film

2011: excavation review

1938 February. Times Square. Crop of image © Bettmann/CORBIS.

This is my first full calendar year as a resident of New York City and as a member of the Independent Theater Bloggers Association.  I continue to blather on about topics other than live performances on stage here (critics and dramaturgs in discussion, for example, or films of adored stars), but it is live theatre that most inspires me. And as it is end of year round-up time all around us, I thought I’d take a moment to draw from my journal and calendar lists and posted reviews, and come up with a relatively complete listing of what drew me into a performance space this calendar year.  Items listed here require that I enter through a door outside my own home into a theatre setting with seats (comfortable or confining) into which I settle myself in preparation for a live performance or discussion on stage or a performance captured on film, or enter into a gallery for an exhibit.  Staged presentations.

Not every item on this list ended up in one of my blog entries, nor did every topic in my blog this calendar year begin as a single event listed here.  Many entries, for example, were inspired by more than a score of Walter Reade movie screenings and almost as many Paley Center for Media television event screenings focusing on the work of Judy Garland in July and August of this year, but many fewer blog entries than screenings attended.

So in the end, this listing is my attempt to track my wandering 2011 monthly activity excavating performance adventures in NYC and other locales. I note a few themes. I see far fewer films in theatres that I once did (though I love my current proximity to screens managed by the Film Society of Lincoln Center). Preference and resources dictate that I attend readings and comp-ed tickets to smaller companies over high-priced main-stem Broadway offerings quite often. These excursions, these excavations, add to my sense of this city as my city and home and not a temporary tourist destination. Far-flung works for me — all adventures contribute to my sense of lives within structures, of theatre down side streets, of community amidst poverty and plenty.

Highlighted events within months stand out for a range of reasons.  If this were a “top ten list” for the entire year, annual highlights for me would be crowded into a few months of the year.  I’ve taken a different tack here and have forced myself to select just one monthly highlight within each of the months of the calendar year.  The reasons for selection vary — my introduction to an artist or a special evening with an artist long loved or “the shock of the new” in a theatre experiencing a play previously unknown to me or resonant performances in a revered classic or resonant performances by a cherished production company or some other entirely subjective dimension.  Resonance for a range of reasons.  Let us review.

January

A Small Fire. Michele Pawk and Reed Birney. Actors who take your breath away. Image by Joan Marcus.

  • Black Swan (screening, Lincoln Plaza)
  • Blue Valentine (screening, Lincoln Plaza)
  • New York Philharmonic (Avery Fisher Hall)
  • Diciembre (Under the Radar at Public)
  • City Council Meeting (theatre in development)
  • Ameriville (Under the Radar at Public)
  • Correspondances (Under the Radar at Public)
  • Watt (Under the Radar at Public)
  • Gruesome Playground Injuries (Second Stage)
  • A Small Fire (Playwrights Horizons)
  • Zone of Silence (Under the Radar at La Mama)
  • Let Me Down Easy (Arena Stage DC)
  • Elizabeth Ashley in Conversation (New York Public Library, Lincoln Center)
  • Time Stands Still (Cort)
  • The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Roundabout Pels)
  • Black Tie (Primary Stages)
  • Dolores & North of Providence (Teatro La Tea / Clout in the Mug)
  • Anna Christie (Actors Studio)

February

Nixon in China. First Met and first view of college classmate Sellar’s co-creation. Image by Sara Krulwich.

  • NYC Ballet – La Source, Prodigal Son, The Magic Flute (Koch Theater)
  • Athena Film Festival (Barnard)
  • A Lily Lilies book launch performance (Poet’s House)
  • American Sexy (Flea Theater)
  • Nixon in China (Metropolitan Opera)
  • Best of Cast Party (Town Hall)
  • White People (Ensemble Studio Theatre)
  • Vieux Carre (Wooster Group, Baryshnikov)

March

Letts and Morton thrill audiences as George and Martha in Chicago and DC (where I catch up with it) and next on Broadway (where I hope to see this production again). Image by Michael Brosilow.

  • Merchant of Venice (Theater for a New Audience, Schimmel Center)
  • Black Tie (Primary Stages, 59E59)
  • Three Sisters (Classic Stage Company)
  • The Great Judy Garland (NY Pops, Carnegie Hall)
  • Peter and the Star Catcher (New York Theatre Workshop)
  • Emerging Writers Group Evening of Excerpts (Public)
  • Room (Women’s Project)
  • Double Falsehood (Classic Stage Company)
  • Contemporary Chinese Theatre (Martin E. Segal Theatre CUNY)
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Steppenwolf, Arena Stage DC)
  • Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Joyce)
  • Urge For Going (Public)
  • Gay Purr-ee (screening, Chelsea Clearview)
  • The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (Public)
  • How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Hirschfeld)

April

Born Bad, a Soho Rep surprise.  Spare and haunting. Image by Michael Nagle.

