Photo courtesy of We Sail On In Darkness

Sometimes the only way to describe something mental is physically. That’s what We Sail On In Darkness, a physical theater play debuting February 9 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, does for four historical women who saw the unexplainable.

The play details the visions of “renowned mystics” Julian of Norwich, Angela of Foligno, Martyred Perpetua, and Hildegard of Bingen, emphasizing both the act of suffering that comes with such a gift and burden, as well as the feminine strength each employed to continue on.

The mostly female cast ranges from age 26 to 60, working in parallel with one male actor (Benjamin Watson) who plays every other character. Most of the choreography and stage production was also completed by female artisans.

“We are very excited to invite people, especially women, to follow us along this journey — using music, movement, and color — to rediscover the courage, joy, and suffering of these women whose stories are often overlooked,” said playwright Ruthie Buescher in a release. “The concept of physical theater may feel very new to some audiences, but it’s actually based on some of the oldest traditions of theater, and we are so excited to bring this refreshing, creative way of telling a story to the San Antonio theater audience.”

Physical theater isn’t the clearest way to tell a story — the acrobatic, interpretive style that sometimes includes speech is certainly not a TED Talk — but the surrealism these women became known for lends itself to the style. This takes the mantra of show-don’t-tell to new heights befitting, say, the drama of Hildegard’s spiraling mandala illustrations or the intrepidness of Julian’s embrace of an usual form for expression for women (writing), which we now take for granted.

“The words of the mystics are central to the play — their own writing is an integral part of the script,” said Buescher. “But interpreting their journeys through the lens of physical theater felt like the perfect way to blend visions and reality across time.”

Each of the four characters, though at different stages of life in the play, are ancient to us and are well-known only in special niches — usually religion and deep study of the humanities. All lived at least periods of their lives in notable seclusion.

After miraculously recovering from an illness that nearly sent her to her deathbed, Julian of Norwich (Cynthia Neri) wrote the first English work confirmed to come from a woman. Similarly, Hildegard of Bingen (Katrin Blucker Ludwig) is not just an early female composer, but thought to be the first named composer whose work still exists, known for unusual melodies that were freer than most Gregorian chant.

Angela of Foligno (Michelle Bumgarner) and Perpetua (Courtney Johnson) were Desert Mothers, Christians who lived in solitude in Egypt, Israel or Palestine, and Syria, part of the group that inspired Buescher while researching on her own Texan retreat in the Hill Country. The play emphasizes public reception to Angela, who was thought to be insane and wrote with “anguish,” and Perpetua’s treatment during her imprisonment and execution for converting to Christianity, chronicled in her diary. Both started their lives as high-born, common people who later converted as adults.

According to the play, Julian represents the suffering of the body, Angela represents the suffering of the mind, Perpetua represents suffering due to others’ actions, and Hildegard represents suffering through the awareness of others’ suffering.

“I don’t need to elaborate on how important the stories of these women are to our moment in time — we’re all intensely cognizant of how wrong things are,” says Buescher. “But there is something uniquely beautiful about watching these women slip in and out of time and interact with each other. As they speak to each other, they speak to us and remind us that we stand on their shoulders — and we don’t stand alone.”

There will be seven performances of We Sail On In Darkness:

  • February 9-10, 7 pm
  • February 11, 7 pm (ASL-interpretation)
  • February 15, 7 pm (performance for students)
  • February 16, 7 pm (pay what you can)
  • February 17, 7 pm
  • February 18, 2 pm

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is located at 315 E Pecan Street. More information about the play, including a link to buy tickets ($25), is available at wesailonindarkness.com.

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James Beard award nominee Nicola Blaque set to open 3rd restaurant concept in Hemisfair Park

Hungry at Hemisfair

Chef Nicola Blaque has a new restaurant concept in the works at Hemisfair Park.

The City of San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission officially approved Blaque's concept for her third restaurant, Port Royal, to be housed in the historic Schultze House in Hemisfair Park.

While Port Royal will feature similar menu items from Blaque's original restaurant, the Jerk Shack, the Hemisfair spot will also feature a full bar and cocktail program, the first of its kind for Blaque's restaurants.

For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of eating at the Jerk Shack, Blaque's signature culinary style is artisanal Jamaican cuisine, with menu options like Blaque's signature jerk chicken, fried plantains, jerk egg rolls, and more.

Guests at Blaque's new restaurant concept will also be able to order 'steakhouse-menu like items,' per an official press release from Hemisfair. Port Royal will also have the distinction of being one of the first public tenants on what is the now-driveable E. Nueva St.

So we know what you're thinking — when does Port Royal open anyway? Can we expect cocktails and food at Port Royal this summer?

Bit of bad news fellow foodies — Port Royal is slated for a summer opening, but not until summer 2024.

However, anything new from the James Beard Award nominated chef (most recently she made it to the James Beard Award semifinals for 2023) is always worth the wait, so just hang tight for now and we'll keep you posted on details of Port Royal's grand opening.

Blaque, who is also a military veteran, had this to say about Port Royal in an official statement — "The response to The Jerk Shack has been amazing, which has allowed us to expand across the city...Our fans and customers have been extremely supportive of our growth so we’re looking forward to bringing The Jerk Shack to Hemisfair."

