The time: the present invaded by the past. The setting: sanctuaries in the southwest desert. The play: Altar Call. And the playwright: Melissa McBain, who has appropriated one of the country's most volatile current debates - where the church stands on the subject of homosexuality - as her play's subject.
Theatre is evolving. While some scripts still relate the story of a unique person or community, it seems more writers are attempting to use representative characters to capture something more universal. These shows often consist of monologues that revolve around a central theme, such as girls' and women's lives in A ... My Name Is Alice and female sexuality in The Vagina Monologues. Sometimes, as in The Vagina Monologues, each component is the result of real-life research and interviews conducted and modified by the playwright.
Female problems. According to this musical by Nicole Hollander and Cheri Coons, we (as in women) have lots of them. Whether it's ridding our closets of shoes, trying new hairstyles every month, loving our insufficient-but-tolerable husbands, or fretting over the weight gain from (gasp!) a piece of German chocolate cake, we have lots of important issues on our minds that require a lifetime of worry, tummy-tucks, and doctor visits.
After seeing Riverside Theatre's annual monologue performance Walking the Wire during its three-day run last weekend, I'm already looking forward to next year. Rarely is a collection of monologues presented locally (with the exception of the woman-power fundraiser The Vagina Monologues, which is structured more like a play), and the Iowa City theatre's Wire provides a unique opportunity for viewers to absorb an assortment of unpublished works presented by diverse individuals. While a few of the pieces were lacking in either character believability or author voice, most of the two- to 10-minute monologues were very engaging.
Not only is Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues sexy, witty, tragic, and downright hilarious, it's also quite an educational experience. For example, I learned the clitoris contains more than 8,000 nerve endings - which is twice as many as the penis. As one actor said, "Why have a handgun when you can have a semi-automatic?" Talk about woman power.
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