theater

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Bromancing Assassins and the Myth of the Great Writer Genius in Holden

"Holden" by Anisa George (Flyer courtesy of George & Co.)

“Holden” by Anisa George (Flyer courtesy of George & Co.)

In a vacuum, The Catcher in the Rye is a pretty straightforward story– not a whole lot happens. But if you’re at all familiar with American culture, you’re probably well aware that it has taken on an enormously prolific life of its own. Probably you read the book for school as a teen, or even a tween if you grew up here, and you might have noticed that it has a somewhat polarizing effect. If you identified with the book’s hero, a 17-year-old kid named Holden Caulfield, anyone else who shared this affinity was an OK person too. But plenty of people just don’t get Holden’s misanthropic cynicism, and it’s weird, but there seems to be a built-in emotional trigger point here for those who do: clearly the haters must be “phonies” then, too. As time goes on, and teenage angst either subsides or turns into something else, like, playing in a black metal band or four-martini lunch hours, Holden’s frustration with the world’s many, many disappointments seems more like kid stuff. And most people realize that, OK not everyone is such a phony after all. But not everyone lets go of Holden so easily.

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Make American Gay Again, Theater As Light, and More Performance To Ease The Pain

WEDNESDAY

(image via Ars Nova / Facebook)

(image via Ars Nova / Facebook)

Make America Gay Again
Wednesday, January 18 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15

By now, the phrase Make America Great Again pretty much seems like old hat. Which is also a pun I didn’t mean to make, but there it is. Tonight, performance artist Chris Tyler hopes to put his own ribald spin on MAGA with this spangled variety show, claiming while that America has never been particularly great or even particularly good, it has indeed been “more than a little bit gay.” Republicans are welcome to this affair, though it’s unclear what their fate shall be when they arrive. The lineup includes “drag queens, poets, and punk musicians” such as performance artist Emily Oliveira, drag queen Kelsey, local rockers Gandor Chorale, Pussy Grabs Back: The Band, writer Jess Goldschmidt, and more. Advance tickets are sold out, but a waitlist begins at the theater at 7:30. Keep Reading »

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A Talking Astor Place Cube, Queer Vloggers, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via Wild Project)

(flyer via Wild Project)

F*@#d in the East Village
January 11-17 at The Wild Project, 7:30 pm: $20, $16 students/seniors.

The East Village isn’t what it used to be, I think we all know that. Samantha Fontana and Roger Manix especially do, so much that they’ve crafted a comedic play all about it. F*@#d in the East Village is one of those plays where two people play many characters, but in this case the show begins with only two people: a “recently dumped high school senior” who meets “her twentysomething gay man self in 2005.” Now that that pattern of logic has been established, the audience will go on a journey back in time to the East Village of the past, only it’s a little weirder and more surreal. Not in the sense of there being more avant-garde art spaces, but like, in the sense that the Astor Place Cube is granted the ability to speak. You know, just average stuff like that. Fontana is a born-and-bred East Villager, so this isn’t a mediation on “old New York” by people whose first interactions with the city included Duane Reades and Starbucks on every corner already.

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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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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 »