Montana on a yellow ladder, with no shirt and paint-splattered shorts, paints tree branches on the wall of the set.

A closer look at depictions of domestic violence in Gunnar Montana’s BLACK WOOD

What does it mean to empower survivors?

BLACK WOOD, the latest from Gunnar Montana Productions, is an immersive, creepy, atmospheric experience perfect for spooky season. But we shouldn’t view it without talking about the violence it depicts. Alaina Johns considers.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Editorials 6 minute read
Sulayman sings soulfully at center stage. Dolphin dances at left; at right, Ward & Mirzadegan sit facing each other.

Festival O23: Opera Philadelphia presents Karim Sulayman’s Unholy Wars

Reframing the “Middle East”

Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O23 features the Philly premiere of Grammy-winning Lebanese American tenor Karim Sulayman’s Unholy Wars, with artistic triumph in every detail. Gail Obenreder reviews.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Reviews 4 minute read
7 Girl BSR 9 26 23a

Philly Fringe 2023: Toni Cannon’s ReFlection and Mae West’s $7 Girl

Circus arts looking inward and outward

Cannonball Festival presents two solo shows at the intersection of trans identity and circus arts, Toni Cannon’s ReFlection and Mae West’s $7 Girl. Melissa Strong reviews.
Melissa Strong

Melissa Strong

Reviews 4 minute read
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Scene from the play: sitting in adjacent forward-facing chairs, the two women turn their heads to look fondly at each other.

The Resident Ensemble Players presents Eileen Atkins’s Vita & Virginia

For the love of letters

Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players open its 15th season with Vita & Virginia, a chamber production exploring a historic intellectual and romantic affair in an era of letters. Gail Obenreder reviews.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Reviews 4 minute read
The orchestra atop a circular gray structure about 10 feet tall, with the cast members performing in front of it.

Opera Philadelphia presents Rene Orth and Hannah Moscovitch’s 10 Days in a Madhouse

“I’m mad they say”

Festival O23’s world-premiere production of composer Rene Orth and librettist Hannah Moscovitch’s 10 Days in a Madhouse is fresh, urgent, and relevant. Alaina Johns reviews.
Alaina Johns

Alaina Johns

Reviews 5 minute read
The cast of nine, looking zany with a variety of expressions, props, and costumes, stands in a gesticulating group onstage

Delaware Theatre Company presents Michael Frayn’s Noises Off

A favorite piece of chaos

Delaware Theatre Company opens the season with a bang of eight doors in the ever-popular, ever-challenging backstage farce Noises Off. Gail Obenreder reviews.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Reviews 4 minute read
Against a dramatic cloudy sky projection, Kelsey sings atop a small stone stairway, and Van Horn faces outward at right.

Festival O23: Opera Philadelphia presents Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra

Keeping Philly on the map of grand opera

For its Festival O23, Opera Philadelphia presents a standout production of Verdi’s tragic opera, Simon Boccanegra. Linda Holt reviews.
Linda Holt

Linda Holt

Reviews 3 minute read
McLenigan, in historic priestly black suit, prostrates himself across a table to a smiling O’Hare, in a lacy costume dress.

Lantern Theater Company presents Molière’s Tartuffe

Scandals, scoundrels, and rhyme

The Lantern Theater takes Richard Wilbur’s definitive 1963 translation of Molière’s 1664 play, Tartuffe, sets it in the Belle Époque and sets a high bar for the 2023-2024 theater season. Jill Ivey reviews.
Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

Reviews 3 minute read
Tyson, in colorful button-down & wide blue capri pants, wades in a reedy waterway created onstage.

McCarter Theatre Center and Berkeley Repertory Theatre present Eisa Davis’s Bulrusher

Something in the water

A new production of Eisa Davis’s Bulrusher at McCarter Theatre Center delivers on the playwright’s vision: welcoming, submerging, and transforming us. Jeannine Cook reviews.
Jeannine A. Cook

Jeannine A. Cook

Reviews 4 minute read
With a severe, animated expression, Ladd speaks and stretches out her arms, wearing a navy jacket and yellow scarf.

Quintessence Theatre Group presents George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara

Overstating the obvious

Directorial bells and whistles impede the socialist message of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara at Quintessence Theatre Group. Cameron Kelsall reviews.
Cameron Kelsall

Cameron Kelsall

Reviews 3 minute read
The Pecking Order BSR 9 20 23

The BSR Podcast, season 7, episode 11: Paper Doll Ensemble presents The Pecking Order

Sit down with 2023 Philly Fringe artist Amanda Jensen

We continue our coverage of the 2023 Philly Fringe Festival with Paper Doll Ensemble cofounder Amanda Jensen in conversation with Darnelle Radford about The Pecking Order, a new look at Roe v. Wade.
Darnelle Radford

Darnelle Radford

Podcast 1 minute read
Grinberg, on his knees, faces the shirtless Header in a moment of sexual tension, next to a single lamp.

