Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Post: Sam Trubridge on The New Zealand Performance Festival


FROM THE 
DREAM FACTORY
by Sam Trubridge

New Zealand. To many it seems like a country at the end of the world. In stories about pandemics and nuclear holocaust, the survivors always escape to places like this, far removed from conflict and catastrophe. We even get left off world maps sometimes. That’s us: New Zealand, Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud. It has been known by other names as well. Ever since the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the country has also promoted itself as ‘Middle Earth’, and is known as a land of pristine natural scenery, and clean, green living. 100% Pure is the name of the Tourism NZ brand. Other common perspectives might include mention of Maori culture, our formidable rugby team, and sheep farming. Like many distant places, New Zealand has been mythologised by the stories that have been told about it to become a land of Hobbits, untouched nature, and breathtaking scenery. But like most myths, they are only partly true. The rolling green fields and Hobbiton landscapes are signs of an indigenous landscape stripped bare, deforested and cultivated for farming. Our rivers are amongst the most polluted and endangered in the world, due to farm run-off, pesticides, fertilisers, and redirection for irrigation.

Audiences for this programme of works in the NZ New Performance festival will find that we have much in common with American audiences: sharing common experiences, stories, and perspectives. And yet ours is a view from the other side of the world. New Zealand is one of the ‘Antipodes’: a group of nations found on the exact opposite of the world from the global/cultural centres. These countries occupy an alternate time-zone, their seasons are back to front, and are quite literally found beneath the feet of people living in cities like Paris, London, and New York. In this upside-down ‘underworld’ we work while you sleep, and sleep while you work. Recent successes in NZ film-making specialise in making wonder and spectacle, creating innovative special effects and building fantastical worlds like Narnia, Middle Earth, and Pandora. This festival of works at La Mama come from this ‘dream factory’, 18 hours in the future, where our today is your tomorrow. We may speak the same language, share cultural memories, watch the same programmes, and listen to the same music as you; but our perspective comes from our distance, where things are similar but slightly different. James Nokise’s SoSo Gangsta brings US gang culture back to the US via the suburbs of Wellington; David Goldthorpe tells the story of US musician Chet Baker on stage; Binge Culture present a self-help seminar; LudiCity replay extracts of information from the (US) FOI Act on Listening Posts on the streets around the theatre; and in All Your Wants and Needs Fulfilled Forever we follow our contemporary obsessions with being the lead character or protagonist in our lives that are sold to us through Hollywood blockbusters and computer gaming. These works all play with the export of American culture and concerns to New Zealand, some going as far as the mercurial On the Conditions of Possibilities of Hillary Clinton Taking Me As Her Young Lover. There is also the endless break-up in Binge Culture’s other show, where it seems that the characters are replaying every televised sitcom, romcom, drama, and reality TV in an attempt to reconcile a fated relationship. In the winter of 2006 Marcus McShane cycled across America from LA to New York. Now, in his performance installation Nag he brings a self-powered studio to La Mama, where a bicycle propels his creative industry in a beautiful comment on sustainability that could only come from the eccentric pioneering Kiwi spirit. Finally, in Sleep/Wake the very nature of dreaming and sleeping is examined – where reality and imagination mix in a play between science and performing arts. The work was conceived as a critique of the first world dreams that we inhabit, where environmental disasters and conflicts exist in a mediatised, televised space: always ‘somewhere else’ rather than a part our waking lives. The work is a lament for the distance from global events that is not just a New Zealand condition, but one shared by first world nations, protected by the bubbles of safety in our urban and suburban dormitories.

By bringing this fantastic selection of works to New York City, these artists can do more than open audiences’ eyes to new New Zealand work. The artists can also open their own eyes, and open their work to new possibilities in this stimulating and challenging capital city for performing arts. Into this fantastic ‘La Mama Earth’ programme, the NZ New Performance Festival brings Antipodean concerns from the other side of the world, so that in the shared space of live performance these NZ artists and their NY audiences can reconsider our global cultures together in new ways.

La MaMa presents
THE NEW 
ZEALAND 
PERFORMANCE 
FESTIVAL


March 12th - 29th, 2015


ON THE CONDITIONS AND POSSIBILITIES OF HILLARY CLINTON TAKING ME AS HER YOUNG LOVER 
First Floor Theatre | by Arthur Meek 
March 12, 13, 14 at 7:30pm & 15 at 2pm | 60 minutes | $20
A theatrical lecture by Arthur Meek, a rising star in the New Zealand theatre scene. 

NAG 
La Galleria | by Marcus McShane 
March 18, 19, 20 & 22 at 1pm - 5:30pm | Free
An endurance-based performance-installation that constructs a self-propelled artist studio. 

