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Posts tagged “stage

“A Matter of Perspective” DC Black Theater Festival Recap!

DC Theater Fest
Hello everyone,
For a couple weeks or so I had the pleasure(thanks to a very talented actress & good friend of mine) to be cast in the staged reading “A Matter of Perspective” written by Chris G. Gardiner! And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Fresh off my 2 night run for the stage play “Last Call”, why not step back into the theater realm! Surrounded by talented actors to learn from, MAN! I was a kid in a candy store! We performed our piece during the Washington, D.C Black Theater Festival at the Howard University Blackburn Center. At the end of our performance we were met with applause and great review.

Just thankful for the opportunity that was given to me! As always thank you everyone for your time and support! And #StayTuned

“Last Call” Review by Sarah Parker “Nameless does not aim to provide audiences with a great show, rather an unforgettable experience.”

Last Call 5
Nameless’ ‘Happy Hour Theater’ Opens ‘Last Call’ This Thursday May 29th at 6 PM

by Guest Author on May 27, 2014




Last Call, by A’Leighsha C. Butler, directed by Nia M. Barge

Nameless, a newly formed DC-based theatre company, announces the premiere of Last Call, a sharp-toothed One-Act comedic drama. The site-specific production, chronicles the experiences of longtime and new residents living alongside one another in today’s nation’s capital.

As neighborhoods in Washington, DC experience redevelopment or the more loaded term…gentrification – some people stand unwavering in their position on the issue and others pose awkwardly on the fence. Last Call, does not naively set out to provide the answer, but rather hopes to begin a healthy dialogue amongst Washingtonians by laying uncomfortable topics, such as class, racism and sexuality boldly on the table.

Adams Morgan popular hotspot, Club Heaven & Hell, will transform into “Mike’s Place” – a fictional bar struggling to maintain its historical roots in a city redeveloping at rapid speed. Rather than observing the show from behind the safety of the fourth wall, audiences will experience the drama as it unfolds around them.

Last Call will kick off the company’s anticipated new series, Happy Hour Theater (HHT). HHT is a new after-work event where patrons are invited to experience theater in an unconventional way, during the familiar setting of ʻhappy hour’. In addition to enjoying drink and food specials, attendees will also benefit from a unique and quality theater experience at an affordable price.

“Mike’s Place”, a small long-standing bar and unofficial DC landmark, struggles to maintain its roots in a neighborhood in the midst of great change. As condos rise, tensions swell amongst old and new residents. Suddenly, a horrible crime is committed just a few blocks away, making everyone in the bar a suspect. As accusations fly, the feuding neighbors are forced to come together in attempt to solve the unsettling mystery. Will they be able to uncover the truth before last call?

Nameless aims to reinvent theater by focusing on the most important element – the audience. The company produces work that can exist freely outside the proverbial box, by creating art unconfined by traditional theater spaces and artistic norms. Nameless believes that theater should be accessible to all audiences and specifically targets the non-traditional theater goers. Further, Nameless does not aim to provide audiences with a great show, rather an unforgettable experience.

The article is written by Sarah Parker.

“Last Call” stageplay Review by Christina Sturdivant “Happy Hour Theater Makes A Name For Itself”

June 3, 2014 · by Christina Sturdivant

Last Call 5 ·
(left to right) – Sierra Edwards as Dottie, Alexis Graves as Joceyln, Dominque Spencer as Jordan, Tia Da as Ms. V, Adiyb Muhammad as Mike, Samantha Sheahan as Jenna, Katherine Jessup as Molly, Donta Hensley as Todd, Darren Rabinowitz as Tod (Photo by Travis Riddick)
(left to right) – Sierra Edwards as Dottie, Alexis Graves as Joceyln, Dominque Spencer as Jordan, Tia Da as Ms. V, Adiyb Muhammad as Mike, Samantha Sheahan as Jenna, Katherine Jessup as Molly, Donta Hensley as Todd, Darren Rabinowitz as Tod (Photo by Travis Riddick)
What happens when you bring drinks, soulful eats, dope beats and theatrical feats together? The most gravitating after-work experience to hit the District in decades, I assure you.

Thanks to Nia N. Barge and A’Leighsha C. Butler, co-founders of Nameless, DC professionals and creatives alike can wind down or turn up after work at Nameless’ “Happy Hour Theatre” series.

Last week, I attended the first installment at Club Heaven and Hell in Adams Morgan and was pleasantly surprised. Before the show, I was greeted by a welcoming crew, catered buffet with full bar and move your feet beats blaring the sound waves to get the party started.

The feature presentation, Last Call, written by Butler and directed by Barge, was a timely depiction of the changing demographic and experiences of life in the District. With the brilliant locale of Club Heaven and Hell as the backdrop of fictional “Mike’s Place,” a talented cast of DC-based actors disputed everything from the drab appearance and health-conscious menu changes of the neighborhood’s anchor bar to the new complexities of the community it serves, where long-time residents see schools replaced by dog parks and the pros and perils of Whole Foods is a recurring topic of agitation for all involved.

