This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Who: Tim Curry, Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Nell Campbell, Seth Green, Jason Alexander, David Arquette, the Dresden Dolls, Miss Peppermint, Eiza Gonzalez, Josh Gad, Ben Barnes, Jenna Ushkowitz, Rachel Bloom, Karen Olivo, Marissa Jaret Winkour, Madison Uphoff, Kalen Chase, Rumer Willis
What: Livestreamed Halloween political fundraiser
Where: WisDems Zoom
When: Saturday, October 31, suggested donation $31, 10:00
Why: America is in danger of going through a perilous time warp if the current administration gets another four years in office, further setting back gains that have been made over decades toward freedom and equality for all. With that in mind, the Wisconsin Democratic Party has been on a fierce and furious drive to flip the swing state blue on election day with virtual cast reunions of Happy Days, The Princess Bride, Veep, and Superbad that have each raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Next up is a celebration of the 1975 midnight cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film that celebrates individuality and daring to be different. We might not be able to touch-a, touch-a, touch-a, touch one another, but we can reach out and come together online, and joining in the fun on Halloween night will be Dr. Frank N. Furter himself, Tim Curry, along with Wilmer Valderrama, Lance Bass, Rosario Dawson, Jason George, Nell Campbell, Seth Green, Jason Alexander, and David Arquette, with musical performances by the Dresden Dolls, Miss Peppermint, Eiza Gonzalez, reunion champ Josh Gad, Ben Barnes, Jenna Ushkowitz, Rachel Bloom, Karen Olivo, Marissa Jaret Winkour, Madison Uphoff, Kalen Chase, and Rumer Willis. The suggested donation is $31 for the one-time-only live event, but you can give any amount to watch the festivities and submit your own question, so as far as change goes, don’t just dream it, be it.


Who: James Monroe Iglehart, Rafael Casal, Adrienne Warren, James Monroe Iglehart, Danny Burstein, Nik Walker, Lesli Margherita, Rob McClure, Kathryn Allison, Jenni Barber, Erin Elizabeth Clemons, Fergie L. Philippe, Jawan M. Jackson, Brian Gonzales
What: Livestreamed benefit concert
Where: the Actors Fund Vimeo channel
When: Saturday, October 31, $4.99, 7:00
Why: “Year after year, it’s the same routine / And I grow so weary of the sound of screams / And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King / Have grown so tired of the same old thing,” Skeleton Jack sings in Tim Burton’s 1993 animated classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas. In this horrific 2020, everyone will be lamenting the holiday, with no parade in the Village, no club parties and in-person costume contests, no bobbing for apples, and no trick-or-treating; the city is destined to be a lonely place on October 31. But there’s a lot happening online, including a benefit concert featuring Broadway stars performing Danny Elfman’s music from Nightmare. The all-star cast includes Rafael Casal as Jack, Adrienne Warren as Sally, James Monroe Iglehart as Oogie Boogie, Danny Burstein as Santa, Nik Walker as Lock, Leslie Margherita as Shock, and Rob McClure as Barrel, joined by Kathryn Allison, Jenni Barber, Erin Elizabeth Clemons, Fergie L. Philippe, Jawan M. Jackson, and Brian Gonzales. Tickets are only $4.99, with proceeds going to the Actors Fund and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.


Who: Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most, Lowell Ganz, Josh Gad, D’Arcy Carden, Yara Shahidi, more
What: Live reunion reading
Where: WisDems Zoom
When: Sunday, October 25, minimum donation $1, 7:00
Why: It will not be the happiest of days for everyone when the cast of Happy Days reunites for a benefit script read and Q&A in support of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in an effort to help turn the state blue again in the upcoming presidential election. On October 25 at 7:00, a classic episode of the sitcom, which aired on ABC from 1974 to 1984 and was set in Milwaukee, will be read live on Zoom by Henry Winkler as the too-cool Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, Ron Howard as the the freckle-faced Richie Cunningham, Don Most as the wacky Ralph Malph, Anson Williams as the doofy Potsie Weber, and Marion Ross, on her ninety-second birthday, as the frisky Mrs. C. Sadly, creator Garry Marshall, Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham), Pat Morita (Arnold), and Al Molinaro (Al) are no longer with us. But what about Scott Baio, as tough-guy Chachi Arcola, you ask? Well, the staunch Trump-supporting conservative recently tweeted, “What a shame to use a classic show like Happy Days about Americana to promote an anti-American socialist. #Shameful.” So John Stamos will be stepping into Chachi’s shoes for the presentation, which will also include writer Lowell Ganz, Josh Gad, D’Arcy Carden, Yara Shahidi, and surprise guests. (Ted McGinley, Cathy Silvers, Linda Purl, Lynda Goodfriend, and Crystal Bernard are still around.) And maybe, just maybe, we’ll get the real, inside story of what happened to Chuck.

