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

THE ROMANIANS: 30 YEARS OF CINEMA REVOLUTION

Anamaria Marinca

Anamaria Marinca stars in Cristian Mungiu’s harrowing 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,, part of Film Forum celebration of the last three decades of Romanian cinema

Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
Through November 26
212-727-8110
filmforum.org

On December 25, 1989, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, were executed by a firing squad after being found guilty of corruption and genocide. In the wake of his death, the Romanian film industry reinvented itself, and Film Forum pays tribute to that change with “The Romanians: 30 Years of Cinema Revolution,” consisting of thirty films screening over twelve days through November 26. Several shows will be followed by Q&As with the director and/or actor. In addition to the below four recommendations, the series includes Nae Caranfil’s Do Not Lean Out the Window, Radu Mihaileanu’s Train of Life, Alexandru Solomon’s The Great Communist Bank Robbery, and Constantin Popescu’s Pororoca.

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
Friday, November 22, 3:30, 7:45
filmforum.org

Winner of the Palme D’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a harrowing look at personal freedom at the end of the Ceaușescu regime in late-’80s Romania. Anamaria Marinca gives a powerful performance as Otilia, a young woman risking her own safety to help her best friend, Gabita (Laura Vasiliu), out of a difficult, dangerous situation. Their lives get even more complicated when they turn to Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) to take care of things. Cinematographer Oleg Mutu, who shot Cristi Puiu’s brilliant The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, keeps the camera relatively steady for long scenes, without cuts, pans, dollies, or zooms, as the actors walk in and out of view, giving the film a heightened level of believability without looking like a documentary. Set in a restrictive era with a burgeoning black market, 4 Months goes from mystery to psychological drama to thriller with remarkable ease — and the less you know about the plot, the better.

AFERIM!

Father (Teodor Corban) and son (Mihai Comānoiu) hunt for a runaway slave in wickedly funny Aferim!

AFERIM! (Radu Jude, 2015)
Saturday, November 23, 3:30
bigworldpictures.org
filmforum.org

Romanian director Radu Jude won the Silver Bear as Best Director at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival for Aferim!, his savagely funny blacker-than-black comic Western about bigotry, infidelity, and frontier justice in 1835 Wallachia. Lawkeeper Costandin (Teodor Corban) and his son, Ionitā (Mihai Comānoiu), are galloping through the local countryside, searching for runaway Gypsy slave Carfin (Cuzin Toma), who Boyar Iordache Cindescu (Alexandru Dabija) has accused of having an affair with his wife, Sultana (Mihaela Sîrbu). The surly Costandin leads the hunt, verbally cutting down everyone he meets, from random old women to abbots to fellow lawmen, with wicked barbs, calling them filthy whores, crows, and other foul names while spouting ridiculous theories about honor and religion; he even batters his son, saying he’s “a waste of bread” and that “if you slap him, he’ll die of grief.” It’s a cruel, cholera-filled time in which even the monks beat the poor, where Costandin regales a priest with the telling riddle, “Lifeless out of life, life out of lifeless,” which the priest thinks refers to the coming doomsday.

Cowritten by Jude (The Happiest Girl in the World, Everybody in Our Family) and novelist Florin Lăzărescu (Our Special Envoy, Numbness), who previously collaborated on the short film The Tube with a Hat, and shot in gloriously stark black-and-white by Marius Panduru (12:08 East of Bucharest; Police, Adjective), the Romanian / Bulgarian / Czech coproduction is an absurdist combination of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, and John Ford’s The Searchers, skewering everything in its path, either overtly or under its wide-reaching breath. Even Dana Pāpāruz’s costumes are a genuine riot, especially the boyar’s majestically ridiculous hat. But Aferim! is more than just a clever parody of period films and nineteenth-century Eastern European culture and social mores; it is also a brilliant exploration of the nature of racism, discrimination, misogyny, and the aristocracy that directly relates to what’s going on around the world today as well as how Romania has dealt with its own sorry past of enslaving the Romani people. Jude was inspired by real events and historical documents, setting the film immediately after the 1834 Russian occupation, which adds to its razor-sharp observations. “Aferim! is an attempt to gaze into the past, to take a journey inside the mentalities of the beginning of the nineteenth century — all epistemological imperfections inherent to such an enterprise included,” Jude says in his director’s statement. “It is obvious that such an effort would be pointless should we not believe that this hazy past holds the explanation for certain present issues.” Don’t miss this absolute gem of a film, which was Romania’s submission for the Academy Awards.

