I apparently really want to bring down everyone’s mood.
This week’s list has a lot of serious shows and I can only apologize for that, as someone who actively dislikes happy-go-lucky theater, I apparently really want to bring down everyone’s mood.
We’ve got an experimental Shakespeare director who came to Brooklyn with a World War II story, the world premiere of a play using (you guessed it, World War II) as a way to look at the current refugee crisis, and, finally, to bring up the mood, Shakescon 2017, an annual Shakespeare convention.
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
First is 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips at St. Ann’s Warehouse. 946 is an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name by Michael Morporgo.
It uses an English girl, Lily, and her cat, Tips, to tell the true story the failed Exercise Tiger, a D-Day preparation drill that ultimately killed 946 soldiers and sailors, a story that was not told until 40 years after D-Day.
Twelve year old Lily and her cat, Tips, navigate the arrival of war refugees and American soldiers in their town as war efforts slowly creep into their lives.
The show is presented by English company Kneehigh, and was adapted and directed by Emma Rice, currently the artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London. Rice is leaving the Globe in 2018 after being reprimanded for being, essentially, too innovative, using modern lights and costumes to the usually-conservative Globe, that shines through in 946. Buckets of water bring the Atlantic Ocean to life, and a series of puppets play Tips and the other animals in the town.
Katy Owen, an accomplished English stage actress who recently worked with Rice in a Glove production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plays Lily, and Tips is a puppet manipulated by dancer and actress Nandi Bhebhe. Bhebe also plays the American soldier Harry alongside Ncuti Gatwa as Adolphus. Tickets begin at $35 and can be found, along with photos and videos, here.
Benghazi Bergen-Belsen at The Downstairs is our next depressing piece of theater. Bergen-Belsen is based on Israeli author Yossi Sucary’s novel “From Benghazi to Bergen-Belsen” focusing on the experience of Libyan Jews during the Holocaust.
Silvana Hajaj (Veracity Butcher) a young girl who has been ripped from Libya and deposited in Bergen-Belsen, tells her friend Rebecca the story of her family’s journey to Germany before Silvana is executed.
The show is staged without obvious references to the Holocaust to bring the family’s tragedy into modern times, reflecting the fate of refugees all over the world today. The show is staged mostly in English, but contains passages in Arabic, Hebrew, German, and Italian, so as not to keep the show contained to one viewpoint.
Acclaimed Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri plays Silvana’s father, joined by Israeli actress Ayelet Kaznelson as his wife Julia, and Mouna R’mike as their other daughter, Toni.
The set and lighting, designed by Gian Marco Lo Forte and Avi Yona Bueno respectively allow the actors to take center stage on a simple, unadorned set of benches and platforms hit with angular, solid-colored lights. Benghazi Bergen-Belsen runs until April 9, tickets can be purchased here for $25, or $20 for students.
If you need comfort food after that performance, pop around the corner to Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken at 28 East First Street, offering a ton of chicken sandwiches, wings, and combos, and some sides (smoked mac and cheese jumps out) and salads if that’s what you’re looking for.
Finally, on a slightly more uplifting note, we have Shakescon 2017, the New York Shakespeare Convention at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center. Shakescon features “5 Ways Shakespeare: Twelfth Night,” where a total of ten different companies over two nights will each show one act of Twelfth Night.
Companies include Parnassus Theatre Company, The Rogue and Peasant Players, and Underling Productions. Depending on how dedicated you are, there are a few types of tickets available – on Friday, March 31, you can spend $15 to see Twelfth Night Five Ways, or between $10 and $35 on Saturday, April 1 for different levels of access – Friday’s events also include improv and performances earlier in the day, followed by the second round of Twelfth Night at 7 p.m.
The convention starts on Thursday, March 30, and ends on Sunday, April 2 with rounds of auditions for those of you trying to break onto the New York Shakespeare Scene. Find tickets from $10 for students here, and find the Clemente at 107 Suffolk Street, New York, New York.
For some slightly pretentious food and an amazing tea selection (the key to my heart) nearby, check out Black Cat LES at 172 Rivington Street. Black Cat is a coffee shop specializing in fair trade tea, coffee and sustainably sourced food, including breakfast, sandwiches, pastries, and occasionally a little upright bass!
Last updated: March, 30 2017 6:08 pm