Picture 1960s rock and roll, and the iconic Janis Joplin, arguably one of the greatest female rock singers, immediately springs to mind. The San Jose Repertory Theatre (San Jose Rep) brings her spirit to life in its production of “One Night with Janis Joplin.”
Part staged reading and part play, Karen Carpetner’s production of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the San Jose Repertory Theatre is a tale of how a woman’s wardrobe chronicles her life and changes as she does, from childhood to old age. It is often uproariously funny, full of clever observations about being a woman, but it’s somewhat frustratingly unpolished. The play is a series of monologues, adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron from the book by Ilene Beckerman and performed by five actresses, each adopting multiple roles. The play perfectly charts the different stages of life through clothing: We all remember that terrible outfit our mothers infuriatingly bought us as a child, that article of clothing that seems part of someone we love, how bad clothing feeds insecurities and the curious realization that our clothes will outlive us.
“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance,” proclaims Lady Bracknell, offering one of the most scathing social criticisms in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and one that sets the tone for the Stanford Summer Theater’s witty frolic through Oscar Wilde’s London high society. “Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever.”
“[title of show]” could have been self-referential and self-indulgent. It’s (literally) a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical. But despite the crazy level of self-consciousness—director Weston Gaylord ‘15 described it as an “‘Inception’-level of meta”—“[title of show]” manages to balance its mind-bending concept with hilarity, poignancy and a sincere depiction of friendship and artistic struggle.
When four men take an oath to give up women and other pleasures for studying and fasting for three years, only hilarity can ensue. So is the case with the Stanford Shakespeare Company’s (StanShakes) production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies. StanShakes chose to stage it in a contemporary collegiate setting–at Stanford fraternity Phi Kappa Psi–with modern costumes, props and music as well, keeping the audience laughing throughout.
With sex, lies and betrayal as its selling factors, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” stands out as a stellar, modern production of a classic tale, with the help of a high-power cast and design.
Ram’s Head presents “Spring Awakening,” a rebellious rock musical that packs an emotional punch. Based on the 1891 play, “Spring Awakening” follows young adolescents as they struggle to reconcile their emerging sexuality within the contexts of authoritarian parental and academic pressure in a small German town. The musical, in which the play’s monologues and intellectual discourses are transformed into emotionally-driven rock numbers and ballads, follows Wendla, Melchior and Moritz, three youths as they begin the sexual-awakening transition from childhood to adulthood.
You’re probably already familiar with “The Crucible”. The play, written in 1953 by Arthur Miller, is his most frequently produced work worldwide and a commonly read text in high school literature classes. Even if you’re already familiar with the play, it’s definitely worth coming out to see the Stanford Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS) production, which provides some interesting fresh takes on the play. For those unfamiliar with the story, “The Crucible” is a dramatization of the 17th-century Salem Witch Trials; it also serves as an allegory for the House Un-American Activities Committee anti-communist investigations that were taking place at the time Miller wrote they play and under which he was questioned. Although the connections between the two events are clear, the story is easy to understand even without any context.