This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Dorothy Lyman’s The Keys looks at life in Florida during the current health crisis

Who: Dorothy Lyman, Tim Jerome
What: Live readings of new play
Where: Zoom
When: Sunday, October 25, free with RSVP, 4:00, and Tuesday, October 27, free with advance RSVP, 7:00
Why: One of my closest friends and regular theatergoing companions has two happy places. One is any dark venue that hosts live dramas, comedies, and musicals; the other is the Florida Keys. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, she cannot fill either of those needs, but she can scratch both itches at least in a small way with a live Zoom reading of Dorothy Lyman’s new play, The Keys. The story is set in the Florida Keys during the current coronavirus crisis, as a pair of senior citizens, Margaret (Lyman) and Gil (Tim Jerome), take stock of their lives in the age of Covid-19, remembering their pasts and imagining an unexpected future. The reading is directed by Elinor Renfield and admission is free, though spaces are limited. Two-time Emmy winner Lyman is a familiar face after spending more than twenty years in soap operas, most notably All My Children, as well as starring in Mama’s Family and the one-woman show My Kitchen Wars; Tony nominee Jerome has appeared in such Broadway productions as Me and My Gal, Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, and Tarzan. It might not be a day at the beach, but what is these days?


Who: Kurt Andersen, Chavisa Woods, Siri Hustvedt, Carlos Menchaca, the Blacksmiths Marching Band, Will Calhoun, PRC Drum Team, Stefan Zeniuk, Laurie Anderson, Nona Hendryx, Masha Gessen, Tine Kindermann, Bill T. Jones, Elizabeth Streb, Batala NY, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Mambembe NY, Holly Bass, Plezi Rara, Kenny Wollesen and the Himalaya
What: RuckUS 2020 get out the vote events
Where: Multiple locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan
When: Saturday, October 24, free, noon - 6:00
Why: With the election only eleven days away, events to get out the vote are ratcheting up around the country and here in New York City. RuckUS, a group started by Laurie Anderson, Arto Lindsay, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Iain Newton to advocate for voter participation and election security, will be hosting rallies in Brooklyn and Manhattan on Saturday following last week’s events in Staten Island and the Bronx, featuring special guest speakers and socially distanced live performances. (An event in Queens for Sunday has been canceled but is trying to be rescheduled.) Below is the lineup. And remember: “Register. Plan. Protect.”

Saturday, October 24, Manhattan
The Africa Center, 1280 Fifth Ave. & 110th St., noon
New York Public Library Main Branch, Fifth Ave. & 42nd St., 2:00
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th St. off Seventh Ave., live performance by Holly Bass of Moneymaker, twelve-hour endurance performance, 4:00
Washington Square Park, 5:00
Speakers: musicians Laurie Anderson and Nona Hendryx, journalist Masha Gessen, visual artist Tine Kindermann, choreographers Bill T. Jones and Elizabeth Streb
Live performances: Batala NY, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Mambembe NY, Plezi Rara, Kenny Wollesen and the Himalayas

Saturday, October 24, Brooklyn
Grand Army Plaza, noon
BRIC, Fulton St. & Rockwell Pl., 2:00
Cadman Plaza, 4:00
Speakers: Kurt Andersen, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Siri Hustvedt, Chavisa Woods
Live performances: The Blacksmiths Marching Band, Will Calhoun, PRC Drum Team, Stefan Zeniuk


Who: Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most, Lowell Ganz, Josh Gad, D’Arcy Carden, Yara Shahidi, more
What: Live reunion reading
Where: WisDems Zoom
When: Sunday, October 25, minimum donation $1, 7:00
Why: It will not be the happiest of days for everyone when the cast of Happy Days reunites for a benefit script read and Q&A in support of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in an effort to help turn the state blue again in the upcoming presidential election. On October 25 at 7:00, a classic episode of the sitcom, which aired on ABC from 1974 to 1984 and was set in Milwaukee, will be read live on Zoom by Henry Winkler as the too-cool Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, Ron Howard as the the freckle-faced Richie Cunningham, Don Most as the wacky Ralph Malph, Anson Williams as the doofy Potsie Weber, and Marion Ross, on her ninety-second birthday, as the frisky Mrs. C. Sadly, creator Garry Marshall, Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham), Pat Morita (Arnold), and Al Molinaro (Al) are no longer with us. But what about Scott Baio, as tough-guy Chachi Arcola, you ask? Well, the staunch Trump-supporting conservative recently tweeted, “What a shame to use a classic show like Happy Days about Americana to promote an anti-American socialist. #Shameful.” So John Stamos will be stepping into Chachi’s shoes for the presentation, which will also include writer Lowell Ganz, Josh Gad, D’Arcy Carden, Yara Shahidi, and surprise guests. (Ted McGinley, Cathy Silvers, Linda Purl, Lynda Goodfriend, and Crystal Bernard are still around.) And maybe, just maybe, we’ll get the real, inside story of what happened to Chuck.

