Posted in ballet, dance, modern American dance

“I see dance in your future”

"The Legend of Mulan" will be at the David H. Koch Theater from March  5th through 8th only.
“The Legend of Mulan” will be at the David H. Koch Theater from March 5th through 8th only.

It’s an exciting prospect that in less than 1 week you could see the Hong Kong Dance Company production of The Legend of Mulan in its first stateside visit. HKDC will be at the David H. Koch Theater from Thursday, March 5th through Sunday, March 8th.

Almost on the heels of the HKDC production, the Koch Theater welcomes back Paul Taylor’s company, Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance for a nearly month-long stay in its New York spring season. PTAMD will be at the Koch from March 10th through Sunday, March 29th. (More on the programs below.)

Don’t miss either company!

The Legend Of Mulan is a re-telling of a famous Chinese household folktale, most likely familiar to you from the Disney animated feature, “Mulan.” The legend has it that a simple peasant girl disguised herself as a man so she could serve in her aging father’s stead. Mulan acquitted herself admirably in a decade of war, but when she was honored by an invitation to the court, she chose to return to her hometown. Her humble valor is a tribute to traditional Chinese virtues of  moral courage and intelligence. In China, where the story of Mulan began as a fifth century poem, it has risen in popularity as a folktale and become widely taught in schools.

Photo by Whitney Browne
Photo by Whitney Browne

Paul Taylor has renamed his dance troupe (formerly simply named Paul Taylor Dance Company) to reflect a broadening in its repertoire. For the first time this season, PTAMD will perform dances from other choreographers alongside Taylor’s works. As usual, there will be Taylor premieres. Sea Lark will be shown in a New York premiere starting with the Wednesday March 11th evening programming, along side Arden Court and Esplanade, and again throughout the season. A world premiere, for the moment entitled New Work, will also show up several times through the month, first on the Friday, March 13th bill.

There will be two “guest works”  set alongside Taylor’s own masterpieces to celebrate the great American-bred art form of modern dance.

This season, Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia, created in the 1930s, will be revived with Kent Tritle playing Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor on the organ at each performance. presented by the Limón Dance Company.

In fact, there will be live music for each of the works presented, performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by long-time Taylor Music Director, Donald York. Shen Wei Dance Arts, the other “guest” artist, will perform Rite of Spring, in which Shen uses the legendary Stravinsky score, but departs from the Nijinsky version to create a new and original work.

For more information about PTAMD, please visit their website: http://www.ptamd.org/ To learn more about the HKDC and it’s tenure in New York, go to the David H. Koch site.

Posted in economics, multi-disciplinary performances, performance piece, theater

“It’s the economy, stupid”

"USCurrency Federal Reserve". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USCurrency_Federal_Reserve.jpg#mediaviewer/File:USCurrency_Federal_Reserve.jpg
“USCurrency Federal Reserve”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USCurrency_Federal_Reserve.jpg#mediaviewer/File:USCurrency_Federal_Reserve.jpg

Money Lab, a series of theatrical and audience participatory programs is coming to HERE through April 11, with your tax-break. The ubiquitous “What’s in your wallet?” has nothing on these theatrical performances that range from Letters to Engles, or Money Atheist, and Love und Greed among many others. The companies represented, which include  Trav SD, Lone Wolf Tribe, Ten Directions, Evolve Company, mix theater, story-telling, dance, video, cabaret, opera, puppetry, clowning, and games. Money Lab takes its audiences to the interstices of economics and art.

Audience members will purchase tokens to use in games based such as auctions, The Dictator Game, and The Ultimatum Game, developed with the help of Game Play curator Gyda Arber and economist Rosemarie Nagel; and a number of rotating acts (four each performance) on various fiscal topics. Money Lab’s “economic vaudeville” is a multi-disciplinary experiment to see if economic subjects can be represented in performance.

Come and be the judge of their success! Visit www.here.org to get tickets. For more information, visithttp://www.untitledtheater.com.

Posted in 1-hander, clowning, comedy

Who’s an “oxymoron” now?

MoronRobert Dubac seems to be bent on making the most of silliness in the shortest possible time. In The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron, at Urban Stages through April 16th, he tackles a dozen characters in 80 minutes, while (we are told) drinking a beer. Impressive!

