I am going to be in NYC later this month -- Feb 22 - 25 -- to attend the International Conference on Arts and Society. Any recommendations as to what I ought to see? A few groundrules:
1. No one-person shows. Back in the 90s when I was a grad student, I was really jazzed about one-person plays, because I thought they possessed a more dynamic and flexible theatricality. Now they just seem like theatre done on the cheap. I Am My Own Wife was fascinating, and would have been improved by a few more actors... So no, The Fever is out. In fact, having at least three actors is a definite plus.
2. I'm going to be there with my wife and her cousin, so I'm not looking for obscurity and/or disgust. If it's up to me, Mr. Sleepy can snooze to his heart's content. And anything that looks like this I'll take a rain check on. They are both smart, knowledgeable women -- and each have a wicked tongue when they feel the Emperor is unclad.
3. I do like to see things that display theatrical imagination -- i.e., that take advantage of the fact that there is a live audience, and that the theatre allows a great deal of imagery.
4. I'd lean away from a classic. I teach theatre history every day -- I'd like to see something newish. Unless there is a performance that is absolutely not to be missed.
5. If at all possible, I like to see something that didn't display the artistic version of the attitude of the itinerate evagelical: holier-than-thou preaching. Simplistic piety -- say, The Exonerated -- doesn't do much for me. I like plays that allow as how there might just be two sides to a particular issue, both of which are interesting. I love to discuss plays afterwards, and but it is hard to discuss moral melodramas.
That said, some of my favorite theatre experiences probably contradict the above:
I loved Wooster Group's Three Sisters -- especially the idea of having Solyoni played by televised clips from Godzilla films.
I was totally jazzed by Julie Taymor's Juan Darien.
I saw Mac Wellman's Crowbar multiple times.
I was fascinated by Peter Hall's Long Day's Journey Into Night.
And now you know why it is so hard for me to decide what shows to see -- everything contradicts itself.