Posted in #classism, #critique, #dystopia, #immersive-theater, #pointofview, activists, adaptation, Aditya Rawal, allegory, avant garde, Baruch Performing Arts Center, based on a novel, Brandon Walker, dark drama, drama, dysfunction, ensemble acting, equality, Erin Cronican, Ethan E. Litwin, experiments in theater, farce, George Bernard Shaw, Gingold Theatrical Group, Gwynn MacDonald, issue play, Jay O. Sanders, Kinding Sindaw Melayu, LaMama, Maryann Plunkett, off Broadway, opinion, play, political drama, politically inspired, politics, Potri Ranka Manis, premieres, refugees, riff, Siachen, storytelling, theater, theater for the common good, theatron or The Seeing Place, timely drama

All creatures, large and small

Theater can be distanced, ie by not breaking the fourth wall. It can be immersive, like Tamara at the Park Avenue Armory back in the day, or the McKittrick Hotel programs, Sleep No More or Woman in Black happening now. Audiences sit in the round, or follow the players from room to room, or sit in front of the proscenium, or on stage.

Form and presentation may contribute to the experimental nature of a play. Subject matters in making theater a relevant comment on our times.

These times need a healthy dose of cynical analysis and profound soul-searching. “All animals are equal,” George Orwell says in Animal Farm, “but some are more equal than others.” The Seeing Place, a ten year old theater collective, kicks off the season with a modern adaptation by Brandon Walker of Orwell’s novel.

The theme for this year is the Body Politic, and its Animal Farm focuses on drawing out the ways in which we are susceptible to the collective power of a group. The line between community and a folie à tous is subtle.

Executive Artistic Director, Erin Cronican says of TSP’s production; “By creating this play for just four actors playing 28 characters, we shine a spotlight on the malleability of people’s opinions and desires, which often depend upon who is in charge and what is promised to them.”

Another exploration of present day politics can be found in the works-in-process Siachen at Baruch Performing Arts Center, from April 30 through May 2. This anti-war play, written by Aditya Rawal, takes us to India’s disputed Kashmir region where a group of soldiers awaits rescue. Gwynn MacDonald directs.

George Bernard Shaw was a principled man, whose ideals of humanitarianism and universal human rights were a creed underpinning everything he wrote. His politics were always in evidence in his dramas. The Gingold Theatrical Group’s annual party, the Golden Shamrock Gala 2020, takes place on Monday, March 16th; they will be honoring Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and Ethan E. Litwin. The Gingold Theatrical Group creates theater in the activist spirit of GBS with regularly scheduled events through the year.

Kinding Sindaw – Photos by Josef Pinlac

LaMaMa, the mother of experimental theater, hosts a play appropriate for our time. Pananadem (Remembering) is about refugees brought to these shores by the Filipino troupe Kinding Sindaw. Potri Ranka Manis, the Founder and Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw is the creative and choreographer behind this production, running from March 12th through March 15th in a New York premiere. The work uses the tradition of myth to capture the experience of the displaced.

Posted in #dystopia, dysfunction, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012, Festival Fringe-bound and Festival Fringe-found, fringe worthy, off Broadway, offbeat work

What’s up?

Boomerang Theatre Company’s playbill art.

Inspiration comes in serendipitous doses.

That at least is the case for The Mushroom Cure by Adam Strauss and developed and directed by Jonathan Libman. In his Fringe Fesitval winner (2016 Overall Excellence for a Solo Performance,) Strauss recounts his attempts to self-medicate his crippling OCD.  Fittingly for a solo show that explores the mental health benefits of hallucigenic fungi, The Mushroom Cure is simultaneously being performed in the East Village (at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s), and in Berkeley and (fleetingly) in LA. Sponsorship for the productions is provided by The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a psychedelic research and advocacy organization.

Smith Street Stage is putting on the greatest summer comedy in the repertoire at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as directed by Jonathan Hopkins, is transported to our New York, looking at the magic in our home town in the spirit of Shakespeare.

