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Performance Picks: Wrestling With Friendship, Oddly Satisfying Content, and More

THURSDAY

(image via Bushwick Starr)

Singlet
May 16-June 3 at The Bushwick Starr, 8 pm: $20-25

Singlet, the new show from the singular (get it, singular sounds like “singlet”) mind of performance and cabaret artist Erin Markey is about wrestling, yes, but it is also about so much more. That’s not a metaphor or anything; this show about friendship and rivalry takes its inspiration from everyone’s favorite performative form of consensual violence involving spandex and rings, but also Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, Precious Moments collectible dolls, Jean Genet’s The Maids (aka one of the plays everyone directed scenes from in theater school to be edgy), couples counseling podcasts, and a myriad more references I may never fully comprehend, tbh. Markey will be performing alongside frequent collaborator Emily Davis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if tickets sell out soon, so as the teens say, hop to it.

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Performance Picks: Queer Anniversary, Modern Dance, This Alien Nation

WEDNESDAY

(art by Payton Turner, image via This Alien Nation / Facebook)

This Alien Nation
Wednesday, May 9 at Joe’s Pub, 7 pm: $20 advance, $25 doors

It would take a lot of willful ignorance not to see that living as an immigrant in Trump’s America (or even in Obama’s) can be an experience fraught with anxiety, fear, and a sense of disappointment in a large portion of humanity. But for all the cruel, discriminatory people out there, there are others who make a point of giving immigrants a platform to tell their own stories and maybe even get paid for it. Sofija Stefanovic’s This Alien Nation is one such show, providing a monthly space for some of their “favorite outsiders” to show an audience whatever it is they do best. This month, guest hosted by Abeer Hoque, features storyteller Mansoor Basha, poet and drag performer Wo Chan, comedian Ana Fabrega, journalist and author Aatish Taseer, performer and filmmaker Angel Yau, and musician Amalia Watty. Keep Reading »

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Feminist HPV, Charles Atlas, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image via Andrew Hardigg / Facebook)

Gorilla Manners / Atlas / Coffee Cup Conundrum
Wednesday, May 2 at Dixon Place, 7:30 pm: $15 advance, $18 doors

Tonight, you can get not one, not two, but three shows in the same night. The first is Gorilla Manners, a play by Andrew Hardigg directed by Jordan J. Baum, which includes a character called Vaseline and a gorilla who does not like being stared at for too long (hence the “manners” portion of the title, I suppose). The second is Atlas, a show by The Red Lines that explores how communication can be distorted by the artifice that we create. The third, Coffee Cup Conundrum, not only works well as a tongue twister or vocal warm-up, but will likely also remind us about the massive amount of plastic we throw away and how we’re only going to be able to ignore it for so much longer. So, there’s something for everyone! Keep Reading »

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Sesame Street Drag, Disabled Comedians, and More Performance Picks

Asia Gagnon’s ‘The Kind of Thing You Don’t Talk About’ at SipFest

SipFest
Now through March 14 at Wild Project, various times, various prices

The nature of live theater is that anything can happen at any time. Sometimes this is good, but not always. Spaceman, a high-tech play from Loading Dock Theater about a woman astronaut’s journey to Mars, was supposed to have a run at Wild Project currently, but had to be canceled due to an injury sustained by the lead performer. However, the venue will not be empty. A last-minute festival of original performance works by women and queer artists called Sipfest will run at the Lower East Side venue in its stead. There, you’ll find a solo show digging into how we discuss sexual assault, drag performances, femme ballads, a play inspired by the fanfiction epic My Immortal, and more. Keep Reading »

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Get Woke and Dodge the Oscars With This Week’s Performance Picks

THURSDAY

(flyer via Woke AF / Facebook)

Woke AF: A Mind-Opening Variety Show
Thursday, March 1 at UCB East, 11 pm: $7

Minds are like doors, I guess. Some are closed and some are open and some are in between and uh, some have doorbells? I’m working on it. Instead of trying to continue this bit, let’s get to the point here: Woke AF is a comedy variety show that aims to open your mind by exposing you to a diverse group of people waxing poetic/comedic about social issues they feel particularly attached to. Maybe it’s a topic you’re well versed in but have never heard joked about lovingly, or maybe you’ll learn something totally new. However your mind will react to this proposed awakening, you can expect to see ruminations of all sorts from Jes Tom, Corin Wells, Timothy Dunn, Glorilis Tavarez, Jesse Roth, and Kami Dmitrova. Just remember not to be too performatively woke, even if this is a performance. Keep Reading »

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Responses To The Inauguration Anniversary, And More Shows To See

WEDNESDAY

(image via Ars Nova / Facebook)

Citizens United II: What Happened?
Wednesday, January 17 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15

If you couldn’t tell from the title alone, this is a political show. Though just to clarify, it’s not a staged reading of the Hillary Clinton book. At least, I don’t think it is. “Leftist performance collective” Citizens United returns once more to the Ars Nova stage to parse through these troubled political times by way of drag shows, poetry, performance art, punk music, and more. The group joins the many artistic efforts happening this month to commemorate-slash-mourn the one-year anniversary of the presidential inauguration. In fact, the last time Citizens United brought their unique stylings to the stage was January 2017. What has happened since that fateful month is dizzying and often cringe-worthy to think of, and possibly perfectly summed up by a night of chaotic performance. Keep Reading »

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More Theater Festivals, Clowns, And Performative Activism

(photo: Ian Douglas, courtesy of American Realness)

American Realness
Now through January 16 at Abrons Arts Center and other venues, various times and prices.

