Theater archives

Downtown Theater News Update


Weeping children do not appear in Nature Theater of Oklahoma‘s No Dice, but they have attended rehearsal. A Soho Rep production, No Dice begins performances on December 6 at 66 White Street in Tribeca. Until August, that address housed Sydney’s Playground, a 6,000-square-foot indoor extravaganza of bouncy castle, climbing city, book nook, and myriad toys. Last week, as the No Dice construction crew attacked the climbing city with sledgehammers, a mother and two daughters arrived. Unaware of the playground’s closure, they watched the demolition. Said the play’s technical director, Mark Sitko, “The little girls were devastated.”

No Dice‘s creators, Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper, were not. They had always wanted to stage their piece, which they impishly describe as a “melodramatic take on amateur dinner theater,” in a nontraditional setting. “When people enter a conventional theater, they have certain expectations of what they are going to see. In a non-theater space, anything could happen,” they explain. As Nature Theater of Oklahoma toured Europe, Soho Rep artistic director Sarah Benson toured downtown spaces—lofts, offices, a skyscraper—but none were right. “It was nightmarish,” she says of the search. With opening night approaching, she was “out pounding the pavement, taking down any number of any building,” when she chanced upon the former playground. She, Liska, and Copper all fell for the space’s character, its “false cheerfulness.” Once the destruction concludes, the space will host the four-hour plotless piece, based on 100 hours of phone conversations recorded by the company (and relayed into the actors’ ears via iPods during performance). False mustaches, falser accents, and cowboy hats also appear. Though not appropriate for children, each performance will commence with a kiddie-friendly meal of bologna sandwiches, Dr. Pepper, and M&Ms.

Duckie Twists Seven Cocks

Come taste the wine, come hear the band, come pay a woman to offer you tortilla chips while she balances a bowl of salsa on her pudendum in an act entitled “Nacho Snatcho.” On December 20, the much-hailed English performance troupe Duckie—self-described as “Post-Poofter Purveyors of Progressive Working-Class Entertainment”—will make their U.S. debut, bringing their outré talents to the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center through January 19. Duckie regulars Marisa Carnesky, Joshua Sofaer, Kazuko Hohki, and Miss High Leg Kick will mingle with New York performers Taylor Mac, Jessica Delfino, Dynasty Handbag, and Peggy Shaw. A caveat: While the performers sport flesh-colored body stockings, “swanky evening wear” is required of attendees.

Their show, C’est Duckie, takes place in nightclub-like environs. Duckie producer Simon Casson says CSV will be “transformed into a very swanky London performance palais, all gilt and red velvet.” Each table receives a sheaf of “Duckie dollars” (we hope these are less devalued than American ones). They can be used to purchase 10-minute performance pieces such as “Golden Throat,” “Professor Rigidlips and Friends,” and “Stilettos of Death.” These apparently range from the funny to the lewd to the lewdly funny. We are intrigued by “Miss High Leg Kick Does Seven Cocks,” apparently a feat of anthropomorphic balloon twisting.

Casson told
The Times of London: “What we do is performance art, which is boring, meets showbiz, which is vacuous. Where they meet is great.” Ah, now we comprehend the putative appeal of “Boobelina” and “The Wicked Witch of the West Does Robert De Niro in Spanish.”

Democracy for Sale

That eternal holiday conundrum: What do you get for the man or woman who has everything? Well, if you were to visit the website, you could purchase your loved one a lighting cue, a block of text, a song, a dance, or—if you have $1,000 to spare—a co-writing credit for a new Off-Broadway production. On November 26, director Annie Dorsen and performers Tony Torn, Philippa Kaye, and Okwui Okpokwasili launched the site. From now until February 14, we, the people, will create their new show—paying to add a line of dialogue, a kiss, the underwear Torn will wear. Then Dorsen and the performers will collage those audience-supplied words, plot points, and design elements for a work titled Democracy in America, to premiere at P.S.122.

Though P.S.122 and the Foundry have signed on to co-produce Democracy, the show will be created and funded by the online community. (Though we’ll still have to buy tickets.) Dorsen warns that the “budget comes from what we sell. . . . If you don’t buy, the set doesn’t get built, the lights don’t go on, and the actors don’t get paid. . . . There is no performance: no words, no actions, no design, no nothing—just a loooong silence in the dark.”

Happily, the launch-party-cum-live-auction at Joe’s Pub was quite loud. Attendees bid on a song (the winner chose a Bollywood number in a minor key on “the illusion of genius”); a dance (featuring sneakers and a fish face); and the show’s first word (it will be “contrary”). At the auction’s close, Stew—of the group the Negro Problem and the Broadway-bound Passing Strange—debuted the Democracy in America theme song (a Guy Debord/de Tocqueville mash-up), and someone at my table cheekily purchased a collaboration credit for one “Des McAnuff.”