final weekend

"Last Chance folks!"

"Last Chance folks!"

This blog has been a little bare in the last month or so. I just wanted to remind peeps that there is only one more weekend to catch some heads of the rounded and pointed variety. Houses have been great so far. Here is some music from The Coup that I think embodies the energy and some of the themes of the show. Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQthFDpYCys



examiner.com review of roundheads and peakheads

Doug Krentzlin of examiner.com writes:

Roundheads and Peakheads.  Photo by Colin Hovde.

Roundheads and Peakheads. Photo by Colin Hovde.

German playwright Bertolt Brecht and Catalyst Theater Company were made for each other. Catalyst excels in multi-media presentations combining video, sound montages and live musical accompaniment and Brecht practically invented multi-media theater.

Add to the mix director Christopher Gallu whose staging of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Alberto Ui very deservedly won the first Helen Hayes Award for Best Ensemble and you have an outstanding theatrical experience like Catalyst’s current offering, a revival of Brecht’s rarely performed 1934 satire Roundheads and Peakheads.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Roundheads and Peakheads was a scathing indictment of the Nazis’ fueling of racial hatred to promote their agenda. The mythical kingdom of Yahoo is experiencing an economic meltdown (timely much?) and the country’s leaders decide to quell a potential uprising of the lower class by the exploiting the enmity between two ethnic groups: the rich peakheads and the poor roundheads.

Brecht conceived Roundheads and Peakheads as a semi-musical and one of the best things about Catalyst’s production is the way Gallu stages the musical numbers in a variety of styles: rap, rock, 40s jazz, folk, etc. The original music is by Chris Royal and the lyrics are by Brecht (with the exception of the second act rap number and the climatic rendition of Charles Mingus’ Freedom).

Once again, Gallu has put together an impressive ensemble cast consisting of Monalisa Arias, Jenny Crooks, Catherine Deadman, Kathleen Gonzales, Cesar Guadamuz, Dan Istrate, Erica McLaughlin, Andres Talero, John Tweel and Grady Weatherford all of whom do impeccable work playing multiple parts. Deadman, with her wicked comic timing and wonderfully smoky singing voice, is a particular stand-out as cynical prostitute Nanna. (Her two songs, performed in front of an old-fashioned microphone, makes one long to see her cast as a night club chanteuse in a stage noir.)

The story goes that, at the premiere of Roundheads and Peakheads, Brecht saw some audience members crying and others laughing during the same scenes. “And I was satisfied with both,” Brecht said. He probably would be equally satisfied with Catalyst’s superlative production.

See full review here.


what about the landlords?


trading spaces



roundheads and peakheads

We are movin’ on up!  I am not talking about the TV show, ‘The Jeffersons,’ but now that I am: isn’t it good!?

No, really I am talking about moving the play out of our small rehearsal room and onto the big stage in Atlas.  I always feel like someone in poking me during this phase and whispering in my ear: “Bigger, louder, better and funnier!”  There is a comfort level gained in our small, unthreatening, rehearsal room and then I get to the stage and realize that we will actually be performing this thing.  It all comes down to a sense of misplaced ownership.

I have been talking about “our” rehearsal room, but the play is some distant and unreal thing.  It’s like exchanging your XBOX360, and getting a child in return; the play seems to run automatically in rehearsal, and then you get in the space and you realize that it’s alive (much less poop though…hopefully).



iberin’s proud (?) white fluttering flag.

kathleen-gonzales1One thing that amazes me about this play–and the cast–is that this is a story that could happen anywhere.  And the diversity the cast brings to this play allows it to exist just about anywhere. We have cast members who are originally from Costa Rica, Panama, Romania, Haiti and the US (including Virginia, Tennessee, Boston and Maryland).

Even in our diversity of origin, there are so many similarities. We had a conversation one day about the Hatsos. I could recognize their use in the play because in Haiti, where I am from, we have a long standing history of government trying to control the people by using the forces of “government empowered” people, whether official or unofficial. We had the ton ton macoutes of Duvalier who wore uniforms andton-ton-macoute caused problems for anyone who spoke against the government, to the chimeres (ghosts) of more recent times who were from poor neighborhoods but were given arms and specific instructions on where and how to cause chaos in order to keep the citizens in a state of fear.

In Panama, they were called Dobermans, men who had been unofficially sanctioned by the government to be the strong arm, beating up individuals who possibly spoke against those in power at the time.  Someone else mentioned the private security companies used by the US in the Middle East which caused some major news scandals a few years ago when it was discovered that they are exempt from prosecution of any “war crimes” they may commit in the name of democracy.

So there it is, our common understanding of what these characters do and how they function in the play. Each of us comes from a different path with different experiences but we are able to come to a common understanding because this type of thing does happen everywhere. And this is only one layer of the story of Roundheads and Peakheads, in the land of Yahoo, under Iberin’s proud white fluttering flag.

–Kathleen Gonzales

Photo right: Unrest. Port-Au-Prince, Haiti: The military lead a ‘Ton Ton Macoute’, a vigilante militia that ruled during the Duvalier regime, to safety, protecting him from an angry mob gathered outside his home.


film snippet from upcoming catalyst production ’roundheads and peakheads’

So here’s the video for the web preview.
– Michael

michael d’addario


brecht is smiling

I am always excited by Chris Gallu’s work.  He makes bold choices with his productions which theater desperately needs.  If theater is going to continue to thrive and be vibrant AND bring in a new audience, we need to have courage.

It was thrilling to be at the first read through of Roundheads and Peakheads and hear about the many production elements and how they will come together.  Roundheads and Peakheads will feature live, original music, dance, video and an ensemble of 10 actors playing over 30 roles.  I think Brecht is smiling.   Chris even wrote two raps for the production.  I remember receiving a file titled “not to share with anyone.”  It was Chris’ prologue.  It was Chris himself rapping with a backup beat and all!  I was so impressed and inspired by his enthusiasm and dedication to his work.  It reaffirmed for me why I do theater.

At Catalyst, we pride ourselves in performing bold and challenging works that you will not see on TV and all for $10.  Trust me, you will not be disappointed with this next production.  BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW,  1984 practically sold out and this will too.

Later tonight I am going to post some of the video we have been shooting…again, very exciting!

–Scott Fortier, Artistic Director