Just Do Art! Week of July 11, 2013

Collector or hoarder? A reality TV crew peels back the layers of a troubled southern matriarch, in Jay Stull’s new play.

Collector or hoarder? A reality TV crew peels back the layers of a troubled southern matriarch, in Jay Stull’s new play.

THE CAPABLES  “This is a typical case of hoarding,” says social worker and reality TV talking head Jenny Bragg Marcus, MSW — speaking to us from a pristine white room after the camera has panned the floor-to-ceiling belongings of a defensive southern matriarch. “But all typical cases are atypically sad,” the condescending Bragg notes, as she squints her eyes to deliver a hushed final verdict: “It’s so sad.”

Sad, yes, but not true…at least not in this case. Playing now on indiegogo.com, the clip is sneak peek at “Hoard Wars” — a new program on the nonexistent A&B network, whose fake-but-plausible programming mantra is “Real Strife. Trauma.” Bragg and her crew have descended upon the home of prolific pack rat Anna Capable, who regards the fire hazard as a “collection” of meaningful and necessary things. Not so, says daughter Jessy — who enlists the TV show to remove her mother’s mess. Is it a hoard or a collection? Like the search for walls or carpeting, finding the answer will require diving into the mess and peeling back multiple layers — and even then, what you see isn’t necessarily what you’re expecting to get.

That seems to be the case with the world premiere of Jay Stull’s play “The Capables.” Although the fake TV show clip delivers on the promise of “hoards and collections,” nowhere is there any indication of what the actual theatrical production means when it promises to explore “the dirty business of radical inclusion.”

Elsewhere on that indiegogo page, the playwright’s own assessment of “The Capables” seems to indicate that the work is less concerned with the act of obsessive accumulation and more focused on exploring the void it serves to fill.  “It’s also about a family that is missing a son who has, as they used to say, lighted out for the territories,” says Stull. “Ultimately this play is about two worlds in which I feel equally rooted — the cosmopolitan city and the rural but developing Southern town. At a time when the positions of these two worlds seem primed to be invariably at odds, I wanted to explore how they hang together — or don’t — how they exploit each other, and how they are symbiotically and inextricably related.”

Dale Soules, who appeared very recently on Broadway in the musical “Hands on a Hard Body,” stars as Anna Capable (with Dana Berger in flashbacks as her younger self). Jessie Barr, as the MSW with an attitude and an agenda, has seen her character evolve alongside the work itself (she was at the play’s first reading two years ago). In a recent interview on the blog Visible Soul, she zeroed in on what gives “The Capables” its sting — lauding the playwright’s capacity for writing dialogue that’s “heartfelt and human without being saccharine…like something you heard at a Thanksgiving dinner gone awry — cutting and hilarious.”

July 17-Aug. 3. Tues. and Wed. at 7pm, Thurs.-Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 7pm. At The Gym at Judson (243 Thompson St., at Washington Square South). For tickets ($18), 212-868-4444 or smarttix.com. For a preview, visit indiegogo.com/projects/the-capables.

© Michael Schenker, 2013 Michael Schenker's "Bike Across Tracks," from the solo exhibition "Beyond the Road to Mandalay" -- on view through June 27 at Soho Photo Gallery.

© Michael Schenker, 2013
Michael Schenker’s “Bike Across Tracks,” from the solo exhibition “Beyond the Road to Mandalay” — on view through June 27 at Soho Photo Gallery.

© Noah David Bau, Melrose MA Noah David Bau’s “15, 103 lbs.” — which took first prize in Soho Photo Gallery’s annual national photography competition — is on view, along with other winners, through July 27.

© Noah David Bau, Melrose MA
Noah David Bau’s “15, 103 lbs.” — which took first prize in Soho Photo Gallery’s annual national photography competition — is on view, along with other winners, through July 27.

SOHO PHOTO GALLERY’S
18th ANNUAL NATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION Behind the winning images in Soho Photo Gallery’s 18th annual juried National Photography Competition are some impressive numbers. A total of 152 photographers from 35 states submitted over 1,000 photographs. The winners were chosen by juror Laura Paterson, (VP and Photography Department Specialist at Christie’s). As for top honors, the M’s have it (photographers from Massachusetts, Michigan and Maine ranked first, second and third, respectively).

