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 →
Kyle, a ‘cocaine comedy’ (Photo: Jody Christophersen, courtesy of Frigid New York, Horse Trade Theatre Group)
Up until, ahem, pretty recently, you could get away with making the claim that as Americans we are far more enlightened than we were 50, or even 10 years ago. The numbers appear to support this– fewer of us are going to church, the youngins among us are far more tolerant than the olds, 60 percent of us are down to see marijuana legalized, and best of all, this whole “Golden Age of TV” thing means that even our beloved Idiot Box is smart these days. We all know what happened next– which meant that progress was not only going to be stopped, but deported back to Angela Merkel’s lap and replaced by nonsense rhetoric (the “best people” are doing “tremendous” things to make the U.S.A. “great” “again”) and “alternative facts.” We are only a few months into this horror show, but the impact on art, and how we process art, is already being felt.
As long as politics are a hellscape, there will be artists to create work about it. Tonight, Not Normal will present a three-part evening all about the utter nonsense that seems to grow greater every day. Even the word “greater” seems tarnished now and conjures images of red hats and the pallid, fleshy faces wearing them.
In any case, the evening’s programing begins with The Intersection, an “artistic conversation about identity” spearheaded by a group of creators but open to the public. It’s dubbed a discussion “jam session” of sorts. Next is Chris Tyler’s Corporate Doubleteam, a play about how the white boys will play when the Trump is away, and by “play” I mean do a circle jerk potentially involving an intern. Haven’t we all been there? Closing out the night is Orangutan, a one-woman show written by Troy Deutsch and performed by Kristina Mueller all about the curious character of Trump’s mother. If you’re feeling generous, the show will also be accepting donations for Planned Parenthood.
(image via Knockdown Center / Facebook)
Incarnata Social Club Thursday, March 23 at Knockdown Center, 8 pm: $10 suggested
The experimental art salon started in a basement by Kembra Pfahler and Orlando Estrada has moved on to bigger digs, taking up residency in the massive Knockdown Center this Thursday. A fittingly sizable lineup will be showing work, with a bill comprised of Social Club regulars and newcomers alike, including Nandi Loaf, Chris Cole, Whitney Vangrin, Cameron Cooper, Shawn Escarciga, and more. Anyone with a bigoted attitude will presumably be booted, as Estrada proclaims the show a “queer, femme, trans, POC, GNC safe space” and a “no shade zone.”
The New York Neo-Futurists have recently rebranded their recurring show, formerly known as Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, but they’re still up to the same artistic madness. Which is to say, they’re definitely still trying to do 30 short and strange plays in 60 minutes. Or, at least “a barrage” of short plays in an evening. This weekend, in a reprisal of sorts of their popular Too Many Ladies show last year, an all-female cast of Neo will be taking over the Kraine Theater to strut their stuff and dismantle some oppressive systems in the form of many feminist short plays. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for this show to include a literal smashing of the patriarchy, as the Neo-Futurists pride themselves on their unique technique of creation in which everyone plays themselves and what they are doing in the moment is true. Aside from that, they’re up for anything.
The glorious Park Avenue Armory will see a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s classic 1921 expressionist play The Hairy Ape, starring Tony-nominated actor Bobby Cannavale. The Armory is no stranger to elaborate theatrical productions, acting as host to such spectacles as Paul McCarthy’s grotesque and sprawling WS installation. The production, directed by Richard Jones, initially appeared at The Old Vic in London. Its subject matter is certainly relevant for American audiences, as it centers around a worker who seeks for belonging amidst a sea of the filthy rich, including those found in the money-laden areas of New York. Will capitalism ever be dismantled? Not if you spend money on this play, I guess.
(flyer via In the Works / Facebook)
In the Works Sunday, March 26 at The Duplex, 9:30 pm: $10 advance, $15 doors plus a 2-drink minimum
Spend your Sunday taking in the musical stylings of several new composers at this edition of the In the Works series, presented by Honeck-Moss Productions. The evening will showcase a handful of composers, each presenting about 15 minutes of newer material that they are working on. This time around, you’ll hear pieces from patriotic songbird Marcus Goldhaber, edgy belter and rock opera creator Terra Warman, and “piano troubadour” Peter Trevino, who has collaborated with members of Journey and The Foo Fighters.
