It is quite apparent that I attempt to abide by the ‘go/do’ policy as best I can: I readily get antsy if I’m not out of the apartment at least two evenings a week, and a desk job provides the antithesis of my kind of motion. Being that such is true, I can’t devote the time for full updates for everything I do. Henceforth, let it be known that shows/museum visits/specialty events will receive their own posts while recurring events will be combined with other activities.
TINYRHINO @ Littlefield, February 18th
For the Uninitiated: The brainchild of UglyRhino Productions, TinyRhino is a performance series masquerading as a drinking game. Each month, the group calls upon six playwrights to each produce a one-act play containing a list of prompts, with the resulting pieces generally based around a particular theme. At the events, the resulting six plays are performed, and for each mention of one of the prompts, the audience takes a drink. To get the ball rolling, your admission fee includes the price of a beer. Though I’ve occasionally seen people get drunk, mostly it’s just a good opportunity to appreciate the ingenuity of your local talent while seeing how on point you are in terms of recognizing verbal and nonverbal cues.
In Short: I genuinely wish this brief would be a bit longer, as such would be a probable indicator of some degree of quality, but alas – let brevity speak for itself. There was not a single play among the six that I would call exceptional. As a matter of fact, only one of them even pawed at the usual standard of TinyRhino’s offerings (a piece featuring three actors posing as young boys and illustrating their views/misconceptions about womanhood through the lens of their own mothers). The rest ranged from forgettable to outright bad. I was disappointed that such served as Kate’s introduction to the series, and I fear it will likely dissuade her from a second visit. Maybe it was the fault of the Valentine’s Day theme, I don’t know.
Basically, you know an event is substandard when the ramen you got beforehand is the highlight of the evening. Which is not a knock against ramen, of course. At least I can now vouch for the restaurant we went to, which is a half-block away from the venue.
AN EXISTENTIAL SING-ALONG @ The Tank, February 22nd
For the Uninitiated: Doppelskope is a performance duo, though to call them a duo is a bit of an understatement–where would they be without Joey, the lovable but neurotic therapy patient? Or this guy? Are Stampy and DoppelChris one and the same or do they count as two characters? As a note, typing this made me realize that I think that I only know Joey’s name among the bevy of puppets the Doppelskopers employ. Trust that they are all wonderful.
Performances involve well-crafted vignettes that flow into and wind around each other, frequent (and admirably agile) switching up of puppeteer duties and characters, a dash of existential pondering/crisis, and a decent amount of audience participation. And cookies. Tons of cookies. When Dylan and I first saw these guys last year during a performance of their staple Shrink: Puppet Therapy show, we were instantly won over by the baked goods freely offered upon entry.
This particular show is based around a checklist of mini-acts that are crossed off as the performers complete them. Said acts range from seconds-long bits of physical humor to longer narrative pieces to fully-formed sequences that may or may not involve the Game of Life as it relates to developing consciousness (and the inherent anxieties that grow with it), the unending tango of fear and curiosity as found in a stack of mail, and how the actions associated with romancing are, um, not always as successful when timing and pacing are removed from the equation. Get ready for bread to fly. Get ready to get lost in a puppet’s unending nightmare. Get ready to chant, “We All Know What It Is,” once you know What It Is.
I was planning to do quick illustrations for all three components of this update, then I decided to do just the latter two, and by the time I was done with the below, I kind of just threw up my hands. Blogustrations, now in shocking VectorVision!
In Short: At the opposite end of the quality spectrum for the week’s activities lies Doppelskope in the midst of a three-day run of An Existential Sing-Along. If only Kate could have made it to this event instead, as was the original plan–I trust that it would have been far more fulfilling!
Given that we attended the show preview, I knew what to expect from this performance; given that I was having a weird-to-not-awesome day, the familiarity was welcome. I tried to avoid the cookies. Really, I did. But once you’ve been spotted by Stampy, there’s simply no way out of it. (That guy. Just the best.)
Unfortunately, I forgot about the audience suggestion boxes at the front of the stage until I was already seated as far away from aisle access as possible. I at least tried to make up for my reduced participation by singing along during the sing-along portions at a louder volume than the last show. Also, I counted more jellybeans this go-round, which was more a matter of chance than anything else, but whatever, I felt good about it.