The hilarity starts at the flyer (see stage left illustration.) A comedy so funny, they named it twice– The Book of Moron is also  The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron

For more information, please visit http://urbanstages.org/  and to get tickets, click here.

Posted in based on a true story or event, drama, fictionalization_of_real_events

Injustice for All: guest review by Mari S. Gold

(c) Monique_Carboni April Matthis, Craig muMs Grant, Cassie Beck, Dan Butler, Aaron Roman Weiner
(c) Monique_Carboni
April Matthis, Craig muMs Grant, Cassie Beck, Dan Butler, Aaron Roman Weiner in a scene from Lucy Thurber’s “The Insurgents”

ExtendedEvery character in The Insurgents, a new play by Lucy Thurber at The Bank Street Theater in a Labyrinth Theater Company production through March 8th, is or has been disenfranchised. Sally Wright, played by Cassie Beck, has lost her athletic scholarship and returns to a dead-end, no hope town in the rural Northeast, joining her father, a drinker and womanizer and her brother who can’t get anything right. She begins carrying a shotgun and spends her time reading about Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown and Timothy McVeigh, all characters who fought a particular version of inequality. Throughout the play, the historic characters come to life, played by actors who double as Sally’s family and her coach.

(c) Monique_Carboni Cassie Beck in Lucy Thurber's "The Insurgents"
(c) Monique_Carboni
Cassie Beck in Lucy Thurber’s “The Insurgents”

“I didn’t want to write about the people who wanted to get away,” Thurber said; “I wanted to write about people who…wanted to stay where they came from and are having an impossible time doing that.” That’s where her characters are as the play takes place during the “Toolbelt Recession” of 2008 when millions of construction as well as ancillary blue collar workers lost their jobs.

Beck, in a convincingly natural performance, begins by breaking the forth wall, talking to the audience about her rifle to explain she knows her way around a gun. She doesn’t fire it but several times I thought her anger had reached a point where she might. April Matthis as Harriet Tubman/Coach, has a light, sweet singing voice and a pointed sense of humor as Coach while Craig ‘Mums’ Grant handles Nat Turner/Jonathan, a New England local, in a measured way that shows his despair–and Turner’s– because of frightening injustices because of the color of his skin. Dan Butler plays John Brown/Peter (Sally’s dad) and Aaron Roman Weiner is Timothy McVeigh/Jimmy, (Sally’s brother.) Weiner is most convincing as McVeigh, a decorated war hero whose take on economics is, as Thurber points out, very close to what many average Americans would agree with, especially if they didn’t know whose opinions were being expressed. The line between terrorism and fighting against perceived injustice is pretty thin.

Aaron Roman Weiner, Cassie Beck in a scene from "The Insurgents" (c) Monique_Carboni
Aaron Roman Weiner, Cassie Beck in a scene from “The Insurgents”
(c) Monique_Carboni
Insurgents06(c)Monique_Carboni
April Matthis in a scene from Lucy Thurber’s “The Insurgents” (c) Monique_Carboni

Music, including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Long As I Can See the Light (in which the audience is encouraged to join at the end); Billie Holliday’s anti-lynching song Strange Fruit and Sweet Home Alabama, is woven neatly into the story helping underscore unpleasant realities. The closing sing-along aims for but doesn’t quite realize catharsis.

The set, mostly the kitchen of Sally’s home, is the work of Raul Abrego who gets the shabby, undistinguished look right. Costume designer Jessica Ford provides the cast with easy transformations from historic times to the present and vocal arranger Ben Wexler handles the music effectively. However, the entire play is a polemic against injustice and every now and again seems like overkill–and about ten minutes too long. Defiance is necessary, Thurber is saying; life is–and has been– uncertain and far too many people run into dead ends. A little trimming and she might have made her point even more strongly.

For more information about The Insurgents, and to get tickets, please visit labtheater.org.

