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25 TO 31
This year’s festival will feature a line-up of artists including Stefa Marin Alacron; Mariam Bazeed; Rodney A. Brown (The Brown Dance Project); Benjamin Camp, Makoto Hirano, and Alex Torra (Team Sunshine Performance Corporation); Natalie Green and Michelle Talgarlow (Mugwumpin); Maura García; Jake Hooker (A Host of People); Sibyl Kempson (7 Daughters of Eve Theatre & Perf Co.); Adil Mansoor, Nicole Shero, and Paul Kruse (Hatch Arts Collective); Carra Martinez; Indee Mitchell (LOUD, New Orleans Queer Youth Theatre and Last Call: NOLA); Jeremy Paul (Maelstrom Collaborative Arts); Damani Pompey, Issa Perez, and Cain Coleman (Magnus Works); Isaac Pool, Miriam Gabriel, Alexa Grae, Nina Guevara, Sahar Sepahdari-Dalai, and Alexa Grae; Daisy Press (Voice Cult); Alex Tatarsk; Anh Vo; Kiyan Williams; and Declan Zhang and Kyle Brenn.
Curators are Sivan Battat, Malcolm Betts, David Bruin, Ty Defoe, Jesse Firestone, Alessandra Gómez, Nile Harris, Miranda Haymon, Jake Hooker, David Mendizábal, Lumi Tan, Jay Wegman, and Arien Wilkerson. MORE INFO
Dr. Fauci says "go out there and enjoy Halloween," and we're taking that as doctor's orders. Happily, Theater for the New City's Village Halloween Ball will be held outside this year. The fete will take place October 31 as an open-air celebration outside the theater, on East Tenth Street between First and Second Avenues. A large tent will provide rain protection. Performances, a costume competition and dancing to the music of swing and Latin bands are planned. Events are scheduled from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM. In the evening, there will be Chop Shop Theater--a succession of free, live, 10-minute performances staged in the theater's set shop for audiences watching through an open garage door on East Tenth Street. Admission is free but donations will be gratefully accepted. No reservations are necessary. More info.
6 TO 28, 2021
Austin Pendleton and Katharine Cullison will head a cast of five in "The Dark Outside," his latest play, which will be presented by Theater for the New City November 6 to 28. Kops deals with the conflicts and struggles of a family trying to keep together while the world outside is ever increasingly chaotic and desperate. Although the play appears to be a domestic drama, it is set against the visual metaphor of an ancient 400-year-old mulberry tree protecting a family in their garden. The ancient tree is a symbol of longevity and hope, often known as the Tree of Life, reminding us of the mystical healing power of Mother Nature.
Six pieces for MUGIC® will be offered, of which three are premieres: Kimura’s own "Iron Bird for cymbal and MUGIC®," performed by percussionist Aiyun Huang (World premiere); "Motion Notions" by Dai Fujikura (New York premiere), performed by Kimura on violin, and MUGIC®; and Kimura’s "KISMET for MUGIC® and ensemble," performed by Ensemble Decipher (US premiere). Three other works written and performed by Kimura will round out the hour.
This one-hour medley will be the first part of a two-part evening that is co-presented by The Interpretations Series and Roulette. In the second part, veteran pianist Joseph Kubera will perform a solo recital featuring "Block Design" by Tom Johnson, "Queens Plaza" by Daniel Rothman, and other works. Presented as part of The Interpretations series, now in its 32nd season, a New York-based concert series focusing on the relationship between contemporary composers and their interpreters.
27 TO DECEMBER 19
John Patrick Shanley celebrates the creativity of childhood, the purity of young love, the power of innocence and the strength of the inner child in "Candlelight," a new work of magical realism that he alternately describes as "Peter Pan meets Romeo and Juliet" and "A Nuyorican tragedy dripped in Brooklyn Blood." The play takes place in the mind of a fearless ten year old girl named Esperanza. She falls in love with a boy of the same age named Tito, who worships her. They are surrounded by dangerous and surreal events that make it unlikely that either will ever survive. Three children characters, Esperanza's father, a mirror, a bathrobe and a demon are all played by adults "to get adults in touch with the passionate exercise of life," according to Shanley. Nylon Fusion Theatre Company, which has presented a handful of Shanley's plays to-date, will present the work's world premiere, directed by Lori Kee.
