Monthly Archives: August 2016





Playwrights Horizons

Kate Whoriskey directs a new play by Julia Cho (“The Language Archive”), which tells three parallel stories about people preparing a meal for someone else. In previews.



La Mama

The Play Company presents Christopher Chen’s multidisciplinary piece, directed by Lee Sunday Evans, about a man claiming to be a dissident Chinese artist. In previews. Opens Aug. 28.




The Mint stages N. C. Hunter’s 1953 play, directed by Austin Pendleton, in which a Foreign Service employee has a midlife crisis during a seaside picnic in Dorset. In previews. Opens Aug. 25.



Second Stage

Trip Cullman directs a drama by Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette”), about two strangers who meet on a plane when their flight is delayed. In previews. Opens Aug. 25.


(Read more)


(Tad Friend’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 6/5.)

In his living room high up in Hell’s Kitchen, the comedian Lewis Black sat on a sofa with three throw pillows tucked around him, as if he’d had a bad breakup and needed a hug and some Häagen-Dazs. He pointed wearily south, across his lush roof deck—“I got flowers, I don’t even know what the fuck they are”—to the building on West Forty-second Street in whose basement he got his start in New York, as a playwright, long ago.

Nowadays, at sixty-two, Black is the guy with the loosened tie who rants about current events on “The Daily Show.” But from 1982 to 1989, he was the co-artistic director of a tiny subterranean stage grandly named The West Bank Café Downstairs Theatre Bar. He put on early plays by Aaron Sorkin and Alan Ball, as well as his own surreal one-act comedies, which excoriated the dawning age of the yuppie. “The Deal,” for instance, “ended with a Buffett type and a Trump type squeezing each other’s balls and shouting, ‘It’s a deal!’ ” Black also warmed up the crowd before the show. “I’d say, let’s see …” He searched the ceiling. “If anybody knew anybody at any paper who might be interested in writing about us, I would blow him, because I’d been working in the American theatre for fifteen years now, so what was another blow job? Stuff like that.”


(Alan Payne’s article appeared in the Derbyshire Times, 8/10; via Pam Green.)

A touring production of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, gives audiences a chance to see two of our most celebrated actors in fine form.

It features an outstanding video projection designed by Nina Dunn. A wood, realistic in every detail, with leaves rustling in a breeze, dissolves to reveal a circular room in a plush country house. It’s a stunning device – reminiscent of the opening of Dante’s Inferno: ‘At the midpoint of the path through life, I found myself lost in a wood so dark, the way ahead was blotted out.’

Hirst (Stewart) and Spooner (McKellen) are elderly rather than middle-aged. Both are acutely conscious of past disappointments and betrayals.



(Alice Bain’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/9.)

It lasts for an exhausting, exhilarating hour and a quarter. I was glad of the earplugs. But there is no doubt that this brilliantly forged partnership of music, dance and art, reworked from its brief outing 10 years ago, is indeed monumental.

A collaboration between dance company the Holy Body Tattoo (newly resurrected for this tour) and their fellow Canadians, the visionary band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the show holds you in a thunderously dark, dystopian embrace. It exposes the energies, both literal (wind turbines and cars are featured) and psychological, that drive our expansionist, industrialised, switched-on world.

LA MAMA’s 55th SEASON (2016-2017)–LIST ·

(via Miguel Mendiola/Sam Rudy Media Relations)




ISTIJMAM from Algeria, VUELTAS BRAVAS from Colombia



LA MAMA’s 55th season

La MaMa International Puppet Series set for October 2016

and first-ever La MaMa memberships available 

Over 70 productions of local and international artists representing six continents – North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia — will visit the stages of La MaMaduring the 2016-17 season, the company’s 55th year of presenting world-class experimental music, theater and dance, it has been announced by Mia Yoo, La MaMa’s Artistic Director. 

About this season when La MaMa will present works by companies from Algeria, Italy, Colombia, Israel Croatia, Spain, Australia, the UK, South Korea and Norway, along with works by American writers and performers, Ms. Yoo states, “In bringing together different people from different places, my hope is that our 55th season will help create a theater of peoples, of the languages and maps and stories with which we build and inhabit shared worlds.” 