Posted in comedy, theater, Uncategorized

Medical drama

Opening on March 16th, "Pacebo" by Melissa James Gibson is at Playwrights Horizons
Opening on March 16th, “Placebo” by Melissa James Gibson is at Playwrights Horizons

A little bit of sugar, Mary Poppins tells us, makes the medicine go down. What if that medicine is already a pill made of sugar? In short, a placebo meant to lull us into feeling better while offering no real health benefit.

The pills in Melissa James Gibson’s new comedy, Placebo, at Playwrights Horizons, under Daniel Aukin’s direction, awaiting an opening on March 16th, are less medicinal and more titillating. Her heroine. Louise, (Carrie Coon) is working on an arousal drug for women, kind of a Cialis for the gentler sex.

By Placebo (http://org.ntnu.no/placebo/index.php) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
By Placebo (http://org.ntnu.no/placebo/index.php) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
Placebo is defined in my Google search as “a  harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect.”  Sugar pills like these are used in medical testing to help determine the value of a new drug. The “placebo effect” is famously one in which the patient is cured despite the fact that the drug being used in the cure is nothing but one of these harmless little substitutes for the real medicine.

Not so long ago, Kate Fodor’s comic “Rx”

By Ragesoss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ragesoss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
envisioned a more general kind of medical experimentation. Her pill-popping protagonists develop cures for ennui. Unhappy with with your job? Take 2 at bedtime and wake up in the a.m. ready to go to work. (See T and B’s review here.)

Sharr White’s “The Other Place” took a darker turn. In twists of coincidence, her heroine, played by Laura Metcalf in the original off-Bway MCC production, and in its transfer to MTC’s Broadway house, suffers the indignities of neurological disease while developing its cures. (A review of the off-Broadway version at VevlynsPen.com can be found here, while the Broadway iteration is reviewed here.)

For more information about Melissa James Gibson’s “Placebo,” please visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/placebo/

 

Posted in dance

First time outside of Asia/China: “The Legend Of Mulan” Hong Kong Dance Company

This intrigued me from the minute I saw the notice of the upcoming dance event. It should have a similar affect on you as well.

A scene from "The Legend of Mulan"
A scene from “The Legend of Mulan” which will be at the David H. Koch Theater from March 5th to 8th.

Here’s why this event should capture your interest as it has ours:

"The Legend of Mulan" will be at the David H. Koch Theater from March  5th through 8th only.
“The Legend of Mulan” will be at the David H. Koch Theater from March 5th through 8th only.

-It’s not just because it’s a once in a lifetime, first time ever opportunity to see this troupe outside of Asia/China.
-It isn’t only that the Hong Kong Dance Company is exotic and foreign.
-True, it is a rare occasion when the Hong Kong Dance Company appears in New York.
-Also, true that they will only be here for 5 performances.

The most intriguing part of this presentation, however, is the simple but unfamiliar tale of love, peace and virtue they perform. The Legend Of Mulan is a re-telling of a famous Chinese household folktale.
It will be spectacular, of course, and resplendent.
The Legend Of Mulan is presented by The China Arts & Entertainment Group (CAEG), a creative enterprise under the administration of the Ministry of Culture for the People’s Republic of China. The engagement is the fourth production in an ongoing relationship between CAEG and the David H. Koch Theater. The Legend of Mulan, like the other productions that came to the states, showcase China’s historical contribution to the world of theater and art. It represents the finest in Chinese contemporary and classical performing arts.
You may have heard her name from the hit animated Disney movie released in 1998, but Mulan’s legend dates back to a fifth century poem known as the Ballad of Mulan.
Mulan, a peasant girl, disguised herself as a man to join the army in place of her aged father. She fought for a decade with valor, but gave up a position at court to retire in her hometown instead. Mulan exemplifies traditional Chinese virtues and both moral courage and intelligence. In China, the story of Mulan rose in popularity as a folktale and became widely taught in schools.
The creative staff of the production of The Legend Of Mulan includes: Director & Choreographer – Yang Yuntao, Playwright – Gerard C C Tsang, Assistant Choreographer – Xie Yin, Music Director and Composer – Matthew Ma, Set Designer – Yuen Hon-wai, Costume Designer – Karin Chiu, Lighting Designer – Yeung Tsz-yan, Digital Image Designer – John Wong, and Lyricist – Chris Shum.
Since its inception, the Hong Kong Dance Company has staged over 100 productions, many of which have had wide critical acclaim.

