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“Why You Beasting” at the New York International Fringe Festival at CSV Flamboyan

“Why You Beasting” at the New York International Fringe Festival at CSV Flamboyan
Written by David Don Miller
Directed by Markus Potter
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

David Don Miller’s provocative play “Why You Beasting” tips its dramatic hat to the ongoing controversy of how to provide rich instruction in urban public high schools and provide learning environments that provide underserved students opportunities to determine what they want to learn and how they choose to learn. In the play, rookie teacher Mr. Rudy Donovan’s (Shane Zeigler) journey from finding a way to provide his students an authentic learning experience to – believe it or not – the district’s “rubber room” is populated by growing pains, disastrous classroom brawls, and a spate of administrative interventions.

Like the majority of new teachers fresh out of graduate teaching programs that often focus on content over craft, Mr. Donovan has scant knowledge of how to manage the only thing a teacher can manage: his classroom. He confuses temporary compliance to his “rules” with having “reached” his students. More detrimental to his success in the classroom is his belief that “wanting to help” will make an instant connection with urban high school students who have learned to be mistrustful of “caring” and can smell insincerity a borough away.

This lack of craft and the cynicism of veteran teacher Mr. Tom Wallace (Fletcher Shepley-McTaggart) result in Donovan’s disillusionment and growing self-doubt and after colleague Mr. Schwartz’s disintegrating ego-strength results in verbally and physically harassing his students landing him in the “Rubber Room,” Donovan decides that fate of being paid for doing nothing ad infinitum is a pleasing alternative to daily torture in the classroom he is ultimately responsible to manage and teach. His plan for getting into the Rubber Room fails miserably and he faces being fired. After his principal offers him an administrative position to keep him on the staff, a glance from one student with whom he had made an authentic connection creates an impressive plot twist: he ends up accepting the Rubber Room in order to return to the classroom.

The ensemble cast portrays convincing characters with boundless energy that push the limits of reality but carefully and intentionally avoid falling into the realm of stereotypes. The wonderfully diverse, multi-ethnic troupe brings with it a sense of honesty that almost creates an unsettling discomfort as they time and time again quickly turn humor into fear. Shane Zeigler exposes Rudy Donovan as an earnest, determined and dedicated novice teacher who falls victim to many battles before understanding victory. Fletcher Shepley-McTaggart as the already jaded, apathetic teacher Tom Wallace who plays the system is excellent as comrade and ill fated confidant to his gullible colleague. Andre Montgomery as Principal Dr. Rogelio Rubio is the perfect example of educational administration manipulation and knows how to squeeze every ounce of spite and sarcasm out of his character. Other stand outs in the well rounded cast are Desiree Rodriguez (Roberta Gonzalez), Corwin Tuggles (Tyrone Marshall Jones III), and Suzanna Guzman (Senora Esperanza Encarnacion).

The script is well structured but falls short in the second act after repetitive scenes involving Donovan getting inebriated in a bar while devising a plot, executing the plan in the classroom, and confronting the unsuccessful results in the principal’s office - all adding excessive blackouts and unnecessary visuals without any pertinent plot development. It slows the pace and would be better left to clever dialogue and informative conversation. The last scene also might need some attention with a more positive and uplifting reflection. It would also be beneficial to reduce running time to 90 minutes without an intermission.

WHY YOU BEASTING

“Why You Beasting” is presented by The New York International Fringe Festival, NewYorkRep, and Dan Irwin at CSV Flamboyan, 107 Suffolk Street (Rivington and Delancey).

The cast includes Shane Zeigler, Pulina Ruiz, Gonzalo Trigueros, Desiree Rodriguez, Corwin Tuggles, Nicolette Ellis, Fletcher Shepley-McTaggart, Doug Trapp, Susanna Guzman, Camille James, Jay Horton, Ann-Kathryne Mills, Jon E, María Pietranera, Lacroix Peeples, Taylor Carter-Jones, and Megan Merrick. The creative team includes Associate Producer: Perry Poussard, Jr.; Playwright: David Don Miller
Director: Markus Potter; Production Stage Manager: Craig Rosenthal; Scenic/Lighting Designer: David Goldstein; Costume Designer: Sarafina Bush; Interns: Taylor Carter-Jones, Alex Aug, and Megan Merrick.

All performances of “Why You Beasting” take place at on the following schedule: Wednesday August 14th at 7:00; Saturday August 24th at 5:45 p.m.; and Sunday August 25th at Noon. Tickets are $18.00 at the door and $15.00 for advance purchase. The running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. For more information about the show visit www.WhyYouBeasting.com For more information about the 17th Annual New York Fringe Festival visit www.FringeNYC.org.
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Tuesday, August 13, 2013