News: Just Three More Days of "Ultra Left Violence" to Close Out New Ohio Theatre's Final Season

Ultra Left Violence creators Daniel Irizarry and Robert Lyons
There are only three days left to see Robert Lyons’s Ultra Left Violence, the final show in The Obie Award-winning New Ohio Theatre's acclaimed 30-year run. Ultra Left Violence, which concludes the last ever Ice Factory Festival, ending on August 12th, reunites playwright and New Ohio Artistic Director Robert Lyons with director/performer Daniel Irizarry, whose fall 2022 hit My Onliness was called “a welcome gust of weird” (New York Times) and “the most insane show now playing in New York City” (TheaterMania). (You can read our review here.) Their earlier collaboration Yovo has been performed in NYC, Poland, Cuba, and South Korea and has been translated into Spanish, and American Sign Language.

Both plays are included in My Onliness and Others, a collection of six plays by Lyons published in fall 2022 by Mercer Street Books. We purchased our copy in the lobby at Ultra Left Violence, which we were lucky enough to attend yesterday evening. If you have seen My Onliness, then you will have some idea what to expect of Ultra Left Violence - including the unexpected. Ultra Left Violence is still in development (so don't consider this an official review), but a comparable mix of the intellectual, poetic, and absurd with vigorous physicality, a heightened use of a wide range of sound, and plenty of audience involvement are already in place. Helen Yung writes that the best theater "holds invitation and space for" audiences "to express and reflect" (Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts, 2022, p. 463), and Ultra Left Violence certainly does that, from its processional invitation to enter the theater and become an audience to the material traces that it invites spectators to leave behind.

With text by Lyons and directed by Irizarry, Ultra Left Violence is described as exploring "an Academia of the Mind, featuring two students free-associating an anti-capitalist manifesto, a Professor slipping into dementia, and love poems from the visiting Poet. With live music" (and, we would add, the second theatrical use of Rammstein we've seen in a span of two weeks, a positive trend, in our opinion). Some audience members may wish that academia were in fact more like the experience of Ultra Left Violence, and most audience members will recognize at least some aspect(s) of their late-capitalist lives reflected, for better or for worse, in its different segments. The cast features Pepper Binkley, Daniel Irizarry, Rhys Tivey, and Folami Williams, and the show runs through August 12, with a livestream on August 10. All audience members are asked to bring a book, any book, to donate to the production. Your book may be incorporated into the show, and all books will be donated to Housing Works Bookstore at the end of the run. Ultra Left Violence will be further developed in residencies at Mercury Store and NACL in Fall 2023.

Previously livestreamed performances from this year's Ice Factory are available on demand through the end of the festival. The shows include Deadclass, Ohio (devised by The Goat Exchange, original text by Eliya Smith, live music by Sasha Yakub, and directed by Mitchell Polonsky and Chloe Claudel), which is assembled from original text, faded memories, family secrets, a live violin score, irresponsibly captured iPhone video and verbatim fragments of rediscovered memoirs and voicemails,  and concerns a pair of characters who return to Krakow from Ohio after fleeing the Nazis to find all their relatives were dead; Zebra 2.0 (written by Saviana Stanescu and directed by Jeremy Goren, with contributions from data scientist Dr. Niki Athanasiadou), a sci-fi rom-com that engages questions of artificial intelligence, humanity, immigration, belonging, simulation, and consciousness through the uncanny friendship of an undocumented woman in the USA and an AI who counts zebras; On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians II: A Carp Sanctuary (created by PPL, conceived and co-directed by Esther Neff, Noah Ortega, 3dwardsharp, with Irina Virina, Thea Little, Jessica Bathurst, and Mia Destiny), in which, programmed with medical texts and expressionist plays, an AI wades into a polluted pond roiling with invasive carp; here i fall up (written and composed by Beth Golison and directed by Annabel Heacock and Maiya Pascouche, with music directed and orchestrated by Kyle Brenn), a new ghost story/folk musical about a girl at odds with the ground beneath her feet, navigating her relationships with her sisters, her lover, and a ghost; gerstl took the easy way out (written by Lydia Blaisdell, directed by Ashley Olive Teague, and developed and produced with Notch Theatre Company), a comedy exploring/exploding Schönberg’s wife’s desire featuring ladders, tarps, a tiny piano, and a chorus (you can read our review here); and How I Disappeared (drected by Tianding He and produced by CHUANG Stage), a multimedia devised object performance project that explores the poetic and personal urban life experiences of six female Asian immigrant artists in NYC with original live music, AR puppetry and interactive installations.

Tickets are $20 and $18 (students and seniors). You can purchase livestream and on-demand tickets at https://watch.eventive.org/icefactory2023 and in-person tickets at https://newohiotheatre.org.

Ultra Left Violence provides a fantastic and fitting conclusion to the Ice Factory Festival and to New Ohio Theatre's 30 years as an indispensable pillar of the downtown independent theatre community.

For info visit https://newohiotheatre.org, like them on Facebook at https://www.Facebook.com/NewOhioTheatre, and follow on Twitter (yes, we know it is called "X" now) (https://twitter.com/NewOhioTheatre) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/newohiotheatre) at @NewOhioTheatre.

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