There is more Shakespeare on offer, of course, this summer; as is its custom. the Public gives us Shakespeare in the Park, but this year, Boomerang Theatre Company is puttng on Twelfth Night (or What You Will), directed by Sara Thigpen, on the lawn in Central Park. Be grateful to the Bard as Twelfth Night is a tonic for our times.

Posted in drama, off Broadway, theater

The American Experience

Gun-toting, it’s so American!

Where: Teatro Latea, 107 Suffolk St
When: August 1 – August 13

How: $25 and are now available online at

The 19th Century gangster who’s so bad… he’s good!

For the tots and for you, too

Oh, Say Can You Sing?!

What: A Family Concert Featuring Songs about America, with
Who: Red Yarn and The Deedle Deedle Dees
When: Saturday, July 1 at 10:30 am
Where: at Shapeshifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY
How: Tickets: $10 ($12 at the door) Advance tickets are available online HERE

All Ages Are Welcome! Doors open at 10:00 am

Irish heritage

June 16, 2014 Origin’s First Bloom at Bloom’s Taven of course. Photo by Jimmy Higgins.

Bloomsday, June 16th, is celebrated around the world in honor of James Joyce’s great Ulysses. In New York, there is a juried costume contest and readings from the book of Bloom hosted by Origin Theatre Company and Bloom’s Tavern on East 59th Street. This 4th annual theatrical event expands the competition for the best dressed and announces a new Irish-American literary prize.

What: “Origin’s 4th Bloom… @ Bloom’s Tavern of Course!” — produced by Origin Theatre Company… a grand tradition since 2014! — features performances, inspiring speeches and civilized morning gaiety.
Where and When: Everything takes place — as a casual Irish breakfast and refreshments are served — at Bloom’s Tavern, 208 East 58th Street, on Friday June 16, beginning at 7:30am (and lasting until 10am).
How: The annual free event — New York’s only site-specific Bloomsday breakfast — commemorates the Dublin summer morning chronicled in James Joyce’s landmark novel “Ulysses,” which takes place in a single day, June 16, 1904. Be sure to reserve a spot at
Who: Among the notables in the cast are Malachy McCourt; Charlotte Moore; David O’Hara; Paula Nance; David Staller; Terry Donnolly; Fiona Walsh; The James Joyce Reading Group and David O’Leary of Trí — The New Irish Tenors.
Contest Rules: For the second year in a row the breakfast features a costume competition for the “Best, or Most Creatively, Dressed Molly or Leopold Bloom.”  The winner — either a man or woman — will be selected from among the guests by a blue-ribbon panel chaired by the internationally recognized image strategist Margaret Molloy.  A $2000 Dinner and NYC Fun Package will be offered to the grand-prize winner.
(Contestants are invited to come period-attired, or in a summer-festive outfit that is a modern interpretation of a Dublin morning 1904.  Both couples and individuals are eligible. 1 Grand Prize will be awarded.)
Exciting News: A new annual Bloomsday award honoring the work of an Irish or Irish-American author, the Origin in Bloom Literary Award, will be announced, and the first prize awarded.  Serving on the nominating committee for next year’s honor are Irish Voice’s Cahir O’Doherty, Irish America Magazine’s Patricia Harty, historian and curator Turlough McConnell and the Irish Echo’s Peter McDermott.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers

What’s more American than overcoming obstacles?
Since its founding by Ike Schambelan in 1979 as Theater by the Blind, Theater Breaking Through Barriers, now under the Artistic Direction of Nicholas Viselli, is an Off-Broadway troupe which mixes able-bodied actors with those with disabilities. Its mission is to demonstrate just how little disabilities have to do with ability and talent.
What/when: THE ARTIFICIAL JUNGLE runs May 27 – June 25
Where: at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre
How & how much: Tickets are $52.25, available at 212-239-6200 or
More details:

Hitchcockian drama

Suspense is also very American, very filmic. Hitchcock’s 39 Steps make for a delightful theater romp. THE 39 STEPS lampoons Alfred Hitchcock’s classic murder mystery thriller using just four actors to play over 50 characters: complete with fast changes, shadow puppets, fog machines, projections, dubious accents, and swarthy mustaches.

