February 13, 2013

Single Carrot Theatre breaks in new digs with 'Tropic of X'

People anxious about seismic demographic shifts already under way in the Western Hemisphere may be a bit unnerved by Caridad Svich’s futuristic drama “The Tropic of X,” receiving its English-language premiere from Single Carrot Theatre — the company’s first venture in its temporary headquarters in the former home of Everyman Theatre.

The playwright’s vision conjures a world where North and South America have fused into a strange melange where languages and longings converge, or collide. The crudely hedonistic society that results comes with a violent undercurrent that some vague authoritarian power is ready to smash or exploit.

Amid the grime and slime of this cruel tomorrow, the old human impulse toward love and union can still break through, bringing with it the faintest tint of hope.

The intriguing, if not entirely persuasive, work has a little “A Clockwork Orange” in it, though with a Latin beat instead of Beethoven — a DJ spinning tracks, and official government lines, provides a connective soundtrack.

The staging, directed by Nathan A. Cooper, also suggests a touch of the vintage “Batman” TV series in the stylized fight scene early on (there’s even a baseball cap emblazoned with word “pow” on the brim).

With her Cuban, Spanish, Argentine and Croatian background, Svich obviously brings a keen perspective to issues of assimilation and alienation. “The Tropic of X” is all about identity — national, social, economic, and, most provocatively, sexual (gender-bending plays a major role here) — and how the things that define us can get pretty slippery.

What Svich doesn’t do is ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 11:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

January 17, 2013

Single Carrot presents annual 'Murder Ink' reading

The sixth annual reading of the City Paper's "Murder Ink" column by Anna Ditkoff -- a chronicle of the year's murders in Baltimore -- will be presented by Single Carrot Theatre at 6 p.m. Saturday.

As the company is quick to point out, "There’s no pretending that reading about these desperate, often grisly crimes will bring back any of the victims, but it does bring a little perspective to what is clearly an epidemic."

A panel discussion with Ditkoff and others follows the reading, which will be held at Single Carrot's temporary home at the former Everyman Theatre location at 1714 N. Charles. Free admission.

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:49 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

December 5, 2012

Single Carrot Theatre plans new home in former tire shop

Single Carrot Theatre, which was displaced this season when building code violations forced the closure of Load of Fun on North Avenue, has found a permanent new home in nearby Remington due to open in 2014.

The company will become the first tenant at 2600 N. Howard Street in a building currently housing a tire shop. The location is being renovated by Seawall Development "as a freshly rehabilitated historic building, focused on non-profits, performance, and dining," according to a press release from Single Carrot.

Company artistic director Nathan Cooper said the move "will allow Single Carrot Theatre to expand our programming, to serve a wider audience, and to strengthen the stability of the organization overall."

Plans call for a theater performance space seating just under 100, as well as rehearsal, storage and office spaces -- 6,500 square feet in all.

Seawall partner Evan Morville said that the company "has worked alongside us and selected this building as their new home. We can’t wait to see what they do with the space and for the neighborhood."

The first production is expected to open in early 2014 during the company's seventh season. Single Carrot, which has been a fixture in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, opened the 2012-13 season in MICA facilities. This season will continue in the space on Charles Street being vacated this month by Everyman Theatre, which is moving across town.

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

October 11, 2012

Review: Single Carrot presents politically charged play by Caryl Churchill

It's quite the political season onstage in Baltimore. Two plays provide extremely different experiences while striking a few of the same chords about government, corruption, duplicity.

"An Enemy of the People," the vintage Ibsen/Miller drama at Center Stage, takes a couple hours-plus and lots of long paragraphs to make its loaded points. Over at Single Carrot Theatre (it's temporary MICA home, that is), Caryl Churchill's "Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?" from 2006 packs its hefty sermonizing into about 45 minutes of single words and sentence fragments.

Neither work is entirely satisfying in structure and content, and both tend to hammer their points heavily. But the compact, two-character Churchill piece does so in a most intriguing manner, adding a layer of sexuality to the discourse.

The playwright focuses on -- takes aim at, most of the time -- the United States and its policies, using a character named Sam (as in Uncle) as a stand-in. Another man, called Jack in the first version of the play, leaves his wife and children to live with Sam.

Concerned that audiences envisioned the play as a reference to ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 3:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

October 2, 2012

Single Carrot to move into Everyman Theatre space this winter

Single Carrot Theatre has found a venue solution for the remainder of its 2012-2013 season.

