Improvement (Don Leaves Linda) February 7-9 and 13-16 at The Kitchen, 8 pm: $25
One of the most common ways people encounter opera is when very old compositions from well-known classical greats like Mozart are revived. This opera at The Kitchen is also a revival of sorts, but a more modern one: it has “newly reconstructed” a work from 1985 by late experimental composer Robert Ashley, staging it with a chorus of live vocalists and an “electronic orchestra.” The opera centers less around the Don in the title, but around a woman named Linda. She embarks upon many types of ventures spanning many locations and historical periods throughout the opera, all with varying degrees of success—something that should spark some level of familiarity in us all. More →
Citizens United II: What Happened? Wednesday, January 17 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15
If you couldn’t tell from the title alone, this is a political show. Though just to clarify, it’s not a staged reading of the Hillary Clinton book. At least, I don’t think it is. “Leftist performance collective” Citizens United returns once more to the Ars Nova stage to parse through these troubled political times by way of drag shows, poetry, performance art, punk music, and more. The group joins the many artistic efforts happening this month to commemorate-slash-mourn the one-year anniversary of the presidential inauguration. In fact, the last time Citizens United brought their unique stylings to the stage was January 2017. What has happened since that fateful month is dizzying and often cringe-worthy to think of, and possibly perfectly summed up by a night of chaotic performance. More →
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.
Masterpiece Classic: Women in Art Wednesday, February 8 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $7
It is generally agreed upon that art is Good. However, the art world is where things get a little more polarized. This new character-based show by comedian and actress Hallie Haas takes on the type of people who consider themselves high and mighty creators, the type of people who take themselves reeeeeeally seriously. The premise is that Laura Linney, of course, has gathered together seven of the most sophisticated and acclaimed women artists for an evening that feels a lot like a certain public access television show. Only probably a lot weirder. Especially considering Haas will be playing every character. This spoof on PBS classics feels especially timely, considering I just got an email asking me to sign an online petition so that Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of PBS Kids. Please, think of the children. And the art.
Portrait of myself as my father Continues through September 17 at BAM Fisher, 7:30 pm: $25.
Choreographer Nora Chipaumire, born in Zimbabwe and based in Brooklyn, takes the medium of traditional African dance and dresses it up in the masculine garb of a boxing ring in this piece that explores and explodes traditional notions of black masculinity through the spirit of her estranged father. He will appear in multiple forms, symbolically summoned as a “specter” through two dancers, Kaolack (also known as Senegalese dancer Pape Ibrahima Ndiaye) and the Jamaican-born Shamar Watt. The three performers will step into the ring, don their gloves, and fight it out. Or dance it out. Or maybe there’s less of a difference than we think.
At The Annoyance, 367 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. 9:30pm. $5. More info here.
You’ve seen him in serial “gay teen drama” Lake Homo High, as the co-host of Live On Broadgay, and maybe even being named one of Brooklyn Mag’s 50 Funniest People, but this time Sam Taggart is all on his own. Yes, it’s a show just for him, packed full and big with sketches, characters, videos, standup, and some surprises, too. However, no solo show is complete without special guests, and you better believe he’s got those too, in the form of Mary Houlihan, Sisters Weekend, and maybe even more. It’s a big day, after all. I can only hope they’re able to fit such a big day in one theater!
(image via GG Nix / Facebook)
Lost Abjects: Theory of Garbage
At G.G. NiX, 1339 Dekalb Ave, Bushwick. 7pm. More info here.
Kalan Sherrard, the mind behind “Beat Up Trump” among other creations who we spoke with a few months ago, will be presenting this evening at vintage shop G.G. NiX. It’s part multimedia installation, part performance, part lecture, part workshop. Billed as “An Installation and Physical Manifesto Against Recycling,” it’ll feature a spread of works created by Sherrard, including his miniature art galleries (so small you have to look through a magnifying glass to view them), a “post-structural striptease,” and sculptures crafted from gum and fingernails. There will also be a game of Giant Nihilist Tetris, but don’t worry, it is optional.
(image via Facebook)
Brett Davis and Nick Naney’s Disney’s Aladdin
At Over the Eight, 594 Union Ave, Williamsburg. 8pm. More info here.
