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The Mile Long Opera Review: 1,000 New Yorkers Singing and Griping on the High Line

 

“Funny how hope changes everything. Funny how hope changes nothing,” a singer chants standing on the High Line overlooking 18th street, as a light in her black baseball cap eerily illuminates her face.
A few feet away, competing with the noise of a construction site, another singer chants: “Funny how construction next store changes everything. Funny how construction next store changes nothing,” while putting his hands in front of his face in a comical expression of annoyance.
Other individual performers nearby, all members of one of four different choral groups, sing how money or sex or tears or “a glass of really good red wine” change everything and nothing. Read more of this post

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Stars in the Night Review: A Vague “Immersive” Show in Dazzling DUMBO

Although billed as “an intimate immersive production,” what “Stars in the Night” actually offers, at its best, is the exact opposite — a spectacular public setting. An audience of no more than a dozen at a time are led through several locations indoors and outdoors in DUMBO, a Brooklyn neighborhood that feels inherently theatrical: It has its own dramatic Chiaroscuro lighting, a backdrop of magnificent bridges and distinctive, gentrified 19th century buildings, and a colorful cast of passersby who, on a night with good weather, crowd the cobbled streets and newly green parkland on the river’s edge.
Unfortunately, most of the show’s characters, portrayed by eight members of the Los Angeles-based company Firelight Collective, are not much more developed during the show than those passersby. The story they act out is vague, arty, clichéd  and confusing – so much so that some 90 minutes after the show began and a cast member deposited us on Jay Street, the other theatergoers and I stood around waiting for the next performer to come along and lead us somewhere, not realizing “Stars in the Night” had come to an end.

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The End of the World Bar and Bathtub, an amusing apocalyptic play coming to a bathtub near you

Philip Santos Schaffer pulls back the curtain and introduces himself as “your server and savior” to me and the only other member of the audience. After chatting idly for a while, he asks if we’re thirsty. “Tonight, we’re serving only the finest NYC tap,” he declares as he turns on the faucet.
Schaffer is performing in “The End of the World Bar and Bathtub,” an hour-long play that takes place in a bathtub. As I write in my article in TDF Stages, “Have You Ever Seen a Show in a Bathtub?”, it is one of a series of five theater pieces, collectively entitled “Small Plays For Giants,” created this year by an innovative five-year-old New York theater company called WalkUpArts, and all written by Schaffer, one of the company’s four co-artistic directors.
Three of the five shows took place over the past few months before a regular-sized Off-Off Broadway audience at The Tank, a normal theater on West 36th Street. I stumbled upon the first of these, The Jester and the Dragon, when it ran back in February, a multilayered play about an aging, arthritic finger puppeteer giving her final performance of a children’s fairy tale.

“The End of the World Bar and Bathtub” is by appointment only. You supply the bathroom; WalkUpArts supplies the show.

Immersive Theater Pioneer En Garde Arts Re-Emerges

The latest show presented by En Garde Arts, “Red Hills,” a play about the Rwandan genocide, takes place on the entire empty ninth floor of an office building in the Financial District, as I write in  my article for TDF Stages about “Red Hills” , which is running through July 1. “Red Hills” comes 33 years after En Garde’s first shows, which were then called site-specific; they took place in empty streets and abandoned buildings throughout New York, as you can see in this photo gallery. In hindsight, they’ve been labeled immersive, and there’s more on the way.
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Café Play Review: At the Cornelia Street Café, Overhearing Fellow Diners and Inanimate Objects

Café Play is a site-specific work of theater that’s being held at four different times of day in the back dining room at the Cornelia Street Café, with different food choices depending on whether you attend for breakfast, lunch, tea or late-night snack (all frankly paltry, though I did like my crème brulee). Put together by the endlessly innovative theater company This Is Not A Theatre Company (who’ve previously offered a play in a swimming pool, another in a private apartment, and “pod plays” to listen to on the subway and the Staten Island ferry), the conceit of the show is that we the diners are overhearing the conversations of fellow diners, and waiters, and one unwanted intruder (“Please don’t step on me!”)

click on any photograph by Maria Baranova Suzuki to see it enlarged

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