03/29/17 10:04am

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The audience never sees the monster in Julia Jarcho’s new play, The Terrifying, but the lack of blood and gore does nothing to temper the fear. While definitely corporeal for residents of the unnamed small town it targets, its real power is emotional rather than physical. The fear is so severe, it’s almost beside the point whether you end up as a victim; your life is forever altered by the knowledge the monster exists.

It’s going to be difficult to actually see this version of the play– the remaining shows are sold out and when we called the theater to ask about waitlist tickets they advised showing up an hour before showtime to make sure you’re first in line to put your name on the waitlist when the box office opens 30 minutes before show time. “There are no shows…sometimes,” the very nice man we spoke to said in a not very encouraging tone. The way the show plays with fear though, exploring it in the abstract while scaring your pants off in a very real way, is worth thinking about, in this uncertain age of paranoia and the unexpected.

Jarcho’s Big Bad plots its course of destruction by following the desires of each victim. To wit, victim one is killed; the person that victim loves the most is next. It’s a great argument for never revealing one’s crushes, and an unusually cruel form of psychological torture. Teenagers are the first targets, and even in the vague time period of The Terrifying (phones, landlines to be precise, exist, but not everyone has one), their currency is rumors and gossip. (more…)

02/17/14 11:00am
Sat February 22, 2014
"The Legend of Yauna," which follows the mystical journey of a young Zimbabwean woman trying to reconnect with her family, makes its world premiere at BAM this week. Photo: BAM

“The Legend of Yauna,” which follows the mystical journey of a young Zimbabwean woman trying to reconnect with her family, makes its world premiere at BAM this week. Photo: BAM

Bask in the glory that is song and dance as The Legend of Yauna premieres at BAM Fisher this weekend. The production, which celebrates a 12,000-year-old story of Yauna and the indigenous Bana Kuma ceremonies of Zimbabwe, is brought to you by the talented trio of Grammy award-winning composer Chris Berry, choreographer Maija Garcia (FELA!) and Afro-European vocalist Marie Daulne (lead singer of Zap Mama). The two-hour production promises mind-bending fantasy and mystic exploration–not to mention amazing  music, as it features seven musicians on non-traditional instruments (such as the Shona mbira), as well as a nine-member theatrical ensemble. Get your ticket ($35) here.

11/22/13 12:00pm
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“Urinetown” authors Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann have agreed to let 16 local homeschooled teenagers perform their little-seen new play, “Yeast Nation,” for a limited engagement this weekend in Williamsburg. Photo: Schecter Lee

In 2002, Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann struck gold with their musical Urinetown, a show about people who had to pay to pee because a 20-year draught depleted their town’s water supply. It won two Tonys–one each for best book and best score–and created instant show-tune classics like Run, Freedom, Run!  

The water might not have been flowing for their characters, but Kotis’ and Hollmann’s creativity certainly was–the two wrote a second show around the same time in the same satirical vein. Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) tells the story of a society of single-celled organisms living around three billion B.C. that’s blighted by a famine and an overbearing ruler who inflicts harsh punishments on any amoeba that gets out of line.

Like UrinetownYeast Nation (their musical titles all sound like euphemisms for urinary tract infections don’t they?), is a satirical look at our current society’s excess and overconsumption. It’s only been staged in Alaska and Chicago since its premiere at the New York Fringe Festival in 2011, but a limited run of the musical is playing this weekend in Brooklyn at the Greenspan Center, a Watsu water massage studio in Williamsburg. Sunday’s shows are already sold out, but there’s still time to snag $10 tickets for tonight and Saturday at 7pm.

Kotis’ wife Ayun Halliday and Ben Watts are co-directing the performance and the entire cast consists of homeschooled teenagers from New York and New Jersey. (more…)

10/29/13 7:00am

Built on an old surface parking lot and designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Theatre for a New Audience is the first classical theater to be built in NYC in over 40 years. Photo: Daniel Broadhurst

Built on an old parking lot and designed by Hugh Hardy and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, Theatre for a New Audience is the first classical theater to be built in NYC in more than 40 years. Photo: Daniel Broadhurst

After being nomadic for nearly 35 years, Theatre for a New Audience finally has a home of its own. The classical theater company, founded by Jeffrey Horowitz in 1979, officially opened its doors on Ashland Place two weeks ago, in what is quickly becoming Brooklyn’s newest cultural district. The neighborhood now houses approximately 40 different arts and cultural organizations, including BAM, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Mark Morris Dance Group and BRIC House–a newly minted media arts center. Surrounded by such good company, Horowitz says his theater is finally ready to put down roots.