What: THE 39 STEPS
Where: Southampton Cultural Center (25 Pond Ln, Southampton, NY 11968
When: JULY 13 – 30, 2017


Honoring our returning vets

Joel Perez, in Raw Bacon From Poland. Photo by Maria Baranova.

The Abrons Arts Center presents the World Premiere of Raw Bacon From Polandthe new play by 2016 Guggenheim Fellow Christina Masciotti, beginning June 1st through the 17th

Raw Bacon From Poland, directed by Ben Williams, follows the life of shoe salesman and aspiring personal trainer Dennis Toledo (Joel Perez), whose lifetime of trouble assumes a new intensity after a bad tour in Iraq.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at



Posted in acting, activists, actors, allegory, artist, aspiration, athletes, ballet, balletic, comedy-drama, committment, concert, Daily Prompt, dance, dancing, drama, empowerment, expectations, farce, film, high expectations, jazz, joy, memory play, Meryl Streep, mime, modern dance, monologues, movie, multi-disciplinary performances, music, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals, musicals and dramas, mystery, narration, off Broadway, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, one act plays, one man show, one-woman show, opera, painting, pantomime, parody, performance art, performance piece, performance works, photography, play, play with music, public performance in public spaces, radio play, revival, revue, rock and roll, satire, scary stories, sci fi, screwball comedy, Short plays, sketches, skits, tango, tap dance, theater for the common good, theater lovers, theatrical events, tragedy, tragi-comic


via Daily Prompt: Shine with thanks to Ben Huberman, The Daily Post for the inspiration

NoLateSeatingThose who crave the spotlight most often become entertainers. Their talent demands it. It is their calling to shine.

We applaud them, and in so doing bask in the glow of their accomplishment. They are center stage with the footlights on them, but we are illuminated by their performance.

Their light shines on us as they render and interpret and presnet their truths. Greater  performers shine brightest, and we shine brighter too.

Posted in academia, acting, drama, off Broadway, play, The Mint Theatre

(Relyin’ on) The Kindness of Women

Reading a script is a poor substitute for seeing a play in actu.  I need the actors, and their director to help guide me through the work. The written work supports my memory.

Unfortunately, on a recent occassion, when I was unable to attend Hazel Ellis’ Women Without Men, playing at City Center Stage II in a Mint Theater production through March 25th, I resorted to reading the text.

Women Without Men is not a lurid prison tale, but it may as well be. The all-female staff  in this all-girls’ boarding school are just as confined in their environment. Hemmed in in their study room, the teachers are at best unpleasant and mistrusting of one another.

Ellis brooks no nonsense about the gentler sex’s genteel interactions.

Photo: Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis Directed by Jenn Thompson presented by The Mint Theater Company; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center 131 W 55th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY; Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine. Seta by Vicki R. Davis
Photo: Women Without Men
By Hazel Ellis. Directed by Jenn Thompson, presented by The Mint Theater Company; Sets by Vicki R. Davis; Dress rehearsal photographed: Friday, January 29, 2016; 7:30 PM at Stage II; New York City Center, Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine.

As for the staging, I have only the production photos from Richard Termine to help me envision how it is handled here. I had wondered how The Mint would fit into the new stage configuration that City Center’s Stage II provides. Its staging has always relied on a proscenium decorated with elaborate sets. What will they do with this little theater-in-the- round?

Take a look at the sets by Vicki R. Davis.

This play, with its claustrophobic theme, seems to be ideally suited as a first-in on the little Stage II for The Mint.

.Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis Directed by Jenn Thompson Cast: Mary Bacon, Joyce Cohen, Shannon Harrington, Kate Middleton, Aedin Moloney, Alexa Shae Niziak, Kellie Overbey, Dee Pelletier, Beatrice Tulchin, Emily Walton, and Amelia White Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine.
.Women Without Men By Hazel Ellis
Directed by Jenn Thompson
Mary Bacon, Joyce Cohen, Shannon Harrington, Kate Middleton, Aedin Moloney, Alexa Shae Niziak, Kellie Overbey, Dee Pelletier, Beatrice Tulchin, Emily Walton, and Amelia White
Photograph: © 2015 Richard Termine.

