Charly’s Piano, Charly Chiarelli’s Christmas show, Dec 7-16, 2017

December 7 to 16, 2017. Charly’s Piano, Charly Chiarelli’s heartwarming Christmas show about how he organized a fundraiser to buy a piano for the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in 1972. An Artword Theatre Production, directed by Ronald Weihs.

Charly’s Piano is a new play by Charly Chiarelli and Ronald Weihs. It tells the true story about how Charly went to work as a psychiatric assistant at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto. The year was 1972, Toronto was full of music and hippies, and the Clarke was exploring new techniques in mental health. Charly, harmonica and all, fit right in. Pretty soon, he’s organizing a fundraiser to buy a piano for the patients to play. At first, no one signs up, but when the “Cat Lady” says she’ll sing a song, the idea takes off. Patients, doctors, nurses perform in a sell-out concert. But the story isn’t over. Charly and a patient known as “The Duchess” travel by public transit to a mansion on the outskirts of Toronto and buy the piano. And at Christmas, the piano is in the lounge, where Charly leads patients and staff (and audience) in Christmas songs and carols.
Script by Charly Chiarelli and Ronald Weihs, new songs by Charly Chiarelli on harmonica with Ronald Weihs on guitar. Produced by Judith Sandiford.

Reserve 905-543-8512 or  BUY_tix_buttonBook online.
Thurs, Fri & Sat, December 7, 8 & 9, at 8 pm, $20; Sun December 10 matinee at 3 pm, $20; Tues to Sat, December 12 to 16, at 8 pm, $20.

The Two-Show Deal: If you came out to Cu’Fu? and loved it, you are eligible for the two-show package discount. By phone only: 905-543-8512.

 


REVIEWS:

Review: Veteran raconteur hits right notes in Charly’s Piano

WhatsOn Dec 5 2017 by Gary Smith, Hamilton Spectator

Charly Chiarelli recalls the world of 1970s Toronto in “Charly’s Piano.”

Want to go back to the early ’70s? To a time when Ian and Sylvia, Bo Diddley and Ronnie Hawkins sang at the Concord and other hallowed Toronto halls?

Coffee houses and bars were still the domain of beatniks and hippies back then. Toronto was less sophisticated than it thinks it is today. Possibilities were endless.

In 1972, Charly Chiarelli, born in Racalmuto, Sicily, but raised in Hamilton’s gritty North End, found himself wandering the streets of what was once called Hogtown.

He found an attic abode next to a Primal Scream Clinic near Kensington Market. He found a job, too, at Toronto’s prestigious Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. Called an observer, he was paid to watch patients. Memories of many of these institutionalized folk permeate his new play “Charly’s Piano.”

Written by Chiarelli and Artword director Ron Weihs, the play is sometimes a rambling discourse through Charly’s world. It’s punctuated by haunting riffs on a harmonica pulled from Charly’s jacket pocket. That music is nicely supported by Weihs’ expert noodling on an old guitar.

Something of a local icon, Chiarelli bounds onto the tiny Artbar stage in jeans and a tweed jacket, an attractive scarf knotted round his neck. He has a mile-wide smile with tufts of white hair poking out from behind his head.

The voice is raspy. No matter, Chiarelli acts his songs as much as sings them. He falls into character, melting years away, easily becoming the boy he was back then.

His story is filled with detailed remembrances of patients from those Clarke days. There’s Beatrice, the Cat Lady. Her Siamese cats taught her to read minds. And there’s poor Adam, a casualty of the system who jumped in front of a subway train when out on a day pass. There’s also psychotic Philip, an expert on math, physics and chemistry.

Charly’s treasure-trove of remembrance leaps into high gear when he recounts how he decided to put on a concert in the Grand Rounds room of the Clarke and needed to buy a piano for the patients to enjoy. We hear how the doctors, staff and residents, after initial reluctance, come forward to make things happen.

One of the most affecting parts of Charly’s story is his recollection of going to some out-of-this-world mansion with a patient called The Duchess to buy the piano on a stormy winter night.

Judith Sandiford’s evocative projections fill the wall of the tiny stage with recollections of a Toronto long gone. These images amplify the words of “Charly’s Piano” beautifully, transporting us (if we are of a certain age) to a time we remember fondly.

Just as Charly’s songs hint at loss, these photos suggest the warmth of recognition, reminding us that change doesn’t erase the past from the present, but rather gives it context. This is because Sandiford’s projections, like Chiarelli and Weihs’ words, create a time tunnel to something gone by.