“We’re thrilled a show made famous in Milwaukee is coming back home to help make Donald Trump a one-term president,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler said in a statement. “We know all roads to the White House go through the Badger State, and with the cast of Happy Days helping us raise money to take back the White House, we believe even more we can deliver a victory on November 3.” Happy Days hasn’t held up very well, but this should be a fun night anyway, following two other WisDems reunions, The Princess Bride and Veep, as well as the PA Dems benefit reunion of This Is Spinal Tap and the Texas Democratic Party’s Seinfeld Fundraiser About Something on October 23.


Reiko Yamada will present the virtual world premiere of the Japan Society commission Sound Installation on Silent Films on October 21 (photo © Carolyn Drake)

Who: Reiko Yamada, Yoko Shioya
What: Livestreamed world premiere performance and artist Q&A
Where: Japan Society online
When: Wednesday, October 21, $15, 8:00 (available on demand through November 4)
Why: Japan Society’s virtual 2020-21 Performing Arts Season kicks off with the commissioned world premiere of Hiroshima-born multimedia artist Reiko Yamada’s Sound Installation on Silent Films. On October 21 at 8:00, Japan Society will livestream the prerecorded performance, filmed live in Yamada’s home, in which she accompanies a trio of silent films with music played on broken accordions. “During the pandemic, our everyday lives have been greatly compromised, leaving us at times painfully dependent on the internet for connection. But while some advances in technology take a center stage in this climate, others that changed the world but have since become commonplace — cinema, instantly available music, global transportation — have been halted,” Yamada said in a statement. “The three antique films that I have selected for this concert — a reel of sumo wrestling matches, an almost abstract animation, and a documentary on the history of railroads in Japan - were the new technologies of their day, light entertainments in the truest sense. Recontextualizing these movies as ‘streaming performances’ supported by music provides me a canvas to present our relationship to entertainment over time.”

The performance will be followed by a live Q&A with Japan Society artistic director Yoko Shioya and Yamada, whose other works include the experimental opera Mask Your Sonic Story, the score for the dance piece You Took a Part of Me, the solo exhibition Small Small Things, and the orchestral composition New Shadows in Raw Light of Darkness. “I have an affinity for the accordion, having used it as a primary instrument in past projects,” Yamada, who is currently based in Barcelona, continues. “Though the accordion has no significant role in the history of Japanese silent film, I find the instrument, even (and perhaps especially) in a dilapidated state, can convey a depth of experience and an almost tactile sense of sound. By filtering my performance live through a computer, I can better isolate the unique personality of each instrument. The films that make up this performance were painstakingly digitized, recaptured like butterflies on pins for a modern audience that may find them rendered alien out of context. Much as each frame of these films has been renovated by both analog and digital processing, I will be transforming these nearly nonfunctional accordions into time machines, linking the performance’s many parts across oceans and centuries.” Tickets for the fifty-minute show are $15; the stream will be available through November 4.


Yoshiko Chuma’s Love Story, The School of Hard Knocks is a twenty-four-hour durational online experience

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 multidisciplinary Love Story streams live from Saturday to Sunday morning (photo courtesy La MaMa)

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.


The cast of Dazed and Confused is reuniting for benefit live script reading

Sunday, October 11, minimum donation, 7:30

Alright, alright, alright! Virtual reunions have been all the rage during the pandemic lockdown, from Josh Gad’s “Reunited Apart” YouTube series, which has brought back the casts of such films as Back to the Future, Splash, Ghostbusters, The Goonies, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley’s daily Stars in the House get-togethers with the casts of Mean Girls, Fun Home, One Day at a Time, Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, and many others in addition to live reunion readings of plays, all free but with donations encouraged.