For more information and tickets for The Legend Of Mulan, please visit http://davidhkochtheater.com/

Posted in dance, modern American dance

Paul Taylor Modern American Dance

Paul Taylor is an outsize talent.

Photograph by Bob Cato; from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
Photograph by Bob Cato; from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

As a dancer, he was a towering presence both literally and ephemerally. Despite a late start as a dancer, the lanky Taylor danced with Martha Graham’s troupe, for instance and was a soloist in Balanchine’s Episodes with NYCB in 1959.

As a dancemaker, Taylor also stands out. He is among the last living legend of the first generation of great American modern dance creators. Taylor has 142 pieces (and counting) in his repertory.

Each spring a world premiere or a New York premiere pops up on the calendar. Sea Lark, which debuted in Cincinatti, in 2014, is on the a bill at the David H. Koch Theater during the run March 11-29. Along with Sea Lark is a dance currently entitled “New Work” which will get its world premiere.

Taylor’s company has been renamed Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance to reflect its inclusion of the masterworks and new works by contemporary choreographers in the rotation.

This season, Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia, created in the 1930s, will be revived with Kent Tritle playing Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor on the organ at each performance. presented by the Limón Dance Company.

In fact, there will be live music for each of the works presented, performed by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by long-time Taylor Music Director, Donald York. Shen Wei Dance Arts will perform Rite of Spring, in which Shen  uses the legendary Stravinsky score, but departs from the Nijinsky original.

The two “guest works” are set alongside Taylor’s own masterpieces to celebrate the great indigenous American art form of modern dance.

On March 12th, PTAMD holds a gala and dinner, beginning at 6:30pm. Regular price tickets will be available for the performances only that evening as well, with $10 orchestra seats available for the entire run.

To learn more about PTAMD, visit http://www.ptamd.org/. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.davidhkochtheater.com/moreinfoPT.html

Posted in Balanchine, Baldwin, based on a true story or event, based on an actual life, performance piece

“Stranger on Earth” at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse

Harlem Stage has a post-Valentine’s treat for us. Not the hearts and flowers kind of gift but a bouquet that honors the important American heritage of James Baldwin and Dinah Washington.

Marcelle Davies Lashley  interpreting the vocals of Dinah Washington in Carl Hancock Rux's "Stranger on Earth" at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Feb 19-20.
Marcelle Davies Lashley interpreting the vocals of Dinah Washington in Carl Hancock Rux’s “Stranger on Earth” at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Feb 19-20.

On February 19th and 20th at 7:30pm at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, they present Stranger on Earth written and performed by Obie winning playwright Carl Hancock Rux. The production, commissioned by the company, is in celebration of Year of James Baldwin Centenary.

Stranger on Earth imagines a chance encounter at a Harlem jazz lounge between Dinah Washington and James Baldwin. The singer and the writer/philosopher/social commentator were the eras two most iconic African Americans. In this performance piece, Rux uses Baldwin’s landmark essays to create a work that addresses race, identity, and the future of a world which both Baldwin and Washington struggled to comprehend and inhabit. ASccompanying Rux is vocalist Marcelle Davies Lashley who interprets Washington’s songs. Rux draws from Baldwin’s “Notes of A Native Son,” “Nobody Knows My Name,” and “The Fire Next Time” for his original text, and from Washington’s final album (1964) for the title.

Carl Hancock Rux, performance artist, OBIE-winning playwright envisions a meeting between singer Dinah Washington and writer James Baldwin in "Stranger on Earth."
Carl Hancock Rux, performance artist, OBIE-winning playwright envisions a meeting between singer Dinah Washington and writer James Baldwin in “Stranger on Earth.”

Ted Cruz, composer and producer, is on piano, with Jason DiMatteo on bass. DiMatteo, who works internationally with hundreds of musicians, is a frequent collaborator on Rux performances. Lashley has also worked with Rux on the Rux Revue, and was the mistress of ceremonies at the Jazz Foundation of America’s Gala at the Apollo in 2012.