BEYOND THE HILLS

Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) must choose between her faith and her best friend in Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills

BEYOND THE HILLS (DUPA DEALURI) (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)
Sunday, November 24, 7:30
Monday, November 25, 12:40
filmforum.org

Inspired by a true story detailed in a pair of nonfiction novels by Romanian journalist Tatiana Niculescu Bran, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills is a powerful, emotional study of love, friendship, dedication, devotion, and sexual repression. In a barren section of modern-day Romania, Alina (Cristina Flutur) arrives at a poverty-stricken Orthodox monastery, where her childhood friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) has become a nun. Both young women grew up in a poor orphanage, and both still have no real place in society. Alina has come to try to convince Voichita — possibly her former lover — to leave the flock and go with her to Germany, where they can live and work together freely. Early on, Voichita rubs a tired Alina’s bare back; when Alina turns over, Voichita just stops short of massaging her friend’s chest, the sexual tension nearly exploding in a scene of quiet beauty that speaks volumes about their relationship. Despite Alina’s pleading, Voichita, apparently filled with deep inner guilt, refuses to turn her back on the priest (Valeriu Andriuţă), whom all the nuns refer to as Pa, and her newfound vocation. Unable to accept her friend’s decision, Alina begins acting out in threatening ways to both herself and the true believers, leading to shocking, tragic consequences.

Mungiu’s feature-film follow-up to the 2007 Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is another harrowing examination of characters trapped in a devastating situation. The two-and-a-half-hour film seems to take place in a different era, far away from contemporary towns and cities, cell phones and even electricity. Mungiu, who won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes for the film, is careful not to condemn or belittle Pa, Ma (Dana Tapalagă), and their faith, but he doesn’t praise them either, leaving it up to viewers to decide for themselves. In their feature-film debuts, Flutur and Stratan, who are both from Mungiu’s hometown of Iasi and shared the Best Actress award at Cannes, are exceptional, their eyes filled with fear and longing as Alina and Voichita try to find a balance in their opposing worlds.

Luminița Gheorghiu

Luminița Gheorghiu plays a controlling, domineering mother in Călin Peter Netzer’s award-winning Child’s Pose

CHILD’S POSE (POZITIA COPILULUI) (Călin Peter Netzer, 2013)
Monday, November 25, 8:40
filmforum.org
www.zeitgeistfilms.com

Luminita Gheorghiu, grand dame of the Romanian New Wave, was nominated for Best Actress at the European Film Awards for her devastating portrayal of a domineering mother in Călin Peter Netzer’s Child’s Pose. Gheorghiu (The Death of Mister Lazarescu; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) stars as Cornelia Kerenes, an elegant, cigarette-smoking architect who immediately jumps into action when her son, Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache), is involved in a terrible car accident, killing a child. Despite their recent estrangement — Cornelia and Barbu have rarely spoken since he married Carmen (Ilinca Goia) — Cornelia starts constructing a scenario, like designing one of her buildings, to keep Barbu out of jail. She and her surgeon husband, Reli (Florin Zamfirescu), along with her sister, Olga (Nataşa Raab), start calling in favors and doling out bribes while showing a stunning lack of concern for the family of the boy who Barbu killed. As the child’s funeral approaches, relationships come together and fall apart as parents try to deal with what has happened to their children. Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, Child’s Pose is a searing examination of class, corruption, and power.

Reminiscent of Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman, in which María Onetto gives a mesmerizing performance as an Argentine upper-class wife and mother who looks the other way when it appears that she might have run over a local boy, Child’s Pose is a penetrating character study that centers around the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Early on in the film, Cornelia, who her husband at one point calls “Controlia,” sits down with her dour cleaning woman and offers her a pair of used shoes, expecting her to rejoice in such wonderful charity. The scene sets the stage for what occurs later, as Cornelia believes money is the primary route to Barbu’s freedom, but it’s a path littered with more than just one young child’s body. The taut, razor-sharp script was written by Netzer (Maria, Medal of Honor) and Răzvan Rădulescu, who has worked on such other Romanian New Wave films as The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Stuff and Dough, and Tuesday, After Christmas. In Cornelia, they have created a woman worthy of joining the pantheon of classic domineering cinematic mothers.

