UNDER THE RADAR
The Public Theater online
January 6-17, free with advance RSVP
For sixteen years, the Public Theater’s multidisciplinary winter festival “Under the Radar” has been presenting cutting-edge, experimental works from around the world, in its four theaters and Joe’s Pub in addition to such satellite locations as Japan Society, La MaMa, BRIC, and other city venues. But the 2021 iteration will be virtual — and it’s also all free. This year’s festival has been trimmed down to eight shows, one panel, one symposium, and live Q&As, requiring advance RSVPs; donations beginning at $5 are requested for each production.
“The challenges facing cultural exchange is not limited to the pandemic; it includes the tightening reactionary world trying to suffocate alternative voices, combined with a climate crisis growing more threatening every day,” festival director Mark Russell said in a statement. “Under the Radar began as an answer to an isolationist government in 2005, trying to connect voices, not always heard on American stages, from communities not always invited. We continue to follow this path with both international and American artists.”
The 2021 UTR fest is actually already under way with 600 Highwaymen’s A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call, continuing through January 17. Written and created by Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone, the piece is an hourlong phone call between you and another person, randomly put together and facilitated by an electronic voice that asks both general and intimate questions, from where you are sitting to what smells you are missing, structured around a dangerous and lonely fictional situation that is a metaphor for sheltering in place, even though the work began several years ago. It’s a great way to get connected to a stranger while looking inwardly at yourself — and there’s more to come, as the next two parts involve one-on-one in-person encounters and a group gathering once the pandemic lockdown is lifted.
Below is the rest of the schedule; note that some shows can be viewed on demand at any time, with specific dates for live Q&As, while others are available only during livestreams.
CAPSULE (January 6-17, artist Q&As 1/6 and 1/11 at 8:00)
Written by Whitney White and Peter Mark Kendall and directed and produced by Taibi Magar and Tyler Dobrowsky, Capsule explores isolation and connection, race and film using original text and music. White and Kendall will also be the guests on the “Live at the Lortel” podcast on January 4 at 7:00.
ESPÍRITU (January 6-17, artist Q&As 1/8 and 1/14 at 8:00)
Teatro Anónimo’s Espíritu takes place over the course of one night in an unidentified city, dealing with such issues as consumerism and manipulation of desire. The thirty-five-minute piece is written and directed by Trinidad González and will be performed in Spanish with English subtitles.
INCOMING! (January 6-17, talkback following 1/10 and 1/17 shows at 8:00)
The Public Theater’s Devised Theater Working Group has collaborated on a specially commissioned program of short pieces about where we are here and now, with cohort members Savon Bartley, Nile Harris, Miranda Haymon, Eric Lockley, Raelle Myrick-Hodges, Mia Rovegno, Justin Elizabeth Sayre, and Mariana Valencia presenting a thirty-minute video including such brief works as “Edna’s Best Friend Jeans” and “What We Forgot.”
UNDER THE RADAR SYMPOSIUM: A CREATIVE SUMMIT (January 7, 10:00 am)
Livestreamed interactive half-day symposium with Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts vice president and artistic director Marc Bamuthi Joseph, showcase of future works by Tania El Khoury, Héctor Flores Komatsu, Anna Maria Nabirye / Annie Saunders, and Roger Guenveur Smith, breakout sessions, and the concluding “Artists and International Presenting” discussion.
BORDERS & CROSSINGS (January 7-10, talkback after each show)
Poet, performer, playwright, graphic artist, and designer Inua Ellams, who was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother, shares his personal story of migration, from Nigeria to England to Ireland and back to London, in this hourlong livestreamed one-man show produced by Fuel Theatre, which hosted his in-person An Evening with an Immigrant in the fall.
RICH KIDS: A HISTORY OF SHOPPING MALLS IN TEHRAN (January 7-10, 14-17, talkback after each show)
The Javaad Alipoor Company’s Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran is an experimental hybrid of live performance and social media that explores the growing separation between the wealthy and the poor, looking at income inequality through a kaleidoscopic mirror. Written by Alipoor and co-created by Alipoor and Kirsty Housley, the sixty-minute show, the second part of a trilogy following the multimedia The Believers Are But Brothers, won the 2019 Scotsman Fringe First Award.
DISCLAIMER (January 7-11, 14-17, talkback following 1/17 show at 6:00)
Piehole’s Disclaimer is a live Zoom event in which a cooking class led by Chef Nargis incorporates Persian food, cultural misrepresentation, minimal audience participation, and murder. Disclaimer is written by Tara Ahmadinejad, who directed Japan Society’s livestreamed presentation of Satoko Ichihara’s Underground Fairy last month.
THE MOTOWN PROJECT (January 8-17)
Alicia Hall Moran reimagines the Motown songbook with opera in this recorded performance from Joe’s Pub, featuring Thomas Flippin on guitar, Reggie Washington on bass, and Steven Herring and Barrington Lee on vocals, with choreography by Amy Hall Garner.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (January 9, 12 noon)
Livestreamed panel discussion and Q&A with MC93 director Hortense Archambault, MC93 director of productions Frank Piquard, performance artist, choreographer, and director of dance festivals Aguibou Bougobali Sanou, and Perelman Performing Arts Center producing director Meiyin Wang, moderated by LMCC artistic director Lili Chopra.
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