26 October 2006

Surplus Recommends

Port Authority Throw Down by Mike Batistick. It's playing downstairs at the Culture Project (45 Below, one of my favorite spaces), a production of Working Theatre and a presentation of the Impact festival. This is not the sort of play I usually love. Watching it, you don't notice the language, the playwright - you're much more watching the story and the actors (something I'm sure some theatre-goers prefer, and which isn't to say there's no playwriterly craft involved). And it's a story - about New York and America after September 11th, about religion and fanaticism and the government and immigrants - that could very easily just make you roll your eyes. But it's so well-told and well-acted that it rises above the clich├ęs and avoids the easy traps. It's at times hilarious and profoundly upsetting. Batistick and director Connie Grappo know that they shouldn't be getting us enraged about the state of things on the large scale - the fact that there's racism, the fact that the government's abducting Muslim immigrants seemingly without cause. Instead, they get to us through the characters, specifically, showing us the effects on individuals. Yes, the world and the country are fucked up, but it's harder to dismiss people in pain. For a story you might think you already know, it's almost surprisingly affecting. It doesn't hurt that there's some fantastic acting - Debargo Sanyal is completely lovable, and I always love watching Annie McNamara on stage. And throughout, Batistick keeps things ambiguous and complicated, which is really the only way to make a piece on these issues work, but is hardly the only way artists approach them. It plays through November 19. Saturday matinees (2pm) are pay-what-you-can.

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Amazons and their Men by Jordan Harrison. I never intended to be on the Ars Nova mailing list - it seems to have happened when I was buying tickets for my bosses to an Ars Nova show that I was producing. But it's all for the best, because upon browsing their email into November, I discovered this reading:

Amazons and their Men
by Jordan Harrison
directed by Sean Daniels

The Frau used to direct beautiful films for a fascist government. Now she's trying to make a film that's simply beautiful. But when her actors start to disappear, it becomes harder for the Frau to ignore the real war outside her sound stage in favor of the glamorous war on camera.

This reading is free, but reservations are required. To make a reservation call 212-977-1700 or e-mail rsvp@arsnovanyc.com.
It's part of Ars Nova's Out Loud ("Out Loud is a weekly play-reading series dedicated to supporting new work from emerging playwrights.") readings series. I've read the play (probably a now-obsolete draft) and what the synopsis doesn't convey is the brilliant ways Jordan plays with form. In the words of Lila Rose, who saw a reading this summer, "The writing is fantastic and it asks good questions." It's not a perfect play, but it's interesting and new and, to repeat myself and Lila, fantastic writing. It's a sin that Jordan hasn't had a real New York production, and though that will probably/hopefully be remedied in the next couple of seasons, take this chance to hear his work now.

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Don't Quit Your Night Job
, the monthly late-night Broadway/sketch comedy/improv fundraiser for TDF's Open Doors program. Tonight! I went last month and it was riduclously fun, and not just we were sat next to a table of History Boys. Broadway actors are much funnier than you'd think. You'll at once feel ridiculously industry and completely outside-the-loop when your table-mate refuses to introduce you to Susan Blackwell. You will? Or I will? 11:30pm (crazy late!) at Joe's Pub. Last month sold out - you can get tickets here. Classy.

1 comment:

M. Alice said...

thought, not typed:
(i know debargo!)