Spring Guide: Theater

Jay Scheib adapts Samuel R. Delany's epic science-fiction classic Dhalgren

'The Really Big Once'

Performances begin April 13

Tennessee Williams occasionally depended on the kindness of strangers, but he more often relied on the goodwill of those he knew very well, such as Elia Kazan. Target Margin Theater has spent months researching the relationship between the two men, even restaging Camino Real, the Williams-written Broadway flop that Kazan directed. The Really Big Once, created by the company, explores that famous dud, arguing that it may actually have been "an important success." The Ontological Theater, 131 East 10th Street, targetmargin.org

'Passion Play'

Performances begin April 27

Passion plays may sound racy, but only those with a very particular fetish will actually find them so. These community-produced spectacles about the crucifixion, popular since medieval times, are the inspiration for Sarah Ruhl's triptych. The production, mounted by Epic Theater Ensemble, concerns three such pageants: one in Elizabethan England, one in Nazi Germany, and one in Reagan-era South Dakota. Mark Wing-Davey, who premiered Passion Play at Yale Rep, will again take up the cross for the New York debut. Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, epictheatreensemble.org

'Restoration'

Performances begin April 30

Michelangelo had it comparatively easy. When asked how he'd constructed something so divine as the statue of David, he replied, "You just chip away the stone that doesn't look like David." An art restorer doesn't have that luxury, particularly when it's the David itself that's chipped. In her new play, writer-performer Claudia Shear plays a Brooklyn-based conservator hired to freshen up that famed nude. Director Christopher Ashley helps Shear refine her act. New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th Street, nytw.org

'Oliver!'

Performances begin May 8

Consider yourself at 'ome. Or don't, actually. Elizabeth Meriwether (The Mistakes Madeleine Made, Heddatron), a mercurial and very funny writer, creates situations and characters more likely to discomfit audiences than welcome them. Warped by two childhood appearances in the Dickensian musical Oliver!, Meriwether has borrowed its exclamatory title for her dark comedy about the relationship between Oliver, a horny teenage boy, and an alcoholic retiree. Evan Cabnet directs the age-inappropriate shenanigans for Stagefarm. Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, thestagefarm.org

'Orifice Descending'

Performances begin May 15

For those who find Jean Genet's The Balcony—a scabrous, often-censored exploration of fascism, desire, and illusion—insufficiently perverse, consider this version by performance artist Vaginal Davis. Fifty years after The Balcony's New York debut at Circle in the Square, Ms. Davis reverses the play's geometry, shifting the action to a male brothel or "boydello" (likely rather sleazier than the one that opened recently in Nevada). At P.S.122, she creates an installation in which audiences can interact with the resident gigolos. P.S. 122, 150 First Avenue, ps122.org

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