As you will recall, the surprise closing of Load of Fun Gallery, where the company made its home (along with several other artistic tenants), left Single Carrot scrambling for a place to present its productions.

MICA came to the rescue for this weekend's season-opener, Caryl Churchill's "Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?"

For the remainder of the company's sixth season, Single Carrot will occupy the Charles Street home of Everyman Theatre, which is heading across town this winter to a newly restored space on Fayette Street.

"We're looking to start our move in January to what we're referring to as the soon-to-be-former Everyman Theatre," said Single Carrot artistic director Nathan Cooper. "We'll be moving our entire operations there. This is a nice way to keep a performance venue in Station North, which I think is good for the whole neighborhood. We're calling it ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 9:24 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drama Queens, Everyman Theatre, Single Carrot Theatre

September 25, 2012

Single Carrot Theatre secures MICA facilities for season-opener

Single Carrot Theatre, shut out of its regular home at Load of Fun Gallery, has made a safe landing nearby.

The company will present its delayed season-opening production of Caryl Churchill's provocative two-actor play "Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?" at facilities of the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The show will open Oct. 5 in Falvey Hall at the Brown Center on W. Mount Royal Ave., then move Oct. 12 to the new auditorium in MICA's Studio Center on W. North Ave., directly across the street from Load of Fun. 

"We cannot express how thankful we are to all the people who helped make this happen," said Elliott Rauh, Single Carrot's managing director.

The schedule: 8 p.m. Oct. 5, 6 and 11; 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Falvey Hall. 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 13, 18-20; 5 p.m. Oct. 14 and 21 at Studio Center. (Note that company's has changed its usual starting times for evening and matinee performances.)

Posted by Tim Smith at 2:32 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

September 14, 2012

Closure of Load of Fun Gallery has Single Carrot Theatre seeking new digs

Load of Fun Gallery, a linchpin in the Station North District and a center for visual artists and theater companies, has shut down temporarily after being notified by the city of a zoning violation involving "land use and occupancy."

This has sent Single Carrot Theatre scrambling for new digs, just as the company's 2012-2013 season was about to begin.

"Single Carrot is not at risk," said artistic director Nathan Cooper. "We have every intention of playing all the shows we planned on, and we are lining up ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

July 12, 2012

More theater season lineups: Iron Crow, Single Carrot, Theatre Project

Looks like lots of provocative theatrical experiences around here for 2012-2013.

Theatre Project marks its 41st season with productions by several companies, several of them in residence.

Iron Crow Theatre, which focuses on works that spring from an LGTB perspective, will produce a three-play series there.

Megan Gogerty's "Bad Panda" offers a take on non-traditional families -- complications ensue when one of the last two pandas on earth falls for a gay crocodile.

Daniel Talbott's "Slipping" digs into teen angst as a vulnerable high-schooler from San Francisco ends up in Iowa with a crush on a classmate.

The 1920s Midwest setting of Jordan Harrison's "Act a Lady" allows for an unusual case of role-reversal as a group of men don 18th-century drag to put on a play.

Other local companies spending significant time at Theatre Project in the new season include ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 10:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

July 5, 2012

Ritual, nudity and a lot of splashing in Single Carrot Theatre's 'Foot of Water'

It's possible, as you know, to drown in an inch of water.

So Single Carrot Theatre was taking a certain risk plunging into a "Foot of Water" -- an original work created by company members over the course of the past 10 months.

The result is pretty soggy.

There's potential in this look at sex through myth and ritual, but the almost acrobatically choreographed play doesn't quite add up to a cohesive, let alone freshly insightful, statement.

It's sort of a variation on "Spring Awakening," only without rock songs, spicy dialogue, a plot, humor, or the gays.

The Carrots got a lot of their inspiration from a workshop they attended on the methods of Jerzy Grotowski, which led them away from a "verbal, idea-based" approach and toward a style that is highly physical, symbolic and improvisatory.

Nothing wrong with departing from structure and convention, of course. The danger when going in this direction is that, ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 1:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

April 4, 2012

Single Carrot Theatre checks into shadowy 'Hotel Cassiopeia' reclusive world of Joseph Cornell

You might say that Joseph Cornell lived in a box within a box.

From his early teens to his death in 1972 at the age of 69, the artist stayed firmly tied to a home in Queens he shared with his mother and invalid brother.

When Cornell ventured out, it was chiefly to rummage for any number of objects that he would use back home to create the assemblages that made him famous -- each contained in a little box with a glass front.

