Category Archives: Events

4 RUSSIAN THEATER PERFORMANCES TO SEE IN U.S. AND UK CINEMAS THIS SEASON ·

(Alexandra Guzeva’s article appeared in Russia Beyond 9/14.)

The Stage Russia project continues to bring classic novels by leading theaters to big screens worldwide, all with English subtitles.

Don’t have the chance to visit Russia but you’re interested in the country’s rich theater tradition? Did you know that you can watch Russian theater productions in a cinema near you? Since 2016 Stage Russia HD has been bringing the best performances from leading Russian stages to cinemas worldwide.

The next season will soon open with a Shakespeare production, and will bring an experimental musical to a Tolstoy novel.

“These are timeless works that lend themselves to many reinventions,” said Eddie Aronoff, Stage Russia HD founder. “Similar to NT Live and the Metropolitan Opera HD, which have presented a variety of versions of classic titles (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, La Traviata, La Boheme, among others), we feel it’s entirely relevant to offer access to the full breadth of Russian theater in all its incarnations.”

  1. King Lear

In staging Shakespeare, director Yuri Butusov tries not to simplify the bard’s deep meanings. This is a metaphorical story about the collapse of a family, the collapse of a country, and the collapse of an individual and how they all are connected to each other.

The Satirikon Theater’s production features great actors and its artistic director, Konstantin Raikin, as King Lear. This role earned him Russia’s main national theater prize, the Golden Mask, for best male role. Maryana Spivak, a star of Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” is playing Cordelia.

In cinemas from Sept. 20; find the nearest to you on the website www.stagerussia.com

(Read more)

Photo: Viktor Dmitriev

***** DAVID GREIG: ‘TOUCHING THE VOID’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/19.)

Climbing high mountains is often used as a metaphor for other ominously difficult projects. So the experience of presiding, during a recession, over a £25m renovation of the Bristol Old Vic may have led artistic director Tom Morris to reopen the playhouse with David Greig’s adaptation of Touching the Void. Joe Simpson’s 1988 mountaineering memoir details how, when his co-climber Simon Yates was forced to cut their link rope, Simpson crawled, hopped and slid miles back to base-camp with a broken leg.

The book’s existence shows that Simpson must survive, and the events have already been visualised in a popular 2003 documentary. But Morris and Greig fracture this familiarity through a morbid framing device that seems daringly to have rewritten the book and by avoiding the easy option of video design for the Andes mountain.

(Read more)

Photo: Bristol Old Vic

SHAW: ‘HEARTBREAK HOUSE’ (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Teachout’s review appeared in the Wall Street Journal, 9/11.)

One of the British writer’s most unpopular plays, about a family of haute-bourgeoisie eccentrics who refuse to respond to the crumbling world around them, gets a much-needed tightening in this unique staging.

 New York

David Staller is best known as the artistic director of Project Shaw, a series of semistaged concert readings of the 60-odd plays of George Bernard Shaw that he has presented monthly in Manhattan since 2006. But he has also directed fully staged off-Broadway versions of several Shaw plays, including the Irish Repertory Theatre’s 2012 revival of “Man and Superman” and a 2016 production of “Widower’s Houses” mounted in collaboration with the now-defunct, lamented TACT/The Actors Company Theatre, both of which were not merely excellent but exceptionally memorable. Now Mr. Staller has taken on “Heartbreak House,” one of Shaw’s most challenging plays, with altogether extraordinary results.

(Read more)

Photo: The Wall Street Journal

LET’S GO: ISRAEL’S GESHER THEATRE BRINGS ‘THE DYBBUK’ AND ‘IN THE TUNNEL’ TO THE GERALD LYNCH THEATER (NY), OCTOBER 3–4 & 6–7 ONLY ·

Maria Shclover and Irina Shabshis, Cherry Orchard Festival co-founders and producers, have announced that Israel’s celebrated Gesher Theatre will return to New York City in early October with its two leading productions The Dybbuk and In the Tunnel at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 West 59 Street).  Founded in 1991 in Tel Aviv by director Yevgeny Arye, these Gesher Theatre productions are being presented as part of a North American tour, which includes performances in Toronto and Pittsburgh. Performances are October 3 and 4 for The Dybbuk and October 6 and 7 for In the Tunnel. 

