In loose pale cotton shirt and pants, X, a Black man, sits and gestures passionately mid-speech.

Philadelphia Theatre Company presents Roger Q. Mason’s The Duat

Channeling emotional ghosts

Philadelphia Theatre Company presents Roger Q. Mason’s The Duat, a play that, even with an astonishing central role, struggles to settle into its own rhythm. Kiran Pandey reviews.
Kiran Pandey

Kiran Pandey

Reviews 4 minute read
Sitting on a rectangular block at an angle with ankles crossed, Barnwell poses in a white tutu with arms gracefully raised

Visiting Philly’s Chocolate Ballerina Company ahead of its June Black Swan performances

“It’s new for the world to see”

An Nichols visits Philly’s Chocolate Ballerina Company, rehearsing for its second annual Black Swan production, based on Swan Lake with original choreography by founder Chanel Holland-Pierre, who loves spotlighting Black and brown ballet artists.
An Nichols

An Nichols

Features 4 minute read
Row of actors in a patterned circular frame, obscured by a curtain of gold fibers which they thrust their hands through

The Wilma’s Hilma does not do justice to Hilma af Klint’s art, life, or legacy

Women artists still deserve better

A new opera about the visionary but little-known painter Hilma af Klint perpetuates longstanding dismissals of women artists and may be a keen disappointment to fans of her work. Melissa Strong considers.
Melissa Strong

Melissa Strong

Essays 5 minute read
A large dressing room installation with white walls washed in blue light and huge projections of Jarboe’s face.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum presents John Jarboe: The Rose Garden

Exploring what drag does best

The latest phase of John Jarboe’s Rose project, an immersive multidisciplinary installation at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, interrogates rigid notions of gender with serious playfulness. Jake Foster reviews.
Jake Foster

Jake Foster

Reviews 3 minute read
In a cozy, warmly lit cabin living room, Strathairn stands at center and the others sit or lie on couches and chairs.

People’s Light presents Joseph Dougherty’s Off By One

Off by some

Off By One, a world premiere at People’s Light about a writer and the impact of his work, featuring TV and film star David Strathairn, feels stuck in the draft stage. Cameron Kelsall reviews.
Cameron Kelsall

Cameron Kelsall

Reviews 3 minute read
Photo of a rainy New York City street and the red hanging sign for Marie’s Crisis Café, with ornate calligraphic lettering.

These basement singalongs queer the Broadway canon and help me reclaim my voice

The soundtrack of our way out

When Anndee Hochman was 13, a teacher told her she couldn't sing. Decades later, a basement Broadway singalong in Manhattan's West Village taught her something new.
Anndee Hochman

Anndee Hochman

Essays 5 minute read
With chorus members raising arms behind, KO poses with an intent expression by a bed, in a sleeveless beige dress.

Power Street Theatre presents Erlina Ortiz and Robi Hager’s Siluetas

A thrilling trilingual debut

Power Street Theatre presents the world premiere of Erlina Ortiz and Robi Hager’s Siluetas, which brings Tony-winning star KO to Philly. The show could benefit from some more development, but it’s a thrilling debut. Josh Herren reviews.
Josh Herren

Josh Herren

Reviews 3 minute read
In Civil War era costumes, the cast poses onstage looking gravely to the right, each raising their right hand, palm outward.

Quintessence Theatre Group presents Suzan-Lori Parks’s Father Comes Home From the Wars

An American Odyssey

Quintessence Theatre Group’s production of Suzan-Lori Parks’s Father Comes Home From the Wars: Parts I, II & III only intermittently captures the grandeur of the text. Cameron Kelsall reviews
Cameron Kelsall

Cameron Kelsall

Reviews 4 minute read
The pillared exterior of Hamilton Hall from across Broad Street, with 100s of people gathered in front of it, many with signs

A University of the Arts professor speaks: “Knowing it’s the last time I’ll be here is unbearable.”

Students and faculty pledge to keep creating despite their school’s "unconscionable" demise

Philly novelist Elise Juska founded the creative writing program at UArts, where she taught for 24 years. She brings us inside her last days at the university, alongside her irrepressible students.
Elise Juska

Elise Juska

Essays 6 minute read
Sieh, her back to the camera and her face in profile, appears in silhouette against a shimmering peach-gold backdrop.

The Wilma Theater and New Georges present Kate Scelsa and Robert M. Johanson’s Hilma

A new opera about the artist Hilma af Klint fails to illuminate her

Hilma, a contemporary opera receiving its world premiere at the Wilma Theater, fails to capture the artistry or mystical charisma of its subject, the painter Hilma af Klint. Cameron Kelsall reviews.
Cameron Kelsall

Cameron Kelsall

Reviews 5 minute read
Fayle, in hiking clothes, sits rubbing his foot and smiling at Gardner, who sits on a stump looking annoyed and holding a map

InterAct Theatre Company presents C.A. Johnson’s The Climb

Perfect for post-show conversations in Philly

The Climb, the latest world premiere onstage at InterAct, examines the white gaze in feminism, academia, and art, asking questions about power, consent, and commodification. Krista Mar reviews.
Krista Mar

Krista Mar

Reviews 3 minute read
Martello stands at center wrapped in a shawl; Brown sits behind her. At left, Moses and Congdon hug tenderly in bed.

