La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
Saturday, October 17, 11:00 am - Sunday, October 18, 11:00 am, $5 - $400 (pay what you can)
Osaka-born multidisciplinary artist Yoshiko Chuma celebrates the fortieth anniversary of her collective, “The School of Hard Knocks” (SOHK), with the live, twenty-four-hour virtual work Love Story, streaming through La MaMa beginning at eleven o’clock in the morning on October 17. SOHK debuted at the 1980 Venice Biennale and became an official company four years later; the troupe has traveled the world with such shows as AGITPROPS: The Recycling Project, 7 x 7 x 7, and Pi=3.14 . . . Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border, many of which were developed and premiered at La MaMa as well as PS122 and Dixon Place here in New York. A durational performance installation that incorporates dance, music, film, visual art, and narrative storytelling, Love Story deals with such timely topics as immigration, national security, and war; Chuma, who has been based in the United States since 1977, will also be looking at her personal and professional past, present, and future, focusing on the idea of borders, which have taken on a whole new level of importance under the Trump administration while also impacting how art is now created online as well as how Chuma has shunned the limitations of genre in her career.
Love Story — which consists of live and prerecorded segments, with part of the show taking place in La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre — was conceived, choreographed, and directed by Chuma, working with artist liaison Ai Csuka, creative producer and musician Ginger Dolden, actor Ryan Leach, Middle East specialist Ruyji Yamaguchi, and dramaturgs and designers Jake Margolin and Nick Vaughan. Among the cast of more than fifty international performers are Deniz Atli from Turkey, Agnè Auželytė from Amsterdam, Los Babuinos from Venezuela, Sahar Damoni from Palestine, Tanin Torabi from Iran, and Martita Abril, Mizuho Kappa, Heather Litteer, Devin Brahja Waldman, and zaybra from New York, with live, original music by Robert Black on double bass, Jason Kao Hwang on violin, Christopher McIntyre on trombone, and Dane Terry on piano.
“This week I was supposed to be in New York for performances celebrating Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks’ forty-year anniversary,” Auželytė recently wrote on Facebook. “While my physical body will stay put in Amsterdam for a long while to come, I will still be there, online and energetically, sharing the screen with a group of artists, some whom I had the opportunity to get to know for a long time already and some whom I only ever met on Zoom! (How weird is that? Is it still weird?) I am also touched to see some of them physically at the theater at La MaMa, which has been closed to the public for seven months now! We’ve had a lot of late-night conversations during this process and it continues to make me think about how to reimagine theater in the era of self-isolation and Zoom life. What does local-global mean anymore? Where are our bodies? What are our bodies?”
The list of collaborators on Love Story is long and impressive. In addition to those listed above, there will be choreography by Yanira Castro, Ursula Eagly, Allyson Green, Jodi Melnick, Sarah Michelson, Anthony Phillips, Peter Pleyer, Kathryn Ray, Steve Recker, and Vicky Shick; poetry by Kyle Dacuyan, Bob Holman, and Anne Waldman; music by Mark Bennett, Tan Dun, Nona Hendryx, Christian Marclay, Lenny Pickett, and Marc Ribot; film and video by Chani Bockwinkel, Jacob Burckhardt, Rudy Burckhardt, Andrew Kim, Jonas Mekas, and Charlie Steiner; photography by Robert Flynt and Dona Ann McAdams; set designs by Tim Clifford, Alex Katz, Elizabeth Kresch, and Elizabeth Murray; and appearances by Barbara Bryan, Rachel Cooper, Mark Russell, Yoko Shioya, Bonnie Sue Stein, Laurie Uprichard, David White, Donald Fleming, Dan Froot, Kaja Gam, Brian Moran, Nicky Paraiso, Harry Whittaker Sheppard, Gayle Tufts, Sasha Waltz, David Zambrano, Nelson Zayao, Emily Bartsch, Peter Lanctot, Kouiki Mojadidi, Emily Marie Pope, Isaac Rosenthal, and Aldina Michelle Topcagic. Of course, it takes a lot of work to fill up 1,440 continuous minutes of performance, and Chuma has assembled quite a team.
