Bullies, Body Issues and Black Pride

Photo by Dixie Sheridan KINEMATIC Dance Theater contemplates perfect body aesthetics — and insects.

Photo by Dixie Sheridan
KINEMATIC Dance Theater contemplates perfect body aesthetics — and insects.

FringeHIGH speaks to teens, and lets them talk back

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  With back to school season upon us, it’s as good a time as any for high school students to lay off those “Walking Dead” marathons and start acclimating themselves to activities more suited for brain stimulation than digestion. But cerebral doesn’t have to be boring — and it certainly doesn’t have to take place within the confines a TV set’s two-dimensional borders. As luck would have it, North America’s largest multi-arts festival offers the chance to get out of the house and broaden one’s horizons without having to give up air conditioning.

FringeHIGH is a collection of boundary-stretching plays (drawn from the general roster of FringeNYC shows) that will resonate with young adults. Topics include confronting school violence, claiming your own identity, challenging sexual labels and stereotypes and negotiating the twists and turns of love.

One performance of each FringeHIGH show will have a post-performance Talk-Back — your chance to discuss the show with members of the cast or creative team. Some of the Talk-Back opportunities have already happened by now, but we’ve noted those occurring after this paper’s run date.

Tickets ($15 in advance, $18 at the door) can be purchased online (fringenyc.com), by phone (866-468-7619) or in person at FringeCENTRAL (27 Second Ave., btw. First & Second Sts., open 12-8pm daily). Check out fringenyc.org for more information on all 185 FringeNYC shows. The festival runs through Aug. 25.

Reckoning…and reconciliation? Lee J. Kaplan’s “Bully” calls his tormenters into the ring.

Reckoning…and reconciliation? Lee J. Kaplan’s “Bully” calls his tormenters into the ring.

Fresh from its run at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC, Lee J. Kaplan’s multi-character solo show takes its inspiration from his sixth-grade journal entries — and takes the notion of confronting your tormenters to a highly theatrical, appropriately metaphorical, extreme. In an effort to rise above the damage inflicted by those who subjected him to unrelenting attacks, Kaplan calls his past and present-day bullies into the boxing ring. Less a revenge fantasy than a journey to peace of mind and empowerment, “Bully” revisits the pivotal moments, and people, in Kaplan’s life — allowing him to find out what it takes to grow up and deal with the demons of the past.

Wed., Aug. 14 at 6pm (followed by a Talk-Back), Fri., Aug. 16 at 2:30pm, Sun., Aug. 18 at 1:45pm. At The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre (115 MacDougal St., btw. W. Third & Bleecker Sts.).

Queens-based director and choreographer Michael Hagins took the text from one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, filled in some missing plot holes and then added swordfights, crazy chase scenes and random violence — while, he says, managing to keep the integrity of the language and the theme of love having the power to conquer all.

Thurs., Aug. 22 at 7pm and Sat., Aug. 24 at 2:15pm (followed by a Talk-Back). At CSV Flamboyan (107 Suffolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.).

Photo by Chris Gill Amontaine Aurore navigates the 1970s, in “Free Desiree.”

Photo by Chris Gill
Amontaine Aurore navigates the 1970s, in “Free Desiree.”

A slammin’ Seattle funk soundtrack accompanies the exploits of Desiree and Shauna — two rebellious 1970s sisters growing up in a blue collar suburb, searching for their identities amidst cultural revolution. That means navigating Black pride, the Funky Chicken and a personal challenge. Desiree is trying to make the move from geek-girl to revolutionary. Meanwhile, Shauna is tempted to split from life as a professional cheerleader when Hollywood comes calling. Will Shauna become Blaxploitation star Pam Grier’s successor, and will Desiree get it together and resolve the crisis at her high school?

Thurs., 8/15 at 7:45pm, Sun., 8/18 at 9:15pm, Thurs., 8/22 at 3pm & Sat., 8/24 at 7:15pm. At Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 E. Seventh St., btw. Second & Third Aves.). For more info, visit tenauras.com.

Choreographed by Svea Schneider, this two-part performance from KINEMATIK Dance Theater begins with a comedic and surreal comment on the representation of women in popular culture. “Perfect Prototype” explores our media-saturated society’s obsession with perfect body aesthetics, celebrity worship and plastic surgery. Six “fierce female” dancers combine their own limbs with those of display mannequins, to challenges existing notions about the fragmentation of beauty. The second dance piece, “Insekta,” was created in collaboration with technology artist Cheng-I-Wang. It fuses the movement vocabulary of breakdance, house and modern dance with motion detection projections in order to explore the bustling world of beetles, spiders, ants and fireflies.

Sat., 8/17 at noon, Sat., 8/24 at 9:30pm & Sun., 8/25 at 1:45pm (followed by a Talk-Back). At The Theater at the 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th St., at First Ave.). Visit kinematikdance.com.

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