Whether you’re a native DC resident or a transient itching to go fruit picking at Barry Farms, this cleverly written play on gentrification in the District allows all voices in the matter to be heard with authentic happenings and continuous comedic relief that’s light hearted yet thought provoking.

The Happy Hour Theatre series is definitely a breakthrough for unlikely theater-goers and traditional performance-lovers to experience familiar entertainment in a different way. If the quality of the atmosphere and theatrical renderings continue, Nameless is sure to be a well-known company by the end of the year.

The final performance of Last Call at Happy Hour Theatre takes place this Thursday, June 5, 2014 at Club Heaven and Hell. Doors open at 6:00pm and guests are admitted until 7:00pm. Be sure to purchase tickets and arrive early to grab a seat as last week’s show was sold out.

Tip: Bring friends and enjoy the post-performance DJ session that will likely turn into a dance party and dip into the rest of Heaven and Hell to explore what libations the spot has in store for you.

Tickets are $15, get more info and purchase HERE.


Nia Barge’s stageplay “Last Call” Review by Michael Poandl 5 Stars ***** !

by Michael Poandl on May 30, 2014


In Washington, D.C., there is probably no more sensitive and emotionally laden topic than gentrification.

So it is refreshingly relevant that the new company Nameless chose to premiere the first show in its “Happy Hour Theatre” series, Last Call, which directly confronts gentrification in D.C., in a club in the heart of Adams Morgan. Heaven and Hell, located on 18th Street NW, is smack dab in the middle of a part of the city where gentrification is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. After all, Adams Morgan was one of the first epicenters of the Great Neighborhood Redevelopment of Washington, D.C. Since joined by Columbia Heights, H Street Northeast, Petworth, Navy Yard and so many other neighborhoods, Adams Morgan is practically a monument to what comprehensive and large-scale redevelopment looks like.

This is critical to the core of Last Call, because although the subject of gentrification has been explored before on D.C. stages (see Bruce Norris’ groundbreaking Clybourne Park) Nameless asks the audience to go a step further in actually travelling to a gentrified neighborhood to see the show. In a way, Director Nia M. Barge has made the entire neighborhood the setting of Last Call. The play itself, written by A’Leighsha C. Butler, is staged in one half of Heaven and Hell’s upper level (Heaven, presumably…) using an actual bar and a few tables and chairs as its set. This too is pertinent because the play takes place – where else? – in a bar in a rapidly changing neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Last Call 5
(left to right) – Sierra Edwards (Dottie), Alexis Graves (Joceyln, Dominque Spencer (Jordan), Tia Da (Ms. V), Adiyb Muhammad (Mike,) Samantha Sheahan (Jenna), Katherine Jessup (Molly), Donta Hensley (Todd), and Darren Rabinowitz (Tod). Photo by Travis Riddick.
(left to right) – Sierra Edwards (Dottie), Alexis Graves (Joceyln), Dominque Spencer (Jordan), Tia Da (Ms. V), Adiyb Muhammad (Mike,) Samantha Sheahan (Jenna), Katherine Jessup (Molly), Donta Hensley (Todd), and Darren Rabinowitz (Tod). Photo by Travis Riddick.
The fictional bar is called “Mike’s Place,” a staple of “the neighborhood” (meant, of course, to stand in for any of the numerous gentrified D.C. neighborhoods), run by Mike (Adiyb Muhammad). His restaurant has adapted in recent years, however, due to pressure from the influx of younger, wealthier, and whiter residents. Folks like Molly (Katherine Jessup), a sarcastic yoga instructor who wears the mandatory thick-rimmed glasses, and Tod (Darren Rabinowitz) and Todd (Donta Hensley), a well-educated gay couple, have convinced Mike to make certain changes to the bar, like replacing his father’s traditional fried fish sandwich with a hummus platter. Even Mike’s daughter, Jocelyn (Alexis Graves), who grew up in the neighborhood, is sympathetic to the redevelopment happening around her. But when Jordan (Dominique Antonio Spenser), a troublemaking young man who grew up with Jocelyn but only recently returned to D.C. arrives as Mike’s new employee, he objects to the changes he sees in both the neighborhood and his once-girlfriend, Jocelyn. It is clear Jordan and Jocelyn have their own personal baggage, and the chemistry between Ms. Graves and Mr. Spenser crackles from the start. Their Sam-and-Diane relationship parallels the larger story about neighborhood redevelopment. Just as Joceyln has changed, so has the neighborhood, and Jordan (like so many of the original residents) feels confused, resentful, and left behind.

