No Comments

For His Next Trick, Magician Derek DelGaudio Will Free Your Mind

Derek DelGaudio in “In & Of Itself.” (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

In his Off-Broadway show In & Of Itself, magician Derek DelGaudio has no interest in pulling rabbits out of top hats or turning wands into bouquets. His show, which is directed by puppeteer and filmmaker Frank Oz and produced by actor Neil Patrick Harris, tackles the subject of identity and the artificial limits that are set when someone or something is labeled.

DelGaudio, a specialist in sleight of hand, is widely regarded as one of the most talented magicians and was named this year’s Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts. He’s capable of performing magic so compelling that audience members are left in disbelief. But in In & of Itself, the magic that’s present serves only as a backdrop to DelGaudio’s storytelling and larger points about identity and how illusory identity may be.

The show, which earned a rave reviews from late night host Stephen Colbert and magician Penn Jillette, among others, will be at the Daryl Roth Theatre until May 6.

Bedford + Bowery spoke with DelGaudio about the production, his collaborators and the problems with creating a show that’s so difficult to describe.

BB_Q(1) The show is quite unique – it’s not quite a magic show nor a one-man play. Can you tell me about the conceptual development of how from inception to finished play?

BB_A(1) I initially knew I wanted to make a show about the duality of identity and what it means to be and be seen by others. I also knew that in order to illustrate that idea the show needed to have its own identity and kind of embody the complexity and the paradox of the idea I was trying to express. I knew the show couldn’t be easily defined, in other words. The show needed to be an example of the point I was trying to make. That’s where I started.

I knew what I didn’t want it to be, which is I didn’t want it to be a traditional theater show. I didn’t want it to be a magic show, I didn’t want it to be a one-man show. I wanted it to be something that hadn’t existed yet. I started there and slowly built the pieces.

BB_Q(1) When people enter the theater, the first thing they see is the wall of cards, each with a label that begins “I am ___”; they’re asked to pick between options like “a teacher,” “an immigrant,” “a failure.” Can you talk about the idea behind having the cards be the first thing an audience member is confronted with?

BB_A(1) [I did that] in order to start the dialogue before people even sit in their chairs, and get people in the headspace of thinking about what it means to be labeled, to choose a label for yourself or have labels forced on you. I wanted people to have those thoughts in their heads before they take their seats. And also, to not just have thought about it but to be confronted with that choice and forced to make that decision and think about that decision. That confrontation can spark a real crisis in people, like: “Who am I? Who do people think I am? Who do I want to be in this world?”

Derek DelGaudio in “In & Of Itself” (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

BB_Q(1) Could you talk about each of the collaborators and how they got involved in the project?

BB_A(1) When I was thinking, who could direct it, it was a very delicate, fragile show and I thought Frank would be perfect because when everyone thinks of Frank Oz, everyone thinks of a different thing. Some people think of Yoda, some people think of The Muppets, some people think of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, some people think of What About Bob? Everyone kind of thinks of something different and the only way to really describe Frank is to say his name. So I asked him and he said he might be able to help. So I flew out to New York, I walked him through what I thought the show could be, and he understood it. And he was there from the beginning and he helped shape it, make it legible, make it accessible – because a lot of the ideas are really abstract and conceptual.

I worked with Glenn Kaino, an artist in LA. He helped shape the show and the aesthetics of it – he made sure it was beautiful and poetic. Mark Mothersbaugh [former frontman of Devo] did the music, which was great. He was amazing and he’s super talented. When we were moving the show from Los Angeles to New York is when Neil [Patrick Harris] came on and he helped us navigate the theater landscape out here and figure out where we should put the show and putting a team out here together, and all that stuff.

Neil Patrick Harris, Derek DelGaudio and Frank Oz (Photo: Glenn Kaino)

BB_Q(1) One thing that’s quite difficult is describing the show. Most magic shows have some element of storytelling, but this show takes it to the point where it stops really being a magic show – I’m curious, how do you personally describe the show?

BB_A(1) I describe it as a theatrical existential crisis, and a shared one. But the idea behind the show is to acknowledge a thing– whether that be a thing or person– and not have to categorize it, to not have to label it. To just let it exist. I mean, we have to, for communication, but my hope is that we can see things for what they are rather than try to force a label on it.

It’s not commercially very wise to have a show that’s difficult to describe but conceptually, it’s what it needs to be.

BB_Q(1) From a commercial standpoint, it’s not a show you could even do in a large theater – it needs a small, intimate theater for the show to work.

