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There is a curious sign outside of the theater where Suzan-Lori Parks’s play Venus is playing that says the production contains “simulated nudity,” and this is explained right away when Zainab Jah makes her entrance and dons a body suit that gives her the curves of the historical personage she is playing, Saartjie Baartman, a South African girl who was exhibited as “The Venus Hottentot” in the early nineteenth century. Venus is a mid-period work...
The legendary dancer Vaslav Nijinsky succumbed to mental illness toward the end of the First World War, and he kept a diary for six and a half weeks that vividly and painfully documented his struggle to keep hold of his reason. Robert Wilson’s Letter to a Man begins with what sounds like the whir of a dental drill and then the sight of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Nijinsky in a straightjacket. We hear the pianola theme...
So much theater today amounts to bite-sized snacks that barely whet your appetite, but Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Phaedra(s) is like a feast or ceremony that provides theatrical sustenance for days on end. It is divided into roughly three sections and runs about three and a half hours, and it is presided over by the post-modern queen of perversity herself, Isabelle Huppert. Many writers have told the story of the royal Phaedra, and Warlikowski samples a...
In the aftermath of the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which were signed on September 13, 1993, in the White House Rose Garden, there was hope that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might finally start moving toward a solution and ceasefire; this was reflected in the famous photograph of President Bill Clinton standing between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and head of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, as they shook hands. The road...

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