You can get a sneak peek and behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative project on October 15 at 8:00 when La MaMa will present a livestream preview that includes archival footage, sketches, and rehearsal clips. In preparation for Love Story, La MaMa has also been hosting such live Saturday morning Zoom events as “Secret Journey: Stop Calling Them Dangerous” and “SML: Zooma — Dead End” in addition to evening shows that give a taste of what we’re all in for from Bessie Award winner Chuma and her unpredictable troupe, a virtual hybrid that should offer, at the very least, a twenty-four-hour respite from this school of hard knocks we are living through in 2020.
Who: Zoe Leonard, Legacy Russell
What: Virtual book launch
Where: School of Visual Arts Zoom
When: Thursday, October 15, free with RSVP, 11:00 am
Why: In December 2012, curator, writer, and artist Legacy Russell coined the term “Glitch Feminism,” writing in The Society Pages, “In a society that conditions the public to find discomfort or outright fear in the errors and malfunctions of our socio-cultural mechanics — illicitly and implicitly encouraging an ethos of ‘Don’t rock the boat!’ — a ‘glitch’ becomes an apt metonym. Glitch Feminism, however, embraces the causality of ‘error,’ and turns the gloomy implication of glitch on its ear by acknowledging that an error in a social system that has already been disturbed by economic, racial, social, sexual, and cultural stratification and the imperialist wrecking-ball of globalization — processes that continue to enact violence on all bodies — may not, in fact, be an error at all, but rather a much-needed erratum. This glitch is a correction to the ‘machine,’ and, in turn, a positive departure. This glitch I speak of here calls for a breaking from the hegemony of a ‘structured system’ infused with the pomp and circumstance of patriarchy, one that for all too long has marginalized female-identified bodies, and continues to offend our sensibilities by giving us only a piece of the pie and assuming our satisfaction.” Russell, a New York City native who is associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, has expanded those ideas into a book, Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto (Verso, September 2020, $14.95), which focuses on online representation, gender, and the body and features such chapters as “Glitch Refuses,” “Glitch Throws Shade,” “Glitch Is Skin,” “Glitch Is Remix,” and “Glitch Survives.” She writes in the introduction, “A body that pushes back at the application of pronouns, or remains indecipherable within binary assignment, is a body that refuses to perform the score. This nonperformance is a glitch. This glitch is a form of refusal.”
On October 15 at 11:00 am, Russell will be joined by artist, activist, and New York native Zoe Leonard for a book launch hosted by the School of Visual Arts, discussing cyberfeminism and systems of oppression. Primarily a photographer and sculptor, Leonard is most well known for her 1992 poem “I want a president,” a large-scale version of which was installed on the High Line in October 2016. The poem was written in support of the independent presidential candidacy of poet Eileen Myles running against George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot and begins, “I want a dyke for president. I want a person with AIDS for president and I want a fag for vice president and I want someone with no health insurance and I want someone who grew up in a place where the earth is so saturated with toxic waste that they didn’t have a choice about getting leukemia.” Prepare for a lively and energetic talk; admission is free with advance RSVP.
Who: Kyle Beltran, Dan Butler, Helen Cespedes, Kalyne Coleman, Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Ricardy Fabre, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Marin Ireland, Peter Mark Kendall, Nicole Lewis, Nana Mensah, Joe Morton, Deirdre O’Connell, Keith Randolph Smith, Ryan Spahn, Chris Stack, Myra Lucretia Taylor, TL Thompson, Nicole Villamil, Victoria Villier, Reggie D. White
What: Historic talks put into contemporary context
Where: Vineyard Theatre
When: October 6 - November 1, community conversations free, others $5-$9 per person per event, All Access Pass $60
Why: Conceived by Marin Ireland, Peter Mark Kendall, Tyler Thomas, and Reggie D. White, the Vineyard Theatre’s “Lessons in Survival” features a group of actors dubbed the Commissary reenacting historic speeches, interviews, and conversations from activists and artists during revolutionary times. Episodes such as “Survival Is Not a One Time Decision,” “I’m Trying to Make You See Something,” and “When You Say Revolution . . . What Do You Mean?” will be performed by Kyle Beltran, Dan Butler, Helen Cespedes, Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Nicole Lewis, Joe Morton, Deirdre O’Connell, and Keith Randolph Smith, presenting the words of Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, and others, directed by Tyler Thomas, with video design and editing by Josiah Davis and music by Daniel Kluger. Performances take place Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8:30, with ticketed open rehearsals on Thursday nights and free Sunday afternoon community talks that can be viewed over YouTube and Facebook Live. To get ready, you can watch a discussion about the series here.
