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.
Though this show is playing up near Hell’s Kitchen, it’s commissioned by Soho Rep, the acclaimed and boundary-pushing theater that recently left its longtime home base on Walker Street, downtown, due to conflicts regarding what the building was zoned for and what they needed to do to operate the theater. Without any sign of stopping their production output, Soho Rep and artistic director Sarah Benson have been putting up shows elsewhere in the meantime.
Samara unites two downtown theater heavy-hitters, Benson and Richard Maxwell of the New York City Players. Maxwell rarely brings outside directors on board, but has asked Benson herself to direct his latest work. They’ve assembled a cast that is diverse in gender, race, and even age, as the ensemble’s age range is 14 to 92. Notably, the cast includes singer-songwriter Steve Earle, who has a storied (and Grammy-winning) career in American roots and folk music and has penned tunes recorded by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and more. Earle has also composed music for the play, so whether you’re a fan of avant-garde theater or just good old-fashioned American grooves, you’ll probably find something to like about this show. More →
Wednesday With Westerns! Wednesday August 24, 7 pm at City Reliquary; $7.
The City Reliquary, a tiny, quirky wonderland of a museum, will be the location for this western art party this evening. Gallop amongst NYC memorabilia, but don’t get too distracted, as there will be plenty to do on the frontier. Selections include the chance to get your own Wanted poster painted by artist Omer Gal, experimental Japanese movement genre butoh done with a Texas twist, line dancing, a hog-tying contest, theatrical happenings, ghostly songs, wandering Western characters, and surely much else. If you have the gall to come in a Western-themed costume (god forbid nobody mistake you for a lost Republican on the way there), you’ll be greeted with a free shot of tequila or whiskey. As the cow/boy creature on the poster proclaims so proudly, “Be a REAL cowboy like me!” Darn tootin’.