Broadway might be unusually quiet at the moment, but the rest of the city’s performance spaces are going full tilt. APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, holds its annual conference in New York City this week (January 7-11), spurring a spectacular uptick in activity from performance companies local, domestic and international, all hoping that the right publisher, producer or presenter might happen to stop by their show. Performance community people seem to dread it, but at the same time participate compulsively because, at the end of the day, there’s a chance that this could take their careers up a major notch. It’s also a great opportunity for all of us to see work by the best companies here and abroad. Here’s what’s happening at this year’s three biggest APAP festivals.
Under the Radar Festival, January 5-16:
Last year’s big APAP winner, Philly’s Pig Iron Theater, scored big at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar with Chekhov Lizardbrain, though this year’s American contingent includes quite a few well-known performers. There’s Reggie Watts, in collaboration with playwright Tommy Smith, live-editing the film Dutch A/V. The Voltron-like combination of director JoAnne Akalaitis, musician Nora York and playwright/performer David Greenspan for Jump, about American actress Sarah Bernhardt’s 1905 performance of La Tosca. Another local favorite, Taylor Mac, takes us on his semi auto-biographical The Walk Across America for Mother Earth. UTR’s most buzzed-about show, though, has got to be Belarus Free Theater’s almost-didn’t-happen Pinteresque theatrical protest piece Being Harold Pinter.
COIL, January 5-15:
Performance Space 122’s APAP-season festival even features a chamber opera, though the most intriguing performances are undoubtedly Argentinian director Vivi Tellas’s Rabbi Rabino, in which two actual rabbis (real, live rabbis!) take the stage and perform their autobiographies, and New York-based director Annie Dorsen’s Hello Hi There, in which two computers re-enact the classic Foucault-Chomsky live TV debate.
There’s even a trailer (gulp) for COIL 2011:
Culturemart, January 7-23:
There’s a bit of a gender war at work in HERE‘s contribution to the APAP festival season madness (which, you’ll note, runs a week longer than the other festivals), what with James Scruggs’s Ticket to Manhood sharing a couple evenings with Johari Mayfield’s Venus Riff, and Nick Vaughn and Jake Margolin’s matrimonial experiment A Marriage. Other promising shows on the Culturemart schedule include Kamala Sankaram’s multimedia chamber opera Miranda, Deborah Stein and Suli Holum’s self-twinning thriller Chimera and LEIMAY’s watery dance piece Floating Point Waves. Personally, I’m pretty excited about Betty Shamieh’s The Strangest, which fills out the unexplored identity of the nameless Arab murdered by the main character in Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
So don’t be a stranger and miss all these shows—try to at least see a couple before they disappear along with the thousands of APAP conference attendees.