Arts Desk

Stupid Fucking Bird to Return to Woolly Mammoth This Summer

Stupid Fucking Bird

On the heels of what might be the worst show it's ever produced, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is bringing back one of its best: Stupid Fucking Bird, playwright Aaron Posner's irreverent update of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, which was a huge hit for the 34-year-old company last summer, will return with its original cast intact July 28 to August 17, Woolly announced today.

"It’s absorbing in its every glance and revealing in its every sigh," wrote noted Washington City Paper theater critic and all-around swell guy Chris Klimek in his rave review of the production last June. (I went back to see it a second time. I harangued people who don't usually see plays to go see it. It was my favorite show of the year, at Woolly or anywhere else. It's very good. They did a good job.)

The company also announced that Rodney King, a solo show by Roger Guenveur Smith, who performed A Huey P. Newton Story at Woolly 18 years ago, will get a two-week run as part of the ninth Capital Fringe Festival. (Noted WCP theatre critic and all-around swell guy Trey Graham called A Huey P. Newton story "a blistering, beautiful piece of theatre" back in 1996.) Rodney King was the victim of a beating by four Los Angeles police officers. (Coincidentally, today is the 23rd anniversary of that incident.) The Los Angeles riots of May 1992, which resulted in 53 deaths, were a response to the officers' acquittal.

Smith may be familiar to audiences in the region from his recurring roles on NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street in the '90s and on the HBO series K Street in 2003. One of his performance of  A Huey P. Newton story at the Public Theater in New York was filmed and turned into a Peabody Award-winning TV movie in 2001 by Spike Lee, with whom Smith has had a long working relationship, going back as far as Do the Right Thing, which discerning people now rightfully acknowledge as the best picture of 1989 even though it was only nominated in the Original Screenplay category at the Oscars, where it lost to Dead Poets Society. Come on. Sorry, what were we talking about?

Smith debuted Rodney King at Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group in 1996. From the press release:

Smith explores the legacy of another American icon, colliding history and improvised poetry to unravel the myth of 'the first reality TV star.' From the initial glare of the national spotlight as the victim of police brutality, to the symbolic heroism thrust upon him that ignited the LA riots, to his lonely death at the bottom a swimming pool, Smith captures the story of a flawed, good-hearted everyman, and by extension reveals America’s endlessly complicated relationship with its racial past and present.

I'm looking forward to seeing both.

Cody Nickell, Kate Eastwood Norris, Kimberly Gilbert and Rick Foucheux in a promotional image for last summer's Stupid Fucking Bird.

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