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BY TRAV S.D. | Surprise! It turns out June isn’t only the name of Beaver’s mom, but it’s also one of the best times of the year to see Downtown Theatre, thanks to the large proportion of summer festivals that kick off this month.
For example, it’s time again for the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (May 30 through June 24). At Planet Connections the flavor of the month is always Rainforest Crunch — each production pairs with a progressive charity and donates a portion of their box office to the righteous cause. If it sounds off-puttingly didactic, never fear. While some of the shows sound messagey, the bulk are merely shows, which is probably better for the bottom line anyway.
Of the 30-plus productions on this year’s schedule, some that sound promising are: “Twelfth Night: Wall Street”; “Ye Elizabeths,” about a pair of historical re-enactors who work on a low-rent version of Plimoth Plantation; “The Empress of Sex,” by Duncan Pflaster and directed by festival founder/director Glory Kadigan, concerning a ruler who decrees that there shall be no love in her kingdom, only sex; a musical version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Accidental Incest” — a play about “a brother and sister who find romance together.” Come on! Do it for the cause! Patrons will be glad to know that the festival will be concentrated at a single venue this year, and it’s an excellent one: 45 Bleecker. For the full skinny, go to planetconnections.org.And speaking of resuscitated venues, the New Ohio Theatre will host no less than two Downtown theatre festivals over the coming weeks. First there’s terraNOVA Collective’s 9th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival (May 29-June 17). This is pretty much the city’s premiere festival for solo theatre and I know they have very high standards because they’ve rejected me twice! Promising sounding productions include “Baby Redboot’s Revenge,” about a child actor whose voice doesn’t change until he is 25; “I Light Up My Life: The Mark Sam Celebrity Autobiography,” billed as the “world’s first preemptive celebrity autobiography”; “The Event,” John Clancy’s existential head game starring David Calvitto; and a new adaptation of “Ubu” by Adam Szymkowicz. Schedule and ticket info at terranovacollective.org.
Also at the New Ohio, Soho Think Tank will be launching their annual summer-long festival called Ice Factory this month, running June 27 through August 4. Given that the Ice Factory focuses on a manageable half dozen productions, you’ll find precious few turkeys in their annual line up. The theatre gives their guest artists a rare amount of support (including rehearsal space) and their own week-long runs.
Promising sounding productions include “The Pilo Family Circus,” an adaptation of Will Elliott’s novel concerning a sadistic circus that roams around kidnapping new performers; “Flying Snakes in 3-D,” a mashup of sci-fi parody and avant-garde theatre that played earlier this year at The Brick in Williamsburg; and a new adaptation of David Belasco’s “Girl of the Golden West” by a company called Rady&Bloom that sounds like just my cup of tea. All the information can be found at newohiotheatre.org.June 6-30, Untitled Theater Company #61 will present “The Lathe of Heaven,” an original, authorized stage adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s sci-fi classic about a man whose dreams change reality. This is the latest in a series of company director Edward Einhorn’s adaptations of works by major science fiction writers including Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick. How he achieves these negotiating coups is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with real life applications of time travel, telekinesis and carefully pointed lasers. At any rate, “The Lathe of Heaven” will be presented at the techno-friendly 3LD Art & Technology Center. All you’ll ever need to know is at untitletheater.com.
If I were to pick my favorite of this month’s announced productions I would have to say that I am the most excited about this one: a site specific revival of the 1971 Sam Shepard/ Patti Smith collaboration “Cowboy Mouth.” Not only is this psychedelic psychodrama one of my very favorite plays, it is being staged in a “grungy space” (their words) over bridge and tunnel drag bar Lucky Cheng’s. The company that’s putting it on, One Old Crow Productions is new to me, but with this way-out stunt, they’re off to a flying start. The show is running June 7-22. See oneoldcrowproductions.com for more info.
June 20 through July 1, DMTheatrics will present their latest and (they promise) last festival of adaptations of the work of legendary film director Edward D. Wood, Jr. See? It’s right in the title: “Final Curtain: The Last of Ed Wood.” “Bride of the Monster” is the best known of the five works they’ll be presenting — this is the one where mad scientist Bela Lugosi whips his mute lackey Lobo (Tor Johnson) with a limp lash and commands him to help procure brides for his giant atomic octopus monster. Don’t laugh — it could happen!
Also on the docket is “Night of the Ghouls,” “Bride’s” sequel, a movie so obscure it went unreleased for a quarter century after its 1959 completion. Wood couldn’t afford to get the film back from the lab. Exploitation films “The Violent Years!” and “The Sinister Urge!” fill out the bill, with the semi-pornographic caper flick “Hot Ice” (one of Wood’s last projects) as the piece de resistance. That will be me taking careful notes in the front row. The fun will take place at The Red Room. Find out more at dm-theatrics.com or horsetrade.info.
Lastly, Incubator Arts Project will be presenting “Discover AtlantASS,” an absurdist rock opera about a young teen who gets abducted to the undersea world of Atlantis by a laid-back jazz fish revolutionary named “Stinge.” Not only is it a show, but apparently it’s also available as a CD and a comic book, both of which will be on sale at the show. It runs from June 21 through July 1. If you are brave enough to investigate further, please go to incurbatorarts.org.
See you next month.