THE BOOKSELLERS (D. W. Young, 2019)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Monday, October 7, Francesca Beale Theater, 6:00
Wednesday, October 9, Howard Gilman Theater, 8:30
Festival runs September 27 - October 13
D. W. Young’s wonderfully literate documentary The Booksellers is making its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, screening on October 7 at 6:00 and October 9 at 8:30, followed by Q&As with D. W. Young and producers Judith Mizrachy and Dan Wechsler. The film follows the exploits of a wide-ranging group of dedicated bibliophiles who treasure books as unique works of art, buying, selling, and collecting them not merely for the money but for the thrill of it. “The relationship of the individual to the book is very much like a love affair,” Americana collector Michael Zinman explains. Among those who share their thoughts on books are Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean, and the owners of such New York City bookstores as Imperial Fine Books, Left Bank Books, the Argosy Book Store, and the Strand. Look for my full review to be posted when the film debuts Monday night.
Brooklyn Cultural District
The Plaza at 300 Ashland and other locations
October 4-6, free - $115
Downtown Brooklyn is the place to be this weekend for the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival, taking place around the Plaza at 300 Ashland from Friday to Saturday. There will be an African drum circle, live music and dance, talks and discussions, theater, glass-making demonstrations, film screenings, classes, treasure hunts, art exhibitions, and more; while many events are free, others require ticketing at BAM, Theatre for a New Audience, the Mark Morris Dance Center, and the New York Transit Museum, among others. Below are some of the highlights.
Friday, October 4
Kickoff with live performance by Soul Tigers Marching Band and dance party with Soul Summit, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 5:00 - 8:00
Free Demonstration Night: The Two-Part Mold, with Kellie Krouse and Jeffrey Close, UrbanGlass, free, 6:00 - 9:00
Peter Brook\NY, with Paul Auster, Marie-Hélène Estienne, and Jeffrey Horowitz, Center for Fiction, $10 (includes $10 off at bookstore), 7:00
Pop-Up: An Artistic Treasure Hunt, by Strike Anywhere and the Tours Soundpainting Orchestra, Fort Greene, free, 7:00
Saturday, October 5
African Drum Circle with Mr. Fitz, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 11:00
NYTM Train Operators Workshop, New York Transit Museum, free with museum admission, 11:30 & 3:30
Dance: Pas de Deux, with Brooklyn Ballet, set to Jean-Phillippe Rameau’s “Gavotte et Six Doubles,” the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 2:00
Rhys Chatham: The Sun Too Close to the Earth / Jonathan Kane and Zeena Parkins: Oh, Suzanne, ISSUE Project Room, $20-$25, 8:00
Sunday, October 6
Dance: Tribal Truth, in collaboration with Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 12:00
MC Oddissee, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 1:00
Brooklyn Navy Yard: Past, Present & Future Tour, $15-$30, 2:00
Pop-Up: Nkiru Books, with DJ set by Talib Kweli, the Plaza at 300 Ashland, free, 2:00 - 5:00
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl. at at Washington Square South
September 6-8, $40
The good news is that five-time Obie winner JoAnne Akalaitis’s BAD NEWS! I was there . . . is a salient, pertinent, and entertaining work. The bad news is that it’s all too true. Initially workshopped five years ago at Poet’s House and debuting at the Guthrie last year, BAD NEWS! is a clarion call that relates Greek tragedy to what is happening around the world today. The ninety-minute show takes audiences, divided into four groups, through numerous spaces in NYU’s Skirball Center, where it continues through September 8; in each location, two messengers in yellow safety vests with flashlights in the pocket over their heart deliver tales of disaster, murder, catastrophe, suicide, violence, butchery, incest, and war as a young child (Jah-Sire Burnside, Devin Coleman, Donovan Coleman, and Riley Velazquez) sits nearby, reading superhero comic books. The audience is separated from the performers by yellow caution tape, a constant reminder of impending doom. “In death there is nothing but death,” the cast says in unison.