DECEMBER 23, 2021
Renowned playwright, poet and satirist Ishmael Reed takes aim at the New York City art world with this new play about the life and career of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Reed examines the racism directed at Basquiat and the ways that Andy Warhol, the art establishment and the fashion industry exploited and profited from Basquiat's artistry. Why was racism toward Basquiat allowed to masquerade as "art criticism"? How does this implicate the New York City art world? Directed by Rome neal, Artistic Director of Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
6 TO 23, 2022
He has adapted his autobiographical novel, "I Just Want to Tell Somebody: The Autobiography of Ronald Smokey Stevens," into a one-man, two character theater production. It dramatizes his lifelong battle with drugs in which he, at long last, prevailed. "Smokey" plays both himself and his nemesis, a sarcastic doppelganger called "D MAN." The play walks us through modern moments of theater history that were his triumphs and the journey through drug usage that was nearly his undoing.
He's now Artistic Director of Capital City Readers Theatre in Washington, DC, recipient of The @NAACP 11th Annual Theater Arts Award, and a documentary filmmaker. In an archival video clip, watch him performing "The Hop Scop Blues" from "Rollin' on the T.O.B.A." (1999). That production was a salute to the genius of the entertainers who toured the black vaudeville circuit known as T.O.B.A.-- Theatre Owners' Booking Association--in the 1920's and 30's. It was both a champion and a destroyer of Black Vaudeville.
21 TO MARCH 13, 2022
The second shows the final triumph of the wife. Remorselessly, she drives Edgar to his death--although in the very process of doing so, a bitter doubt enters her mind. The play's legacy can be seen in a number of contemporary plays. In "Play Strindberg," Friedrich Dürrenmatt condensed the two parts into a terse, brutal series of boxing rounds. The claustrophobic atmosphere and treatment of marital dysunction in Strindberg's masterpiece reverberate through Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," Harry Kondoleon's "The Houseguests" and even John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves."
3 TO 20, 2022
The play is a drama of a single mother who has lost her older son to gun violence and must navigate the mourning process with the help of an upstairs neighbor and an ex-lover. She fears failing her younger son, who wrestles with his own demons and guilt. The piece will be Kain's first produced play. It blends compelling realistic dialogue with verse that is crafted for call-and-response. Instrumental underscore is provided by Keith Edward Johnson. The verse, seamlessly woven into the story, provides an emotional release for the characters, exploding with heightened truth and pulsating through an incendiary look at the current state of America. Kain will portray the ex-lover, a former convict who has turned his life around and seeks to save the single mother who is the play's tragic heroine.
25 TO MAY 15, 2022
A work of historical fiction about the last two days of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh's life. When his highly controversial and vulgar documentary causes a tremendous uproar in Amsterdam and abroad, Theo spirals downward. The play explores the collision of an artist's radical temperament and unyielding vision with modern political realities and the inevitable tragedy when uncompromising values clash. Can friendship, family, or love save Theo from his biggest threat - himself?
Western Wind delves into the deeps of the sea, the highest soaring heights of the air, and everything in between with works by Josquin, Janequin, Weelkes, Monteverdi, Purcell, Billings, Stanford, Dennis, and others. These works are both grave and fanciful, well-known and unknown, very old and very, very new. Accompanying these classics is the world premiere performance of "Certain Dragons" by Martha Sullivan, a multi-movement work created for The Western Wind. Its five movements are settings of texts from John Keats, W.B. Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon, African-American Spirituals, and Sullivan herself, all referencing dragons. You can download the program, with all the lyrics to follow along, here.
WATCHING THE TONY AWARD FOR WOODIE KING, JR.'S NEW FEDERAL THEATRE,
READ THIS FABULOUS HISTORY
New Federal Theatre has produced more works by minority playwrights and women than any other organization in the history of New York Theater. The title of the article is "Woodie King Jr. finally gets a Tony Award for bringing color to the stage."
