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Performance Picks: 30-Year Christmas Carol, Queer Vloggers, Gay Hell

THURSDAY

(image courtesy of A Christmas Carol)

A Christmas Carol Year Five: Home For The Holidays
December 14-18 at Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, 8 pm or 7 pm: $30

Marriages are technically a commitment for life. The team behind this deconstructed, imaginative, and wacky riff on A Christmas Carol directed by Andrew Neisler and told through the story of a fictional couple has chosen something no less ambitious, particularly for live performance: they will perform a version of this show every year, for thirty years. Now, they’re on their fifth year. Things are changing, but they show no signs of slowing down. So, come on down to whatever a “fashion and design accelerator” is and pay this kind couple (Ryann Weir and Andrew Farmer, who also wrote the piece) a visit. Though Farmer was the writer behind the recent series of spooky subway-centric tales, I assume this show will be more seasonal than spine-chilling. Also, it includes unlimited beer and wine. Keep Reading »

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Get Your Relationship Turned Into a Musical, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image courtesy of Rebecca & Evan)

Your Love, Our Musical
Wednesday, November 22 at Caveat, 7:30 pm: $15

If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your latest Tinder date into an original musical, I don’t know what kind of a person that makes you, but you can take a stab at making this odd dream a reality at the return of Rebecca Vigil and Evan Kaufman’s Your Love, Our Musical, now presented at new brainy venue Caveat. It’s fairly self-explanatory; the duo selects an actual couple from the audience and interviews them. After that, they work their magic and craft a whole (and wholly improvised) musical about what they’ve just heard. If you’re looking for a new perspective on your relationship but can’t afford therapy, this could be the way to do it. Keep Reading »

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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: Comedic Compliments, Native Satire, All the Feels

WEDNESDAY

(image via The Center for the Humanities)

This Isn’t Funny!: I, An Moron
Wednesday, November 8 at CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery, 7 pm: FREE

Comedy is a strange thing. Many write it off as merely jokes with little meaning, but comedy is one of our biggest and most pervasive cultural forces. So, be careful what you joke about, because hey, jokes do matter and it’s extremely easy to be very funny without tearing down marginalized groups. I see it happen literally all the time. Anyway, tonight you can see performance artist Dynasty Handbag perform their new work that riffs on “white activism” (#resist by buying this shirt about feminism!) and solo shows made by privileged heterosexual women with little self-awareness, which I also see happen all the time. After the performance concludes, the artist will be joined by Morgan Bassichis, Dominique Nisperos, Keisha Zollar, and moderator Bess Rowen for a discussion about the role of comedy in times of political unrest, and how one can utilize the genre to productively take on the establishment.

THURSDAY

(flyer via Union Hall)

Boast Rattle
Thursday, November 9 at Union Hall, 10 pm: $10 advance, $12 day of

Ah, roasts. No, I don’t mean cookouts or that ceremony where you put the whole pig in the ground and take it out after a while. I am talking about the weird comedic ritual of hurling insults in a way some take as complimentary, ultimately. In my opinion, it is too easy to resort to cheap shots in a roast. Unless maybe you are roasting a white man who does not have many redeeming qualities. In any case, at this show you needn’t worry about expecting to laugh at any cruel or dumb retorts. In fact, Boast Rattle is a night of fierce compliments. So, you can sit back and watch Jo Firestone, Josh Gondelman, Mike Drucker, Adam Conover, Shalewa Sharpe, and even Bizzy The Dog cook up their best words of praise to each other. Plus, this edition of the show is part of the New York Comedy Festival, so maybe you will feel fancier in the audience.

