Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through July 17, $42-$228.60
Director-of-the-moment Ivo van Hove follows up his riveting version of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge with a strange, powerful, problematic take on Miller’s Tony-winning 1953 play, The Crucible. Part of the centennial celebration of Miller’s birth that also included last year’s production of Incident at Vichy at the Signature, The Crucible explores the 1692 Salem witch trials through a context informed by the communist witch hunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1940s and ’50s. Miller based the play on actual events recorded in the seventeenth century, although he changed many of the details of the real-life characters. In Salem, Betty Parris (Elizabeth Teeter) is in a catatonic state following an evening that might have involved magic and witchcraft in the woods with her friends Abigail Williams (Saoirse Ronan), Susanna Walcott (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), Mercy Lewis (Erin Wilhelmi), and Mary Warren (Tavi Gevinson). “There be no unnatural cause here,” claims Reverend Samuel Parris (Jason Butler Harner), the local priest and Betty’s uncle, who does not want to believe that this was the devil’s work. He sends for Reverend John Hale (Bill Camp) to back him up. “A precaution only,” Parris says. “He has much experience in all demonic arts.” However, wealthy landowner Thomas Putnam (Thomas Jay Ryan) and his wife, Anna (Tina Benko), who have lost seven babies, are sure that “vengeful spirits” are at work and insist that Parris investigate it as such. Meanwhile, town curmudgeon Giles Corey (Jim Norton) thinks that the Putnams are merely after his land, while Corey’s friend, John Proctor (Ben Whishaw), gets caught in the maelstrom of accusation and emotion, as the otherwise steadfast gentleman may or may not have had an affair with Abigail, his former maid, who was let go by his wife, Elizabeth (Sophie Okonedo). And many eyes turn toward Tituba (Jenny Jules), Parris’s slave from Barbados. “You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us,” Hale tells her. When the judge, Deputy Governor Danforth (Ciarán Hinds), arrives, he’s sure that evil is at hand, boasting that four hundred witches are in jail because of him, seventy-two condemned to hang. Even as evidence comes out that supports that there was no witchcraft, Danforth remains determined to force people to name names so he can have them arrested and hanged. “There is a prodigious guilt in the country,” he boldly declares. “Reproach me not with the fear in the country; there is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!”
Belgian director van Hove is often hit-or-miss with his shows, which in the last few years in New York City have included David Bowie and Enda Walsh’s Lazarus, adaptations of Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers and Scenes from a Marriage, and Sophocles’s Antigone. While A View from the Bridge was innovative and dynamic, Antigone was confusing and surprisingly lifeless; The Crucible falls somewhere in between. The set, by longtime van Hove collaborator Jan Versweyveld, is head-scratchingly odd, an old schoolroom with twentieth-century overhead lighting and a blackboard on which Tal Yarden’s abstract images are projected at one point. Wojciech Dziedzic’s costumes also mix the seventeenth century with the modern era; if the goal is to relate the witch trials to what is going on in the world today, it doesn’t quite work, since those elements are already part of Miller’s words and don’t benefit from such further obscuration. Philip Glass’s music is pleasurable but unnecessary, and the acting is inconsistent; while Ronan (Brooklyn, The Seagull), Camp (Death of a Salesman, Homebody/Kabul), Norton (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Seafarer), and Gevinson (This Is Our Youth, Enough Said) excel in their roles, Whishaw (His Dark Materials, In the Heart of the Sea) is rather static, Michael Braun (War Horse, Bad Guys) as Danforth’s right-hand man, Ezekiel Cheever, is too one-note, and Hinds (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Closer) seems lost at times, courtesy of Steven Hoggett’s crowded movement, often speaking with his back or side to the audience, making it hard to hear what he is saying. Fifty-three years after its Broadway debut, in a Tony-winning production starring E. G. Marshall, Beatrice Straight, and Arthur Kennedy, and fourteen years after its Tony-nominated 2002 Broadway revival with Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, and Kristen Bell, The Crucible feels today most relevant in its depiction of the religious nature of evil, with fundamentalists around the world responsible for so much violence and hatred and America in a constant debate over church versus state. Van Hove’s staging muddies various themes, resulting in a somewhat lukewarm rendering of a heated tale.