Philly Fringe 2023: Ben Grinberg and Hazem Header in Fix Me

What some say we shouldn't see

An arresting backstory grounds this able mix of contemporary dance, acrobatics, and theater from Ben Grinberg and Hazem Header in this year’s Fringe. Eileen Fisher reviews.
Eileen B. Fisher

Eileen B. Fisher

Reviews 3 minute read
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Close-up on a light-skinned hand holding a cannoli with blue sprinkles covering one end and pink sprinkles covering the other

Philly Fringe 2023: Alex Marcus presents Waiting for Ganol

Behind the scenes of a gender-reveal party

Waiting for Ganol, a Cannonball Festival show that took us into the backyard of a gender-reveal party with mounting problems, allowed us to make our own approach to the thoughtful story. Crystal Sparrow reviews.
Crystal Sparrow

Crystal Sparrow

Reviews 3 minute read
A collage of art, text, screenshots on ripped, torn papery material is arranged on an oval frame

The BSR Weekly Arts and Culture Roundup, September 21-27, 2023

Arts festivals, Ratha-Yatra, S(tree)twork, and Where the Young Bols Rumble

Rounding up the coming week with festivals and exhibitions to kick off the official start of fall. Kyle V. Hiller previews.
Kyle V. Hiller

Kyle V. Hiller

Previews 3 minute read
A multi-racial group of about two dozen people posing together in a simple church venue with high wooden rafters.

The Crossing presents Crickets in Our Backyard

Premieres by Wang Lu, Tania León, and Ayanna Woods

The Crossing choir opens its new season with Crickets in Our Backyard, featuring world premieres by Tania León and Ayanna Woods and an “indoor premiere” by Wang Lu. Gail Obenreder reviews.
Gail Obenreder

Gail Obenreder

Reviews 5 minute read
A female actor in black seriously addresses audience members seated in a bar, pointing one finger at them.

Philly Fringe 2023: Spanking Macbeth and Macbeth in a Bar

Where Shakespeare’s never done

The 2023 Philly Fringe takes on Macbeth in two different shows: Spanking Macbeth, an original play, and Macbeth in a Bar, a restaging at Lilly’s Ferry. Kiran Pandey reviews.
Kiran Pandey

Kiran Pandey

Reviews 4 minute read
A performer in casualwear in movement, their head tilted back and face expressive, a full band in the background

Philly Fringe 2023: Urban Arts Movement presents Vincent Johnson’s Stank upon a Time: A Story about Funk

A lesson on the blues

Stank upon a Time is a transgressively absurdist exploration of the culture of Black music, from blues to funk, as the soundtrack of revolution and its survival and commodification in the present. Camille Bacon-Smith reviews.
Camille Bacon-Smith

Camille Bacon-Smith

Reviews 3 minute read
In the foreground, Chang, in gray, moves gracefully with arms extended; ensemble and audience members sit and move behind her

Philly Fringe 2023: Susan Marshall and Mimi Lien present Rhythm Bath

A sensory delight

An inclusive dance installation presented in partnership with Temple’s Institute on Disabilities offers interdisciplinary delights at Christ Church Neighborhood House in this year’s Fringe. Eileen B. Fisher reviews.
Eileen B. Fisher

Eileen B. Fisher

Reviews 3 minute read
Photo of 3 cast members performing on a sunny day, with a low wooden stage showing The Dumps and overhanging trees.

Philly Fringe 2023: Rough & Tumble Productions presents Magic Trash Day

A fresh twist on the dump

Through creative storytelling, contemporary dance, and clowning, Magic Trash Day tells the story of one kid’s fantastical emotional journey down into the dumps. Helen Walsh reviews.
Helen Walsh

Helen Walsh

Reviews 3 minute read
Against a fanciful watery background, Haro poses regally with his guitar on a stool, wearing green-framed sunglasses.

Philly Fringe 2023: James Haro presents GO AHEAD

Pop-punk, heartbreak, and belonging

James Haro joins this year’s Cannonball Festival with GO AHEAD, an interactive solo show incorporating poetry and live pop-punk on heartbreak, love, and belonging. Crystal Sparrow reviews.
Crystal Sparrow

Crystal Sparrow

Reviews 4 minute read
A woman stands against a yellow backdrop with black text reading The Yellow Wallpaper, groped by hands painted the same.

Philly Fringe 2023: Humble Materials presents The Yellow Wallpaper

A descent into sanity

Humble Materials takes on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic feminist short story with theater, dance, and impressive makeup in this year’s Fringe. Jill Ivey reviews.
Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey

Reviews 3 minute read
Ahmed, with long dark hair and a white t-shirt, lifts a large cardboard box amid washes of green and purple light.

Philly Fringe 2023: Joseph Ahmed presents Half Magic

A masterpiece of mixed-medium storytelling

Solo performer Joseph Ahmed teams up with director Cat Ramirez for Half Magic, a Cannonball Festival show on grief and mixed-race identity through theater, circus, and storytelling. Krista Mar reviews.
Krista Mar

Krista Mar

Reviews 3 minute read