ELISA MONTE DANCE: EMERGED NATION

(photo by Tony Turner)

“Tilted Arc” is the first of three movements in Elisa Monte Dance’s Emerged Nation at the Flea (photo by Tony Turner)

Flea Theater, the Sam
20 Thomas St. between Broadway & Church St.
November 21-24, $10-$25
212-352-3101
theflea.org
www.elisamontedance.org

Elisa Monte Dance takes the emotional temperature of America in Emerged Nation, making its world premiere November 21-24 at the Flea. Choreographed by company artistic director Tiffany Rea-Fisher, the evening-length work explores issues of immigration, culture, and diversity in three movements; the piece is performed by Tracy Dunbar, Katherine Files, Jenny Hegarty Freeman, Daniela Funicello, Hannah Gross, Madelyn LaLonde, Ashley LaRosa, and Sai (Napat) Rodboon, with lighting by Michael Cole and a score by DJ Twelve45 and ambient chamber music composer Kevin Keller. Emerged Nation opens with “Tilted Arc,” which was commissioned by the DOT for the 2017 Summer Streets program and references Richard Serra’s controversial 1989 sculpture in Foley Square, followed by “Emerged Nation,” which examines black and Native American cultural assimilation in the States, and “Kinetic Kinship,” which delves into New York City’s reputation as a melting pot.

“Moving into Elisa Monte Dance’s thirty-ninth season, I wanted to reprise and expand my seminal work, ‘Tilted Arc,’ into an evening-length work. When I revisited this repertory piece, I felt that it left questions that needed to be answered about mine and so many others’ struggle to find a cultural place in America. This work takes the audience on my journey of self-exploration,” Rea-Fisher said in a statement. The November 23 performance will be followed by a talkback with Rea-Fisher, the composers, and other members of the cast and crew. And be on the lookout for the HP Reveal App that will enhance the experience.

SALON DU CHOCOLAT FAVORITES

Chocolate lovers flock to Javits for return of salon (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Chocolate lovers flock to Javits Center for return of cacao salon (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Salon du Chocolat
Javits Center
655 West 34th St. at 11th Ave.
Saturday, November 16, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, and Sunday, November 17, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Admission: $10-$25 in advance, $12-$35 onsite
www.salonduchocolatny.com
www.javitscenter.com

The return of Salon du Chocolat to New York has attracted a big crowd to the Javits Center, where chocolate-obsessed minions can experience all things cacao, from samples and demonstrations to workshops and fashion. There are more than eighty booths and dozens of events, so navigating it can be tricky. Several popular purveyors — including two that are offering alcohol-infused chocolate — have long lines, so we suggest skipping those. However, where there are lines, please acknowledge them; we saw far too many people not honoring the queues, rudely pushing in front of others to snag a free bonbon, truffle, or nib. There is a lot to try, and many of the men and women behind the booths are the owners, chefs, or creators and love talking about their process, so do engage them (and perhaps even get a bonus taste). We were impressed with brands from South America (Hoja Verde — Global Cadena), New Zealand (Hogarth), Vanuatu (Aelan), Haiti (Askanya), and Vietnam (Marou) as well as New Jersey (Knipschildt), Connecticut (Le Rouge), Texas (Maggie Louise), and the Lower East Side (Roni Sue’s) on our international chocolate tour; below are some of our favorite stops.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Harlem Chocolate Factory adds 1920s glamour to confection convention (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Goodnow Farms uses fresh-pressed single origin South American beans in creating unique flavors (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Honey Jack caramel bonbon at Two Chicks with Chocolate is a stand-out (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates adds an Indian twist to French delights (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Chocolate Genius Paul Joachim molds the elephant in the room (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Austin-based Maggie Louise Confections offers generous samples of sweet treats (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Choc Doc is on the case, offering Chocolate for the Spirit (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Karl Hogarth (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Karl Hogarth has traveled from New Zealand to serve his bean-to-bar chocolate (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Pastry chefs and other industry pros give talks and demonstrations at Salon du Chocolat (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Pastry chefs and other industry pros give talks and demonstrations at Salon du Chocolat (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Master chocolatier Håkan Mårtensson has sculpted chocolate dragons at his booth (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT

Marion Stokes

Activist and hoarder Marion Stokes compiled 70,000 tapes over more than thirty years

RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT (Matt Wolf, 2019)
Metrograph
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Opens Friday, November 15
212-660-0312
metrograph.com
recorderfilm.com

During the Iran hostage crisis that took place from 1979 to 1981, a Philadelphia woman named Marion Stokes became obsessed with news coverage and began taping as many primarily news-related programs as she possibly could, keeping as many as eight VCRs going at any one time. Her unusual story is documented in Matt Wolf’s irresistible Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, which opens November 15 at Metrograph. Stokes was ahead of her time, creating her own kind of audiovisual time capsule, which ultimately comprised more than seventy thousand Betamax and VHS tapes made over four decades that presaged the 24/7 news overload and preponderance of alternative facts we are experiencing today. “Taping these programs for my mother was a form of activism. She wanted people to be able to seek the truth and check facts,” explains her son, Michael Metelits.

Marion Stokes

Marion Stokes proves to be quite a character in Matt Wolf documentary

Wolf also speaks with her chauffeur, Richard Stevens; her secretary, Frank Heilman; her nurse, Anna Lofton; her daughters, Mizzy Stokes and Anne Stokes Hochberg; and her ex-husband, Melvin Metelits, who all share details of her many idiosyncrasies. A former librarian and longtime Communist who considered defecting to Cuba, she also hoarded newspapers and magazines in her quest to archive as much of what was really going on in the world as she could. “A lot of craziness produces a lot of brilliance, and I think there’s something kind of brilliant about what Marion Stokes did. Whatever motivated her, this material needed to wind up in a situation where it could be shared,” Heilman says.

Wolf supplements the interviews with excerpts from Marion’s tapes as well as family photos and videos and clips of her on the public affairs program Input with the man who would become her second husband, John S. Stokes; they worked together at the Wellsprings Ecumenical Center. Marion was also obsessed with Star Trek, furniture, and Apple computers, which she wisely invested in. Much of what she recorded would have been lost forever, made at a time when not every television station kept everything they broadcast, and to see many of these reports now, complete with commercials, is utterly compelling, so unlike what we watch today, following shows and channels that keep us inside our carefully constructed bubbles.

But her nonstop taping and hoarding caused problems with her family as she became more and more tied down to her house, needing to be home to change the tapes every six hours. “I’m sure she came to value what was coming through the screens more than the kind of very problematic messy stuff that was happening in her real life,” one interviewee notes. Described as a mysterious and private woman who was controlling, Marion says on Input, “Who decides what’s normal? I think maybe a reexamination of what is normal is in order at this point.” Is it ever. Metrograph will host a series of Q&As with Wolf, moderated by Lynne Tillman, Scott Macaulay, Charlotte Cook, Melissa Lyde, Sierra Pettengill, Collier Meyerson, and Stuart Comer, at select screenings Friday through Wednesday.

SALON DU CHOCOLAT

The Chocolate Fashion Show redefines haute couture/cuisine

The Chocolate Fashion Show redefines haute couture/cuisine

Javits Center
655 West 34th St. at 11th Ave.
Saturday, November 16, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, and Sunday, November 17, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Admission: $10-$25 in advance, $12-$35 onsite
www.salonduchocolatny.com
www.javitscenter.com

“All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt,” Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz wisely stated. Fall just hasn’t been the same since Salon du Chocolat stopped coming around here in 2011, but the multidimensional celebration of all things cacao is now back for a brand-new iteration, bringing love as well as delectable delights to the Javits Center November 16-17. More than eighty purveyors of ganache goodness will have booths, offering samples, selling their wares, and sharing their thoughts on what local chef Michael Levine calls “the world’s perfect food,” and who are we to argue?

The two-day festival features live chocolate sculpting by Paul Joachim (aka the Chocolate Genius), demonstrations and Q&As with master chocolatiers, interactive workshops, a family-friendly activity center, holiday shopping pop-ups, and the salon’s inestimable Chocolate Fashion Show, in which chefs and designers collaborate on remarkable works of art. If the advisory council is any indication, we should be in for a real treat: Jansen Chan, Martin Howard, Lisa Mansour, Håkan Mårtensson, Roger Rodriguez, Rich Leach, and Ed Seguine.