SLEEP/WAKE 
Ellen Stewart Theatre | by Sam Trubridge 
March 19-21 at 8pm & 22 at 4pm | 7o minutes | $25
FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHT: An award-winning art science performance with stunning visuals by director/designer Sam Trubridge. 

SO SO GANGSTA 
First Floor Theatre | by James Nokise 
March 19, 20, 21 at 7:30pm & 22 at 2pm | 55 minutes | $20
Samoan comedian James Nokise brings hip-hop culture back to the USA via the Pacific and Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

FOR YOUR FUTURE GUIDANCE 
La Galleria | by Binge Culture 
March 18, 19, 20 - 22 at 6pm | 60 minutes | Free
An interactive performance in the style of a self-help seminar, giving you the skills and knowledge to survive the new you-topia. 

ALL YOUR WANTS AND NEEDS FULFILLED FOREVER 
Ellen Stewart Theatre | by PlayGround Collective 
March 26 at 8pm & 27 at 4pm | 70 minutes | $25
Simon studies video game design, looks after his pet rats, and keeps himself glued to whatever screen is nearest—all to avoid thinking about the recent death of his father. But Simon’s world is turned upside down when a mysterious box is delivered to him that might just contain the Secret to the Universe... An acclaimed new theatre work by writer Eli Kent and director Robin Kerr of the award-winning PlayGround Collective. 

CHET BAKER: LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE 
Ellen Stewart Theatre | by Goldthorpe Creative 
March 28 at 8pm & 29 at 4pm | 115 minutes | $25
Jazz and theatre brought together on stage in the gripping story of a US music legend. Performed and written by David Goldthorpe. Directed by David Lawrence. 

LISTENING POSTS 
In public places throughout the East Village | by LudiCity | Free
March 19 - 22 | Installation

Tickets now on sale for all shows.

3-Show Ticket Packages Available for $50.  CLICK HERE to buy.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

6 Questions: Elia K. Schneider


Elia K. Scheider

Director/Writer and Teatro Dramma founder Elia K. Schneider's production, Judgment on a Gray Beach, will run at The Ellen Stewart Theatre March 6th - 15th. Elia is known for hauntingly visual productions that transcend language with strong imagery and a dreamlike fresco of movement and design. Partially inspired by the work of Franz Kafka, her new production explores themes of exile and totalitarianism.

1. Why are you drawn to Kafka as a point of inspiration?
He was a visionary capable of observing the inner worlds of human beings and he understood how those inner world effect their actions. He wasn’t afraid to enter the obscure and deep labyrinths which are inside people. He understood their flaws and never judged them. I share these truths in my everyday life. They are, to me, unquestionable truths.

2. How has directing and producing films influenced your work in theatre?
For me theatre is the experience of searching for the truth and turning it into something beautiful that is expressed so other's can share the experience of that truth. This concept has influenced my life and my ideas about cinema. In a movie, what I’m most interested in is having the freedom to create it and in that freedom finding the permission to express myself. But in filmmaking this is, largely, not the reality of the process. That is why it is not understood why I do it.

3. What has been the most challenging aspect of developing this show?
To draw with passion on a page that starts blank, and to not lose that passion in spite of the obstacles which inevitably arise. To allow these drawings, the scenes, to have a structure that expresses the needs of a specific author and his characters in a world chained by fear and the power that creates that fear. On the Gray Beach [where the show takes place] it doesn’t matter who makes the laws or who enforces them, they simply must be obeyed. All the characters on this beach do not talk, they do not communicate, question anything or reveal what they feel. They are like robots, used to a kind of living death, but sometimes they do feel things and wonder about the possibility of exiting their world. They do not know that exit is impossible.

4. Do you find your work is received differently in different countries? 
An artistic world always has various parts. One is its center, its essence. Feelings like fury, hopelessness, solitude, desire and passion, are the same for any human being. Another part is context, for example if I present a play in Venezuela, where the government is authoritative and where human rights are routinely breached, this play will be much more powerful than in Sweden where there is a less autocratic government and more freedom of speech.

5. What do you hope the audience comes away with?
I have no hope for the spectator. I don’t want to give them a lesson or “give them a message.” Some people will be engaged and share fully in the moments of the play, others will try to sneak out in the middle. Either way, the play is alive on the set and in the theatre. People will be connecting and disconnecting at various moments, just like in life. For me that is important to reflect on.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
Ellen Stewart, who I will always consider my mentor, was one of the most influential people in my life - she influenced my vision of the world. For me to keep bringing my work to La MaMa and her stage is both an honor and a way to say thank you.


















