The OOB Summer Preview
A peek at just a few of the things that Off-Off Broadway has to offer in the next few months.
Kia Corthron's Breath, Boom, directed by Marion McClinton, is receiving its American premiere at Playwrights Horizons. Starting in the 1980s and moving on to the present day, the play follows an inner-city girl named Prix as she goes from being a gang leader to spending time in prison and coming back home again. She tries to keep a grip on her life and herself, all the while dealing with difficult relationships with her family and friends and the chaos around her.
Having trouble getting your teenager to the theater? The New York City Hip-Hop Theater Festival will storm the East Village's P.S. 122 for two weeks at the end of this month, featuring 15 different plays and performance pieces that celebrate the hip-hop generation. Writers, dancers, and performers from around the country will be participating, with works such as Nilaja Sun's Black and Blue and Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop scheduled to be presented. In conjunction with the festival, there will be a weekly Teen Outreach performance and Q&A session at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. For more information, visit the web site www.hiphop-theaterfest.com.
Also in June, Wooster Group is offering the chance to watch a theater piece in its development stages by previewing New Work, a work-in-progress based on Paul Schmidt's translation of Racine's Phedre. The piece is described as a "soap opera of windows and reflections, confessions and confrontations set in a mobile modernist landscape of aluminum tracks, sliding plexiglass panels, omnipresent monitors, and hidden cameras." The project is designed to explore the world of exhibitionism and voyeurism by bringing private moments into the spotlight. New Work will run through the month, and more performances are planned for September.
With school out, summer is the best time to take your kids to see a show, and TADA! is a great place to take them. For 16 years, TADA! has brought theater performed by kids to kids (and their families). In July and August, the young ensemble at TADA! will perform Wide-Awake Jake, a musical about a boy who can't fall asleep and so is taken by his cousin on a magical journey to find Yami of Yawn, who will teach him how he can finally get some shut-eye. The shows at TADA! are intended for kids of all ages, and adults usually have a pretty good time there, too.
LAByrinth Theater Company will present the World Premiere of a new work by John Patrick Shanley, the noted playwright (Danny and the Deep Blue Sea) and screenwriter (Moonstruck). Where's My Money? is about the battle between the sexes, focusing on two divorce lawyers and the women in their lives.
Of course, the summer isn't without its more high profile shows. The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park, free high quality performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, is a beloved tradition not only because the price is right, but also because the casts are invariably star-studded. This year is more astounding than ever--the cast for The Seagull, adapted by Richard Nelson and directed by Mike Nichols, is enough to give the starstruck a heart attack: John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Janney, Debra Monk, Kevin Kline--shall I keep going?--Natalie Portman, Stephen Spinella, plus Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken for good measure. Speaking of good measure, Measure for Measure, featuring the talents of Billy Crudup, Joe Morton, and John Pankow, is the other production at the Delacorte this year.
But outdoor Shakespeare need not be in a park, as we learn from Free Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot. That company is presenting Richard II as the first show of its 2001 Parking Lot season. As the summer wears on, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest will all be performed on the hot asphalt.