Through September 19|
URRENTS: 716 Alleyway Theatre/on-line
Entertainment and today’s stage began outdoors and around the fire before it migrated into the open theaters of Greece and the modern indoor theaters.
In these times, either doing nothing or shifting to the screen are the alternatives.
The Alleyway has fought back with “Currents: 716,” a look at COVID Buffalo, a place and a bad time.
This is also a time of Black Lives Matter and a re-think of our history and our society.
That shows in a couple of these shows, like Greg Howze’s Black doctor who isn’t treated well by a White patient’s friend in Mark Humphrey’s “Monologue #6”</b or melinda capeles“Across The River.”
Alleyway has a lot of experience with these ensemble shows, the annual “Buffalo Quickies.”
What’s different here is that the elements of the show take place on city streets.
Howze’s doctor is on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Capeles is on the concrete shores of the Niagara River.
Now, my experience as a reporter has taken me across the city and into some odd corners but I didn’t recognize some of the streets and tiny blocks on the screen, with Gary Earl Ross’ “She Remembers on a Walk,” in Broadway-Fillmore featuring a delusional Mary Craig, with Amber Tate, and Ed Taylor’s “Black Nikes” and Johnny Rowe’s cab driver.
There is also the obligatory global warning story, Rolando Gomez and David Marciniak in Fred Harold Jensen’s “Waste to Wealth on the Waterways of Western New York...Or ‘Padon Tells Parsifal How to Save the Planet.”
The classically dressed mythological characters appear to be standing on top of that tall set of grain elevators across the Buffalo River from Canalside,
Inside we have another fine performance from Peter Palmisano in a modern version of that old TV screed “Network,” with Donna Hoke’s “The Same New Story.”
Most of these dramatic modules were clearly written for the stage, since that’s what theaters do.
Putting them outside (mostly) makes them different and not just visually.
Think of a play describing what you see as opposed to seeing.
It’s the difference between the closing of “Macbeth,” with a vast screen of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane, as opposed to an actor declaiming on a stage at any of the Stratfords.
Like Hoke’s play, videotape on top of a building makes it different from a recent Alleyway “Buffalo Quickies.”
That was two Statues of Liberty on top of the old Liberty Bank Building at Main and Court taking a break before getting back on their plinths.
It’s the illusion of stage.
There are some fascinating elements in the show, like Todd Benzin in Jeff Z. Klein’s “Outside Agitators,” of the reaction of the local law enforcement and political establishment to the violent protests after the death of George Floyd.
It reminded me of Bull Connor during the Civil Rights protests of the Sixties, you know, the claims that it wasn’t the local Black residents, it was those “outside agitators.”
Humphrey‘s “Monologue #6” is probably the most pointed and relevant element in the show, because I’ve heard those stories from doctors, doctors who aren’t those White, male physicians with silver hair and a pleasant attitude to whom all defer.
It needs to be said and “Currents: 716” needs to be seen.
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