Sean Penn recently raised money for CORE, which promotes Covid-19 testing and other community programs, with a celebrity script reading of Fast Times at Ridgmont High with superstars who were not in the movie (Jennifer Aniston, Dane Cook, Morgan Freeman, Jimmy Kimmel, Shia LaBeouf, John Legend, Ray Liotta, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts, as well as Penn not as Spicoli). With the election approaching, script readings and reunions have reached a new level as they seek to help flip red states to blue, including a terrific live virtual reading of The Princess Bride (with Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, director Rob Reiner, and others) for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, followed by a Veep reunion, headed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

On October 11 at 7:30, the original cast of Richard Linklater’s classic 1993 film, Dazed and Confused, will reunite to support the Voto Latino Foundation and the March for Science. The live reading will feature all your favorites: Matthew McConaughey as Wooderson, Ben Affleck as O’Bannion, Parker Posey as Darla, Jason London as Pink, Joey Lauren Adams as Simone, Adam Goldberg as Mike, Anthony Rapp as Tony, Rory Cochrane as Slater, Marissa Ribisi as Cynthia, Cole Hauser as Benny, Deena Martin as Shavonne, Esteban Powell as Carl, Christine Harnos as Kaye, Wiley Wiggins as Mitch, Michelle Burke as Jodi, Mark Vandermeulen as Tommy, Sasha Jenson as Don, Jeremy Fox as Hirschfelder, Christin Hinojosa as Sabrina, Catherine Morris as Julie, and Nicky Katt as Clint. The film has always been a quote lover’s dream, but several of them will take on a new meaning given the state of the country today. Cynthia: “Maybe the ’80s will be, like, radical or something. I figure we’ll be in our twenties and it can’t get worse.” Simone: “You act like you’re so oppressed. You guys are kings of the school. What are you bitching about?” Mike: “I feel like I’m being stalked by a Nazi.” Tony: “Neo-McCarthyism, I like that.” And Ms. Stroud: “Okay, guys, one more thing. This summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.” Patton Oswalt, who hosted the Princess Bride reunion and moderated the postshow Q&A, will perform the same duties here.

Wednesday, October 14, minimum donation, 9:00

On October 14 at 9:00, another too-cool reunion will be taking place, raising money for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party as it tries to switch the state, which voted for Trump in 2016, to Biden this time around. And once again it will be a quote-laden classic directed by Reiner, the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, with Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls), Reiner (who also played Marty DiBergi), and host and moderator Oswalt. “Democratic enthusiasm in Pennsylvania is already turned up to eleven,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party executive director Jason Henry said in a statement.

Although this one is not a table read, Spinal Tap also still has a relevant take on the U.S. of A. after all these years. St. Hubbins explains, “I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn’t believe anything.” Speaking about a new album cover, St. Hubbins says, “Well, I think it looks like death. It looks like mourning,” to which their manager, Ian Faith (Tony Hendra), responds, “Death sells.” And then there’s this exchange: St. Hubbins: “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh . . .” Tufnel: “Clever.” St. Hubbins: “Yeah, and clever.” Tickets for the Dazed and Confused and Spinal Tap reunions are pay-what-you-wish; as we approach the end of the campaign (and maybe the end of our nation), don’t forget these key words from St. Hubbins: “Well, I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how — what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what’s stopping it, and what’s behind what’s stopping it? So, what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.”


October 1-11, films $10 per person, $15 per household, Gold Pass $150, live events pay-what-you-wish

The forty-third annual Asian American International Film Festival runs online October 1-11, consisting of full-length films, shorts, documentaries, anime, Q&As, panel discussions, master classes, and more. Every day features three hours of pay-what-you-wish live programming, including postscreening Q&As for which you do not have to have seen the film. Tickets for films are $10 per person and $15 per household and can be viewed at any time during the festival, which kicks off with special presentations of Ramona S. Diaz’s A Thousand Cuts, about fearless Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, and Andrew Ahn’s Driveways, followed by a Q&A with the director and stars Hong Chau and Lucas Jaye. Below are only some of the livestream highlights.

Thursday, October 1
The 2020 72 Hour Shootout: Top Ten Selection, 8:30

Filipino Filmmakers Roundtable, 7:00

Friday, October 2
Game Night! Designing for Games Roundtable, Part 1, with GJ Lee, Goutham Dindukurthi, and Jenny Windom, 9:30

Saturday, October 3
Online Distribution for Shorts, with Jason Sondhi, Maegan Houang, Nirav Bhakta, Gayatri Bajpai, SJ Son & Woody Fu, 6:30

Sunday, October 4
Impact Producing, with Pulkit Datta, Cecilia Mejia, Suzan Beraza, Megan Vandervort, and Sahar Driver, 12:30

TikTok and the Storytelling Revolution, 6:30

Monday, October 5
Documentary Panel: Navigating Cultural Communities and Identities, 7:30

Tuesday, October 6
Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness (Pt. 1), 7:30

Wednesday, October 7
Anti-Racism: Online Activism Campaigns (Pt. 2), 7:30

Game Night! Designing for Games Roundtable, Part 2, 9:00

Friday, October 9
Comedy Night, 9:00

Saturday, October 10
Masterclass with Ramona Diaz, 12:30

Music Night Out, 7:00