Theater Review (NYC): Gentrifusion
To write a very short play is a challenging assignment. To create characters and a storyline with enough substance to make an impression, while at the same time making them recognizably real and interesting without taking Drama 101 shorcuts, is hard enough in two hours; accomplishing it in 20 minutes is that much more difficult. The Red Fern Theatre Company asked six playwrights each to write a short play about gentrification, a subject near, if not dear, to the hearts of so many New Yorkers. The six tried a variety of approaches; some work, some don't.
The biggest problems come when writers smash characters with disparate backgrounds together and force them to interact in ways that seem wholly artificial in order to get the emotional action going. This dooms Jon Kern's Ours Is the Future. Ours Is the Past, in which the apartment of a yuppie couple in a "transitioning" neighborhood has been broken into and the husband suspects two mechanics who work in a neighboring garage of knowing something about it. These two likable men, on the verge of losing their garage to high rents, have been bantering about whether the hedgehogs or baby seals they've seen on TV are cuter; but the yuppie husband, blinded by prejudice and fear, barges in and accuses them of involvement in the burglary, acting as if he really knows them. The wife comes by later to apologize but, bizarrely, opens up emotionally. It makes zero sense.
The same problem ruins Janine Nabers' (2) 11. Mugged by local street thugs, a young white woman with a baby gets the runaround at the police station, but one sympathetic cop bonds with her. This cop bears so little resemblance to real New York City policemen that I wondered whether the playwright has ever met one. "Why have you been so nice to me?" the victim asks. "'Cause no one else around here will," he replies with mild empathy. Sorry, no; by and large, our police are helpful and professional, but they don't resemble this guy in the least. A surprise ending isn't enough to rescue the play.
Carla Ching's First of the Month fares better, mostly because its three characters are more colorful and interesting. It, too, ends up relying on a sudden bond between two people who've never met before, but that's less bothersome here because these young protagonists, charged up by the emotions of moving day, are actually recognizable New York types we can imagine getting it on in conversation.
Most colorful of all, and funny, is Joshua Conkel's Robert Mapplethorpe Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which frames gentrification as a matter of gay vs. queer; excellent performances by Devin Norik as a gay yuppie with a baby and Andrée St. Clair Thompson as a homeless, transgendered heroin addict who find they have more in common than they thought help make the play a compact delight.
Crystal Skillman's Crawl brings together two estranged brothers to argue over the sale of their childhood Brooklyn home; the playwright skilfully reveals their characters and backgrounds in a satisfying way. Taking the most liberty with the theme is Michael John Garcés, who spins a manic haunted-house tale that seems—though its stichomythic dialogue is a bit hard to follow—to borrow its twist from the movie The Others but has a scare-tastic time getting there.
Gentrifusion, presented by the Red Fern Theatre Company, runs through Feb. 13 at the LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y, New York.
Photos by Jordan Popalis. 1) Nathan Hinton and Sheldon Best in Crawl. 2) André St. Clair Thompson and Devin Norik in Robert Mapplethorpe Doesn't Live Here Anymore.
Historic West Shore Train Station in Newburgh Reopens
Monday, January 31, 2011; Posted: 11:01 AM - by BWW News Desk
THE RAILROAD PLAYHOUSE AND PIZZA SHOP hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated West Shore Train Station Friday January 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm, 27 South Water Street, Newburgh, NY, 12550. The event featured remarks by Orange County Executive Edward Diana. Also in attendance was New York State Senator William Larkin, Mayor Nicholas Valentine and the office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey.
"I congratulate the Rail Road Playhouse and the Pizza Shop on their significant achievement. Bringing the historic West Shore Train Station back to life sends a signal
that the City of Newburgh is able to attract arts organizations, and new businesses, both of which are key to the continued revitalization of the City?s waterfront and east end,? said Orange County Executive Edward Diana.
"The reopening of the renovated West Shore Railroad Station is a wonderful
boost to Newburgh's artistic community," said Senator Bill Larkin. "I
congratulate the Railroad Playhouse and the Pizza Shop for their hard work
and dedication to the City and for being key players in the revitalization
of this historic landmark."
?As Mayor of the City of Newburgh, having this building restored to its former beauty is a tribute to the revitalization of this City,? said Mayor Nicholas Valentine. ?I would like to thank the Rail Road Playhouse and Pizza Shop for all of their hard work in this great turnaround story.?
