Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kia Corthron, Max McLean to Receive 'Lights Are Bright on Broadway' Awards

Photo left: Kia Corthron by Aaron Epstein; Photo right: Max McLean as Screwtape. Courtesy of Fellowship for the Performing Arts
Playwright Kia Corthron and actor Max McLean have been named recipients of 2010 “The Lights are Bright on Broadway” awards presented annually by Masterwork Productions, Inc. to individuals and organizations making a difference in the Broadway community through faith.

Corthron (Breath, Boom; Force Continuum), is being honored for her play A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick, which ran last spring at Playwrights Horizons (presented as a co-production with The Play Company and Culture Project) for its positive representation of an African preacher-in-training as he interacts with his host family and a troubled orphan in a drought-stricken rural American community where he studies religion and water conservation.

“I'm so honored A Cool Dip was chosen for the Masterwork award - but when I initially found out, I must admit I was startled, Corthron said. “Just as I was when 10-year-old Josh King, who played Tay in my play, walked into his audition and the first thing he said was, ‘I prayed for a play like this - a Christian play!’ Before that, I had never thought of A Cool Dip as a Christian play - or a non-Christian play. I had just written the character of Abebe as honestly as I could, and he seemed to be someone who would be wholly committed to his faith. At least one voice (among the many providing input along a play's path from germination to opening) suggested that the dramatic arc lead to Abebe's questioning his faith. That never felt right to me, and frankly is a bit of a cliché in plays wherein Christianity plays a role. (Abebe does question himself but never his faith.)
"There is widespread intolerance - a sense of threat - in fundamentalist Christianity regarding people exercising individual freedoms, just as there is widespread intolerance - a sense of threat - in left-progressive and artistic circles regarding Christianity in any form. I have people close to me who are members of both flanks (as well as many in between), and while it was not my conscious intention, I would be truly gratified to know that A Cool Dip may have fostered some new understanding and compassion,” she said.

McLean is being honored for his portrayal of C.S. Lewis’ famous demon extraordinaire Screwtape, who coaches his nephew demon in training about the art of spiritual warfare. McLean co-wrote the adaptation of The Screwtape Letters with director Jeffrey Fiske.

“This comes as quite a surprise, McLean said of the award. “As a Christian who tries to work daily to live an integrated life of faith and work, I am delighted to receive this recognition from Masterwork for our work on C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.”

McLean’s award will be presented following the Monday, June 28 performance of the show which is running Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre. Corthron will receive her award June 30 at Playwrights Horizons.

“We’re excited to be able to honor examples of people making a difference through faith in the Broadway community,” said Lauren Yarger, executive director of Masterwork Productions. “Kia’s play helped promote an understanding of faith while Max’s helps people understand why they have such trouble with it!”

Last year's recipients were playwright Dan Gordon for Irena's Vow on Broadway, and Radio City Rockette Cheryl Cutlip, founder of Project Dance.
Masterwork Productions, Inc. is a faith based, non-profit organization which helps Christians and churches reach out through the performing arts by producing shows and events, booking artists, providing Broadway and theater reviews (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com) and training at workshops and conferences. For more information, visit http://www.masterworkproductions.org/.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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