FRIDAY

(flyer via Ars Nova / Facebook)

Every Feeling I’ve Ever Felt
Friday, November 10 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15

When it comes to feelings, composer and musician Ellen Winter has many of them. So many, in fact, that she’s written an entire show to expose them all to you. Her one-night-only show at Ars Nova (where she also interned several years back) not only has a hefty dose of emotions all along the spectrum (and probably more than one or two tears), it also serves as a showcase of songs she’s written over the years, from renditions of punk songs past to new material from her upcoming solo album. With some rare actual good news coming from the most recent local elections and the inevitable advent of chillier weather and seasonal depression, I have also been feeling many types of feelings. It can always be a treat to experience them with a roomful of others, set to a handful of songs.

SATURDAY

(photo: Theo Cote)

Don’t Feed The Indians: A Divine Comedy Pageant
Now through November 19 at La MaMa, 7 pm (Sundays at 2 pm): $25, $20 students/seniors

One (and certainly not the only) group who has faced hundreds of years of oppression that still continues today is Native Americans. Though their land and livelihood is still largely disregarded today, illuminated by movements like that of Standing Rock and more, the struggles they face are not always splashed on the (virtual) front pages of the news. And when Native or Indigenous people are portrayed in fictional media, it’s equally uncommon that they themselves are the ones telling the stories or even playing the roles. That all gets turned on its head at Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective’s “greatest sideshow of Indigenous people you’ll ever see.”

Created by Murielle Borst-Tarrant of Spiderwoman Theater with music direction by Kevin Tarrant, Don’t Feed The Indians takes common Native stereotypes and subverts them in a satirical, musical night performed by actual Native artists. May the future only bring more and more work like this.

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Performance Picks: Stigma Unbound, Alaskan Journey, Moon Juice

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via The Juice / Facebook)

The Juice!
Wednesday, October 25 at Union Pool, 7:30 pm: $5 advance, $7 doors

What is The Juice? Is it pressed and does it cost $9 for some reason? I do not know about how pressing the situation is, but I do know that this juice costs $5 in advance and $7 at the door. It is also a comedy show hosted by Carmen Christopher, which seems more enjoyable than sipping some green and/or pulpy liquid through a straw, which we were recently reminded are bad. Tonight, the show welcomes stand-up from Liza Treyger, Casey James Salengo, Dan Licata, and Greta Titelman, and improv from John Reynolds, Zack Pearlman, Monique Moses, Meghan Strickland, Matt Barats, and Zach Cherry. If you’re already tired of all the spooky and Halloween-themed goings-on around, why not check out something loosely themed around uh, juice. Keep Reading »

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Steve Earle Gets Theatrical, Philippine Dance, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image via Soho Rep)

Samara
Now through May 7 at the Mezzanine Theater at A.R.T. New York Theaters, 8 pm (select times at 3 pm and 5 pm): $35+

Though this show is playing up near Hell’s Kitchen, it’s commissioned by Soho Rep, the acclaimed and boundary-pushing theater that recently left its longtime home base on Walker Street, downtown, due to conflicts regarding what the building was zoned for and what they needed to do to operate the theater. Without any sign of stopping their production output, Soho Rep and artistic director Sarah Benson have been putting up shows elsewhere in the meantime.

Samara unites two downtown theater heavy-hitters, Benson and Richard Maxwell of the New York City Players. Maxwell rarely brings outside directors on board, but has asked Benson herself to direct his latest work. They’ve assembled a cast that is diverse in gender, race, and even age, as the ensemble’s age range is 14 to 92. Notably, the cast includes singer-songwriter Steve Earle, who has a storied (and Grammy-winning) career in American roots and folk music and has penned tunes recorded by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and more. Earle has also composed music for the play, so whether you’re a fan of avant-garde theater or just good old-fashioned American grooves, you’ll probably find something to like about this show. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Riot Grrrl Antigone, Marionettes Abound, Toasty Roasts

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via Room Service / Facebook)

(flyer via Room Service / Facebook)

Room Service
Wednesday, February 15 at The Jane Hotel, 8 pm: 