Among the participating vendors from all across the globe are Aelan Chocolate Makers, Amazing Cacao, Amedei Tuscany, AMMA Chocolate, Bang Cookies, Chocolate Therapy, Conexión Chocolate, Dorothy Cox’s Chocolates, Gotham Chocolates, Harlem Chocolate Factory, Läderach, M2 Confections, Makaya Chocolat, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur, Roni Sue’s Chocolates, and VillaKuyaya Organic Dark Chocolate. Also on hand is our all-time fave, Fritz Knipschildt, who introduced us to the wonders of sea salt and caramel with chocolate many years ago at the show.

The event website provides brief info on each vendor, including whether their chocolate is fair trade, gluten free, organic, or vegan, for those who need to know. Below is a complete list of all the special programs taking place. No matter how sad you might be about the bleak, cold days ahead as well as the political situation, be sure to come hungry; as a University College London study has just declared, there is “some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.”

Saturday, November 16
Cocoa Nib Chocolate Tart with Oreo Crust, with Abby Swain, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 10:30

Painting with Chocolate: Creating Edible Art, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 10:30

Royal Icing, with Toni Lynn Dickinson, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 11:00

Bûche de Noël, with Sean Considine, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 11:30

Chocolate Clay: Eat your art!, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 11:45

Holiday Pies, with Toni Lynn Dickinson, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 12:00

Chocolate Bourbon Cake, with Nick Malgieri, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 12:30

Fritz Knipschildt will bring his Chocopologie to the Javits Center this weekend

Fritz Knipschildt will bring his Chocopologie to the Javits Center this weekend

Decorating Cakes with Piping, with Toni Lynn Dickinson, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 1:00

Make Your Own Vegan/Allergy Free Chocolates, with Mona Changaris, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 1:00

Coconut and Honey Truffle Pop by Khakow, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 1:30

Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival, with Miro Uskokovic, Eunji Lee, Thea Habjanic, Dan Keehner, Paola Marocchi, Elise Harris, Rob Valencia, Christophe Toury, Guillaume Roesz, Ikuma Motoki, Jana Kern-Mireles, Jayce Baudry, Rory Mcdonald, and Chris Elbow, 1:30

Painting with Chocolate: Creating Edible Art, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 2:00

Ruby Pastry, with Rocco Lugrine, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 2:00

Cold Brew Coffee Ganache, with Benoit Racquet, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 2:30

Chocolate Clay: Eat your art!, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 3:00

Crafting Cookies, with Jansen Chan, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 3:00

Signature Salon du Chocolat Fashion Show, with Vanessa Greeley, Ia Faraoni, Dede Ayite, Fritz Knipschildt, David Woolard, Moran Etstein, Libat Ohayon, Ashley Holt, Richard Capizzi, Marilyn & Joe Bawol, Christine Alaniz, and Corina Chase, Special Events Stage, 4:00

Almond Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies, with Miro Uskokovic, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 5:15

Sunday, November 17
Chocolate Clay: Eat your art!, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 11:15

Boogie Woogie Books, Special Events Stage, 11:30

Ruby Bonbon, with Russ Thayer, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 11:30

Cakes from Start to Finish, with Jürgen David, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 11:45

Painting with Chocolate: Creating Edible Art, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 12:15

Savory Chocolate Winter Stew, with Matt Gennuso, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 12:30

Thanksgiving Breads, with Jürgen David, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 12:45

Make Your Own Vegan/Allergy Free Chocolates, with Mona Changaris, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 1:15

Chocolate Puddin’, with Katzie Guy-Hamilton, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 1:30

Fall Fruit Flavors, with Jansen Chan, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 1:45

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, with Paulette Goto, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 2:30

Chocolate Clay: Eat your art!, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 2:45

Gluten-Free Baking, with Jansen Chan, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 2:45

All Types of Cakes, with Jürgen David, Pastry by the Pros Stage, 3:45

Painting with Chocolate: Creating Edible Art, with Nikki Woolfolk, Salon du Chocolat Junior, 4:00

Zero Waste Vegan Chocolate Cake & Gluten Free/Vegan Chocolate Chip Cereal Bars, with Theresa Farrell, Chocolate Demonstration Stage, 4:30

BAM NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL: USER NOT FOUND

(photo by Rebecca Smeyne)

Terry O’Donovan plays a man experiencing grief in public in intimate User Not Found (photo by Rebecca Smeyne)

Greene Grape Annex
753 Fulton St.
November 9-16, $65
www.bam.org
danteordie.com

BAM’s Next Wave festival of debuts under new artistic director David Binder has another first, a show taking place not in the Harvey, the Howard Gilman Opera House, or the Fisher but up Fulton St. at a nearby café. London-based site-specific-performance purveyors Dante or Die is staging its poignant User Not Found in the cozy Greene Grape Annex, where the small audience sits at shared tables or on benches or stools. It’s an intimate and clever exploration of grief and one’s digital legacy in the age of social media that will have you thinking about your own online footprint.