“We’ve played off Broadway, we’ve played off-off Broadway. We’ve played the Duke on 42nd Street, we’ve played with the Royal Shakespeare Company, we’ve toured Italy with John Turturro, and have always been itinerant,” said Horowitz at the theater’s ribbon cutting last Tuesday. “We could never get a long-term lease anyplace.”
(more…)

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10/10/13 1:15pm

Elvis Presley and Teddy Roosevelt go head to head over the soul of a Midwestern meat packer in a new play by The TEAM. Photo: Bushwick Starr

Elvis Presley and Teddy Roosevelt go head to head over the soul of a Midwestern meat packer in a new play by the TEAM. Photo: Sue Kessler

Two weeks from its opening at the Bushwick Starr, rehearsals for RoosevElvis were getting off to a slow start. It was to the point where the play’s director Rachel Chavkin was telling her A.D. Jake Margolin, “We can either choose to rewrite substantially or cut the shit out of it.” Not exactly where you want to be so close to opening night. However, by previews on Oct. 8, RooseElvis was ready for an audience—transforming into a funny, strange and moving piece of theater. (more…)

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09/05/13 8:25am

A scene from Odyssey Works' 2012 performance, "The Map is Not the Territory," which began as the participant awoke in Brooklyn and ended with him being bound at the stake in upstate New York. For this year's BEAT Festival, Odyssey Works is attempting another wild performance for just one audience member. Credit: Odyssey Works

A scene from Odyssey Works’ 2012 performance, “The Map is Not the Territory,” which began as the participant awoke in Brooklyn and ended with him being bound at the stake in upstate New York. For this year’s BEAT Festival, Odyssey Works is attempting another wild performance for just one audience member. Credit: Odyssey Works

Fans of large-scale performances staged in unconventional venues rejoice–The Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater Festival is returning for a second year with a whole host of options for wandering, engaging and exploring with Brooklyn artists in settings like Grand Army Plaza, MetroTech and Congregation Beth Elohim, including a rare performance by local poet Lemon Andersen–the Tony-award winning playwright will perform from his new work ToasT at the festival’s closing party on Sept. 21.

Last year’s inaugural festival was promising, but sometimes frustrating due to chaotic ticketing, uneven performances and a complex schedule—no less than 38 performances at eight different venues. According to Stephen Shelley, the festival’s artistic director, this year’s BEAT, taking place Sept. 12-21, has retained its ambition but tightened its focus, with 20 performances in four neighborhoods–Downtown Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

“I think people are hungry for something that’s more experiential as opposed to simply sitting and observing,” Shelley said in an email to BB. “The future of theater is not in theaters.”
(more…)

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08/27/13 2:00pm
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On a boat and unable to escape each other, a family must confront its own conflicts in “The Boat in the Tiger Suit,” which ends its run at the Brick Theater on Saturday. Photo: Brick

There’s nothing like being trapped in a cramped space to bring out uncomfortable secrets. Make those people family after a father’s death, and that space a boat, and well, it’s the emotional and familial version of the ill-fated Carnival Cruise ship that made headlines earlier this year.

The tight, inescapable space of The Boat in the Tiger Suit, a play by Hank Willenbrink now at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, is a boat hosting Herman’s (Hugh Sinclair) funeral. Herman left his family years before to join the army, leaving his wife, Margaret (Maggie Bofil), and his children, Rene (Nic Grelli), and April (Diana Stahl), perplexed and resentful as they attempt to make sense out of their father’s life and death.

Surrounding the casket, like the sinister negatives of a Norman Rockwell portrait, are Margaret and her children, along with April’s husband David (Brian McManamon). Stahl and McManamon play well off each other as high school sweethearts who married young and are questioning whether that was such a great decision. (more…)

08/19/13 6:34pm
Thu August 22, 2013
Actor Nic Grelli makes a pass at Bobby Plasencia in a scene from "Boat in a Tiger Suit," which opens at Brick Theater on Thursday. Photo: Hunter Canning

Actor Nic Grelli makes a pass at Bobby Plasencia in a scene from “The Boat in a Tiger Suit,” which opens at Brick Theater on Thursday. Photo: Hunter Canning

Hank Willenbrink is one playwright who has earned his stripes. His latest work, The Boat in the Tiger Suit, opens on Aug. 22 at The Brick Theater for a six-day engagement directed by José Zayas, and we encourage you to pounce on tickets like a pile of catnip. The dark comedy about family ties takes place on a pair of dinghies and sounds like it’ll make your own dysfunctional family feel, well still dysfunctional, but at least your issues aren’t playing out in a row boat, in front of an audience. The curtain goes up at 8pm–don’t be late.