Numerous memorable pairs have portrayed Macbeth and Lady Macbeth onstage and onscreen over the years, in various interpretations, including Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, Orson Welles and Jeanette Nolan, Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, Toshiro Mifune and Isuzu Yamada, Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston, and Liev Schreiber and Jennifer Ehle. Nick Bruder and Troy Ogilvie might not be quite the same household names, but they appeared as the ill-fated king and his devious wife in one of the most memorable and certainly unusual versions of Macbeth you’re ever likely to see, Sleep No More, in which the action unfolds throughout the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea. The two are back together again in Replacement Place, being presented by Patricia Noworol Dance Theater at New York Live Arts April 30 to May 2. Bruder, who won the 2011 Falstaff Award for Best Principal Performance in Sleep No More, and Ogilvie, a Juilliard graduate, New Jersey native, and Dance magazine “25 to Watch” pick in 2011, recently discussed working together and their personal and professional ideas of “place.”
twi-ny: Sleep No More has been quite a phenomenon. What was it like being part of that experience? Had you been involved in any type of interactive, participatory performances before?
Troy Ogilvie: Performing in Sleep No More was a gritty, fun, sexy ride. It was an ego trip as well as an exercise in vigilant attention. No, I had never been involved in a performance that was as immersive as SNM. My other nontraditional performance experiences were more “site specific,” as in an installation in a gallery or work done in the outdoors.
Nick Bruder: I cannot express how much I’ve learned from working with punchdrunk and Sleep No More. Mainly, I’m always going to know more about the character and the work than the audience will. And that’s okay. It’s my job to know more. If I have a clear perspective and perform with the understanding that I developed this weird alchemical-like process that actually opens up room and context for the audience to engage with — that’s imperative in Sleep No More, since it’s more likely that an audience member will catch a character’s story from unordered snippets. But this still holds true to a linear performance as well. As for other work, I’ve done a bunch of other immersive or audience-integrated work. In Los Angeles I worked with visual artist Brody Condon on two of his durational performance pieces consisting of wearing a full suit of armor and slowly falling into the floor à la a video game character’s death. Whew.
twi-ny: You played Lady Macbeth and Macbeth in Sleep No More, although you never did so at the same time. Now that you’re both in Replacement Place, do you wonder what it would have been like to have played the devious husband and wife together in Chelsea?
TO: Actually, we did fight, plot, conspire, tease, and descend into madness together for over a year as “husband” and “wife.”
twi-ny: Oops. Sorry about that.
NB: Hah. We actually ended both of our runs with Sleep No More as each other’s Macbeths. And I couldn’t think of anything better.
TO: Our bond that developed at SNM spilled over into our life outside the McKittrick Hotel, and we are always dreaming up ways to continue to work with one another.
twi-ny: Troy, you’ve worked with such choreographers as Sidra Bell, Andrea Miller, Idan Sharabi, Austin McCormick, and Margie Gillis. Do you find yourself working any differently with different choreographers, and specifically with Patricia Noworol? Do the different choreographers test you in different ways, both physically and mentally?
TO: Yes. Every choreographer has their boundary that they are — to use your word — testing. There’s something that has to stretch in the dancer in order to accommodate the weakened border, something that has to stretch but not break. The stretch is a pleasure, the skill is knowing when the boundary can be re-formed and its new shape celebrated. That moment has to do with the specific chemistry between choreographer and dancer. Patricia has a lot of openness in her process, which can be frustrating but in the end is absolutely freeing and brilliant. Anything is an option, which is a relief and a stress, but it’s exactly where I want to be right now. Pat has a great sense of timing, texture, and emotional build that we can’t wait to share with audiences.
twi-ny: Nick, you’ve appeared in opera at the Met, in a dance piece at BAC, in a mobile production at the McKittrick Hotel, in Shakespeare at the Harman Center, and now you will be at NYLA for Replacement Place. How does the concept of place inform how you approach a performance?
NB: Logistically, each site where performance is presented has its benefits: audience capacity, how close they are to the performers, size of the space, etc. Even the type of audience they attract. When one is performing in so many venues, it can begin to get exhausting adapting a changing performance approach. So I have to be confident that my understanding of character and all the tools I have collected, and some that I’ve thrown away throughout the years, can aid in helping the piece I’m in to be applicable to the venue. This may sound too heady, but I think a formula of audience + performers + space = something that happened in a place. Thinking about that, I hope, relieves the pressure of me having to adapt properly to the site and let the space and work influence the type of place it is to become.
twi-ny: Troy, in September 2012 you wrote in Dance magazine, “I dance because it is fun. I dance because I love to perform. I dance because I always have. These clichés were all accurate at one point, but none apply today.” Do you still feel the same way?
