In Performance

In Performance: Lola Arias, Minefield (Out There Festival)

MinefieldLola AriasWalker Art Center Minefield gathers veterans of both sides of a war. However, it may as well be two different wars, as we come to learn that people from the two countries involved hold wildly different view on everything from the name of the conflict to the reason for fighting to the reception of the homecoming troops. Lola Arias has brought together a cast of six veterans of the Falklands War (aka the Malvinas War aka Guerra del Atlántico Sur), three from the UK side, three from the Argentinian side. The piece is as much about the veterans’ process of coming together to make Minefield as it is about the war itself. These foes have turned friends. Of course it’s not easy to reconcile one’s experience with the enemy to the reality of a single human who is an artistic peer...

In Performance: Berlin, Zvizdal [Chernobyl, so far–so close] (Out There Festival)

Zvizdal [Chernobyl, so far–so close]BerlinOut There FestivalWalker Art Center When we first meet Nadya and Petro, they sit silently on a bench outside their ramshackle home in a deserted Ukranian village, staring out at the world, occasionally swatting at a fly. This entirely unremarkable moment is projected on both sides of a large screen, to be scrutinized by an audience in tiered seating units on either side, part of an installation created to hold this documentary film. From the beginning, Berlin plays with the contrast between the technological magic of the presentation and the base simplicity of their subjects’ lives. Petro and Nadya are the last two holdouts living in their part of the exclusion zone, a 1000 square mile square around the Chernobyl power plant whose residents w...

In Performance: Kaneza Schaal, Jack & (Out There)

JACK &Kaneza Schaal in collaboration with Cornell Alston and Christopher MyersJanuary 2019Walker Art Center A goldfish swims in circles in its tiny bowl at center stage, a prisoner whose inner life, if it has any, we cannot access. It will stay in its bowl, captive and on display, for the duration of the three-part performance in which we delve into the dream life of our recently incarcerated protagonist, Jack. In Part I, “The Monologues,” Cornell Alston’s Jack comes to us with just stories, a monologue about life in the community room of a prison, with larger-than-life characters sharing confident but ill-informed opinions over any topic that comes their way. We hear of the difficulty of proving to a parole board that theatre is gainful employment, and we can laugh, because of course ...

In Performance: Jack Ferver, Everything is Imaginable (American Realness)

Everything Is ImaginableJack FerverAmerican Realness at New York Live ArtsJanuary 7-12, 2019 What makes a young gay boy, perceiving himself to be different, feel safe or whole? Who gives him inspiration, or permission, to be something he wants to be? In the first half of Everything Is Imaginable, Jack Ferver gives us a fantasia parade of such figures. One by one, his soloists—James Whiteside, Lloyd Knight, Garen Scribner, and Reid Bartelme, dancers coming from different performance traditions—take the stage, each presenting their childhood idol as a kind of character sketch: the emotive diva (Judy Garland), the elegant pioneer (Martha Graham), the charismatic athlete (Brian Boitano), and the fabulous beast (yes, that would be My Little Pony). In this sequence, the dancers’ virtuosity is a ...

In Performance: p r i s m (Prototype)

p r i s m Composed by Ellen Reid Libretto by Roxie Perkins Directed by James Darrah Music Directed by Julian Wachner Prototype, La MaMa January 6-12, 2019 CW: Sexual assault, rape, PTSD p r i s m is an opera about trauma. It is an exploration of coping, of recounting – of learning how to heal, how to find language again. We begin in a white, cut out square of a room. Our two characters lie asleep in bed dressed in long white gowns that speak of an imaginary mental hospital. Two walls are cut away to allow us into the cramped and intimate world of mother and daughter, psychological abuser and abused. Lumee at first seems to be taking care of her daughter Bibi – and Lumee is the one keeping her locked in this small room – but we quickly move into a ripping vocal exchange as Lumee blames, caj...

In Performance: Juliana F. May, Folk Incest (American Realness)

Folk Incest Juliana F. May American Realness, Abrons Arts Center January 9-12, 2019 A single row of chairs lines the four walls of Abrons’ intimate G05 studio, all of them seemingly meant for the audience. Until Molly Poerstel enters from the hallway, takes an open seat, and, lit by a spotlight, struggles to speak. She has some pages in her hand, presumably a script she’s trying to say, but she just can’t get her mouth to form the words. She tries, over and over, for a remarkably long time, changing pitch and speed and tone, and eventually it becomes clear that she’s trying to say, “I hate when people talk about irony like that.” She struggles through a few more sentences until the lighting opens up to include four other women in the space with her. What...

In Performance: Sarah Kane/Philip Venables, 4.48 Psychosis (Prototype)

4.48 Psychosis Sarah Kane/Philip Venables Prototype, Baruch Performing Arts Center January 5-12, 2019 Sarah Kane’s classic 4.48 Psychosis takes a stirring, operatic turn in Philip Venables’ adaptation, currently playing at the PROTOTYPE festival after a sold-out run at the Royal Opera House in London. The opera uses a variety of inventive means to bring Kane’s words about death to life, with a mix of sung, spoken, slurred, and projected text. The accompanying music, performed by the ensemble Contemporaneous that is situated hauntingly above the stage, intensifies the anger and pain of the play. In a series of especially effective exchanges, the dialogue between the central, suicidal figure (played by Gweneth-Ann Rand) and her psychiatrist (played by Lucy Schaufer) are not spoken at all. In...

In Performance: Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance (Prototype)

Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance Composed by Graham Reynolds Libretto by Largartijas Tiradas Al Sol Directed by Shawn Sides Prototype, BRIC January 5-9, 2019 Walking into Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, you see an expansive spread of instruments arranged in a cluster taking up most of the stage: a double stacked keyboard, a full drum set, an electric guitar, a tuba, a double bass, a cello and a violin. Interspersed among the musicians, tables are covered with photographic paraphernalia, live cameras and a video footage of the yet-to-be-introduced ‘El Tigre.’ The work begins with an explosion of sound as a fusion of rock and roll and more recognizable styles of operatic singing fuse with latin rhythms joyously ringing together. This bilingual experience rotates between songs in Spanish ...

In Performance: Half Straddle, Is This A Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription

Is This A Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription Half Straddle The Kitchen January 4-12, 2019 Is This A Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription is, in many ways, exactly what its title says it is: the performance of the verbatim transcription of the FBI’s interrogation of 25-year-old Reality Winner. As the lobby display (by Murphey Wilkins) and program note help explain: in 2017, Reality Winner, an Air Force vet and intelligence contractor, was charged with violating the Espionage Act for leaking a document on Russian interference in U.S. voting systems. In 2018, she was sentenced to over five years in prison, the longest sentence anyone has ever received in a federal court for passing classified information to the media. Tina Satter/Half Straddle’s production of the transcription...

In Performance: Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, The Art of Luv (Part 6): Awesome Grotto! (American Realness)

The Art of Luv (Part 6): Awesome Grotto! Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble American Realness, Abrons Arts Center January 4-5, 2019 To step into Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble’s The Art of Luv (Part 6): Awesome Grotto! is to step into a different atmosphere. A soothing aural landscape merges with a striking visual one of an extremely large moon-like surface that takes up the entire height of Abrons’ Experimental Theater. The lights are dim and performers dressed in long white tunics are at a calm attention. Soon they speak quietly to the audience, asking if anyone would like to come down from their riser seats and onto the stage floor, which is covered in grass, for some special sounds. The many willing audience members descend and lie down, and the performers take them through a kind of meditat...

In Performance: Michael Joseph McQuilken, The Infinite Hotel (Prototype)

The Infinite Hotel Michael Joseph McQuilken Prototype, Irondale January 5-12, 2019 In The Infinite Hotel, written and directed by Michael Joseph McQuilken, the audience is divided upon entrance: between “background actors” who experience and participate in the event on Irondale’s main floor and “producers” who watch the event from a balcony above. And quite an event unfolds, as The Infinite Hotel is not only a performance to be viewed but also a film to create. Pre-show is as alive as any film set (albeit a one-camera one), with a steadicam operator and monitors around the space along with lights and cables and marks and a large crew. A First AD figure helps explain what is going to happen: the producers will watch from above, listening in on provided headphones; the background actors will...

In Performance: Joseph Keckler, Train With No Midnight (Prototype Festival)

Train With No Midnight Joseph Keckler Prototype Festival at HERE January 5-13, 2019 Do you remember the 2012 apocalypse? Joseph Keckler, silhouetted against a stuttering cloud of fog, begins his dark, off-kilter, hauntingly gorgeous cabaret by posing this question to the assembled audience. I don’t remember, of course, and nor does anyone else, because it didn’t happen. What I mostly remember is the hype, both wild-eyed and eye-rolling, leading up to this doomsday event supposedly foretold by the Mayan calendar. What Keckler remembers, which is far more complex and interesting, is the indefinable feeling that lingered after any such event failed to occur: a resignation, almost a disappointment. A sense, even, of loss. The apocalypse that wasn’t is the first in a series of what Keckler call...