Theater to See This Weekend September 12-13: From Bette to BD to Baby Jessica

Exactly six months after Broadway was shut down, there is LIVE, in-person theater to go to today — although it’s quite far from Broadway, or from conventional theater. And there’s plenty more theater, as we have come to redefine it, on this unwelcome anniversary.

Opening Saturday

Sleep Apnea
Invisible Dog
This is a short, live, in-person performance running through October 17, in time slots starting at 1 p.m., at The Invisible Dog Art Center (51 Bergen Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn).Static apnea is the term for when a person holds their breath (apnea) underwater for as long as possible. Here, one audience member, surrounded by a tunnel of blue light, descends towards a single performer behind a wall of glass. In a 9 minute and 2 second performance – the female record for static apnea – this performative installation explores how far one might be willing to go to save a life. Tickets are free. Reservations for specific entry times can be made at Walk ups will be accommodated if entry times are available.

Baby Jessica’s Well-Made Play
Walk Up Arts
By the team behind The End of the World Bar and Bathtub, this is another unorthodox immersive play, this one loosely inspired by the story of Baby Jessica and the collective cultural experience U.S. citizens shared while witnessing Baby Jessica’s 58-hour rescue from a well in midland Texas on October 14-16, 1987. For $25, a single audience member can book what the company is calling “a five-act phone adventure to the bottom of a well and out again.” that includes “an audio-recording, live performances, interaction with an audience member from another performance and a mysterious fifth act that’s months in the future.”

Seneca Falls
7 p.m. live only
This play by Jean Ann Douglas is “an anachronistic triptych through late nights in the first 72 years of the women’s suffrage movement: 72 years of… mostly a lot of waiting.” The cast includes Susannah Flood, April Matthis, Kelly McAndrew Monique St. Cyr, Erin Wilhelmi and John Zdrojeski

12 Angry Men…and Women: the Weight of the Wait.
Billie Holiday Theater
7:30 p.m.
Wendell Pierce, Lisa Arrindell, and Billy Eugene Jones star in this staged reading of everyday people subjected to racial profiling, based upon the book edited by Gregory S. Parks and Matthew W. Hughey, 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today, as well as an original story that focuses on the killing of Breonna Taylor. Members of the New York Philharmonic will present an overture. The reading begins at 8. The event will be presented on the theater’s YouTube channel.

Berlioz’s Les Troyens
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
The aftermath of the Trojan War and Aeneas’s exploits in Carthage, by way of Virgil’s Aeneid, in a five-act magnum opus that stands as one of the most ambitious works in the operatic canon.

The Shared Screen
8 p.m., available until September 21
After 10 years, three self-absorbed people are forced to reckon with the unresolved trauma of a high school love triangle.

Metropolitan Playhouse
8 p.m. available for  four days
Erin Beirnard and James Ross portray a boxer and a hooker, both addicts, in this 1916 one-act tragedy by one Pendleton King, which was produced by the Provincetown Players

Coastal Elites
Five monologues by Bette Midler, Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, and Issa Rae in five separate monologues about coping with the new abnormal in a film that was originally intended as a play at the Public Theater. Read my interview with the playwright (screenwriter?) Paul Rudnick.


Saturday Encore

Liberty or Just Us: A City Parks Story
Theatre for the New City
2 p.m. (also Sunday at 2)
The company’s annual summer street theater turned into online theater, with an oratorio that honors New York City parks for being sites of activism

The Bus Stop
Seacoast Rep
7:30 p.m.
$20 – $60
In a production by this New Hampshire company, playwright Najee A. Brown explores the lives of five Black women with little in common except that a loved one is incarcerated.

In Love and Warcraft

American Conservatory Theater
3 p.m. ET
In Madhuri Shekar’s play, college senior Evie prefers the online role-playing game World of Warcraft to real life. In the game, she’s a fearless warrior with a boyfriend. In real life, she ghostwrites love letters for people, even though she’s neither been in love. When Evie becomes attracted to her client Raul, she must decide whether or not to let her powerful and sexy warrior character out in the real world.

Still Available

Days of Re-Creation
Live & In Color
Seven short plays reimagining  the Book of Genesis through our current moment of upheaval, with a cast and creative team comprised entirely of people of color. The plays: 3 Karens by  BD Wong; The Strong Friend, and Company by Masi Asare; SoilMates by SEVAN; To the Stars, With Love by Nandita Shenoy; The Nerd by Lauren Yee; S.C.R.I by AriDy Nox and La Egoista by Erlina Ortiz.

Urban Stages
Ends September 13
In this play by Christian Elder, a white girl calls a black boy “the n word” on the school bus. His mother confronts her mother. The event escalates

Incidental Moments of the Day: The Apple Family on Zoom
Ends November 5
The third and final installment of the “pandemic trilogy” by Richard Nelson. Watch here and read my review.


Opening Sunday

8 p.m.
The annual event, live-streamed this year for free, in which a cavalcade of stars perform (briefly) in roles for which they would never be cast.

Hastings Street
Plays in the House Teen Edition
2 p.m.
Barton Bund and Rick Sperling’s musical looks at a Black neighborhood in Detroit in the 1940s, performed by members of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit

Massenet’s Werther
Metropolitan Opera
7:30 p.m. available for 23 hours
A sensuous, charged opera based on Goethe’s 1774 novel about a lovesick poet’s infatuation with a married woman

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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