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Showing posts from January, 2020

Review: "The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker" Is Out of This World

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The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker Conceived, designed, and directed by Theodora Skipitares Presented by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in association with Skysaver Productions at the Ellen Stewart Theatre 66 E 4th St., Manhattan, NYC January 23-February 2, 2020 There are not many shows in which the audience is played into the theater by a drum corps, but then again, there aren't many people like the subject of the play The Transfiguration of Benjamin Banneker. Benjamin Banneker, who lived from 1731 to 1806 in Maryland, was a Black astronomer, mathematician, and writer who, among other accomplishments, developed the idea that distant stars signified other solar systems. Created and directed by Theodora Skipitares, The Transfiguration invigoratingly employs an array of storytelling techniques, including narrative, music, dance, and puppetry, to bring much deserved attention to Banneker's life and legacy, as well as to draw parallels with the achievements and struggles …

Review: "A Cocktail Party Social Experiment" Highlights the Art in Conversation

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A Cocktail Party Social Experiment Created and Hosted by Wil Petre Assisted by Lane Halperin and Clinton Edward Sponsored by Barking Irons and presented at Chelsea Music Hall 407 W. 15th St., Manhattan, NYC Upcoming dates: February 17, March 16, and April 13, 2020 For notification of future dates, sign up here Down a flight of stairs below street level, under the red lights and a languorously rotating disco ball and amid the gentle clink of ice on glass within Chelsea Music Hall, individuals incongruously clad in white lab coats collect volunteers for an experiment. Eventually, those running the experiment gather its subjects and explain their hypothesis and methodology. Shortly after, they take their first cocktail order.

A Cocktail Party Social Experiment, created and hosted by Wil Petre and co-hosted by Lane Halperin, aims to have a group of strangers get to know each other in a meaningful way (while the eight strangers who volunteer to participate directly are the focus, one can a…

Review: In "How to Load a Musket," History is a Living Thing

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How to Load a Musket Written by Talene Monahan Directed by Jaki Bradley Presented by Less Than Rent Theatre at 59E59 Theaters 59 E 59th St., Manhattan, NYC January 11-26, 2020 One might expect a play about a niche hobby that falls somewhere between LARPing and the hardcore end of the cosplay spectrum to be an amusing diversion, and How to Load a Musket does have its fair share of lightness and laughs, but it also uses the words of the hobbyists whom it portrays in artfully interwoven snapshots as a way into some of the thorniest issues in the sociopolitical landscape of America today. Playwright Telene Monahan has fashioned How to Load a Musket using, verbatim, material from interviews that she conducted with Revolutionary and Civil War reenactors. The play covers 2015 to 2019, including a perspective-inverting meta section, but if there is one thing that this probing piece proves, it's that, per Faulkner's well-known formulation, the past is neither dead nor even past—and not…

Review: In "Or, An Astronaut Play," Failing Upward Takes on Astronomical Proportions

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Or, An Astronaut Play Written by Johnny G. Lloyd Directed by William Steinberger Presented by Inversion Theatre at The Tank 312 W. 36th St., Manhattan, NYC January 4-26, 2020 Many people mess around on the internet while at work. For few of these people, presumably, does such innocuous time-wasting precipitate a rapid major life change. In playwright Johnny G. Lloyd's Or, An Astronaut Play, making its world premiere at The Tank, however, Tom (Harrison Unger) is one of these few—although in most ways he is also, significantly to the play's concerns, resolutely typical.

Twenty-seven year-old Tom lives with his girlfriend Claire (Tay Bass). He also works with her at a snack food company, and the play opens with them at the office, Claire requesting access to a spreadsheet from Tom, and Tom requesting help with an online quiz from Claire. The quiz tells Tom that his ideal career is astronaut, and Tom takes this result immediately to heart. In no time, he has quit his job and enro…