“We’re thrilled a show made famous in Milwaukee is coming back home to help make Donald Trump a one-term president,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler said in a statement. “We know all roads to the White House go through the Badger State, and with the cast of Happy Days helping us raise money to take back the White House, we believe even more we can deliver a victory on November 3.” Happy Days hasn’t held up very well, but this should be a fun night anyway, following two other WisDems reunions, The Princess Bride and Veep, as well as the PA Dems benefit reunion of This Is Spinal Tap and the Texas Democratic Party’s Seinfeld Fundraiser About Something on October 23.


Who: Tonya Pinkins​, Kaliswa Brewster, Cristina Pitter, Tamara Sevunts, Mirirai Sithole, Carolyn Michelle Smith, Corey Tazmania
What: Molière in the Park virtual presentation in association with French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
Where: Molière in the Park Zoom
When: Saturday, October 24, free with RSVP (donations accepted), 2:00 & 7:00
Why: “Don’t worry, friend; I’m not a fool,” Arnolphe tells Chrysalde at the beginning of Molière’s The School for Wives in Richard Wilbur’s translation. “I shan’t expose myself to ridicule. / I know the tricks and ruses, shrewd and sly, / Which wives employ, and cheat their husbands by; / I know that women can be deep and clever; / But I’ve arranged to be secure forever: / So simple is the girl I’m going to wed / That I’ve no fear of horns upon my head. . . . No, keep your smart ones; I’ve no taste for such. . . . / In short, I want an unaccomplished wife, / And there are four things only she must know: To say her prayers, love me, spin, and sew.” Molière in the Park, following their popular virtual presentations of The Misanthrope and Tartuffe online over the summer instead of in Prospect Park, their usual home, is now taking on Molière’s 1662 five-act comedy, reinvented for Zoom, copresented with FIAF. And in a casting twist that would terrify Arnolphe, all the roles will be portrayed by women, with Mirirai Sithole, Kaliswa Brewster, Cristina Pitter, Tamara Sevunts, Carolyn Michelle Smith, Corey Tazmania, and Tony winner Tonya Pinkins (Jelly’s Last Jam; Caroline, or Change) as the lead cad. (The play ran on Broadway in 1971 with Brian Bedford as Arnolphe, Joan Van Ark as Agnes, and David Dukes as Horace and was made into a 1983 film by Ingmar Bergman with Allan Edwall as Arnolphe, Lena Nyman as Agnes, and Stellan Skarsgård as Horace.)

The troupe has employed unique technical elements in their virtual plays, courtesy of director Lucie Tiberghien, video engineer Andy Carluccio, set designer Lina Younes, costume designer Ari Fulton, composer Paul Brill, sound designer Daniel Williams, and animator Emily Rawson, so it should be fun to see what innovations they will bring this time around. The School for Wives will be performed live on October 24 at 2:00 and 7:00, followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew; French and English subtitles are available, and the show can be viewed through October 29. Next up for Molière in the Park is a rare contemporary play, Christina Anderson’s pen/man/ship, on December 12.


Video still of devynn emory from “Dust,” one of twenty-eight audio, video, and/or text-based scores in Last Audience: a performance manual

Who: Yanira Castro, Kathy Couch, Stephan Moore, David Hamilton Thomson, LD DeArmon, Marshall Hatch Jr., Tara Aisha Willis
What: Sneak peek of Last Audience: a performance manual
Where: MCA Chicago Zoom
When: Saturday, October 24, $10 (manual $15-$40), 2:00
Why: When innovative choreographer Yanira Castro began working on Last Audience in the summer of 2018, she could not have predicted how timely it would become, now reinvented for a pandemic with so many of us stuck at home, trapped by a deadly virus, and entertainment venues shuttered all over the city and across the country. Influenced by the concept of reckonings, the requiem mass, Greek tragedy, and Artur von Ferraris’ 1918 painting The Last Audience of the Hapsburgs, specifically how it relates to the current president, the Puerto Rican-born, New York-based Castro (Performance | Portrait, Paradis) has forged ahead with the project as a format for people to create their own works using a manual, consisting of twenty-eight multimedia performance scores to be brought to life wherever you are sheltering in place, building a different kind of artistic community in the age of Covid-19. “This is a manual for you to make a requiem, your Last Audience,” Castro writes in an opening “Dear Participant” letter. “I understand performance as an act of complicity. Specifically, it is a call to practice a social politic — to gather, to take on roles, to repeat ritual, to weave incantation, to cite oracles, to imagine myth. Like all rituals, it is mystery. Like many communal acts, it is uneasy.” The manual, developed and produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, divides the scores into “One Body,” “Sever,” “Mercy,” “Judgment,” and “Blessing”; it also features video by Peter Richards, website design by Fei Liu, and photographs by Simon Courchel, including shots of contributing writer Leslie Cuyjet and Kirsten Michelle Schnittker in performance.