I have no way from a reading of the play of evaluating the performances or the way the cast and their director, Jenn Thompson, interpreted the story of course, but Women Without Men is compelling.

The cast, by the way, includes the likes of Mary Bacon (The Tribute Artist; Happy Birthday), Kellie Overbey  (Lemon SkyDada Woof Papa Hot), and Emily Walton (The Shaggs) to name just a few.

As is the habit at The Mint, they are resuscitating a play that has not been performed since its originally staging at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1938. Women Without Men is a long-overdue revival. This production of the drama is not only its first in 77 years, but also its American premiere.

For more information, and tickets, please visit The Mint website.

Posted in Brits Off Broadway, Cafe Carlyle, Dominic Chianese, Isolde, Lucie Arnaz, off Broadway, Richardd Maxwell

What’s Happening? The Shortlist

photo from Richard Maxwell’s “Isolde”
by Simon Hallström

April 2: Dominic Chianese at The Café Carlyle

April 3- May 4: “The International” plays at the cell

April 10-26: “Isolde” (US premiere) at the Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street)

April 15 through 19: Lucie Arnaz at The Café Carlyle

April 23 through May 18: “Peddling” part of Brits Off Bway at 59E59

May 30 through July 5: Summerworks Festival at The Wild Project                                             

April 2: Dominic Chianese at The Café Carlyle

He may always be “Uncle Junior” to some of us, but Dominic Chianese has long been a man of many talents. He is a singer and guitarist, who has released two albums and performed in cabaret, as well as on stages on and off-Broadway. In his Café Carlyle debut, An Evening with Dominic Chianese, he will perform songs running the gambit of American music, from country to the Great American Songbook, as well as standards in Italian and Spanish.

April 3- May 4: “The International” plays at the cell

“The International” is inspired by events in the Bosnian War of 1992-95. Tim Ruddy’s award-winning and probing three-character play looks at the same events taking place during an ethnic-incited conflict through the eyes of three different people in three different parts of the world. Origin Theatre Company’s production is directed by Christopher Randolph and stars Timothy Carter, Carey Van Driest and Ted Schneider. (Running time 80 minutes)

April 10-26: “Isolde” (US premiere) at the Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street)

Based on the legend of Tristan and Isolde, Richard Maxwell’s “Isolde” is about Patrick, the owner of a successful construction company and his wife, Isolde,  a successful star.

Patrick and Isolde appear to be happly married. But Isolde finds herself increasingly unable to remember her lines. To occupy herself, she decides to build her dream house and her husband is eager to help. The project is jeopardized by Massimo, an award-winning architect that Isolde hires.

Written and directed by Maxwell for his company, New York City Players,  “Isolde” marks 15 years of new plays by Maxwell in New York. The production features Jim Fletcher, Brian Mendes, Tory Vazquez and Gary Wilmes., (Runs 90 minutes without intermission)

 April 15 through 19: Lucie Arnaz at The Café Carlyle

“Spring is Here” is  Lucie Arnaz’s new show. The talented daughter of one of show business’ most prominent couples, Lucie Arnaz has forged a distinct career of her own,  starring in roles on Broadway, television and film, and has won awards including an Emmy, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award.

April 23 through May 18: “Peddling” part of Brits Off Bway at 59E59

Henry Melling, known as Dudley Dursley from the Harry Potter franchise, has written a fascinating new play featured in the 10th annual Brits off Bway Festival. In “Peddling.” a peddler wakes up in a field, somewhere in London, surrounded by the burnt and empty remnants of the night before. With no memory of how he has come to be there, he knows he must go back to ‘the very start of it all’. His attempts to retrace events from the previous day lead him on a haunting journey where everything comes into question: his life, his world, his future.

Harry Melling’s remarkable debut play follows the day in the life of a man on the fringes of society as he battles difficult questions and attempts to come to terms with the answers.