Who: Steve McQueen and Donna De Salvo, Harry Belafonte and Dr. Cornel West
What: Two public programs in conjunction with the exhibition “Open Plan: Steve McQueen”
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3600
When: Friday, April 29, Steve McQueen in Conversation with Donna De Salvo, $15, 6:30; Sunday, May 1, Harry Belafonte and Dr. Cornel West Discuss Paul Robeson, $20, 5:00
Why: The Whitney’s five-part “Open Plan” series, which previously featured installations by Andrea Fraser, Lucy Dodd, Michael Heizer, and Cecil Taylor, concludes with a project by visual artist Steve McQueen that expands on his 2012 work, “End Credits,” an exploration of the FBI’s investigation into the political activities of actor, singer, athlete, lawyer, and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. McQueen, who began his career as an experimental short filmmaker (his 2004 exhibition at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College was an eye opener), wrote and directed Hunger and Shame before directing 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, which won the Best Picture Oscar. In conjunction with the multimedia show, the Whitney will be hosting two talks. On April 29, McQueen will discuss his career with senior curator Donna De Salvo, who organized the show with curatorial assistant Christie Mitchell. And on May 1 — not coincidentally May Day — actor, singer, songwriter, and activist Harry Belafonte and philosopher, professor, author, activist, and self-described “prominent and provocative democratic intellectual” Dr. Cornel West will team up to explore Robeson’s life and legacy. End Credits will be on view in the expansive Neil Bluhm Family Galleries through May 14; in addition, the Whitney is presenting the U.S. debut of McQueen’s “Moonlit” sculpture in the adjacent Kaufman Gallery.
Who: Sarah Anderson, Mirene Arsanios, Chloë Bass, Jesse Bonnell, Esteban Cabeza De Baca, Glendaliz Camacho, Adriane Connerton, Nick Doyle, Tamar Ettun, Joel W. Fisher, Nadja Frank, Susan Karwoska, Amy Khoshbin, Lisa Ko, Courtney Krantz, Tora Lopez, Melanie McLain, Rangi McNeil, Irini Miga, Trokon Nagbe, Meredith Nickie, New Saloon, Christina Olivares, Piehole, Ronny Quevedo, Maria Rapoport, Keisha Scarville, Pascual Sisto, Stacy Spence, Yuliya Tsukerman, Jessica Vaughn
What: LMCC Open Studios
Where: LMCC’s Studios at 28 Liberty, 28 Liberty St. between Pine, Liberty, Nassau, & William Sts.
When: Friday, April 29, 6:00–9:00, and Saturday, April 30, 1:00–6:00 (Open Texts 6:00–8:00), free with advance RSVP
Why: The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which “empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Lower Manhattan and beyond,” is kicking off its annual Open Studios by welcoming visitors on Friday night, April 29, and Saturday afternoon and evening, April 30, to wander through its Financial District space and check out works-in-progress by thirty-one artists artists who have been busy since September immersed in paintings, sketches, photographs, sculptures, videos, poetry, dances, plays, and more. The event is free with advance RSVP; the studios will close Saturday at 6:00 for two hours of spoken-word performances. The Open Studios program continues through October with presentations at 28 Liberty and 125 Maiden Lane and on Governors Island with such performers and choreographers as Okwui Okpokwasili, the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, Faye Driscoll, Netta Yerushalmy, Amber Hawk Swanson, Ephrat Asherie, Jodi Melnick, and YACKEZ (Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson).
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Through May 1, $18-$22
Award-winning documentarian, journalist, and former chef Laura Poitras has opened a lot of eyes around the world with such films as Citizenfour, The Oath, and My Country, My Country and her investigative reporting for such outlets as the Guardian, the Washington Post, and the website she started with Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Cahill, the Intercept. The New School graduate is now sharing highly sensitive information about surveillance, drones, Guantánamo Bay Prison, the NSA, and more in a fascinating new way in “Astro Noise,” a five-room immersive installation on view at the Whitney. Poitras, whose Oscar-winning Citizenfour featured whistleblower Edward Snowden, invites viewers into a frightening world that is all too real. In the catalog, Astro Noise: A Survival Guide for Living under Total Surveillance, curator Jay Sanders notes that the title “echoes with associations. Discovered accidentally by astronomers in 1964 and initially thought to be a technical error, astro noise refers to the faint background disturbance of thermal radiation left over after the big bang. . . . More pointedly, Astro Noise is the name Edward Snowden gave to an encrypted file containing evidence of NSA mass surveillance that he shared with Poitras in 2012.” The exhibition begins with selections from her “Anarchist” series, consisting of full-color, large-scale prints of images Poitras created based on documents Snowden gave her of descrambled signals from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, including “Israeli Drone Feed (Intercepted February 24, 2009)” and “Power Spectrum Display of Doppler Tracks from a Satellite (Intercepted May 27, 2009).” In the middle of the second room is a thick two-sided screen on which two different films are projected on opposite sides; for O’Say Can You See, Poitras filmed people coming to Ground Zero and looking at the destruction wrought by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while on the other side is U.S. military footage of 9/11-related interrogations of Said Boujaaida and Salim Hamdan, who both ended up at Guantánamo. In the third room, “Bed Down Location” visitors can lie down on a carpeted raised platform and gaze up at a screen on the ceiling that shows night skies in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where drone attacks have taken place, as well as the sky at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where drones are tested and flown.
