This new play is created from the highlights of over 63 hours of interviews plus notes from events the playwright attended to create a play that strives to show the people behind the politics. More…
'Chatting with the Tea Party' is a documentary-style play by Rich Orloff about a New York liberal playwright who decides to travel around the country interviewing leaders of local Tea Party groups, to get to know people whose political beliefs are diametrically opposed to his. For a year the playwright attended Tea Party meetings and events in cities large and small in every region of the country.
"One of the best scripts of the season, Broadway or Off. The action, directed by Lynette Barkley, keeps us engaged as the skilled actors walk in and out of personas. Orloff has the gift of slick writing, so the many elements are anchored (often with some sharp humor) and paint quick vivid images of the characters without relying on stereotype." Full Review
"What makes 'Chatting with the Tea Party' so engaging is Orloff's reach across the divide. He has made a civilized attempt to discover why certain Americans feel the way they do...America is a big country, and Orloff has assembled a series of voices that illustrate not only our differences, but our shared humanity." Full Review
"Director Lynnette Barkley keeps the show moving briskly and makes economical use of slide projections and lighting changes to suggest myriad locales...The ensemble morph into a rich array of concerned Americans...At times comic, often moving, 'Chatting' offers no solutions. But it does affirm that it is not only possible but necessary, to reach across the aisle and find common ground. If our politicians won’t do it, then we, the people must make the first move." Full Review
"Orloff hits on the multifaceted nature of people, who can be outrageously crazy and narrow-minded but also surprisingly kind, well-spoken and passionate about their ideals...Hopefully, 'Chatting with the Tea Party' is one way to start a dialogue, maybe even with someone you think is your enemy." Full Review
"A thoughtful and earnest exploration of the opinions of Tea Party members...A sincere attempt by the playwright to understand, not condemn, people whose opinions differ from his own...The sweeping conclusion is that Tea Party members are just people too. While I appreciate this ostensibly open-minded sentiment, I find it a bit simplistic." Full Review
"What Rich Orloff, the playwright, does not understand is that all people of all ideological perspectives develop their opinions on the issues based on their own individual principles, values, and priorities, whether or not they have thought them through...While the playwright's smug, leftist, superior attitude may annoy you throughout the play, the actual interviews will provide you with a variety of perspectives held by Tea Party leaders. 'Chatting' is informative and insightful!" Full Review
"The play is well-crafted because it went through 16 staged readings. Lynnette Barkley, the director, managed to bring out the best in the actors and had them interact with one another as they portrayed a variety of liberals, historical figures, and Tea Party members...Rich Orloff has a gift for transforming philosophy into interesting dialogue...A practical guide for understanding the politics of the times they were written in." Full Review
"Rich Orloff calls his 'Chatting With the Tea Party' a 'documentary-style play,' but it’s also a personal-journey play, which is what saves it from being either too dry or too smarmy...Much of it you’ve heard before or can imagine, and the acting, under Lynnette Barkley’s direction, isn’t as effortless as it needs to be. But Rich’s reactions to what he’s hearing are illuminating." Full Review
"'Chatting with the Tea Party' might have come up with a format more theatrical or imaginative than Orloff’s straightforward reportage, but it does leave you with plenty to think about, and it refuses to reduce its often provocative political discourse into shrink-wrapped sound bites." Full Review
"Wolf is an agreeable narrator with an infectious curiosity...While Rich is the central and only recurring character in the play, three other actors all play at least a handful of different roles each…The challenge here is that none of these roles ever progress past surface level, and thus very little character development or empathy is within reach. That being said, director Lynnette Barkley is particular about distinction, and as a result none of the additional characters feel extraneous or... Full Review
"The problem of empathy as a political strategy is at the crux of the new documentary-style play 'Chatting with the Tea Party'...Orloff's intent is admirable...The interviews...create a delightful vocal collage. It is a fruitful strategy that complicates a potentially single-voiced endeavor. However, it might not have been complicated enough...The only character that is granted a full range of political and human expression is Orloff." Full Review
See it if you want to examine some of your thinking. You'll be surprised that some of your cherished ideals are suspect. Nothing is black and white.
Don't see it if are closed minded and fossilized in your thoughts.
See it if you are tired of proliferating stereotypes and crave a fresh look at people whose opinions differ from your own. It's funny!
Don't see it if you are a cookie-cutter NYC liberal who never changes their mind about anything.
See it if You're interested in a balanced, probing take on liberal vs conservative politics, all completely true and taken from real interviews.
Don't see it if You don't want to see Tea Partiers as real people, with real, albeit alarming, insights and concerns.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies