New York

South Africa’s Richest And Smoothest Jazz

Experiencing any show at Brooklyn Academy of Music is as magical as seeing a show at LTC3, only I don’t have to leave my own borough. The opportunity to see South African jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim is magical on its own. Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) allows for their audience to bring back their signature BAM cup and receive a discount on their drinks, as well as drink in the theatre, which means you are already prepared to sit, sip, and listen to some wonderful sounds. The Jazz Epistles is Abdullah Ibrahim’s classics from his Jazz Epistle, Verse 1...

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Finding “Piramo E Tisbe”

Upon entering the theatre for Piramo E Tisbe, I was intrigued by the setup of the stage and the placement of the orchestra. On one side was a bed and blanket, and on the other side, an elaborate set up of an abandoned space taken over by the past of the Persian War, implying it would be inhibited by anyone seeking shelter. The orchestra consisted of five violinists, Danika Paskvan on viola, Anthony Albrecht on cello, David Ross on flute, two oboes, two bassoons, and Arash Noori on theorbo, and was conducted by Elliot Figg, who accompanied on the...

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Music At The Anthology

Music At The Anthology, also known as MATA, is in its 22nd year of commissioning and presenting the music of early career composers and sound artists “regardless of their stylistic views or aesthetic inclinations.”  This note is a beautiful invitation to calling for a diverse background of artists. Each year MATA presents a festival, fittingly, during the blossoming spring in New York City.  This Festival presents works chosen from an international submission pool.  During the intermission, I found myself entranced in a conversation with one of these international composers who had presented earlier in the week; we discussed how...

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“Assembled Identity”: World Premiere

There is a rather iconic scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda (played by Meryl Streep) recounts the lineage of the cerulean sweater that Andi (played by Anne Hathaway) is wearing. Beyond its being a fairly brutal dressing-down, it also outlines how avant-garde fashion influences commercial tastes. Miranda makes it clear that although Andi may feign indifference to, and not understand, avant-garde fashion, its existence is absolute, and her apathy is of no consequence to its absolute impact. Five years from now there will be a sci-fi/ethno-futuristic production that explodes onto the commercial Broadway scene. It will bring...

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Bonnie Marranca: “It’s Up To Every New Generation To Create Its Own Institutions, Critical Discourses, And Working Methods.”

Interview by Cristina Modreanu with the occasion of the first edition of Bonnie Marranca’s essays translated into Romanian. You coined the term “theatre of images” in one famous essay (1977), which is included in the book introducing your essays to Romanian readers. Can you say more about the context in which you observed that the visual dimension becomes prevalent on stage and about the three directors you chose as examples? The theatre of images idea was evolving in my thoughts while I was a graduate student at the City University (CUNY) Theatre doctoral program in New York City. I...

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“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” – Setting The Record Straight

As we’ve settled into the 21st century, pop-culture vestiges of the 20th century have fallen by the wayside. Bell bottoms, platform shoes, and the ever-casual widespread use of cocaine followed disco into the place where all the things we’d like to forget go. It’s interesting, then, that one would choose disco as a genre and subject matter for a new Broadway musical. But, like most things we’d like to forget, there exists an opportunity to correct, clarify, and contextualize what we know in a way that brings new meaning. Summer: The Donna Summer Musical does just that, while delivering...

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At Carnegie Hall, Tianqi Du Chases After Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Naturally, I was eager to see how Du, a progressive, boundary-pushing artist, would interpret Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the epitome of Baroque purism. Inside Carnegie Hall, the evening began promisingly, with an elegantly shot video, reminding us again of Du’s multi-disciplinarian identity. For those in the audience unacquainted with the work, Du’s video passionately argues the significance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, tying the threads both musically and mathematically. A voiceover narration by Du describes the two years he spent at Boston’s New England Conservatory, devoted to unlocking the secrets of Bach, and ends on the cryptic statement that the Goldberg Variations rescued him “from the edge of darkness.”

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Don’t Shoot The Messenger: Elfriede Jelinek’s “Rechnitz” In New York

On March 24, 1945, there was a party in Rechnitz, an Austrian town on the Hungarian border. The hostess was Countess Margit Bátthyany, who may or may not have been having an affair with the town’s Gestapo chief, Franz Podezin, a guest at the party. In what would be a prelude to the end of WWII, the Soviet Army was about to invade, but the Countess and her guests decided to have one last hurrah. During the party, Podezin received orders to pick up some 180 Jewish inmates of a nearby labor camp from the train station, prisoners deemed...

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Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women”: A Dissent

My reaction to Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women when it first arrived in New York in 1994 was nicely glossed by the illustrious Uta Hagen in describing why she turned down the play’s central role: “I think that the old woman is relentlessly hateful—boring.” Just so. Ever since this play won the Pulitzer Prize that year, its fans have insisted that the hatefulness of its lead character—called simply A—served profound, redeeming ends. Critics across the “brow” spectrum, tired of hammering the talented, once lionized author for his string of disappointments over two decades, found themselves faced with an interesting, somewhat better...

