Mike Wiley: Reliving History and Recreating Performance Art...

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     If you have the opportunity to see Mike Wiley perform, don’t try to predict what you’re going to see. Your guesses will probably be incorrect, besides the guesses that you will be entertained, moved, and glad you went. Those will certainly be spot-on.      Wiley’s performances are one-man historic shows, but that description does his art form little justice. Take his interpretation of Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name. The set? An old-fashioned barber chair and a stool on a bare stage. The costuming? Plain shirt and pants. The cast? Mike Wiley.      You might wonder what you’ve signed on to, and then the stage brims with characters, all coming from this larger than life acting company of one. In a seemingly effortless shift in voice and manner, Wiley portrays everyone –...

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Stage Review: Elephant’s Graveyard...

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People dislike people and love animals. No woman ever hoards kids unless she’s cooking them or running a Dickensian orphanage so she can scam an insurance company. Women who hoard cats are numerous, however. George Brant, whose play The Elephant’s Graveyard was the winner of the Keene Prize for Literature, plays on this quirk to deliver a stirring critique of the death penalty. The Shafer Alliance Laboratory Theater troupe at VCU recently did a production of this show, directed by Joshua Chenard, and the effect is still reverberating. The play revolves around a true event. In 1916, the Sparks Circus stumbled into a no-name town in East Tennessee south of Kingsport and Johnson City called Erwin with Red, a drifter looking for a job, in tow. When the Sparks Circus hit the Main Street...

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Stage Review: A Field of Glory...

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  Much ado is being made in many arenas due to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. I have opted not to take part in what I have dubbed “this weird nostalgia,” but I did seize the opportunity to view the July 20 world premiere of Sharon Talbot’s Civil War play, A Field of Glory, which ran at Raleigh’s Kennedy Theater. The short, two-person production tells the story of Rosalia Taylor and her son John, revealing their complicated personas and family dynamics. The play also centers heavily on those stereotypical Southern matters of pride and family secrets. The play begins humorously with the somewhat batty Rosalia -- played by Talbot herself-- cursing, hitting the flask, and working in her decaying Mississippi garden. The matriarch’s son, portrayed by Jesse Janowsky, returns unexpectedly from war for...

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