For “Disposition Matrix,” Poitras situates narrow, rectangular viewing peepholes at different heights in six walls; inside are official documents, video interviews, cell-phone footage, screenshots from intercepted drone feeds, and diagrams that deal with various aspects of the War on Terror, including Abu Ghraib prison, definitions of such phrases as “clandestine collection” and “covert action,” and home video of a town in Yemen on two successive days in August 2012, one depicting a wedding, the second the aftermath of a U.S. drone strike. Because of the way the peepholes are arranged, it is difficult to get the full picture of what is inside each slot, evoking how hard it is to get the full story from the government. In the fifth room, Poitras, who participated in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, makes herself the subject, something she specifically avoids in her documentaries, detailing how the U.S. government put her on a secret watchlist, continues to track her, keeps detaining and interrogating her at airports, and considers legal action to arrest her under the Espionage Act. (Meanwhile, she has sued the government.) Poitras adds a little surprise at the end, revealing how any one of us could be next. In a catalog interview with Sanders, Poitras states, “I very much like the idea of creating a space that challenges the viewer as to whether to venture in or not. . . . We live life not knowing what will happen next. What do people do when they’re confronted with choices and risks?” Poitras’s debut art installation does just that, confronting visitors with ideas and information that, unfortunately, might no longer be shocking but still come with alarming choices and risks.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, $20-$25 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Spring appears to finally have arrived, and that means it’s time for one of the city’s most fabulous annual festivals, the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weekend celebrates the beauty of the blossoming of the cherry trees with live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, Ikebana flower arranging, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, Japanese food, clothing, pottery, wall scrolls, kimonos, lots of children’s activities, and more. Below are ten daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days.
Saturday, April 30
Book signing: Kate T. Williamson, A Year in Japan, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00
Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Art Alley, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:00 & 2:00
The Battersby Show: Cosplay 101, with Charles Battersby, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 11:30
Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks!, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12 noon, 1:15, and 3:00
Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 12:15 & 2:45
Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 1:30
Book signing: Abby Denson, Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00
Hanagasa Odori flower hat procession, with the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 4:00
BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show, featuring live music by the Hanami Ensemble, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 4:30
Yuzu’s Dream: An Urban Folk Odyssey, with Yuzu, Akim Funk Buddha, and his Origami Dance Crew, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15
Sunday, May 1
Japanese Garden Stroll, 10:00 am
Akim Funk Buddha’s Urban Tea Ceremony Unplugged, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 12 noon
KuroPOP dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 12:45
Stand-up Comic Uncle Yo, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 1:15 & 3:00
Samurai Sword Soul, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 2:00
Takarabune Dance, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:00
Book signing: Rumi Hara, The Return of Japanese Wolves, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:00
Colossal Origami, with Taro Yaguchi, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 3:45
Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center Auditorium, 4:15
The Seventh Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage, Cherry Esplanade, 5:15
WEEKEND CLASSICS: CITY LIGHTS (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
April 29-30, May 1, 11:00 am
Series continues weekends through June 26
A genuine American treasure, City Lights is one of Charlie Chaplin’s most thoroughly entertaining masterpieces. Serving as writer, director, editor, producer, and composer, Chaplin also stars as the Little Tramp, a destitute man who instantly falls in love upon seeing a blind Flower Girl (Virginia Cherrill). When she mistakes him for a millionaire with a fancy car, he decides to pretend to be rich so she might like him, but when he actually becomes pals with the business tycoon (Harry Myers), he thinks he might eventually be able to get the money for her to get a new operation that could restore her eyesight. The only problem is that the millionaire, who parties wildly with the Little Tramp every evening, taking him to ritzy nightclubs and even giving him his car at one point, remembers nothing the next morning, and doesn’t want anything to do with him. It all leads to an unforgettable conclusion that pulls at the heartstrings. Despite the availability of sound, Chaplin chose to make City Lights a silent picture, although he did incorporate sound effects and, in one section, distorted speech. Although the film features several hysterical slapstick bits, including the opening, when the Little Tramp is sleeping on a statue entitled “Peace and Prosperity” as it is unveiled, and a scene in which he saves the millionaire from a suicide attempt, virtually every minute comments on the social reality of depression-era America and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Metaphors abound as the Little Tramp tries his best to maintain a smile and search out love during the bleakest of times. City Lights is screening at 11:00 am April 29, 30, and May 1 in the “Weekend Classics” film series “Classic IFC Center,” consisting of favorite films selected by the theater’s managers, projectionists, and floor staff; City Lights was chosen by administrative staffer Asha P., who notes, “If only one of Charles Chaplin’s films could be preserved, City Lights would come the closest....” The festival continues through June 26 with such other greats as Black Narcissus, Ace in the Hole, The Godfather, Shadow of a Doubt, and Loves of a Blonde.