Maude Night #4 Wednesday, March 15 at Muchmore’s, 9 pm: $5-7 suggested donation
This is decidedly not the UCB showcase, but a queer/femme/POC space for variety performance and expression helmed by witchy, culty performance-art band Maude Gun. The lineup includes “Mountain Moving Witch of the West Coast” Carissa Matsushima, “Ritualistic Serotonin Poem Witch” Tara Jayakar, “Nose Bleeding Drama Queen Healer” Holly Simple, and a closing piece by Maude Gun themselves. Though it is the name of their band, they seem to be rather generous with the term “maude,” referring to their booked performers and potentially everyone in the room by the moniker. In the event description is a reminder: “let’s mind our pronouns! (call everyone a MAUDE if you’re lost)” More →
It could take something as simple as a step-touch to unite the generations. At least that’s the impression you might get in a room with the company of experimental hip-hop and dance group Yackez. Most contemporary dance projects are rife with young and lithe bodies, but the cast of the latest and largest Yackez production, Give It To You Stage, ranges from ages 25 to 87. More →
This Is How You Talk To People Wednesday, February 22 at The Silent Barn, 7 pm: $5
Tonight, Bushwick mainstay The Silent Barn will welcome a “communal reading” of a play by Rachel Davies, who has written for outlets such as Rookie, Complex, Nylon, and The Le Sigh. This Is How You Talk To People is Davies’s first play, and chronicles a variety of women from a talk show hostto a student who are collectively trying to navigate shifting friendships and relationships. The reading will be done communally in “an attempt to make the performance more accessible,” and profits from the evening will be donated to the ACLU.
Valentine’s Day has technically passed, so all you single people can breathe a sigh of relief and all you non-single people can also breathe a sigh of relief because the pressure to give into capitalism has maybe lessened a little. Depending on who you are, of course. But if you’re longing to stay in the spirit of flowers, chocolates, and a pink n’ red color palette, this edition of Greta Titelman’s Room Service comedy show at The Jane has got you covered. With a lineup full of love-worthy folks like Bowen Yang, Lorelei Ramirez, Alyssa Stonoha, Petey DeAbreu, Blair Socci, Tom Thakkar, and Ricky Velez, you’ll be sure to spend the night feeling warm inside, expelling laughs from your gullet in only the most loving of fashions. Rounding out the bunch will be two individuals aiming their Cupid’s arrow in a more musical way: Ruby McCollister and Tim Platt as “resident songbird” and “heartthrob,” respectively. More →
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.
Burlesque Tribute to the Ladies of Disney Thursday, February 3 at The Slipper Room, 7 pm doors, 8 pm show: $10
Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is back again. Known for their titillating tributes to all things pop culture, Hotsy Totsy has created scantily-clad evenings dedicated to Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Stephen King, The Muppets, and more. This month, they’ve stepped away from the fur and sci-fi in lieu of something more delicate and nostalgic. Yes, they’ve whipped up a tribute all your favorite princesses: the ladies of Disney. However demure these princesses may be, this show doesn’t exactly seem to follow suit. The concept hinges upon Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad as the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming respectively, who seem to be enjoying their very own Happily Ever After. Only, paradise can be boring for a mere duo. As per the show’s description, “Looking to spice things up, the two love birds have decided to throw a ball, looking for the hottest princess in the land to join them in a threesome!” More →
Bordello: Psychedelic Thursday, January 26 at Bizarre Bushwick, 10 pm: $10 suggested donation
Sinister and sultry variety show Bordello, hosted by Madame Vivien V, features a slew of out-there performers who will brighten up your night with acts of drag, dance, performance art, fire, and more. On the lineup this time is B-boy and boylesque dancer Eckszooberante and drag performer Chris of Hur, along with performer Amber Von Toxn and Heather, who appears to proudly carry the title of “The Worst.” This iteration of the show, which has been billed as “punk rock meets burlesque meets performance art,” has a psychedelic bent to it, so who knows what sensorial adventures your eyes will be asked to behold. Let the aptly-named DJ Penny Lane spin you into color-crazed oblivion, fix your eyes to the stage, and trip out.