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Winter Festivals, A Play On 4Chan, Gay Shows For All, and More Performance Picks

FESTIVALS

Under the Radar
Wednesday January 4 through Sunday January 15, various showtimes at The Public Theater and other spaces: $20 and up

Ah yes, it’s that time again, when the slew of January performance festivals sail in every winter to overwhelm you with a seemingly endless supply of shows. One of these is The Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, which presents a wide variety of music, performance, and more from artists based across the U.S. and all over the world.

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How Sex Sold Songs in New York’s Early Theater Days

This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

View of 444 Broadway as The Olympic Theatre, year unknown. Photo courtesy of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library.

James Norman knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into 444 Broadway in the spring of 1862. And the woman he shot knew, too. The music was loud, drinks were flowing, and he was a jilted man. He gave $100 dollars (a hefty sum in 1862) to buy furniture to his fiancée Kate White, a waitress at the concert saloon on the ground floor of the building. She ran away with the money, never to be heard from again. They had met one of the many times he must have come in drunk, sweaty, and groping. It’s not hard to imagine why she took the money and ran.

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The Theater That Was a ‘Weapon in the Class Struggle’

This week, we continue with our series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The Workers Laboratory Theatre, headquartered at 42 East 12th in the 1930s. (University of Wyoming American Heritage Center Archives)

The Workers Laboratory Theatre, headquartered at 42 East 12th street in the 1930s. (University of Wyoming American Heritage Center Archives)

In June 1931, with America’s working class still deep in the grip of the Great Depression, a handful of actors in New York City performed Art is a Weapon, a skit first adapted by the New York’s Workers’ Laboratory Theatre. It begins with a Capitalist, with a “silk topper and over-refined accent,” making his declaration about the limited uses of art. The workers respond by making the distinction between proletarian and bourgeois art; between art intended to amuse and enlighten the elite and art meant to liberate workers.

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The Greenwich Village Church That Helped Women Get Illegal Abortions

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

(Photo: Bill Altham)

(Photo: Bill Altham)

On the 16th of November in 1964, four women and four men appeared in their underwear at the Judson Memorial Church, happily cavorting with each other and rubbing their bodies with carefree smiles. They piled up together, humping and sensually touching each other in a mess of raw fish, chicken and sausages. It was an event devoid of modesty, an unapologetic, uncensored expression of sexuality.

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Pre-Christmas Performance: Experimental Nativity Reenactments, Pole Dancing + More

WEDNESDAY

(photo via JACK / Facebook)

(photo via JACK / Facebook)

The Perfect Play
Wednesday, December 21 at JACK, 7 pm: $15

Not much seems perfect in 2016, especially in these last few moments. However, at Clinton Hill art space JACK, experimental performance ensemble Banana Bag and Bodice will summon a crop of luminaries of the downtown theater and performance world in a grand attempt at perfection. If a pursuit of flawlessness makes your eyes roll into oblivion, let me clarify that what these folks are actually doing is staging their fourth annual adults-only musical weirdo version of the classic Nativity story. You know, the perfect child, the virgin birth, etc.? Perfect. There’s certainly a lot to unpack here. Particularly the virgin birth– I still have a lot of questions about that. But I trust that this merry gang of creators, who have also dreamt up concoctions like a Beowulf musical and an experimental piece on political prisoners scored by a soundscape of found objects like fishbowls and license plates, will do the whole thing justice. After the formal show, stick around for drinks and “special Christmas musical maneuverings.”

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Village-Set Street Children Aims to Tell Queer and Trans Stories ‘Authentically’

The company of "Street Children" (photo: Ted Alcorn)

The company of “Street Children” (photo: Ted Alcorn)

Time magazine declared a “transgender tipping point” in 2014 when it featured actress Laverne Cox on its cover. In the two years following that proclamation, mainstream media and pop culture attempted to follow suit. TV shows and movies like Transparent and Tangerine garnered critical acclaim and media buzz, but not all of it was positive. Despite increased portrayal of trans characters in media, the people creating and playing them remain predominantly cisgender.

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Latinx Comedy, Festival to ‘Improve the World,’ and Exposing Racist Fairy Tales

(image via The PIT)

(image via The PIT)

WEDNESDAY

Latinx
Wednesday, November 23 at The PIT Underground, 7:30 pm: $5

It seems like a sensible enough idea to ready your stomach for the inevitable large amounts of food you are going to funnel into it come Thursday. Some may do this through going to the gym or going for a brisk walk. If that’s not your style, consider stretching out the old gut with some hearty laughter at The PIT’s night of comedy by an all-Latinx (for the uninformed, a gender-neutral term for Latina/Latino) lineup. You’ll be treated to stand-up, improv, storytelling, and other ways of spinning words in a humorous fashion. Plus, the event hints at “perhaps some delicious treats.” Whether this means metaphorical treats in the form of comedy or actual snacks, it sounds like a good evening to me.

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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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Edgar Oliver Recounts Love and Loss, Beggars and Bakeries in Attorney Street

(photo: Maria Baranova)

(photo: Maria Baranova)

Edgar Oliver is a memorable man. I feel as though I could listen to him recite a portion of the phone book and throughout it I would find humor, joy, and sorrow. That’s not to say he has a terribly wide range of vocal inflection, but rather quite the opposite. Somehow he treats every word nearly the same way, with the same great deal of care and dramatics, and yet an entire world opens itself up among the syllables.

In Attorney Street, Oliver’s third solo storytelling show, he explores a new chapter of his life in a new apartment on the Lower East Side after being made to leave the small East Village SRO he’d remained for decades. With this major change, he also tracks other shifts in his life and surroundings: a vacant lot he cherished is now no more, a young boy that awakened desire in him as a child now has a child of his own, and so on.

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Performances To Soothe The Pain: Laughs, Hopeful Open Mics, and Party People

THURSDAY

(image via Reductress / Facebook)

(image via Reductress / Facebook)

Haha, Wow! By Reductress: Hillary Clinton Won!
Thursday, November 10 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $5.

Everyone’s favorite (and maybe the only) satirical women’s magazine Reductress, fresh off the release of How To Win At Feminism (check our interview here), gears up for another edition of its monthly live show. Hosted by Reductress associate editor Nicole Silverberg, the show offers chuckles, lady power, and “tips on how to sex good,” duh. But this one’s a little different. The theme is “Hillary Clinton Won.” I’m not sure if this title was decided upon before Tuesday, but either way it’s gonna be a little painful to emerge back into the world once the show concludes. But for one hour of blissful pretending, you can “live your life like Hillary Clinton won with some of our favorite comedians.” Take it while you can. The show features Sydnee Washington, Alyssa Limperis, Shalewa Sharpe, and JANDA. Keep Reading »

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Free Theater Space in NYC? Meet the Folks Making It Possible

Porterspace in Bushwick (photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

Porterspace in Bushwick (photo: Cassidy Dawn Graves)

New York is expensive for business owners (ok, and everybody else), and this can ring especially true for those who run performance spaces. Indeed, commercial successes like Hamilton could lure the ignorant into the sense that it’s very feasible to make live theater work with a long and lucrative life. But that runs contrary to the climate that the smaller spaces and companies exist in, even when they’re the ones creating and initially developing the work that goes on to find success. Keep Reading »

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Performance Picks: Loons, Waiting For the Bathroom, Live Deterioration

(image via Tinder Live / Facebook)

(image via Tinder Live / Facebook)

WEDNESDAY

Tinder Live
Wednesday, October 15 at The Bell House, 8 pm: $15.

Lane Moore‘s celebrated show Tinder Live returns to Park Slope venue The Bell House for yet another amusing evening of dating mishaps and more. This time around, she’s joined by comedians and/or generally creative folk Josh Gondelman (Last Week Tonight), New York Times bestselling author Mychal Smith, and writer Chloe Angyal, who genuinely has a PhD in romantic comedies. Moore is quite a multitasker herself. In addition to jokin’ and hostin’ her acclaimed comedy show, she also fronts the band It Was Romance (they garnered plenty of media attention for their Fiona Apple-inspired music video for queer song “Hooking Up With Girls”) and writes for a variety of publications. But enough about all that, this evening is all about Tinder. In a good and funny way, we swear. And in a real way: there will be live swiping. Maybe one day you’ll even end up as one of the folks Moore engages with onstage. There are many routes to stardom.

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