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The most intimate play you’ll ever see: Theatre for One returns to New York

By David Cote

Some New York theater venues are vast. The Lyric Theatre, where On the Town is playing, seats more than 1,900. Others are teensy. A couple of miles downtown, thrill-seekers squeeze into HERE’s downstairs space, the Dorothy B. Williams Theatre (63 seats and eight stools). But Theatre for One has them all beat for intimacy and intensity. The brainchild of set designer Christine Jones (American Idiot), Theatre for One is basically what it sounds like: a box big enough for one actor and one audience member.

Christine Jones, left, visits her venuePhotograph: Darial Sneed

Presented by Arts Brookfield and True Love Productions, I'm Not the Stranger You Think I Am will be performed for free in three public venues throughout Manhattan from May 18 to June 6: the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place (May 18–24), Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan (May 27–31), and Midtown’s Grace Building Plaza (June 2–6). The lineup for I'm Not the Stranger You Think I Am includes Keith Randolph Smith in #Five by Lynn Nottage; Marisol Miranda in Lizzy by Jose Rivera; Carmen Zilles in The Way Back by Emily Schwend and Redacted by Craig Lucas; Andrew Garman in (Untitled) by Thomas Bradshaw; and Kevin Mambo will be creating original music and performing in Zayd Dohrn's Love Song. The event is free, but you may have to wait in line at one of its various locations. More details here.

Last time this intriguing event was in town (at Times Square), I reviewed the weirdly pleasing, isolating experience. “The intimacy and isolation of Theatre for One taps the unique power of the spectator-performer relationship,” I wrote. “In a time when live entertainment seems a quaint pastime, and people get their thrills vicariously through digital media, Theatre for One is an unforgettable, radically human experiment.” In the past three years, we’ve only gotten more atomized and mediated by technology. Time to connect, one on one.


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