 The company begins its New York City engagement with a new production inspired by The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds by S. Ansky in a modern version written by Roy Chen, Gesher Theatre chief dramaturge. The Dybbuk, written in 1913 and arguably the most iconic play of the entire canon of Jewish drama, tells the story of a young Hasidic woman who became possessed on the eve of her wedding by the dead spirit of her beloved, a young scholar whom her parents forbade her to marry. The esteemed Gesher Artistic Director Yevgeny Arye directs the cast of 25. There will be performances, October 3 and 4 at 8 PM.

The Dybbuk will be followed by the political satire In the Tunnel, also by Mr. Chen, inspired by the Best Foreign Language Oscar-winning film No Man’s Land by Danis Tanovic. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinians are trapped in a tunnel dug by Hamas between Gaza and Israel. Enemies snared in a mousetrap, they try to find their way out. Should they kill or save each other? Meanwhile, above ground, a political and media circus is attempting to capture and cover the event. The cast of nine is directed by award-winner Irad Rubenstein| There will be two performances, October 6 at 8 PM and October 7 at 2 PM.  

The Dybbuk and In the Tunnel will be performed in Hebrew with English and Russian supertitles.

These performances had been made possible with the generous support of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Tickets for The Dybbuk and In the Tunnel at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 W. 59th Street) are priced at $55. – $125. and are available online at CherryOrchardFestival.org.

Premium VIP and Artist Reception tickets, located in the center of the orchestra, are available at $250 and include an exclusive Post-Show Cocktail Reception with the Gesher Theatre cast, featuring hors-d’oeuvres and an open bar. For group sales, please contact the Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation directly 800.349.0021 or by emailing info@cherryorchardfestival.org

Free Screening and Panel on Dibukim

On Tuesday, October 2, from 7 to 9 pm, the public is invited to a free screening and panel at the New York Public Library18 W. 53rd Street, on the making of Dibukim, a 60-minute film by Ram Loevy, winner of the honorable mention at the Haifa International Film Festival, which documents the production process of The Dybbuk and follows the creative team and actors during rehearsals. The screening will be followed by a 30-minute question and answer session with director Yevgeny Arye and the cast. With English subtitles. More info & trailer.

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WAKAKO YAMAUCHI, PLAYWRIGHT ON JAPANESE-AMERICAN LIFE, DIES AT 93 ·

(Neil Genzlinger’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/9.)

Wakako Yamauchi, whose plays exploring the Japanese-American experience drew on her own life of relocation, rootlessness, assimilation and internment during World War II, died on Aug. 16 at her home in Gardena, Calif. She was 93.

The death was confirmed by her granddaughter, Alyctra Matsushita.

Ms. Yamauchi’s plays were produced frequently, especially by the Asian-American troupe East West Players in Los Angeles. She was best known for “And the Soul Shall Dance,” a work she adapted from her own short story. East West Players staged it in 1977, a time when Asian-American voices, especially female ones, were rarely heard in the theater. The next year a film version was made for PBS.

(Read more)

Photo: Los Angeles Times

 

***** ALAN BENNETT : ‘THE HABIT OF ART’ (SV PICK, UK) ·

(Claire Brennan’s article appeared in the Observer, 9/9.)

It’s 1972. To the Oxford college rooms of the poet WH Auden comes an unexpected visitor, the composer Benjamin Britten, who is preparing an opera on the novella Death in Venice by Auden’s father-in-law, Thomas Mann. The two great artists have not met for 30 years. Also to the rooms (though not all at the same time) come two cleaners, a rent boy and a BBC interviewer, Humphrey Carpenter (subsequently to become biographer to both men), who narrates the encounter. Sound artsy-fartsy? It’s not. Alan Bennett sidesteps clever-clogsy-ness by presenting the action of his 2009 drama as a play within a play. The result is a take on life, sexuality, death and everything, that is witty, moving, laugh-aloud funny and understatedly profound.

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Photo: The Times

THE DRAG AND BURLESQUE SHOWS KEEPING BERLIN EDGY ·

(Emily Manthei’s article appeared in the Daily Beast, 9/7; via the Drudge  Report.)

The city’s reputation as an epicenter for fetish and fantasy is part of what draws more than 12 million tourists per year; but locals know that hedonism is only the beginning.

 

Frederic Schweizer

Like most first-time visitors to Berlin, I came to the German capital in search of a party. Conjuring the Weimar spirit, an art-nouveau flyer for Boheme Sauvage led me to a pillared playhouse and group of flappers and dandies armed with a secret code. Inside was an evening of vaudeville, complete with cabaret piano man, an absinthe fairy serving green spirits, and a va-va-va-voom burlesque dancer removing layer after layer of costumed extravagance onstage until all that remained were be-tasseled pasties.