There are cavils: At two hours, including intermission, the show is just too long. It would sit better in a one-act format, running 75 to 90 minutes. No intermission. There are almost too many memories of patients here, too many anecdotes and the lead-up to the essential piano part of the story takes too long. The show, seen at a dress rehearsal, needs tightening, as well as editing.

In the end, it is a warm-hearted, tender story acted by a friendly raconteur, a storyteller who delivers memories with sweet recollection of time passed by, but never forgotten.

Gary Smith has written on theatre and dance for The Hamilton Spectator for more than 35 years.


“A Celebration of Spirit”
Review by Brian Morton of Charly’s Piano 
View Magazine, December 14 2017

They say it takes thirty years to become a master at something. I can confirm then, that Charly Chiarelli, the Sicilian born, North End Hamilton native, whose newest play, Charly’s Piano, opened this week at Artword Artbar, certainly has the skills to hold an audience spellbound with a yarn.

It takes a great deal of artistry; as a songwriter, an actor, a dancer, and a musician, in order to bring these poignant memories of working at Toronto’s Clarke Institute of Psychiatry circa 1972, as a patient observer, to life on stage. Chiarelli has long been compared to the late Spalding Gray, and his funny anecdotes are similar to humourist Mark Twain, in the essential humanity of his characters. I will suggest, that Canadian writer Stephen Leacock, is a more apt comparison, filtered through Charly’s experiences growing up in the rough and ready world of north end Hamilton, and the hippy ‘counter culture’ of the late 1960s.

Many years ago, while studying theatre, I learned, that the whole Canadian Theatre movement is a relatively new phenomenon, and that there was no long standing tradition of theatrical production in Canada, that does not originate from somewhere else. Early Canadian plays, were often indistinguishable from British or American plays of their era. That being said, Canada has a very long tradition of story tellers, guys at the local bar who could get everyone laughing by telling the story of what happened at work that day, and who could do a ‘dead on impression’ of the boss. We all have memories like this, but it takes someone like Chiarelli, with real performance skills as an actor and musician, to raise it to the level of high art.

Watching this production, felt as much like attending a folk music concert, as watching a play. Director Ron Weihs, does a double turn, providing live guitar accompaniment to the stories, tastefully underscoring emotional moments and playing along on a number of original songs firmly rooted in the folk revival of the 1970s. Of note to my ear, were “Something about Toronto” and “The Magic of Cats”.

It takes more then just performers, to make a theatre production work, and this show, is ably supported technically by Judith Sandiford, most tangibly in a wonderfully evocative slide show, that runs behind Chiarelli’s narratives. Mostly. they are black and white images of 1970s Toronto, including; Honest Ed’s discount store, street buskers, Kensington Market vendors, winter traffic, and iconic musicians, such as, Joni Mitchell, Ian and Sylvia, and Woody Gutherie, in the era of the Mariposa Folk festival. The images, provide a powerful commentary on the stage action, doing much to create the essential ‘nostalgia’ of the evening.

“There is no clear distinction, between sanity and insanity”, Charly learns in his first few months on the job. Doctor Rakoff, the director of the Clarke, takes him under his wing, and allows him to organize a Christmas Variety show called “Escape Hatch 11”, in order to raise the funds to purchase a piano for the patients to play.

This production is driven by Chiarelli’s recollections, of some very real people, and that gives the play much of its power. The stories are authentic, and conjure up some interesting individuals, such as, ‘Beatrice the Cat Lady’, and “The Duchess”, a wealthy matron who Charly brings with him when they travel to purchase the piano, that is at the heart of this story. “Charly you are made of pure spirit”, one character tells him.

And that is what I will take away, from me from watching this show. A celebration of spirit, of a time, now sadly gone. There is a certain “madness” in artistic creation, and ‘the blues’ and psychiatry, do indeed, have something in common. I urge you, to check out this wonderful production, in its final week of performances.
– Brian Morton

Charly Chiarelli‘s classic hit show Cu’Fu? Sept 28 to Oct 7, 2017

September 28 to October 7, 2017. Back one more time! Charly Chiarelli‘s classic hit show Cu’Fu? (So Who Did It?), Stories of a Sicilian Family, returns to Hamilton, at Artword Artbar. An Artword Theatre production written and performed by Charly Chiarelli, directed and dramaturged by Ronald Weihs.