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Jacob Storms’ “Tennessee Rising”: Remembering Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Rising is a theatre piece that requires yet easily commands your full attention. The journey is made up of fascinating recounts of the life and times of young Tom Williams, from his first-person point of view, as he interacts with key figures that impacted, inspired and shaped the personal and professional life of the mid-twentieth century playwright that he metamorphoses into during the course of the play, Mr. Tennessee Williams. The stories begin with Williams as a youngster and continue to unfold all the way through Williams’ first great success with his play The Glass Menagerie. This important new...

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The Wooster Group’s “A Pink Chair” – Can You Ever Return?

The Wooster Group’s newest production, A Pink Chair (In Place of a Fake Antique) was commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Tadeusz Kantor centennial as a tribute to the famous Polish director. The show is based on Kantor’s 1988 piece, I Shall Never Return and his 1942 adaptation of Stanisław Wyspiański’s The Return of Odysseus. Although he began his career as a painter and worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Tadeusz Kantor (1915-90) is currently considered one of the most important theatre artists of the twentieth century, and some...

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Jacob Storms And “Tennessee Rising”

Jacob Storms is the recipient of the 2017 United Solo Award for Best One-Man Show after he performed his new one-man play Tennessee Rising in The United Solo Festival, the world’s largest solo play festival taking place annually in New York City. Storms is known for his recurring role, Serge, on Steven Soderbergh & Gregory Jacobs’ Amazon Original Series, Red Oaks.  He is also a member of the founding graduating class of actors at the T. Schreiber Studio’s first full-time conservatory.  Some of his performance experience ranges from singing in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall for Cole Porter’s 125th birthday celebration to being...

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“Miss You Like Hell”: New York Premiere Musical

There’s no curtain to create the traditional pomp and circumstance of American theatre. The stage is empty, save for a curiously eclectic ensemble, and the visible pit gives the theatre a homey sense of connectedness that is clearly purposeful. It seems like a perfect metaphor for the simplicity of a new connection; open space soon to be filled with misunderstanding, oversimplification, discovery, responsibility, and life. Miss You Like Hell opened last week, a show as effervescent and timely as one would expect from the Public Theater. A Broadway alum in her own right, Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights,...

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“In And Of Itself”: Derek DelGaudio’s Gift Of Encounter

Wow. In & Of Itself, written and performed by Derek DelGaudio for long runs with numerous extensions in Los Angeles and New York, makes clear from the onset that attendees are being asked to go along on a journey. Audience members are instructed to select cards printed with the words “I AM” from a series of possible identity descriptors (I am a Judge, I am a Minimalist, I am a Curiosity, etc.) before entering the theatre. The cards are then collected by the ushers and become part of the performance as they’re placed in a stack on a table...

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Myth, Motherhood, And Desperation in Modern Adaptation of Lorca’s “Yerma”

Last Monday, about forty minutes into the final preview of Yerma at the Park Avenue Armory—Simon Stone’s breathtakingly intense Lorca adaptation from London’s Young Vic—an unhappy thud came out of the dark during a tricky scene change. The house lights rose, the show was paused for a half hour for “technical problems,” and then abruptly canceled. I’d been rapt when the action stopped, not least because the scene just played was a pretty surprising addendum to a tale famously focused on a woman desperate to get pregnant. The scene showed Her (the new name of Yerma, which means barren in Spanish) and her...

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World Premiere Musical: “The Lucky Ones”

With downtown theatre audiences, the never-ending challenge is how to push boundaries and create theater that can be understood. Writers want to tell stories that have never been heard,  and producers want to present work that shakes up the zeitgeist. Still, even the most open-minded audiences may leave the theater dazzled, confused, and unsure of how to explain what just happened. In a city of near-professional theatergoers, there’s often the expectation to witness something unexpected in a package that is familiar; so its refreshing that The Lucky Ones, which opened last week at the Connely Theater, arrives wholly unbound...

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Meredith Monk’s “Cellular Songs” At Brooklyn Academy Of Music

Those who like to combine pop culture with classical practice might find something of a younger Alanis Morissette in Meredith Monk.  Drawing her strength from within, she intones.  Silence is as important as the sound, as the tone dips and builds.  Monk sings, “Oh, I’m a thinking woman, I’m a thinking woman.”  She is in the moment, present, and recognized.

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New York Theatre Honored Magda Saleh In Celebration Of Egyptian Dance

Egypt’s renowned prima ballerina Magda Saleh was honored during the event From The Horse’s Mouth in New York. Between March 13 and 18, New York’s Theatre at the 14th Street Y organized an event dedicated to showcasing Egyptian dance in all its forms and traditions. As part of the theatre’s From the Horse’s Mouth series, the event shed light on and honored Egypt’s first prima ballerina Magda Saleh through a variety of events. Saleh, who established herself in New York, is a graduate of the Bolshoi Academy of Ballet in Moscow and Cairo’s Academy of Arts in Egypt. She is also a former dean...

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Why I Can’t Accept “Amy And The Orphans”

What do you do with a disabled child you can’t emotionally support? While not the biggest question that Amy And The Orphans, by Lindsey Ferrentino, asks, it is certainly one of the more important ones. The short answer is: “put her in a state-run institution.” “Her” being Amy (Jamie Brewer), a woman with Down syndrome, the daughter of a young couple with two other children and a crumbling marriage. While it might be “refreshing” to talk about disability during the first five minutes of a play, one of the only things to come out of doing so is the...

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