Valentine’s Day has technically passed, so all you single people can breathe a sigh of relief and all you non-single people can also breathe a sigh of relief because the pressure to give into capitalism has maybe lessened a little. Depending on who you are, of course. But if you’re longing to stay in the spirit of flowers, chocolates, and a pink n’ red color palette, this edition of Greta Titelman’s Room Service comedy show at The Jane has got you covered. With a lineup full of love-worthy folks like Bowen Yang, Lorelei Ramirez, Alyssa Stonoha, Petey DeAbreu, Blair Socci, Tom Thakkar, and Ricky Velez, you’ll be sure to spend the night feeling warm inside, expelling laughs from your gullet in only the most loving of fashions. Rounding out the bunch will be two individuals aiming their Cupid’s arrow in a more musical way: Ruby McCollister and Tim Platt as “resident songbird” and “heartthrob,” respectively. Keep Reading »

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This Queer Performance Festival Wants to Mend Our Generational ‘Disconnect’

Banjela Davis

Banjela Davis (Photo courtesy of La MaMa’s Squirts)

Nowadays, it’s common to see one generation insisting that the other will never understand them, whether its Jerry Seinfeld lamenting that college kids are “too PC,” the drag performer Lady Bunny balking at “crybabies” and new pronouns, or tweens making memes decrying the whole bootstraps thing (every Boomer’s favorite piece of outdated advice).

Given this disconnect, it’s not everyday that you see a generational cross section of people in the same room together, let alone actually listening to each other. This rings especially true for people in the queer community, who experience generational differences in even starker terms because of the gaping hole that the AIDS epidemic left behind. But bridging this gap is exactly what La MaMa’s Squirts: Generations of Queer Performance seeks to do.

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The Hard-Fightin’, Hard-Tumblin’ German Gymnasts of 4th Street

This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

German immigrant board Hamburg steamer

“From the old to the new world—German emigrants for New York embarking on a Hamburg steamer.” Harper’s Weekly, 1974. (Library of Congress.)

Yesterday New York was AS GERMAN AS BERLIN and any one on the Bowery might have fancied himself unter den Linden. Germany bubbled up everywhere and the substantial joy of substantial Teutonia foamed LIKE A HUGE FLAGON OF LAGER. – New York Herald, April 11, 1871

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Times Square Elmo En Español, Comedy For Charity, and More Performance This Week

THURSDAY

(image via The Bushwick Starr)

(image via The Bushwick Starr)

Furry! / La Furia!
Continues through November 26 at The Bushwick Starr, 8 pm (November 20 show at 3 pm): $15.

Imagining the everyday life of someone who dresses up as Elmo and roams around Times Square for tips is entertaining enough, but now you have a chance to see it on stage, in two different languages. Playwright William Burke has teamed up with Modesto Flako Jimenez and the Brooklyn Gypsies Collective for a “Spanish/Spanglish/human” translation of his play FURRY to be performed by Jimenez and Olander “Big O” Wilson. Also, this play isn’t even about the regular life of an Elmo in Times Square, however odd and intriguing that may be. It’s about “a street Elmo who rises to power by taking over the streets of 42nd to 46th Street by using The Art of War.” I don’t think I could imagine the details of such a thing if I tried, so you’re better off checking it out for yourself. Keep Reading »

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Performance: Spooky Puppets and People, Creepy Creature Creation, and More

(photo via Nightcap by Ike / Facebook)

(photo via Nightcap by Ike / Facebook)

THURSDAY

Nightcap By Ike
Thursday, October 27 at Joe’s Pub, 9 pm: $12. 

Comedian, solo performer, and all-around entertainer Ikechukwu Ufomadu, oft-described as the theoretical offspring of Woody Allen and Frank Sinatra if such a thing was logically feasible, once again takes to the stage to bring you a “singular mélange” of jokes, special guests, and music. His performances are frequently in the style of a live talk show, infusing an oddly deadpan and NPR-esque affect at times to the typically over-the-top enthusiasm of talk show hosts. Ufomadu also uniquely lives in many aspects of the performance world, with one foot in the comedy world, another in the experimental theater scene, perhaps a hand in performance art and cabaret. Come Thursday, you’ll see it all. But in a digestible, nightcap form.

