Mary’s Highlights of the Fall Theater Season

The Fall 2018 theater season is heating up and I have to discipline myself considerably to make sure that I don’t try to buy tickets to every single play (my pay is such that this is not actually feasible). Some of the plays I’m most interested in seeing include the free Antigone in Ferguson (as in imagining Sophocles’ Antigone set in Ferguson, Missouri and Polynices’ unburied body as the body of Michael Brown lying in the street in the aftermath of his killing by police) at the Harlem Stage which is being performed through mid-October. Jez Butterworth’s new play entitled The Ferryman is being staged on Broadway of all places, which is noteworthy given that it is about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Also coming to Broadway is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird with Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch (I just don’t know if anyone can replace Gregory Peck in that role, but if anyone can, I’m betting Jeff Daniels can). The Jungle is coming to St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn and is about theater in the Calais refugee camp and you bet I will be going to that production. Cheek By Jowl’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, set in contemporary Russia, is coming to Brooklyn’s BAM and I am thrilled because I’ve wanted to see it since I first heard about its original production in London several years ago. I’m also looking forward to a production of Athol Fugard’s Boesman and Lena at the Signature Theatre because Fugard is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite playwrights.

And that’s NOT including the numerous solo performances that are being produced this season. Mike Birbiglia just finished a run of The New One at the newly refurbished Cherry Lane Theater which I was fortunate enough to see, and which in inimitable Birbiglia fashion, starts out being about a couch and ends up being about becoming a father. Of course, Bruce Springsteen continues his fall performance through October though I will have to wait for the film version to come out to actually see it, along with the majority of the world.

The new solo shows that have just begun or that are on their way, include:

The Emperor which is currently at the Theater For a New Audience in Brooklyn, and is based on the writings of Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski centering on interviews with various servants of Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, adapted by Colin Teevan, directed by Walter Meierjohann, and featuring Kathryn Hunter performing each of the servants, as well as Temesgen Zeleke, a musician performing the Ethiopiabn krar lyre (more about this exquisitely performed and super-interesting performance in a later blog post, but I will just say that once again the production proves my dictum which is that “EVERYTHING I know, I’ve learned from theater and/or literature and/or film and/or art…).

Heidi Schreck’s This Is What the Constitution Means to Me is at the New York Theatre Workshop which, oddly enough and definitely not on purpose, I’m seeing this weekend right in time for Constitution Day.

The supremely talented mime/clown/actor Bill Irwin is doing a solo piece based on the work of Samuel Beckett (as in Waiting for Godot which my Modern Drama students find perplexing in the extreme) and that starts later this month at the Irish Arts Center.

The Irish Arts Center is a hotbed of solo performance activity this Fall since right this very minute and, if you get a chance I urge you to go immediately, Mikel Murfi who is a gifted storyteller and actor, is performing two solo pieces. The first is The Man in the Woman’s Shoes which I’ve written about in the blog before and which The New York Times review called “astonishing” which, if anything, is an understatement, and which may be one of the only times I actually agree with a NYT review, and the second is I Hear You and Rejoice (I’ll be writing about both pieces soon).

Finally, there’s Jomama Jones’ Black Light, which I wrote about extensively in the February 24th blog post, which is coming back to NYC at the end of September, but this time to the Greenwich House Theater, and if you want to experience the magic of theater, I definitely recommend that you go to this performance!

And there you have it. A few of the highlights of the Fall theater season in the NYC area, which, no doubt, I will be updating as I learn of more productions.

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