As art critic Robert Hughes writes, "that glass, the 'fourth wall' of his miniature theater, is also the diaphragm between two contrasting worlds. Outside, chaos, accident, and libido, the stuff of unprotected life; inside, sublimation, memory, and peace."

In his 2006 play "Hotel Cassiopeia," currently onstage at Single Carrot Theatre, Charles Mee opened an imaginative window into those boxes by ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 9:33 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

January 19, 2012

Center Stage offers free readings of Martin McDonagh plays at ale house

You knew things were going to be different with Kwame Kwei-Armah heading Center Stage, and you were right.

The latest proof: Center Stage will present free public readings of two Martin McDonagh plays featuring members of Everyman Theatre and Single Carrot Theatre and other local actors.

How's that for collaboration within the arts community? Pretty cool.

The project provides a neat way for Center Stage to promote its production of one of McDonagh's "A Skull in Connemara," which opens next week.

The readings will focus on ...

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Posted by Tim Smith at 12:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens, Everyman Theatre, Single Carrot Theatre

January 12, 2012

Single Carrot Theater stirs up 'MilkMilkLemonade'

It’s not easy being a kid, especially a gay kid stuck on a chicken farm, yearning for the big shopping malls just a few miles away. It’s not easy being a chicken, either, especially when processing day is never far off.

Out of those truths comes “MilkMilkLemonade,” a dark, uneven comedy about sexual and philosophical awakening.

This recent work by Joshua Conkel is being served up in energetic, if not entirely satisfying, fashion by Single Carrot Theatre.

In a fairly compact span of 75 minutes, Conkel sprinkles all sorts of issues, along with the chicken feed, on a slender tale surrounding 11-year-old Emory.

The boy is perfectly comfortable with his doll, a budding libido, and a passion for show biz. He takes particular pleasure in his best friend, Linda, who happens to be a giant, talking chicken.

Then there’s Nana, Emory’s chicken-raising grandmother. She appears to be hanging onto life just long enough to make sure that, somehow, Emory can go sexually straight before he gets any older.

Praying away the gay isn’t going to get her far, so Nana enlists an ally in this quest, a neighborhood kid, Elliot, to bully some sense into Emory.

But Elliot slides between butch nastiness and an urge to play house with Emory — not in a naïve way. And Elliot’s got some other problems, namely an evil twin, who, parasitically, lives in the boy’s thigh.

Helping guide the audience through all of this is a narrator who also gets to portray the parasite and one big, hungry spider.

Emory is too young, too innocent (well, sort of), to fear anything about life beyond the farm. He just knows he wants to ...

Continue reading "Single Carrot Theater stirs up 'MilkMilkLemonade'" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 5:41 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

June 29, 2011

A fantasy ride toward death in 'Linus and Alora' at Single Carrot Theatre

Mortality is such a downer.

No wonder many of us live in a perpetual state of denial about death, which is the approach of a young woman given nine months to live at the start of "Linus and Alora," the recent Andrew Irons play running through July 10 at Single Carrot Theatre.

Alora takes it one step farther than denial, actually, all the way into fantasy land. Not a bad way to go.

Gradually and sometimes painfully, husband Linus agrees to join her there. In the process, he doesn't just humor Alora, but also finds a way to confront his own, long-suppressed issues about death.

Irons has approached a topic all too familiar from disease-movies-of-the-week and given it enough freshness, enough surprise to create quite an absorbing experience. "Linus and Alora" -- am I the only one who thinks that's an ineffectual title? -- makes a snug fit for the avant-garde-friendly Single Carrot troupe, which brings vibrant acting and stagecraft to the material.

The production, directed by Genevieve de Mahy, has ...

Continue reading "A fantasy ride toward death in 'Linus and Alora' at Single Carrot Theatre" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:50 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre

January 4, 2011

Single Carrot Theatre presents fourth annual 'Murder Ink' reading

Baltimore's homicide rate may have fallen, but, as in any city, it could never be low enough.

Each year, Single Carrot Theatre offers a live reading of "Murder Ink," the weekly column by the City Paper's Anna Ditkoff. The presentation is a way of humanizing the statistics.

As the theater company's press release puts it, "There’s no pretending that reading about these desperate, often [grisly] crimes will bring back any of the victims, but it does bring a little perspective to what is clearly an epidemic."

The fourth annual "Murder Ink" reading by members of the Single Carrot ensemble and the public will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday outside in front of the theater at 120 W. North Ave. It's free, and hot beverages will be served.


Posted by Tim Smith at 3:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Drama Queens, Single Carrot Theatre
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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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