If you thought last week’s Performance Picks covered all the winter theater festival shows to see, you would be incorrect. There are actually more, believe it or not. Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance’s American Realness festival began yesterday, bringing with it a slew of dance and movement-based works, including several world premieres. Whether you’re interested in profound performance art, classic dance, or pop cultural tribute, American Realness likely has you covered.

Some intriguing titles include nora chipaumire’s punk salute to Patti Smith and Zimbabwe, Neal Medlyn’s investigation into Pina Bausch and his years as an “untrained dancer in New York contemporary dance,” NIC Kay’s solo performance inspired by queer ballroom and Butoh, Adrienne Truscott’s “dance about dance without any dance,” Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis’s physical delve into the seeing and perceiving of bodies both disabled and not, and of course, more. Keep Reading »

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Under the Radar Festival and More Must-See Performance

A scene from Antigonón, un Contigente Épico, running January 10-14 at The Public Theater as part of The Public’s 14th Annual Under the Radar Festival. (Photo: Lessy Montes)

The Public’s Under The Radar Festival
January 4-15 at The Public Theater and other venues, various times and prices.

It is time once again for the slew of winter theater festivals that usually fill the month of January to its very brim, and cause many an artist to triple-check their schedule and/or wallets to see how they can make it all work. Beginning on Thursday is one of the most notable fests, Under The Radar, presented by The Public Theater. Though it’s only 12 days, there are more than 155 performances across five venues. Even slightly pondering that gives me scheduling-related anxiety.

A brief sampling of highlights: Roger Guenveur Smith and CalArts’s piece exploring the New Year’s Eve concert Jimi Hendrix played in 1969 in NYC, queer ensemble Split Britches’s meditation on anxiety and doomsday created in collaboration with local artists and elders, a concert of work by Erin Markey and Emily Bate, harunalee’s exploration of how memory can be gendered and racialized, Cuban company Teatro El Público’s underground drag-cabaret version of Antigone, and more. There is truly so much more. Keep Reading »

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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: Nightcaps, Bars Become Barns, and Black Girl Magic

THURSDAY

Nightcap | by Ike
Thursday, October 19 at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 pm: $15

Sometimes you’ve had a long and hard week, and you just want to sit back in a comfortable chair and enjoy a nice nightcap. Whether this, to you, means a snug piece of headwear to pair with a matching set of PJs or a fine pour of neat whiskey, come Thursday night it means joining comedic performer Ikechukwu Ufomadu at Joe’s Pub for a night of special guests, gentle quips, live music, and more. As a host and performer, Ike has a demeanor and tone of voice that will simultaneously make you chuckle robustly and feel like a soft blanket is enveloping your very form. Joining him on this evening will be jazz singer Stephan Crump and singer-songwriter LOLO. Keep Reading »

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Surrealist Warehouse Festival, Fantastic Comedy, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via Brian Fiddyment / Twitter)

Prayerz
Wednesday, June 28 at Vital Joint, 9 pm: $5-10 sliding scale

Regular old prayers are boring. Clasping your hands together and murmuring at the sky all polite-like? Come on. And don’t get me started on the kinds of prayers that just happen as a silent “conversation with God” in your head (i.e. the kinds I did as a child, I was no heathen). Let’s get some performative prayer up in here! And that’s just what comedian Brian Fiddyment will bring you in his monthly show at East Williamsburg space Vital Joint. Well, maybe. It’s a show and open mic focusing on multimedia-based and non-traditional comedy pieces are given priority. Perhaps that was the true Word of the Lord all along.

And if you want to double up on the #showz, get there early, because at 8 pm three groups of artists are performing new experimental works as part of ?!: New Works, deemed “the spiritual successor to the Exponential Festival.” Keep Reading »

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Little Green Guys, 5-Hour Durationals, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(poster by Mikey Heller, via Facebook)

Little Green Guys: An Evening of Comedy About Frogs and Lizards
Wednesday, May 10 at Babycastles, 8 pm: $5

First of all, I don’t know what I can say about this show that will make it any more appealing than the title already makes it. Little green guys! Why make jokes about people and places when you can make them about frogs and lizards. They’re small, they’re wacky, and they’re one of a kind. A grand old lineup of people will be stopping by to wax comedic about these green-hued critters, including Jo Firestone, Lorelei Ramirez, Annie Donley, Anthony Oberbeck, Carmen Christopher, The Junk Bros, and more, plus your amphibian-and-reptile-loving hosts Joe Rumrill and Andrew Tisher.

The only thing that would make this show better is if actual frogs and lizards made their way up the steps to Babycastles, clambered up the mic stands, and croaked out their own jokes and humorous musings. I guess we will just have to wait for the sequel to see that. Keep Reading »