There were a few variables in the mix. For instance, in the wonderfully executed ‘kdghflhagsh’ act (I can’t type a scribble), the audience participant seemed to swing between more or less willing to be a part of the ruckus than the selected person at the show we saw together. She totally owned the baguette in the dining sequence and seemed quite unfazed to receive the washer-ring, but was definitely having none of the finale, departing before the clown nose reveal. Stampy appeared hurt and confused but shortly seemed to adopt a ‘such is life’ attitude. After all that work, good on him.
I can definitively conclude that my favorites off the list include Joey/Stampy/Magic Tricks (particularly this part), Ora’s explorations of horizontal and vertical space, the call center sequence during Joey’s nightmare, and the Ode to the Green Man. Everything is great, of course, but those ones continue to stand out for me. And the group chant with impassioned reading of the slips from the two contribution boxes is still just so excellent and ridiculous.
In Transit: On the way there, I thought about how I am strangely glad I am that Doppelskope sometimes performs at the Tank. Without that, I would completely forget how absolutely hellish the greater Times Square area is, as it’s generally best to actively avoid that region. Even so, I don’t like to limit my view of the city to just the places I like to go, lest I forget about how others form their opinions about what New York is about and contains. So I trudged through the hordes of starry-eyed, slow-footed tourists, laughing to myself as I passed the comedians while thinking of the fantastic and incredibly accurate event description (for the non-Cambridgers out there, Dylan and I have mentioned on several occasions how great that description is; are you sold on the ‘skope yet?).
Given my continued inability to be cool enough to talk with the cool kids in life/my recent decision to not only follow up the performance with a visit to the Kraine Theatre, but to walk the 2.5 miles between locations (it was a really nice night!), I dashed afterward. I started off confident, buzzing down Sixth beneath a bright moon, In On The Kill Taker setting my pace. I smiled a lot. I talked with a homeless guy who said he was just thankful to know that anyone could hear him. Despite my minimal food for the day, I thought, ‘Phh! Who needs meals when you have coffee and good music?’
Then things changed.
In On The Kill Taker was followed by Red Medicine. The streets stopped looking familiar–I didn’t turn when I should have. I was well into Nolita. My eyes shifted about. I checked the time a lot. The lack of food and fast walking started to hit me, and now everything felt really weird… no, Really Weird. Version came on and suddenly I was every iteration of this trope, passing groups of drunken businessmen and flickering neon. Thankfully, two dazzling ladies in sequins and fur coats were kind enough to point me in the right direction. I trust they were spirit-guides from the Roaring ’20s, ensuring that I would successfully manage my hi-jinx.
TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND @ The Kraine Theatre, February 22nd
For the Uninitiated: Too Much Light… is the staple show of the New York Neo-Futurists, a merry band of writers and actors. Their goal is to pull performance from life, so when you see a Neo-Futurist on stage, you’re not seeing a character–you’re seeing the actor. Too Much Light is their attempt to complete 30 unique plays in 60 minutes, often engaging with audience members (which is putting it lightly, as Dylan can personally affirm) and ranging across a wide emotional spectrum. The plays can be satirical and absurd or anecdotal and affecting, or all of the above. It can be in the known world, the quiet of one person’s mind, or some great exaggeration of either. Each play has a length of somewhere between a few seconds and a few minutes. Stage setup is ad hoc, with Neo-Futurists not in the play managing light, effects, and props. There’s a whole lot of dashing about at any given moment, and it’s impossible to not be drawn into the delightful chaos of it all.
In Short: This’ll be easy, as I still have the night’s menu in my purse! I can just focus on highlights!
Off the bat, Borg seemed impressed that I was flying solo and tried to get me to sit up in the front (I politely declined). I forget what my name was, but it was a good one, given to me by Dylan-Whom-I-Won’t-Call-Carlos-But-It’s-Hard. Note to the Uninitiated: upon entering the theatre, a Neo-Futurists greets you by shouting, “HIWHAT’SYOURNAME?!” He or she is donning sound-canceling headphones and dimming goggles. Your name is probably an adjective or short phrase that presumably has nothing to do with you. My favorite one I’ve gotten so far, Stardust, is proudly displayed on the back of my computer.