Tuesday, October 6, 8:30
“Survival Is Not a One Time Decision,” words by Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, and Audre Lorde/Blanche Cook, with Nicole Lewis, Kalyne Coleman, Myra Lucretia Taylor, and Deirdre O’Connell
Wednesday, October 7, 8:30
“I'm Trying to Make You See Something,” words by James Baldwin/Dick Cavett, and Paul Weiss, followed by live tweeting about the vice presidential debate, with Ricardy Fabre, Chris Stack, and Dan Butler
Thursday, October 8, 8:30
Live Open Rehearsal, words by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis and others, with Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, and Victoria Villier
Sunday, October 11, 5:30
Live Community Conversation, free
Tuesday, October 13, 8:30
“When You Say Revolution . . . What Do You Mean?,” words by Angela Davis, Georgia Gilmore, and Fannie Lou Hamer, with Nicole Lewis, Ricardy Fabre, Crystal Dickinson, and Helen Cespedes
Thursday, October 15, 8:30
Live Open Rehearsal, words by Bobby Seale, Bobby Seale/Bob Costas, and Ericka Huggins/Angela Davis/JoNina Abron/Barbara Rogers, with April Matthis, Reggie D. White, Sevrin Anne Mason, Adam Chanler-Berat, Brandon J. Dirden, Kristolyn Lloyd, Clarissa Marie Ligon, Nicole Lewis, and director Tyler Thomas
Sunday, October 18
Live Community Conversation, free, 5:30
“The Old Leadership Is Dead,” words by Bayard Rustin, with Kyle Beltran, Yonatan Gebeyehu, and TL Thompson, 8:30
Tuesday, October 20, 8:30
“Something Is Beginning to Crack,” words by Maya Angelou/Mavis Nicholson and James Baldwin/Mavis Nicholson, with Myra Lucretia Taylor, Marin Ireland, Joe Morton, and Deirdre O’Connell
Wednesday, October 21, 8:30
“This Country's My Problem and Your Problem,” words by Toni Morrison and Charlie Rose, James Baldwin and R. H. Darden, with Dan Butler, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Nana Mensah, and Ryan Spahn
Thursday, October 22, 8:30
Live Open Rehearsal, words by Muhammad Ali/Nikki Giovanni, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and more, with TL Thompson, Jennifer Ikeda, Crystal Dickinson, Nicole Villamil, Peter Mark Kendall, Peter Gerety, and director Tyler Thomas
Sunday, October 25
Live Community Conversation, free, 5:30
“This Country’s My Problem and Your Problem,” words by Toni Morrison/Charlie Rose, James Baldwin, and R. H. Darden, with Dan Butler, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Nana Mensah, and Ryan Spahn, 8:30
Tuesday, October 27, 8:30
“Lie to Me,” words by James Baldwin/Nikki Giovanni, with Kalyne Coleman, Crystal Dickinson, and Reggie White
Thursday, October 29, 8:30
Live Open Rehearsal, with words by Lucille Clifton/Sonia Sanchez, Sarah Keys Evans, John Lewis, and Paul Robeson, with Keith Randolph Smith and others
Sunday, November 1
Live Community Conversation, free, 5:30
“To Teach Is a Revolutionary Act,” words by James Baldwin/Nikki Giovanni, with Kyle Beltran, Nana Mensah, Kalyne Coleman, and Joe Morton, 8:30
Who: Grantham Coleman, Franchelle Stewart Dorn, Jennifer Ikeda, Harry Lennix, Patrick Page, Madeline Sayet, Jessika D. Williams, David Sterling Brown, Erika Lin, Ayanna Thompson, more
What: Performances and discussions surrounding Shakespeare’s Othello
Where: Red Bull Theater livestream
When: October 5, 7, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 28, free with RSVP
Why: One of the most remarkable aspects of William Shakespeare’s plays is how relevant they remain today, as companies infuse the histories, comedies, and tragedies with contemporary relevance. Red Bull Theater, one of the most active troupes during the pandemic lockdown, will take on the Bard’s The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice with “Othello 2020,” a series of special programs that explore the work’s lasting impact as it continues to thrill and challenge audiences around the world. “All of us at Red Bull are excited to deepen our exploration and understanding of the intersection of race and classical theater,” artistic director Jesse Berger said in a statement. “This October, with Shakespeare’s Othello as our launching point, we invite audiences to take a deep dive into these issues as we examine them from a variety of perspectives over the course of four key projects. Together, we’ll ask, ‘What does Othello mean for us in 2020’?” The initiative begins October 5 with the RemakaBULL Podversation “Exploring Iago” with Patrick Page, who will perform one of Iago’s most important speeches (“Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: / For I mine own gained knowledge should profane, / If I would time expend with such a snipe. / But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor”), then talk about it with associate artistic director Nathan Winkelstein; Page played Iago opposite Avery Brooks’s Othello in 2005 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