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Performance Picks: Big Comedy, Garbage Theory, Punk Opera, Trump

(poster by Sisters Weekend)

(poster by Sisters Weekend)

WEDNESDAY

Sam’s BIG Day

At The Annoyance, 367 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. 9:30pm. $5. More info here

You’ve seen him in serial “gay teen drama” Lake Homo High, as the co-host of Live On Broadgay, and maybe even being named one of Brooklyn Mag’s 50 Funniest People, but this time Sam Taggart is all on his own. Yes, it’s a show just for him, packed full and big with sketches, characters, videos, standup, and some surprises, too. However, no solo show is complete without special guests, and you better believe he’s got those too, in the form of Mary Houlihan, Sisters Weekend, and maybe even more. It’s a big day, after all. I can only hope they’re able to fit such a big day in one theater!

THURSDAY

(image via GG Nix / Facebook)

(image via GG Nix / Facebook)

Lost Abjects: Theory of Garbage

At G.G. NiX, 1339 Dekalb Ave, Bushwick. 7pm. More info here

Kalan Sherrard, the mind behind “Beat Up Trump” among other creations who we spoke with a few months ago, will be presenting this evening at vintage shop G.G. NiX. It’s part multimedia installation, part performance, part lecture, part workshop. Billed as “An Installation and Physical Manifesto Against Recycling,” it’ll feature a spread of works created by Sherrard, including his miniature art galleries (so small you have to look through a magnifying glass to view them), a “post-structural striptease,” and sculptures crafted from gum and fingernails. There will also be a game of Giant Nihilist Tetris, but don’t worry, it is optional.

FRIDAY

(image via Facebook)

(image via Facebook)

Brett Davis and Nick Naney’s Disney’s Aladdin

At Over the Eight, 594 Union Ave, Williamsburg. 8pm. More info here

Everyone loves Aladdin. But what about a live version of Aladdin adapted by two comedians? If that piques your interest, Brett Davis (of The Special Without Brett Davis) and Nick Naney (who has also appeared on that show) have got just the thing for you. The cast features Bardia Salimi as the titular hero, Mitra Jouhari of Three Busy Debras as Jasmine, Brett Davis as Jafar, Nick Naney as the Genie, and even Steph Cook as the rug. This may be the only time you’ll see a human carpet outside of a fetish party, folks, so get to it.

SATURDAY

(image via La MaMa)

(image via La MaMa)

Baby Fat Act 1: A Screeching Weasel Rock Opera

At La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater, 66 E 4th Street, East Village. 7pm and 10pm. Tickets are $15. Also on July 21 and 22 and 8pm. More info here

Some people like opera, but it’s safe to say it isn’t for everyone. For those who aren’t particularly drawn to long dresses and vibrato, this might do the trick. La MaMa has partnered with Columbia Stages to bring you this world premiere that’s based on Verdi’s opera Rigoletto but written by Ben Weasel, the frontman of punk band Screeching Weasel. The original opera centers around a hunchbacked court jester who’s daughter falls in love with the very Duke he mercilessly mocks, but in this show there is a rock club called The Reptile House with their house band named Serpentello and the dubious and nefarious presence of what may be an inescapable vortex. So like, basically the same thing.

SUNDAY

(photo via tdf)

(photo via tdf)

The Trump Card

At Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, East Village. 6:30pm. Tickets are $35. Also on August 28. More info here.

Solo performer and monologist Mike Daisey (also behind popular and controversial work The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) presents this new solo work about the one and only D. J. T., breaking down the inner workings of this bizarre and rich man while also weaving a tale of oligarchy’s rise in America along the way. The result is sure to be intriguing, compelling, and ultimately will, I’m assuming, leave you depressed about the state of the world and its possible future.  The show’s currently sold out, but a waitlist will be available when the box office opens.