TO: Yes, but wow, so dramatic! I mean, yes, “fun,” “love,” and “always” are not the words I would use to describe my relationship to dance, but not because it is not-fun, not-love, and not-always. I have less confusion about it now, so there’s more room to actually work and less time spent on proving myself.
twi-ny: Replacement Place features quite an eccentric collection of collaborators, from the two of you to AJ “the Animal” Jonez to electro-cellist Chris Lancaster and designer Vita Tzykun. What have the rehearsals been like? The online videos have been rather tantalizing.
TO: Rehearsals have been a blast. AJ, Chris, and Vita are experts in their fields and are also so generous with their information. We all trust each other and have fun trying on each others’ shoes — sometimes literally. I am really so pleased to be working with this group; kudos for Pat for throwing us all in a room together!
NB: They’ve been like a super-condensed story of the universe. A big bang of inspiration happens which sets ideas in motion which then leads to cool and amazing organisms to exist and grow and diversify with sunshine feeding and warming all the beautiful animals and plants when all of a sudden a little dark rain cloud comes overhead and starts spilling out its watery guts until you notice that it’s actually a black hole that is sucking you and everything you know into its gullet while you lose hope by the minute only to spit you out on the other side with a new big bang and then you’re like hmm . . . must have been a wormhole. Pretty typical artistic process. It’s awesome.
twi-ny: Whew is right. In regard to place, do each of you have somewhere you go in order to get away from it all?
TO: No. I try to be here as much as possible.
NB: I’m always in the thick of it.
Who: Curators Jeanine Durning, David Thomson, and Iréne Hultman and dancers and choreographers Ivy Baldwin, Whitney Hunter, Sam Kim, Joanna Kotze, Stanley Love, Juliette Mapp, Mina Nishimura, Ni’Ja Whitson Adebanjo, Daria Faïn, Christine Bonansea Saulut, Massimiliano Balduzzi, Alex Escalante, Niall Jones, and Dai Jian
What: Food for Thought
Where: Danspace Project, 131 East Tenth St., 212-674-8112
When: April 30 – May 2, $5 with cans of food, $10 without, 8:00
Why: Danspace Project’s annual Food for Thought presentation comprises three programs of dance and process, benefiting St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery food pantry. On April 30, “This is not the end: an evening with the 2013-2015 Movement Research Artists-in-Residence” brings together curator Jeanine Durning with fellow artists-in-residence Ivy Baldwin, Whitney Hunter, Sam Kim, Joanna Kotze, Stanley Love, Juliette Mapp, Mina Nishimura, and Ni’Ja Whitson Adebanjo for a look at their current practice. On May 1, for “Charged Space,” curator David Thomson will host solo performances by Daria Faïn, Christine Bonansea Saulut, and Massimiliano Balduzzi. And on May 2, curator Iréne Hultman’s “A.N.D Yes!” features dance makers Alex Escalante, Niall Jones, and Dai Jian.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St.
Friday - Wednesday through May 3, $18-$25 (pay-what-you-wish Saturday 5:45-7:45)
In many ways, Japanese Conceptual artist On Kawara was the first blogger, sharing details of his life via his own social-media platforms long before the internet, but never actually revealing much about his true self. As the splendid Guggenheim exhibition “On Kawara — Silence” discloses, Kawara, who was born in Japan in 1933 and spent most of his life in New York City, where he died last July while the installation was being put together (with his participation), took a rather objective view of existence. His oeuvre comprises postcards he sent to friends and colleagues telling them what time he woke up that morning, extensive notebooks listing who he came into contact with that day, maps of where he went, telegrams to friends and colleagues confirming he was alive, and paintings of the date, accompanied by often random newspaper clippings from the same day. These elements tell us everything about Kawara, and nothing. “How can we avoid misrepresenting the art of On Kawara?” senior curator Jeffrey Weiss asks in his catalog essay, “Bounded Infinity.” “Perhaps misrepresentation of Kawara’s work is not only inevitable but useful. To be sure, regarding the work of any artist, the things we choose to say are always haunted by the things we leave out. With Kawara, however, this aspect of interpretation is specifically, even strategically compounded by the work’s evasive status.” This evasiveness extends into the Guggenheim’s online bio of Kawara, which merely states, “29,771 days,” the exact length of time he was on this planet.
Such series as “I Got Up,” “Today,” “I Met,” “I Am Still Alive,” and “One Hundred Years” engage viewers and encourage exploration despite their obvious repetitiveness, as they lead you to ponder the days of your own past, the people you’ve met, the places you’ve been, and the things that happened on specific dates, which hold different memories for different people, eliciting unique emotional responses. Every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on the rotunda, there are continuous live readings of “One Million Years,” Kawara’s lists of dates going back and forward one million years, the annums echoing through the Guggenheim. But mostly Kawara’s output is centered on the here and now, where we are at this precise time and place. “He tells us: ‘It is today!’” artist Daniel Buren writes in his catalog essay, “A Moment’s Footprint.” “On Kawara — Silence” is also a natural fit for the Guggenheim; the show is arranged primarily chronologically by series, so as visitors rise up the museum’s spiraling walkway, they circle through intriguing aspects of Kawara’s daily existence. “It had always been his dream to have a show at the Guggenheim because of the cyclical nature of time and the way that the building represents that,” assistant curator Anne Wheeler points out in an online video. “On Kawara — Silence” speaks volumes, about both him and us. (On April 28 at 6:30, “Duologues on Kawara: Alfredo Jaar and Tom McDonough” will examine Kawara’s work in relation to world events and sociocultural critique.)
220 West 48th St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through August 2, $25-$145
Opera diva Renée Fleming makes her Broadway debut playing opera diva Raquel De Angelis in Joe DiPietro’s underwhelming, over-the-top romantic farce Living on Love. Based on Garson Kanin’s last play, Peccadillo, Living on Love is set in 1957 in the elegant Manhattan living room of the Diva and her husband, Vito De Angelis (Douglas Sills), a conductor who insists on being called the Maestro. The Diva is a fading star jealous of Maria Callas’s success, while the Maestro never wants to hear anyone mention the name of his archrival, Leonard Bernstein. Robert Samson (Jerry O’Connell) is the latest in a succession of ghost writers — which the Italian Maestro calls “spooky helpers” in his broken English — attempting to work with De Angelis on his memoirs. One afternoon Iris Peabody (Anna Chlumsky) shows up, a mousey editor who is there to either make sure the manuscript is finished or take back the large advance of $50,000 — which the Diva has already spent. Desperate for the money, and suspicious of each other’s motives, soon the Diva is writing her own autobiography with Robert, a huge fan of hers, while Iris is doing the same with the Maestro, who, naturally, loves the ladies. Plenty of high jinks ensue, but you won’t be calling out “Bravo! Brava!”
Living on Love is a tepid tale of music and jealousy, with stale jokes and clichéd situations that the audience can see coming from as far as La Scala. Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Shop of Horrors) is excellent as the wild, unpredictable Lothario, chewing up and spitting out Derek McLane’s lovely scenery with a furious panache. Unfortunately, Met Opera star Fleming, O’Connell (Seminar, Stand by Me), and Chlumsky (You Can’t Take It with You, Unconditional) can’t keep up with him, their characters flat and obvious. Blake Hammond and Scott Robertson provide some comic relief — yes, you know you have a problem when a comedy needs comic relief — as the family servants, cleaning up and making minor set changes with aplomb, but their shtick, which also includes singing, grows repetitive fast and, as the latter repeats over and over, “There’s nothing you can do about it.” Tony winner DiPietro (Memphis, Nice Work If You Can Get It) doesn’t give director Kathleen Marshall (Nice Work, Wonderful Town) much of a chance with the musty material. The only saving grace is Sills’s performance, but it’s not enough to salvage the proceedings. Fleming displays occasional flare in her Broadway debut, but her snippets of songs are more of a tease than a treat. You’ll be looking for the fat lady to sing long before the silly finale.
Emily Johnson’s Shore is another beautifully organic participatory event that brings audience and performer together with the local surroundings. The last part of a trilogy that began with The Thank-you Bar and Niicugni, Shore opens in the outdoor playground of PS 11 on West Twenty-First St., where people gather near the large-scale mural by Os Gemeos and Futura of a cartoonish character wearing shorts covered in flags of the world, which is representative of the four-part work’s inclusiveness. (There are also separate volunteer, feast, and story sections of Shore.) Attendees can go on the slide, commune with a coop of chickens, shoot some hoops, or grab one of the red blankets and huddle for warmth in these cold late-April days. (Note: Get there early if you want a blanket, as there aren’t enough for everyone.) Various performers start humming and singing on the street, confusing passersby, then run around in a circle inside the playground. Johnson, wearing a masklike swipe of red ceremonial makeup over her eyes, gets atop a shaky makeshift podium and tells a story about a dream of birds and Minetta Creek, an underground stream that once snaked its way from Chelsea to the Hudson River.
Johnson then leads her large cast, including the Shore Choir, and the audience on a silent journey (except for music boxes, carried by some cast members, that play a lovely tune) following the stream’s path to New York Live Arts on Nineteenth St., where Shore continues in the theater, beginning amid dry-ice mist rising from the stage as the audience takes its seats. (Be sure to pick up a program when leaving the playground, as it contains a special treat.) Soon Aretha Aoki in red, Krista Langberg in orange, and Johnson in yellow, the first three colors of the rainbow, are moving across the stage, feet pounding hard, approaching the rest of the performers, who first line up against the back wall, then make their way to the sides. The interplay among the three dancers ranges from strong and determined to tender and intimate, set to a score that goes from stark bursts of sound to acoustic guitar playing to Marv Albert calling a Bulls-Lakers game. Never at a loss for creativity and ingenuity, Johnson has one final gift for the audience as they exit the theater, one that will touch your already soaring heart. Yes, you’ll be very cold at PS11, and the indoors NYLA section goes on a bit too long, but Shore will challenge you, captivate you, and constantly remind you that you are part of something much bigger than just yourself.
THE VILLAGE VOICE FOURTH ANNUAL CHOICE STREETS FOOD TRUCK TASTING EVENT
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex
Pier 86, West 46th St. & 12th Ave.
Tuesday, May 5, $55-$85, 7:00 - 11:00 pm
What true New Yorker doesn’t get excited by seeing a whole bunch of food trucks lined up on one street? Now there’s no need to go in search of a random meetup: Choice Streets 2015, the Village Voice’s fourth annual outdoor gathering of mobile eateries, is even better, taking place May 5 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex. With great views of NYC (and no traffic!), Choice Eats brings together food trucks from the five boroughs, plus free drinks, live music from Mariachi Flor de Toloache, access to the museum, and — for VIPs — a goodie bag, all in one place. Ticket holders — twenty-one and over only — can sample from nearly two dozen food trucks as well as enjoy free tours of the retired aircraft carrier. VIP ($85, 7:00) and early admission ($65, 7:30) are still available, promising an extra thirty to sixty minutes of culinary delights, DJ sets, and, um, separate facilities. But everyone can relish the generous, unlimited samplings of signature dishes, sides, and desserts from some of the city’s most innovative food truck chefs, along with complimentary craft beer and specialty wine and liquor. The food-truck lineup includes some of our favorites from the streets, several of whom are new to the fest, like Snowday (we’ll have their divine grilled cheese drizzled with maple syrup, thank you very much) and Domo Taco (ah, braised five-spice pork burritos), in addition to returning faves Carl’s Steaks (always “Whiz wit,” in true Philly style), Big D’s Grub Truck (mmm, Yuca fries), Solber Pupusas (the Red Hook platter, please), and the Treats Truck (cookies and brownies, yes!). Among the other participating trucks are Gorilla Cheese, Korilla BBQ, Langos Truck, Mike ‘N’ Willie’s, Sweet Chili, the Vintage Ice Cream Guys, and Yankee Doodle Dandy’s, with more to be announced.
On Friday night, January 20, 2006, shortly after having Shabbat dinner with his family, twenty-three-year-old cell-phone salesman Ilan Halimi was kidnapped in Sceaux, and the perpetrators demanded 450,000 Euros as ransom. What happened over the next twenty-four days eventually shocked France and the rest of the world as the details of the abduction, and its frightening anti-Semitic roots, were made public. Director Alexandre Arcady tells the harrowing true story in 24 Days, a gripping procedural that follows the Halimi family and the police as they try to save Ilan’s (Syrus Shahidi) life and find what became known as the Gang of Barbarians, led by Ivory Coast native Youssouf “Django” Fofana (Tony Harrison). Zabou Breitman gives a powerful performance as Ruth Halimi, Ilan’s mother, who quickly grows unhappy with the police’s plan, which involves her ex-husband and Ilan’s father, Didier (Pascal Elbé), challenging Django over the course of hundreds of phone calls, aided by Commander Delcour (Jacques Gamblin) and police psychologist Brigitte Farrell (Sylvie Testud). With time running out and the police refusing to acknowledge the situation as a hate crime, the family becomes even more desperate, leading to a chilling conclusion.
Based on Ruth Halimi and Émilie Frèche’s book, the film, cowritten by Frèche, Antoine Lacomblez, and Arcady (Last Summer in Tangiers, Le Grand Carnaval), evokes such kidnapping thrillers as Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low and Don Siegel’s Dirty Harry, except here it’s all true; Arcady even shot much of 24 Days in the actual locations where the events happened, including the real police precinct where the Halimis spent much of those twenty-four days. Elbé (The Other Son, Tête de Turc) is terrific as the father, who tries to keep his cool as he deals with Django, an emotionally volatile and unpredictable criminal. The film is particularly relevant given the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe; in a press-kit interview, Elbé states, “When we see [Dieudonné] M’Bala M’Bala nostalgic for [Philippe] Pétain and the young people who take to the streets and cry pre-war slogans, we realize that we in France have learned nothing from history. I am appalled by the feebleness of the reaction provoked by the ideas of people like Dieudonné and the deafening silence of some artists. Truly, something has gone very wrong in our society.” Arcady’s chilling film is evidence that something indeed has gone very wrong.