If Jordan represents the disaffected neighborhood Old Guard, then the aggressive agents of change are epitomized by Jenna (Samantha Sheahan), a blaringly Caucasian new resident who storms into the bar, demanding answers about the whereabouts of her lost Chihuahua, Petunia. In short order she accuses “homeboy” Jordan of kidnapping her beloved pet, and strong-arms Mike into holding a mock trial right there in the bar, with Jordan as the indignant defendant.

But of course, it is not just Jordan who is on trial here. It is the whole huge subject of Who Owns The Neighborhood that is really at stake. As the farce of who stole Petunia unfolds, the real drama is between the old residents and the new. Dottie (Sierra Edwards) is the former Advisory Neighborhood Commission chair, ousted by Jenna in the previous election. As Jenna agitates for butterfly gardens and Whole Foods in the neighborhood, Dottie reminds her about what is lost in “redevelopment”. The so-called “empty spaces” where neighborhood residents would hang out, play chess, and get to know each other are now expensive condos and frozen yogurt shops. People like Dottie, Mike and Ms. V. (Tia Dae) are outraged that their community seems to be being invaded by people who see their neighborhood as an eyesore that needs to be torn down and renovated.

To her credit, Ms. Butler did not write Last Call as a one-sided polemic against gentrification. Jenna, Molly, and the gay Tod(d)s may be outsized caricatures of The New D.C., but they do fight back against the accusations that they are insensitive invaders. During one particularly powerful moment, Todd, who is black, eviscerates Jordan for telling him that this is not his home. Todd fires back that as a gay man, he can’t go home to West Virginia, and that this neighborhood, where he and his fiancée are building a life, is their home. Todd and Tod are not usurpers or colonialists; they are residents, and just because they are new and have a penchant for organic food and a beefed up police presence doesn’t make them evil or racist.

The layers of complexity surrounding gentrification, and the heavy emotional baggage that goes with it, is told elegantly and with great humor by Ms. Butler and Ms. Barge. I was impressed again and again by how these deeply serious issues were woven invisibly into a story that moved quickly and with razor-sharp comedy.

The entire ten person ensemble did an exemplary job of communicating both the comedy and the drama of Last Call, and they deftly avoided the trap of becoming caricatures. I was watching real people on stage, and it was this authenticity that made the show so funny and so touching. I must single out Ms. Dae (Ms. V.) and Ms. Edwards (Dottie) for their particularly endearing and hilarious performances.

I also commend the director, Ms. Barge, for her smart and creative staging choices. Although most of the action occurred on the L-shaped “stage” in front of the audience, the actors walked amongst the audience when it suited them, and often broke the fourth wall. In effect, the audience became a part of the show, and this effect was even sharper given the site-specific nature of the performance.

I must say, as a new resident of D.C. who enjoys Fro-Yo and Whole Foods, there were some uncomfortable moments of white guilt for this reporter. But, strange as it sounds, I enjoyed those self-conscious moments as much as any other in the show. At one point in the show, an “Old Resident” (James Wingfield) emerges from his covert position in the audience to launch a diatribe against gentrification. As the rest of the cast looks on in shock, Mr. Wingfield repeats again and again, “No spaces… no places” before he is escorted out of the theatre by the director herself. This bit of Brechtian staging was inspiring, depressing, and provocative all at once. Theatre should make people uncomfortable; it should make them think. I commend Nameless Theatre Company for presenting a show that is innovative, in-your-face, and funny as hell. Residents of neighborhoods all over D.C., old and new, need to hear the story that Nia Barge and A’Leighsha Butler is telling. Maybe then we can learn to get along a little bit better.

Running Time: It runs 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Last Call has its second and final performance on June 5, 2014 at Heaven and Hell -2327 18th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.

Michael Poandl
About Michael Poandl
Michael Poandl graduated American University as a Theatre: Performance major in 2013. He is currently an intern in the Grants Department at the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

Nia Barge’s stageplay “Last Call” recap

Hey Guys,
So about lets say going on almost a month ago I was cast in my first play production outside of CCBC Essex Community-College. Much love to my girl “Tia Dae” for pointing me in their direction!! The play was entitled “Last Call” written by A’leighsha Butler and directed by Nia Barge. Two extremely talented, passionate, determined, and just genuine artists, and I am just so thankful for the opportunity that they both blessed me with. An incredible cast, location, and just pure dedication, and talent across the board … I am still in awe … Those two nights changed my life and my respect for film … I am forever grateful.

As stated, we ran the play “Last Call

    ” for two nights in the Adams Morgan area in Washington, D.C at Club Heaven & Hell. In the play I played the Lead Role “Jordan”. After both shows myself and the cast were showered with applause, not to mention both nights were SOLD-OUT, packed houses baby!! I see why actors have such an appreciation for the stage. And if the time was right, Id strongly consider going back to the stage, but unit then its still Film/Television.

    As always thank you everyone for your time and support!