Cu’Fu?, the show that made him famous, is Charly’s hilarious and touching tribute to his crazy Sicilian family in the North End of Hamilton. His father’s bewilderment at the automatic record changer, his mother’s uncanny ability to read faces, and the unexpected reaction of both when they discover Charly is smoking “Mario Lanza”, create a portrait that is both affectionate and achingly funny.
Artword Theatre developed this show with Charly back in 1995-96 and presented it five times in Toronto, to 2002, and two more times in Hamilton, in its home neighbourhood!
Show times: Opening Festitalia Special, Thurs Sept 28, at 8 pm; Fri & Sat Sept 29 & 30, at 8 pm; Sun Oct 1 matinee at 3 pm; Tues-Sat, Oct 3-7, at 8 pm. Tix $20.
+ Two-Show Package: Cu’Fu (Sept 28- Oct 7, 2017) PLUS our new show: Charly’s Piano by Charly Chiarelli (Dec 7-16, 2017).

Cu’Fu (the book) by Charly Chiarelli, Artword Press, 2017


And now, the book!
Cu’Fu? Stories of a Sicilian Family, by Calogero (Charly) Chiarelli, published by
Artword Press, 2017.
The full script plus photos from the family albums. In the back cover family photo, Charly is front row left.

Contact Ronald Weihs, editor, rweihs@artword.net about getting a copy.

Now available on Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=Cu%27fu&ref=nb_sb_noss


The Story of Artword and Charly and Cu’Fu? (1995 to 2017, so far)

The story of Cu’Fu? begins in 1995 in the upstairs studio version of Artword Theatre at 81 Portland St., Toronto. Charly Chiarelli was one of the storytellers at The Artword Festival of the Human Voice: How many ways to tell a story? (23 performers, 12 events in double-bills, May 24-June 10, 1995). Dan Yashinsky helped us organized the storytellers. Here is the original description: “Cu’Fu?, stories from a Sicilian family, by Calogero (Charly) Chiarelli. (Sun. May 28 at 2 pm, Sat. June 3 at 8 pm, and Sun. June 4 at 2 pm, 1995.) ‘Cu’Fu?’ is a Sicilian response to bad salami or the origin of the universe – and most everything in between. Through storytelling, singing and harmonica playing, Calogero Chiarelli unfolds his Sicilian-Canadian reality full of warmth, tragedy and humour.”

Charly Chiarelli poster image for Cu’Fu? 1996

We were delighted. We approached Charly afterwards with the idea that we could help him turn these anecdotes into a full play, and turn him from a storyteller into an actor. He took on the challenge. He and Ron got to work.

#1. April 11 to 28, 1996 world premiere Cu’Fu? (So who did it?) 
A Sicilian’s response to life’s perplexing moments. Written and performed by Calogero (Charly) Chiarelli. Directed by Ronald Weihs. Designed by Judith Sandiford.
Judith Sandiford remembers: “This first presentation was a big surprise for us. We had added the words ‘Stories of a Sicilian Family’ to the newspaper listings. And the phone started ringing. People were coming three and four times, bringing a bigger group each time. They were amazed and delighted that we had this very positive story about Sicilians was in such tiny theatre.” The run sold out.

Charly Chiarelli and photo of his father

#2. September 20 to December 15, 1996:
ARTWORD BRINGS BACK HIT SHOW  After a sell-out run in April 1996, and a very warm response from the Sicilian and Italian communities in Toronto, Artword Theatre remounted the show for an extended run beginning September 20 to December 15, 1996. The one-person show about growing up Sicilian in Hamilton, Ontario has developed a strong grass-roots following that has been filling the tiny 60-seat theatre since September.
The show, performed in English with some Sicilian dialogue, has a very strong appeal to first and second generation immigrants to Canada, particularly of Italian and Sicilian background.

On Saturday, November 9, a special one-night performance of Cu’Fu? is opening the new Ontario Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, a few blocks from where the play is set.

The author and performer, Calogero (Charly) Chiarelli, grew up in the industrial north end of Hamilton where, in the words of the show, “there are 10,000 Sicilians all from the same town of Racalmuto. And back in Racalmuto, there were only 8,000 left.”

Charly now lives in Kingston, where he works as a social worker. He commutes every weekend to Toronto to do the (1996) show. Charly is an expert blues and jazz harmonica player. His blues songs with Sicilian and English lyrics are a high point of the show.

