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Orchids and Polka Dots featuring Kistoffer Tonning and McKenzie A. Frye Photo credit Nathan Yungerberg

Kristofer Tonning and McKenzie Frye in “Orchids and Polka Dots”

The Fire This Time festival, now in its fourth year, features ten minute plays by young and emerging playwrights of color. (Check out my review for the 2010 season.) The founding producer Kelley Nicole Girod’s mission with The Fire This Time (the name of the festival is a play on the title of James Baldwin’s book The Fire Next Time) is to broaden the scope of the Theatre of Color to include not only African-Americans and the conventions of Baldwin’s generation of writers, but to “any play written by a black playwright . . . even if it is a play about two white people in love.” This is an expansive definition of what constitutes “black theatre,” and the playwrights whose works are featured this year explore many of its implications.
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Why should politics be left to politicians? If they had their way we’d all be waving flags and buying crap on credit, while the corporate-government revolving door does enough RPMs to power a generator that could light up Manhattan. On the other hand, if the unwashed masses had their way we’d all be burning flags and sharing watery vegan gruel in the mess halls of our workers’ collective. I propose that politics should be handled exclusively by playwrights. If you check out Created Equal at The Theater at the 14th Street Y anytime from now until February 12th, you’ll know why. This collection of six short plays will entertain you, outrage you, inspire you, and give you debating points for weeks to come.

Created Equal is the second production this season for The Red Fern Theatre Company, whose mission is “to provoke social awareness and change through its theatrical productions and outreach.” The six plays that comprise the show are by exciting, young New York playwrights J. Holtham, Kristen and Luanne Rosenfeld, Anna Moench, Rob Askins, Jen Silverman, and Joshua Conkel, who took the assignment to write on inequality in America seriously.

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