Play by Ear

The Arbor (2010)

54th BFI London Film Festival

About the late British playwright Andrea Dunbar’s turbulent life in a working-class housing project, Clio Barnard’s “The Arbor” is an unprecedented documentary told almost entirely through reenactments instead of conventional routes such as a dramatized biopic or an adaptation of Dunbar’s semi-autobiographical play.

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One Singular Sensation Revisited

Every Little Step (2008)

Paul Kolnik/Sony Pictures Classics

Generations of dreamers have flocked to New York City, lured by promises of fame and fortune and the chance to make it big. “A Chorus Line” translated its celebration of a group of Broadway aspirants into multiple Tony Awards and a record breaking run. Similarly “Every Little Step,” a documentary that chronicles the casting of the show’s recent revival, candidly reveals the hopes and fears experienced by the men and women facing the imposing odds of auditioning for a Broadway show.

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Raising the Curtain on a Brechtian World

Theater of War (2008)

Michael Daniel/The Public Theater

No matter how one feels about epic theater and the application of dialectical materialism to the art world, there’s no mistaking the enormous, lasting imprint Bertolt Brecht left on all performing arts. One could convincingly make the case, for example, that there would have never been a French New Wave without him or an “Angels in America.” So it’s fitting that the hook director John W. Walter applies to “Theater of War,” his documentary about Brecht’s life, times and legacy, is to follow the development of the Public Theater’s recent production of “Mother Courage and Her Children” which played the second half of New York City’s 2006 season of Shakespeare in Central Park.

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