It is time once again for the slew of winter theater festivals that usually fill the month of January to its very brim, and cause many an artist to triple-check their schedule and/or wallets to see how they can make it all work. Beginning on Thursday is one of the most notable fests, Under The Radar, presented by The Public Theater. Though it’s only 12 days, there are more than 155 performances across five venues. Even slightly pondering that gives me scheduling-related anxiety.
A brief sampling of highlights: Roger Guenveur Smith and CalArts’s piece exploring the New Year’s Eve concert Jimi Hendrix played in 1969 in NYC, queer ensemble Split Britches’s meditation on anxiety and doomsday created in collaboration with local artists and elders, a concert of work by Erin Markey and Emily Bate, harunalee’s exploration of how memory can be gendered and racialized, Cuban company Teatro El Público’s underground drag-cabaret version of Antigone, and more. There is truly so much more. More →
Marriages are technically a commitment for life. The team behind this deconstructed, imaginative, and wacky riff on A Christmas Carol directed by Andrew Neisler and told through the story of a fictional couple has chosen something no less ambitious, particularly for live performance: they will perform a version of this show every year, for thirty years. Now, they’re on their fifth year. Things are changing, but they show no signs of slowing down. So, come on down to whatever a “fashion and design accelerator” is and pay this kind couple (Ryann Weir and Andrew Farmer, who also wrote the piece) a visit. Though Farmer was the writer behind the recent series of spooky subway-centric tales, I assume this show will be more seasonal than spine-chilling. Also, it includes unlimited beer and wine. More →
Fire Signs Present: Sociable Sagittarians Wednesday, November 29 at Artichoke Pizza, 9 pm: FREE
Artichoke Pizza is known far and wide for serving up very large, very rich, very cream-laden slices of pizza to late-night revelers and hungry lunch-searchers alike. But when they opened a Bushwick location in the old Northeast Kingdom space not too long ago, they also began hosting events and shows in their basement. One such monthly show is a woman-centric variety show helmed by Fire Signs Present, a duo (of fire signs, of course) comprised of performers Meg McDermott and Nancy Pop. Each month, they book women and femme comedians, storytellers, musicians, and anything in between, typically who belong to the astrological sign of the month, but not always. (Full disclosure: I performed at last month’s Scorpio show. Fellow Scorpio Risings…hello.) This time around, it is all about Sagittarius folk, specifically Hannah Abney, Thoughtress, Brittany Sherrod, and Aston Hollins McClanahan. Plus, there is free prosecco. 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.
Comedy is a strange thing. Many write it off as merely jokes with little meaning, but comedy is one of our biggest and most pervasive cultural forces. So, be careful what you joke about, because hey, jokes do matter and it’s extremely easy to be very funny without tearing down marginalized groups. I see it happen literally all the time. Anyway, tonight you can see performance artist Dynasty Handbag perform their new work that riffs on “white activism” (#resist by buying this shirt about feminism!) and solo shows made by privileged heterosexual women with little self-awareness, which I also see happen all the time. After the performance concludes, the artist will be joined by Morgan Bassichis, Dominique Nisperos, Keisha Zollar, and moderator Bess Rowen for a discussion about the role of comedy in times of political unrest, and how one can utilize the genre to productively take on the establishment.
(flyer via Union Hall)
Boast Rattle Thursday, November 9 at Union Hall, 10 pm: $10 advance, $12 day of
Ah, roasts. No, I don’t mean cookouts or that ceremony where you put the whole pig in the ground and take it out after a while. I am talking about the weird comedic ritual of hurling insults in a way some take as complimentary, ultimately. In my opinion, it is too easy to resort to cheap shots in a roast. Unless maybe you are roasting a white man who does not have many redeeming qualities. In any case, at this show you needn’t worry about expecting to laugh at any cruel or dumb retorts. In fact, Boast Rattle is a night of fierce compliments. So, you can sit back and watch Jo Firestone, Josh Gondelman, Mike Drucker, Adam Conover, Shalewa Sharpe, and even Bizzy The Dog cook up their best words of praise to each other. Plus, this edition of the show is part of the New York Comedy Festival, so maybe you will feel fancier in the audience.
(flyer via Ars Nova / Facebook)
Every Feeling I’ve Ever Felt Friday, November 10 at Ars Nova, 8 pm: $15
When it comes to feelings, composer and musician Ellen Winter has many of them. So many, in fact, that she’s written an entire show to expose them all to you. Her one-night-only show at Ars Nova (where she also interned several years back) not only has a hefty dose of emotions all along the spectrum (and probably more than one or two tears), it also serves as a showcase of songs she’s written over the years, from renditions of punk songs past to new material from her upcoming solo album. With some rare actual good news coming from the most recent local elections and the inevitable advent of chillier weather and seasonal depression, I have also been feeling many types of feelings. It can always be a treat to experience them with a roomful of others, set to a handful of songs.
(photo: Theo Cote)
Don’t Feed The Indians: A Divine Comedy Pageant Now through November 19 at La MaMa, 7 pm (Sundays at 2 pm): $25, $20 students/seniors
One (and certainly not the only) group who has faced hundreds of years of oppression that still continues today is Native Americans. Though their land and livelihood is still largely disregarded today, illuminated by movements like that of Standing Rock and more, the struggles they face are not always splashed on the (virtual) front pages of the news. And when Native or Indigenous people are portrayed in fictional media, it’s equally uncommon that they themselves are the ones telling the stories or even playing the roles. That all gets turned on its head at Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective’s “greatest sideshow of Indigenous people you’ll ever see.”
Created by Murielle Borst-Tarrant of Spiderwoman Theater with music direction by Kevin Tarrant, Don’t Feed The Indians takes common Native stereotypes and subverts them in a satirical, musical night performed by actual Native artists. May the future only bring more and more work like this.
The Juice! Wednesday, October 25 at Union Pool, 7:30 pm: $5 advance, $7 doors
What is The Juice? Is it pressed and does it cost $9 for some reason? I do not know about how pressing the situation is, but I do know that this juice costs $5 in advance and $7 at the door. It is also a comedy show hosted by Carmen Christopher, which seems more enjoyable than sipping some green and/or pulpy liquid through a straw, which we were recently reminded are bad. Tonight, the show welcomes stand-up from Liza Treyger, Casey James Salengo, Dan Licata, and Greta Titelman, and improv from John Reynolds, Zack Pearlman, Monique Moses, Meghan Strickland, Matt Barats, and Zach Cherry. If you’re already tired of all the spooky and Halloween-themed goings-on around, why not check out something loosely themed around uh, juice. More →
Nightcap | by Ike Thursday, October 19 at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 pm: $15
Sometimes you’ve had a long and hard week, and you just want to sit back in a comfortable chair and enjoy a nice nightcap. Whether this, to you, means a snug piece of headwear to pair with a matching set of PJs or a fine pour of neat whiskey, come Thursday night it means joining comedic performer Ikechukwu Ufomadu at Joe’s Pub for a night of special guests, gentle quips, live music, and more. As a host and performer, Ike has a demeanor and tone of voice that will simultaneously make you chuckle robustly and feel like a soft blanket is enveloping your very form. Joining him on this evening will be jazz singer Stephan Crump and singer-songwriter LOLO. More →
Chocolate Dances’ Costume Party Tasting Performance Wednesday, October 11 and Saturday, October 14 at Triskelion Arts, 8 pm: $30 advance, $35 doors
Sometimes, chocolate is paired with wine. Sometimes, ice cream. Sometimes, milk. Sometimes chocolate is eaten in groups, sometimes alone in a bedroom in large quantities in the dark of night. Less so is chocolate associated with dancing, but this show will almost certainly change that. Chocolate Dances is a company run by Megan Sipe, who is both a choreographer and a literal chocolatier. She has wisely combined these two things into a night that pairs dance performance with handmade chocolates, from decadent infused truffles to smatterings of cacao nibs. Plus, there will be colorful and fun costumes, and even some for the audience to try on, which might be a good idea in case you get chocolate on yourself, which is likely. I’ve seen Megan and her cohorts perform several times before, and tried her chocolates, and I must say you will be in for a treat. Literally and figuratively. More →
Little Garden Guys: An Evening of Comedy About Ducks and Rabbits Wednesday, October 4 at Babycastles, 8 pm: $5
Joe Rumrill and Andrew Tisher are back with their series of comedy shows that are restricted to two topics and two topics only. Past ventures have been themed for frogs and lizards, and bats and rats. Though the weather is cooling and fall is upon us, the duo has chosen a rather cute and spring-feeling pair of critters for tonight’s comedic fodder: ducks and rabbits. At Babycastles, you’ll see Eudora Peterson, Tony Zaret, Max Wittert, Ana Fabrega, Eliza Hurwitz, Joe Pera, and Becky Krause perform material exclusively about those aforementioned ducks and rabbits. While there’s no knowing what they’ll have prepared for you, one thing is certain: it will be about ducks and rabbits. More →
Derek Christopher Murphy, Renee Rises (photo: Jo Chiang)
Nowadays, the latest form of media to stir up a craze is also probably the most simple. Podcasts are becoming more popular than ever, allowing anyone anywhere the chance to hear people jabber on about anything from carnal desires to hyper-niche political in-jokes. Some fund their ventures through services like Patreon, others insert mid-show interludes hawking mattresses and web design platforms for advertiser money.
New satirical play Ex Habitus, written by Lilla Goettler and Katie Hathaway and presented as part of the inaugural Corkscrew Theater Festival, gives a behind-the-scenes look into the world and drama of this auditory media form. While it’s billed as a take on “millennial podcasting,” don’t expect any complaints about killing industries. There’s not even one mention of avocado toast. More →