Indigenous Theater Gets its Day. Tony Awards 2024 set for Lincoln Center. Nathan Lane hates puppets?! #Stageworthy News of the Week

Today is Indigenous People’s Day, which since 2021 has been officially recognized as a national holiday — not coincidentally on the same day (the second Monday in October) as Columbus Day, which since 1937 has been a federal holiday in the United States, where there are now eleven.
It’s a good day to point out the noticeable increase in plays by Native Americans produced on New York stages, including earliesr this year the first-ever Broadway production by a Native American playwright,  “The Thanksgiving Play” by Larissa FastHorse of the Sicangu Lakota Nation; as well as last year’s “Where We Belong,”  by  Madeline Sayet of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, and, coming to the Public Theater next month, “Manahatta” by Mary Kathryn Nagle, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, who for this play about the Lenape in Manhattan in the 17th and 21st centuries interviewed Lenape elders whose ancestors lived on Manahatta hundreds of years ago. There are Native American companies that have been doing theater in New York City for years, including Spiderwoman Theater and Safe Harbors, (sometimes, apparently, in non-traditional theater spaces.)

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding 

Jocelyn Bioh’s inviting workplace comedy, presenting a day in the life of a hair braiding salon in Harlem, would be a shoo-in for two separate Tony Awards, if either existed – one for hair and wig design, the other for ensemble acting. The cast of ten, most of them making their Broadway debuts, bring us into the swirling world of struggling West African immigrants,and their hairstyles. The darkness, while sudden, is not wrongheaded, and so much else about “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” is so right. Full Review 

Three Love Stories Near a Railroad 

To get the full flavor of what the great exiled Russian director Dmitry Krymov does with (to?) Ernes Heminway’s short stories…and to Eugene O’Neill’s play…it helps to have read the texts recently. This is not at all necessary to enjoy “Three Love Stories Near a Railroad, an entertaining ninety minutes full of physical clowning and alluring off-kilter anarchy. But a recent reader can also appreciate how much these flights of whimsy are also knowing adaptations of classic American literature.  Full Review 

Prelude Festival: Exposure. 

Radiohole’s “Exposure,”  a group show about “works exploring the body,” was the first show in this year’s three week long Prelude Festival, celebrating its twentieth anniversary as  “a completely free survey of the current New York moment.” The lineup this year features performances, panels and artist talks from some of the most persistently inventive figures of New York City’s avant-garde. Full Review.

The Week in New York Theater News

The 77th Tony Awards, the annual celebration of Broadway, will take place on June 16, 2024, at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.  (That’s the one on the left as you face the fountain.) The ceremony will be broadcast live on CBS. …Details on the Tony Awards website

The theater has 2,586 seats on six levels, compared to the 5,960 seats at Radio City Music Hall, where the awards show has most often taken place, and the 3,327 seats at last year’s United Palace in Washington Heights.

Here’s the theater’s history, including this tidbit:  “an early tenant of the theater was the Music Theater of Lincoln Center. Richard Rodgers was its president, and during his tenure many classic Broadway musicals were revived there in the 1960s. Among them were The King and I, Carousel (with its original star, John Raitt), Annie Get Your Gun (with its original star, Ethel Merman), Show Boat, and South Pacific.” Just to be clear they are no longer tenants. It’s currently the home of the New York City Ballet

Theater Blog Roundup: A New Era in New York Theater

The announced departure of  André Bishop from Lincoln Center Theater, who has led it since 1992  and Carole Rothman, from Second Stage Theater, who co-founded it in 1979, follow the deaths within the past year of Todd Haimes, who ran the Roundabout Theatre Company for 40 years; Robert LuPone, the co-founder of MCC Theater who served as its co-artistic director for 36 years, and Andrew Leynse who lead Primary Stages for 21 years. 

There are also the departures of James Nicola from New York Theatre Workshop after heading it for 34 years; Sarah Benson who lead Soho Repertory Theatre for 16 years and John Doyle, who served a comparatively short six-year term as the head of Classic Stage Company, 

“The people who take on those jobs are going to have to navigate a rockier theatrical landscape than we’ve seen in a long time,” Jan Simpson points out in her post on Broadway & Me, one of the half-dozen theater blogs in the latest roundup.

Kaufman Music Center will present a Broadway Close Up concert series on three Mondays at Merkin Concert Hall:

Oct 23: Jukebox: The Musical
 Nov 13: Party at the Princes’ Songs from shows directed by Hal PrinceDec 4: The Writers’ Room  BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop alums Amanda Green, Bobby Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Brian Yorkey & Tom Kitt

Norwegian writer, Jon Fosse has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although commentators speculate the award was primarily for his prose work, he’s been writing plays since 1994.

From a profile in Euronews:

“A decade after his first novel, Fosse’s first play to be performed was ‘Og aldri skal vi skiljast’ (And We’ll Never Be Parted) in 1994. However, it was the play he’d written before that, ‘Nokon kjem til å komme’ (Someone is Going to Come), staged first in 1996 in Paris, that the Norwegian’s dramatic talents became fully known.

“The play follows a couple holed up in the middle of nowhere expecting an arrival. Playing on Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, Fosse’s exploration of anxiety and jealousy in relationships stunned audiences.”

Ben Brantley on seeing two Fosse plays in New York, “A Summer Day” in 2012 and “I Am The Wind” in in 2014.

Five little-known one-act plays by Tennessee Williams will be performed consecutively in a series of spaces at Irondale Theater for a FREE evening of theater, entitled American Blues Oct 27 – Nov 26, opening Nov 1. The five are:

Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry
The Dark Room
The Case of the Crushed Petunias
The Long Stay Cut Short, or, The Unsatisfactory Supper 
and Ten Blocks on the Camino Real

He started playing Orpheus in 2017, 2 years before Hadestown opened on Broadway.  

Now Reeve Carney is leaving November 19, the last of the original cast members.

The cast currently: Lillias White as Hermes, Solea Pfeiffer as Eurydice, Betty Who as Persephone,Phillip Boykin as Hades

Hollywood Finally Figures Out What to Do With Nathan Lane” (NY Times) He’s in two movies, one of which, “Dicks the Musical,” he was given a waiver by SAF-AFTRA to promote. (The reviews were kinder to him than to the movie as a whole:, eg. Time “..not even he, good sport that he is, can save Dicks.“) 

In his new movie, Nathan Lane works with “a pair of diapered reptilians” portrayed by two puppets. “I’m not crazy about puppets — I’ve worked with them in the past, it’s nothing but trouble,” Lane said, adding under his breath, “I’ll be getting hostile letters from Basil Twist.”

Who knew he was miserable here:

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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