Stranger on Earth plays out under a video montage by conceptual artist Onome Ekeh. The video sets the historic background for the piece in the violent and socially disruptive year of 1963. Yen Moon directs. Another of Rux’s collaborators, Hamilton “Fitz” Kirby provides the sound design for Stranger on Earth.

Harlem Stage kicked off the Year of James Baldwin on April 26, 2014 with a workshop of Stranger on Earth. The Baldwin initiative is envisioned as a 14-month, city-wide celebration of one of America’s most important and trenchant thinkers. The Year will culminate in the world premiere presentation at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse on June 3rd through 7th with Stew’s Notes of a Native Son. In this new work, Stew, the Tony-winning composer, singer and storyteller, is inspired by Baldwin’s visionary way of airing uncomfortable truths and finding in them both beauty and poetry.

To learn more about Stranger on Earth, please visit www.harlemstage.org

Posted in discussions, film, politics, theater

Balkanization

As I am from that neck of the woods, this item caught my eye. Perhaps it will interest you as well– Origin Theatre Company presents “Re-Building the Balkans,” a two day mini festival on contemporary Balkan culture on February 7-9, in conjunction with the NYPL for the Performing Arts.

"AtlBalklang" by Spiridon MANOLIU - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AtlBalklang.jpg#mediaviewer/File:AtlBalklang.jpg
“AtlBalklang” by Spiridon MANOLIU – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AtlBalklang.jpg#mediaviewer/File:AtlBalklang.jpg

“Re-Building” represents a spectrum of works that address issues of reclaiming a country after war has ravaged it. Among the offerings is a reading of the play “Control,” by Croatian playwright Marjan Alcevki (Saturday February 7 at 1:30pm), about a psychological experiment gone awry at a Zagreb university. Alcevki’s play was a 2012 finalist for the BBC International Radio Award.

Also on the weekend’s program is a screening of “Mothers” by the Oscar-nominated director from Macedonia, Milcho Manchevski (Monday February 9 at 6pm), which captures the heartbreaking state of contemporary Macedonia through the eyes of several mothers. Manchevski’s “Before the Rain” won the Golden Lion at Venice as well as earning a best foreign film Oscar nomination. Manchevski takes part in a Q&A following the screening.

Origin Theatre Company, the only New York company devoted to bringing fresh perspectives and new theatre voices from across Europe to local audiences, has specially curated this program. The region’s history of strife and conflict has made, as Matthew Torney, Origin’s director of programming, sees it a “hugely fertile environment for artists.”

The panel discussion on Saturday February 7 at 3pm, examines the pressures of making art in the complex environment of Southeastern Europe.  Led by Professor Larry Wolff, the Silver Professor of History and the director of the Department of European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU, the panel includes Tea Alagic (a theater director and writer from Bosnia), and Aisling Reidy (the senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, and a former prosecuting attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia).

For more information on the events in “Re-Building the Balkans,” visit http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2015/02/07/re-building-balkans-powder-keg

To learn more about Origin Theatre Company, please click here: http://www.origintheatre.org/

Posted in bio-musical, musical theater

Not so long ago, we were anticipating “Hamilton” and now it’s here

In fact, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers and Constitutionalists is in it’s third extension at the Public Theatre, running through May 3rd.

We were fortunate to get a preview of “Hamilton” at Lincoln Center’s 2012 American Songbook (see our write up on http://wp.me/p5jq0w-iK)

Here’s what we said way back last year in Our Theater Blog, when “Hamilton” was still just in the planning stage,  http://wp.me/p5jq0w-5e:

“Hamilton,” written by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, will have its world premiere next January as part of The Public’s 2014-15 season at Astor Place. Directed by his In The Heights collaborator Thomas Kail, this new musical features Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury.

The brilliant musical “previewed” at an American Songbooks presentation in 2012. Performances begin at the Public on January 20, 2015.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda is a marvel, but nothing could have prepared us for the astonishing achievement of Hamilton,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies, the only Founding Father who was an immigrant, and Lin’s genius is to tell the story of the birth of the United States as an immigrant’s story. The energy, the passion, joy, tragedy, and raw intelligence of this show are stunning.”

More information at http://www.publictheater.org/