Monday, August 19, 2019

All Quiet on the Western Front at Greenhouse Theatre Center, Chicago


“ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED:
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY:
This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.”

With the rise of totalitarianism in the world; Erich Maria Remarque's 1928 renowned anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front, motivates Matt Foss, playwright and director, to reintroduce the notion of brutality of war in order to challenge the audience to rethink what would lead inexperienced youth to enlist into a new world war. The book was banned and burned in Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party. Now, we are witnessing new signs of nationalistic censorship growing in different societies.


Having lived through an eight-year war; assisting wounded soldiers and villagers in a war zone where an uncalculated/accidental movement could be a matter of life and death; the play evoked dark memories that war is nothing but destruction and death. Despite the play’s demonstration that war causes permanent physical and mental trauma, increases vulnerability to terror and savagery in all forms; it deepens your understanding of politics, increases your empathy and strengthens your ability see through how the warmongers behind the scenes create and precipitate wars. 



Matt Foss’s adaptation is superbly theatrical with cinematic elements under his brilliant directing. The performance at Greenhouse Theatre Center is a polished work of art in all its different elements. The stage is spacious with elegant symmetrical lights, the beautiful, uncluttered setting of wires backstage and several pianos which were used brilliantly as scenes shifted in synchronization with the sound of explosions, bombs, and combats.  They were also used simply to break the total silence…or to emit a painful moan during knife strikes…Each scene dissolves and transforms into another scene smoothly and uninterruptedly. 



Play starts with the mixture of narration and performance, physical actions, choreography, movements, atmospheric images, in harmony with artistic use of music, hymns, rapid change of lights, sound effects, voice overs and effective silences with tic tocs marking time. All these theatrical elements worked well with some experimentation of German cabaret style and modern music and dance as a vital form of entertainment.



The intimate collaboration between director, actors, set designer, sound designer and composer, light designer, costume designer and choreographer, give the impression that the outcome of the process was the clear result of a skilled directing, techniques, discipline, cooperation, pure love, and hard work. The choice of multi-racial and gender ensemble gives the actors comfort and confidence to be completely connected, cooperative and present on the stage.  All the actors, equally, put their heart into their multi roles and performed magnificently. Elena Victoria Feliz as Paul, the narrator, was pensive, meditative and poetic. One of the unforgettable scenes was when Paul was granted leave to go back home to see his mother. The train, the sharp light as the sun, the encounter with his mother and sister, and the bar scene where his alienation with the absurdity of war was exceeded by the patriotic absurdity of the townspeople. This scene is one of the greatest scenes in this play.



All Quiet on the Western Front is highly recommended.

photos by Austin Oie


OPENING AUGUST 16th and running through SEPTEMBER 14th.
Fridays at 7:30
Saturdays at 7:30
Sundays at 2:30
Mondays (Industry Night) at 7:30

All Performances at the GREENHOUSE THEATRE CENTER, 2257 N Lincoln Ave

Cast & Creative Team

Cast: Charlotte Mae Ellison, Caitlin Ewald, Elena Victoria Feliz, Ian Maryfield, Colin Morgan, Alec Phan, Collin Quinn Rice, Laila Rodrigues, Brenda Scott Wlazlo*, Bianca Canigila (US), Austin Rambo (US)
Writer/Director: Matt Foss
Artistic Director:
 Max Truax*
Assistant Director: Kate Staiger
Producer: Ambrose Cappuccio*
Stage Manager: Emily Melgard
Assistant Stage Manager: Dan Poppen
Props Designer: Matt Foss
Casting Director: Catherine Miller
Sound Design and Composer: Dan Poppen
Costume Designer: Rachel Sypniewski
Lighting Design: Stephen Sakowski
Movement and Choreography: Leah Urzendowski
Scenic Design: Nick Schwartz*
Teaser Poster Design: CM Dugan
Marketing Director: Casey Chapman*
Associate Marketing Manager & Webmaster: Joseph Ramski*

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Review on some books

نوشته ای که می خوانید نگاه من است به چند كتاب پارسي زبان كه اخيرن خوانده ام. كتاب "شب تير" نوشته ژوان ناهيد بخش نخست آن است

 My review of several books published in a weekly online magazine: Shahrgon . The first part is on Joan Nahid's book.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Drugging of the American Boy

Very important points in this essay published in esquire.com :

"By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to "normalize" them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It's time we recognize this as a crisis."

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