Everyone loves Aladdin. But what about a live version of Aladdin adapted by two comedians? If that piques your interest, Brett Davis (of The Special Without Brett Davis) and Nick Naney (who has also appeared on that show) have got just the thing for you. The cast features Bardia Salimi as the titular hero, Mitra Jouhari of Three Busy Debras as Jasmine, Brett Davis as Jafar, Nick Naney as the Genie, and even Steph Cook as the rug. This may be the only time you’ll see a human carpet outside of a fetish party, folks, so get to it.
(image via La MaMa)
Baby Fat Act 1: A Screeching Weasel Rock Opera
At La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater, 66 E 4th Street, East Village. 7pm and 10pm. Tickets are $15. Also on July 21 and 22 and 8pm. More info here.
Some people like opera, but it’s safe to say it isn’t for everyone. For those who aren’t particularly drawn to long dresses and vibrato, this might do the trick. La MaMa has partnered with Columbia Stages to bring you this world premiere that’s based on Verdi’s opera Rigoletto but written by Ben Weasel, the frontman of punk band Screeching Weasel. The original opera centers around a hunchbacked court jester who’s daughter falls in love with the very Duke he mercilessly mocks, but in this show there is a rock club called The Reptile House with their house band named Serpentello and the dubious and nefarious presence of what may be an inescapable vortex. So like, basically the same thing.
(photo via tdf)
The Trump Card
At Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, East Village. 6:30pm. Tickets are $35. Also on August 28. More info here.
Solo performer and monologist Mike Daisey (also behind popular and controversial work The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs) presents this new solo work about the one and only D. J. T., breaking down the inner workings of this bizarre and rich man while also weaving a tale of oligarchy’s rise in America along the way. The result is sure to be intriguing, compelling, and ultimately will, I’m assuming, leave you depressed about the state of the world and its possible future. The show’s currently sold out, but a waitlist will be available when the box office opens.
This week and next, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.
The old Astor Place Opera House. (Public Domain)
In 2012, when attendees of an anarchist book fair scuffled with police and attempted to smash the windows of the Starbucks on Astor Place, the mayhem—far uptown from Occupy Wall Street’s demonstrations at Zuccotti Park— seemed to come out of nowhere. But it was hardly the first instance of unrest staged at the onetime site of the Astor Place Opera House. Opened in 1847, the opera house catered to the wealthy residents of the neighborhood, singing an aria of exclusivity that offended the general public. It later became the stage for the Astor Place Riot, a bloody clash born out of tension between the rich and the poor in the theater world that forced the Opera House to shutter its doors.
Vaginal Davis (Photo by Hector, courtesy of Invisible-Exports)
Vaginal Davis is undeniably one of the most prolific artists to come out of the ’70s punk scene. The black, inter-sex born, self-declared outsider artist is nothing short of a queer icon. And even though she’s from Los Angeles (South Central, to be precise), she has a special place in New York City, where she’s had a serious impact on contemporary underground culture– the Bushwick drag scene is particularly indebted to her, as Davis is one of the founding mothers of “terrorist drag.”
It’s an interesting experience being in a public place with M. Lamar. Even in Bushwick, you can feel every eye in the room traveling back and forth between his long, stick-straight black hair, his various spikes, and jet black clothing. The artist– who performed Destruction, hismulti-faceted theatrical black-metal opera last night at Issue Project Room— is probably like no one you’ve ever seen before. For one, M. Lamar truly lives his art (which is like nothing else out there at the moment), as evidenced in his speech and appearance: he drapes himself in the darkest blacks and speaks with passionate conviction. “Lately, I’ve been calling myself a ‘negro gothic devil-worshipping free black man in the blues tradition,'” he explained. It’s actually a modest description of what Lamar’s all about.
“Whiskey Pants: the Mayor of Williamsburg” (Photo: Ze’ Castle Photography )
Frigid Festival quickly approacheth. Starting February 18, the Kraine Theater and UNDER St. Marks will be hosting three full weeks chock full of against-the-grain theatre. This year, Frigid will host exactly 30 plays, operettas, and hybrid productions, which is plenty of theater to keep you busy.