Artword Theatre, now in its fourth season, is putting its full energy behind the show. “We want to take Cu’Fu?’ as far as it will go,” says Artistic Director Ronald Weihs. “Charly is a very talented writer and performer. And we think that Cu’Fu? has something very important to say about what it is to be Canadian. Right now, that’s the most critical issue we face in this country.”

1999: In the new Artword Theatre, next door at 75 Portland, just opened, in the 150-seat main theatre.

#3. November 10 to December 18, 1999:  Cu’Fu? Back by popular demand, on the mainstage in the new theatre at 75 Portland! The Artword hit written and performed by Charly (Calogero) Chiarelli, directed by Ronald Weihs, designed by Judith Sandiford.

#4. February 8 to March 4, 2001: Cu’Fu? The hit show that toured the country and played on BRAVO television. Hilarious and touching stories about growing up Sicilian in Hamilton. Written and performed by Charly (Calogero) Chiarelli. directed by Ronald Weihs. Back for a fourth Artword mainstage run,

In 2001, Artword Theatre also premiered Mangiacake! a new show by Charly Chiarelli, directed and dramaturged by Ronald Weihs, designed by Judith Sandiford (remounted in 2002). Charly goes back to Italy and finds out he isn’t as Sicilian as he thought. In fact he’s a Mangiacake! Both shows were were filmed at Artword Theatre for Bravo Television.

#5. October 27 to November 10, 2002: Cu’Fu? (So Who Did It?), Stories of a Sicilian Family, written and performed by Charly Chiarelli, directed by Ronald Weihs, designed by Judith Sandiford. Charly’s hit show, back for the fifth time at Artword by popular demand.


AND nine years later, Artword brings Cu’Fu? back to its home town, in our venue Artword Artbar, just two blocks from where Charly grew up!

#6. December 7 to 17, 2011. IN HAMILTON! Have a Cu’Fu Christmas with Charly Chiarelli. Calogero (Charly) Chiarelli is coming back home to Hamilton, with a Christmas cabaret version of his international theatrical hit Cu’Fu (So Who Did It?), about growing up Sicilian in Hamilton’s North End. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love it.
At Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne Street.  Cu’Fu? 2011 at Artword Artbar

Directed by Ronald Weihs and produced by Judith Sandiford. In 2007, the duo moved from Toronto to Hamilton and in 2009 they opened Artword Artbar. Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford produced and directed the first productions of Cu’Fu? So Who Did It? in their Toronto theatre, where it was filmed for Bravo Television.
Charly has performed Cu’Fu across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, from his home town Hamilton to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories — and in Italy, in Italian. The Edmonton Journal called him “the Sicilian Spalding Gray, or the Hamilton Mark Twain”.

Langston Hughes vs. Joe McCarthy, Fringe 2017 July 20-29

July 20 to 29, 2017. Artword Theatre participates in the 2017 Hamilton Fringe Theatre Festival with a timely and sensitive piece of documentary theatre, Langston Hughes vs. Joe McCarthy, written and directed by Ronald Weihs.
Dancer-choreographer-actor Learie Mc Nicolls plays the role of Langston Hughes and character actor Howard Jerome performs as The Interrogator.

Is poetry subversive? U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy thought so. On March 24, 1953, Langston Hughes, renowned poet of the Harlem Renaissance, was summoned before the Senate Committee on Investigations. Did his poems contain communist ideas? In reply, Langston Hughes tells about his personal encounters with racism in America. The script is based on the actual transcript of his testimony, interwoven with the controversial poems, and incorporating dance, music and powerful images of the era.
Running time: 60 minutes. Tickets: $10 + one-time Fringe button:
Showtimes: Thu July 20: 6:30pm, Fri July 21: 9:00pm, Sat July 22: 9:00pm, Sun July 23: 8:30pm, Tue July 25: 9:00pm, Wed July 26: 9:00pm, Thu July 27: 9:00pm, Fri July 28: 8:30pm, Sat July 29: 8:30pm

[The poems by Langston Hughes are used by permission granted by Harold Ober Associates Incorporated, as agents for the Estate of Langston Hughes.]

REVIEWS:


REVIEW: ‘LANGSTON HUGHES VS. JOE MCCARTHY’
at the 2017 Hamilton Fringe Festival

artsallydotcom.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/review-langston-hughes-vs-joe-mccarthy-at-the-2017-hamilton-fringe-festival/

BRIAN MORTON, Contributor, July 28, 2017

Ron Weihs’ play, ‘Langston Hughes vs Joe McCarthy,’ now gets a full production as part of the 2017 Hamilton Fringe Festival. This two man play digs deeply into a very dark period of American History that remains shameful to us today, although with the polarization and division in the United States in the era of Donald Trump, its relevancy is clear.

