“An Iliad” Wins New Times’ “Best Of” for Solo Show!

Broward-Palm Beach New Times Awards Outré’s An Iliad Best Solo Show!

For its first full-length-play production, emerging Mizner Park company Outre chose a work that was both minimalist (in its cast and production requirements) and maximalist (in its broad thematic umbrella). A modern retelling of Homer’s similarly named epic poem, An Iliad dramatized the narrative of the Trojan War through the eyes of a road-weary itinerant storyteller, played by Avi Hoffman. Slinging an occasional guitar and swilling the more-than-occasional guzzle of booze, Hoffman broke many a fourth wall while colloquially inhabiting Agamemnon, Achilles, Petroclus, Hermes, and the rest of them in an exhausting exercise running more than 90 minutes. Set designer Sean McClelland provided him with a morbid playground — a bombed-out, multitiered war zone that bridged the gap between battles past and present, which is the ultimate message behind the play’s antiwar monologue. Stefanie Howard’s lighting design proved equally instrumental in creating the show’s electric atmosphere, and ditto for Danny Butler’s soundscape, which merged ancient sword-and-sandals sound effects with present-day war reports. This may be remembered as Hoffman’s finest hour, not to mention an artistic breakthrough for Outre; I dare say Homer has never been this engaging.

Read the original article here.

“An Iliad” – The Miami Artzine Review

An Iliad

by Roger Martin

Hey boys and girls, moms and dads! Anyone want to be an actor? Lead a life of riches, glamor and excitement? Great, then scoot right on up to Boca Raton and watch Avi Hoffman in An Iliad. Ninety minutes in Outré Theatre with Avi and you’ll learn it all. Fame awaits.

It’s a one man show, An Iliad, and a terrific show it is. Avi Hoffman is Homer, regaling the audience with this updated version of the classic tale of the siege of Troy. And of course you all remember how that went, Paris stealing Helen from the King of Sparta, thoroughly ticking off the Greeks who then spent ten years trying to get her back. Hero versus Hero, God versus God. Cue the carnage.

So in this updated version by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson, Hoffman is dressed and booted in quasi battle fatigues, unshaven and exhausted, becoming the heroes, telling their tales, strutting the stage, killing and lamenting.

This is a timeless piece, performed 3000 years ago and, in this version, still very much alive, vibrant and utterly intriguing. As Hoffman speaks, voice overs and sound fx delineate the battles old and new and videos flash upstage but nothing detracts from Hoffman’s performance. It’s a rare actor who can enthrall an audience with tales of endless violence and the utter stupidity of war, but Hoffman does this, not with ease but with his belief in himself and the characters into whom he disappears. Hoffman drags us onto the blood stained beaches and before the battlements of ancient Troy and we are there, completely, as Achilles destroys Hector and the gods weave their petty plots. An acting lesson, indeed.

The set by Sean McClelland is a red stained multi-level rendering of the detritus of war, the battlefield and the battlement. It’s well done and effective but seems almost too large for the performance. It reaches far upstage and when Hoffman is up there he is far from the audience. Six inch risers rather than eight inch hinder the sight lines. This is not the fault of Outré but rather that of the theatre designers. So be warned, when you go to see An Iliad, and you most certainly should, go for the front few rows.

Hoffman is excellent from any seat in the house but if you’re close to him you can see the subtleties, the glint of an eye, the lapse of a lip, his true sense of being, that contribute so much to his performance.

Well and imaginatively directed by Skye Whitcomb, An Iliad is a piece that requires attention but offers myriad rewards. It’s a brave choice for a relatively new theatre, the artistic over the commercial, and it’s a choice to be applauded. Well done, Avi Hoffman and Outré Theatre.

The rest of the production team: sound designer Danny Butler, lighting designer Stefanie Howard and assistant director/stage manager Sabrina Lynn Gore.