-I was so pleased that “Smoke and Mirrors” was still being performed. It’s truly beautiful. I misted up somethin’ awful. [The lights are turned off; this song starts playing. A Neo-Futurist appears onstage, spraying some smoke around as she goes. She turns on a flashlight–its light is cast into a mirror on one end of the stage, its beam bouncing off and reflecting into another mirror at the other end. This play of light and mirrors continues as another Neo-Futurists joins in. When they meet, they turn their beams to the ceiling to illuminate a mirrorball, casting stray sparkles back into the mirrors below as they begin to dance in time with the song. The rest of the Neo-Futurists join.]
– “Yo Momma”: A group of Neo-Futurists perform the typical subverted ‘You momma’s so…’ joke with compliments abound, illustrating how well they knew each other’s mothers and how highly they thought of each. An added bonus: Dylan’s mum was in the audience, so she got to hear their kind words! Unexpected twist: the next play included two performers chucking things into the audience and MamaDylan got hit squarely in the head.
– “New Jersey Conga Line”: MegBash got a bunch of audience members up on stage and started a festive conga line, leading them all backstage. While they did their dance, other Neo-Futurists popped up and put a bunch of roadblock and detour signs across their only point of reentry to the stage. A perfectly curated traffic jam ensued. Spot on, Ms. Bash, spot on.
– “Fair Trade?”: Neo-Futurists fill the stage and, as timed with a song, begin swapping articles of clothing and shaking hands. It didn’t take long for them to seep out into the audience; participants from both parties were stuck with whatever they got until the end of the show. The girl sitting next to me was called upon and was very close to taking off the dress she was wearing, as she had no other garb to trade, but curtains were called just in time. She and her boyfriend both seemed quite relieved!
– “Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color in the Julia Louis-Dreyfuss Romantic Comedy ‘Enough Said’ as Performed by the Only Neo-Futurist of Color in Tonight’s Show, with Original Accents from the Motion Picture”: That about covers it. Dylan is a true champ, and he pulls off the stereotypical (read: alarmingly one-dimensional) fiery Hispanic cleaning lady with panache. I have no idea what this film is, but now I know I would almost certainly hate it.
– “The Other Side of the Monologue”: Neo-Futurist takes seat on stage, goes through an array of immaculately-executed countenances in reaction to the monologue we can’t hear.
– “To Be Continued…”: Once this number was pulled, all plays following were interrupted halfway through, with the number returning to the remaining list. The participating Neo-Futurists needing to return to their exact positions once each number was called for a second time. A true testament to how well they know their material!
As always with their performances, I left in elevated spirits and creatively inspired. I suspect I will be paying them quite a few more visits before you return.
MEWITHOUTYOU @ Le Poisson Rouge, February 26th
THE LITTLE PRINCE: A NEW YORK STORY @ the Morgan Library & Museum
On the Docket
- STORY COLLIDER @ Littlefield, March 12th
- THEO GRIZOL and SPOONBOY @ Silent Barn, March 16th
- ROUGH FRANCIS @ The Grand Victory, March 23rd
- DERRICK BROWN & EUGENE MIRMAN @ Littlefield, March 24th
- JUKEBOX THE GHOST @ The Knitting Factory, April 3rd
- THE COMPLETE AND CONDENSED STAGE DIRECTIONS OF EUGENE O’NEILL @ The Kraine Theatre, some point between April 17th – May 11th
- THE WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 19th
- MISCHIEF BREW @ The Grand Victory, April 25th
- FUCK CANCER SPRING ALLEY CAT (Charity Bike Ride) @ McCarren Park, May 3rd
- KEVIN DEVINE @ Terminal 5, May 22nd
- O’DEATH @ the Wick, June 7th
- NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL and CIRCULATORY SYSTEM @ the Prospect Park Bandshell, July 23rd
- RICHARD SERRA: NEW SCULPTURE @ Gagosian Gallery
- ITALIAN FUTURISM, 1904 – 1944: RECONSTRUCTING THE UNIVERSE @ the Guggenheim
- KARA WALKER @ the Domino Sugar Factory
- RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART @ because I feel like it