May 30 through July 5: Summerworks Festival at The Wild Project

The 2014 fest features plays by Jenny Schwartz, Ariel Stess, Peggy Stafford. Summerworks 2014 features “41-derful”, written and directed by Jenny Schwartz; “I’m Pretty Fucked Up” by Ariel Stess, directed by Kip Fagan; and “16 Words Or Less” by Peggy Stafford, directed by Portia Krieger. 

Summerworks 2014 will also feature various free events, including a collaborative piece and individual readings written by Clubbed Thumb’s Early-Career Writers’ Group: Jaclyn Backhaus, Adam Blodgett, Tasha M Gordon-Solmon, Ken Greller, MJ Kaufman, Dan Regelski, and Ariel Stess. Further details on these events will be announced soon.       

Posted in 50 Shades of Grey, comedy, february 2014, Henry Houdini, new works and old, off Broadway, parody, Twelfth Night, what's on

Shakespeare, Houdini, and 50 Shades….Coming in February and March 2014

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play? Maybe one in each category — tragedy, comedy, history like that?

Twelfth Night or What You Will is always fun, and Pig Iron Theatre Company aims to make it even more loveable in their accessible production, beginning February 4th at the Abrons Center. A Balkanized musical score seems like the perfect backdrop to Shakespeare’s crazy mistaken-identity saga.

“Experimental theater is about opening up new ways of seeing,” says Pig Iron’s director Dan Rothernberg; “could we sneak this into a Shakespeare play without deconstructing the thing? All our experiments with clown theater, with cabaret, and with dance theater inform the way people speak and move in this production, resulting in a rough, wholly American Twelfth Night.” This production of Twelfth Night premiered at the 2011 Philadelphia LiveArts Festival and was recently revived for Philadelphia’s 2013 FringeArts Festival.

For more information, please visit  But wait, there’s more….

While “Twelfth Night” easily qualifies as a favorite comedy, “King Lear” has to be this writer’s most beloved Shakespearean play. There is a production of the tragedy, we are told, currently at BAM, with no less a Lear than Frank Langella. You can catch it through February 9th.

For information, visit

Shakespeare, as befits an artist working under Royal patronage, wrote many a histoy of Kings. “Henry IV, Part II” is being presented at The Pearl as a special event from February 13th through 16th. The readings are in collaboration with The Shakespeare Society. More at The Pearl 

More happenings in February….

If you have been swept into the mania for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” you should pay a visit to 50 Shades! the Musical – The Original Parody. In this musical, a book club’s three girlfriends turn from the usual fare to the more titilating best seller. With their interest piqued, Christian and Anastasia’s affiair comes to life on the stage. Directed by Al Samuels, one of the many co-writers, and Rob Lindley, previews begin on February 21st at the Elektra Theatre, and 50 Shades! for a March 12th opening.

For more about 50 Shades!, go to

The Wild Project has a “Shades of Love” series of poetic readings in February, from the 3rd through the 16th. Poetic License 2014: Shades of Love  is Produced by Poetic Theater Productions and features work from both emerging and established poets, including Mahogany L. Browne, Yadira De La Riva, Judith Sloan, Craig muMs Grant (HBO’s “Oz”), Staceyann Chin (Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway) and the presentation of an original theatrical work by the legendary Ntozake Shange (for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf). The festival also includes a performance from the renowned music group The Mighty Third Rail.

Learn more by going to

And, not necessarily in honor of Valentine’s Day…

Randy Sharp delves into the mysteries of Henry Houdini at the Axis Theatre in Nothing on Earth, opening on February 27th for a 2 month run. Sharp, the Artisitc Director at the Axis, has been directing plays for  30 years, most recently the Drama Desk nominated Last Man Club.

For this production, Axis Company worked closely with William Kalush, Executive Director of the Conjuring Arts Research Center, Houdini scholar, and author of The Secret Life of Houdini, to re-create some of Houdini’s most famous illusions.

To learn more about Nothing on Earth, please visit