CARNEGIE STAGE - OWNED AND OPERATED BY THE OFF THE WALL CHARITABEL TRUST
CARNEGIE STAGE - OWNED AND OPERATED BY THE OFF THE WALL CHARITABEL TRUST

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10.02.2017
Hans H Gruenert
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By Elisabeth Beck When I sat down to watch The Pink Unicorn, I truly had no idea what to expect. Admittedly, I was skeptical, because I knew that the show centered heavily on the realities of diverse gender identity in today’s world, and when it comes to anything controversial or political, I’m exhausted. It seems that all we hear about these days is that diversity must be implemented, that it must be accepted and embraced, and if we don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle, we’re terrible people. My feelings on most of these subjects boil down to this: if someone wants to live his or her life a certain way, they should be able to do that. I just don’t want to hear about it all the time. I feel that I should be able to say, “That’s not for me, but that’s great for you,” to whatever someone is proposing—and that should be an acceptable answer. But usually it’s not. Amy Landis - Photo: Heather Mull So I wasn’t sure what I was going to watch when I sat down at Carnegie Stage to watch this show. I was worried that I was just going to watch a show that lectured on the importance of representation for marginalized groups. But what The Pink Unicorn projects is something else entirely. The feeling of approaching the unexpected when attending this show truly fits in with the political climate in our country. We don’t always know how to act or what to say around those who are different from us. Many of us may feel that we want to be accepting and we want to do the right thing—but we don’t know what that is. This insecurity is a central theme in the play; the protagonist, Trish, is a recent widow whose daughter announces that she is gender queer and would like to start a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance at her high school in a rural small town in Texas. Trish shares the entire story with us—complete with pictures of her daughter from a scrapbook—of how she and her daughter must fight against the higher-ups of the school to get the chapter installed, how they get rejected by their church and how Trish herself draws a line in the sand with her Bible-thumping mother. While this may sound like a story told by a mother who is willing to accept and embrace her daughter’s lifestyle, Trish’s outlook is one of fear and uncertainty. She feels that same way many of us may feel. She does not know how to support her daughter because she’s unsure of the entire situation, even admitting at one point that she hates diversity because—as I mentioned earlier—she fears that she will do the wrong thing. Without saying anymore about the specific plot of the play, I will say that this is theatre at its best, because it made me think of things I might not have. Amy Landis - Photo: Heather Mull I can’t say enough good things about how good Amy Landis is in her portrayal of Trish. From her accent to her Southern hospitality to her fierce belief in common decency, Landis disappears into the role so that as you watch the show, you feel as if this is a true story being told by a mother who really experienced it, rather than an actress reading someone’s words. And we might as well believe this story is real—because it happens every day, to mothers all over the world. As a Christian who is also a Millennial, I live my life on borderlines. I’m aware of the realities of the abortion debate. I support gay marriage because I support human rights—for me they are one in the same. There is nothing that irritates me more than when Christians use their institution as a weapon to attack the gay community, pointing to a random passage in the Bible as evidence for what they’re saying is wrong. The hypocrisy of it, I have noticed, is that some groups use religion as a platform for hate—when we as Christians are always taught that it’s not for us to judge whether or not someone gets to stay or leave. Whether or not someone is good or bad is not our call to make, so it shouldn’t make a difference to us when we decide how we’re going to treat that person. Being a good person in the world is about being decent, not divisive. The Pink Unicorn reminds us of this very fact. In the end, I was left with an impression that an issue we often find confusing is actually quite simple. We may not always know what to say or how to act. But just because we don’t understand something completely does not mean that we cannot or should not advocate and protect people who are different from us. It doesn’t mean that we can’t fight for what’s fair and decent. 
03.12.2016
Hans H Gruenert
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by Elizabeth Beck - Senior RMU Sarah Silk - Alec Silberblatt Photo: Heather Mull The first thing I thought when the lights came up at the end of the show was: That was an insane amount of words. This may not have been the most articulate thing to say, but ironically, Off the Wall’s latest opening, Lungs, is extremely eloquent. I think the most mind-blowing part of this play is the mastery with which the two actors deliver the dialogue. It’s what keeps Lungs moving along, and in a ninety-minute show with absolutely no stopping and no obvious transitions, this is crucial. The sheer amount of words spoken throughout the play is astounding; the entire time, I was astonished at the fact that Sarah Silk, who beautifully portrays the complicated and endearing woman, had memorized it all. Watching Lungs, I felt as if I were stuck watching an impossibly long, circular argument that seems to be going somewhere—but as audience members, we can never be too sure where that “somewhere” is. The way that Silk and Alec Silberblatt portray their characters is the main reason behind this; I felt like I was watching a real couple argue in real time. Their chemistry plays a major role in the play’s believability. They have real concerns and real issues within their relationship, and it’s very intriguing and engaging to watch on stage.             We can all see bits and pieces of ourselves in these two characters—the insecurities of adulthood, the fragile (lack of) assurance in young relationships, the worrying about the problems of the world, and most of all, the fear that we cannot do what we believe we are meant to do, which is procreate and successfully raise another human being. I certainly saw a lot of myself in the woman in the show, but surprisingly, I identified with the man as well. The fact that the two characters transcend individual experiences, speaking to a much larger, collective reality, is a testament to just how good Silk and Silberblatt are in this show.             For a lot of the play, Silk’s character dominates the conversation. She talks in circles, at about 90 miles-per-hour, and with a cadence that makes you feel like she’s thinking out loud. It’s very believable (and unbelievable that she pulls it off so convincingly). Because of the female character’s volume, it’s hard to see the man in the relationship at first, but when he does come to the forefront, it’s impossible not to notice his struggle. Silberblatt delivers a very honest, relatable performance. At one point, when the woman is asleep, he opens up in a monologue about his inability to speak up in the relationship because he doesn’t know how to respond. That moment is so real and vulnerable, and I felt that in a lot of ways it was the highlight of the show. It reminds the audience that, while this man is in a relationship with a complicated and chaotic partner, it’s not that he’s being chivalrous by letting her talk—it’s that he doesn’t know how to voice his opinion. It also speaks volumes to the fragility of politics around female reproductive health. We put a lot of stress on the woman’s role in childbearing and, most of the time, the father fades to the background. But the man in Lungs will not be forgotten; he’s in the trenches just as fiercely as his girlfriend—and Silberblatt delivers it so skillfully.             But honestly, what I really liked—and related to most strongly—was the content of Lungs. This show really reaches out to the “baby-making generation,” i.e. the twenty and thirty-somethings that feel pressure from society’s expectations to marry and procreate because they’re of a certain age and that’s “just what people do." It’s easy for the older generations, the would-be grandparents, to pressure this age group to have kids, because when the baby-boomers had kids, the world was a little less scary than it is now. As millennials, we face a world that seems all too crowded with social and cultural issues. Everywhere we turn, there is a war, a protest, a new disease, and—as is one of the prominent issues in this play—a dying planet. Most of us don’t want to say it, but Lungs does: maybe it’s not the best idea to have kids.             I think Lungs is a play for everyone, regardless of age, demographic, culture, gender, or whatever else you’d like to insert. Because it’s just so damn relevant.
30.11.2016
Hans H Gruenert
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Lungs  by Duncan Macmillan Performances:  Performances: Dec. 2–3, 8–10, 15–17 @ 8:00 pm,  Matinee Dec. 4 & 11, 2016 @ 3:00 pm Dec. 2–3, 8–10, 15–17  pmA play by British playwright Duncan MacMillan. Directed by Spencer WhaleWith: Sarah Silk & Alec Silberblatt A bare stage, no scenery, no furniture, no props, no costume changes but infinite possibilities. LUNGS is a smart and funny drama that follows a couple through the surprising lifecycle of their relationship, as they grapple with questions of family and change, hope, betrayal, happenstance, and the terrible pain that you can only cause the people you love. "Duncan Macmillan's distinctive, off-kilter love story is brutally honest, funny, edgy and current. It gives voice to a generation for whom uncertainty is a way of life through two flawed, but deeply human, people who you don't always like but start to feel you might love." the guardian, London

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