Berliners don’t party in half measures. They love costumes, historical and histrionic.

The city’s reputation as a European epicenter for fetish and fantasy is part of what draws more than 12 million tourists per year; but locals know that hedonism is only the beginning. Party performances like drag and burlesque are as political as they are entertaining, thanks to a culture of subcultures that champions queer, minority, women, and gender-non-conforming performers on safe stages and in party zones tightly controlled by discerning (or, some might say, discriminatory) bouncers. In this environment, anyone can feel empowered to express themselves.

(Read more)

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-drag-and-burlesque-shows-keeping-berlin-edgy

Photo: The Daily Beast

OLEG SENTSOV’S HUNGER STRIKE EVOKES A DARK PAGE IN SOVIET HISTORY ·

(Yulia Gorbunova’s article appeared in The Moscow Times, 9/7.)

Many of those who follow news from Russia have been counting down the days this summer with a sinking feeling. Now , autumn is here, bringing even closer the very real possibility that Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian filmmaker on hunger strike in a Russian prison since May, may die there.

Today is day 117 of Sentsov’s hunger strike. The condition of someone existing without food for that long is horrifying to imagine. 117 is also the number of days that Anatoly Marchenko, a Soviet dissident, spent on a hunger strike in 1986 to demand the release of all political prisoners in the Soviet Union. Marchenko was force-fed during most of his hunger strike through a tube in his stomach, an experience he described in his letters as pure torture. He died from heart failure a little under two weeks after he ended the hunger strike.

Many believe that Marchenko’s death was a decisive factor in pushing Mikhail Gorbachev to start releasing Soviet prisoners held on politically motivated charges.

Sentsov was sentenced by a Russian court to 20 years in prison in an unfair, politicized trial in 2015. An outspoken critic of Russia’s actions in Crimea, he was arrested on bogus terrorism charges in late spring of 2014, three months after Russian soldiers descended upon the peninsula. He is serving his sentence in a penal colony in Russia’s far north, above the Arctic circle. He is 42. He has two young children, who live in Crimea with his mother.

Sentsov started his hunger strike one month before the 2018 World Cup, hosted by Russia in June and July. He is calling on the Russian authorities to release over 60 Ukrainians held in Russia and Crimea on politically motivated charges. He is not asking for his own release.

(Read more)

Photo: ru.espreso.tv

CARBERRY/PATTERSON: ‘GOOD VIBRATIONS’ (SV PICK, NORTHERN IRELAND) ·


(Fionola Meredith’s article appeared in The Irish Times, 9/6.)

GOOD VIBRATIONS

Lyric Theatre, Belfast
★★★★

This stage version of Terri Hooley’s story makes the transition from film with style

When you hear the words “stage musical” you don’t tend to imagine a posse of young punks belting out a song so fiercely that the floorboards shake. But that’s what happens on Wednesday night at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, at the opening performance of Good Vibrations. It is a glorious moment.

Adapted from the award-winning film, Good Vibrations is the story of Terri Hooley, who, with a mixture of reckless abandon and unquenchable hope, opened a record shop on “the most bombed half-mile in Europe”, Great Victoria Street in Belfast, in the 1970s. There he discovered the underground punk scene and its joyous, anarchic ability to transcend tribal boundaries and bring people together, even as the city burned. Hooley became an unlikely impresario, putting on gigs and producing records in defiance of the bombers, the police and the snooty attitude of the mainstream music industry in London.

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Photo: Irish Times

‘HENRY VI’ FROM THE NATIONAL ASIAN AMERICAN THEATER COMPANY (SV PICK, NY) ·

(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/31.)

Halftime was ticking down at a marathon performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” when the guys in front of me returned to their seats and I fell a little in love with them. Riffling through plot points and names of characters they vaguely remembered were coming up (“Who’s Edmund? Or am I thinking of ‘King Lear’?”), they were like soap opera fans preparing to dive back into an engrossing serial.

That’s the kind of hold that the National Asian American Theater Company exerts on spectators with its oxygenated “Henry VI” at A.R.T./New York Theaters. It’s a production that asks nearly six hours from your life (yes, you can see its two parts on different days), but it repays you handsomely.

Fast-paced and gripping, this is an unusually lucid staging of a bloody history play, whose surfeit of schemes and villainy could make a daytime-drama writer blush. Yet for all the battles and beheadings in Stephen Brown-Fried’s handsomely designed production, never does it take death lightly. That’s one of the remarkable things about it.

(Read more)

Photo: William P. Steele