The dialogue and songs (the music is by Bruce Odland), presented in English, Greek, Latin, French, and German, have been adapted from classical literature by Sophocles, Euripedes, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Jean Racine, and Aeschylus, translated by Anne Carson, Bertolt Brecht, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Ted Hughes, Caryl Churchill, and others. Eight seminal tragic figures are represented: Medea (Katie Lee Hill), Thyestes (Jenny Ikeda), the Bacchae (Rocco Sisto), Phèdre (Kelley Curran), Oedipus (Howard Overshown), Antigone (Henry Jenkinson), Orestes (Jasai Chase Owens), and Hecuba (Rachel Christopher). Guides (Ahsan Ali, Maya Carte, ESJAE, Josh Fulton, ALEXA GRÆ, Chloé Worthington, Isabella Peterson, Milo Longenecker, and Aigner Mizzelle) carry lights as they lead the groups through narrow hallways, up and down stairs, and into various rooms; they also serve as a Greek chorus, singing in unison in the background. Along the way, white sheets with the title of the show written in what looks like blood hover. Curiously, there are not enough chairs to seat everyone at each stop, so if you can stand, let the elderly, infirm, or pregnant sit down.
As you watch one section, you can clearly hear snippets from at least one other part (the first four scenes run concurrently and can be seen in any order), creating a cacophony of bad news, as if you’re being overwhelmed by social media and television reports. (Julie Archer designed the sets and costumes, with lighting by Jennifer Tipton and sound by Odland.) It all culminates in a grand finale that brings all four groups together, making one last stand. Created and directed by Akalaitis, the cofounder of Mabou Mines and former head of the New York Shakespeare Festival, BAD NEWS! is about bearing witness, in the past and the present; it asks us to pay attention to what is going on across the globe and to speak up when we see danger. “I was there and I will tell you everything” is the play’s constant refrain. (For example, when no Holocaust survivors are left on earth, what happens to their stories, especially with so many conspiracy theorists claiming it’s a hoax, and so many people on the internet believing them?) The show is accompanied by a multimedia lobby installation on Greek tragedy, supplemented with articles on the refugee crisis, Donald Trump, neo-Nazis, and other current events, and the audience is asked to write down their own personal bad news on a sheet of paper. After the performance, you’re encouraged to have a free drink, talk about what you just experienced, and read aloud one of the anonymous pieces of bad news. “I speak the truth. All evils are revealed,” one character says early on. The actors are not just delivering tragic news from ancient tales; they’re warning us about today, and tomorrow. And that’s a good thing, if only more people would listen.
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl.
September 6 - December 9
NYU Skirball’s mission is to “present work that inspires yet frustrates, confirms yet confounds, entertains yet upends.” They are staying true to their goals with an extremely impressive and daring fall season of music, theater, dance, literature, and talks. The season gets under way September 6-8 ($40) with the New York City premiere of former New York Shakespeare Festival head and five-time Obie winner Joanne Akalaitis’s Bad News! I Was There . . . , a site-specific performance in English, Greek, French, and German that takes four groups through the lobby, dressing room, and backstage area of the theater, mixing in sung and spoken excerpts from classic Greek tragedy. “‘I was there’ is a refrain heard every day on the news, often followed by ‘How can this happen? What’s wrong here? What should we do?’” Akailitis says about the show.
Philippe Quesne’s The Moles, set in a world without humans and words, consists of four presentation September 12-14: “Parade of the Moles,” a free tour of Greenwich Village on Thursday at 2:00; “Night of the Moles” on Friday and Saturday night ($30, 7:30), taking place in a burrow; and the family-friendly “Afternoon of the Moles” on Saturday afternoon ($20, 7:30), as the Moles form a punk band. If you missed Sam Mendes’s brilliant production of The Lehman Trilogy at the Park Avenue Armory, you can catch one of two “National Theatre Live” screenings at the Skirball on September 15 ($25, 2:00 & 7:00) On September 16, “NYU Writes: A Celebration of Writers and Writing at NYU” brings together Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, Terrance Hayes, Yusef Komunyakaa, Nick Laird, Sharon Olds, and Zadie Smith, hosted by Deborah Landau (free with advance RSVP, 7:00).
