Review Roundup: INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY at Stage Left Theatre

By: Jan. 17, 2018

Review Roundup: INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY at Stage Left Theatre

Stage Left Theatre presents Robert O'Hara's INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY. Directed by Wardell Julius Clark, INSURRECTION: HOLDING HISTORY runs January 11th through February 11th.

The play features the talents of Nathaniel Andrew, Breon Arzell, Ayanna Bria Bakkari, Sam Boeck, Sydney Charles, Anna Dauzvardis, Christopher W. Jones, Ian Martin, and Shariba Rivers in the cast, and Adia Alli, Marcus D. Moore, Jazzma Pryor, Sam Woodhull as understudies.

The production team includes JC Widman (Stage Manager), Matt Super (Production Manager), Kathy Arfken (Scenic Designer), Kaili Story (Lighting Designer), Uriel Gomez (Costume Designer), Matthew Bonham Lockdall (Sound Designer), Breon Arzell(Movement Consultant), Brian Plocharczyk (Violence Design), Rachel Flesher (Intimacy Design), Bobby Huggins (Technical Director), Jared Bellot (Dramaturg), Kanomé Jones (Assistant Director), Martina Scofano (Assistant Stage Manager), Sami Rivera (Assistant Lighting Designer), and Tony Churchill (Logo Design).

Let's hear what the critics had to say!

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Despite the horrors of what the play depicts - whippings and lynchings included - O'Hara finds room for satire, richly performed by Sydney Charles in the guise of a white plantation woman straight from "Gone with the Wind," voiced with a mixture of observational accuracy and post-modern comment. You might be surprised to know that the play often is very funny. This is not an easy piece to pull off, overall. It requires absolutely felicity to truth, however much the rules of engagement seem to shift, and not every moment of this production works. A few are overplayed. But you never doubt for a second that Clark understands the work well, nor that he has found a cast willing to dive deep into the dystopic (but hopeful) O'Hara version of wonderland, a surreal journey that at least two generations of actors have, at various times, said they found to be life-changing. It is so worth seeing this piece at this particular moment: "Insurrection" started to teach before its most teachable moment had arrived.

James R. Wilke, Windy City Times: Stage Left Theatre, director Wardell Julius Clark, the designers and the brilliantly talented cast are to be commended for a staging of Insurrection: Holding History that succeeds on so many levels. While all in the ensemble deserve mention, standouts include actresses Sydney Charles and Anna Dauzvardis. Beginning the play as Ron's feisty Aunt Gertha and her obstinate daughter, Katie Lynn, the pair morph seamlessly back and forth from the present to 1831 Southampton County to play the fiery Slave Master's wife, Mistress Mo'tel, and house slave, Octavia. The juxtaposition allows for thoughtful comparisons between the pairs of headstrong women. Also noteworthy is actor Sam Boeck, as Buck Naked. As a white actor portraying the enslaved, Boeck's adept characterization gave the audience even more food for thought. This play makes many fascinating points. One that stands out is that if you could go back in time to warn Nat Turner and his followers to abandon their failed rebellion, they would still fight. You still couldn't change history. For the will of an oppressed people, once decided upon freedom, is a will too strong to break. In a unique and beautiful way, playwright Robert O'Hara and Stage Left Theatre's fantastic team pay humble tribute to the enslaved men and women who bravely struggled to make the lives of the generations to follow better.

Photo Courtesy of Tyler Core.