"I'm delighted to congratulate the Railroad Playhouse and Pizza Shop as they celebrate their official ribbon cutting,? said Congressman Maurice Hinchey. ?The growth of new businesses and the expansion of the arts in the City of Newburgh are vital to the community's future. This exciting combination of the arts and small business will serve to bring new energy to Newburgh, and the restoration of the wonderfully historic West Shore Train Station helps to continue the steady revitalization of the City's waterfront and east end."
"We are extremely grateful for the wonderful reception the Railroad Playhouse has received,? said Artistic Director Seth Soloway. ?In watching the community of artists and patrons from both our past and future enthusiastically get to know each other at the opening, there is no doubt that Newburgh is a perfect place to incubate new work. We are looking forward to a very long journey."
Photo credit: Heather Wojahowski
THE RAILROAD PLAYHOUSE is dedicated to the revitalization of Newburgh and the preservation of Newburgh?s historic West Shore Railroad Station by providing a space for high-quality, artistically creative performing arts experiences.
The Railroad Playhouse will strive to provide a home for playwrights to workshop and showcase new plays; present local, national, and International Artists of all genres; create partnerships with local businesses and organizations to continue revitalizing the area; implement after school programming and a summer arts camp for local children; and create teaching-artists residences in local schools.
Spare Times for Jan. 28-Feb. 3
By ANNE MANCUSO
Published: January 27, 2011
‘Gentrifusion’ (through Feb. 13) The positive and negative outcomes of gentrification in New York are explored in “Gentrifusion,” a collection of short plays presented by the Red Fern Theater Company. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. (on Feb. 6, the show is at 2 p.m.); there is an additional performance on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. LABA Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street, Manhattan , (866) 811-4111, redferntheatre.org; $25.
New Perspectives Presents MOTHER OF GOD!
Thursday, January 27, 2011; Posted: 05:01 PM - by BWW News Desk
NEW PERSPECTIVES THEATRE COMPANY is pleased to announce the world premiere production of Michele A. Miller's MOTHER OF GOD!, directed by Melody Brooks. MOTHER OF GOD! will play a three-week limited engagement at Richmond Shepard Theatre (309 East 26th Street, NYC). Performances begin Thursday, March 10 and continue through to Saturday, March 26. Opening Night is Friday, March 11 (8 p.m.).
With historical context but creative license, both profane and profound, Mother of God! investigates the intersection of the politics of Sex and of Religion embedded in the story of the coming of the Messiah. Written by a Jewish mother about the ultimate Jewish Mother, this play expands upon what is a very short story in the New Testament.
The production features production design by Meganne George, and lighting design by Joyce Liao. Rhawnie Reil is the stage manager.
MOTHER OF GOD! plays the following regular schedule through Saturday, March 26:
Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $18; $15 student/senior; now available online at http://www.theatermania.com or by calling 866-811-4111. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theatre ½ hour prior to performance, subject to availability. For more information, please call New Perspectives at 212-630-9945.
Running Time: 2 hours
Website: www.nptnyc.org or www.motherofgod1play.wordpress.com
Mother of God! is an original play developed in New Perspectives? Award-winning Women?s Work LAB.
MELODY BROOKS (Director/Dramaturg) is the founder and Artistic Director of New Perspectives. Ms. Brooks directs the Women?s Work LAB, currently managing the development of 6-10 short and full-length scripts a year; she also serves as Executive Producer for NPTC?s Voices From the Edge Festival, showcasing new works by African-American artists. She has developed and directed a number of original scripts with the company, notably Exhibit #9 by Tracey Scott Wilson, (AUDELCO Award); Jihad by Ann Chamberlin, (OOBR Award); and Anatomy of a Love Affair by Deirdre Hollman, (optioned by Essence Entertainment). Other developmental directing credits include Finding Home by Keline Adams, starring Marcella Lowery (from The Cosby Show), Untitled and Unfinished, written and performed by Yolanda Wilkinson and presented at NPTC and the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival; and Touchscape, written and performed by James Scruggs for the Queer at HERE Festival. Ms. Brooks has also directed many of NPTC's innovative classic productions. Most recently she directed a workshop of Hamlet based on scholarship showing the script parallels the Book of Revelation. A full production is planned for September 2011.