The work of all 39 winners is on view through July 27 — along with two other exhibitions. “Beyond the Road to Mandalay: Hill Tribes of Northern Myanmar” is the latest portfolio from New York-based photographer Michael Schenker, who traveled there in January 2013 as part of his ongoing commitment to document the values, customs and unique characteristics of ethnic minorities and hill tribes found in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, Thailand and Burma. Elsewhere in the gallery, George Grubb also has disappearing and/or evolving culture on his mind and in the frame. “Pigeon Forge” is a collection of 12 images taken along the parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Grubb captures the Great Smoky Mountains amusement resort town’s struggle to balance economic and environmental vitality by using exaggerated colors and distorted neon signage — then infuses those images into a glossy metal surface (rather than on it) to enhance their luminescence.

All three shows run through July 27, at Soho Photo (15 White St., three blocks south of Canal, btw. W. Broadway & Sixth Ave.). Hours: Wed.-Sun., 1-6pm. For info: 212-226-8571 or sohophoto.com.

 THE ART OF DRINKING  Photography has been around for a mere fraction of the 10,000 years that alcohol has been with us — but what a team. Whether it’s quiet contemplation, boisterous revelry or morning-after regrets, booze as muse never seems to disappoint. “The Art of Drinking” pays homage to the passion and skill we bring to drinking — and documenting the process of imbibing. “This exhibition,” the curators note, “is intended to offer a glimpse of the role that drinking has played in the making of photographs, both as subject and inspiration. Beyond the stereotypes of the drunk artist (apt as they sometimes are!) these pictures playfully, sometimes seriously, depict the relationship between drinkers and the drink, each other and the world around them.” As seen on the walls of Sasha Wolf Gallery, that world includes watering holes that are swanky (NYC’s Top of the Standard), sparse (Western Nebraska) and foreboding (Marilyn Monroe, with glass in hand, watching “The Misfits” rushes). Far from encouraging sober contemplation, the curators strongly recommend viewing this selection “with a bit of a buzz on.”

©  Elliot Erwitt courtesy of Edwynn Houk History through beer goggles? Get lightly lit, head over to Sasha Wolf Gallery and see Marilyn Monroe, watching the rushes of “The Misfits” (Elliot Erwitt’s “New, Nevada” (1960) — on view through Aug. 16 (part of “The Art of Drinking”).

©  Elliot Erwitt courtesy of Edwynn Houk
History through beer goggles? Get lightly lit, head over to Sasha Wolf Gallery and see Marilyn Monroe, watching the rushes of “The Misfits” (Elliot Erwitt’s “New, Nevada” (1960) — on view through Aug. 16 (part of “The Art of Drinking”).

Free. Through Aug. 16. Hours: Wed.-Sun., 12-6pm. At Sasha Wolf Gallery (70 Orchard St., Broome & Grand). For info:  212-925-0025 or sashawolf.com.

Photo by Sam Morris Shining an overdue spotlight on L.E.S. Yiddish vaudeville: The cast of “Exodus Code” (minus Shane Baker).

Photo by Sam Morris
Shining an overdue spotlight on L.E.S. Yiddish vaudeville: The cast of “Exodus Code” (minus Shane Baker).

EXODUS CODE: ADVICE FOR WANDERERS  Lynn M. Thompson — who knows more than a little bit about excavating, documenting and even making history, brings all those elements to her current project. The Off-Broadway vet and “Rent” Dramaturg, currently a Professor of Dramaturgy and American Theater at Brooklyn College, has been developing “Exodus Code” with the assistance of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. That’s where America-In-Play, her series devoted to helping audiences rediscover neglected comedies from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had a four-year run.

Inspired by Lower East Side Yiddish Vaudeville and set in a recently discovered old American theatre in a building site, “Exodus Code: Advice for Wanderers” puts its four characters in that location on the night before its scheduled demolition. The cast, which includes Broadway vet Ann Talman (“The Little Foxes,” “The House of Blue Leaves”) and comedian Shane Baker, will shine an overdue spotlight on the long-neglected cultural art form of Yiddish Vaudeville — by blending incidents from Yiddish drama with scenes, songs, comic monologues and anecdotes.

July 12-28. Wed. & Sat. at 5pm, Thurs.-Sat. at 9pm, Sun. at 3pm. At the Flea Theater (41 White St., btw. Broadway & Church Sts.). For tickets ($18, $12 for students/seniors), call 866-811-4111 or visit theflea.org.

–  BY SCOTT STIFFLER

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