BB_A(1) Yeah, that’s right. Which is why everyone who is involved in the show, from the top, down. Starting with me, and the producers and the director, needed to believe in the show and now just want it for commercial reasons. Everyone believed it should exist and that’s what was needed for it to exist.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

No Comments

Performance Picks: Conspiracy Puppets, Thomas Paine, Synth Improv

THURSDAY

(image via Paul Pinto / Facebook)

Thomas Paine In Violence
Now through November 18 at HERE Arts Center, 8:30 pm: $25

While Paul Pinto may be known by some for his work as a performer in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, he is also a highly interesting composer in his own right. In collaboration with director Rick Burkhardt, he has whipped up an electro-acoustic opera centering around founding father Thomas Paine and a surreal, dreamlike radio station from another planet. Paine, played by vocalist Joan La Barbara, is attempting to deliver various messages on economic justice while a raucous chorus of sound unfolds around him. The show in particular concerns Paine’s 1797 pamphlet Agrarian Justice, considered a precursor of basic income theory and planted seeds for ideas such as Social Security and taxing those who owned land in order to provide for those who did not.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Don’t Let the East Village Become ‘Silicon Alley,’ Say High-Rise Haters

(Photos: Razi Syed)

East Village residents and activists want to keep their neighborhood from becoming “Silicon Alley.”

Around 50 people gathered yesterday evening across from the site of a “boutique office building” that will replace Continental Bar, Papaya King (which has already closed), and other businesses on the corner of St. Marks Place and Third Avenue. Elected officials and preservationists called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to take action to rezone a small stretch of the East Village.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

How Do Bushwickers Feel About Living in America’s Second Coolest Neighborhood?

“We’re peaking. Bushwick is peaking. Do you think it’s gonna get to one? No way. The Mission has been around. Bushwick’s peaking. You can’t sustain this kind of a boom.”

Congratulations to the people of Bushwick! Your neighborhood was just named the second hottest in the United States, falling closely behind The Mission in San Francisco. So, we hit the gritty, graffiti-stained streets to see how locals feel about being one of the “25 coolest neighborhoods in America.” (That’s right, it’s hot and cool!) Is that ranking just right? Totally bogus? Does landing somewhere on a coolness ranking preclude you from actually being cool? Click through the slideshow to find out.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Scorsese Continues Little Italying LES For Irishman Shoot

Work continues apace as Orchard and Broome Streets turn into 1970s Little Italy for the upcoming filming of The Irishman. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the Netflix film stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci.

Yesterday we showed you the replica of the original Umberto’s Clam House. The mob favorite, at 129 Mulberry Street, at Hester Street, was where gangster Joey Gallo met his fate. Era-correct yellow street signs that will be used for the film show the attention to detail Scorsese is famous for.

Many of the other faux storefronts also depict real businesses. Forzano Italian Imports and E. Rossi Italy Music & Book, from Friday’s story, were Mulberry Street mainstays back in the day.

Click through our slideshow to see the latest reveals.

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

(Photos: Frank Mastropolo)

No Comments

‘Oh, Hi Mark’ Your Calendar: The Room and The Disaster Artist Take Over Theaters

Tommy Wiseau. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

I gotta tell you something. It’s about The Disaster Artist.

In case you didn’t see the billboard, James Franco’s adaptation of Greg Sistero’s tell-all book about the making of The Room opens Nov. 30 at Regal Union Square, and it promises to be the best movie ever made about the best worst movie ever made. The trailers are out, and Franco does a pretty decent job channeling Tommy Wiseau, the international man of mystery who poured millions of dollars of his own money into a film that ended up serving as target practice for spoon throwers.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Inside Nitehawk’s Revamp Of the Park Slope Pavilion Theater

All Photos by Diego Lynch.

Fourteen months before the 1929 stock market crash, a 1,516-seat theater struck someone as a good investment. Most of a century later, Park Slope is a good investment once more. Nitehawk Prospect Park Cinema will open a refurbished version of the theater in March.

Yesterday, Matthew Viragh, founder of Nitehawk, gave Bedford + Bowery a tour of the construction site.

Keep Reading »

No Comments

Sifting Through City Reliquary’s ‘NYC Trash!’ Exhibit

Photo of the exhibit (All photos are from inside the exhibit by Diego Lynch, unless otherwise indicated)

One man’s trash is another man’s… museum show?

Through April 29, the City Reliquary, in Williamsburg, is hosting an exhibit that serves as a history of New York City’s waste management (or lack thereof) as well as a show of works by artists and nonprofits whose medium is garbage. Also featured are some of the unusual items Nelson Molina collectedduring his 30 years with the NYC Department of Sanitation.

Keep Reading »