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End Of Scene Blog Entries
SATURDAY, DEC 7, 2013
Ken makes a scene about why he wrote LIFE ON PAPER
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[EXCERPTED REVIEW] Broadway World makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[REVIEW] The Houston Press makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
SUNDAY, FEB 3, 2013
Ken makes a scene about an upcoming reading at Ensemble Studio Theatre
FRIDAY, FEB 1, 2013
Ken makes a scene about joining Season Two of House Of Cards
SATURDAY, DEC 8, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a letter from Liz Engelman
THURSDAY, DEC 6, 2012
Ken makes a scene about "Red State Blue State" on This American Life
MONDAY, NOV 5, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a stage adaptation of Warrior Class for the BBC.
TUESDAY, OCT 16, 2012
Ken makes a scene about participating in Baltimore Center Stage's MY AMERICA PROJECT, directed by Hal Hartley
SUNDAY, JUL 29, 2012
Errol Louis makes a scene about Warrior Class on NY1's INSIDE CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY, JUL 25, 2012
Head critic for NYTimes makes a scene about Warrior Class on WQXR's Around Broadway.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The Daily News makes a scene about Warrior Class
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The New York Times makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: Variety makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JAN 24, 2012
Ken makes a scene about The Montgomery New's Review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, JAN 19, 2012
Ken makes a scene about STAGE Magazine's review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a remarkable piece of writing about the American theatre
TUESDAY, NOV 22, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a character's stage transformation
MONDAY, NOV 21, 2011
Ken makes a scene about WARRIOR CLASS online
TUESDAY, SEP 27, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Asian American Performers Action Committee
MONDAY, SEP 26, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the fast work of SCR's casting department
FRIDAY, SEP 16, 2011
Ken makes a scene about Anne Garcia-Romero's post about LoNyLa
WEDNESDAY, JUL 6, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's $150,000 grant to FALLOW
SUNDAY, JUN 19, 2011
A letter from Kaitlin Hopkins - Head of the Musical Theatre Program at Texas State
TUESDAY, FEB 15, 2011
Ken makes a scene about science plays.
WEDNESDAY, DEC 22, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Intelligence-Slave making the Houston Chronicles Top Theater Shows of 2010 list
TUESDAY, OCT 19, 2010
Ken makes a scene about intra out-group persecution.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about why theater is not a humanity.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Athol Fugard's criticism about the failure of modern dramatists
MONDAY, JUL 26, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the diverse audience of Queens Theater in the Park
SUNDAY, JUN 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the Jewish Herald-Voice's profile of INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE
WEDNESDAY, JUN 2, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Lee Williams's review of Intelligence-Slave in the Houston Press
TUESDAY, JUN 1, 2010
Ken makes a scene about his Intelligence-Slave interview with culturemap.com
SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Everett Evans's review in the Houston Chronicle
TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
Ken makes a scene about sharing a collective spirituality in the theater
SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010
Ken makes a scene about seeing the bird through the feathers
FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about tech, letting go of the play and making discoveries in production
MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Press
SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Chronicle
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene for the Alley Theatre's Mark Bly
WEDNESDAY, APR 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about being playwright 151 in Adam Szymkowicz's blog.
THURSDAY, APR 8, 2010
Ken makes a scene about changing the name of his play.
THURSDAY, MAR 18, 2010
Ken makes a scene about pundits and why Tom Hanks is "injecting" racism into World War II.
TUESDAY, MAR 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about writing "winning" dialogue.
MONDAY, MAR 15, 2010
Ken makes a scene about agents and the ecology of show business.
SATURDAY, MAR 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the beauty of the theater actor
THURSDAY, DEC 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about non-English language productions
TUESDAY, NOV 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about reviewing business books for theater artists
WEDNESDAY, NOV 4, 2009
Ken makes a scene about THE BIG REWRITE!
TUESDAY, OCT 27, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the discovery of an algorithm for happiness (7ZJJBYD9U6PX)
THURSDAY, OCT 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Holocaust fiction as a literary genre
TUESDAY, OCT 13, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Asians who don't go to the theater.
MONDAY, OCT 5, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the challenge of bravery in the theater.
MONDAY, SEP 28, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the death of Tragedy and Comedy.
TUESDAY, SEP 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Dave Matthews's statement that racism is "everywhere" in America.
WEDNESDAY, SEP 16, 2009
Ken makes a scene about why playwrights need websites.
End of Scene Blog

