PREVIEW: Indecent

What: a historical, semi-nonfiction play produced by the student theater company Rude Mechanicals


  • Friday, December 9, 8:00pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 8:00pm
  • Sunday, December 11, 2:00pm

Where: Arthur Miller Theater (North Campus, map)

Tickets: $6 for students, $12 for adults, available online, at the MUTO ticket office, by phone at (734) 763-8587), or at the box office 1 hr before the performance. Additional fees may apply.

Indecent follows the tumultuous story of another play, God of Vengeance, which was written by the Polish-Jewish playwright Sholem Asch in 1906. The story is grand in scope, sweeping from the origins of God of Vengeance in 1906, to its production in Europe, to the devastating effects of xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, and censorship during its attempted production in the United States, and finally detailing the lingering effects of the play on its actors and authors during the Holocaust and into the 1950s. The Rude Mechanicals are a student theater company emphasizing creative innovation on classic plays, where students take charge in the entire production process. I am excited to see how they interpret this play with its richly layered themes which feel increasingly salient today.

PREVIEW: Somebody’s Children

Somebody’s children will be on stage on April 9th and 10th at the Arthur Miller Theater. Written by U of M’s Assistant Professor José Casas, this play was already celebrated as an award winner of the 2009 Waldo M. and Grace C. Bonderman Playwriting Workshop and being featured in a rehearsed reading at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. The story will take place near Disneyland, in a run-down motel, shedding the light on people who live without permanent housing. The play will take the form of a series of spoken-word poetry vignettes.

I’ve heard much admiration from friends who have already seen the performance. Many appraisals were given to the stage design and the props, including the Disneyland sign, and there was also an appreciation for how different languages were realistically mixed in the lines. I’m really excited to check out this play, both for its focus on the social issue of homelessness and the many appreciative reviews about the beauty of this play. Don’t miss your chance to see this performance live on stage!

Review: Men on Boats

Men on boats was a good event. The Arthur Miller theatre was very well set up. The ambiance of the play was very cozy and rustic. It fit the theme of an 1860s story.

The actors of the play were very enthusiastic and did their best to carry the story. But. The story was quite bland to put it frankly. The jokes were sparse and the funniest scenes were usually slapstick kind about boats breaking. Though I must say the slow-motion scenes of the boats breaking were very funny especially as they broke to background music of contemporary meme songs.

An interesting thing about Men on Boats was that even though it portrays only men, in this rendition, the cast was all female so it was supposed to be a “satirical, gender-flipped” story making fun of the explorers’ “cockiness and cluelessness.” But as I sat through the play I did not see much of this. Having an all-female cast did not really add much to making the play funnier or adding to the satire element of the play.

It was a little unsettling to watch because it deals with aspects of colonization: the men are “discovering” new parts of America and traversing through the Colorado River, being the first white settlers to do so. And though the play ends on a conflicting note where the explorers are not really satisfied with having “discovered” the places they saw and finishing the journey, it did not address some important issues in an important way. The main conflicts of the play were the explorers not having enough food or leaving because the waters were unkind to them. Seeing men dilly-dallying their way through the land natives have lived on for centuries before wasn’t that great. The play acknowledges that aspect but not in a serious way. The satire is not really aimed towards the colonization aspect of their work but rather their silly antics. I don’t think this was a good choice for a play to show in these times.

Regardless of that, the actors were phenomenal—their energy was contagious and some of the best scenes included them stampeding the floor and acting out the river travel. The character Mr. Hopkins was my favorite and had great comedic timing. The lighting details in the show were very impactful and one of my favorite parts of the event.

PREVIEW: Is This A Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription

Art often has some connection to politics, but often it’ll be diluted, stylized past the point of meaning as much. It’s rare to see this kind of drama in an untouched form. The audience and actors here are forced to work with nothing but reality to create artistic drama, and that is a unique challenge.

The play follows the 2017 interrogation of Reality Winner, ex-Air Force linguist who was accused of leaking information on Russian meddling with the 2016 presidential election. In this current political landscape, this story is fully relevant to our wondering minds, many of which have been thus far unsatisfied with other media coverage.

Show times:

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2020 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, JANUARY 31, 2020 8:00 PM

Tickets are $35 for general admission, and $12-20 for high school and college students. Find them here:

REVIEW: Water by the Spoonful

SMTD’s production of Water by the Spoonful soared beyond all expectations; it went beyond a simple examination of addiction, familial dysfunction, and the human burdens accompanying both, and instead quivered in an unwavering state of compassion, warming my heart in counterbalance. Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play proved to be as patiently restorative as the the metaphor in which its name is based upon – the title refers to a method of hydrating sick children, in which the caretaker must sustain the child with spoonful-sized dosages of water, spaced five minutes apart. If improperly executed, the results can be devastating; Hudes’ work carries an undercurrent of this metaphor throughout. The characters in the plot, be they recovering addicts, mourners, or both, must likewise learn to sustain their individual burdens within life’s fragile constraints, while recognizing the healing properties of interpersonal support and forgiveness.

I perceived the play to be pretty nonlinear; it was only after Yazmin’s monologue about the necessity of ‘dissonance’ that the scenes and characters gradually unveiled themselves to be far more interconnected than their initial, disparate origins. Indeed, the concept of dissonance through Yazmin’s terms clarified my understanding of the play; on the surface, the eccentric crack-addicts interacting within the support chatroom, Ginny’s death, and her two very different mourning relatives seemed dissonant, like chess pieces moving in no relation to one another. Yet it was about halfway through that I conceived of more than just a community death connecting each character’s stories. Rather, the addicts and the Ortiz family are practically interwoven, not only in narrative but also resolved in the sense of universal yearning, grief, and overall, a collective search for harmony.

“Dissonance is still a gateway to resolution.” – Quiara Alegría Hudes, Water by the Spoonful

Beyond the heartwarming characters and SMTD’s moving portrayals of them, I particularly enjoyed the production’s sound and set designs and the little details included in such that effectively highlighted the pure human emotionality running through the piece. Though Hudes writes Water by the Spoonful with dissonance and John Coltrane’s uninhibited jazz music in mind, the sound designers working on this production incorporated these musical concepts especially well in the play’s most emotionally charged moments – like Odessa’s overdose and the abrupt endings of multiple chatroom arguments. In addition, the set designers managed to transform the space from scene-to-scene into vastly different simulated environments, through multiple wheeled components, which I thought was consistently convincing and effective. After all, how does one spatially represent the cyberspace and how people would interact within a “chatroom”?

SMTD’s Water by the Spoonful will be on show at the Arthur Miller Theatre until November 17; I highly recommend going if you have the chance!


Many people remember the Flint Water Crisis that occurred now 5 years ago, but it is simply that — a distant memory of the extensive news coverage that has slowly faded from our collective minds. However, though there are no more national news reports about it, the issue has not been resolved, as Flint residents have battled for clean water and answers for five years and counting.

José Casas, playwright and SMTD faculty member, has transformed this tragic event into a powerful play that documents the effects, aftermath, and current state of this once-avoidable crisis. Based on true stories of Flint residents collected personally by Casas, “Flint” gives power and strength to the city and combines the monologues of pain and reality into this educational, documentary play that will hit close to home and open people’s minds and eyes to what our neighbors have dealt with and continue to deal with.

SMTD’s play “Flint” premiers tonight and runs for eight nights. Taking place on the blackbox stage in the Arthur Miller Theatre, general admission is $30 or $12 for students. The showtimes are as follows:

April 4 and 11 at 7:30 PM

April 5, 6, and 8 at 8 PM

April 7 and 14 at 2 PM