La MaMa presents
Teatro Dramma's


Judgement
on a Gray Beach

written and directed by Elia K. Schneider


March 6 through March 15, 2015 

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003


Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 each are available, in advance only, as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative. 10@$10 tickets are available via web, phone or at the box office, in advance only, and are not available day-of-show. 

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

Horseplay Adds FREE Pre-Show Events: 2/27 - 2/29


Join us for FREE pre-show presentations on topics ranging from the intersection between queer female bodies and horses to Victorian stage effects and magic lanterns. 


Friday, February 27th,  6:45 pm

Denny Daniel from the Museum of Interesting Things will do a presentation using items from his collection on Victorian stage effects, photographic equipment, and magic lanterns. Adah Isaacs Menken was one of the first celebrities to seize upon the potential of the then-new medium of photography to further her career.

Denny Daniel is the curator and founder of The Museum of Interesting Things, a traveling interactive demonstration/exhibition of antiques and inventions inspiring innovation and creativity, that goes to schools and events, and inspires kids and adults to be curious and experimental, learning from the past to invent a better future.


Saturday, February 28th, 6:45 pm

Scholars Kim Marra, Joe E. Jeffreys and Karen Karbiener will examine Adah Isaacs Menken’s theatre and literary practices. This lively discussion will focus on the intersection of queer female bodies and horses; women cross-dressing as male characters in American popular entertainment; and the bohemian literary scene around Pfaff’s Cellar of the 1860s that Menken and Walt Whitman were part of.

Kim Marra is a professor of theatre and performance history, and the Director of Graduate Studies in the University of Iowa. She holds a quarter-time appointment in the American Studies Department and is affiliate faculty in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies. Her book Strange Duets: Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914 won the 2008 Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book on Drama or Theatre conferred biennially by NYU’s Department of English. Her new book project is entitled Fashioning the Thoroughbred Ideal: Show Women and Show Horses on American Stages, 1865-1930.

Joe E. Jeffreys is a professor in the Tisch School of Arts at New York University, and theatre historian. His work has been published in journals including The Drama ReviewWomen & PerformanceTheatre History Studies, and biography. His theatre and book reviews have been widely published in periodicals including The Village VoiceTheateWeek, The Advocate and The Lambda Book Report.

Karen Karbiener is a master teacher in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University. She is a scholar of nineteenth century American literature and culture with a special interest in Walt Whitman and his beloved New York. Karbiener holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and taught at Colby College. She has curated public exhibits on Whitman and organized Whitman-related events in New York.


Sunday, March 1st, 2:45 pm

Authors Michael and Barbara Foster will be doing a presentation on the fascinating life of Adah Isaacs Menken. They wrote the book on her. Literally. From the pages of their biography Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves, And Scandals Of Adah Isaacs Menken, they will shed light on the elusive story behind “America's Original Superstar.” As part of their talk, they will show images from their extensive collection of Menken photographs—one of the most photographed personalities of her time.


Michael and Barbara Foster married at 20 and ever since have lived and worked together co-authoring several books, including: Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves, And Scandals Of Adah Isaacs Menken, 1835-1868; The Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel: A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices; and Three in Love: Menages a Trois from Ancient to Modern Times with Letha Hadady.




La MaMa in association with Theatre Askew present

HORSEPLAY:

or, The Fickle

Mistress


by Trav S. D.
directed by Elyse Singer

February 13 - March 1, 2015

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and 4th Street)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Look: Judgment of a Gray Beach

Stunning photos from Elia Schneider's Judgment of a Gray Beach, coming to the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, March 6 through March 15, 2015. 













In Judgement on a Gray Beach, themes of exile and totalitarianism are explored by a condemned man--he knows not for what-- on a beach populated with ten antiheroes who fully comply with absurd laws and obey nonsensical orders. Will he escape or return for punishment?














La MaMa presents
Teatro Dramma's
Judgement 

on a 
Gray Beach
written and directed by Elia K. Schneider


March 6 through March 15, 2015

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003


Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 each are available, in advance only, as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative. 10@$10 tickets are available via web, phone or at the box office, in advance only, and are not available day-of-show.

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Theatre Askew's HORSEPLAY: or, The Fickle Mistress is Getting RAVES!



Alexis Soloski reviews HORSEPLAY for The New York Times:

"Ms. Pope, an assured performer with a brazen alto, shines in the role, changing her accent and identity even more often than her bloomers. “I’m whoever I need to be,” Adah tells a lover. With brio and brass, Ms. Pope is, too."

