Jackalope and Raven Theatres are firing up the wayback machine this spring with a pair of shows set in 1992. If you don’t remember the era of cassette mix tapes, grunge, and Rodney King, prepare for a crash course on back-in-the-day.
“This is a period piece. Except it’s not,” says Wardell Julius Clark, director of Dutch Masters, a two-person psychological thriller by Greg Keller now playing at Jackalope. The play’s contemporary elements are unmistakable, even when (especially when) the dialogue turns to politics, notably David Dinkins’s election as the first African-American mayor of New York City. “There’s this thing that happens when black people get in power. It happened then. It’s happening now,” Clark says. “People will say, ‘Racism doesn’t exist anymore.’ Then there’s backlash. It happened with Obama—we had eight years and then it’s ‘You better get back in your corner.'”
For The Undeniable Sound of Right Now, opening at the Raven on May 2, playwright Laura Eason drew on her memories of playing Lounge Ax and Metro in the early 90s as a member of the power-pop band Tart. The bar-concert venue where the action unfolds is on the cusp of obsolescence, its owner hellbent on rocking on despite the inexorable rise of electronica and DJs. “Then, you hustled for exposure, concert by concert,” Eason remembers. “Now, you can reach millions of people overnight. But in some ways—the gentrification pushing out artists, music evolving from one form to the next—it’s the same as it ever was.” v
Dutch Masters Through 4/13: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 and 8 PM, Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway, raventheatre.com, $43, $38 teachers and seniors, $15 students and military/veterans.