MICHELE A. MILLER (Playwright) is a mother, writer, and an archaeologist who has also worked in theatre administration and as a writer and editor. Michele has a M.A. in Anthropology and Ph.D. in Archaeology and has conducted extensive field-work in Greece, Israel, France and the U.S. Her interest in human society throughout the past and in historical and mythological characters informs many of her plays. Michele?s full-length play, Real Estate, was a semi-finalist in the 2002 American Theatre Coop Playwriting Contest and received readings at Women's Project & Productions, Word of Mouth and Vital Theatre workshops. Products of Conception, a play featuring one couple?s journey through infertility and loss, was produced as part of the Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theatre Source in October, 2003, and as part of the Strawberry Festival in the summer of 2004, where it was reprised as a ?Producer?s Choice?. Her play, Bedtime Stories was produced as part of the Development Series at Manhattan Theatre Source in May 2004. Her one-act plays have been seen as part of ?New Acts? at Boston Playwrights' Theatre, the Tandem Acts Festival of the Women?s Project Theatre, and Blueberry Pond Theatre?s 2006 Spring Sampler. Her full-length play Choice was chosen in 2008 for development by New Perspectives' Women's Work program and her short play Power Girls Support Group was produced by the company in the summer of 2008.
NEW PERSPECTIVES THEATRE COMPANY is an award-winning, multi-racial company performing in the Theatre District and in communities throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The Company?s mission is to develop and produce new plays and playwrights, especially women and people of color, to present classic plays in a style that addresses contemporary issues, and to extend the benefits of theatre to young people and communities in need. Our aim is not to exclude, but to cast a wider net. Now in its 19th season, notable NPTC productions have included Richard III, starring Austin Pendleton; Exhibit #9 by Tracy Scott Wilson (1999 Audelco Award); Jihad by Ann Chamberlain (1996 OOBR Award for Best Production); The Taming of the Shrew (2002 OOBR Award for Best Production), Admissions by Tony Velella (10 Best Plays of 1995, Backstage); the U.S. premiere of Visit by world-renowned Argentinean playwright Ricardo Monti; and the New York Premieres of Vaclav Havel?s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration; The Shaneequa Chronicles, written and performed by 2001 OBIE Award-winner Stephanie Berry (produced with Blackberry Productions); and Lemon Meringue Façade by Ted Lange, along with several innovative Shakespeare productions. NPTC was named a ?Person of the Year? in 2010 by NY Theatre Experience as a co-founder of 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists.
Photo by Dennis Ho
Don’t go gently: See “Gentrifusion.”
Just Do Art!
Compiled by Scott stiffler
Red Fern Theatre Company’s latest project charged several playwrights with the task of exploring the “different truths” surrounding the gentrification of New York’s neighborhoods. The short plays of “Gentrifusion,” we’re assured, will reach beyond the clichéd ideas of gentrification to explore how imposed changes on the place where you live both improves and diminishes the community. What they’ve found out already is that “both long-time residents and the new crop of gentrifiers benefit and suffer in different measures and different ways.” The roster of short plays are supported by projections created from photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Dennis Ho (dwho.com). Jan. 27 through Feb. 13. Thurs. at 8pm, Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm (Super Bowl Sun., Feb. 6, at 2pm). Additional performance on Mon., Feb., 7 at 7pm. Running Time: 120 minutes, with intermission. At LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th St. btw. First & Second Aves.). For tickets ($25), visit redferntheatre.org or call 866-811-4111.
Joshua Conkel and Robert Mapplethorpe...Gentrifusion
RED FERN THEATRE COMPANY
An installation on
New York's dynamic cultural shifts
JANUARY 27 – FEBRUARY 13, 2011
THE LABA THEATRE AT THE 14TH STREET Y
In GENTRIFUSION, playwrights Carla Ching, Joshua Conkel , Michael John Garcés, Jon Kern, Janine Nabers and Crystal Skillman, explore the different truths surrounding the gentrification of New York’s neighborhoods. The playwrights were charged with breaking down the cliched idea of "gentrification".
Their pieces dig deeper to address the ways that change both improves and diminishes a community. All residents are given voice in this series, ultimately discovering that both long time residents and the new crop of gentrifiers benefit and suffer in different measures and different ways.
Joshua Conkel's short play is ,
Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Is the "gay ghetto" dead? Some queens just can't agree on anything.
