Here's a horrible idea that's gaining traction with theaters across the country in spite of said horribleness: over the last two years more and more theater companies and producers have been setting aside a number of seats in their performance spaces where rules of appropriate theater behavior are suspended, and audience members are invited to type away on their smart phones during the entire performance. They're called tweet seats, and they're coming to New York.
Best place to people-watch?
The Sculpture Garden at MoMA.
Best place to drink?
The Narrows on Flushing.
You may recall that Angels in America (and Lincoln!) scribe Tony Kushner had a bit of a run-in with the City University of New York last semester, when the school's board awarded, rescinded and then reinstated an honorary degree for the Pulitzer-winning playwright after one of its members, Jeff Wiesenfeld, accused him of having made anti-Israel comments. Well Kushner appears to have buried the hatchet: yesterday, receiving a $100,000 "Creative Citizenship" Award bestowed by The Nation Institute and the Puffin Foundation, he announced he would donate the entire sum to CUNY, joking: "I thought of calling it The Jeff Wiesenfeld Fellowship."
Set in South Africa, jumping around between 1896 and 1913, the opera covers Gandhi's work for the civil rights of Indians. You might feel more grounded going into the opera with some expositional knowledge of his time there as a non-violent activist and organizer, to which the piece elliptically refers. Constance DeJong's vocal text, only small portions of which are translated and projected onto the stage (in Phelim McDermott's 2008 production, now in revival, the Met doesn't employ its usual chairback translation system, but a translation is tucked into the program), is derived from the Bhagavad Gita, offering sagacious scraps in lieu of narrative information: the importance of work, how freedom from desire brings wisdom. Though the book is structured around historic incidents like the 1913 Newcastle march, it frequently transcends them, as well; thinkers influential and indebted to Gandhi appear, like Martin Luther King, Jr.; the first scene is set before the mythical battle at the Kuru Field of Justice.
Last night the 500-seat SVA Theater was almost completely full for the second and last performance of Liz Magic Laser's I Feel Your Pain. Though it was a live performance, we all sat looking at the theater's huge screen, while a camera crew roved the aisles, training their cameras on whichever of the six seated actors (and one clown) were involved in a given scene, which was projected live on the screen. The dialogue exchanged by the three couples in this romantic drama was adapted from political speeches, interviews, books and articles published as recently as this month and as old as WPA production from 1936, on subjects ranging from the Cold War to Katrina. The romances assembled from these disparate sources still retained a great deal of their original meaning (sources were cited in the program and on the screen before each act), making for a very funny and occasionally very impassioned subversion of America's political culture—all too appropriate for the night of Occupy Wall Street's eviction.
Yesterday at noon hundreds packed into the Abrons Arts Center's theater for one of Performa 11's major new commissions, Three Performances in Search of Tennessee by James Franco and Laurel Nakadate (highlights of which will soon be available online at Paddle8). The three-part performance got off to a slow start but came together thanks to some inspired, disastrous and scantily clad participants.
Exactly eight months after news of her departure from the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark broke, and another eight months from the next Tony Awards ceremony, we learn that the show's co-creator and original director Julie Taymor (and not her replacement Philip William McKinley) is eligible to be nominated in the "Best Direction of a Musical" category despite leaving before the show was rewritten, substantially tweaked and shortened. It still features about 25 percent of her original script, over which she's now suing the musical's producers for unpaid royalties.
On Sunday, October 16th, 4th Street between Second and Third Avenue in Manhattan was named Ellen Stewart Way, and this street naming was the culmination of a block party in honor of the founder of La MaMa, a theater that has presented innovative work for fifty years. Stewart, its founder, La MaMa herself, died on January 13th, 2011, at age 91. She made a point of saving everything, so the La MaMa space on 4th Street now has a large wing devoted to its own history, the costumes, the masks, the programs that made it such a truly living theater. I took the tour of the La MaMa archive with about a dozen people, one of whom was Diane Lane, who had acted at La MaMa.
This morning mayor Mike Bloomberg, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, and a host of local politicians and representatives of the Brooklyn arts community broke ground—which, in this case, meant smashing open the door—at the the historic Strand Theatre, future site of the new BRIC Arts Media House and Urban Glass building at the corner of Rockland Place and Fulton Street in
Fort Greene Downtown Brooklyn the BAM Cultural District. Speaking at a ceremony right around the corner at the Mark Morris Dance Center on Lafayette Avenue, Markowitz said to members of BRIC Arts and Urban Glass: "You are the bricks that are building the Brooklyn of tomorrow; our glass runneth over."
Back in March news that Under St. Marks, the tiny basement 45-seat theater at 94 St. Mark's Place might be sold, along with the whole building, and consequently cease to be a pillar of the Downtown theater scene caused the resident company Horse Trade Theater Group to launch a capital campaign to raise the $5.75 million to buy the building and ensure the performance space's survival. While that remains the long-term plan, Horse Trade just secured the venue's short-term viability by signing a seven-year lease on the space.
Since taking over control of the massive same-named building in 2006, the Park Avenue Armory has transformed the hulking structure into one of the city's biggest and most unique spaces for arts productions of all sorts, from theater and dance to visual art. The organization has already poured $73 million into the historic block-sized building, but announced on Wednesday plans for a more extensive and costly renovation of the entire structure to be guided by world-renowned architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.
"Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts," sings the chorus during the first act's finale in Robert Wilson's new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera with the Berliner Ensemble at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House, as part of the Next Wave Festival (through Saturday). This is a fact borne out at every turn in the text, music, and Wilson's silent cinema grotesque character and costume design, all thrown into sharp, sensuous relief by exquisitely minimalist stage and lighting design. That contrast plays out most powerfully in the disjuncture between this spectacular production's slick visuals and guttural, grating sounds.
Every year the Theatre Communications Group publishes a list full of plays that left Broadway long ago but have since made their way to every corner of the country. TCG's compendium of the most produced plays in America offers an often surprising account of New York theater's most successful imports, sometimes in sharp contrast to their reception here—David Mamet's lukewarmly reviewed Race, for instance, will be produced seven times this season. The list's leaders are less surprising.
It's already been two years since Performa 09, which means it's time for Performa 11, whose full roster of performers was announced late last week. The performance art biennial, which runs from November 1-21, won't launch with an ostentatious art feast, but it will feature many of the artists you would expect, among them...
It's been a long, hard road for the Ohio Theatre, founded at 66 Wooster Street in 1984 and one of the last experimental art venues to move out of Soho when the building's new owners finally kicked Soho Think Tank, the theater company running it, out last summer. But after an interim season spent in a residency at 3LD, Soho Think Tank is ready to move into its new Ohio Theatre, called, literally, the New Ohio Theatre (pictured).
Too fast, too furious? lol
If this piece was supposed to have humor, I missed something. It's a damn Pixar…
Hey thoughtful article but you sure dug deep to get this out of it.. My…