Benjamin Turk talks about didactic theater, state violence and the danger of "good cops"

Categories: Activism, Theater

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Courtesy of Insurgent Theater
Benjamin Turk wrote and stars in Behind the Badge.
Anarchist playwright Benjamin Turk sees theater as more than entertainment. He believes plays can spark dialogue, transform community and attack systems of violence: capitalism, the police and prisons. Steeped in the work of Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal, who both resisted the idea that stories should help audiences connect with a main character and experience an overwhelming and resolved emotional turmoil (Aristotle called this "catharsis" and viewed it as the goal of a successful tragedy), Turk creates plays that challenge audiences to ask and answer pressing political questions, interrupting the dramatic flow for participatory conversations about police, gentrification, race and beyond. In advance of the July 18 performance of Behind the Badge, a play Turk has been touring across the United States, we spoke with him about his work, violence and the danger of "good cops."

See also: James Walsh on the Romero Troupe and Unbound, the doc premiering tomorrow

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Playbill: This week's Denver-area dance and drama picks

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James O'Hagan-Murphy and Len Matheo are Felix and Oscar in Miners Alley's The Odd Couple.
From a special storytelling spectacular with The Narrators at Buntport to a summer new-play festival at Edge Theatre, this week's performing arts calendar has the proverbial something for everyone. Here are three more ways to stay busy with hot-weather diversions.

See also: On the Hot Seat: Who Will Sing For Lena?

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Playbill: This week's performing arts picks

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Gruesome Playground Injuries, Dairy Center for the Arts.
From participatory performance art on a stage in a picture window to an improvised gag-fest about the pitfalls of speed dating, there are many ways to find relief from the summer heat, whether it's in a gallery environment or a dark theater. Here are a few of the coolest performing-arts options this week.

See also: The Right Note: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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Playbill: This week's performing arts picks

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Cora Vette's Restomod Blacklight Burlesque at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.
As a break from this weekend's flag-waving and fireworks, wouldn't it be nice to cool off indoors in a darkened theater for an hour or two? Here are some options -- ambitious, naughty or light-hearted, depending on your mood -- to chill with over the holiday.

See also: Dead Man Walking, Central City Opera

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Playbill: Three ways to enjoy the performing arts in Denver this week

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Photo by Lauren Harper
Daughter Cells Dance and artist Sabin Aell, Ubuntu, BMoCA.
Perhaps it's the pull of longer days and glorious nights that shuts down local stages in the summertime. But there are still places where you can catch a great musical or a dance performance when the heat of the day begins to subside. Here are our picks for this week.

See also: Artistes Nouveaux at the Aurora Fox


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The Colorado Theatre Guild announces this year's Henry Award nominations

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Jennifer M Koskinen
Jim Ferris in Animal Crackers, Denver Center Theatre Company.
The finalists for this year's Henry Awards in theater have been announced. Given by the Colorado Theatre Guild, which covers the entire state, the Henrys are decided by dozens of judges, six of whom must attend every eligible production.

As always, the list of finalists comprises both expected choices and a few unexpected. The Denver Center Theatre Company, which has garnered surprisingly few nominations in the past, has a whopping 28 this year, nine of them for The Legend of Georgia McBride, several more for the hilarious Animal Crackers.

See also: The Tempest is both magical and mundane at the Shakespeare Festival

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Anthony J. Garcia on the 1974 murders of six Chicano activists and his play Cuarenta y Ocho

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Courtesy of Su Teatro
Anthony J. Garcia's play Cuarenta y Ocho explores the deaths of six Chicano activists in 1974.
Forty years ago, bombs exploded in Boulder, killing six Chicano activists. Their deaths are still shrouded in mystery: Who killed them and why? Were they plotting a bombing? Did the police and FBI entrap them? Were they murdered? Su Teatro's Tony Garcia has written Cuarenta y Ocho, a play that explores these questions and more. In advance of tonight's opening, Westword spoke with Garcia about his fictional work and the actual events of forty years ago.

See also: Anthony J. Garcia on
Ludlow: El Grito de Las Minas

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Playbill: This week's dance and drama picks

Categories: Dance, Theater

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I Hate Hamlet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
The curtains never really go down on Denver's stages, even in the summer, when some companies take a break -- but others launch special festivals. Here are a few ways to be transported by music, dance, comedy and drama this week.

See also: Ch-Ch-Changes: (the world we've created) at the Studio Loft


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Sara Century and collaborators on Splinters, her first musical

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Tom Murphy
The cast of Splinters (left to right): Katie Taylor, Heidi Kleder and Sara Century.
Splinters, the first musical conceived and written by Sara Century, is a surrealistic combination of music and performance art in twelve acts with set and costume changes throughout. Working with Denver friends Katie Taylor and Heidi Kleder, Century has created a three-woman vehicle about the sometimes convoluted nature of friendships that should appeal to anyone with an absurdist sense of humor and an appreciation for the musical avant-garde. Splinters is set for a one-off debut performance on Sunday, June 15 in a secret location (divulged, of course, to ticket-holders); in advance of that show, we sat down with the women behind the musical to talk about the cross-time cultural references that are a part of the music, Kleder's involvement with artist Nick Cave's performance at the Denver Art Museum, and how Century found that reading the script aloud with her cohorts was essential in the editing of the musical into its final form.

See also:
Sara Century reveals friends and idols with her musicians' portrait gallery

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Beth Malone on Molly Brown, playing strong historical characters, and coming back to Denver

Categories: Theater

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Beth Malone will be in Denver in September as Molly Brown.
For the updated version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which will kick off the new Denver Center Theatre Company season this fall, the DCTC has cast Beth Malone, an unsinkable Colorado native, in the starring role. Malone began her career as a teenager playing roles at the Country Dinner Playhouse and has since performed on stages all over the country; she made her Broadway debut in 2006 as June Carter Cash in Ring of Fire and was recently seen off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in Fun Home. After her casting as Molly Brown was announced, Westword caught up with Malone to talk about going for the role of Molly Brown and portraying strong, historical characters.

See also: Colorado gets "A Call to Arms" at the Molly Brown House Museum

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