  • New York Philharmonic — Prokofiev, Gubaidulina, Tchaikovsky (Tilson Thomas, Anne-Sophie Mutter)
  • Benefactors (Keen Company, Clurman)
  • Twelfth Night (The Seeing Place)
  • [reading] Secret Life of Anthropods (EST First Light)
  • Born Bad (Soho Rep)
  • The Timing of a Day (Center Stage)
  • Love Song (Americas Off Broadway, 59E59)
  • [reading] Separation of Blood (EST First Light)
  • A Minister’s Wife (LCT Newhouse)
  • Reading Under the Influence (DR2)
  • Jerusalem (Music Box)
  • Vanya in process [text from Chekhov and Proust] (Mabou Mines Studio)
  • [reading] A Lady Alone (EST First Light)
  • Seance on a Wet Afternoon (opera, Koch Theater)
  • [reading] My Secret Language of Wishes (Lark Barebones)
  • Being Harold Pinter (Belarus Free Theatre, Ellen Stewart Theatre)
  • Future Anxiety (Flea Theatre)
  • House of Blue Leaves (Walter Kerr)
  • Holy Crap (La Mama)

May

Michael Halberstam and David Cromer, brilliant theatre makers, show a room of theatre fans how Chicago thinks about theatre. While laughing. A lot. Image by Mark Campbell Creative.

  • City Love Song (Americas Off Broadway, 59E59)
  • War Horse (LCT)
  • Contemporary Dramaturgy in the United States: an evening with LMDA (Martin E. Segal Theatre, CUNY)
  • Cromer and Halberstam in conversation (Playwrights Horizons)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (Roundabout)
  • Born Yesterday (Cort)
  • Evening with Isabella Rossellini (Gold Coast FF and Harvardwood, NYIT Auditorium)
  • Baltimore in Black and White (The Cell)
  • Ivan and the Dogs (Players Loft Theatre)
  • Normal Heart (Golden Theatre)
  • Woman Before a Glass (Abingdon Theater)
  • The Shags (Playwrights Horizons)
  • An Evening With Fanny Brice (St. Luke’s Theatre)
  • The Best is Yet to Come (59E59)
  • I Married Wyatt Earp (59E59)
  • The People in the Picture (Roundabout Studio 54)
  • Midnight in Paris (screening, Lincoln Square)
  • Cradle and All (Manhattan Theatre Club, City Center)

June

As It Is In Heaven by Arlene Hutton. A revival, a layered story based on a history and a set of complicated lives. Women Shakers. Delectable theatre. Image by Richard Berube.

  • [reading] Judy Gale’s Beach Party (Roy Arias Studio)
  • As It Is In Heaven (3Graces Theater, Cherry Lane)
  • Wesla Whitfield (Metropolitan Room)
  • A Little Journey (Mint Theater)
  • [reading] The House of Connelly (ReGroup Theatre)
  • Enfrascada (Here)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen in Conversation (FSLC Francesca Beale Theater)
  • Sex on the Beach (Roy Arias Studios)
  • [reading] Babel (EWG Public)
  • Master Class (preview, Friedman Theatre)
  • Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Theatre)
  • Side Effects (Lortel Theatre)
  • One Arm (Acorn)
  • [reading] Bliss (EWG Public)
  • All’s Well That Ends Well (SITP, Public)
  • Zarkana Cirque du Soleil (Radio City Music Hall)
  • Glass Menagerie (Arena Stage)

July

Reading of “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” inserts “Too Late Now”, heard earlier that day at Paley screening of June 1963 Garland TV show performance of tune.

  • Julius by Design (Fulcrum Theater, Access Theatre)
  • The Love Letter You’ve Been Meaning to Write New York (Ice Cubes)
  • [reading] Lift (Classical Theatre of Harlem, Malcolm X Betty Shabazz Center)
  • Passione (screening, Film Forum)
  • Dia de los Muertos (Teatro La Tea)
  • A Magic Flute (John Jay Theatre)
  • [reading] Paradise Lost (ReGroup Theatre, Irish Repertory)
  • Sleep No More (Punchdrunk, McKittrick Hotel)
  • Gated The American Dream Sold (Workshop Theater)
  • Running on Empty (screening, FSLC Walter Reade)
  • [reading] On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (Vineyard, later to open at the St. James Theatre December 11, 2011)
  • Garland Festival screenings (16 at Paley Center for Media and FSLC Walter Reade)

August

Festival signage on 65th Street for Walter Reade Screenings. Image by Martha Wade Steketee.

  • Garland Festival screenings (18 at Paley Center for Media and FSLC Walter Reade)
  • The Pretty Trap (Acorn)
  • Summer Shorts Series A (59E59)
  • Summer Shorts Series B (59E59)
  • Henry V (Classical Theatre of Harlem)
  • Hotel/Motel (Gershwin Hotel)
  • Sammy Gets Mugged (2011 Fringe, Living Theater)
  • Completeness (Playwrights Horizons)
  • Rollerblading in Gaza (2011 Fringe, Dixon Place)
  • You Only Shoot the Ones You Love (2011 Fringe, Cherry Lane)
  • Circumstance (screening, FSLC Francesca Beale)
  • Follies (preview, Marquis)

September

Elaine Stritch. That is all.