‘The Wild Party’ review on Talkin Broadway

By John Lariviere

The Outre Theatre Company opens its inaugural season with the musical The Wild Party featuring book, lyrics, and music by Andrew Lippa. The musical is based on a narrative poem of the same name written by Joseph Moncure March in 1928. Like the poem, the musical tells the tale of two vaudeville performers named Queenie and Burrs who live a decadent life of indulgence. They decide to have one of their parties complete with the couple’s eclectic mix of eccentric and self-absorbed friends. Fueled by passion, regret, drugs and alcohol, the party unfolds into a night they will long remember.

Read more of John’s review for Talkin Broadway, here.

 

 

Upcoming Events!

Hey, folks!  Things are pretty busy over here, as we gear up for the upcoming staged reading of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead over at New Theatre on October 24!  First, this Tuesday, October 4, we’ll be headed up to Palm Beach to be interviewed by Jason Fisher on “Five Minutes to Curtain,” on W4CY Radio.  The show will be broadcast at 12 noon on Tuesday, and then rebroadcast again at noon on Friday, so listen in to hear us discuss the future of Outré, what it’s like to run a theatre company, and our upcoming shows!

Then, the very next day, we’ve been invited to participate in a Florida Press Club Luncheon, along with our friends over at Infinite Abyss, as well as Alliance Theatre Lab and a few other area theatres, where we’ll discuss small theatres in South Florida with members of the media.  It’s a great opportunity to get some exposure before Ros and Guil goes up, and we’re looking forward to sharing the podium with some very talented people.

Finally, of course, is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead itself!  We’re less than four weeks out, and we can’t tell you guys how excited we are!  We have an amazing cast, and we owe our undying love and gratitude to New Theatre for hosting us.  We’re only asking for an $8 contribution at the door, which will go towards helping us put on our very next staged reading, which will be Buried Child by Sam Shepard on December 12 at Broward Stage Door.

So a lot of things are going on!  As always, we thank all of you who are accompanying us on this wild ride – we couldn’t do it without you!  See you on the 24th!

Behind the Curtain, Part 1: The Staged Reading

As we approach Outré’s first foray into the public eye, the staged reading ofRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to be performed at New Theatre on October 24, we thought we’d give you a little bit of insight into the process behind the production.   This will be the first in a series of intermittent blog posts in which we show you, our friends and colleagues, a little of the magic and madness that goes on before the lights go up.

 

Nori and Skye chose Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because of Stoppard’s humorous and incisive look at how we deal with the nature of reality.  The show fits our stated goals of bringing to life theatre that is thought-provoking and action-inducing.  Once we chose the script, it then had to be adapted to fit the nuances of a staged reading, as opposed to a full production.  Because we don’t have set or costumes for a staged reading, and because our props and blocking are minimal, we use a narrator to deliver the stage directions to the audience.  So we have to decide: what actions will the actors perform?  Which will be described by the narrator?  How do we convey the intent of the playwright, who wrote this to be fully performed?  What props are absolutely necessary?  What blocking should be kept, and what should be cut?

 

We’re lucky enough to know many, many talented South Florida actors, so when it came time to cast the show, we were able to call our friends and invite them to accompany us on this grand adventure of ours.  Unlike a full performance, there were no auditions for this production; instead, we asked people we knew, whose work we had seen and loved, to lend their talents to this project.  Once all nine actors had confirmed, Skye went to work on retyping the script, editing for the nuances of the staged reading and adding the narrator.  The script is now in the hands of the actors, who are looking it over, and discussing with Skye the meanings and intentions behind Stoppard’s beautifully hilarious scenes.

 

Our next steps now include getting the word out about the reading, which will also serve as a fundraiser for Outré, and preparing for our rehearsal time.  Look for upcoming mentions in the media about Outré and its productions, and if you’ve liked our page on Facebook or are following us on Twitter, look for the event invitation coming up very soon!  If you’d like to help us out, drop us an email, either through the blog or at info@outretheatrecompany.com.

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