Volume 78 - Number 33 / January 14 - 20, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
“The characters I’m interested in are marginal,” says legendary musician and composer Robert Ashley, “because everybody is marginal compared to the stereotypes we see in the media. I am interested in their profoundly good qualities. They just happen to be ordinary people who are spiritually divine.” The cycle of Ashley’s three latest operas – “Dust” (1998), “Celestial Excursions” (2003), and “Made Out of Concrete” (2007-09) – are staged in a new retrospective that will also feature performances by pioneer video artist/choreographer Joan Jonas and keyboard player “Blue” Gene Tyranny. Ashley’s music is remarkable for updating opera into the multimedia age with layered, accelerated scores that have been described as procursors to those by Laurie Anderson. Jan. 15-25. $25/$15 (students). La MaMa. 74 E. 4th St. 212-475-7710, lamama.org.
Featuring an all-female cast, this exhuberant adaptation of Marie Irene Fornes’s 1977 drama “Fefu and Her Friends” was created and conceived by Clove Galilee and Jenny Rogers. Set inside an airplane, the whole theater becomes the stage with action that takes place in and around the audience—in the aisles, galleys and lavatories of a transatlantic flight. The gathering of friends has been shifted from a social context to a professional one, as the eight women are now 1970s flight attendants. As in the original, which raises some unsettling questions about feminism, the characters find that their personalities and lives are full of contradictions. They grapple with issues of marriage, sexual politics and desire, all of which play into the struggle between their private selves and their public personas. Through Jan. 25. Thurs-Sun. at 8 p.m. $18. 3LD Art and Technology Center. 80 Greenwich St. (at Rector). 212-352-3101, 3LDNYC.org.
“Elephant Dreams” merges the story of Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man) with “Dumbo,” the flying elephant, and transplants them to American in the 1950s. Adapted by Wickham Boyle, and choreographed by Edisa Weeks, the work explores alienation, beauty, loneliness, and the question of what is illusion and what is normal. Merrick, whose severe case of Proteus Syndrome left him deformed, lived the final years of his life in a London hospital room where his connection to the outside world was mainly limited to his imagination. Here, he transcends his solitude by entering the magical world of Dumbo. Jan. 23 & 24 at 8 p.m. Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. Joyce Soho. $20/$12 students.155 Mercer St. (betw. Houston & Prince) 212-352-3101, joyce.org.
Known for her provocatively satiric performance works, writer/director Young Jean Lee presents the NY premiere of “The Shipment.” For this piece, Lee challenged herself, as a Korean-American, to create a work about African-American identity and politics. In collaboration with an all-black cast, Lee’s play takes the audience on an awkward and volatile roller-coaster ride through the absurdities and atrocities that arise when trying to discuss the black experience in America. Honest, funny and devoid of truisms, “The Shipment” poses embarrassing questions and attempts to find solutions to historically impossible problems. Through Jan. 24. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. $15. The Kitchen. 512 W. 19th St. 212-255-5793, thekitchen.org.
Under the Radar
Under the Radar is a wild and celebratory display of new theater from around the world, and artists range from emerging talents to masters in the field. The line-up will include Amrita Performing Arts in “3 Years, 8 Months, 20 Days,” in which 3 Cambodian actresses turn their childhood memories of the brutal Pol Pot regime into an intimately spoken, epic tale; “Architecting,” (pictured) by The TEAM and the National Theatre of Scotland, a multimedia musical for modern America; Lemon Anderson’s hip-hop solo, “COUNTY OF KINGS: the beautiful struggle;” and Samuel Beckett’s “First Love” performed by Conor Lovett of Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland Preview festival clips at youtube.com/utrfestival. Through Jan. 18. $15. The Public Theater (and other locations). 425 Lafayette St. 212-967-7555, publictheater.org.