I had a moment the other day when a friend told me that the Under the Radar Festival line-up had been announced. Really? I thought to myself. APAP time is already back upon us? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
But there you go: indeed, the line-up for the three most anticipated January festivals–scheduled to coincide with Association of Performing Arts Presenters annual confab (Jan. 6-10), for the benefit of presenters and curators from around the globe–are up and available, which means your trusty Culturebot staff will be spending the time between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday in a mad rush to get all the information you need to know out there. But for now, let’s take a look at the three that generate the most attention.
UNDER THE RADAR (Jan. 4-15).
Presented as usual with the good folks at the Public, Mark Russell’s UTR has an interesting line-up this year. The centerpiece artist from what I’m seeing is Italy’s Motus. Last year at UTR, the company presented Too Late! antigone (contest #2), which riffed off the Living Theater’s famous production of Antigone. This year, Motus returns with a pair of works. First, their main show is Alexis. A Greek Tragedy. Based on the true story of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, whose 2008 shooting by police in Athens spurred widespread rioting, the show continues the company’s exploration of the idea of Antigone as a paradigm of socio-political resistance. And in a reprise of last year’s show, the company has paired with the Living Theater’s Judith Malina for The Plot is the Revolution, which combines the two companies’ visions of Antigone.
The other three shows that jump out at me are Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech, from Tokyo’s chelfitsch, the amazing company run by Toshiki Okada (Five Days in March). Gob Squad, whose Kitchen was the hit of last year’s festival, returns with Super Night Shot, shortly before Kitchen‘s run at the Public proper begins. And then there’s Radek Rychcik, the Polish director last seen in New York with Versus – In the Jungle of Cities back at UTR in 2010. I caught the show he’s bringing this year–In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields–at TBA last year and it is amazing. Not to be missed.
PS 122′s COIL FESTIVAL (Jan. 5-29).
So honestly, the most exciting entry this January is PS 122′s COIL Festival, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that it constitutes about 75 percent of their season this year as they begin renovations of their space. Previously, COIL has been heavy on remounts for the visiting APAP audience, but this year its bursting at the seams with world, North American, and NYC premieres. The line-up is incredible. We’ll be having plenty of information on these artists, but here’s the familiar faces: Young Jean Lee debuts Untitled Feminist Show; Temporary Distortion presents their latest (about to open in Seattle), Newyorkland; Heather Kravas reprises her excellent dance piece The Green Surround; and The TEAM finally launch Mission Drift in New York.
But PS 122 is also bringing in plenty of fascinating artists. Lebanese theater-maker Rabih Mroué explores disappearance in a political context. Argentine director Mariano Pensotti explores the last turbulent decade in Argentina in a piece set to a soundtrack by Of Montreal. Every House Has a Door, a co-project of the Chicago-based artists behind Goat Island, finally present Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never, which was cancelled from the season last year. And there’s more. Seriously, this year, the COIL Festival is the destination.
AMERICAN REALNESS (Jan. 5-15).
American Realness is the youngest of the January festivals, growing just two years ago out of producer Ben Pryor’s desire to showcase the artists he supports combined with some empty space at Abrons. But it was a hit and last year it even upped the ante, with a stunning line-up that included Keith Hennessy, Miguel Guttierez, John Jasperse, and a remount of THEM. This year the offerings are scaled back but rich (and, perhaps, not yet complete–more might be scheduled in the coming weeks Update: Per AR curator Ben Pryor, the full line-up with be announced Nov. 29).
The big headline event is Big Art Group, who are presenting a new show, Broke House, from Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Trajal Harrel’s Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church returns to New York stages (and again, I believe, in April, at NYLA). And finally there’s Eleanor Bauer and Heather Lang’s The Heather Lang Show by Eleanor Bauer and Vice Versa, a pastiche of drag performance, talk show, and SNL-esque satire.