Tony nominee Daniel Fish follows up his controversial reimagining of Oklahoma! with White Noise, a seventy-minute multimedia show “freely inspired” by Don DeLillo’s 1985 National Book Award-winning novel. Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez, and Adrienne Truscott take on critics in Wild Bore September 27-28 ($35-$45, 7:30). And that just takes us through September; below are some of the highlights from October to December:
Sunday, October 6
National Theatre Live: Fleabag, $25, 7:00
Friday, October 11
Saturday, October 12
John Kelly: Underneath the Skin, $35-$45, 7:30
Friday, October 18
Saturday, October 19
ICE: George Lewis’s Soundlines — A Dreaming Track, $35-$45, 7:30
Friday, October 25
Saturday, October 26
Mette Ingvartsen: to come (extended), US premiere, $35-$45, 7:30
Friday, November 8
Saturday, November 9
Big Dance Theater: The Road Awaits Us, Ballet, Cage Shuffle: Redux, $35-$45, 7:30
Friday, December 7
Saturday, December 8
The Builders Association: Elements of Oz, $20-$25, 7:30
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
July 26 - August 15
“During Godfrey’s several visits to Iran throughout a decade, he formed a relationship with my father that I had rarely seen him having with other writers. I believe this is because of Godfrey’s ability to go beyond the surface, his unique views and interpretations,” Ahmad Kiarostami writes in the foreword to film critic Godfrey Cheshire’s latest book, Conversations with Kiarostami (Film Desk, July 29, $18). In the 1990s, Cheshire went to Iran on multiple occasions to interview writer-director Abbas Kiarostami, helping introduce the new Iranian cinema to the West. Cheshire will be at IFC Center for three special presentations during the fab festival “Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective,” a three-week series comprising virtually all of Kiarostami’s shorts and full-length works, from award-winning, well-known tales to rarely screened gems, many in 2K or 4K restorations. Among the films being shown are the Koker Trilogy (Where Is the Friend’s House?, And Life Goes On, Through the Olive Trees), Palme d’Or winner Taste of Cherry, Silver Lion winner The Wind Will Carry Us, the early documentaries First Graders and Homework, and Kiarostami’s first two features, The Traveler and The Report.
In his Criterion essay on Taste of Cherry, Cheshire writes, “In Abbas Kiarostami’s universe, it might be said, there are no things, only relations between things. Likewise, in his cinema: no films, only relations between films—and within them. And between them and us.” Cheshire will delve into those relations at a trio of talks, beginning July 27 at 7:10 with “Kiarostami and Koker,” focusing on the trilogy and showing Through the Olive Trees. On August 3 at 5:10, for “Unseen Kiarostami,” Cheshire will screen the 1976 comedy A Wedding Suit and talk about that film as well as such other early works as Bread and Alley, Experience, and Fellow Citizen. And on August 4 at 5:20, for “Cinema in Revolution,” Cheshire will be joined by film professor Jamsheed Akrami for a screening of the initially banned Case No. 1, Case No. 2 and a discussion. In his online bio of Kiarostami, Cheshire calls the auteur “the most acclaimed and influential of Iran’s major filmmakers” and notes how in the twenty-first century “Kiarostami broadened his creative focus, devoting more time to forms including photography, installation art, poetry, and teaching,” exemplified by his 2007 exhibition “Image Maker” at MoMA and MoMA PS1. Keep watching twi-ny for reviews of individual films during this must-see retrospective.
On July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the Bastille prison, a symbolic victory that kicked off the French Revolution and the establishment of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Ever since, July 14 has been a national holiday celebrating liberté, égalité, and fraternité. In New York City, the Bastille Day festivities are set for Sunday, July 14, along Sixtieth St., where the French Institute Alliance Française hosts its annual daylong party of food and drink, music and dance, and other special activities. The celebration is highlighted by the free live performance “Gérard Chambre: Si on chantait l’Amour” in Florence Gould Hall at 3:00 and a screening of C’est la vie! (Le sens de la fête) (Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, 2017) in the hall at 5:30 ($16). The elegant Champagne, Cocktail, and Jazz Party takes place at 1:30 and 3:30 in the Skyroom ($75), with live music by the Avalon Jazz Band, five different Champagnes, cocktails by Giffard, chocolates from Jacques Torres, macarons from Ladurée, and hors d’oeuvres from Maman Bakery, while a Summer in Provence tasting occurs in Tinker Auditorium from 12:00 to 4:30, with three wines, one beer, one Ricard cocktail, and cheese and charcuterie ($30).
