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Apr. 29 2024

Crossing borders and breaking boundaries with Spooky Action Theater

By Gavin Witt | Posted in Interviews, Staff Blogs, WBJC Programs | Comments Off on Crossing borders and breaking boundaries with Spooky Action Theater

Spooky Action Theater’s artistic director, Elizabeth Dinkova, joined me by phone to unpack some of the humor, humanity, and heart at play in the latest production from this inventive DC-based theater compnay.

She spoke with extra authority and insight having known the playwright, Philip Howze, since overlapping at drama school; having selected and programmed the piece as a producer; and as the current production’s director.

But–as you may discern in our conversation or will surely discover upon reading more about this highly innovative, deeply insightful, excitingly intrepid theatermaker–Elizabeth also brings a powerfully personal perspective to this particular production and to the season’s theme as a whole (“Beyond Borders”) as herself an exile/emigre navigating many of the same complexities and challenges explored in Howze’s play.

As AD Dinkova has noted about the season, “This season explores the lines we draw not just between countries or cultures, but between belief systems, aesthetics, identities. [The plays] inspired me to think about borders more broadly, to ask: what are the territories of the mind and heart that we guard the most fervently? Our season celebrates the power of theater to dissolve artificial boundaries through empathy and imagination, and to build bridges instead.”

In the case of Frontieres sans Frontieres, that exploration takes us to a landfill in a country that feels familiar and foreign where three stateless youth have cobbled together a scrappy living: learning “Engaleash” and raising a ruckus. When a horde of outsiders, many with the best intentions, invade their home with promises of assistance and civilization, we are left to calculate the cost of all this help. Howze’s “brightly colored, comic fantasia on cultural imperialism” (The New York Times) uses highly theatrical, often playful satire  to ask, who wins and who loses in the battle to hold on to the people and places we love?

Find out more, and get tickets, here Current Show – SPOOKY ACTION THEATER

Hear more from Elizabeth Dinkova in her own words in our conversation:


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WBJC listeners and Baltimore audiences may know Gavin from his nearly 20 years as dramaturg and associate artistic director at Baltimore Center Stage (in which capacity he was a frequent guest on WBJC to talk about programs and events), or from regular appearances alongside Jonathan Palevsky at the Charles Theater for Cinema Sundays discussions. A director, dramaturg, producer, translator, and adaptor who also teaches on the theater faculty at Towson University, Gavin is a recent addition to the WBJC team and delighted to play this new role.

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