“ONE DAY PINA ASKED...” (UN JOUR PINA A DEMANDÉ) (Chantal Akerman, 1983)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Thursday, April 28, 7:00 & 9:30
Series continues through May 1
In 1982, Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman followed Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal on a five-week tour of Europe as the cutting-edge troupe traveled to Milan, Venice, and Avignon. “I was deeply touched by her lengthy performances that mingle in your head,” Akerman says at the beginning of the resulting documentary, “One Day Pina Asked . . . ,” continuing, “I have the feeling that the images we brought back do not convey this very much and often betray it.” Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles; Je tu il elle) needn’t have worried; her fifty-seven-minute film, made for the Repères sur la Modern Dance French television series, is filled with memorable moments that more than do justice to Bausch’s unique form of dance theater. From 1973 up to her death in 2009 at the age of sixty-eight, Bausch created compelling works that examined the male-female dynamic and the concepts of love and connection with revolutionary stagings that included spoken word, unusual costuming, an unpredictable movement vocabulary, and performers of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Akerman captures the troupe, consisting of twenty-six dancers from thirteen countries, in run-throughs, rehearsals, and live presentations of Komm Tanz Mit Mir (Come Dance with Me), Nelken (Carnations), 1980, Kontakthof, and Walzer, often focusing on individual dancers in extreme close-ups that reveal their relationship with their performance. Although Bausch, forty at the time, is seen only at the beginning and end of the documentary, her creative process is always at center stage. At one point, dancer Lutz Förster tells a story of performing George and Ira Gershwins’ “The Man I Love” in sign language in response to Bausch’s asking the troupe to name something they’re proud of. Förster, who took over as artistic director in April 2013, first performs the song for Akerman, then later is shown performing it in Nelken. (Bausch fans will also recognize such longtime company members as Héléna Pikon, Nazareth Panadero, and Dominique Mercy.)
As was her style, Akerman often leaves her camera static, letting the action occur on its own, which is particularly beautiful when she films a dance through a faraway door as shadowy figures circle around the other side. It’s all surprisingly intimate, not showy, rewarding viewers with the feeling that they are just next to the dancers, backstage or in the wings, unnoticed, as the process unfolds, the camera serving as their surrogate. And it works whether you’re a longtime fan of Bausch, only discovered her by seeing Wim Wenders’s Oscar-nominated 3D film Pina, or never heard of her. “This film is more than a documentary on Pina Bausch’s work,” a narrator says introducing the film. “It is a journey through her world, through her unwavering quest for love.” ”One Day Pina Asked...” is screening April 28 at 7:00 and 9:30 at BAM Rose Cinemas as part of the month-long BAMcinématek series “Chantal Akerman: Images between the Images,” which pays tribute to the influential, experimental director, who died in October 2015, reportedly by suicide; the earlier showing will be preceded by two Akerman shorts featuring cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton, 2002’s Avec Sonia Wieder-Atherton and 1989’s Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher. Not coincidentally, Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal has been performing at BAM since 1984. The film series continues through May 1 with such other films by Akerman as La Captive, Jeanne Dielman, and From the East.