Read the full review HERE.
- - - -


Michael Niederman reviews HORSEPLAY for New York Theatre Review:

"[Molly] Pope owns the stage in her presentation of Menken...All of the Askew company play multiple parts, sometimes more than one in the same scene.  Some standouts include  Tiffany Abercrombie, who plays the corpulent Alexandre Dumas and an Ugg-A-Wug Native American Bride, Tim Cusak as both dandy and Jew, Evertt Quinton as the scariest drag queen I’ve ever seen, and Chuck Montgomery as Meknen’s long beleaguered manager and only friend."

"Horseplay remains a vital window into not just one woman’s multiple lives, but also the history of the 19th century, a time period in which the entire western world was trying on multiple personas, trying which one would fit best."

Read the full review: HERE


- - - -



Raven Snook gives HORSEPLAY 3-stars in Time Out New York:

" [Molly] Pope is marvelous, fluidly changing accents and outfits in front of our eyes (costumes, wigs, props and set pieces are all in full view), belting out a few numbers in her smoky voice and maintaining charm when delivering some very dark punch lines. "

"Produced by Theatre Askew, Horseplay is scrappy, campy and all over the place, much like its heroine." 

Read the full review HERE.

- - - - 


Talkin' Broadway's Howard Miller on HORSEPLAY:

"Under Elyse Singer’s zippy direction, the versatile troupe of actors play multiple roles, often making head-spinning rapid character and gender switches as they relate the varied takes on Menken’s biography in a wildly exaggerated style that reflects her wildly exaggerated story telling. These include Tiffany Abercrombie, Tim Cusack (Theatre Askew’s artistic director), Jan Leslie Harding, Chuck Montgomery, Everett Quinton, and Mark St. Cyr — all of them excellent."

"Molly Pope, in whose acting you’ll find traces of Barbra Streisand, Gilda Radner, Mae West, Carol Burnett, and Bette Midler — [is] a perfect embodiment of the charisma and wit of a woman determined to make her way in what was most certainly a man’s world."

Read the full review HERE.


- - - -



Zachary Stewart covered HORSEPLAY for TheaterMania.

"There is no more delightful way to learn about Menken than Trav S.D.'s Horseplay: or, The Fickle Mistress, a Protean Picaresque, now being presented by Theatre Askew at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre."

"The six-person ensemble plays a dramatis personae of seeming thousands, with each performance as over-the-top and committed as the last."

"[Molly] Pope bites into this role, luxuriating in all of Menken's ridiculous contradictions and unapologetic thespianism."


Read the full review HERE.



La MaMa in association with Theatre Askew present

HORSEPLAY:

or, The Fickle

Mistress


by Trav S. D.
directed by Elyse Singer

February 13 - March 1, 2015

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and 4th Street)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Video Preview: 5th Annual American Human Beatbox Festival



American Human Beatbox Festival returns for Year #5 at La MaMa. A variety of beatbox performance styles and forms are showcased in this four-day event including an open mike, beat rhyme battles, and vocal wars, featuring some of the leading beatbox artists in America. Special appearance by 2013 & 2014 Beatrhyme Battle and Vocal Wars Winner – Kaila Mullady.

This year's events:

DANCERS OF THE VOICE
Thursday, February 26 - 10 PM | in The Club @ La MaMa E.T.C.

MIXED VOCAL ARTS CIPHER SESSION
Friday, February 27 - 10PM | in the Club @ La MaMa

BEATRHYME BATTLE
Saturday, February 28 - 10 PM | in the Club @ La MaMa 

HIP HOP SUBWAY SERIES
Sunday, March 1st - 4PM | Meeting at 47 Great Jones Street

La MaMa presents
5th Annual 
American Human 
Beatbox Festival

Curated by Kid Lucky
Featuring: Kaila Mullady, Baba Israel, Africano, Akim Funk Buddha, D-Cross, and more!

February 26 - March 1, 2015

The Club @ La MaMa
74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 day of show - Special 2 for $20 tickets available with code 2420

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Friday, February 13, 2015

Spotlight On Molly Pope in the NY Times!



For Molly Pope, Adventures 

in Cabaret and ‘Horseplay’

The New York Times' Erik Pipenburg talks to Molly Pope, star of Trav S.D.'s HORSEPLAY: or, The Fickle Mistress, which begins performance this weekend!  Molly plays Adah Isaacs Menken, who was sort of a 19th Century Madonna or Lady Gaga in the way she constantly reinvented her image.  

“When you’re 24, and you sound like Ethel Merman at 65, there aren’t a lot of roles"

Read the full interview: HERE

And get your tickets now!


La MaMa in association with Theatre Askew present

HORSEPLAY:

or, The Fickle

Mistress


by Trav S. D.
directed by Elyse Singer

February 13 - March 1, 2015

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and 4th Street)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults; $13 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 each are available for every performance as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative - in advance only via web, phone or at the box office - not available day of show

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE