BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
October 14-17, $24-$95, 7:30
Photographer and film and video installation artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock have teamed up for the multimedia theatrical presentation Helen Lawrence, running October 14-17 at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House as part of the 2015 Next Wave Festival. Douglas, who won a 2012 ICP Infinity Award for career achievement, and Haddock, the writer and creator of such Canadian television series as Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence, set the post-WWII noir tale in Vancouver, where Douglas was born and is based. He directs a cast of twelve, including Lisa Ryan as the title character, Nicholas Lea as Percy Walker, Crystal Balint as Mary Jackson, and Greg Ellwand as Inspector Leonard Perkins, who interact with green screens, live camera projections, and 3-D computer imagery to give the proceedings a fantastical, surreal element. The set is by Kevin McAllister, with costumes by Nancy Bryant, lighting by Robert Sondergaard, sound by John Gzowski (who plays guitar on the recorded soundtrack), cinematography by Brian Johnson, and video programming by Peter Courtemanche.
You can binge-watch a TV series, so why not a play? Mac Rogers’s (Viral, Asymmetric) sci-fi epic, the Honeycomb Trilogy, is back in New York for a return engagement, promising that “it’ll be about 20% more awesome than last time.” The original unfolded in three installments over six months in 2012, but now you can follow the Cooke family battle alien invasion and try to save the human race over the course of a week, or in one day, at the Gym at Judson. Advance Man, which won a New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production, is being performed by itself October 13, 23, and 29 and November 3 and 13, Blast Radius on October 15, 20, and 30 and November 5 and 10, and Sovereign October 16, 22, and 27 and November 6 and 12. But on Saturdays and Sundays during the run, you can catch all three plays back-to-back-to back, at 2:00, 5:00, and 8:30.
TICKET GIVEAWAY: The Honeycomb Trilogy is running October 13 through November 14 at the Gym at Judson, and twi-ny has one pair of tickets to give away for all three shows to one lucky person. Just send your name, phone number, and favorite sci-fi binge-watching experience to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, October 15, at 3:00 to be eligible. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; one winner will be selected at random.
Who: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Khalil Gibran Muhammad
What: Live from the NYPL
Where: New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Bartos Forum, Fifth Ave. at 42nd St., 917-275-6975
When: Tuesday, October 13, $25-$40, 7:00
Why: With Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, July 2015, $24), Atlantic national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates has written one of the most important books ever about the history of institutionalized racism in the United States, an intimate, angry, and eye-opening treatise in the form of a cautionary tale being told to his adolescent son. Coates, who also wrote the 2008 memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, holds nothing back in the new book, telling his son about the danger the black body is in every day in America. He writes about his childhood, the lessons he learned from his father, his experiences attending Howard University (which he calls the Mecca), and the tragedies involving Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Renisha McBride, John Crawford, and other African Americans killed by white police officers. Although the book is a mere 156 pages, it is a dense read; you’ll want to pore over passages again and again to get the full effect of what Coates is saying. And nearly every page is filled with quotes you’ll want to remember and share with others, stinging indictments of the current state of the nation. “Race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming ‘the people’ has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy,” he explains early on. “Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible — this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” Between the World and Me is a book that should be required reading in every high school in America. Coates will be at the New York Public Library on October 13 to discuss the state of racism and more with Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture director Khalil Gibran Muhammad.
Afia Serena Nathaniel’s Dukhtar is an important film in many ways, but it’s too bad it isn’t just a little bit better. A hit at festivals around the world and Pakistan’s submission for the Academy Awards, the Pakistan-U.S. coproduction deals with the very serious topic of women’s freedom. In modern-day Pakistan, two local tribal leaders, Daulat Khan (Asif Khan) and Tor Gul (Abdullah Jaan), are trying to end a generations-old Hatfield and McCoys-like battle. The elderly Tor Gul offers peace in exchange for Daulat Khan’s ten-year-old daughter, Zainab (Saleha Aref); he’ll take her as a wife, and the feud will end. But Daulat Khan’s own wife, Allah Rakhi (Samiya Mumtaz), who herself was forced to marry at the age of fifteen, decides that she does not want her daughter to live like that, so she and Zainab head out on the run, trying to escape the young girl’s fate. They are chased by Tor Gul’s vicious enforcer, Ghorzang Khan (Adnan Shah Tipu), as well as Daulat Khan’s brother, Shehbaz Khan (Ajab Gul), who is in love with Allah Rakhi. They hitch a ride with Sohail (Mohib Mirza) in his fabulously decorated truck, but Sohail soon realizes he is in deeper than he ever wanted to be as well. Inspired by a true story, Dukhtar features beautiful cinematography by Armughan Hassan and Najaf Bilgrami, showing off the lovely vast desert and mountain landscapes of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan, and television veteran Mumtaz is riveting as a strong yet vulnerable woman who wants to change long-held traditions, to be a person rather than a thing, but the narrative feels choppy and too direct, telegraphing its themes, and the plot makes too many jumps and has too many holes. In her feature debut, writer, director, producer, and coeditor Afia has a gripping story to tell, but its power is muted by the more melodramatic aspects of this feminist road-trip thriller, which nonetheless has very touching and powerful moments.
When William Kentridge comes to town, he really comes to town. Back in 2010, the South African multidisciplinary artist was all over New York City, with the smashing “Five Themes” retrospective at MoMA, his production of Shostakovich’s The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera, a unique artist book at Dieu Donné, a screening of some of his animated films accompanied by live music at the World Financial Center, and a performance of his one-man show “I am not me, the horse is not mine” at MoMA. He’s back in the city this fall, with a host of wide-ranging events, exhibits, and performances all over town. On October 12 (free, 7:00), he’ll be giving a lecture, “The Sentimental Machine,” at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. On October 13 ($30, 6:30), he’ll be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in conversation with printer Andrew Hoyem in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium discussing the limited-edition letterpress book The Lulu Plays, delving into the nature of human imagination and time. On October 14 (free, 5:00), Kentridge will deliver the Belknap Lecture at Princeton, “O Sentimental Machine,” about his Trotsky-inspired multimedia installation.
From October 22 to 25 ($30-$100), Kentridge teams up with longtime collaborator Philip Miller for the audiovisual chamber opera Refuse the Hour at the BAM Harvey, a wildly inventive lecture-performance with dance, music, projections, and more, a companion piece to his wildly inventive “The Refusal of Time” 2013 installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In conjunction with Refuse the Hour, Kentridge will be at BAM Rose Cinemas on October 24 ($15, 5:00) for a discussion with physicist and Refuse the Hour collaborator Peter Galison, moderated by Dennis Overbye. From November 2 to December 31 (free), the Marian Goodman Gallery will be showing works by Kentridge in the third-floor project room. From November 4 to 8 ($10-$40), The Lulu Plays will be on view at the IFPDA Print Fair at the Park Avenue Armory. And from November 5 through December 3 ($27-$335), there will be eight performances of Kentridge’s four-hour-plus version of Alban Berg’s Lulu at the Met, featuring Marlis Petersen in the title role, Susan Graham as Geschwitz, Paul Groves as the painter and the African prince, and Johan Reuter as Dr. Schön and Jack the Ripper, conducted by Lothar Koenigs. We’re exhausted just reading about all the sixty-year-old Kentridge has planned; we can’t even begin to imagine doing it all, but we’re going to see as many of these events as we can, and we urge you to do the same.
THE PRIME MINISTERS: SOLDIERS AND PEACEMAKERS (Richard Trank, 2014)
AMC Village 7
66 Third Ave at 11th St.
Opens Friday, October 9
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Oscar-winning team of writer-director-producer Richard Trank and writer-producer Rabbi Marvin Hier (The Long Way Home, Genocide) has followed up the relatively dull and lifeless The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers with the much more involving and absorbing The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers. Based on longtime Israeli diplomat and consultant Yehuda Avner’s 2010 book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership, the documentary picks up where the previous one left off, shortly after the Yom Kippur War. Avner, who served the State of Israel in numerous capacities over many years, details the Mideast peace process as he works with Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, who have dealings with U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton as well as Henry Kissinger, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. “Both [Begin and Rabin] had started out as rivals and, much later on in life, they found this commonality of spirit in what they both wanted to do for the best of Israel,” Avner says early on, describing the attack on the Altalena in 1948, which involved Begin, Rabin, and David Ben-Gurion and almost led to civil war. “Patriotism governed them body and soul over the whole of a lifetime,” Avner, who was a Haganah officer at the time, adds. His riveting fly-on-the-wall stories, told in his warm Mancunian accent, take viewers behind the scenes of the complex goings-on, lending fascinating insight into the nature of the proceedings, from state dinners to funerals for assassinated leaders. Trask includes remarkable archival footage, never-before-seen photographs, and original documents and letters as the Israelis and Arabs, and factions within each side, battle over peace. The two-film project still suffers from being told from only one point of view, although Avner, who passed away in March 2015 at the age of eighty-six, has more compelling revelations this time around. Lee Holdridge’s score is again overwrought, saving the most personal and intimate memories of family for the end is melodramatic, and the voices of Michael Douglas as Yitzhak Rabin and Christoph Waltz as Menachem Begin feel out of place, but this second installment of The Prime Ministers is a far more engrossing look at the evolution of the State of Israel and the never-ending struggle for peace than its predecessor.
Who: Kyle Abraham and Otis Brown III
What: “Improvisation and Statements of Freedom in Jazz and Movement”
Where: Broadway Plaza, Times Square, Broadway between 42nd & 43rd Sts.
When: Monday, October 12, free, 2:00 - 4:30
Why: From November 10 to 15, MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham’s Abraham.In.Motion company will perform at the Joyce, in a program with live music that includes Absent Matter, a collaboration with jazz drummer Otis Brown III, a New Jersey native whose debut album, The Thought of You, was released by Revive/Blue Note last year. Brown will also be part of the Robert Glasper Trio, which will play live to Abraham’s The Gettin’ at the Joyce. You can get a taste of what’s to come on October 12, when Abraham and Brown team up for a free workshop in Times Square, for dancers and nondancers alike. “Improvisation and Statements of Freedom in Jazz and Movement” uses sound and dance to explore social change; to participate in the workshop, you can register by contacting Arts@TimesSquareNYC.org.