Last Audience manual features photos by Simon Courchel

On October 24 at 2:00, Castro, who runs a canary torsi, will be joined by contributing writers and audio/video performers Devynn Emory, David Hamilton Thomson, and Kathy Couch (who also compiled and designed the manual with Castro), music and audio designer Stephan Moore, project coordinator LD DeArmon, MAAFA Redemption Project executive director Marshall Hatch Jr., and MCA associate curator Tara Aisha Willis for a live discussion and Q&A, tracking the evolution of the project, which premiered October 2019 at New York Live Arts and had its virtual launch September 20 at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s TBA Festival. There will also be a live, private event on December 13 if you purchase the manual by October 22. As it says on the Last Audience website, in which you can add your own images and experiences, “Your refusal is yours. As is your agreement. And your ambivalence. Take care.”

dwb (driving while black)

Baruch Performing Arts Center and Opera Omaha will present virtual chamber opera dwb (driving while black) beginning October 23

Who: Roberta Gumbel, Susan Kander, Chip Miller, New Morse Code (Hannah Collins, Michael Compitello), J. T Roane, Erica Richardson, Teona Pagan, Yael Meegan
What: Virtual opera
Where: Baruch College online
When: October 23, 9:00 am - October 29, 10:00 pm, free with RSVP (donations accepted); live discussion Thursday, October 29, free with RSVP, 6:00

“Mobility is essential to freedom,” historian Gretchen Sorin says in Ric Burns’s new PBS documentary, Driving While Black, based on her book Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights. “It allows us to understand the way that African Americans have moved forward in this country and the way that African Americans have been pushed back.” The phrase “driving while black” is a loaded one that white Americans will never fully understand; they don’t have to have “the talk” with their children about what to do when stopped by a police officer. Baruch Performing Arts Center and Opera Omaha have teamed up to explore the issue in the virtual chamber opera dwb (driving while black), streaming for free October 23-29. Previously presented in a 2019 concert version, dwb has been reimagined for the internet, featuring a libretto by soprano Roberta Gumbel and music by Susan Kander; the fifty-minute piece is directed by Chip Miller and is performed by Gumbel and New Morse Code, the duo of cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Michael Compitello, with videography by Four/Ten Media and audio by Ryan Streber and Oktaven Studios.

“This March was to have been the New York premiere of dwb (driving while black) at Baruch Performing Arts Center,” BPAC director Ted Altschuler said in a statement. “It is a musical provocation to engage with the essential conversation of our day: racial justice. Live performances are paused for the moment, but the need for learning and dialogue is not. Given the brevity of the piece and the uncertainty of live performances, our organizations are collaborating to help create a high-quality version of dwb directed explicitly for streaming presentation. Not everyone has the capacity to create content in this moment, but the conversation this piece provokes is urgent. As an arts center located on one of the most diverse public university campuses in the U.S., we exist to promote inquiry and discourse, something we will encourage via post-performance events.” On closing night, October 29, at 6:00, there will be a live discussion with Gumbel, Arizona State University assistant professor of African and African American Studies J. T Roane, Baruch College assistant professor of English Erica Richardson, and students Teona Pagan, the president of the Black Student Union, and journalism major Yael Meegan.


Who: Molissa Fenley, Jared Brown, Lloyd Knight, Sara Mearns, Shamel Pitts, Annique Roberts, Cassandra Trenary, Michael Trusnovec, Peter Boal
What: Livestreamed performances from the Joyce stage
Where: JoyceStream YouTube
When: October 24 - November 1, each dance $12, full Choreographers & Cocktails experience $150 per household
Why: In 1988, dancer and choreographer Molissa Fenley created State of Darkness, an American Dance Festival commission that is a solo set to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (“Rite of Spring”); the thirty-five-minute piece was performed exclusively by Fenley through 1994, then by Peter Boal in 1999-2000 and Rachel Foster, James Moore, and Jonathan Porretta of the Pacific Northwest Ballet in June 2007. With the pandemic lockdown, Fenley, who was born in Las Vegas, grew up in Nigeria, and has been based in New York City since 1975, is revisiting the work, presenting it live on the Joyce stage to an empty house, performed October 24-25 and October 31 - November 1 by seven dancers with their own interpretations, livestreamed via the JoyceStream YouTube channel, the first live show from the Joyce stage since March. The October 24 lineup features Michael Trusnovec (formerly Paul Taylor Dance Company) at 5:00 and Jared Brown (Shechter II — Hofesh Shechter Company) at 8:00; October 25, Annique S. Roberts (Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, A Dance Company) at 5:00 and Shamel Pitts (formerly Batsheva Dance Company) at 8:00; October 31, Lloyd Knight (Martha Graham Dance Company) at 5:00 and Cassandra Trenary (American Ballet Theatre) at 8:00; and concluding November 1 with Sara Mearns (New York City Ballet principal) at 5:00. There will also be a behind-the-scenes discussion of the work on October 24 at 7:00 with Fenley and the dancers, moderated by Boal.

“It has been truly inspiring and uplifting to see the dancers and Molissa tackle State of Darkness during this difficult and unprecedented interruption to our lives,” Joyce executive director Linda Shelton said in a statement. “To me, this piece is about emerging from the darkness we have been coping with since March.” Fenley added, “In 1988, environmental, political, and social unrest inspired me to create State of Darkness. Today, a response to similar influences affecting us feels even more urgent and necessary.” Tickets for each individual dance is $12; the complete Choreographers & Cocktails experience, including all seven performances, an interview with Fenley, a live Q&A with the dancers, and a signature cocktail recipe by chef Peter Kelly, is $150 per household.