January 2018 New York Theater Openings

Just one Broadway show is opening this month,  but January is as usual one of the most robust months for theater in New York, thanks in large part to the January theater festivals.

Together these festivals offer more than 100 shows; most are experimental, often hybrids that redefine what theater is; many are difficult to describe; some run only for one or two performances

Below is a selective list of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and festival offerings in January, organized chronologically by opening date (or, for a festival show, the first performance), with each title linked to a relevant website. Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Black or Blue.Off Off Broadway: Green. January theater festival*: Orange

Below that, links to the home pages of seven of the festivals.

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Mabou Mines Fiddles with Tennessee Williams: Pics, Review of Glass Guignol

In its forty-seventh year, Mabou Mines is inaugurating its first permanent home, the ninety-nine-seat Mabou Mines Theater in the East Village, with a newly devised piece called Glass Guignol: The Brother and Sister Play, a riff on Tennessee Williams that presents passages from four of his plays, most prominently The Glass Menagerie. But to summarize the piece in such a straightforward way fails to capture the elusiveness of the work by this celebrated avant-garde theatre company. Glass Guignol makes the recent, critically bludgeoned, experimental The Glass Menagerie directed by Sam Gold on Broadway feel like a production for the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Full review on HowlRound

Ferguson Review: Michael Brown’s Killing, Via Grand Jury Transcript

“Ferguson,” a play by Phelim McAleer, presents verbatim testimony from the Grand Jury that declined to indict white Police Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9, 2014 shooting death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, an event in Ferguson, Missouri that led to demonstrations and debates nationwide.

Using 13 actors to portray 20 characters – prosecutors, eye witnesses, character witnesses, experts, grand jury members, and Wilson himself – the play boils down 25 days of testimony (a transcript of more than 4,000 pages ) to about 90 minutes. The result is a courtroom drama like none other, with many unanswered questions.
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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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Burning Doors Review: Belarus Free Theatre and Pussy Riot Unite to Fight For Human Rights

In “Burning Doors,” Belarus Free Theatre’s latest arresting, arousing, athletic and anarchic play about state-sponsored injustice, one of the eight cast members strips naked as he tells the story of a man who had been sentenced to death by firing-squad for a political crime, but was given a last-minute reprieve. The man was distraught at the thought of having to live on, having made his peace with dying.

The ironic story, as we’re told in a caption when it’s finished, is an excerpt from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. It presents in microcosm both the hypnotic appeal and the challenge of the work by this extraordinary 12-year-old avant-garde ensemble.

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Androboros Review. America’s First Play: Political, Satirical, Scatological

Androboros: Benjamin Strate, Caiti Lattimer, Roy Koshy, Hank Lin

Nearly everything about “Androboros” makes it sound like a must-see show.

It was America’s first published play, printed in 1714, yet there is no record it has ever been publicly performed until this production by the Peculiar Works Project.

The playwright, Robert Hunter, ruled as Governor of New York, and his play is reportedly rooted in stories that are true, bizarre and occasionally scatological.

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NYIT Award Winners 2017: Off-Off Broadway’s Finest

Saloon Theater’s mouthful of a play – “Six Translation of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time” — was a big winner in the 13th annual New York Innovative Theater Awards, which celebrates the best of the city’s independent theater  — aka Off-Off Broadway. Below is the complete list of winners.

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