Port Royal will join other new tenants at Hemisfair's Civic Park, including Künstler Tap Haus, Bombay Bicycle Club and Kusch Faire.

Construction on Port Royal is slated to begin in fall 2023.

American Airlines adds summer travel perks including Wi-Fi enhancements, meals, and movies

Airline Food News

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has made some additions to its in-flight lineup for summer 2023, including new meals and foodie snacks, Wi-Fi updates, and new movie options to stream. That includes a special selection of films celebrating Pride Month in June.

Food first!

The new food options include chef-curated menu options in premium cabins and choices for the indulgent or health-conscious traveler in the main cabin.

Plant-based: Customers flying on transcontinental American Flagship service flights have a new premium entrée and it's plant-based, woo-hoo: The new Plant-Based Bulgogi Noodle Bowl entrée comes with yakisoba noodles, stir-fry vegetables, and plant-based beef crumbles — offering a new meal option that is both nourishing and delicious.

Avli on the Park: Customers flying in premium cabins to Europe from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this summer can enjoy dishes from Avli on the Park, a Greek restaurant in Chicago and a Michelin 2023 honoree. Options include a Greek Beef Orzo Stew and a Kagiana Egg Scramble for breakfast. These items from Avli on the Park are available on six nonstop flights to Europe: Athens, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Paris, and Rome.

Wi-Fi updates
Wi-Fi enhancements for the summer months include:

Complimentary Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers: By July, 100 percent of American's Wi-Fi-equipped regional and narrowbody aircrafts will offer T-Mobile In-Flight Connection On Us, allowing eligible T-Mobile customers to enjoy complimentary connectivity with streaming on domestic flights.

Summer streaming: Travelers to international destinations should be able to enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds and a more reliable service for all their connectivity needs thanks to increased bandwidth planned for American's widebody aircraft, offering 100 percent mainline aircraft with video streaming capabilities.

New film and viewing options include:

Monthly exclusives: New movies will be offered monthly which customers can watch exclusively inflight such as the new AppleTV+ movie Ghosted.

Pride Month: American is offering an entertainment channel featuring top LGBTQ+ talent; customers can choose from a list of movies and series.

American Black Film Festival channel: This summer, American is bringing new content to the American Black Film Festival channel, elevating the unique voices and power stories of the Black community to offer a deeper understanding of the Black experience.

"Our customers are the inspiration behind everything we do, and American is committed to consistently deliver a world-class experience for them,” said Kim Cisek, Vice President of Customer Experience. “We know customers want a convenient travel experience throughout their journey on American and to arrive at their destination satisfied and ready to explore — a focus we keep in mind when refreshing and creating new experiences for them to enjoy on the ground and in the skies."

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is ridiculous and fun at the same time

Movie Review

The Transformers series has been one marked by near universal derision by the critics and (mostly) massive box office, highlighting the divide between those who watch movies for a living and those who just go for fun. Given that history, it seemed unlikely that the latest film, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, would unite the two factions.

Like the last film, Bumblebee, Rise of the Beasts is a prequel to the Transformers films directed by Michael Bay from 2007-2017 (Bay remains as a producer). Set in 1994, it features a way-too-complicated story involving something called the Transwarp device prized by three separate groups of Transformers: The Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen); the Maximals, animal-esque bots led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman); and the Terrorbots, led by Scourge (Peter Dinklage). One guess as to which of those groups is the evil one.

Mirage (Pete Davidson) in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Mirage (Pete Davidson) in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is a former soldier in Manhattan who can’t find a job and tries his best to take care of his sickly brother, Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez). Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) works at a museum on Ellis Island, where she encounters an artifact with unusual markings. Through a series of unlikely but still fun events, both of them are dragged into the conflict between the Transformers, with nothing less than the fate of the universe at stake.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by a team of five writers, the film is as ridiculous as any of the previous iterations, and yet somehow it becomes the most entertaining entry yet. Some of this has to do with the human characters, who are given engaging scenes outside of the ones with Transformers, allowing them to be relatable instead of just pawns in the robot battles.

The trifecta of Transformer groups turn out to be actually interesting, rather than an excuse to fill the screen with CGI nonsense. The Autobots, as usual, are the main heroes, and with Bumblebee using movie quotes to talk and Mirage (Pete Davidson) lobbing wisecracks constantly, they’re rarely unentertaining. Having the animal-like Maximals on board gives a new dimension, and the seemingly unstoppable Scourge makes for an intimidating villain.

That’s not to say, of course, that the film doesn’t devolve into chaos on multiple occasions. Several of the battles, including the final sequence, seem designed to be almost incomprehensible. But Caple and the visual effects team appear to have understood that clarity makes for a better moviegoing experience, and so even as bedlam reigns, there’s a level of focus to the film that other films in the series have not had.

Even though his character isn’t fully fleshed out, Ramos brings a kind of streetwise energy to the role that makes him stand out. Fishback is not given as much to do, but she’s still highly enjoyable. Cullen, who’s been voicing Optimus Prime since the 1980s, is still a commanding presence, allowing Davidson, Michelle Yeoh, Perlman, and more to bring their own unique flair to their characters.

It may be a low bar to jump, but Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the best film so far in the series, cracking the code of pairing humans with robots for a (semi)intelligible story. A late movie teaser will have fans geeking out over the future, but it’s best to enjoy this film for being as good as it is.


Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opens in theaters on June 9.