Stranger Disease Press
"“The Stranger Disease” is a fascinating dive into New Orleans history. The day-in-the-life narrative reveals small moments of late 19th-century city life while exposing larger social issues. To the ensemble’s credit, the show is impressively accessible to contemporary audiences. This isn’t a museum exhibit. It’s a stirring piece of theater. The style and setting are immediately engaging, and the actors deliver in-the-moment performances that easily overcome the distance of history. It’s also a fine piece of writing. Scenes are connected seamlessly, so no matter the order they’re viewed, plot points and storylines are revealed without any heavy-handed obviousness."
- Brad Rhines, New Orleans Advocate ("Magical 'Stranger Disease' plunges audience into New Orleans' past", 3/24/2018)
"The celebration of the tricentennial of New Orleans gains a significant theatrical addition with this month's premiere of "The Stranger Disease," an immersive and imaginative journey into life in the city in the 19th century during a yellow fever outbreak. With themes that still resonate today, "The Stranger Disease" does not only note the impact that the epidemic had on the citizenry, it explores the manners and morality of the day, and the complex strata of a society wrestling with issues of race and class in a post-Reconstruction New Orleans. Presented by Goat in the Road Productions, "The Stranger Disease" becomes a piece of living history as the avant-garde troupe takes up residence in Madame John's Legacy, the historic site now operated by the Louisiana State Museum, which has co-produced the play...This is no mere historical exhibit however, such as those in Colonial Williamsburg. There is a genuine story arc that comes together through major scenes, as well as small moments the audience happens to come upon moving from room to room. The dramatic tension builds effectively and each character reveals a thorough backstory, which makes each one believable..."The Stranger Disease" is a splendid work that will likely catch its audience by surprise. It also is a cleverly constructed examination and celebration of the complexities that are part of the history of New Orleans."
- Theodore Mahne, Times Picayune ('Stranger Disease vividly brings history to life at Madame John's Legacy', 3/26/2018)
"Enough can’t be said about just how transporting this play was. Directed by Chris Kaminstein and Kiyoko McCrae, the evening felt like a magical form of time travel, with the perfect costumes, designed by Hope Bennett, adding to the illusion that we weren’t seeing a performance, but a real event that took place...The performances are excellent across the board – Louise and Frazier are highlights – and they uniformly give the piece a real lived-in quality, making the audience feel that they’re not just viewing theater, but real history, and real lives lived...As the audience wanders from room to room, each one beautifully designed by Owen Ever, we get snippets of the story, of the coming plague, of the fears of quarantine, and the efforts made by the privileged members of society who refuse to see what is actually going on. As is typical of this kind of site-specific immersive piece, we only hear half the story, the part of the narrative of the actors we choose to follow. But then something magical happens, again; another sort of time travel in a piece that is already is the result of the theatrical wayback machine. The piece starts all over again. From the top. Same story; same paces. But this time the audience has a second choice, a second chance to see the same event from different perspectives...With these other elements shading in the main story, I got a fuller sense of the human stakes of the whole affair, and of the bustling city that lay beyond these ancient wooden walls. That night I never forgot where I was, but for a brief moment in time, I almost forgot when."
- Michael Niederman, New York Theatre Review ('Get Down With the Sickness', 4/10/2018)
"But the most remarkable aspect of this 40-minute production is its nonlinear narrative. Action happens simultaneously in the hat shop, courtyard and bedroom as actors bustle from one location to the next, brushing past audience members, who stand in the doorways, in the courtyard and on the stairs. We were free to roam from one scene to the next, examining museum artifacts (without touching!), while following each character’s storyline."
-Mary Rickard, NolaVie ('The Strangers' Disease: You Will Want to Get Infected', 3/27/2018)
Listen to an interview with co-directors Chris Kaminstein and Kiyoko McCrae here, as part of the WWNO series TriPod with Laine Kaplan-Levenson.