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Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes

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D.C. theater artist Dani Stoller is known around town for her acting, her playwriting, and now, for her personal streaming service tech support. There’s just one caveat to her multitasking, which is that she’ll only help family members figure out how to watch Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes online. Stoller’s new play was midway through a sold-out run at Arlington’s Signature Theatre when the pandemic prompted a premature closure. Thankfully for Stoller, her relatives, and everyone who still wants to see her play, Signature was able to film the final performance and share the dark comedy after receiving permission from two theater unions. “They did such a great job; it’s very cinematic,” Stoller said of the multi-angle camerawork. “I’m so thankful.” Several of her not-so-tech savvy relatives immediately asked to watch the play online, which meant Stoller had to serve as tech consultant. If you’ve already mastered the art of multi-platform streaming, however, curling up on the couch with Easy Women should be a cinch. The play about a dysfunctional blended family may even serve as a reminder that sheltering in place during the COVID-19 crisis could be worse: You could be cooped up in a Florida townhouse with this crazy bunch. Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes is available to stream through April 12 at sigtheatre.org. $35. —Rebecca J. Ritzel

Collection Deck

“Collection Deck” is a trading card game designed by the CIA to help its agents practice thinking through spy stuff. Really. And thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, you can print out everything you need to play it at home for free. The rules are pretty simple: At the center of the table is a series of “problem cards,” representing challenges like ethnic violence in Macedonia and chemical weapons training in Syria. (Don’t play this with your kids if you don’t want to explain what sarin gas is.) In the players’ hands are “collection technique” cards and “reality check” cards. Players take turns acting as agents, earning points by using collection techniques to tackle the problems on the table, and acting as “the system,” throwing obstructive reality checks in the agents’ path. The rubber hits the road when someone plays the “Collection Manager” card, which requires an agent to explain how they would actually apply their collection technique of choice. Scenarios and intelligence techniques described in the game mirror actual CIA procedures closely enough that bits and pieces had to be redacted. Still, what’s left makes for a fascinating peek into the world of intelligence. Consider the “think outside the box” card, which counters almost any reality check and comes adorned with the words “some rules are meant to be broken.” Then consider once again that this game was designed by the CIA to help its agents practice thinking through spy stuff. The game is available to print and play at muckrock.com. Free. —Will Lennon

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