how to fix the small problems I think there’s a really dynamite production here with some really fantastic performances compelling dialogue and interesting staging
Saw this last night, play ended at 11:15. I really liked the play, but I also acknowledge that it's still a flawed piece and has much to work on before it locks down. I agree with what others are saying, it's a very ensemble piece with no clear protagonist/s (arguably Sarge, Venus, or Ms. Rivera, but all debatable), and the piece is far more laid-back than what Guirgis usually writes. His other plays always feel like very heightened and stylized drama to me, and this is a very casual, often low-stakes, piece that is simply exploring the lives of these people at a halfway house in the Upper West Side. I don't think it's wide focus of characters is necessarily a bad thing, but it is very different than anything he's written before. Often feels like we're just living with these characters and getting to know little things about them on a day-to-day level. My big criticism of the piece is that I think the goat scene needs to be expanded tenfold as its the centerpiece of the show, and it goes by so quickly that it's almost "blink and you miss it." Direction also feels a little clunky from time-to-time. Interested to see how this changes throughout the preview process, especially if they're cutting an additional 20-25 minutes! Highly recommend people see this, and the play flies by. Doesn't feel like 3 hours at all.
Susanswerphone said: "I have A17 for Monday 11/25 at 7p.m. and cannot attend. $28 or B.O. Please PM me if interested in purchasing. Thanks!"Bump
I saw the show last night as well, and I mostly agree with Ledaero. I didn't LOVE the play, but I liked it a lot, and the 3+ hour runtime flies by. I actually felt like the script does justice to almost all of the characters. Yes, a lot is crammed in, but for me, none of the characters feels like a throw-away. And there is a lot of deep emotion in the play, which Guirgis expresses beautifully in the many well-written dramatic scenes. And I didn't mind that there wasn't a protagonist.As both Ledaero and BroadwayGuy12 mentioned, some of the acting/direction feels a little bit too broad-strokes, relying on passionate energy rather than honest, dropped-in acting. I love the passionate energy, as it really fuels the play, but sometimes I thought it was being used as a replacement for truthful storytelling, rather than a conduit for truthful storytelling. The best performances, for me, were Liza Colon-Zayas as "Sarge," Elizabeth Rodriguez as "Miss Rivera," David Anzuelo as "Father Miguel," and Patrice Johnson Chevannes as "Wanda Wheels"
Let me start off by saying that i am a huge fan of the Atlantic Theatre Company and have seen several stellar productions there in the past (frequently using their fantastic Back25 program).But as i was looking at tickets for Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, I noticed that they were selling Standing Room tickets for $61 online!Is this a new trend for new plays that are considered a "hot ticket"? Are people actually paying that price?I have never paid more than $50 for Standing Room (on Broadway) and i thought that was a little crazy. I realize theatre is a luxury item, but I'm frustrated that it has become so difficult for those of us on a budget
Atlantic raises prices very high once buzz gets good, so it’s not a surprise, though I too have not seen standing room that high. That said, it’s arguably a better deal than on Broadway because of how much closer you are at the back of this house.But while we’re complaining about Atlantic, I want to point out an issue during this run and many of their past higher-profile runs that I wish they would figure out. It’s great that they are, per a post on the other board, continuing to make substantial changes to the show deep into previews (assuming the show needs them). But they already have had to push or cancel multiple performances because of these changes. A very similar thing happened with Bees, and with Disco (...which obviously could not be saved).I point this out not to be a pest or discourage necessary creative changes, but to note that this isn’t a regular occurrence at other institutions of Atlantic’s caliber, and yet it’s a frequent issue there. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it seems it might be worth re-examining their processes, from both an artistic and managerial perspective, so these issues become flukes, rather than the norm.
But as i was looking at tickets for Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, I noticed that they were selling Standing Room tickets for $61 online! Are you sure the tickets were standing room? I don't think Atlantic has a standing room policy, and I certainly don't think they'd be selling those tix online....
Ledaero said: "But as i was looking at tickets for Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, I noticed that they were selling Standing Room tickets for $61 online!Are you sure the tickets were standing room? I don't think Atlantic has a standing room policy, and I certainly don't think they'd be selling those tix online...." On the Atlantic website, they are selling a few tickets in an added "Row M," which are labeled "HB Standing Room" (HB = Halfway Bitches, I assume). Then they have the following note at the top:"*PLEASE NOTE: If you purchased a location in row M, you have selected an unconventional fold out chair. While you do have a seat most guests elect to treat the location as a standing room ticket."
gibsons2 said: "Did anyone see the play very recently? Any changes in run time? "Last night it ended right at 10:00.
JSquared2 said: "gibsons2 said: "Did anyone see the play very recently? Any changes in run time? "Last night it ended right at 10:00."Thank you very much!
It started at 7?
Set in a halfway house teeming with many characters of varying backgrounds, HBGSTH succeeds in creating a world of compelling individual stories while stepping back and viewing this refuge's place in a larger hostile world- while one women struggles to keep alive. It's a tough task to accomplish and if anyone can do it, Guirgis pulls it off. All the characters no matter how major or minor are given time to tell us who they are and what their fears are, revealing how much they depend on this island of safety against outside threats. And even though it isn't overtly political, in its own way it makes a statement about the wave of cruelty that has swept a nation that targets social programs for people who desperately need them. It is a moving play that challenges us to face many sensitive issues. Yes it is a bit longish- but well worth the investment of time.
I liked this a lot and the cast is excellent but it's very long (we were told 2:40 and it still ran closer to 3 hours last night) and needs to be tightened a bit. Guirgis includes a lot of issues that are never fully formed and the whole thing lacks a bit of focus. I think with another draft it would've been an amazing piece. I still think it's worth seeing because his writing is still excellent and he's created someone wonderful characters.
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