The script itself is based upon actual testimony given when Harlem poet Langston Hughes was called to testify before Congress during the Communist ‘witch hunts’ of the early 1950s.

Back then, anyone who had ties to socialism, communism or even just leftist sympathies were blacklisted, vilified and forced to recant their views. Many of the artists and writers who were called to testify, even some of those who attended and just used their constitutional right to plead according to the Fifth Amendment, were unable to find work in their fields afterwards; many committed suicide, moved abroad or even, worst of all, they named others in order to be exonerated. Uncooperative witnesses were imprisoned. Refusing to testify – to name names of others – created heroes such as the ‘Hollywood Ten’ which included Dalton Trumbo. We revere their courage to this day, as evidenced by the number of films, plays and books that remind us their story.

This is the era in which the play lives.

From the opening moments, tidying up his desk and organizing his thoughts for the session ahead, Howard Jerome as Senator Joe McCarthy drives this production with his articulate and persistent attacks. His voice has a wonderfully raspy quality to it, that got under your skin.

Called to testify is poet Langston Hughes (in this production played by the mercurial Learie McNicolls). He responds to McCarthy’s questioning by relating his experiences grown up in Missouri, and by sharing his poetry, he gives a basic lesson in creative writing and attempts to explain, correctly, that the narrative voice in a poem may not necessarily be the author’s own.

It is often hard to stage poetry. This production presents eighteen of Hughes poems as part of the story; they are presented as dance pieces, and slipped seamlessly into the dialogue of both actors. “A poem is not testimony” Hughes asserts, perhaps not, but it can convey truth and meaning.

We might wax nostalgic for a prosecutor who at least tries to establish actual facts in a legal case; in this our era of Trump’s 140 word ‘covfefe’ tweets, truth can be hard to find. But the agenda here is much the same, to silence those who do not subscribe to the politics of bigotry and hatred of the ‘other’.

An additional character is created in this production, by the use of very cleverly chosen period photographs. In the exact same way that carefully chosen music works to underscore a scene, the images presented behind the onstage action become a powerful commentary. They evoke the time, the place, and the people brilliantly.

A fine play, well staged, with a powerful message that is so important in our ‘here and now.’ What more could one ask for? A cool drink perhaps. This venue is licensed and you can enjoy a beer, or a glass of wine, while you watch.

‘Langston Hughes vs. Joe McCarthy’ (Artword Theatre, Hamilton)
Writer/Director: Ronald Weihs, Cast: Learie McNicolls and Howard Jerome


‘Langston Hughes vs. Joe McCarthy’ should be touring the country

Doreen Nicoll, July 30, 2017

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/change-gonna-come/2017/07/langston-hughes-vs-joe-mccarthy-should-be-touring-country

There’s no doubt about it, history is cyclical. Those well versed in history see the proverbial writing on the wall. Unfortunately, those who choose to remain ignorant, or perhaps worse, those who believe they are untouchable, can set the world on a path that is well worn, all too familiar, and often dangerous.

July 29th, the curtain went down for the final time on the Hamilton Fringe production Langston Hughes vs. Joe McCarthy: Is Poetry Subversive? Set at the height of McCarthyism when, as director Ronald Weihs writes in his director’s statement, “There was a massive effort underway in the United State to communicate a crude vision of ‘The American Way,’ and to brand ideas ‘Un-American.’ People were taught to be frightened of their own thoughts, to repress them or keep them hidden.”

During the 1920’s and 30’s, Harlem became a beacon of hope for freedom of expression to African American scholars and artists. This newfound voice was demanding civil liberties and political rights. Hughes was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance which gave birth to jazz poetry. It was this poetry that would make Hughes a person of interest.

On March 24, 1953 James Mercer Langston Hughes, African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist was called before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. And so the play begins.

Republican Senator Everett Dirksen and attorney Roy Cohn originally interrogated Hughes, but Weihs successfully embodies the men in one domineering character. The interrogator, clearly Hughes’s intellectual inferior, tries unsuccessfully to get Hughes to admit his poems contain subversive political messages.

Hughes never denies his writing has political references, but maintains those references “would mean many things to different people.”

