Saturday, May 6, 2023

Rogue Machine can i touch it ?

can i touch it (sic)  by francisca da silveira (sic who may have no shift key) brings urban  issues  to the stage with strong polemics and my still trying to figure out what "Woke" means. 
Struggling with the term, I find this:  "African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) meaning 'alert to racial prejudice and discrimination' ". 
Yes!! this is a Brilliant Woke  Production that takes time to alert us to the particular trials and tribulations of Shay (On Point! Safiya Fredericks) upon whose shoulders rests her intimate beauty supply sanctuary for local women in her long time African American  Boston neighborhood.

Front to back: Iesha Daniels and Suzen Baraka
                             Photos by Jeff Lorch

 Props to John P. Flynn and Rogue Machine Theatre for stepping up with this heavy discussion regarding the plight  of this specific Boston neighborhood plagued by money grubbing money grubbers to the detriment of this community!

You can't tell the players without a program (and the excellence in the doubling of this cast of actors makes it no small task). Jargon is peppered with tought language that, is, evidently simply a way of talkin'.  Epithets are no longer vulgar language, they're just a cultural way to express one's identity.  I think? 


Assisted by outspoken Meeka (Amazing Suzen Baraka who also plays Beth, the tight-assed banker who may be white?), Shay runs her African beauty store that "smells like comfort" along Dudley  Street in Boston.  Shay's store is an integral part of a community where things have been uncomfortably changing for some time now.  Shay is a widow:  the single mom of her teen daughter, Ruth (spot on Iesha M. Daniels / equally cool as far out Lili).  Shay needs a Small Business Loan to keep her shop afloat.    Good luck with that!

With double casting, we keep the women  characters separated by wig changes. There are a LOT OF WIGS. 

Frustrations emerge regarding the changing times and some obvious bias (Shay directs her final speech to the audience. We all may be guilty) that still weighs on  people of color attempting to retain their cultural values. (It reminded me of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins "Neighbors") This lays the groundwork for what folks must do to survive. Meeka, the fireband to the fore!!  I wish I understood Twitter or Tweeker or whatever it is. Social Meida!  To the rescue!

 Scott Victor Nelson plays kindly and practical Mark, limning nicely Nicky and Leo as well.  He is the only guy in the cast. The challenge of playing multiple roles is tackled beautifully by every member of the company. When only four actors take the curtain call, it's a bit of a shock!

 Mark Mendelson's   spectacular scenic design smoothly morphs locations featuring huge turning panels. The budget is on the stage!   Excellent lights by leIgh allen shift scenes easily from Shay's shop to a bank to a meeting room to a park bench.  Excellent tech!

"can i touch it"  asks other "Questions" that are answered with an arcane ritual that I did not understand. But!  I appreciate the commitment of the actors. There's also some odd business that has to do with magic and a sort of earthquake? that happens, but went right over my head. The physical presentation and choreography of the questions is terrific!



Shay:  Safiya Fredericks
Scott Victor Nelson
Iesha M. Daniels
Suzen Baraka
Tory B voice recorded by Stanley Andrew Jackson

 “can i touch it?”
Written by francisca da silveira
Directed by Gregg T. Daniel
Produced by: John Perrin Flynn and Guillermo Cienfuegos
Associate Producer: Mildred Marie Langford
A Rogue Machine Production

Opening: 8pm on Saturday, May 6, 2023

8pm Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays;  3pm Sundays

(No performance on Monday May 8)

Continues through June 11, 2023

Note the generous Monday dates that invite other theatre companies to  attend when their shows may be dark.

Rogue Machine 
7657 Melrose Ave
 Los Angeles, CA 90462
Face masks are optional but encouraged.

Producers: John Perrin Flynn & Guillermo Cienfuegos
Gregg T. Daniel

Associate Producer: Mildred MarIe Langford
Assistant Director: Vanessa
 K. Hanish


Scenic Design: Mark Mendelson

Lighting Design: Leigh Allen

Sound Design: Chris Moscatiello

Costume and Wig Design: Wendell Carmichael

Prop Design: Ashley Crow

Movement Design: Joyce Guy

Dramaturge: Lindsay Jenkins

Casting Director: Victoria Hoffman

Technical Directors: Dane Bowman & Joe McClean

Production Manager: Rachel Ann Manheimer
Dramaturg: Lindsay A. Jenkins
Graphic DesignMichelle Hanzelova-Bierbauer 

Stage Manager: Ramón Valdez


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