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Theater Review: The Saint Plays

February 28, 2006 12:00 AM
Westmont College adds yet another bizarre chapter to Santa Barbara’s theater scene with its current production of Erik Ehn’s “The Saint Plays.”
The chance to perform four of these short works is a coup of sorts for the theater department — even more so considering one of the plays derives directly from workshopping with the students themselves. Needless to say, this section is a world premiere.
According to the playwright, he has written almost 100 short plays based on the Catholic saints, from 40-minute pieces to short, wordless tableaux, with more to come.
Some are hagiographies, while others are “exploded biographies” — a phrase he never really defines, but, after watching Friday night’s performance, must allude to the hundreds of small pieces of narrative that will never get put back together again.

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Theater Review: Brown Baby

Headline-based ‘Brown Baby’ favors melodrama over characters
February 22, 2006 10:15 AM
An essential part of our state’s economy, illegal immigration is the dark shadow that capital casts when laws and regulations are bent or are not enforced. Illegal workers look at Americans and see the life they’d like to lead; Americans look back and see straight through the men and women who do the menial jobs or they see an amassed threat. A porous border, now more dangerous with the inclusion of the dubious “Minutemen” weekend warriors, is all that separates “us” from “them.” And both people may be more similar than we think.
Carlos Morton’s “Brown Baby” at UCSB Performing Arts Theatre comes professing its timeliness with a story ripped from today’s headlines, as they say. Only these headlines have been in the paper for years now — a situation that seems unlikely to change unless it’s going to get worse.
Maria (Victoria Ramos), with daughter Silvia (Aja Naomi King) in tow, has to leave their hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico, when her husband is gunned down by police for having ties to the left-wing opposition party. Pregnant with his child, Maria seeks out the help of the rich Doña Victoria de los Santos (Tiffany Rose Brown). Maria needs passage to America; Doña Victoria can help for a price. Indebted to the price of $3,000, Maria believes that her benefactor will get her work. What we know already is that Doña Victoria is conspiring to keep Maria just south of the San Diego border to sell off her baby in the American black market.

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Theater Review: The Last Liberal

‘Liberal’ looks to a satirical future and Bush 3.0
February 22, 2006 12:00 AM
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” Karl Marx (by way of Hegel) may have been describing the first and second terms of the Bush administration. Or he may have been thinking of Bob Potter’s new comedy “The Last Liberal,” a sequel of sorts to the much more serious “The Space Between the Stars,” now onstage at the Center Stage Theater, a production of Dramatic Women.
Political satire is at turns easy and difficult. Easy because the Bush administration provides weekly fodder of outrage and incompetence for the nation’s comedians; difficult because there is so much material that a Harriet Miers joke would already have to be explained a bit to make it work. (Q: Harriet who? A: Exactly).

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