A new feature of La MaMa’s programming this season is the introduction of a $55 membership – corresponding with the 55th season.  A membership entitles patrons to first access forLa MaMa’s existing, popular 10 at $10 program (10 seats at every performance of every production during the season are available for $10); entrée to the season launch party this fall and other special events over the course of the season.  

In October, the experimental theater collective ISTIJMAM from Algeria will present ET’TEFFEH/THE APPLES by the Algerian director and playwright Abdelkader Alloula, who was assassinated in 1994.  The play is performed by a trio led by the playwright’s daughter, Rihab Alloula, and bears witness to Algeria’s shadowed past and complex present.  This production is part of a month long tour to the US with underwriting from Center Stage, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.  September 29 –October 2, 2016. 

From September 24 – November 6 the 2016 La MaMa Puppet Series will feature dozens of productions spotlighting the best artists on the world puppetry stage:  THE GODPROJEKT by Kevin Augustine and Edward EinhornPHANTASMAGORIA: OR, LET US SEEK DEATH, conceived and directed by Obie winner Randolph Curtis Rand, based on Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN; a PUPPET SLAM evening of short-form puppet and object theatre; and GREAT SMALL WORKS, which revisits the wild and poetic work of the radical 20th century puppeteers Zunia Maud and Yosl Cutler in MUNTERGANG AND OTHER CHEERFUL DOWNFALLS.  Family friendly events in the Puppet Series include La MaMa’s resident puppet troupe Loco 7’s Dance Puppet Theatre and its four-part series THE ADVENTURES OF SEUCY AND BOTO from September 24-October 2, along with Heather Henson/Ibex Theater’s workshop on October 15.

From October 13-16, the Italian company Teatro Vascello will present PITECUS which investigates the relationship between Man and his perversions.  

Also in October, iconic downtown performance duo, Split Britches – the legendary trio founded 34 years ago by Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver and Deb Margolin — take over The Downstairs at La MaMa with two pieces.  First, a new project, UNEXPLAINED ORDINANCES (UXO), inspired by the unexploded Civil War ammunition buried in New York Harbor and the iconic Stanley Kubric film, Dr. Strangelove, followed by RETRO(PER)SPECTIVE:  a Split Britches’ greatest hits album for those who remember the 1980s and a Split Britches primer for those who may have missed it! 

JEW VS. MALTA – presented October 28-November 6 – is a world-premiere production from the Meta-Phys Ed Theater and directed by Jesse Freedman, blending masks and commedia del arte with pop culture and politics based on Christopher Marlowe’s 16th-century drama THE JEW OF MALTA mixed with samples by Kanye West.

Israel Horovitz’s new play MAN IN SNOW will have its New York premiere at La MaMa November 10-27, following its world-premiere at Gloucester Stage Company in September-October.  The play is described as follows:  David, recently retired, mourning the loss of his young son, revisits Mr. McKinley in Alaska, a mountain he submitted at age 25.  He’s not climbing this visit.  Instead he is guiding a group of Japanese honeymooners who hope to conceive a child under the spell of the Northern Lights. 

From December 1-18, the animated comic book CHIX 6 by Lourdes Lane will come to life on stage at La MaMa.  CHIX 6 is a modern pop/rock musical about a 25 year old female comic book artist who learns to love herself and re-connect to her dreams when her own super heroine creations come to life.  In collaboration with UNESCO, this production travels the world to engage youth with issues of empowerment for young women.  Jackson Grace Gay directs. 

Also in December, Dec 1 – 18CLOVER, a new work by celebrated experimental playwright Eric Ehn, directed by Glory Kadigan

Just in time for the holidays,Dec. 9-11,  LaMaMa will present INDIAN MARKET AND SOCIAL, part of The Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective at La MaMa creates a fresh paradigm in the presentation of Indigenous arts and culture within the broader American theater.  The Native Art Market offers a unique opportunity to participate in a traditional powwow with feasting, singing, and dancing, and to purchase contemporary works by some of the finest Native American artists.