Instead, Hughes takes every opportunity to school his interrogator on the true meaning of free speech — a lesson the current U.S. administration desperately needs to hear.

Actor, singer, writer, director producer and activist, Howard Jerome was the embodiment of the hostile, manipulative interrogator berating Hughes throughout the hour long questioning. Learie McNicolls, dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist, elevated Hughes to the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian stature he deserved.


“…a truly enchanting hour showcasing some of Hughes’ moving, political, and still frighteningly relevant poetry.”

2017 HAMILTON FRINGE FESTIVAL MINI REVIEW FROM CENTRE STAGE
WITH LYLA MIKLOS ON 101.5 FM THE HAWK

This Fringe show was a real gem and a pleasant surprise. Writer/Director Ronald Weihs takes us back to 1953 when Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes was summoned by infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy to speak to the Senate Committee on Investigations. Combining projected pictures from the era, jazz music, movement and two amazing actors Weihs transports his audience into both a frightening and inspiring time and place. A time and place that reminds us of the fragility of our democracies as we still so easily allow ideological demagogues to take away our collective powers.

What makes this production really sing is when Learie Mc Nicolls brings to life the words of Langston Hughes. More than once the audience would burst into spontaneous applause at the end of one his powerful recitations. Not only did his voice bounce off the walls, but his feet and body were bouncing and moving all over the stage. Mc Nicolls was utterly captivating to experience and witness in this fully realized performance. The counter point to his poignant energy was the brittle intensity that Howard Jerome brought to his role as the nefarious McCarthy.

Seeing how beautifully Weihs brought together his overall vision there was one oversight that kept bringing me out of the trance I was being put under. Neither Mc Nicolls nor Jerome look or sound anything like the real life people they portrayed on stage, but Mc Nicolls was magnificently dressed with trim, polish, spit and shine while Jerome had an ill-fitting suit, frumpy pants, grey beard, pony tail and running shoes on. I just wished that Jerome’s costume and overall look better expressed the evil, uptight, controlling, power hungry, repressed character he was portraying. He looked more like an eccentric hippy professor not the man who coined the term “McCarthyism”. Nevertheless a minor detail in what was a truly enchanting hour showcasing some of Hughes’ moving, political, and still frighteningly relevant poetry.

 


“top-notch actors and a unique, artful structure”

Jul 24, 2017, by Lori Littleton,  Hamilton Spectator

Langston Hughes vs Joe McCarthy
Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne St. — July 25-27 at 9 p.m., and July 28-29 at 8:30 p.m.

Writer/ director Ronald Weihs has assembled an acting powerhouse for this 60-minute drama. Dora Award-winner Learie McNicolls is Langston Hughes, renowned poet of the Harlem Renaissance, and Howard Jerome is Joe McCarthy, a U.S. Senator known for his pursuit of anyone affiliated with Communism in the 1950s. The play is based on actual transcripts of Hughes’ testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in March 1953. But this isn’t a courtroom drama and there’s no thundering climax. Instead, the play features McCarthy asking Hughes questions about his poetry. Seated, Hughes answers but then rises to narrate a poem. A skilled dancer, McNicolls artfully adds to his delivery of these poems, which punctuate issues such as workers’ rights, racism, inequality and religion. Weihs also tackles more philosophical topics such as whether a writer’s views be separated from his work.

“Let America be America again,” Hughes urges. He also admits, “There has never been equality or freedom for me.”

Weihs also uses music and projects photographs of the actual court proceedings plus other images of the era on a screen behind Hughes’ courtroom desk to remind the audience of the societal tensions of the 1950s. Of course, looking at a sign that reads, “We want white tenants in our white community,” forces audience members to consider our current climate on racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.

Despite top-notch actors and a unique, artful structure, this production’s hindered by its overly ambitious script, which, at times, seems more intent on raising issues than offering any attempts at resolution.


 

Artword Theatre: Charly’s Piano, May 17 & 18, 2017

Wednesday and Thursday, May 17-18, 2017. Artword Theatre presents Charly’s Piano, a new work-in-progress.
A young man looking for work in 1971, a psychiatric hospital, and a piano. Performed by Charly Chiarelli. Written by Charly Chiarelli and Ronald Weihs.

This is the fourth (and final) in a series of monthly theatre projects-in-progress, with Artistic Director Ronald Weihs.  May 17-18, 2017, at 8 pm, pwyc/$10.

The February edition (# 1) was Langston Hughes vs Joe McCarthy, a reading based on testimony from the interrogation in 1953 interspersed with some of his poems.
The March edition (#2) was Mind Wars: a theatre exploration about the 1960s, when politics became a struggle over reality and perception, with readings from actual testimony and interviews of the Yippies, Black Activists, the CIA, the FBI.
The April edition (#3) was The Man in the Vault by Ronald Weihs, a staged reading of a new script based on actual events. The play explores how a CIA counter-intelligence scandal in the 1960s telescopes into the present. What is the truth? How do you know if you have found it?

To find out more, call 905-543-8512 or email: rweihs@artword.net, artword@artword.net

 

Seven Duets/Night Journey Learie Mc Nicolls, June 21-23, 2017

June 21 to 23, 2017, Artword Theatre presents a Contemporary Dance Showcase, curated by dancer-choreographer Learie Mc Nicolls. Featured is a new work, Seven Duets, choreographed and danced by Learie Mc Nicolls with Tanis Macarthur, exploring the lifts and falls in dance that can only be done with a partner.

Learie will also perform a new version of his solo work Night Journey, choreographed to selected recorded music by solo bassist Wilbert De Joode. This work was first presented in February (images below right).

Night Journey performed by Learie Mc Nicolls, Feb 22, 2017, real-time projections by Judith Sandiford

Lighting and visual design by Judith Sandiford features real-time projections.

The program will be repeated for three evenings. June 21-23, Wednesday to Friday, at 8 pm, $10 advance (call 905-543-8512) / $15 at door.

Video excerpt below of Seven Duets, June 2017, choreography by Learie Mc Nicolls, danced by Tanis Macarthur and Learie Mc Nicolls.

 

 

 

The Man in the Vault, Wed-Thur Apr 12-13, 2017

Wednesday and Thursday April 12-13, 2017. Artword Theatre presents The Man in the Vault by Ronald Weihs. Based on actual events, the play explores how a CIA counter-intelligence scandal in the 1960s telescopes into the present. What is the truth? How do you know if you have found it?
A staged reading performed by Val Kay, Tom Dusome, Sean Emberley and Learie Mc Nicolls.

This is the third in a series of monthly theatre projects in the works, with Artistic Director Ronald Weihs. The February edition (#1) was Langston Hughes vs Joe McCarthy, a reading based on testimony from the interrogation in 1953 interspersed with some of his poems. The March edition (#2) was Mind Wars: a theatre exploration about the 1960s, when politics became a struggle over reality and perception, with readings from actual testimony and interviews of the Yippies, Black Activists, the CIA, the FBI.

April 12-13, 2017, at 8 pm, pwyc/$10
To find out more, call 905-543-8512 or email: rweihs@artword.net, artword@artword.net

Artword Theatre: Mind Wars, Mar 15 & 16, 2017

Wednesday and Thursday March 15-16, 2017. Artword Theatre presents Mind Wars: a theatrical exploration about the 1960s, when politics became a struggle over reality and perception. Readings from actual testimony and interviews bring back the Yippies vs the CIA, Black Activists vs the FBI, brainwashing, mind control and propaganda of the era.
Conceived and assembled by director Ronald Weihs.
Performed by Pamela GardnerTom DusomeHoward JeromeTamara Buckland and Learie Mc Nicolls.
This is the second in a series of theatre projects in the works, with Artistic Director Ronald Weihs.
8 pm, pwyc/$10,  To find out more, call 905-543-8512 or email: rweihs@artword.net,

Excerpt: QUESTION: Will you please identify yourself for the record?
ABBIE: My name is Abbie. I am an orphan of America.

QUESTION: Where do you reside?
ABBIE: I live in Woodstock Nation.

QUESTION: Will you tell the Court and jury where it is?
ABBIE: Yes. It is a nation of alienated young people. We carry it around with us as a state of mind in the same way as the Sioux Indians carried the Sioux nation around with them. It is a nation dedicated to cooperation versus competition, to the idea that people should have better means of exchange than property or money, that there should be some other basis for human interaction. It is a nation dedicated to–

QUESTION: Just where it is, that is all. Nothing about philosophy or India, sir. Just where you live, if you have a place to live. Now you said Woodstock. In what state is Woodstock?
ABBIE: It is in the state of mind, in the mind of myself and my brothers and sisters. It is a conspiracy. Presently, the nation is held captive, in the penitentiaries of the institutions of a decaying system. ”