Gerard's article traces King's theater back to its origins in the Seventies, inspired by the Federal Theater that was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. The cohort of minority and women playwrights and actors NFT has launched into prominent careers is an honor roll of theater in our time. Gerard's article uniquely documents King's creative relationship with Wynn Handman, head of The American Place Theatre and with Joseph Papp's Public Theater. And it recounts such fascinating insider stories as the ascent to Broadway of Ntozake Shange’s "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."
Although the award ceremony was four weeks ago, you can watch Woodie's Tony Award acceptance speech here.
Trudeau returned to Don't Tell Mama October 13 with "Becoming
Chavela," her docu-cabaret
about Chavela Vargas, the iconic Mexican singer and trailblazer
who constantly broke the mold, was edgy in the 1990’s, and is
increasingly relevant today because her story pushes so many hot topic
buttons: gender issues, gay rights, immigration and Mexican culture.
The show features songs of lust and longing and stories of her friendships
with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Liz Taylor and Pedro Almodovar.
14 TO 24
"I am telling the story in my own Electric way, using bits of "Romeo and Juliet" while channeling the characters of Tony - Riff – Maria, Bernardo, Lt. Shrank, Doc and a few others," Electric says. "I will use the show to talk about racial prejudice - hatred - and today's racial divide.
ENSEMBLE READYING "THE ROOTWOMAN" BY MICHAEL BRADFORD
Van Itallie was born in Brussels in 1936, raised in Great Neck, Long Island, and graduated from Harvard in 1958. In the seventies, he wrote his frequently-produced new English versions of the four major plays of Chekhov. Andrei Serban staged his adaptation of "Uncle Vanya" at La MaMa in 1983, featuring Joe Chaikin and F. Murray Abraham. "Struck Dumb," his monologue written with/for Joseph Chaikin, was presented by The American Place Theatre in New York City in 1991. "Ancient Boys," a play about a gay artist living with AIDS, premiered at LaMaMa in 1991. His "Master and Margarita," adapted from Bulgakhov's novel, was presented by Theater for the New City in 1993.
But Van Itallie is perhaps best known for his "America Hurrah" trilogy," the watershed off-Broadway event of the sixties. This trilogy heralded and was the first major dramatic expression of the anti-Vietnam war movement. Catching theatergoers by surprise, it had a shock effect on the culture. Its centerpiece, the giant puppet play "Motel," was originally presented by La MaMa in 1965 and revived there in 1981. George Ferencz restaged the masterpiece based on the original direction of Michael Kahn in 2004.
In later years, he founded Shantigar, a retreat in Western Massachussets devoted to meditation, theater of sacred intent and engagement with nature. In his final writing for the stage he was co-lyricist (with Lois Walden) of "Mila, Great Sorcerer,” an opera that re-told the story of Milarepa, a Tibetan siddha. It was commissioned by Gene Kaufman and Terry Eder.
Ferencz first drew attention in the New York theater world as a founder and co-artistic director of the Impossible Ragtime Theater in the mid-seventies. But he became most famous for his productions at La MaMa, where he staged over 30 in the course of about about 30 years, and curated the La MaMa Experiments Reading Series. He was also a "go to" director for Theater for the New City and at he time of his death, was preparing “Aunt Susan and Her Tennesee Waltz” by Toby Armour for production there.
He was principal director of Adusah Boakye’s Africa Arts Theater Company and staged American pemieres of plays by South Africa’s Pieter-Dirk Uys for that company and also for La MaMa. He directed at regional theatres including the Actors' Theater of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public, San Diego Rep and Syracuse Stage. He also taught widely in universities and acting schools.
Because Afghanistan is so much in our minds, we fondly remember Ferencz’s production at La MaMa of "The Last Two Jews of Kabul" (2003) by Josh Greenfeld, which was based upon a true story. After the fall of Kabul in the autumn of 2001, two Jewish men were discovered in a city that was once home to 40,000 Jews. These alleged "last two Jews" were sharing as their living quarters the ruins of a synagogue -- but not speaking to each other. This is a comic premise and the play was, indeed, rich in humor, but not without serious and dramatic overtones.
Crystal Field of Theater for the New City said, “He was more than a director, he was a light. Now a light for us has gone out.” He is survived by his second wife, costume designer Sally Lesser, and his son, Jack.
Slaff & Associates