In January-February 2017, La MaMa will present its 3rd installment of ADA – Author Directing Author, which again finds American playwright Neil LaBute and noted Italian playwright Marco Calvani, this time joined by Spanish playwright, Marta Buchaca.  Each playwright directing another author’s work and for this 3rd chapter of AdA, each play will deal with themes of power.

In January, some of the most exciting new voices in NYC’s queer performance world will perform as part of La MaMa’s SQUIRTS: New Voices in Queer Performance Festival, curated by Dan Fishback.

Also in January, Nora Burns, with Adrienne Truscott and Lucy Sexton bring the world premiere of DAVID’S FRIENDa 70’s NYC coming of age and AIDS tale to the Club.

The Colombian troupe VUELTAS BRAVAS will present an international production of August Strindberg’s MISS JULIE with actors from South America and the U.S. from Feb. 2-19, 2017.  

Magis Theatre Company brings CALDERON’S TWO DREAMS,  a repertory performance of two classic works by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, to The Ellen Stewart Theatre, Feb 9 – 26.

RIOT ANTIGONE, a new punk rock exploration of Antigone by Seon Jae Kim will play the Club at La MaMa Feb. 10 – 19, 2017

The Norwegian company Grusomhetens will perform the work of Norway’s native son Henrik Ibsen March 2-5 when it presents FJELDFUGLEN (THE MOUNTAIN BIRD), an 1859 opera with libretto by Ibsen. 

Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ESCARIOT, directed by Estelle Parsons and performed by members of The Actors Studio, will be revived as part of the Studio’s 70th anniversary celebration from March 9-26.

BENGHAZI – BERGEN-BELSEN is a new play by playwright Lahav Timor based on the novel of the same name by Israeli novelist Yossi Sucary, tracing the Jews of Libya through the Holocaust.  This world-premiere production will play March-April 2017 in The Downstairs at La MaMa.

KIDNAP ROAD by Catherine Filloux is a two-person theatrical imagining of the story of former Colombian senator and anti-corruption activist Íngrid Betancourt​'s captivity.  Directed by Stan Cahill, KIDNAP ROAD will play April 27-May 14, 2017

From April 6-23, the renowned performance artist John Kelly will perform TIME NO LINE, which focusses on how we are able to identify collective histories through the experience of one individual.  Mr. Kelly will be in residence at La MaMa for this 55th Season, culminating in this world premiere production.


LA MAMA MOVES!, the company’s 12th annual celebrated festival of dance, is one of the highlights of the spring season 2017 and a spectacular part of the Spring Block Party.

La MaMa will celebrate its 55th year in New York City’s East Village with a Spring Block Party on East 4th between the Bowery and 2nd Ave. in front of the buildings that house the company’s four theaters:

Ellen Stewart Theatre at 66 E. 4 St.

The Downstairs at 66 E. 4 St.

First Floor Theatre and The Club, both at 74 E. 4 St.

In addition to the 70+ productions during the 55th season:

La MaMa’s wildly popular family series LA MAMA KIDS returns this season with a line-up of productions and workshops from artists including Loco 7’s Dance Puppet Theatre,Federico Restrepo, Heather Henson/Ibex Theater, Jane Catherine Shaw, Perry Yung and Lois Weaver

La MaMa’s COFFEEHOUSE CHRONICLES, the Saturday afternoon educational performance series exploring the history and development of Off-Off Broadway, continues this season with topics including:  Theodora Skipitares (Oct 8), Target Margin Theater/ David Herskovits (Nov 17), The 40th Anniversary of Performing Arts Journal/ Bonnie Marranca (Dec 17) and Wilford Leach (Feb 25)

CultureHub, the La MaMa and Seoul Institute of the Arts intersection of art and technology return with their ARTCADE and COLAB series as well as a new multimedia/installation adaptation of works by Robert Patrick.

La MaMa’s ongoing Expirements Play Reading Series, Poetry Electric and Annual Beat Box Festival also return for the 55th Season.

For information about the La MaMa season, visit or call the box office at 646 430 5374. 

