It’s relatively common for people to write plays that are autobiographical, and then perform in those plays. Less common is an autobiographical play performed in the same neighborhood where events took place that led the play to happen, and produced by the very person that runs the theater where the writer used to squat. If this sounds a little convoluted, it is. But it’s also the very true nature of J.Stephen Brantley’s new play The Jamb, about two queer punks in their forties: one gone straight-edge, one stuck in the wild days of his youth.
There’s a singular, surreal, and very memorable moment invoked by Carlos Dengler in his new solo stage production Homo Sapiens Interruptus (the last performance, part of the FringeNYC festival is tonight, 9:30 pm at 64E4 Underground in the East Village).
America is replete with music festivals (especially this summer, New York). There are so many it could make your head spin, causing you to momentarily lose sanity and fall into a killing spree.
That’s not exactly what happens in Jared Saltiel and Toby Singer‘s new musical South By South Death, but it’s close—the show is about a group of friends who head south to attend the infamous “Didgeridoo Music Festival,” conveniently set on a remote island. At the festival, pop star “Ciley Myrus” is headlining, but there’s something darker afoot. Someone in a Myrus mask begins killing everyone and documenting the carnage. Through selfies, of course. As more and more people die, there’s another disaster looming, this one of the natural variety: Hurricane Beyoncé.
August 17, 7 pm at Judson Memorial Church: FREE
Judson Arts Wednesdays, a series of free music, dance, and theatrical-readings twice a month, wraps up the season with this final play reading.
Blind Crest was inspired by the true story of Ronnell Wilson and Nancy Gonzalez, this work by Monet Hurst-Mendoza is take on a “boy-meets-girl” story where a black man on death row and a newly-appointed corrections officer make a connection and plan to have a baby.
Loose: A Comedy Show
August 11, 7 pm at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe: $10.
The always-effervescent Jo Firestone hosts this monthly evening of chuckles at the equally warmhearted Housing Works. But Firestone’s no ordinary comedy show host, no siree– she’s the brains behind ventures like Punderdome 3000, that oh-so-thrilling pun contest that’s either your worst nightmare or best dream come true.
Whatever medium you work in, it’s hard to be an artist. Barely anyone pays attention to anything you do, so keeping self-motivated can be tricky when you’re consistently weary from day jobs, keeping track of your 1099s and W9s, and closing down that bar you performed at to ensure you grip that sparse handful of wrinkly cash you so rightfully deserve. In the midst of all this noise, it’s easy for all those half-baked ideas to slip into some dark, far-away box at the back of your mind, and potentially never see the light of day.
Luckily, there are some folks out there who are willing to nudge you in the direction of productivity. Here are two upcoming opportunities to inspire artists, both visual and performance types, to get out there and do their thing.
Sometimes it can get a little old going to the same bars, galleries, shows, knowing the kind of stuff you’ll see there. So, shake it up with…
A live band at karaoke:
Saturday, July 30 at Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side. Doors at 8pm, music at 9pm. $10. More info here.
Karaoke is always a fun choice (I’m aware many would disagree) but karaoke backing tracks can often be in weird keys and sound like an early 2000s MIDI version of the song you actually wanted to sing. That’s all about to change with Be Yourself Karaoke, a live band that specifically plays ’90s/early 2000s emo and pop-punk songs with audience members as the lead singer. The setlist of songs to choose from is much less overwhelming than those huge karaoke binders and includes hits from Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, Say Anything, Good Charlotte, and more. Yes, that means you too can relive that dream of bopping around your bedroom yelling to MCR while wearing too much eyeliner, only this time you’ll have a microphone and a stage.
Continues weekly through August 17 at The Annoyance, 367 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. 9:30pm. $5. More info here.
The school I went to didn’t really have much Greek life at all, but I can still acknowledge that fraternities and sororities provide rich material for comedy. A group of women at The Annoyance agree, and they’ve made this show to prove it. Blood Pact centers around a handful of sorority sisters who agree to regularly meet back up after school, but only during their time of the month. They describe the show as “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Sex and the City meets Requiem for a Dream,” which is a combo I can’t quite imagine but trust exists somehow. Trust me, periods are so weird and complicated and interesting and crisis-inducing that there will certainly be a LOT to joke about.
In the city, or in any city, streets aren’t just streets, and building aren’t just buildings. There are histories stacked on top of each other, whether they be literal populations and businesses that come and go or more personal, emotional histories. A park or a street corner is going to mean something different to everyone.
For the past few years, Elastic City has striven to crystalize this feeling into something more tangible with its series of free artist-led participatory walks in New York City and beyond. These walks take small groups (usually 12 or less) on fictional, historical, emotional journeys, such as a reenactment of coming-of-age moments that occurred at the height of the West Village’s dyke bar culture, a singalong Annie tour, or renaming and imagining a neighborhood where immigrants are celebrated. Artists like scenic designer Mimi Lien (a winner of the MacArthur “Genius Grant”), performance artist Karen Finley, activist and urbanist Nisan Haymian, among many others, have created and led walks for the series.
Today, Elastic City will wrap up their walk series for good. I chatted with Elastic City founder Todd Shalom and his longtime collaborator (and Elastic City’s Associate Artistic Director) Niegel Smith in the time they had in between conducting walks. Today, for the last several times, they’ll lead the walk they’ve created together that will serve as a finale for the series. It’s called, fittingly, The Last Walk, and takes place in Prospect Park, beginning at Grand Army Plaza.
The Annotated History of the American Muskrat
Continues through July 16 at the New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street, West Village. 7pm. Tickets are $18 ($15 students/seniors). More info here.
Originally developed in Boston, this play-slash-experiment was written by John Kuntz in collaboration with the show’s original cast of performers, and now will have a short run as part of the New Ohio Theater’s annual Ice Factory Festival. It follows a group of 8 people who must prepare and give a presentation about muskrats if they would ever like to sleep. American muskrats, specifically. Yes, these guys. Will you learn a lot about the muskrat? Will you learn anything at all? Is this really happening to these people or is it all some sort of wild rodent dream? Find out all this and more at the theater…
Snippets From Sparkleberry
At The Annoyance, 367 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. 8:30pm. $10. More info here.
A ragtag gang of particularly zany folk come together to present this supposedly long-awaited public showing of some of the citizens of Sparkleberry’s theatrical creations, a town full of kindred spirits who also happen to be incredibly dumb. Needless to say, such a combination will probably make for some engaging material. The production features Eliza Hurwitz (who has also created a show that is dedicated to her love of Duane Reade), Steven DeSiena (the Music Man in recurring cartoon/puppet/sketch show Cartoon Monsoon), and Bardia Salimi (who I meant to see in a backyard comedy show in May but he spent too long getting an ice cream.) With a team like that, what could go wrong?