January is the month for theater festivals in New York, more than at any time other than the summer. The offerings tend toward the avant-garde and the international and indeed many of the productions are more reliably classified as performance art, often incorporating more dance and music and….noodling around… than anything resembling traditional theater.
One might think that the reason for this surge of festivals during the frigid month is to make up for the fallow period of commercial theater. Maybe this is an indirect cause, but more direct is the presence of the thousands of attendees from throughout the nation at the annual convention of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, or, as it’s known this year, APAP/NYC 2013, running from January 11th-15th.
Performance Space 122
Thurs, Jan 3 – Sat, Jan 19
Twitter feed: @PS122
In the words of the festival organizers” full of contemporary, textured, global, local, contemplative, grounded, rigorous, and always very live performance.”
Of the 11 offerings this year, five are explicitly labeled theater:
Radiohole’s Inflatable Frankenstein, about the “tumultuous and tragic” life of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.
A meditation on Chekhov’s play, with “a Russian folk metal-influenced score.”
Peggy Shaw considers the lifetime of “crooners, lounge singers, movie stars, rock and roll bands, and eccentric family members living inside her.”
A “precarious bilingual performance duet” between a character substituting for Christopher Walken and her Russian interpreter.
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
Wed, Jan 9 – Sun, Jan 20
13 works of cutting-edge theater from eight countries:
Hollow Roots (US) Solo show asks: Can someone live a life unaffected by one’s race or gender?
Minks: A Reply to Kathy Acker (Belarus) The latest theatrically vivid work from the heroic Belarus Free Theater.
The Debate Society‘s “Blood Play” (USA) A spontaenous grown-up part in the basement of a 1950’s suburban ranch house.
“Zero Cost House” (U.S./Japan)
Elevator Repair Service‘s new work-in-progress “Arguendo.” — re-enacting the 1991 oral arguments of a high court case about the legality of nude dancing in Indiana
C’est du Chinois (Hungary/The Netherlands) Performers teach the audience basic Mandarin, “just enough to decipher their unfolding story.” (The title is a French expression that can be interpreted as “That’s Greek to me.”
A 20th Century Abridged Concert Of The History Of Popular Music One-night only from Taylor Mac
Jan 9 – 18
Bills itself as the “premiere festival of opera-theatre and music-theatre” I’m not sure what that means, and this is the first year of the festival, so I guess we’ll all find out together. It includes five works for this year, including Soldier Songs, described combining “elements of theater, opera, rock-infused concert music, and animation to explore the perceptions versus the realities of a soldier…”
AMERICAN REALNESS FESTIVAL
Abrons Arts Center
Thurs, Jan 10 – Sun, Jan 20
Some 20 works, primarily dance, although theater is certainly an accent in some of these works, such as the all-male contemporary dance version of Sophocles’s Greek tragic drama Antigone at the Judson Church, entitled (I think) Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning
My favorite title though is
An Attempt to Fail at Groundbreaking Theater. Description; “Performer Tony Rizzi takes on the triple roles of German dance icon Pina Bausch, performance art legend Penny Arcade and queer filmmaker Jack Smith.”
February 20 – March 3
30 shows! A festival of indie theater “where artists are chosen by lottery, and 100% of ticket sales are returned to artists!”