Inis Nua Theatre Company presents Abi Morgan’s Lovesong

A lyrical lack of specifics

Lovesong follows a British couple who comes to live to the US. In exploring memory, love, and the passage of time, the play’s ultimate vagueness makes it hard to empathize with the characters. Josh Herren reviews.
Josh Herren

Josh Herren

Reviews 2 minute read
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Washed with red light, puppeteers work a giant face and hands, closing in on a small group of frightened people at center.

EgoPo Classic Theater, Papermoon Puppet Theatre, and Kalanari Theatre Movement present Ramayana

A heroic collaboration

Philly’s EgoPo Classic Theater builds on a partnership begun in the 1990s with two Indonesian theater companies. They bring Ramayana, a dazzling cross-cultural epic, to the Navy Yard for a weekend of free performances. Josh Herren reviews.
Josh Herren

Josh Herren

Reviews 3 minute read
A close up photo of Delany, a Black man with a long, white beard, speaks into a mic on a podium

The BSR Weekly Arts and Culture Roundup, June 13-19, 2024

Celebrating Juneteenth; ‘Blood Baby’ and A Love Jawn

Picks for Juneteenth, a new queer dance project continues, cataloging Japan right off Broad Street, and repping all identities with A Love Jawn. Kyle V. Hiller rounds up.
Kyle V. Hiller

Kyle V. Hiller

Previews 4 minute read
In a large circular onstage frame with steps at the center, golden light covers 13 musicians and dancing ensemble members.

The BSR Podcast, season 8, episode 8: Hilma at the Wilma

Hilma librettist Kate Scelsa reveals the backstory of this striking new opera

BSR Podcast host Darnelle Radford sits down with Hilma librettist Kate Scelsa to find out how this new contemporary opera made its way to the Wilma.
Darnelle Radford

Darnelle Radford

Podcast 1 minute read
Ra'Shaun kneels onstage singing joyfully to Walker, seated next to her. She touches his face and he touches her thigh.

The BSR Podcast, Season 8, episode 7: Once on this Island at the Arden

Talking with Once on this Island assistant director Mariah Ghant and actor Jessica Johnson

BSR Podcast host Darnelle Radford sits down with two of the artists behind the Arden's hit production of Once on This Island, running through June 23.
Darnelle Radford

Darnelle Radford

Podcast less than a minute read
Two Black performers reading from music stands face each other in front of an audience crowding the frame at right.

The Strides Collective presents New Strides: A Pride Month Playfest on June 10

A new space for Philly’s queer playwrights

The Strides Collective, founded in early 2020, supports new work by local queer playwrights and shines a light on queer stories through play development programs and productions. New Strides, a night of three one-act readings, is coming up June 10. Frank Schierloh checks in.
Frank Schierloh

Frank Schierloh

Previews 2 minute read
Side by side on a white field, the book covers for Verdi with a Vengeance, Puccini without Excuses, and Wagner without Fear.

BSR Classical Interludes: June 2024

Music in the garden, Marian Anderson Hall, The Crossing’s Month of Moderns, and more

June brings outdoor music in striking natural locales, early music, new music, the rededication of Verizon Hall, and some bonus musical Book Week picks. Gail Obenreder rounds up.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Previews 4 minute read
View from the mezzanine of a hall crowded with students and vendor tables, balloons decorating the central stairway.

From Shanghai to Philadelphia: An international alum speaks on the closure of UArts

Because of UArts, Philly will always be part of me.

When Shanghai native Wenlu Bao wanted to continue her arts education, she came to UArts, which led her to museums throughout our region. She was shocked to see the news about its closing. She remembers her time there.
Wenlu Bao

Wenlu Bao

Essays 6 minute read
Vertical stack of 10 books, including Long Bright River, Housemates, Come & Get It, Disability Intimacy, and more

The best books I’ve read so far in 2024: BSR Book Week editor’s picks

Top picks from the editor’s bookshelf

Sometimes I think books are the only thing keeping me sane(ish). Fiction, nonfiction, memoir, a new lens on Jane Austen, anti-marriage manifestos, and more: here are top recommendations from my own bookshelf as we celebrate BSR Book Week 2024.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Previews 5 minute read
Close-up on two black square bookshelf cubbies crammed with different books by local authors.

Discover books by BSR authors (2024 edition)!

In honor of BSR Book Week, find out if your favorite BSR writer is an author, too.

BSR writers are also memoirists, poets, novelists, scholars, and so much more! Discover their books and order a copy to add to your shelves.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Previews 9 minute read
Book cover. Title above on a pale background; an ancient circular music score appears below in black and red.

Music and the Idea of a World, by Peter Kalkavage

The meaning of music, from the Greeks to the 20th century

A background in music theory will serve readers well in this trenchant and insightful tour of music throughout history: its meaning and function, and how it helps us understand the many worlds we live in. Gail Obenreder reviews.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Reviews 4 minute read