About La MaMa. La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.

La MaMa’s 55th season celebrates the creative and collective histories of La MaMa’s local and global communities  Since its beginning, La MaMa has forged creative partnerships with artists based in different parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.  In recent years, these long-term relationships have taken on new life through distance collaborations over the Internet.  The 55th season embraces new pathways forged in performance and technology to connect the myriad experiences, politics, conflicts, aesthetics, intimacies and dreams of people and communities participating in an increasingly globalized world.  



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/5.)

LONDON — Importing Jesse Eisenberg’s “The Spoils” to this city was not exactly a no-brainer. Written by and starring Mr. Eisenberg, this lacerating comedy of humiliation — about a whiny, rich, hyper-articulate and terminally narcissistic young New Yorker who impulsively sabotages his own life and that of his Nepalese roommate — appeared destined to be lost in translation.

Yet since opening in June at Trafalgar Studios, “The Spoils,” staged in New York by the New Group last year, has become the best-selling production in that theater’s history. Scott Elliott, the show’s director and the New Group’s artistic director, now plans to help bring over more productions, starting with “Buried Child” with Ed Harris, seen earlier this year in New York.

(Read more)



(Rupert Chrisiansen’s aricle appeared in the Telegraph 8/9.)

As we present our Glyndebourne stream of 'Béatrice et Bénédict’, Rupert Christiansen asks why so many composers love the Bard

At the last scholarly count, almost 300 operas have been drawn fromShakespeare’s plays. These range from The Fairy Queen, Purcell’s late 17th-century fantasia on the theme of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to musty obscurities such as von Lichtenstein’s 19th-century Ende gut, alles gut (All’s Well that Ends Well), and modern novelties such as Brett Dean’s Hamlet and Ryan Wigglesworth’s The Winter’s Tale – both of which receive their world premieres next season, at Glyndebourne and the London Coliseum respectively. 

In general, it is plot and character, rather than Shakespeare’s poetic language, that have provided the inspiration for operas based on his plays. Although Britten used Shakespeare’s text for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, cutting it drastically but leaving it otherwise virtually unchanged, this is an unusual practice. The great majority of composers have worked up completely new librettos, which make only general or passing reference to the original words. 

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(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/4.)

I have spent many all-day sessions in theatres but none quite as powerful as Young Chekhov, which has moved triumphantly from Chichester to the National’s Olivier stage. Its only rival in my experience is the original RSC 1963 production of The Wars of the Roses, recently released on DVD. But while Shakespeare’s trilogy, with its bloodshed and civil war, left one exhausted, this combination of Platonov, Ivanov and The Seagull sends one out exhilarated. That is a tribute to Jonathan Kent’s production, David Hare’s version, Tom Pye’s design and a great company. But it is also because one learns so much about Chekhov in the course of a single day.

On a first viewing, I made the obvious point: that you see Chekhov move from farce (Platonov) and melodrama (Ivanov) to the creation of a symphonic realism (The Seagull). But I was struck by something else at the Olivier: that Chekhov, for all his comprehensive compassion, was also a social satirist who saw that the characteristic Russian vice was a demented egotism. Thornton Wilder once wrote of Chekhov’s plays that: “No one hears what anyone else says. Everybody walks in a self-centred dream.”



(Michael Cerveris’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/5; via Pam Green.)

Six weeks after the mass shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the cast of “Fun Home” left Broadway to put on a special benefit performance there. “Fun Home,” which won the Tony Award for best musical last year, is a poignant exploration of family relationships, sexuality and suicide adapted from a graphic memoir by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who is represented in the show by three actresses playing her at different stages of her life.

The trip was proposed by Michael Cerveris, the actor who plays Ms. Bechdel’s father, Bruce. This is an essay by Mr. Cerveris about performing in front of an audience that included relatives and friends of the people who died in the nightclub attack.

Every audience is the same, just in a different way. From night to night, they differ in size, attention, average age and willingness to suspend their disbelief and become partners in the event of a play. Actors make unspoken contracts with each audience. Negotiations can be amicable or contentious, protracted or quickly agreed.