The show-going madness continues! Don't flag now, you warriors: some of the best stuff is here in the second week. A few of the shorter festivals have finished—Special Effects (the contemporary performance festival at the Wild Project) and the Circus Now series at NYU's Skirball Center are over, and La MaMa SQUIRTS Queer Performance Festival doesn't start until January 16.. With breathing room comes opportunity, so I'd recommend racing over to Abrons Arts Center to maximize your chances at getting into American Realness shows, and then just weeping openly until they let you in off the waitlist.
The first news, the best news, is that Andrew Schneider's stunning ***** YOUARENOWHERE (pictured above) is still running this week in COIL at the Invisible Dog. A weird hybrid of an inspirational seminar, confessional one-man show, introductory lecture on relativity and visually gorgeous prediction of what will happen when the machines take over, YOUARENOWHERE is a tour de force—both of acting and design. (In fact, it may be the first show that has truly, fully integrated the two.) Schneider, shirtless, with his face powdered white, seems to have grafted his nervous system directly into the lights. He twitches, and great, absurd, room-filling splashes of color appear and disappear; lightning-quick blackouts play odd tricks, deranging our time-sense. Schneider himself moves and speaks so quickly he seems to be flickering back to us from the future, blessing someone before they sneeze, even showing us the ending of his piece long before the coup-de-theatre that will implement it. Connoisseurs of process-oriented, short-form programming like Catch may have seen this work in snippets, but this is your first chance in a very long time to see a completed Schneider. Getting to see what his wicked, febrile mind has been up to is thrilling and happens but once a half-decade. It's like Brigadoon, people. Don't miss it.
Since Schneider deserves to be a big star, perhaps some day (if he's lucky) he'll show up on **** Ike at Night, the live talk show hosted by the waggishly charming Ikechukwu Ufomadu. One of the best bits of Under the Radar programming, this coproduction with JACK (so many all capitals in these fests!) is supposed to be a satire of late-night, but is actually the best-case scenario for what late night could be. The night I saw it, Ike's producer Alec Duffy had programmed guests like Walter T. Mosley, the New York state assemblyman (who told a hair-raising story of having a toddler daughter who orders him around “like a slave”), the anti-gentrification activist Imani Henry and musical guest John Hodgman, who played us songs on his ukulele, an instrument he claimed was “Ayn Rand's favorite” because you play it without regard for other people's pleasure. These are great goddamn guests, all set off by Ike himself, whose droll, crooning murmur and a confidence as big as all outdoors makes the show pass in a haze of constantly burbling laughter. If I weren't so overscheduled, I'd go again.
Under the Radar also played host last week to **** Cineastas, a beautifully conceived (if somewhat exhaustingly long) production by Argentina's Mariano Pensotti. The show has closed, so it's cruel to tell you that it was a delicate, rather literary-seeming production, which combined dramatic and narrative techniques in an intoxicating way. In Buenos Aires, filmmakers of all different stripes—a documentarian, an independent, a star-director with a terminal disease—go through various reversals of fortune. Sometimes we see them in scenes; sometimes an actor will describe their stories in the third person, giving the action a strange sense of remove. Above, on a second level (we seem to be watching a split-screen), the actors also play scenes from the films in question. The effect of all this multiplication is to drive home Pensotti's central question: How much, in the end, is our life simply imitating art?
If I haven't succeeded yet, let me make one more attempt to get you out to the festivals. Even productions that fall short can buoy you in this dreadful winter weather, and for those of us who moved to New York for the art, this is the city we were promised.We came here because (for instance) there are shows like Gray Spaces, last week's haphazard collection of live-art works at Special Effects. I admit, I had a terrible time, but darn it, I came to New York all those years ago in part to see young artists trying out stuff that's totally derivative (Sophie Cleary urinating on the stage as a comment on feminist art), and stuff that's pointlessly outré (dance company FlucT leaping violently around in the afore-implied puddle). The bravery to make nonsense is very close to the bravery needed to make wonderful things. Hell, you find it in the same people.
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