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Our Picks for the Public Theater’s Under The Radar Festival

The Under the Radar Festival, which recruits the best new theater projects from around the world and houses them at The Public Theater for two event-filled weeks, is officially underway and we are thrilled to be covering some of the festival’s most anticipated shows. For theater artists and non-practitioners alike, the festival is a chance to discover new styles and structures being explored outside our community’s borders and fuel our local creative momentum. It’s an exciting chance to see international artists exchange their work and even to discover what ties the global theater community together. This is the third year that we’ve covered UTR, and we are always delightfully surprised to find how much we can learn about our own life and culture from foreign artists.

Tickets for UTR’s events are only $20-25. Learn more about these works and other offerings at UTR’s Program.

Photo by Ligia Jardim

O Jardim (Brazil’s Companhia Hiato )

Many of this year’s shows are experimenting with structure and style to playfully reflect on memory and its effects on history, identity, and relationships. O Jardim is perhaps the most innovative of the works, using a complex and thrillingly exact trio of scenes which play simultaneously to three separate sections of the audience. Each scene portrays a different generation of one family and how subsequent generations experience the recollected lives of their elders.

Photo by Mitch Dean

The Orpheus Variations (Deconstructive Theatre Collective)

We reviewed this piece back when it premiered at HERE Arts Center and were frankly astounded by it. It accomplishes a magnificent feat– it films the play as it is performed and project the astounding and quite unexpected results on a screen behind the actors. A beautiful, simple, and smart adaptation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, Deconstructive Theatre Collective manages to create a multi-layered piece that uses the modal differences between live performance and film to reflect on memory, loss, and love. Catch it tonight (1/10) at La MaMa. It’s sure to be worthwhile!

 

The Triumph of Fame (Switzerland’s Marie-Caroline Hominal)

Choreographer Marie-Caroline Hominal creates an individual theatrical piece, bringing an audience of one to a discreet backstage location with a piece that blends the boundaries between spectator and performer. Each encounter lasts only 15 minutes and incorporates various performance mediums surrounding the text of Petrarch’s “i Trionfi.” If you ever wanted more out of the one-on-ones in Sleep No More, The Triumph of Fame should definitely be on your list.

Photo Courtesy of JACK

Ike at Night (USA’s Ikechukwu Ufomadu)

Late-night talk show hosts are a dime a dozen (aren’t they all white men named Jimmy at this point?). Which is why Ufomadu’s take on the talk-show format, straight from a sold-out run in Brooklyn,  should be a fascinating, fresh, and entertaining phenomenon to watch!

Photo by Graeme Braidwood

Stan’s Cafe (UK’s The Cardinals)

Three cardinals travel the world on a mission to broaden biblical knowledge using puppet theater. But when their puppets go missing, they must improvise their own show, comically covering biblical scenes and Middle East relationships dating from the Crusades. Given the fact that world-Muslim relationships are constantly in the news (most recently under the microscope of the Charlie Hebdo attacks), we’re sure this piece will only gain relevancy and humor with time.

Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1900s-1950s (USA’s Taylor Mac)

Taylor Mac is something of a theater prophet. His performance in Good Person of Szechwan first turned us on to his glorious message of a theater of inclusion, community, and gender-bending elegance. This concert is only part of a 24-hour concert series presenting music from every decade in the United States’s history as a nation. Mac’s experimentation with long-form theater aims to bring audiences together with a uniquely vulnerable physical experience. Not only should it be a great experiment in long-form theater, but also it should be incredibly fun to see Mac’s joyous celebration of music.

 

Fuerza Bruta Kills Trees

Coming out of Fuerza Bruta felt a bit like being the SNL-version of Miley Cyrus– Like, why was that guy running? And like, why is he being shot at? And like, is it all a metaphor for work and play? And like, how is that plexiglass thing so strong? And like, who’s that Uncle Sam guy and like, everyone else for that matter?

The answers to these questions don’t exactly matter. Fuerza Bruta at times feels like a performance art piece trying to be a meaningful metaphor of something or other. It opens and closes with an endlessly running man dressed in a weird cross between a business suit and a hospital gown. What I imagine a clown would wear to a job interview… from the 1990’s.

The man is shot at. And bleeds. Like twice. And he’s running. A lot. Sometimes other people dressed in ugly business suits join him. Is he running from a hit man? Running towards a hit man? Is it a metaphor for overcoming life’s trials? Are they all dressed in over-sized blazers because they’re running from work? To work?

Maybe they’re running away from their costume designers?

No one cares. Lights out. Set change. Crazy dances ensue. Also, about a ton’s weight of paper confetti.

Fuerza Bruta hovers between being edgy, visually-beautiful performance art and setting a dance club-environment. It works best when it abandons both pretensions and just focuses of stimulating the sense. The coolest part of the show by far is when a plexiglass ceiling lowers on the audience while four female cast members splash, slide, play, and crash in pools of water.  It was rousing, even a bit suspenseful, but also visually unique.

Four wet chicks thank you for your time.

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