Warrior Class: Hitting the Stage Everyone is battling for his own private piece of the action in this play at the Alley. By Jim J. Tommaney
Friday, June 07, 2013
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A Republican assemblyman from New York, Julius Weishan Lee, Chinese-American, has given an inspirational talk that has gone viral and brought him to the attention of some political kingmakers. He is ­being vetted for the nomination for a Con­gres­sional seat by a veteran political practitioner, who works behind the scenes to bring together donors with money and candidates with promise. The appeal of Julius is that his fresh face, ethnicity and a distinguished war record may give the Republicans a shot at a solidly Democratic Congressional seat.
The Alley's Neuhaus Stage works beautifully for Warrior Class, almost as though we were watching combat in a courtroom, since one of the play's themes is stalking and what it does to victim and predator, which is very much in the headlines.

The dialogue by award-winning playwright Kenneth Lin is subtle, accessible and compelling. Vito D'Ambrosio as political matchmaker Nathan Berkshire finds the nuances Lin has provided, playing them like a musical scale so that while smooth words of encouragement cascade from his mouth, we simultaneously see the workings of his brain, searching for a politically damaging flaw, alert to a misspoken word — "back to China" instead of "to China" sounds his inner alarm.

This is a bravura performance, all the more interesting as it's played low-key, conversationally, with no breakout moments to demand attention. We are fascinated because we see the remarkable skill of Nathan as he segues from idle chatter to conversation, then to intense interrogation, then promises of financial benefits, then veiled threats and even overt ones — but all delivered with the friendly "I am on your side" persona that has stood him so well over the years. He is a seasoned veteran, an unflagging worker in the vineyards of politics, and he does know where the bodies are buried.

Nathan has discovered an event in the past of the potential candidate, played by Nick Maccarone, that might be damaging. While in college, Julius had a relationship for more than a year with Holly Hathaway and stalked her when she broke off the affair. Fifteen years have passed and Holly is now Mrs. Eames, married with two children. Nathan asks her to sign a document certifying that she and Julius had a typical romantic relationship, and Holly refuses — unless they find a job for her husband, who's been unemployed for over a year. But Julius won't go along with this, and the Machiavellian negotiations ­begin in earnest.

Holly is portrayed by Caroline Hewitt, and she is excellent, holding her own against the very persuasive Nathan and conveying by body language even more than by words that the stalking had seriously wounded her — she had a nervous breakdown in college, and her own life has not been what she dreamed it might be. Nick Maccarone plays Julius and provides the cautious ambiguity the playwright intends. As an assemblyman, he would prefer committees helping the underrepresented — is this a sign that he has matured and changed? Or is his still violent temper the better indicator that leopards don't change their spots? He left college to join the Marines and became a decorated war hero, and his speech went viral, causing Sean Hannity to label him "The Republican Obama." No wonder the pols are interested.

The script is laced with humor despite the gravity of the situation. My favorite moments are when Nathan is in full manipulative mode, pulling Julius's strings, pushing the buttons he has installed in him, while saying with apparent sincerity:" It's up to you entirely. It's your decision." Nathan works 16-hour days, and he comments; "It doesn't seem like work to me." And I believed it.

There are parenthetical side stories, some adroitly handled, others shoehorned in, and while adding little, they don't detract from the very thick tension. The script rips the curtain off the political compromises, payoffs and deals made in private, which become so damaging when exposed. The intricate network of alliances, of constantly shifting political power, is tangential to the central plot but so well referenced that they become intriguing in themselves — where a meeting is held is crucial. While the stakes — a congressional seat — may seem small to some, the patterns of behavior echo those in presidential races, and Lin's insights are sharp and incisive.

There are some surprises in the drama, most of them flowing organically from the developing situation. I would have liked to know more about the speech that went viral; including a segment of it might have tilted the drama a bit less against Julius. The plot resolutions ring true and resonate powerfully in this detailed and tawdry description of the seamy side of politics. Nathan says, with a shrug: "That's how the game is played."

The main setting is a private room in an upscale steakhouse, where the opening scene and many others take place, and it is handsome indeed thanks to designer Eugene Lee. The direction is by Wilson Milam, who has understood the brilliance and subtlety of the script and delivered its authenticity. I suspect this is the kind of play that will rise or fall on the actors, and this cast elevates it to success.

This subtle duel of wits between three strong personalities creates gripping tension, and three skilled actors engage fully with a remarkable script to create theatrical power, with Vito D'Ambrosio delivering a performance memorable for its variety and intelligence. This is a must-see event.
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Copyright © 2014 Kenneth K. Lin; All Rights Reserved.