  • Eightythree Down (Under St. Marks)
  • Olive and the Bitter Herbs (Primary Stages, 59E59)
  • Spiderman (Foxwoods)
  • The Debt (screening)
  • Sarah’s Key (screening, Paris cinema)
  • Try to Remember — Rita Gardner (Metropolitan Room)
  • Seed (Classical Theatre of Harlem, National Black Theater)
  • [reading] After Paradise (Cherry Lane)
  • [reading] Is Sex Possible? (Dixon Place)
  • [reading] Guapa (Lark)
  • Sweet and Sad (Public)
  • Elaine Stritch (Cafe Carlyle)
  • [reading] Get Thorpe (Lark)
  • [reading] Timber Land (Lark)
  • [reading] Failure: A Love Story (Lark)
  • Anna Bolena (open dress rehearsal, Metropolitan Opera)
  • Lemon Sky (Keen Company, Clurman Theatre)
  • [reading] Listening For Our Murderer (New York Theatre Workshop)
  • Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling (ATC, Classic Stage Company)
  • Sons of the Prophet (Roundabout Laura Pels)
  • Kaddish (adaptation project, New York Theatre Workshop)
  • The Band Wagon (screening, BAM)

October

Rumer.  Star rising.  Her website http://www.rumer.co.uk/

  • Peter Pan (1960) (screening, Paley Center)
  • Music According to Tom Jobim (screening, NYFF, Walter Reade)
  • [reading] Appetite (Multistages development, Pearl Studios)
  • Vito (screening, NYFF, Walter Reade)
  • Undercurrent (screening, BAM)
  • Temporal Powers (Mint)
  • Play it Cool (Acorn)
  • Raft of the Medusa (Stripped Festival, Cherry Lane)
  • Any Given Monday (59E59)
  • We Live Here (MTC, City Center)
  • You’ve Got Hate Mail (Triad)
  • Chinglish (Longacre)
  • Cabaret Convention (Rose Theater)
  • The Select (Elevator Repair Service, New York Theatre Workshop)
  • A Splintered Soul (Theater Three, Mint)
  • TCG: New Voices in American Theatre (The Greene Space)
  • The Lyons (Vineyard Theatre)
  • The Atmosphere of Memory (LABrinth Theater, Bank Street)
  • [reading] The Gallerist (Directors Company Studio)
  • Rumer (Rockwood Music Hall)
  • Verse Chorus Verse (Cherry Lane)

November

Follies at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Jen Donohoo as ghost Follies girl. Image by Liz Lauren.

  • A Charity  Case (Clurman Theatre)
  • Stick Fly: A Conversation (The Greene Space)
  • [reading] The Conversation (Dramatists Guild)
  • Other Desert Cities (Booth)
  • Southern Comfort (CAP21 Black Box Theater)
  • Follies (Chicago Shakespeare)
  • Clybourne Park (Steppenwolf Theatre Company)
  • Private Lives (Music Box)
  • Clurman (William Esper Studio)
  • Funny Girl (screening, FSLC, Francesca Beale)
  • Asuncion (Rattlestick, Cherry Lane Theater)
  • Horsedreams (Rattlestick Theatre)
  • Liza Minnelli and Sam Harris, Schmoolie & Minnooli (Birdland)
  • Man and Boy (Roundabout, American Airlines)
  • Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons)
  • Mandy and Patti (Barrymore)
  • Stick Fly (preview, Cort)
  • She Kills Monsters (Flea)
  • Elective Affinities (The Hauptmann Residence)
  • On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (preview, St. James)

December

“The Cherry Orchard” and Dianne Wiest Dianne Wiest Dianne Wiest. Image by Richard Termine.

  • Mad Women (La Mama)
  • My Week With Marilyn (screening, Bryant Park Hotel)
  • The Cherry Orchard (Classic Stage Company)
  • Maple and Vine (Playwrights Horizons)
  • New Avenues for New Play Development (Polly Carl + David Dower, Martin E. Segal Theatre CUNY)
  • Bonnie & Clyde (Gerald Schoenfeld)
  • Farm Boy (Brits Off Broadway, 59E59)
  • Angel Reapers (Joyce Theater)
  • Sex Good; Money Bad (Broken Watch Theatre Company, Workshop Theater)
  • [reading] Guapa (Gramercy Arts Theatre, Repertorio Espanol)
  • [reading] Johnny Johnson (ReGroup Theatre, 47th Street Theatre)
  • The Road to Mecca (invited dress, Roundabout American Airlines)
  • [reading] Wetback (Queens Theatre, Flushing Meadows)
  • Cymbeline (Barrow Street)
  • [exhibit] Cecil Beaton: The New York Years (Museum of the City of New York)
  • A Dangerous Method (screening, Lincoln Square)
  • Carnage (screening, Lincoln Square)
  • Albert Nobbs ((screening, FSLC Francesca Beale Theater)
  • On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (St. James) [return with Chicago pal for star turn by Chicago performer Jessie Mueller]
  • La MaMa Cantata (Ellen Stewart Theatre)

© Martha Wade Steketee (December 30, 2011)

2 replies »

    • Man oh man! So what do you do in your spare time? Shouldn’t this be a candidate for some world record? I know that you loved every moment. Judy

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