According to Josh, "My piece is about a war of words between a trans street person and a well-to-do gay man whose just adopted a baby. It's about assimilation vs identity within the gay community and the death of "gay ghettos" due to gentrification."
Tickets are $25 and are now available online at Theater Mania or by calling 866.811.4111. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the theater box office ½ hour prior to the performance.
LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street between First and Second Avenues
4/5/6/N/R/Q to Union Square; L to First Avenue
A Fable to Reflect On
“A Wonderfully Flat Thing"
Directed by David Winitsky
14th Street Y LABA Theatre
344 East 14th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues
Tickets: $15; (646) 395-4322 or www.14StreetY.org
Closes Jan. 16, 2011
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Jan. 9, 2011
Mark Twain, best known for his twin novels of childhood, Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was also a writer of fables. One of his fables, “A Wonderfully Flat Thing," has been adapted for children’s theater by Valerie Work, Manju Shandler and Basmat Hazan, and is currently playing a return engagement at 14th Street Y LABA theatre.
The show, created by Shandler and Hazan, directed by David Winitsky and choreographed by Jesse Zaritt, features a talented group of actor/puppeteers who tell the story of self-discovery through music, dance, spoken word, and video projections.
The “wonderfully flat thing" of the title is, of course, a mirror, which reveals our image in unexpected ways. In “A Wonderfully Flat Thing," the Ostrich Sarae Garcia), the Cat Emily Hartford), the Donkey (Jake Goodman), the Elephant (Shawn Shafner) and the Snake (Sarah Painter) all see the image of themselves in the mirror and come to the conclusion that their image is an intrinsic part of the mirror. They may be pleased or alarmed by what they see.
This egocentric interpretation is one that is quite understandable to the innocent minds of children. But whether or not children get Twain’s moral and philosophical message, they will be intrigued and delighted by the wonderful costumes and masks worn by the actors and the spirited antics of the animals.
Shandler’s set, which includes Twain’s bedroom and the realm of the animals, is also an entertaining adventure into fantasy. And Shandler’s puppets, manipulated both by string and by hand are funny and whimsical.
With its small scale and congenial audience interaction, “A Wonderfully Flat Thing" is a perfect first-time theater experience for very young children and their adult companions. [Simmons]
Events & Happenings in New York City!
A Wonderfully Flat Thing
When:Sunday January 16, 2011
11:30 and 2:30pm
Where:14th Street Y Theater
344 E. 14th Street
New York, NY 10003
Full Venue Info, Map It
Join Mark Twain and his animal friends on a fun journey of self discovery and magic. With puppets, dance, music, and interactive video projections kids ages 4 & up will be delighted by this visual feast. Based on Mark Twain’s short story, A Fable, our talented cast discovers a mysterious “flat thing,” a mirror, and each sees something different. Is it magic? Only Mark Twain has the answer! A Wonderfully Flat Thing is a innovative children’s theater production your kids will love!
Photo Exhibit, Theatre on Tap at Railroad Playhouse
Published On Wednesday, January 12, 2011 By Newburgh Editor. Under: News.
A photo by Stevie Ray Soloway from an exhibit this month at the Railroad Playhouse Gallery.
The Railroad Playhouse is moving full steam into the new year with an art show, theater performance and workshop at their new space in the West Shore Train Station in Newburgh.
Check out the landscape photography of Stevie Ray Soloway in a grand Gallery Opening this Saturday, January 15, from 7 to 9 pm and see how his photos present an ethereal tone to untouched areas of Staten Island. Stevie Ray is the father of Railroad Playhouse artist director Seth Soloway and all sales will benefit the theater.
The following weekend, January 21-22, the public is invited to a performance of a chilling tale of a real life serial killer in England. Cabot Parsons directs Howard Brenton’s Christie in Love, a play that gives viewers a window into the motivation and psychology of the killer. The piece will be performed by Kyle Bosch, David H. Cohen and Jeffrey Foley.
The next day, if you want to polish up your audition monologue and learn audition tips and techniques, artistic director Seth Soloway is offering a three-hour audition Monologue Master Class at the theater. With over 12 years of professional directing experience, Seth will work with you to fine-tune your audition monologue while providing insider tips and techniques to help you land your next gig!
For times and ticket information for all of these events, visit the Railroad Playhouse online atwww.rrplayhouse.org.