BWW Special Feature: 99 and Under the Radar, Indie Theatre's Movers and Shakers
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by Michael Roderick
Welcome to 99 AND UNDER THE RADAR: A LOOK AT INDIE THEATER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS, BroadwayWorld's new weekly series that showcases standout productions and production companies from the independent theater scene in New York City. Each week, independent producer Michael Roderick will be discussing the latest goings on in the theatrical wings, highlighting those with potentially bright futures.
This Week's Topic: A Field in the Kitchen and Bowling with the Bard
Indie theatre is often considered the laboratory for new scripts, new concepts, and development of new projects and there are many organizations that encourage those explorations. The Field is an organization that supports emerging artists through a variety of programs, one of which is a residency at The Kitchen. This space is tucked away on the far corner of the city around 10th avenue and provides a space that is perfect for Theatre as well as Music and Dance. The Field has helped develop a program there where new artists can become residents and get free space to workshop their newest and wildest ideas. The culmination of all of this is a series of showcases of the talented group. One such showcase was presented last week and it served to introduce a new audience to the works of some very talented young men and women. Amongst this coterie the standouts were a hilarious performance piece by a group called The Glass Contraption entitled "Animals' Heads" which combined shadow puppetry with full audience participation in a visualization and culminated in a fugue of barnyard noises and choral music, Rachel KLein Productions excerpt from "The Tragedy of Maria Macabre" which brought a group of zany characters in front of the audience to tell a visually stunning tale of disillusion with a nod to Tim Burton in the costuming and execution, and lastly a witty monologue by Jean Ann Douglas called "The Backroad Homeshow" that involves a kitchen timer and accordian and a round of the childrens' song "Black Socks". The evening was full of variety and featured many styles of dance, visual art, and spoken word. To find out more about the program, check the field out here. They are certainly cooking in The Kitchen.
Next up, is a piece by DMTheatrics' American Shakespeare Factory that has to be seen to bebelieved, because there is absolutely nothing like this on any stage right now. Their mission reads: "DMTheatrics was launched with the express purpose of creating theater for audiences, not agents or academics, and for taking advantage of the immediacy and aggressiveness of live performance by creating immersive, emotionally engaging and spectacular theatrical pieces. By looking back to the classic forms of burlesque, vaudeville, cabaret, linear storytelling, and spectacle, DMT hopes to create new and exciting theater for the present and help usher in the future of performance with clean, direct, attractive works that excite, inspire, and most importantly, entertain"
And entertain they do, with their latest production co produced by The Horse Trade Theater Group entitled Two Gentleman of Lebowski written by the incredibly talented Adam Bertocci it is arguably one of the most inventive pieces ever created. Why? The show takes the film The Big Lebowski and turns it into a Shakespearean production. The "Dude" becomes the "Knave" and the modern day language turns entirely into verse and iambic pentameter. The shock alone of seeing the title engenders curiosity, but once in the theatre the execution of this piece is flawless. Frank Cwiklik's direction is crisp and clean and the performances he gets out of his actors is on the caliber of Shakespeare in the park, in fact, if the folks at The Public haven't seen how well these performers do Shakespeare, they should "getteth down to East 4th street post haste". With break through performances from Josh Mertz as "The Knave", Bob Laine's Bombastic monologues as "Sir Walter" and Brianna Tyson's classical take on "Maude", the piece boasts an incredible cadre of young and talented performers as well as great material. Combine that with the showstopping choreography of Becky Byers (Think Dream Bowling Ballet on Acid) and there is no surprise as to why the house is packed every performance. To find out more clicketh here.
The world of indie theatre continues to delight and surprise as well as nurture the artists who keep it thriving. If you haven't checked out the Kitchen, The Field, or DMThreatrics, you're missing out.
Read more of Michael's insights at www.oneproducerinthecity.typepad.com.