A Week of The Weird Art. Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth. #Stageworthy News

The words “weird” or “weirdo” appear some two dozen times in “Corsicana,” a play by Will Arbery which opens on Wednesday, and which co-stars Dierdre O’Connell, who last week (coincidentally or not), on winning the Tony Award for leading actress in a play (for a weird play called “Dana H.”) urged theater artists to “make the weird art.”

That entreaty, now turned into a t-shirt for sale, seems to be the guiding principle behind the shows I saw last week – two hybrid theater pieces (one in which I preferred the online version, the other the in-person version), dance theater about a saint who talks with animals, the staging of a 50-year-old TV interview, and the one-time wacky reading of the most famously difficult novel of the 20th century.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

God’s Fool

The 70-minute theater piece about St. Francis of Assisi conceived and directed by Martha Clarke that’s at LaMaMa through July 2 would probably be best appreciated by those who are already well-versed in the life of Francis, and in the work of Martha. “The life of Francis of Assisi has been told many times,” it says in the program,  and “God’s Fool” doesn’t really  tell it again…The greatest delights of “God’s Fool” are the dance moves that are often visually stunning (helped by lighting designer Christopher Akerlind) and, above all, an enchanting a cappella score..Read full review

Lessons in Survival 1971.

Running at the Vineyard Theater through June 30, it is based on then-28-year-old poet Nikki Giovanni’s interview-turned-conversation with the famous writer James Baldwin, then 47, which was broadcast in 1971 on the WNET television series “SOUL,” described as America’s first Black Tonight Show. But the two-hour conversation (trimmed to 90 intermission-less minutes) is far more intellectual than anything you could have seen on Johnny Carson’s show at the time,  certainly not at this length….“Lessons in Survival 1971” offers a worthwhile conversation, full of important points briefly discussed that deserve – need — elaboration, illustration. Indeed, some of what these two great writers discuss could be – indeed have been – the subject of entire plays…  Read full review

Celebrating #Bloomsday with Ulysses 

On the 100th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s monumental modernist novel “Ulysses,” Symphony Space gave over its annual Bloomsday celebration to a new theater piece, entitled “Ulysses: Elevator Repair Service Takes on Bloomsday .” The commission made sense; it was also a bit intimidating….Given their history, I found it nearly miraculous that ERS’s “Ulysses” was a mere two hours and twenty minutes. Ok, no intermission, but not the entire 700-page novel, just a verbatim reading/odd dramatization of highlights from each of the eighteen chapters. Read full review  

The Orchard 

The moments in “The Orchard” that suggest the current Russian invasion of Ukraine would surely get the most attention in a more conventionally focused adaptation of “The Cherry Orchard”…But these touches must compete with many others in this overly busy version of Chekhov’s play…Considered individually, Golyak’s directorial choices struck me as fresh, if not always straightforward, but taken together they felt at odds with one another…I was impressed by the stage production, but I wasn’t always engaged with it. So I tried the online version the next day — and liked it much better. Read full review

Circle Jerk

a funny, campy, discombobulating hybrid theater piece that’s a spoof of both gay and digital culture (and also an example of each)…the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama designated it a finalist – the first-ever digital production to be so honored. Undoubtedly because of that high-profile endorsement,  “Circle Jerk” has returned for a brief encore presentation — this time, in a choice of two platforms: either online, as before, or in-person (or as they put it, “in the flesh”) at the Connelly Theater through June 25…. I suppose it counts as a confession to  admit that I like “Circle Jerk” better in-person. Read full review

The Week in New York Theater News

Returning in person for the first time in three years:

New York City Center Encores! 2022-2023 season: Ruthie Anne Miles in “The Light of the Piazza,” Donna Murphy in Jerry Herman’s “Dear World.”  A special two-week run of Lionel Bart’s “Oliver.”  

The New Group’s 2022-23 Season: Evanston Salt Costs Climbing, by Will Arbery, a play about climate and change, directed by Danya Taymor; The Seagull/Woodstock, NY, by Thomas Bradshaw, adapted from Chekhov, directed by Scott Elliott; and Bernarda’s Daughters, by Diane Exavier, directed by Dominique Rider.  These productions will take place at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street). 

 The New Group will also be replacing their subscriptions with a new membership model.

At the Drama Desk Awards ceremony honoring the 2022 winners

Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth

Juneteenth celebration at Little Island

Theater artists have been offering entertainment, advocacy and history lessons in celebrations of Juneteenth, the new federal holiday: There was a free concert featuring many Broadway performers at Times Square on Sunday (June 19th), the first of three Big Mix holiday parties and variety shows at Little Island all weekend , and tonight (the official federal holiday) on YouTube: Broadway Advocacy Coalition’s Broadway VS 2022: Honoring Norm Lewis and Joshua Henry

(From the White House:  “On June 19, 1865 — over 2 years after President Lincoln declared all enslaved persons free — Major General Gordon Granger and Union Army troops marched to Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas. Those who were freed from bondage celebrated their long-overdue emancipation on June 19” every year.)

WCBS report on 90-minute Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert, with brief interviews with Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, and James Monroe Iglehart

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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