On Wednesday afternoons at 2:00, the free webinar “Exploring Othello in 2020” consists of salon seminars examining the work in the context of racial justice and the BLM movement, featuring BIPOC voices, moderated by Shakespeare scholar Ayanna Thompson; each week will feature readings, by Keith Hamilton Cobb (American Moor), Franchelle Stewart Dorn (’Tis Pity She’s a Whore), Jennifer Ikeda (Women Beware Women), Anchuli Felicia King (White Pearl), Harry Lennix (Radio Golf), Madeline Sayet (Where We Belong), and Jessika D. Williams, who is currently portraying Othello at the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia. On October 12 at 7:30, Cobb will deliver a live benefit reading of his one-man show, American Moor, in which he auditions for a white director, followed on October 15 at 7:30 by a Bull Session with scholar Erika Lin, original director Kim Weild, and members of the company. On October 19, Red Bull teams up with the American Shakespeare Center for a benefit reading of King’s Keene, which takes place at at a Shakespeare conference, directed by Ethan McSweeny and starring Grantham Coleman, followed October 22 at 7:30 by a Bull Session with scholar David Sterling Brown and members of the company, moderated by Anne G. Morgan. All events are free with advance RSVP.
Who: F. Murray Abraham, Angela Bassett, Annette Bening, Biko’s Manna and Family, Jonathan Cake, Merle Dandridge, Keith David, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Ralph Fiennes, Gideon Firl, Amadou Kouyate, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Dame Helen Mirren, Joe Morton, Antonio Parker Quintet, Nova Y. Payton, Nancy Robinette, Kalen Robinson, Mary Michelle Schaefer, Liev Schreiber, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, Simon Godwin, more
What: Shakespeare Theatre Company online gala
Where: Shakespeare Theatre Company
When: Saturday, October 3, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about being quarantined during a health crisis. So it’s more than apt that the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual gala this year will be taking place virtually, with theaters closed. The DC company’s popular fundraiser goes virtual on October 3 at 7:00, featuring an all-star roster performing and discussing the Bard, including F. Murray Abraham, Angela Bassett, Jonathan Cake, Merle Dandridge, Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Dowd, Ralph Fiennes, Harry Lennix, Norm Lewis, Dame Helen Mirren, Kalen Robinson, Liev Schreiber, Russell Thomas, Courtney B. Vance, the cast of The Amen Corner, and artistic director Simon Godwin, among others; the event is codirected by LeeAnet Noble and Alan Paul. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; there is also a preshow virtual cocktail reception and a silent auction, where you can bid on art, food and wine, trips to Ireland, Greece, and other countries, costumes and props, and sponsoring an episode of Shakespeare Hour Live!
Who: Misty Copeland, Radhika Jones
What: Online discussion
Where: 92nd St. Y online
When: Wednesday, September 30, $10, 7:00
Why: “When Miss Bradley announced they’d be performing the ballet Coppélia for the recital, everyone in Misty’s class shouted excitedly and gathered around to hear their teacher tell the story of Coppélia. Misty didn’t know what Coppélia meant, and she was too shy to ask — especially since it was her first ballet class ever! So Misty took a spot on the floor, and before she knew it, she was completely entranced as Miss Bradley told the tale.” So begins Misty Copeland’s second children’s book, Bunheads (Putnam, September 29, $17.99), the follow-up to her debut, The Firebird. The start of a new series, Bunheads, illustrated by Setor Fiadzigbey, shares Copeland’s initial foray into the world of ballet as a child; she would grow up to become the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. On September 30 at 7:00, she will launch the book in a livestreamed conversation with Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones in a talk hosted by the 92nd St. online. You can listen to a clip of Copeland reading from the book here.