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A Tribute To Brooklyn, Queer Storytelling, and More Performance Picks

THURSDAY

(photo: Aaron “RadioSilence” Jaker)

¡Oye! For My Dear Brooklyn
March 15-31 at Abrons Arts Center, various times: $20

It’s far too common to see comedians, storytellers, and other performance-based creative types make quips about living in Brooklyn, but usually these are predominantly white transplants talking about how quirky it is to live there, with all the cute cafes and niche boutiques and all that. I typically find this very grating, because living in a place is not a personality trait, particularly when you are a white person being all “Haha, how funny is Brooklyn” about what is almost always a gentrifying neighborhood. But if you’re looking for a different kind of love letter to the borough, look no further than Modesto Flako Jimenez and the Oye Group’s latest multimedia production, ¡Oye! For My Dear Brooklyn. Using projections, bilingual storytelling, poetry, music, and more, Jimenez waxes quite literally poetic about his unique life, the multifaceted place he calls home, and all the complicated forces currently at work within it. 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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Choreographed Memes, Afropunk Spaghetti Westerns, and More Performance Picks

THURSDAY

(flyer via Magical Girl Burlesque / Facebook)

Magical Girl Burlesque Presents: The New Review
Thursday, February 22 at Mayday Space, 8 pm: $5

Out with the old, in with the new, that’s what they say. Or at least, that’s what someone said, sometime, somewhere. Regardless of your opinion on the old, you can see the new coming out in full force at the inclusive troupe Magical Girl Burlesque’s recurring show, The New Review. True to its name, it centers around showcasing both emerging and experienced burlesque performers who have new acts they’d like to workshop for an audience. Think of it as a kind of open mic for burlesque, except the lineup is technically pre-curated and there probably won’t be any white men telling jokes that they (and no one else) think are funny. Keep Reading »

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Placing A Florida Sex Offender Community On the New York Stage

The Cast of Life Jacket Theatre Company’s production of AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE (photo: T. Charles Erickson)

You may be familiar with the fact that registered sex offenders have to appear on an online registry or disclose their criminal status to neighbors or employers. But in Florida, a state deemed “the harshest state for sex offenders,” that’s just a sampling of the restrictions these people deemed the lowest of the low are saddled with post-conviction. When you can’t live within 1,000 feet of places like schools and parks and the world has cast eternal aspersions on you, where can you go? For those in or near the tiny city of Pahokee, Florida, there’s Miracle Village, an isolated community in the midst of the sugarcane, waiting with open arms.

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Neutral Milk Cabaret, Butts, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image via Salty Brine’s Living Record Collection / Facebook)

How Strange It Is
Wednesday, February 7 at Pangea, 7:30 pm: $20 advance, $25 doors

You may have first caught wind of this show back in 2016, when it happened at small East Village venue the Red Room. Whether you did or not, Salty Brine’s cabaret that uniquely puts Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea in a WWII setting has been enjoying an encore run at nearby spot Pangea for the past few weeks. The show is part of his longtime “Living Record Collection” project, in which he performs notable albums in their entirety with a conceptual twist. Past endeavors have included a German cabaret Abbey Road, a Prohibition-era She’s So Unusual, and a sentimental, seafaring rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Tonight will be the last night of this particular creation, so don’t be a “fool” (ha ha, get it, because that is one of the song titles) and get over there. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Clickbait, Cults, and… Miss Frizzle

(image via HERE Arts Center)

America Is Hard To See
Now through February 24 at HERE Arts Center, 8:30 pm: $35-45

Do you ever have an idea and sort of less-than-halfway execute that idea, and then spend a really long time procrastinating doing any more work on it and then find out that someone has beat you to the punch but in a way that seems really interesting and cool so you can’t help but appreciate it? Whether you have or you haven’t, that very thing happened to me with this new play. In college, I started writing a play about a trailer park community of sex offenders with nowhere else to live, based on the real manifestations of this phenomenon. I never finished it, or even came close, because writing plot is hard. Life Jacket Theater Company did, and they even traveled to Florida’s Miracle Village and interviewed its residents to create their show. Add in a helping of methodist hymns and theatricality, and you’ve got the recipe for a play that seems truly nuanced and exciting, particularly in today’s tumultuous time of #metoo reckonings. 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: 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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Performance Picks: Patriarchal Trash, Woodland Puppetry, Black Remembrance

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via Fire Signs Present / Facebook)

Fire Signs Present: Sociable Sagittarians
Wednesday, November 29 at Artichoke Pizza, 9 pm: FREE

Artichoke Pizza is known far and wide for serving up very large, very rich, very cream-laden slices of pizza to late-night revelers and hungry lunch-searchers alike. But when they opened a Bushwick location in the old Northeast Kingdom space not too long ago, they also began hosting events and shows in their basement. One such monthly show is a woman-centric variety show helmed by Fire Signs Present, a duo (of fire signs, of course) comprised of performers Meg McDermott and Nancy Pop. Each month, they book women and femme comedians, storytellers, musicians, and anything in between, typically who belong to the astrological sign of the month, but not always. (Full disclosure: I performed at last month’s Scorpio show. Fellow Scorpio Risings…hello.) This time around, it is all about Sagittarius folk, specifically Hannah Abney, Thoughtress, Brittany Sherrod, and Aston Hollins McClanahan. Plus, there is free prosecco. 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.