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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.

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Performance Picks: Demystifying Sex, Activist Storytelling, Adolescent Witchcraft

WEDNESDAY

(image via HERE Arts Center)

The Sex Myth: A Devised Play
August 16-20 at HERE Arts Center, 8:30 pm (Sunday at 4 pm): $35

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state that most of America had either an awful sex ed or none at all. Sure, you can take to the internet in all its glory to learn a thing or two, but formal sex education programs are notoriously lacking. This has created a hush-hush attitude around carnal matters, which leads to shame, misinformation, sensationalism, and a whole host of other not-so-great stuff. A new devised show, The Sex Myth, uses real stories and experiences to expand conceptions of what is “normal” in bedrooms and bodies alike.

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Performance Picks: Magicians, Flashlight Ghost Stories, and Queer Debauchery

WEDNESDAY

(flyer courtesy of Patrick Terry)

Wondershow
Wednesday, August 2 at House of Yes, 8 pm: $20

Ok. I know what you’re thinking. You want to see a magic show, but you don’t know where to go. Well, as it turns out there is one happening tonight. While you ooh and ahh over my magnificent mind-reading skills, Wondershow is gearing up to show you mind-bending tricks at the Bushwick venue with some of the bendiest bodies I’ve ever seen, House of Yes.

Wondershow is hosted by magician and mentalist Eric Walton. I would explain his work by relating it to someone else’s, but the event description calls him “incomparable,” and I don’t want a magic spell to be cast on me if I disobey. The show also features mind reader Eric Dittelman (of America’s Got Talent), knife-thrower The Great Throwdini, “Western variety arts” master Chris McDaniel, and ballerina/burlesque performer Aurora Black. For those ageless or nostalgic folk mourning the loss of the early 20th century burlesque and vaudeville shows that used to be so commonplace in areas like Midtown, surely you’ll be in for a treat.

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Bejeweled Opera, Empowering Blurred Lines, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

Masterpiece Classic: Women in Art
Wednesday, February 8 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $7

It is generally agreed upon that art is Good. However, the art world is where things get a little more polarized. This new character-based show by comedian and actress Hallie Haas takes on the type of people who consider themselves high and mighty creators, the type of people who take themselves reeeeeeally seriously. The premise is that Laura Linney, of course, has gathered together seven of the most sophisticated and acclaimed women artists for an evening that feels a lot like a certain public access television show. Only probably a lot weirder. Especially considering Haas will be playing every character. This spoof on PBS classics feels especially timely, considering I just got an email asking me to sign an online petition so that Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of PBS Kids. Please, think of the children. And the art.

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New Play The Dudleys! Is An 8-Bit Game Come To Life

(photo: Charles Quittner)

(photo: Charles Quittner)

When Pokémon Go became splashed across the screens of America and eager video game players of all ages roamed the streets rather than took to the couch, it caused quite a stir. While that’s died down a fair bit, others have interpreted the combination of reality and video games differently.

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Performance Picks: Womanhood, Rihanna, Cake, and Fashion

WEDNESDAY

(image via Housing Works)

(image via Housing Works / Facebook)

Womanhood Live!
At Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, 7 pm: FREE. 

If you’re not the type to sit around watching short-form video clips all day, this is the show for you. Impressively funny ladies Jo Firestone and Aparna Nancherla are bringing their Refinery29 web series, “Womanhood,” to a real, live venue. No more straining your eyes staring at bright screens to get your laugh on– these are 100% in-person joke-tellers, which is probably a lot more fun than 100% in-person bank tellers. Firestone and Nancherla have graciously assembled a group of nice folk to help them teach you all about the complex terrain of women’s bodies and lives, including Dylan Marron, Naomi Ekperegin, Marlena Rodriguez, and Diana Kolsky (who will truly contain multitudes as “The Haters.”) You might wanna take your headphones off for this one.

THURSDAY

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Performance: Future in Puppetry, Internet in 1991, and Some Stuff in Between

(photo: Maria Baranova)

(photo: Maria Baranova)

WEDNESDAY

Steve of Tomorrow
Continues through March 19 at HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave., Tribeca. 7pm; tickets are $20. More info here. 
Steve of Tomorrow is a multimedia work of puppetry following a sci-fi fan who makes a blog post inviting any time travelers to greet him with their presence, but the only one to come by is lazy and not at all what he’d hope the progressive future to be. This piece questions technological advancement while utilizing the latest in video puppetry, created in the signature style of David Commander’s Toy Theater. Regardless of your feelings on tech or the capabilities of future-folk, it’s sure to be pretty cool.

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4 Performances Not to Miss This Weekend

FRIDAY

(photo: Patrick Moore)

(photo: Patrick Moore)

Lear
Continues through February 20 at New York Live Arts, 219 W 19th Street, Chelsea. 7:30pm; Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here
Acclaimed dance artist Valda Setterfeld, sporting a shock of white hair, crafts her own version of Shakespeare’s Lear in collaboration with Irish choreographer John Scott. Interestingly, Setterfeld herself plays Lear while the King’s daughters are played by three men. Don’t expect this to be an evening of period dress and Classical language. Setterfeld may be the right age to play Lear, but this unique and movement-driven creation seems anything but typical.

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Performance Picks: Tarot Card Donner Party, New Play Readings, and More

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Would you rather spend a short evening watching stuff in a bar or dedicate your whole day to the wildest and most visceral of performance art? This week, you can do both.

WEDNESDAY

Where The Wild Things Are 8
At Bizarre Bushwick, 12 Jefferson Street, Bushwick. 9pm; $7-20 suggested donation. More info here
Party moguls Brooklyn Wildlife present the eighth edition of their evening variety show at Bizarre Bar, home to all shapes and sizes of variety show. At any given moment, you can catch “aggro” raps by Stonehenge Parnhashnakovsky, beats by Star Falcon and Rob Interface, performance art poetry by Terminal Intrusion (Nyssa Frank, owner of The Living Gallery), burlesque, and more. The event asks attendees to wear a costume from a childhood story, a mascot outfit, or just to come half naked. So, suit up. Or down.
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