The French Garden between Madison and Fifth Aves. includes booths from Atelier Paulin, French Wink (Atelier Novo, Calisson Inc, Emma & Chloé, Merci Bisous, Môme Care, Tissage Moutet), Ladurée, Strasbourg Tourism Office, and Saint James, while Market Booths between Lexington and Madison features Hanami Designs, Katia Lambey Expressions, Alhambra Lifestyle, Barraca / the Shack Collective, Brasserie Cognac, Epicerie Boulud & Bar Boulud, Financier Pâtisserie, Harmless Harvest, Le Bec Fin, Lelo Fine Foods, Macaron Café, MAD Foods, Maman Bakery, Meska Sweets, Mille-Feuille Bakery Café, Miss Madeleine NYC, Oliviers & Co, Perrier, Pistache NYC, Sel Magique, Simply Gourmand, Sud de France, the Crepe Escape, the American Association of French Speaking Health Pro, BZH New York, Canal +, Exploria Resorts, France Amerique, Green Mountain Energy, Sheridan Fencing Academy, and TV5 Monde / Sling TV.
There will also be a bevy of free outside performances and events, beginning at 12:35 with Joanna Wronska doing the Can-Can, followed by Chloé Perrier & French Heart Jazz Band (12:40), live Art with COCOVAN (12:50), mime with Catherine Gasta (12:50), music by the Love Show (1:10, 2:15, 3:15), a feather dance wby Joanna Wronska (1:25), music by the Blue Dahlia (1:30), Les P’tites Ouvreuses (2:30), the Hungry March Band (3:00), and Rodeo Joe (3:30), a Zouk dance lesson with Franck Muhel, and the Citroën Car Show (12:55 – 5:00). And for the kids, the FIAF Library hosts a trio of Fly Away with Books workshops: “Geometry of Animals with Lucie Brunelli” at 1:00, “Full Speed Ahead! with Cruschiform” at 2:00, and “Pop-up Art with Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud” at 3:00.
Who: Dapper Dan, Elaine Welteroth
What: Book launch with talk and signing
Where: BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave., 718-636-4100
When: Wednesday, July 10, $20 event only, $40 with book, 7:00
Why: “It was a midnight like any other at the store. The lights were on out front, the door unlocked, the grate rolled halfway up. Dapper Dan’s Boutique was open. My night crew of tailors was in the back filling orders. Jackets, jumpsuits, parkas. Their sewing machines hummed into the wee hours. I was lying on my bed in the little apartment I’d built in back for myself. Most nights, you could find me there, rereading a book of philosophy or spirituality or trying to sneak in a nap,” begins fashion icon Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day’s memoir, Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem. “I had good reasons for never closing the shop and rarely leaving it. For one, a lot of my customers preferred late-night visits, for anonymity during the week or for the after-hours vibe of the weekends. I also had to keep an eye on my employees, who were backdooring my designs. It was my name on the awning out front, and in my world, your name means everything. It was my reputation, my brand, and people came from all over the city and beyond—from Philly and Chicago, Houston and Miami—because they wanted a Dapper Dan. I was the store, and the store was me.” On July 10, the seventy-four-year-old Dapper Dan, who has helped dress such figures as Eric B. and Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Big Daddy Kane, Mike Tyson, LL Cool J, Jam Master Jay, Diddy, Naomi Campbell, and Jay-Z, will launch his book with a talk and a signing at BAM Rose Cinemas, presented with Greenlight Bookstore as part of the Unbound series. He will be interviewed by journalist, magazine editor, Project Runway judge, and influencer Elaine Welteroth, author of the new book More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are. Tickets are $20 for the event and $40 for the event and a copy of Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem.