- Juan Mayorga
Way to Heaven/ Camino al Cielo
Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School—When Jerome Davis, Burning Coal Theatre's artistic director, considered presenting Way to Heaven/ Camino al Cielo, a play by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga about a prison camp in Nazi Germany, he thought back to 1995, when he attended a New York City run of a Japanese play directed by the late, great Ingmar Bergman.
Madame de Sade featured actors from Bergman's Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden company performing Yukio Mishima's story about the Marquis de Sade's wife—translated by headset to English, as Davis recalls, with a thick Brooklyn accent.
"It made me think about how art can be influenced by the culture it's presented in, the culture it's created in, and the culture it's about—and, in some ways, what it's not about," Davis says.
In the spirit of that polyglot production, Burning Coal will present Way to Heaven/ Camino al Cielo in alternating Spanish and English performances. The production, directed by Matthew Earnest—who previously directed The Man Who Tried to Save the World, Lipstick Traces, and 1776 at Burning Coal—explores the true story of a model prisoner camp built by the Nazis to convince the Red Cross and other international organizations that the gas chambers were an illusion. Prisoners were cast as mayor, baker and teacher, and their interactions were scripted for visitors. Davis says that the showcase prison was, in itself, a play, and that Mayorga's interpretation raises troubling questions about the confluence of art, propaganda and horrific acts of the 20th century.
Davis describes the material as "lyrical," "poetic" and "sparse," and is convinced it will translate well to either language—even if audience members don't speak it.
"It's about images as much as words," he says.
The show opens tonight with a Spanish-language performance, before having its English debut tomorrow night. It runs through Feb. 8 and tickets are $10-$20. Visit www.burningcoal.org for more information. —Matt Saldaña
The Good Graces, John Harrison
The Cave—The confiding will be quiet tonight with this triple acoustic bill: The Good Graces is the post-divorce project of Kim Ware, a Wilmington drummer who moved to Atlanta, purchased a raggedy guitar in an antiques mall, and fumbled her way through her first chords to arrive at an album of dreamy resilience. Her "Over It" acknowledges the hurt and—over strummed chords and flickers of electric figures—proclaims, "I don't feel the same way that I used to/ And I know that we're both much better off." Ware continues to run Eskimo Kiss Records, which last week released an excellent, intricate new pop explosion of North Elementary. John Harrison, who leads that band, joins his label head tonight for a solo set. Opening is Charlotte singer-songwriter Anna Bullard. Her finger-picked guitars and plinking major piano chords buoy a voice that fights for air from inside a sea of lovesickness. The 10 p.m. show costs $5. —Grayson Currin