Each audience member is given a headset and a cellphone. After some Norah Jones music concludes, a man starts talking; it takes a minute or so to realize he is sitting at one of the tables, getting ready to share his tale as it unfolds in real time. We see and hear exactly what he sees and hears on his phone, from text messages and relaxing apps to photos and videos that bring up memories. (The music and sound design is by Yaniv Fridel, with video design by Preference Studio and creative technology by Marmelo.) Identifying himself as Terry (Terry O’Donovan), he is just finding out that his ex-lover Luka has died and that he is the executor of his digital profile via a company called Fidelis, which means “always faithful”: It is his responsibility to determine whether to keep or delete Luka’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, etc., pages. Having been unceremoniously dumped by Luka in a brutal breakup, he has no interest in the job, yet he begins searching through Luka’s data to see what he has been doing since he left him as well as remembering some of the good times. Terry walks all around the café (the lighting and set design is by Zia Bergin-Holly), seeking out eye contact and making connections, and at one point he does an interpretive dance across the floor. (The production is copresented with BAM neighbor the Mark Morris Dance Group.)

(photo by Rebecca Smeyne)

User Not Found takes place in Greene Grape Annex café near BAM (photo by Rebecca Smeyne)

Written by Chris Goode and created by O’Donovan and Daphna Attias and inspired by a 2015 Guardian article by Caroline Twigg entitled “What happens to my late husband’s digital life now he’s gone?,” User Not Found is a very human and deeply cathartic look at grief and how it’s shared in our current world of continual contact through technology. The point is, of course, that Terry could be any of us; as you glance around at the other people in the audience, you might wonder if they’ve been through anything like Terry has, since each one of us has our stories that we choose to share or not. Director Attias carefully balances our communal and individual experiences as Terry reaches into his heart while mourning right in front of us, going through some of the five stages of loss in a swiftly moving ninety minutes. Once you leave the café, it’s highly unlikely that you won’t be considering who you would make your digital executor while also pondering what is still on your MySpace page.

(User Not Found runs through November 16; in addition, Dante or Die will host the artist workshop “Site-Specific Theater-Making” at the Mark Morris Dance Center on November 13 at 2:00 as part of BAM’s Artist Lab program.)

TAITEN: NOH & KYOGEN

taiten

Noritoshi Yamamoto (right) and members of his prestigious family will perform Kagyu (The Snail) at Japan Society November 14-16 (photo © Yoshiaki Kanda)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
November 14-16, $97, 7:30
www.japansociety.org

Japan Society’s Emperor Series, celebrating the ascension of Emperor Naruhito to the Chrysanthemum Throne in May, concludes with a special program that includes a noh play created for Emperor Taishō’s ascension to the throne in 1912. In honor of the era turning from Heisei to Reiwa, Kurouemon Katayama X will stage Taiten, portraying the god Amatsukami, wearing a Mikazuki mask as he descends from the heavens for a ritual dance. The work is rarely performed; in mounting the Reiwa version, Kurouemon X was influenced by notes left by his father and grandfather from the 1912 original commission. In addition, Noritoshi Yamamoto and members of his family will perform the comedic kyogen play Kagyu (The Snail), in which a servant is sent to gather up snails but collects a traveling priest instead, thinking it is the shelled gastropod.

The show runs November 14-16, at the same time the succession rites, known as the Daijosai, or the Great Thanksgiving Ceremony, are taking place at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The November 14 performance will be followed by a soirée, and Japan Society will host a noh workshop with actors from the Kyoto Kanze Association on November 15 at 1:00 ($60) and a kyogen workshop with members of the Yamamoto Tojiro Family of the Okura School of Kyogen on November 16 at 1:00 ($60). This is a rare chance to experience these works, so tickets are going fast despite their relatively high cost for a Japan Society event.