If “a night at the theater” sounds about as fun as “dental surgery,” this might be the one time of the year you happily take a seat in a black box — assuming you’re a fan of hip-hop, comic books and video games.
Williamsburg’s Brick Theater has two upcoming festivals that promise to be lowbrow-brilliant: the Comic Book Theater Festival and Game Play.
From June 3 to 29, the Comic Book Theater fest, back for the first time since its 2011 debut, will offer live adaptations of classic 3D comics (complete with “3D space glasses”), live readings of DMC comics (about vigilante justice in ’80s NYC) and of Michael Bay’s horrible Ninja Turtles script, plus plays about comic-book artists, superheroes (including one who develops her powers by overdosing on acai supplements), and comic-book artists who become superheroes. In one production, Matthew Thurber adapts his own comic about a werewolf president, with 19th century Bowery melodrama as his inspiration. There’s a lot going on here! (Peep the full line-up).
One of the fest’s more ambitious productions is Wi-Moto Nyoka’s musical-theater prequel to her online motion comic The Last Days of Kartika. With funk/hip-hop music by Ms. Nyoka and her collaborator Tommy Turnstiles, Hero How To tells the origin story of Dusky Diana, a heroine who serves the citizens of Kartika (in an email, Ms. Nyoka says the work “addresses notions of second class citizenship in our cultures”). Before you see Dusky Diana brought to life onstage, get to know her by watching the first webisode of The Last Days of Kartika above, and watch more here.
Also: the lineup for the sixth annual Game Play festival — a three-week tribute to gaming that, in the past, has featured plays like Harold Pinter’s Duck Hunt and Grand Theft Ovid — has just been released. This year, you’ll get to see the sequel to the latter, as five more stories from Metamorphoses will be retold through the prism of video games. Here’s the rest of the lineup, courtesy of the folks at The Brick. Tickets (which range from free to $20) for the fest (which goes from July 11 to 27) go on sale June 1 right here.
Paracelsus Games’ The Dance and the Dawn, a live-action theatrical experience, in which players take on the roles of nobles in a gothic fairy-tale realm who have one night to find love and redemption. Six players become the Ladies of Ash, who have come to the midnight ball in hopes of healing their heartbreak; the other seven become the cold, proud Lords of Ice who are there waiting for them, and who struggle with tragedies of their own. The game is an event that lasts about four hours, which will be taken up with dancing and dueling and courtly intrigue…and, of course, with the eternal hope of romance and joy.
Corinne Nulton’s 14 Symptoms, an original play featuring an egotistical hacker, a predetermined serial killer, a cheerleader with an alter ego, and the ghost of an ideal best friend. The characters collide in chat rooms and clash in games as they recreate themselves through text to investigate or conceal a gruesome murder.
Playmatics Nick Fortugno’s Ghost Engines in the Sky, a live-action roleplaying game of existential horror in the old West. It begins as you awaken on a train with no memory of how you got there. The strangely familiar faces around you hint at something horrible you’ve forgotten. And with each stop, you’re more convinced you’re the one responsible.
Eddie Kim’s Grand Theft Ovid 2: It’s been five years since EK Theater first presented Grand Theft Ovid, which The New York Times called “an impressive feat of engineering, coordination, and storytelling.” The company returns with Grand Theft Ovid 2, five more stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses retold using modern and classic video games.
Kevin M. Karol’s Long Live the King: Take up your cell phone in a battle against your fellow audience members. Loyalties will be tested as you decide whether to stay loyal to your king and their cause, or to put peace before power. In the end, only one thing matters: who will reign as king?
Harrison Young’s Online Fighting, an action-comedy about two video gamers rekindling a feud. What starts off as fun and games online quickly becomes a battle of jealousy and redemption offline. Realism, absurdity, and stage-combat blend together for a show designed for hardcore gamers and non-gamers alike.
The Story Gym’s Tabletop Cabaret: Hedgepig Races: Participants will get to experience a unique mash-up of a musical with a tabletop role-playing game. Audience members must race each other in an imaginary mining cart drawn by a giant hedgepig. Story events will be set up in song and audience members as characters will either win or lose. Created by Lisa Reinke, creator of last year’s hit The Photo Album.
Treason, an espionage-themed performative experience that uses a cooperative game-like structure: by working together as a group with an unseen agent, players uncover a narrative that explores themes of cyber-security and surveillance. Participants are able to deconstruct and examine their relationships to power and authority through these simulated predicaments.
The Uncanny Valley, written and directed by Francesca Talenti, a play for two humans and one robot. Featuring a RoboThespian™ actor, this new play by Francesca Talenti probes the ethical implications of convergence—the melding of the human mind and artificial intelligence—in a horrifying yet humorous exploration of the fragility of the human soul.